Monday Night at the Movies
Christian Carion, Joyeux Noel, 2005
FEAST OF ST. JOHN OF CAPISTRANO
Luke, Chapter 1, verse 67-75:
67 Then Zechariah his father, filled with the holy Spirit, prophesied, saying: 68 “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, for he has visited and brought redemption to his people.69 He has raised up a horn for our salvation within the house of David his servant, 70even as he promised through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old:71salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us, 72to show mercy to our fathers and to be mindful of his holy covenant 73and of the oath he swore to Abraham our father, and to grant us that,74rescued from the hand of enemies, without FEAR we might worship him75in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
My prayer is that the Lord our God will rescue the Christians and Jews in the Middle East so they might worship him in holiness and righteousness. Indeed, this prayer is needed in our own country where our government, colleges and the media have shown they hate us as we are a “basket of deplorables”.
In America, we have until now had no fear of worshiping him in holiness and righteousness. In fact, the model in America since its founding has been one of “Many religions, but one covenant”. We are certainly a blessed people because we have not abandoned the covenant, nor shall we if the vision of George Washington at Valley Forge is true. In it he saw that American would remain true to our creator.
"Son of the Republic…Three great perils will come upon the Republic. The most fearful is the third, but in this greatest conflict the whole world united shall not prevail against her. Let every child of the Republic learn to live for his God, his land and the Union."
With these words the vision vanished, and I started from my seat and felt that I had seen a vision wherein had been shown to me the birth, progress, and destiny of the United States.
How do you see the mysteries of the Lord’s Sacred Passion manifest in the Church today?
As Christ’s Mystical Body and His Bride, the Church must pass through the mysteries of her Divine Spouse. The current crisis is without any doubt the moment of the deepest suffering for the Church, of her most intense participation in the Sacred Passion of Christ. The greatest Passion of the Church is not persecution by her enemies from outside, but persecution by her enemies from within ruthless people without faith who have managed to reach high and influential ecclesiastical offices.
When Christ suffered in Gethsemane, He didn’t receive support from His Apostles, since even the three whom He took with Him into the garden slept while He prayed and suffered the deepest spiritual anguish, His agony. When Christ was arrested and interrogated, the Apostle Peter, whom He constituted the visible rock of His Church, in a cowardly way thrice denied Him. When Christ was crucified, there remained only one faithful Apostle at His side, St. John, together with Our Lady and the other holy women.
From the circumstances of Christ’s Passion, we can better understand the spiritual and even mystical sense of the suffering of Christ’s Bride, the Church. The current crisis within the Church represents the deepest form of suffering, since the Church is now persecuted, scourged, stripped, and derided not by her enemies but to a large extent by her Shepherds, by many of those who are successors of the Apostles, by many traitors in the clerical ranks who are the new Judases.
Here I cannot fail to quote the following words of Archbishop Fulton Sheen, which he wrote in 1948 and which are strikingly relevant and significant for the current situation: “[Satan] will set up a Counter-church, which will be the ape of the Church. It will have all the notes and characteristics of the Church, but in reverse and emptied of its divine content.... The False Prophet will have a religion without a cross. A religion without a world to come. A religion to destroy religions. There will be a counterfeit Church. Christ’s Church will be one, and the False Prophet will create the other. The false Church will be worldly, ecumenical, and global. It will be a loose federation of churches and religions, forming some type of global association, a world parliament of Churches. It will be emptied of all divine content; it will be the mystical body of the Antichrist. The Mystical Body on earth today will have its Judas Iscariot, and he will be the False Prophet. Satan will recruit him from our bishops.”
This is a fearsome thought, that Satan will corrupt the hierarchy of the Church in order to establish a false Church. How should the faithful respond?
When Christ suffered in Gethsemane, He was strengthened by an angel. This is a deep mystery: God in His human nature wanted to be consoled and strengthened by a creature. In this enormous spiritual crisis, we are witnessing inside the Church, Christ is being consoled and strengthened by the souls who remain faithful to the purity of the Catholic faith, by souls who live a chaste Christian life, by souls who are committed to a life of intense prayer, by souls who do not run away from the suffering Christ, from the suffering Mother Church. The consolation and strength which Christ received from the angel in Gethsemane already contained the acts of expiation and reparation of all the faithful souls throughout the history of the Church.
So many souls are suffering in our day, especially over the past fifty years, because of the tremendous crisis of the Church. The most precious are hidden sufferings of the little ones, of the persons who were put out to the periphery of Church by the liberal, worldly, and unbelieving ecclesiastical establishment. Their sufferings are precious, since they are consoling and strengthening Christ who is mystically suffering in our current crisis within the Church. We also know the famous expression of Blaise Pascal in his Pensées: “Jesus will be in agony even to the end of the world. We must not sleep during that time” (n. 533). The current crisis of the Church, which is a mystical suffering of Christ in and for His Church, should call us to avoid spiritual sleep and be watchful, so that we may not be deceived by the spirit of the world which has so penetrated the Church. When the Church was passing through the great tempest of spiritual crisis in the sixteenth century—a crisis caused mainly by the infidelity, spiritual laziness, and scandalous lifestyle of the clergy—St. Peter Canisius, the second apostle of Germany, formulated this shocking phrase: “Peter sleeps, but Judas is awake.”
We can fully apply this statement to the current crisis in the Church. The highest ecclesiastical authorities were to a great extent sleeping during the past five decades, by not preventing the promotion of unworthy persons to influential ecclesiastical positions. Unbelieving and oftentimes morally corrupt bishops and cardinals were the new Judases, who were very much awake and ready to betray Christ in various ways. Memorable are the words of St. Vincent de Paul, who said that priests who live like the vast majority are the greatest enemies of the Church, and that the depravity of the clerical state is the principal cause of the ruin of the Church.
These words are fully applicable to the current situation of the crisis within the Church. Cardinal Robert Sarah, in his recent book Le soir approche et déjà le jour baisse [The Day is Now Far Spent], speaks about the shattering reality and mystery of Judas in the ranks of the clergy. The first chapter of his book is entitled, “Alas, Judas Iscariot,” where we read the following words: “The mystery of betrayal oozes from the walls of the Church.... We experience the mystery of iniquity, the mystery of betrayal, the mystery of Judas.... The evil of an efficacious activism has infiltrated everywhere.... We seek to imitate the organization of large companies. We forget that only prayer is the blood that can irrigate the heart of the Church.... The one who does not pray anymore has already betrayed. Already he is ready for all the compromises with the world. He is walking on the path of Judas.”
However, even in midst of so many clerical Judases inside the Church today, we have to maintain always a supernatural vision of the victory of Christ, who will triumph through the suffering of His Bride, who will triumph through the suffering of the pure and little ones in all ranks of the members of the Church: children, youth, families, religious, priests, bishops, and cardinals. When they remain faithful to Christ, when they keep unblemished the Catholic faith, when they live in chastity and humility, they are the pure and little ones in the Church.
The following words of St. Paul, which aptly apply to individual souls, apply in much the same way to the Church, and to the Church of our days in particular: “If we suffer with him, we shall also be glorified with him” (Rom 8:17). St. Alexander of Alexandria, the immediate predecessor of St. Athanasius, left us the following precious statement on the invincibility of the Church: “The only one catholic and apostolic Church will remain always indestructible, even if the entire world wages war against her. Because her Lord strengthened her, saying: ‘Take heart! I have overcome the world’ (Jn 16:33).”
On the obelisk in St. Peter’s Square are inscribed the words Christus vincit, and the tip of that obelisk contains a relic of the true Cross. The Roman Church, the Apostolic See of St. Peter, is crowned, so to speak, with these luminous words Christus vincit, and with the power of the Holy Cross of Christ. Even if during the present crisis and spiritual obfuscation one might have the impression that the enemies of Christ and His Cross have to a certain extent occupied the Holy See, Christ will defeat them. Christus vincit!
St. John of Capistrano
St. John was born in 1386 at Capistrano in the Italian Province of the Abruzzi. His father was a German knight and died when he was still young. When war broke out between Perugia and Malatesta in 1416, St. John tried to broker a peace. Unfortunately, his opponents ignored the truce and St. John became a prisoner of war. On the death of his wife he entered the order of Friars Minor, was ordained and began to lead a very penitential life. John became a disciple of Saint Bernadine of Siena and a noted preacher.
· The world at the time was in need of strong men to work for salvation of souls.
· Thirty percent of the population was killed by the Black Plague, the Church was split in schism and there were several men claiming to be pope.
· As an Itinerant priest throughout Italy, Germany, Bohemia, Austria, Hungary, Poland, and Russia, St. John preached to tens of thousands and established communities of Franciscan renewal.
· He reportedly healed the sick by making the Sign of the Cross over them. He also wrote extensively, mainly against the heresies of the day.
· He was successful in reconciling heretics.
After the fall of Constantinople, he preached a crusade against the Muslim Turks. At age 70 he was commissioned by Pope Callistus II to lead it and marched off at the head of 70,000 Christian soldiers. He won the great battle of Belgrade in the summer of 1456. He died in the field a few months later, but his army delivered Europe from the Moslems.
Things to Do
· St. John struggled with finding his vocation. Younger people can pray to St. John for help in discerning God's will for their lives.
· Learn more about the times that St. John Capistrano lived, such as the Crusades, the Black Plague, anti-popes.
· St. John is the patron of jurists. We can turn to him to help discern major decisions. We can also follow his example of strict self-discipline in order to think more clearly.
· In 1776 in Southern California, Father Junipera Serra founded the Mission of San Juan Capistrano, named for St. John, for mission work to the Indians. The mission is a historical site and has both a Catholic Basilica and the original smaller chapel that are still used for Catholic liturgy. See the Wikipedia page. There is also a tradition of the swallows returning to San Juan every March 19. Find out more about this annual event.
Catechism of the Catholic Church
PART TWO: THE CELEBRATION OF THE CHRISTIAN MYSTERY
SECTION TWO-THE SEVEN SACRAMENTS OF THE CHURCH
CHAPTER TWO-THE SACRAMENTS OF HEALING
Article 4-THE SACRAMENT OF PENANCE AND RECONCILIATION
VIII. The Minister of This Sacrament
1461 Since Christ entrusted to his apostles the ministry of reconciliation, bishops who are their successors, and priests, the bishops' collaborators, continue to exercise this ministry. Indeed bishops and priests, by virtue of the sacrament of Holy Orders, have the power to forgive all sins "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."
1462 Forgiveness of sins brings reconciliation with God, but also with the Church. Since ancient times the bishop, visible head of a particular Church, has thus rightfully been considered to be the one who principally has the power and ministry of reconciliation: he is the moderator of the penitential discipline. Priests, his collaborators, exercise it to the extent that they have received the commission either from their bishop (or religious superior) or the Pope, according to the law of the Church.
1463 Certain particularly grave sins incur excommunication, the most severe ecclesiastical penalty, which impedes the reception of the sacraments and the exercise of certain ecclesiastical acts, and for which absolution consequently cannot be granted, according to canon law, except by the Pope, the bishop of the place or priests authorized by them. In danger of death any priest, even if deprived of faculties for hearing confessions, can absolve from every sin and excommunication.
1464 Priests must encourage the faithful to come to the sacrament of Penance and must make themselves available to celebrate this sacrament each time Christians reasonably ask for it.
1465 When he celebrates the sacrament of Penance, the priest is fulfilling the ministry of the Good Shepherd who seeks the lost sheep, of the Good Samaritan who binds up wounds, of the Father who awaits the prodigal son and welcomes him on his return, and of the just and impartial judge whose judgment is both just and merciful. the priest is the sign and the instrument of God's merciful love for the sinner.
1466 The confessor is not the master of God's forgiveness, but its servant. the minister of this sacrament should unite himself to the intention and charity of Christ. He should have a proven knowledge of Christian behavior, experience of human affairs, respect and sensitivity toward the one who has fallen; he must love the truth, be faithful to the Magisterium of the Church, and lead the penitent with patience toward healing and full maturity. He must pray and do penance for his penitent, entrusting him to the Lord's mercy.
1467 Given the delicacy and greatness of this ministry and the respect due to persons, the Church declares that every priest who hears confessions is bound under very severe penalties to keep absolute secrecy regarding the sins that his penitents have confessed to him. He can make no use of knowledge that confession gives him about penitents' lives. This secret, which admits of no exceptions, is called the "sacramental seal," because what the penitent has made known to the priest remains "sealed" by the sacrament.
· Eat waffles and Pray for the assistance of the Angels
· Litany of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus
· Monday: Litany of Humility
Schneider, Bishop Athanasius. Christus Vincit: Christ’s Triumph Over the Darkness of the Age