The Catholic Defender Receives A Phone Call

Posted by Donald Hartley - February 29th, 2016

phoneRecently I woke up one morning and began my day like most ordinary days getting myself together, waking up just having a lazy kind of day. I didn’t have to work that day, sitting back enjoying an episode of Daniel Boone. Boonesborough was under attack by Indians and could Daniel save the day. Just as two Indians were about to attack Mingo, the phone rang and I answered it wondering who might be calling me this early on a Saturday morning. I answered the phone:

Hello, how may I help you?

The response: Is Mrs. Hartley available?

I responded that she was not present. She is not home at this time.

I was asked, are you the husband of Mrs. Hartley?

I responded “Yes”, most certainly, how may I help you.

caller 1The Caller asked me for my Wife’s last four of her Social Security Number. I was able to give it.

With all the traveling that my Wife was doing trying to work as a traveling Nurse, we were late for a payment. In talking with the Caller, I was quickly able to make the appropriate response taking care of the problem.

Because the Caller was so helpful and courteous, I came right out with it: “Your Catholic are you not”?

The Caller paused for a second and admitted, “Yes” he was.

I asked him why he had not been practicing his faith as he should?

His response was that he tried to get to Mass as often as he could.

I asked him when he last went to confession?

confession 3He admitted that he had not gone to confession since he was a sophomore in high school, he was now 31 years old.

I told him that in the past couple of weeks I met a woman who had made he first confession in 55 years. She was a survivor of the Nazi occupation of Poland and escaped to the United States through the efforts of Pope John Paul II who at the time was studying to become a priest. Through the years, in American Culture, she had lost her Catholic identity only to finally re-discover it.

I then told the Caller the importance of going to confession and getting his life totally in line with Christ’s Church. I told him the scripture, James 5:19-20: “My brothers, if anyone among you should stray from the truth and someone bring him back, he should know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”

The Caller became very interested in what I was telling him and asked for our information. I went back to the Apostles, their successors right down to today.

CD 1 (1)I told him that I was known as the “Catholic Defender” and he could find me simply by Google. That he could find www.deepertruthblog and listen to our radio programs and read our articles. The Caller became very interested and promised to me that he would follow through and re-discover the roots of his faith. We must of talked on the phone for more than 20 minutes as we talked about the Catholic Faith. I
also encouraged him to ask about Cursillo  in his Parish and Diocese. That would be a great shot in the arm!

Ladies and Gentleman, the Caller reminds me that you may not always know when the Lord might send someone to you to help them in their footsteps. The Lord’s mission could come to you through a million different ways, just like this morning’s Caller! How easy it could have been to either let it ring or even hang the phone up.

HEB opened a new mega-store in Copperas Cove that just opened up this weekend. There were thousands of people and so I went there to get some odds and ins getting ready for the Superbowl Sunday. Even Deepertruth needs to be ready for the Superbowl! While looking through the cheese and meats section, a staffer was planted near by so I struck up a conversation with her. She was from another area HEB who was helping out with this opening weekend. She was a strong believer in the “Non-denomination” groups, but by the time I left the scene, she had a much better understanding of the Catholic Faith! How wonderful it is to give witness for the Faith of the Apostles.

Spiritual-hungerThere is much hunger out there and the Lord is calling us to be His hands, His feet, and His voice. At the end of the day, it has been a good Deepertruth day as hopefully, the seeds of faith were sown and the Lord most glorified. Jesus said, “For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice” (John 18:37). “Jesus also said , “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:8).

Jesus speaks through His Church. St Paul wrote, “But if I should be delayed, you should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). May the Lord bless us this Easter Vigil with many conversions and reversions! Amen!

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The Catholic Defender: Presidential Candidate Donald J. Trump at Madison Alabama

Posted by Donald Hartley - February 29th, 2016

IMG_2454Americans have been watching the past several months as many as 17 Republicans began running for President. Now we are down to five left and of those, it is basically a three man race. Today, Presidential Candidate Donald J. Trump was in Madison Alabama where over 35,000 people were on hand to cheer him on.

I was sitting behind the podium with his back facing us. There was the feel of a celebration taking place as Donald Trump walked up the platform with the song, Sweet Home Alabama motivating the crowd.

I did not see any of the reported protesters outside the stadium, it was reported there were about a dozen of them that had shown up with their own signs to show support for illegal aliens. Mr. Trump began his campaign by talking about building a wall to put a stop on the invasion and migration of illegals into the United States. He made this case again today.

IMG_2465There were three different times that a protester was escorted out of the crowd who drowned them out with cheers, applause and the chant, “Trump, Trump, Trump…” One of these groups were from the Black Lives Matters who wanted to make a statement that only Black lives matter and as the small group were walking out with fists raised in the air in defiance, the crowd gave thunderous applause and cheered, “All Lives Matter”!

Senator Jeff Sessions gave his first endorsement in his political career endorsing Donald Trump at the beginning of the Rally. That led to the crowd chanting, “USA,USA,USA”. Also survivors of Benghazi (Mark “OZ” Geist and John “TIG” Tiegen, writers of the movie “13 Hours) were present giving their endorsement to Trump as well.

IMG_2440People stood in line for several hours and I was able to ask people questions, I met an Army Veteran of 42 years. He was in his eighties and he told me he still ran or walked 3-4 miles a day. He was a great story. I asked him why he was supporting Trump and he responded that Trump is saying what he is thinking.

I met a mother who had her thirteen year old daughter present with a friend who came to see Trump because they wanted to participate with history taking place today. I asked the girls what they thought of Trump and they were glad he was coming here to Madison and that their faith meant a lot to them. They were thankful that Trump speaks loudly supporting Christians and their rights.

I first went to Mass this morning and went straight to the stadium but I had to park about a mile away so I walked the mile finding the Police, the Fire Department that set up an NBC tent as well as an aid station to help those who fall out.

IMG_2471I was given the opportunity to speak with them telling them that I was thankful for them in what they do. We support our police officers and fire fighters. There was a lot of support coming from the City of Madison and Huntsville.

Super Tuesday is coming up in a couple of days and Alabama is one of the eleven States that will be voting. I want to encourage everyone to get out the vote for your Candidate of choice. It should be a big day for Donald Trump, but this is why you play the game. It will be interesting to see if all the polls were correct.

Trump was pretty much on his talking points, that he is pro-life and will defund Planned Parenthood and Obamacare, he received loud applause. He also stated that he will build up our armed forces and support our Veterans. Trump continues to defend his conservatism and support for family values.

IMG_2476People stayed after the rally as Trump signed hats, shirts, cards, banners, flags, just about everything people wanted him to sign. In an hour and a half, Trump was able to keep the attention of this massive crowd. We will watch the election process and pray that God’s will be done, that we will bring back those things that made America great.

At the end of the evening, I spoke with one gentleman who encouraged me as he said this was his first time voting in an election even though he was in his late 20′s, but he is compelled to vote. Judging from the increase of voters in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada, he is in good company.

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The Guardian Angel: Eucharistic Miracle Saint Stanislaus Koska, 1550-1568

Posted by Donald Hartley - February 25th, 2016

sky 1Please always share with those you love.

“Therefore we also, from the day that we heard it, cease not to pray for you, and to beg that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will, in all wisdom, and spiritual understanding; That you may walk worthy of God, in all things pleasing; being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God:

“Strengthened with all might, according to the power of His glory, in all patience and long suffering with joy, Giving thanks to God the Father, who hath made us worthy to be partakers of the lot of the saints in the light; Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, In whom we have redemption through His blood, the remission of sins…” Colossians 1:9-14

sky 2As I stand before God, I pray that the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, will send grace through the Immaculate Virgin Mary into the lives of all that read these Eucharistic Miracles, so that their souls are drawn to an eternity with God. It is no game and many of their own free will are headed to destruction, that some even express with the word “HELL”. But before that happens God pursues each of us, but will not force Himself on us. He will give us Infinite Mercy, Infinite Love, Infinite Forgiveness, and also because HE is Good will give us Infinite Justice. So we are called to bring the Truth into the lives of others.

The Blessed Virgin Mary’s greatest desire is that we follow Christ, and not her, except as a teacher of obedience, trust and all the qualities necessary to be a true God fearing Christian, then one can only benefit from venerating the only human being to completely submit to God.

Mary in blueMother Mary is always pointing to her Son, and has to smile when others are affirmed and drawn even closer to her Son when reading about the lives and miracles that have happened to the Saints of past centuries as they put their trust in the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus in the Eucharist. May your heart burn with zeal to serve the Lord even when times are difficult. May the Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Sorrowful & Immaculate Heart of Mary give you all you need in Spirit, Mind, and Body. GregoryMary

Eucharistic Miracle Saint Stanislaus Koska, 1550-1568

Saint Stanislaus Kostka, at the age of seventeen, was so gravely ill that he seemed very near the end of his life. In that time, he lived as the guest of a noble Protestant who would not even permit him to be visited by a Catholic priest.

Stanislaus was not discouraged and one night, in the presence of his tutor, he received Communion in a miraculous way. A few days later he recovered and decided to enter the Jesuit order.

Saint Stanislaus Kostka was born in 1550 in Rostkow, a few kilometers from Warsaw.

Stanislaus Kostka 5In 1564, at age fourteen, Stanislaus was sent to Vienna with his older brother to complete their studies with the Jesuits. He liked his studies and life in the college very much, and considered dedicating himself to religious life.

Unfortunately the Jesuits had to close the college and Stanislaus, his brother, and their tutor were forced to leave, accepting the hospitality of a Lutheran nobleman.

Stanislaus maintained exemplary religious behavior, regardless of the pressures from his brother, tutor, and host – who all criticized him. This was all accepted with patience and submission by Stanislaus, and during the night he even prayed for them.

At about age seventeen, Stanislaus became gravely ill. It is necessary to note that he belonged to the Fraternity of Saint Barbara - whose members trust their patroness to bring them Communion upon the point of death. In this Stanislaus had total faith, and in fact one night woke up his tutor, who was keeping his vigil, exclaiming: “Here is Saint Barbara! Here she is, with two angels! She’s bringing me the Blessed Sacrament!”

Stanislaus Kostke 2And so it was, the angels knelt by him and he was given Holy Communion. The young man, serene, laid back on his bed. A few days later, to everyone’s surprise, Stanislaus awoke perfectly healed, declaring that he wanted to go personally to thank the Lord and manifest his desire to become a religious.

The regional father of the Jesuits rejected him because of his young age and because he had no father or legal guardian, but Stanislaus did not lose his faith and decided to immediately try Germany or even Italy. He removed his fine clothes, put on those of a farmer, and walked towards Augusta where the great Saint Peter Canisius resided, provinicial of the Jesuits in Germany.

Noticing his absence, his brother searched for him and began to feel remorse for his hostile conduct. Meanwhile, Saint Peter Canisius seriously evaluated the vocation of the young man and decided to send him to the Jesuit seminary in Rome.

In his letter of recommendation of Stanislaus, he wrote: “Stanislaus, noble Pole, a just man full of zeal, admitted for a certain time to the college of Dillingen, showed himself to always be exact in his duty and firm in his vocation… we hope and expect great things from him.”

Stanislaus Kostka 6Today, St. Stanislaus is remembered as the “Patron of Youth” and left for us a great legacy of faith that is a rich treasure and well of knowledge and understanding. Here are but a few writings coming from his personal diary:

Consider how hard it is for a person to be separated from any place he has loved deeply. How much harder the soul will find it when the time comes to leave the mortal body, its companion so dear. And the great fear it will experience in that moment because its salvation is at stake and it must stand in the presence of the one it has so offended. If the just man will scarcely be saved, what about me a sinner? In this life we have built in comfort zones that shield us from branching out of ourselves where we often really discover ourselves in who we are before God.

Here St. Stanislaus touches on the importance preparing for our Journey home even now as we await the Lord’s coming.

But think of the great joy the good will feel at the thought of the service they’ve paid to God. They will be glad because they’ve suffered something for love of him back there and didn’t fix their hope and attention on the things of this world that we leave so soon. Think of the joy that the soul will feel in its escape from the prison of this body. So long has it lived in perpetual exile, expelled from its own heavenly home. How much greater its uncontainable joy and complete satisfaction when it arrives in its own country to enjoy the vision of God with the angels and the blessed.

Stanislaus Kostka 1This writing of St. Stanislaus shows he had a great instinct of realizing God’s presence is joy to our core and when we see him face to face, all fear vanish.

I am so ashamed and confused because I see how many have been lost on account of a single mortal sin, and how many times I have deserved eternal damnation. I shall reflect on myself and ask: “What have I done for Christ? What am I doing for Christ? What ought I do for Christ?”

St. Stanislaus give a clear reason why everyone should flock to Confession, the Mercy Seat of God. One Mortal Sin can cast a person into eternal hell and our prayer should be for those in most need of Jesus Mercy.

If we only knew how the Lord “Thirsts” for souls He loves that He gave His live for their Salvation. Jesus grants us through His Saints great visions of His great love for us. St. Stanislaus lived a short life but yet points to the greatest sign of God’s love for all of us. Once again St. Stanislaus became very sick and on 15 August, 1568, the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, with Priest and religious family surrounding him, called out that he was surrounded by Heavenly Angels, even though he did not mention Mother Mary, she led him before Jesus, the King of kings where he “arrived in his own contry to enjoy the vision of God.”

Stanislaus Kostka 3What a great sign of predestination a person has when they hold to joy of heaven in their hearts as we live out this life trusting in Jesus  through His holy Catholic Church.

“But, as it is written, ‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him,’ God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.”   1 Corinthians 2:9-10

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The Catholic Defender Invited At a Sabbatarian Debate/Discussion

Posted by Donald Hartley - February 21st, 2016

dth22Recently I was invited to participate in a discussion on the question of the Sabbath by a group who upholds Saturday as the true day of worship. I went to the debate with the intent to explain the Catholic Faith which is the source of the Sabbatarianist attacks. At this meeting I was introduced to other Pastors from the Church of Christ, Baptist, Seventh Day Adventist, and some non-denominations.

I was placed in a place of honor at the head of the room which really surprised me, so I actually sat next to the moderator of the discussion. I almost felt like a VIP representing Christ and His Catholic Church. Even participating with this small delegation of local groups, it was a lot of fun for me.

justinThe discussion opened up with a Church of Christ Minister defending the Sunday worship by quoting Catholic Saints like St. Justin Martyr sharing from his writing, “First Apology” from between 153-155 A.D.:

“On Sunday we have a common assembly of all our members, whether they live in the city or the outlying districts. The recollections of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as there is time. When the reader has finished, the president of the assembly speaks to us; he urges everyone to imitate the examples of virtue we have heard in the readings. Then we all stand up together and pray.”

Coming from a Church of Christ Minister, this grabbed my attention and interest because he was using this text to defend Sunday worship, but when you look at the whole text, St. Justin bears the worship out in detail speaking of the Mass. He also referred to Act’s 20:7:

“On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the morrow; and he prolonged his speech until midnight.”

dthg5By this time. I interjected to the group that Acts 2:17-19 states:

“And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; yea, and on my menservants and my maidservants in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. And I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth beneath, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke…”

I went on to explain that St. Luke went on in Chapter 20 giving us such a great sign. It is true that verse 7 does tell us this event happens on the “first day of the week (Sunday)” but the Lord gave a great sign:

euthus“And a young man named Eutychus was sitting in the window. He sank into a deep sleep as Paul talked still longer; and being overcome by sleep, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead. But Paul went down and bent over him, and embracing him said, “Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him.” And when Paul had gone up and had broken bread and eaten, he conversed with them a long while, until daybreak, and so departed.”

I conclude with this portion of this text that this would be the first recorded Midnight Mass! It was wild that in this case the Catholic and Church of Christ was on the same side.

I would soon learn that one of the members in the group was a former Catholic which became interested in what I would say from there on.

The Sabbatarians began to respond that God created the Sabbath for man, that this was a perpetual command from the Lord and they presented some of their perspectives coming from the Old Testament. The Church of Christ Minister began to fall and stumble with this portion of the discussion because the CoC do not hold much to the Old Testament. They see that the Old Testament was fulfilled and does not hold much weight.

manna 1I took up the debate with this reasoning, the first we see the Sabbath in the bible comes from the 16th Chapter of Exodus. The Israelite were wondering in the desert in the wilderness when God gave to the people manna to feed the people. The Israelite were to pick the manna for six days and then on the seventh day, there would not be any because this was a Sabbath. They were suppose to pick up double on the sixth day to have for the Seventh day. This is the first that the Sabbath is mentioned in the Bible.

The Sabbatarians will hold that you see God created everything in 6 days and on the seventh day He rested. My response to this is that we do not see the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob ever called to a Sabbath day. The Sabbath Day really becomes a command from the Lord on Mount Sinai when God gave the Commandments to Moses. This is the baseline why the Sabbatarians are so dogmatic on following Saturday as the Sabbath. They see this built into the Commandments.

SabbathExodus 31:14-16 is very important in this debate:

“You shall keep the Sabbath, because it is holy for you; every one who profanes it shall be put to death; whoever does any work on it, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the LORD; whoever does any work on the Sabbath day shall be put to death. Therefore the people of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, observing the Sabbath throughout their generations, as a perpetual covenant.”

The words to pick out of this text are: Sabbath, Israel, perpetual, and covenant. The most important word here is “covenant” because this is the agreement God made with His people, the Israelite. This means that the Commandments given to Moses for the people to follow was perpetual, that means for all time. However, there was a catch to this covenant. The people would have to be faithful to it. The Sabbath was the sign between the Lord and His people.

Throughout the Old Testament we see the Israelite breaking this covenant time after time and God would always forgive them and it was a circular relationship. Finally, God does allow Israel to be taken away by the Babylonians because of their unfaithfulness. God makes this promise to Jeremiah 31:31-34:

jeremiah 6“Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant which they broke, though I was their husband, says the LORD. But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each man teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the LORD; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

It is clear that God would establish a Covenant “not like the covenant” from before, it would be a new covenant. By this time I was getting the Seventh Day Adventist attention! I went on that Jesus fulfilled this promise of a new covenant with Matthew 26:28:

Cup 6“Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

There is no mistaking that Jesus clearly was fulfilling the promise given to Jeremiah. I then ended this piece of my presentation that Jesus Himself was the first to offer the breaking of Bread on Sunday (Luke 24:30).

At this point a person in the back of the room representing one of the non-denomination groups began challenge me that the Emperor Constantine began the Sunday worship ordinance and I responded with what my Church of Christ friend first provided and then I went a little further, I presented Revelation 1:10 which states:

john 1“I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to La-odicea.”

Notice that St. John refereed to “the Lord’s Day”. I explained that St. Ignatius of Antioch was a follower of St. John the Apostle, that St. Ignatius writes to the Magnesians stating that St. John referred to the Lord’s Day as Sunday. I wanted to make this point because I was aware that the Sabbatarians was holding Isaiah 58:13 what they thought would be a winning hand. Isaiah 58:13 states:

“If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight and the holy day of the LORD honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly;”

Then another Sabbatarian challenged me asking when did the Catholic faith change the Sabbath Day to Sunday. I answered that The Apostles originally following the Ascension of Jesus still went to the synagogue but things changed rapidly with the increase of non-Jewish converts. With the healing of a lame man, St. Peter and John were brought before the Pharisees and Sadducees and were told not to preach the name of Jesus.

Council of JerusalemI responded that the Council of Jerusalem took place in 49 A.D. and this was important because it set the Catholic Church on it’s course set by the Holy Spirit (Acts 15:28-29):

“For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from unchastity. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.”

The Question revolved around whether a convert to the Faith had to first follow the law of Moses to become a Christian. The outcome is significant because the Church said no, they do not.

When St. John wrote the book of Revelation, the Lord’s Day had already been well established as Sunday. An early document known as “The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles” or most known as the Didache states, “But every Lord’s day gather yourselves together, and break bread, and give thanksgiving”.

dth26It was a great honor for me to have participated in this discussion, there is so much more I could cover on the subject, a woman knowing that their case for Sabbataranism had been weakened gave her testimony that she was a former Church of Christ member who is now a Sabbatarian and she told the group she holds her day of rest with only prayer. I asked her why she couldn’t do that on Sunday? I shared that Christians do the same thing on Sunday and then I asked a question that really won our case.

I asked one of the non-denominational Sabbataranist if they believe Jesus Christ was God? The response was very surprising, their answer was “NO”! Hence this is why they are still living in the Old Testament, they deny the truth of who Jesus is. Jesus asked this question, “Who do men say that the Son of Man is”? St. Peter said you are the Christ, the Son of the Living God! It was at this point the leader of the discussion ended the event.

womanThe authority of the Church will be for another time and they felt they needed to close this event down as I was just getting heated up and on fire! I really did enjoy the opportunity but I was given the opportunity to talk with people individually who were asking me and sharing with me their stories. I really loved the opportunity to speak with the fallen away Catholic who was a nice lady, she had been deceived in 1970 by one of these Protestant groups who told her their interpretation of the bible. I was able to peak her interest with stories of conversion and I told her that when people start reading the bible with Catholic eyes, the bible really opens up.

The Lady then became very interested in Deepertruth and the work that we do. Please pray for her, she has been resting 36 years away from the Church and hopefully she will be stirred to return home causing a great party in heaven (Luke 15:7,10)

An after thought: The seventh day, when God rested, that first Easter morning became known as the “Eighth Day”, the day beyond time and nature. It was a new beginning that did not do a way with the Commandments, but gave us greater light from the shadow of what was before the Resurrection (Colossians 2:16-17). Jesus is greater than Moses.

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The Catholic Defender: Beads Of Love

Posted by Donald Hartley - February 20th, 2016

DTB 50I have often told people that when you hold a Rosary in your hand, you are symbolically holding the hand of Our Lady. I have always had a feeling of security having a Rosary in my pocket. No matter where I have been, that continues to be so.

I Timothy 4:7-9 states, “Have nothing to do with godless and silly myths. Train yourself in godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance.”

Other biblical translations will say “devotion is of value in every way…” The Rosary, as a devotion certainly instills godliness. It is really like having a pocket bible because all of the mysteries of the Rosary come from the bible, either explicitly or implicitly.

rosary patrolAs a spiritual tool, the Rosary can give such comfort when it is applied with faith, trust, assurance. There have been times in my life when I was hanging on by a scarlet thread. What kept me going was knowing I had someone praying for me.

It is good from time to time to look back and see where you have been, how the Lord has been there with you through everything that you endure, we are not alone, but our faith is built on the reality we are promised tomorrow.

The Rosary is also a reminder of that love coming from God, that these beads are truly beads of love. Revelation 12:17 teaches, “Then the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea.” We are in a spiritual warfare and Our Lady truly is Our spiritual Mother.

This dragon who is angered waging war with mankind, who stands on the sand of the sea, St. Peter states, “Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some one to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experience of suffering is required of your brotherhood throughout the world.” The Rosary, the beads of love is a great treasure because of it’s heavenly benefit.

ROSARY-AND-SWORD-225x224St. Padre Pio referred to the Rosary as the “weapon” that has extraordinary power against Satan. Galations 6:10-20 states, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace; besides all these, taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that utterance may be given me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.”

dth11Notice St. Paul tells us to “Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.” This requires the action of the will regardless of the emotions. Sometimes prayer takes commitment, sometimes it takes dedication and work, but as a practice and discipline, prayer builds strength. St Jude agrees, Jude vs 20 states, “But you, beloved, build yourselves up on your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit;” dedicated prayer builds strength and when times are tough, prayer is a lifesaver.

The Rosary as a prayer is one of supplication where we are literally praying with the Virgin Mary. When you see praying the Rosary like this, then the beads of love really becomes a faithful encounter with our Mother in heaven who is with Our Lord. As St. John accepted bringing Mother Mary into his house (John 19:27) we too have the opportunity to honor her in our home. Where Mother Mary is being honored, Our Lord Jesus is present.

our-lady-of-the-rosary1It is my encouragement that we lift up all prayer for the Church, for the Pope, the Bishops in union with him and all the clergy. To pray for all the faithful, the strengthening of families and our Nation.

The Rosary is Our Ladies peace plan from heaven. The Rosary is our beads of love that points to love. God is love, “So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

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The Catholic Defender In Alabama

Posted by Donald Hartley - February 20th, 2016

IMG_2430My Wife Gigi is from Alabama and since my retirement from the Army after 26 years, we have moved from Texas to her home State. It has been said that if a man really wants to be happy, you want to make your wife happy. That is a very true statement!

Catholic Convert and Evangelist, John Martignoni welcomed me to Alabama telling me that Alabama is the “promised land”. There are a lot of good things happening in Alabama for the Catholic Faith. EWTN is just right outside Birmingham, I plan to visit there routinely soon.

Recently, I just put up our flag pole and I couldn’t help but take a picture of the flag with the moon in the background. It was really a sight to behold!

IMG_2427While I was up at Glasgow Missouri participating with a Marian Conference, Gigi and our Daughter-in-Law, Szilvia came down to Alabama and found our new home. They did a great job.

I just placed our flag up and in the background you can see Jesus and Mary in the background. I’ve had those statues going back to Fort Campbell in the 1990′s.

Alabama has a lot of good things going for it, our Parish has a great Catholic School, we have a strong Catholic presence. In fact, we have a new Parish that is being created because of our phenomenal growth.

DTHG1This should be our last move and our last home for retirement. Those of you who have served in the Military having families know what moving around the world is like. I am very proud of what we accomplished in the Army. I served with some of the greatest people.

In all of my time in service, my faith was always there for me. In war and peace, and now that I am retired, I want to live for the King of kings and be a good role model for young men to be good Catholics.

Tomorrow, I have been invited to participate in an interfaith dialogue with different groups to explain Catholic beliefs. That is an honor to have been invited. John Carpenter, my co-host for the Journey with Mary series has a book being published this Summer which should really do well. Dr. Gregory Thompson is working on a book based from our series on Eucharistic Miracles and that should really do well also. I am presently working on on a number of books as well so we have a lot to do.

gigi 7We have a number of Conferences that we are working on for the next year so we will be busy. I have also found a job working on the Red Stone Army Base so I look forward in establishing a second career.

I loved Texas, Gigi and I were there for ten years, at least when I was not in Iraq, and I will always have a special bond with Texas. First and foremost, I am thankful for being an American and I am encouraged to see many young people who are standing up for Christian principles. Pray for America!

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The Guardian Angel: Eucharistic Miracle of Herkenrode-Hasselt, 1317

Posted by Donald Hartley - February 17th, 2016

John the baptistHeavenly Father. grace me with love, courage, and purity. Mary intercede for me and put your mantle of protection around this prayer to your Son. If we are true disciples of Jesus and truly love Him and HIS people, we will be pure and call others to purity. Be pure. Lose you life rather than your soul. Stand up for purity.

Mary told the children at Fatima that most people go to hell for sins of the flesh. Listen up my brothers and sisters, kneel and pray for the love and courage to speak up, and stand up. If we don’t stand up for purity, we wont stand up for life. I believe that if we won’t stand up for purity, we won’t stand up. You know that this is true and taught by your faith that we must be pure, and to know this, you have been given much, and much will be expected.

If we don’t tell the Herods of the world that their sexual sins, their adulteries are not right, we will quietly in our silence be responsible to the murders, brutalities, and beheadings that they commit. In Mark 6:18, St. John the Baptist had the love and courage to tell Herod, “It is not right for you to live with your brother’s wife.”

The writer of the book of Hebrews had the love and courage to clearly and bluntly teach: “Let Marriage be honored in every way and the marriage bed be kept undefiled, for God will judge fornicators and adulterers:.” Paul had the love and courage to speak the truth, “Make no mistake about this; no fornicator, no unclean or lustful person has any inheritance in the kingdom of God.” He goes on to say, “Let no one deceive you with worthless arguments. These are sins that bring God’s wrath down on the disobedient; therefore have nothing to do with them”

JimJesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, Love Himself, taught, “What I say to you is; anyone who looks lustfully at a woman has already committed adultery with her in his thoughts.” I again speak of our lives as no game, we are in a battle for our own soul and the souls of others. We must love others enough to let them know that their actions can bring down the wrath of God, and put themselves at risk for eternity. The truth spoken in love can offend, and we can not offend someone into Hell for eternity. We just can’t call it love if we are silent while someone goes to Hell on our watch and we could have said something as God’s vessel that may have turned them and saved them.

To the Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Sorrowful & Immaculate Heart of Mary, GregoryMary

De 1May Jesus give you joy in the following Eucharistic Miracle:

Eucharistic Miracle of Herkenrode-Hasselt, 1317

In the Cathedral of St. Quintinus in Hasselt is exposed the relic of the Eucharistic miracle that took place in Herkenrode in 1317. During the course of the centuries, many tests were done to ascertain the miraculous preservation of the consecrated Host from which Blood flowed.

We recall the test done in the 18th century by the Apostolic Nuncio Carafa and the Bishop of Liège or the one done by the Archbishop of Malines during a visit of the Archduchess Isabel.

De 2In the cathedral we also find numerous paintings depicting the miracle, done by a pupil of Jordaens, Jan van Boeckhorst.

In July 25, 1317, the pastor of the church in Viversel was called to the bedside of one his parishioners who was seriously ill, to receive the holy sacraments. Upon his arrival at the house of the sick person, he rested his handbag containing the consecrated Host on a table at the entrance and went to hear the confession of the sick person.

One of the family members, curious about the handbag, opened it without being noticed. From it he pulled out the pyx, opened the cover and put his hand into it. As soon as he realized that inside there was a Host, he put everything back in order. In the meantime, the priest came out from the room of the sick person to take out the Host with which to give him Communion. He took the handbag with the pyx inside, and when he opened it he saw that the Host he himself had consecrated during Mass was stained with Blood and was in some way stuck to the linen that covered the bottom of the container.

Troubled and panic-stricken with the excuse that he had forgotten something, he rushed out of the house and went to the pastor of nearby Lumen to tell him what had happened. The latter advised him to bring the Particle to the Abbey of Herkenrode.

De 3It was August 1, 1317. The priest left, taking the pyx with him. Along the road, extraordinary things happened. As soon as he arrived at the Benedictine monastery, he showed everybody the Host stained with Blood. Then, the face of Christ crowned with thorns appeared on the Host. This was attested to by numerous witnesses.

In the Cathedral of Hasselt there is a painting in which there is depicted a flock kneeling as the priest, carrying the sacred relic, passes by. In this place, called Sacramentsberg, a chapel was built as a perpetual memorial. From that time on, “the Blessed Sacrament of the Miracle,” which had been placed in a reliquary and exposed to public veneration, more than once protected the monastery of Herkenrode from fire. The reliquary of the miracle was kept at the Abbey until 1796, and in 1804, it was transferred to the Church of St. Quintinus in Hasselt.

I Corinthians 11:26-27 States, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord.”

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The Catholic Defender: Leaving Germany And On To Fort Campbell

Posted by Donald Hartley - February 17th, 2016

IMG_0873It was October 1989 after arriving back to the United States from Germany that I was assigned to Fort Campbell Kentucky. I would first report to Fort Sam Houston for BNCOC (an NCO School).

While I was at Fort Sam I was glad to see the Catholic Priest who had been there when I came through during my initial Advanced Individual Training (AIT). I really enjoyed participating with the choir as this was a release from my normal studies.

There was always good fellowship and I enjoyed Father’s Sunday meetings after Mass over contemporary issues. This reminded me of the CNN show “Crossfire” and I loved it.

IMG_1635All this was a great support for me as I went to the different Schools for progression and promotion. I would be there until March when I returned back to Fort Campbell.

Ft. Campbell is very beautiful. It is right on the Tennessee/Kentucky State line between Clarksville TN and Hopkinsville Ky. The Post Office happens to be on the Kentucky side of the line so it is post marked “Kentucky”.

I was soon placed in the 20th Replacement Center where I In-processed into the Base. I quickly learned that I was going to the 3rd Brigade Rakkasons (HHC 3/187 Infantry).

This would be light infantry. Before, my job was supporting units with tanks driving M113 A-2, A-3 tracked vehicles. Now, I would be hoofing it everywhere we go. We live totally out of our rucksacks, literally.

I would quickly be put in for Air Assault School in July, 1990 and I would soon earn my EFMB (Emergency Field Medical Badge).

IMG_0433My first deployment with HHC 3/187 was in Panama. The Jungle was an interesting place to train. You definitely did not want to mess with the wild because that could get you killed. They have what is called the “Bush Master” a snake that is very territorial and known to be aggressive. They are also very poisonous. When you go there to the Army Base there in Panama, you will see a jar with a finger that was bitten off by one of these snakes. They kept it there for us to see so we would not mess with any of the animals.

There also is the Fer D Lance that would surprise you then kill you very quickly. These are snakes you do not want to mess with out in the triple canopy jungle. We were setting up a bivouac when we discovered one of these snakes sitting in a tree right over the First Sergeant’s hooch (poncho utilized as a tent). That was an uneasy situation. We killed it with a blank shooting an M-16 at it’s head. You had to get close to it to make that kind of kill with firing a blank.

panamaThe heat was dangerous, sunburns were not a small thing there, the jungle would be very dangerous without water. It was great training and I enjoyed my time there. Then Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. Our training began to focus for the possibility of war. We trained extensively against Chemical attack and heat related injuries.

It was reported to us that Saudi Arabia was going to be hot, 130 degrees in the shade. It was the beginning of Fall 1990, that we flew into King Fahd Airport being guided in by F-15′s. There was visibly seen about 40,000 empty body bags stacked near the runway.

That was a wake up call. This was the beginning of Operation Desert Shield. I soon discovered that the opportunity to witness for Christ was going to be incredible. I was able to speak with both Officers and Soldiers in the Saudi desert as they would come to me.

cd !!I remember the Motor Pool Chief was worried that we were not going to make it home. He was raised Catholic, but had not been to Mass in years. I was teaching Soldiers how to pray the rosary, the Stations of the Cross, and read the bible. About 3-4 months into this deployment, we had a Catholic Priest assigned to our unit, I was able to have daily Mass right there in the desert.

We would use an MRE box as an altar. All our training was of great value, we had good leadership, for the most part, the Gulf War went fairly smooth. Upon returning back to the United States, I’ll never forget the welcoming we received with all the people cheering us off the plane at Fort Campbell.

You could hear them from the plane. I couldn’t help feel a lot of pride in our Country and being an American.

Soon after returning to Fort Campell from the Gulf War our next Commander would be one of the greatest leaders I would ever be privileged to serve with. At the time he was LTC David H. Petraeus. He is now General Petraeus. At one time he regarded me as his favorite Medic. He liked visiting the training going on and he always wanted to see the training I had my Medics doing out on the ranges.

IMG_2412On one occasion, I was out supporting a live fire exercise. I’d been out there about a week and I had my video camera so I got some good pictures to include of General Petraeus. One morning I had one of my Soldiers replace me as planned so I could come in to play in the Division/Post Softball Tournament. We did well during the season and we were in for the post cup!

That night, General Petraeus was shot in the chest by a stray round that was fired. My Medic did a good job responding to the situation, treating for both entry and exit wounds, starting IV, and getting him evacuated out of there. As leaders, this is a great example why we need to maintain training as you never know when something can happen. When training events are taking place, for the Medic, it is always real world first.

General Petraeus would be flown to Nashville to Vanderbilt Hospital. He was very much in our thoughts and prayers, three weeks later he would be doing push ups in the Hospital. The man is a machine. He started a Physical Training Program we called “Iron Rakkason“.

PetraousThese were Soldiers who would score well over 300 on their PT test. I would be one of the few that would earn that title. We would go on to win the Post Championship beating our arch rivals from the 502nd Infantry beating them twice to win the title! That was awesome!

I would soon leave the Rakkasons after nearly 5 years of service there. I would reach the pinnacle from being a Senior line Medic, the Evac NCOIC, the Battalion Aid Station NCOIC, and finally as the Medical Platoon Sergeant. I was always proud to have served under General Petraeus.

I have several awards that has his signature to include one for winning a Division Championship for him. The last time I would see him was in Iraq. I was part of 15,000 plus Soldiers that were going after the Belgium 12 plus mile road march Medal when running the opposite direction towards me came General Petraeus and his team of body guards.

petraous 1I was able to recognize him in the dawn of the day and as he ran on by I yelled out “Iron Rakkason“, he responded “Who ah”! For many of you wanting to know where the word “who ah” came from, here is my story:

During the Korean War, the Rakkasons were given this name which mean “falling umbrellas” by the local Korean civilians because that is what they looked like jumping out of planes with parachutes. On one occasion as the Rakkasons were parachuting down, they were being pinned down by enemy gun fire. There was a machine gun suppressing fire from a bunker. One of the Commanders seeing what was happening motioned one of his Platoon Leaders to come to him. He instructed that the Platoon Leader take his platoon and knock out the bunker. The Platoon Leader pauses for a moment and then responds back to the Commander, “Who us”! That is my story where we got the word “Who ah”from!

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The Catholic Defender: Mary, The Mother Of My Lord

Posted by Donald Hartley - February 17th, 2016

cache 1It was 6 May 2007 serving in Iraq where the day before I had been outside the wire looking for enemy weapons cache going house to house. Just to be a part of this, we have some of the bravest Americans who do their job well.

I got up early at o’dark hundred to go to the First Sergeant’s meeting for the day and later went to the Battalion area for a class I was preparing to instruct later that day. While there I struck up a conversation with a Soldier there who asked me about the Catholic Faith. Specifically, about the Blessed Virgin Mary.

This lasted only a short time because I was planning to go to the Division Chapel for the 10:30 Mass. I did explain that Mother Mary is Queen of Heaven because Jesus is King of Heaven. The kings of Israel were never the wife of the king, but their mothers. We first see King Solomon, Son of David, provided a chair for his mother, Bathsheba, where she would intercede on behalf of the people before the king (1 Kings 2:19). This is the Jewish Tradition that we see connecting Jesus and Mary in Psalms 45.

IMG_2394When you offer meat and potatoes, you can get a lot of information in 5 minutes. On my way back to our Battalion area, I meditated on what I just told the young man and how thankful I was to the Lord for having His truth in my heart. With this I began to see the Faces of Mary.

While I was in my room, I had my computer up and running and I stumbled on a story of a recent Catholic Convert, Francis J. Beckwith. To me, this just excited me that much more checking out his story. It was reported that he had been a high ranking member of his congregation world wide.

It’s about a 15 minute walk to the Division Chapel but this particular morning, I was excited about the news so I planned to share this report after Mass when Father gives me the chance to inform people the places and times to be at our Bible Studies and RCIA.

beckwithFor me, the news of Francis J. Beckwith’s returning to the Catholic Faith was huge. He was among the highest Lutheran leaders and highly respected among the Protestant Evangelical academics.

His conversion to the Catholic Faith was like a shot heard around the world. Well, here in Iraq, I heard it and I was anxious to share the news about it.

So, I grabbed my weapon and my gear and I set off to the Chapel. By the time I arrived there, I was drenched, sweating profusely in this 100 plus heat, but it was worth it!

I guzzled down a quick quart of water and prepared for Mass. At the end of Mass, Father as normal gave me the opportunity to announce the upcoming events for the week. We had RCIA that was currently continuing as many people kept coming who wanted to become Catholic. We had just received about 70 Soldiers for the Easter Vigil earlier in April.

100_0425Now I had several more Soldiers who were coming forward to be received into the Catholic Faith. Many from my Battalion! We also had Bible Studies that I was conducting at our Chapel (Warrior Chapel) and at the Division Chapel.

It was now time that I had the chance to tell everyone about Mr. Beckwith coming home to the Catholic Faith. I was speaking with a small group of Soldiers when a an Iraqi contractor approached me to ask me a question. He had originally approached Father, but Father referred him to me.

With a small group listening in, the man asked me what I thought an apostle was. I responded that an apostle was simple one who is sent. That is the textbook definition. However, I explained that Christ sent his Apostles out into the world after preparing them for three years for the Great Commission.

dthg11The Gentleman then identified himself as a “Nestorian” Christian who he claimed represented about 5% of the Iraqi Christians in Iraq at the time.

He wanted to challenge me on why the Catholic Church refereed to Mary as “Theotokos” meaning “Mother God”? I responded with a question of my own, “What is the difference from referring to Mary as “Mother of God” as opposed to “Mother of my Lord”?

I then quoted Luke 1:42-44, “Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, ‘Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled”.

Visitation of MaryNotice that St. Elizabeth refereed to Mary as “blessed” twice during this exchange. Notice also that she refereed to Jesus as “Lord” in her womb as well as the word of the Lord.

Adoni was the word used to illustrate “Lord” referring to God. By this time, my Nestorian friend understood my meaning and with that, he had no further questions. He was interested in our bible studies from this point on.

In this way, Jesus led me to Mary, then Mary, as always leads us all back to Jesus.

REMEMBER, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; to thee do I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.

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The Catholic Defender: Early Military Units And Faith

Posted by Donald Hartley - February 17th, 2016

Army (1)I reported to my first duty assignment at Fort Stewart in June of 1985. After Basic Training and (AIT) Advanced Individual Training I received orders for Fort Stewart Georgia. From the Replacement Center I was attached with the 1st Support Unit, 24th Mechanized Infantry.

Being in a Medical Support Company, I was assigned as a Medic with the Ambulance Section and given responsibility for a track M113A2 vehicle. Out in the field, you have not experienced anything until you get the chance to put up Camouflage netting over a Track vehicle.

There are a million places that the net catches on the Track and you have to set up your poles and butterflies to hide your track from the air. Plus you have to set up quickly but proficiently. Then when you do get set up, they call a move out where you have to break it down and go.

IMG_1874When I first arrived into the unit, my first night there, my roommate took me around the post to show me where the gym was and other places to go.

While standing on a sidewalk next to the gym, a group of black guys walked towards us yelling obscenities at us. I did not pay them much attention as they called us “white trash” and “honkies”. One of them hit me in the mouth as they taunted us.

It totally surprised me. He knocked my hat right off my head. I had a bloody lip but kept my cool. They taunted and threatened us some more. They laughed at me because I had a bloody lip. It became a tense moment. They challenged my roommate wanting to fight him.

They used vulgar and vile language at us. As the night went on, other people began to gather and wanted us to win the fight. There was a crowd that gathered who recognized these individuals as trouble makers.

IMG_2417When it was all said and done, I walked through the crowd and went up to the one who punched me in the mouth and told him, “I forgive you in the name of Jesus Christ” and reached out to shake his hand. With the crowd looking on he shook my hand and I left the scene.  Editors note: There is bigotry from every group and I never held any bias against any race.  These guys would have been wrong no matter what color.

There would be many times that the Lord would place me in situations where he would have to be with me in times of hardship.

On 10 April 1986, a terrible training accident happened late at night when a Black Hawk helicopter collided with a Chinook over the swamps of Fort Stewart Georgia.

It was not far from the on post housing complex where we lived. The wreckage was spread out over a fairly large area in the woods. JP 4 fuel had leaked out all over the place. You could have lit a match and the whole place would have blown up.

crashJust wading the swamp my boots had to be thrown away, my BDU bottoms had to be thrown away, and I had sores on my legs that lasted for months. As Medics, I was among the first on the scene in retrieving the bodies of those who had lost their lives in this tragic accident.

We had to carry them at least 100 yards out of that swamp to where we could take them to the ambulances. As we carried them, all I could do was pray for them. I was praying the ‘Rosary” and the rosary for them as we carried them. There were 8 of them who died in this accident. May the Lord shine his perpetual light upon them and may they rest in his peace.

A continuation of this story takes place while I was in Iraq during OIF 06-08 deployment. Another friend of mine, Steve Ray, a Catholic Apologist, convert to the Catholic Faith, asked me to send him a story of my conversion (reversion) to the Catholic Faith.

The Diocese of New Orleans had encouraged me to write an autobiography so I have the rough draft of this story on Steve’s web-site, “Defenders of the Catholic Faith”. One day, Steve’s message board sent out flags trying to get my attention on the board.

IMG_2422A gentleman was reading through Steve’s conversion stories and found my story. Now, my story is more than 200 pages and when he reached page 80 he read this story about the helicopter crash. Upon reading this he reached Steve Ray wanting to get a hold of me.

He relayed the story that his Brother was one of the Soldiers who had died that day. Even though it was more than 20 years after the incident, it meant something to him to know that someone was praying for his brother at the scene of the accident.

That was very humbling to me that this meant that much to someone. I guess it would be like reading from a magazine to find an article that spoke about a loved one. My faith has always been very important to me. I have been challenged many times in 25 years of Military service and I have been graced to have played a part with many conversions.

IMG_2412Going back to Germany, 1987, I was given a lateral promotion to Corporal. I was now an NCO with my first squad. After nearly two years in two different units, I was finally leader of the Track Pack! I was someone that my Commands loved when it came to going to the field. I could set up and tear down a GP small or medium and help set up a defensive position.

Camouflage was always a challenge, but we always set up well after arriving to new sites. Those all night operations were always a challenge. When we were set up, the war games were always fun. We would always look to steal the guide arm (flag) from the opposing units.

I remember staying up 72 hours straight because I was having so much fun capturing opposing Soldiers. I particularly loved tying young officers to trees or dunking them in the creek! One thing about being in the field, people were more than willing to be philosophers.

IMG_2415I was able to witness the Faith daily with those we met. It was great and I’ll always cherish those times. I received a new Soldier in my squad who would become very important to me. He was drawn to me because of my apparent love for God. He was confused because I was Catholic. He thought that this situation was a contradiction. One night he and a friend of his came to visit me. They wanted to challenge me with this question?

“What about the contradiction that you call your leaders ‘Father’ and the fact that the bible states in Matthew 23:9 ‘and call no man your Father upon the earth; for one is your Father, which is in heaven’. Surly you can not defend this command of the Lord, can you?”

IMG_2421I responded, “Yes I can”! As it was in much of the bible, you must look into the context in which Jesus stated this. This is why Jesus left an authority as a teaching Church, to handle these kinds of questions. 2 Peter 1:20 states, “Know this first of all, that there is no prophecy of Scripture that is a matter of personal interpretation for no prophecy ever came through human will; but rather human beings moved by the Holy Spirit under the influence of God”.

If the Apostles would have taken Matthew23:9 literally, you would see by their example and teaching an obedience to that fact. However, when St. Paul writes to the Corinthians (1 Cor 4:15) he describes himself as a “Father” to his followers. St. Stephen referred to those who persecuted him as his brothers and Father’s (Acts 7:2). St. John refers “Fathers” as those knowing Jesus from the beginning, the leadership (1 John 2:14).

paulSt. Paul writes about “Fathers” as heads of households. I love this picture of the Prodigal Son. The image of the Father is really God the Father receiving all of us home!

St Paul writes, “For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named”.

Jesus referred to Abraham as “Father” Abraham. Abraham’s original name means “Father”, Abraham means “Father” of many nations.

The question you might want to ask is , “What did Jesus mean with Matthew 23:9″?

What Jesus was addressing here was the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. Jesus at this time really lowers the boom on the Pharisees calling them hypocrites, blind guides, blind fools, and whitewashed tombs.

They did acts in public for all to see, wore titles of honor to demonstrate how important they were.

Jesus pulling Peter upIn comparison to God in heaven by contrast, this would be an insult. Jesus saw them as hollow shells without substance.

What I find interesting is why you do not apply the same standard to Matthew 23:8? which states, “Do not be called rabbi” (teacher), and verse 10 says, “Do not be called Master.”

If you try to justify calling any of your leaders anything that refers to “teacher”, you have broken your standard.

The problem is that your standard was not the ruler or gauge the Lord used. This is the problem with “Sola Scriptura”  because things get taken out of context. My Soldier would be received into the Catholic Church before the end of the year! Praise the Lord!

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