“Be brave and try to detach your heart from worldly things”

“Be brave and try to detach your heart from worldly things.
Do your utmost to banish darkness from your mind and come to understand
what true, selfless piety is.
Through confession, endeavor to purify your heart of anything which
may still taint it.
Enliven your faith, which is essential to understand and achieve piety.”

St. John Bosco


(Notre Dame pre fire / Julie Cook / 2018)

Yesterday, I wrote a post about a Catholic priest from Wisconsin,
Fr. Altman, who is being relieved of his duties by his bishop.
The bishop states that Fr. Altman is both “divisive and ineffective.”

The real reason for his removal is due to his publicly stating that
one cannot be a true Catholic while supporting abortion…
one cannot be a true Catholic and a democrat.

That was a comment directed to both then presidential candidate
Joe Biden and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
Two politicians who espouse to be practicing Catholics yet
are both very vocal regarding their support for abortion.

Support for abortion is a stance that is in direct opposition
to the teachings of the Church.
Or so we thought…

Fr. Altman was also very critical of fellow prelates who would deny their flock
communion during the course of the pandemic.

Father Altman doubled down on his stance despite the threats from the Church
hierarchy.
“Jesus warned the Apostles and us that if the world hated him,
it would hate us, just because we are trying to be faithful.
In other words, the world will be divided by the truth,” he continued.
“There will be we who are faithful, who follow the truth,
divided from those who are not faithful and who oppose the truth.”

https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/breaking-fr-altmans-bishop-has-asked-him-to-resign

My post brought about a powerful comment from our biology leaning friend IB
(aka Insanity bytes)

I don’t think she will mind if I share that comment here:

Good stuff, Julie! This really triggered me,
“other shepherds are offended because I simply state
the fact that they abandoned their sheep in a time of need.”

Yep!

My church stayed open, never wavered even when things got heated,
so I was really blessed!
Just the same, every church around me shut down and some are
still shut today.
It’s been such a huge betrayal,
such a feeling abandonment that goes all the way down to my toes.
I had always thought the church would be there for us,
the church is our refuge when an asteroid is heading right for us
or a global pandemic comes.
I did not expect to see so many collapse and abandon their
people immediately.
A church who is not there for her people during hard times
is not a church. A two week quarantine is understandable,
forgivable.
But more than a year?
Get off my planet!

Obviously I got some powerful feelings about all this. 🙂

My response was a resounding AMEN!

It is a betrayal really.
A betrayal by those who’s calling has been to be the very
shepherds and polestars…those who are charged with directing souls
to the risen Savior.
And as IB states so succinctly, it has been a total collapse.
A collapse of the very institution that has been charged
with spreading the very Word of Salvation.

My response to IB:
“Indeed IB— if the Church—as in our sanctuaries, our places of refuge,
our earthly tangible connection to Jesus himself…
if they lock us out during our very hour of need—
if they remain(ed) silent when seniors were shut away from all family
with many dying isolated and alone,
if they refused communion to a spiritually hungry fold or if they
side(d) with death rather than life—
that is not the Bride of Christ as we know her.
Shepherds of the world or shepherds of Christ—
they need to truly ask who it is they serve!!!

When I think of our Church, our bulwark never failing,
I am always reminded of the scene from that classic 1939 movie
The Hunchback of Notre Dame, with the cries of Quasimodo “SANCTUARY”…
meaning one is safe and protected within the walls of the Church…
the Church will protect those who seek her aid…

Here is a scene from one of the greatest films of the 1930s.
The gypsy girl Esmeralda (Maureen O’Hara) has been sentenced to
hang for witchcraft in front of Notre Dame cathedral by
the Chief Justice (Sir Cedric Hardwicke).
She is saved from certain death by the cathedral bell-ringer Quasimodo
(Charles Laughton) to the delight of Gringoire,
who loves her (played by a young Edmond O’Brien) and given sanctuary.

And so if the Church now decides to side with the world…our
sanctuary… our help in ages past and hope for years to come,
has become just another victim, lost to the cancel culture wars…

“Whenever that sacrifice of Christ is memorialized in the Church,
there is an application to a new moment in time and a new presence
in space of the unique sacrifice of Christ Who is now in glory.
In obeying His mandate, His followers would be representing in
an unbloody manner that which He presented to His Father in the
bloody sacrifice of Calvary.
After changing the bread into His Body and the wine into His Blood:
He gave it to them (Mark 14:22).
By that communion they were made one with Christ,
to be offered with Him, in Him, and by Him.
All love craves unity. As the highest peak of love in the
human order is the unity of husband and wife in the flesh,
so the highest unity in the Divine order is the unity of
the soul and Christ in communion.”

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, p. 401-2
An Excerpt From
Life of Christ

losing, looking, knowing, seeing…

“There are two ways of knowing how good God is:
one is never to lose Him,
and the other is to lose Him and then to find Him.”

Archbishop Fulton Sheen


(Christ Pantocrator, the oldest known Icon of Christ, 6th Century AD / St Catherine’s Monastery, Sinai)

This past week has been one full of ups and downs, highs and lows,
and a week of all things in between.
Much of which has been beyond our immediate control.

So I think it was Tuesday morning when I actually was afforded my “quiet time”—
a time when I could truly be alone and in fellowship with God.
A time that was once as regular as clock work…
then people retired and mornings were no
longer my own…
Juggling time took on a whole different sort of meaning.

Tuesday morning I opened my morning devotion, a book of The Divine Hours—
I pray the liturgy of hours—an ancient form of
prayer based on a fixed time of prayer during the course of a day—
mine is an abbreviated devotion of morning, midday, and vespers.
A typical monastic cycle is based on a schedule of 7 times dispersed over a 24 hour period.

According to prayerfoundation.org:
The Seven Historical (Canonical) Hours of Prayer is based upon Psalm 119:164
“Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous laws.”

6:00 am – First Hour (Matins / Lauds / Orthros)
9:00 am – Third Hour (Trece)
Noon Prayer – Sixth Hour (Sext)
3:00 pm – Ninth Hour (None)
6:00 pm (Vespers / Evensong
9:00 pm (Compline)
Midnight Prayer.

These times basically overlap in the three large liturgical denominations…
Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican communions.

When I was attending the church of my childhood, Evensong was my most favorite service–
It was small, quiet, and intimate.
And that’s probably because I grew up in a massive Cathedral
and Evensong was always in a small gothic chapel rather than the cavernous sanctuary
and was always sparsely attended…but I digress.

Nowadays, I’m just lucky to be able to get in the morning devotional–

So Tuesday morning, when I began my reading and recitations, I began reading the affixed
reading for the day—a reading from the Book of Revelation:

Because you have kept My word of perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of the testing,
that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who live on the earth.
I am coming quickly; hold firmly to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.
The one who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God,
and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God,
and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God,
and My new name.
The one who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

Revelation 3:10-13

This is not a revolving sort of reading but a fixed reading.
Meaning it was not chosen precisely for this year of 2020.
It was not chosen for this surreal time but was rather more of a permanent piece of scripture–
it is the same verse read over the years, over the seasons on this particular day–
this Tuesday, the 3rd week of Advent.

And yet here it was staring at me on this particular Tuesday morning,
plain as day— speaking so pointedly to our trying days and time,
speaking plainly to our current prickly world which has been trying our souls day and night
since early March.

We have got to remember that God still sees and He still knows—
He knows we are heavily burdened.
We knows we are down trodden.
He knows.
He sees.
And in that seeing and knowing, He will write his Name upon us.
We will be His and He will be ours.

Hold fast.
The time draws nigh…

Advent.
We wait.
We watch.

bring an empty heart

“It is part of the discipline of God to make His loved ones perfect through trial and suffering.
Only by carrying the Cross can one reach the Resurrection.”

Archbishop Fulton Sheen


(fall leaves doing what they do, fall / Julie Cook / 2020)

Reading the late great archbishop’s words…I would imagine that some readers don’t
much care for the notion of man’s enduring trials and suffering while on this earth…
that of carrying the Cross…with each as a means of reaching the final end goal—
that of our being Resurrected with Christ.

We don’t like to think that we are meant to carry a cross, that we are meant
to suffer or endure…a loving God should want us happy and content right??
A loving God shouldn’t allow those He created and supposedly loves to suffer
or to encounter pain, violence, or be handed a heavy cross to bear…

yet…

What we need to remember is that we live in a fallen world.
Sin shadows our every move.
In our lifetime we will each experience various trials.
Avoiding them as best we try, trials will still come regardless of our vain attempts
to keep them at bay.

However, our best recourse is to rid ourselves of ourselves…
To sever our ties to the trappings of this earth.
To completely empty our hearts.

For it is in that emptying, as St Liguori reminds us, that we are allowed
be open ourselves for the filling of the Holy Spirit.

We must detach ourselves from ourselves and from the world in order to save ourselves.

And it is only through following Christ, first to Golgatha then to that empty
tomb, that we will find our true peace and joy and everlasting life.

“The heart cannot exist without love; it will love either God or creatures.
If it does not love creatures, it certainly will love God.
In order to become holy, we must therefore banish from our heart all that is not for God.
When anyone came to the Fathers of the desert and desired to be received by them he was asked:
‘Do you bring an empty heart that it may be filled by the Holy Ghost?’
And they were right, for a heart that is filled with the things of earth has no room
for the love of God.
He who brings a vessel filled with earth to the spring will never be able to fill it
with water until he empties it of the earth with which it is filled.
How does it happen that so many pray and go frequently to Holy Communion and still make
no considerable progress in the love of God?
The reason is doubtless because the heart is full of self-esteem, of vanity, of self-will,
and of attachment to creatures.
He, therefore, who wishes to arrive at the perfect love of God must practice poverty in spirit.
He must be detached from worldly possessions, from temporal honors,
from his fellow creatures, and from himself.”

St. Alphonsus Liguori, p. 114-5
An Excerpt From
12 Steps to Holiness and Salvation

***off for a few days in order to find a few more falling leaves with the Mayor and the Sheriff

Something about that date…

“But no one can tame the tongue—a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God.
From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so.”

James 3:8-10


one of the side chapels in Santa Maria sopra Minerva / Rome, Italy / Julie Cook / 2018

I don’t know about your phone, but my phone displays, on the home screen, a banner
notification alert to emails, breaking news, missed calls, texts…etc…
One notification kept reoccurring, despite my having already opened and read the email—
weeks ago.

Day after day, the same notification kept showing up.
Despite my having opened it, read it, and closed it.

Glitch?
Power the phone off.
Power on.

The problem was that it kept happening, again and again.

But first, let’s back up a tad…

I subscribe to The Catholic Company’s Morning Offering.
Each morning, bright and early, I receive an email with the day’s quotes, daily office readings,
the saint of the day meditation of the day…etc.

It’s where I find many of the quotes and meditation (observations and writings) excerpts that I use.

I usually save them, only sending them to the trash once I’ve accumulated about a month’s allotment–
making certain I’ve read, savored and pulled out what is needed in my sharing.

Well, I did such for December 18th’s offering…
I didn’t use it that exact day but the following day…I used it when I felt “called” to do so.
I had used the morning of the 18th’s quote by Archbishop Fulton Sheen,
as well as the meditation excerpt from Fr. Basil Maturin.

“There are two ways of knowing how good God is:
one is never to lose Him, and the other is to lose Him and then to find Him.”

— Archbishop Fulton Sheen

It is, then, in following the will of God,
in spite of all the difficulties that may arise both from within and from without,
in the constant offering of ourselves to God as the creatures of His hand to do and to be what
He would have us,
in the surrender of one thing after another that comes between us and Him and holds us back—–
it is in such acts that we unite ourselves with those glorious beings who cast their crowns
before the throne and with those unfallen creatures who have never known what it is to have
a wish or thought apart from the will of God.
Amongst those glorified saints there are, indeed,
many whose wills were for a long time in revolt against God’s will and who brought themselves
at last into subjection, many to whom the will of God here on earth meant the sacrifice of
everything the heart most loved, many to whom it meant the sacrifice of life itself.
But all that is past and over, and its fruits remain—the eternal life of oblation and union
with God, where one will rules those countless multitudes and binds them together and to God,
where each one of those countless millions lives his own complete and perfect life yet never
jars on any other, where each is perfect in itself and all together compose one perfect whole—
the Body of Christ.”

Fr. Basil Maturin, p. 47
An Excerpt From
Spiritual Guidelines for Souls Seeking God

My godfather, who passed away 3 years ago December 29, 2016, was the Episcopal priest
who I often reference in many of my posts.
He was instrumental in my life…
especially during my youthful Christian journey…
as he watched and silently prayed as I ebbed and flowed when beginning a life of my own.
He was the Dean of the Cathedral of St Philip in Atlanta from 1966-1984…
His birthday was December 18th.

And so ironically, oddly or divinely I kept having that errant notification on my phone from the
Catholic Morning Offering for the day of December 18th.

(and you know I don’t believe in coincidence…only prompting by The Spirit)

Day after day the notification was showing up on my phone despite my having read the email.

After powering down the phone multiple times, closing all apps, yada yada, yada…
it would keep popping up.
So I went back to the original email and moved it to the trash…
of which removed it from all of my devices…
I was suspecting my migrating of old to new computers might be to blame but doubted it.

So that was that.
The email was trashed and I hoped the popup notification would leave me alone.

So then out of the blue on December 17th, I received an errant text message from a dear old friend
from out in Billings, Montana.

He was a former priest at the Cathedral when I was in high school and was our priest for youth.
He and I were always very close friends even following our taking separate paths in life.
He moved back home to a small Montana town in order to pastor a small Episcopal Church
while I went off to college.

We’ve stayed in touch sporadically throughout the years…my husband and I even stopped in Billings
a few years back when we were on a driving adventure to Glacier National Park and met up for a bit of
face to face catch up.

But our contact is usually relegated to the yearly Christmas card…

And so I was really surprised when his text popped up out of the blue.

My friend wrote that He and David (Dean Collins) had had a good conversation the evening prior while
my friend was driving back home from church.

I wrote back a tongue and cheek response that their conversation must have been of the divine…
I then asked how he was besides being delusional…

He told me that sometimes he finds that he still needs to run a few things past the Dean, his former
boss, and mentor, as only the Dean would understand.

I get that…as I wholeheartedly agree.

I can’t count how many conversations I still have with my godpoppa…
I deeply miss that twinkling eye and sly smile and rich melodic soothing voice of his
as he’d take me in his arms offering my angst-filled heart comfort or lovingly place those
gentle hands upon my head calling for prayers of healing.

My friend in Montana has since retired as the rector of the Episcopal Chruch there in Billings
and now enjoys fishing as well as keeping up with the families of all of his now grown foster boys.

I told him that it was funny that he text me out of the blue regarding Dean Collins the day before the
Dean’s birthday which would have fallen on the 18th.

So fast forward to earlier this week.

I’ve written about my crazy dreams before.

I don’t always sleep well due to the vivid dreams I often have.

Some are slap crazy.
Some are weird as hell.
Some are troubling.
Some have me walking up my husband as I’m mumbling loudly while thrashing about as I seem to be
struggling in my sleep.
Some are so vivid that I can actually wake with tears rolling down my cheeks.

Well, the other night I had a dream that seemed to last most of the night…going on and on.
And of course, it made absolutely no sense and it was crazy… but…
the Dean was in the dream.

He was as he was when I was in college, but I was as I am now.
We were seated at a large table or maybe it was a long bench but we were seated side by side.

He was right by my side.
And despite the dream making no sense, there was however a sense of peace having him right by my side.

So when I woke up… I figured I needed to go back in and pull up that Morning Offering from Dec. 18th
that kept nagging me.
I wanted–needed–to see if I was missing something.

Or was I simply suppose to repost the quote and excerpts again…maybe someone esle needed to read
them…maybe again.

The bible verse is listed above—James 3:8-10

The quote was by Archbishop Sheen which is listed above along with the same
meditation by Fr. Basil Maturin.

And the saint for the day was–
ST. WINEBALD
St. Winebald (701-761 A.D.) was a Saxon prince born into a holy and royal family in England.
His father, St. Richard the King, and his mother, St. Wunna of Wessex, are both saints, as well as his brother,
St. Willibald, his sister, St. Walburga, and his uncle, St. Boniface.
After making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with his father and brother,
and then spending many years in Rome, Winebald was recruited by his uncle, Boniface,
to join him in evangelizing Germany.
Winebald was ordained a priest and worked as a missionary across Germany, Holland, France, Austria,
Belgium, and Luxembourg, leaving behind many flourishing churches and monasteries
under the Rule of St. Benedict. St. Winebald was an important figure in laying the
foundations of Christianity across much of Europe.
After his death, his tomb became a pilgrimage shrine. His feast day is December 18.

So now let’s look back at today’s picture I posted up above.

Back in October when I was spending a reflective afternoon exploring the beautiful church of
Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, the Chruch of Sanit Mary over Minerva,
I was slowly walking from side chapel to chapel taking in the paintings, and the statuary—
all of the man-created beauty complimenting the Divine offering of peace.
When I found myself stopping, noting an odd little sight.

Something that I don’t think many of the passing tourists even noticed let alone understood the significance.

Someone had tied a scallop shell to the gate in front of the chapel.

Some of the chapels have gates and are locked most days as many of them contain priceless works of art.
These churches are open to the public with little to no security, so given our day and time,
some areas are simply locked off to a wandering public.

The shell is a symbol of St. James and is associated with Christian pilgrims…
Of which you may read here:
https://followthecamino.com/blog/scallop-shell-camino-de-santiago/
(Lynda I hope you have your shell)

And so I knew that a pilgrim had been here before I had been.

Our paths had crossed…unbeknownst to either of us…all but for the breadcrumb of a simple shell left behind.

And so since I feel as if my blog is often a pilgrimage of sorts, I also believe that my blog is
in turn a place for pilgrims to visit.

And thus since there was obviously something about the day’s devotion from Dec. 18th that
needed for, or rather longed for, me to revisit and reshare. I have done so.
It is for whoever may find themselves stopping by for a bit of a respite during their pilgrimage.

“And he began, “What chance or destiny
has brought you here before your final day?
And who is he who leads your pilgrimage?”
“Up there in life beneath the quiet stars
I lost my way,” I answered, “in a valley,
before I’d reached the fullness of my age.
I turned my shoulders on it yesterday:
this soul appeared as I was falling back,
and by the road through Hell he leads me home.”
“Follow your star and you will never fail
to find your glorious port,” he said to me”

Dante Alighieri

Knowing God, following God

“There are two ways of knowing how good God is:
one is never to lose Him,
and the other is to lose Him and then to find Him.”

Archbishop Fulton Sheen


(the Conciergerie or Prison in Paris, France / Julie Cook / 2018)

“It is, then, in following the will of God,
in spite of all the difficulties that may arise both from within and from without,
in the constant offering of ourselves to God as the creatures of His hand to do and to be
what He would have us, in the surrender of one thing after another that comes between us
and Him and holds us back—-
it is in such acts that we unite ourselves with those glorious beings
who cast their crowns before the throne and with those unfallen creatures who have
never known what it is to have a wish or thought apart from the will of God.

Amongst those glorified saints there are, indeed, many whose wills were for a long time
in revolt against God’s will and who brought themselves at last into subjection,
many to whom the will of God here on earth meant the sacrifice of everything the heart
most loved, many to whom it meant the sacrifice of life itself.

But all that is past and over, and its fruits remain—-
the eternal life of oblation and union with God, where one will rules those countless
multitudes and binds them together and to God,
where each one of those countless millions lives his own complete and perfect life yet
never jars on any other, where each is perfect in itself and all together
compose one perfect whole—the Body of Christ.”

Fr. Basil Maturin, p. 47
An Excerpt From
Spiritual Guidelines for Souls Seeking God

love and crosses

“It is part of the discipline of God to make His loved ones perfect through trial and suffering.
Only by carrying the Cross can one reach the Resurrection.”

Archbishop Fulton Sheen


(flowers in a stall in Zurich, Switzerland / Julie Cook / 2018)

“In the old days, people demanded ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,’
and to repay evil for evil.
Patience was not yet on the earth,
because faith was not on the earth either.
Of course, impatience made full use of the opportunities the Law gave it.
That was easy when the Lord and Master of patience was not here.
But now that he has come and put the grace of faith together with patience,
we are no longer allowed to attack someone even with a word—-
not even to call someone a fool without facing the danger of judgment.
The Law found more than it lost when Christ said,
‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven’ (Matthew 5:44-45).
This most important commandment summarizes in a word the universal discipline of patience,
since it does not allow us to do evil even to people who deserve it.”

Tertullian, p. 104
An Excerpt from
A Year with Church Fathers

Does God know…

“While other worldviews lead us to sit in the midst of life’s joys,
foreseeing the coming sorrows,
Christianity empowers its people to sit in the midst of this world’s sorrows,
tasting the coming joy.”

Tim Keller


(deep in the woods, a single leaf falls / Julie Cook / 2018)

Does God know anything about pain?
Does God know what I suffer?
Did God ever have a migraine headache, as if his head was crowned with thorns?
Does God know anything about the wounded hands and feet that are brought into the
accident wards of hospitals?
Does God know anything about the starvation in India and Africa?
Did he ever go without food for two days?
Or three? Or five?
Does God know anything about homelessness?
Was he ever without a home? Does he know what it is to be a refugee?
To flee from one country to another?
Does he know what it is to be in jail?
To be the victim of scourging? Does God know any of these things? Yes.
God is in Christ reconciling the world to himself.

Venerable Fulton J. Sheen
from Through the Year with Fulton Sheen

Christendom

The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers.
We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand,
we are obliged to act accordingly.

Provocations: Spiritual Writings of Kierkegaard


(a hornets nest on the side of a house Blue Ridge, Ga / Julie Cook / 2018)

The world in which we live is the battleground of the Church.
I believe that we are now living at the end of Christendom.
It is the end of Christendom, but not the end of Christianity.

What is Christendom?

Christendom is the political, economic, moral, social, legal life of a nation as
inspired by the gospel ethic. That is finished.

Abortion, the breakdown of family life, dishonesty,
even the natural virtues upon which the supernatural virtues were based,
are being discredited.

Christianity is not at the end.
But we are at the end of Christendom.

And I believe that the sooner we wake up to this fact,
the sooner we will be able to solve many of our problems.

Venerable Fulton J. Sheen
from Through the Year with Fulton Sheen

Answering the question…

Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire;
he breaks out against all sound judgment.
A fool takes no pleasure in understanding,
but only in expressing his opinion.
When wickedness comes, contempt comes also, and with dishonor comes disgrace.
The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters; the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.
It is not good to be partial to the wicked or to deprive the righteous of justice…

Proverbs 18:1-19:29


(a hidden Iris in the straw / Julie Cook / 2018)

The Cross had asked the questions;
the Resurrection had answered them…
The Cross had asked: why does God permit evil and sin to nail Justice to a tree?
The Resurrection answered:
That sin having done its worst might exhaust itself and thus be overcome by Love that
is stronger than either sin or death.
Thus there emerges the Easter lesson that the power of evil and the chaos of any one moment
can be defied and conquered for the basis of our hope is not in any construct
of human power but in the power of God who has given to the evil of this earth
its one mortal wound –
an open tomb,
a gaping sepulcher,
and empty grave.

Archbishop Fulton Sheen

isms

“For in spite of itself any movement that thinks and acts in terms of an
‘ism becomes so involved in reaction against other ‘isms that it
is unwittingly controlled by them. For it then forms its
principles by reaction against them instead of by a comprehensive,
constructive survey of actual needs, problems, and possibilities.”

John Dewey


(a dragonfly readies for take off / Julie Cook / 2017)

In the mid 1930’s there was a very loud and very vocal cry being sounded within the United States..
the voice was sounding the alarm to a rising tide of Communism…
as this rising tide had become a growing cancer on the world’s global stage.

This was at a time just prior to the outright assault of WWII, as war had not
yet been declared…
but Hitler was indeed on the move.

Both Fascism and National Socialism (Nazism in a nutshell) was viewed by most
of Europe, as well as the United States,
as the most serious and fastest growing threat to Western Civilization and
her beloved democracies…

In part because both Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy were within the confines of “Europe”
while Communist Soviet Russia was seen to be more of an eastern threat.
Poland had long served as the lone suffering stalwart blocker in histories past
to invaders, always being the stopgap to regimes set on menacing Europe…
so why should now be any different….

Yet this time Hitler had different plans for Poland and he needed Stalin’s help.

There was however a grim opinion held by a handful of visionary souls that it was
actually Communism which was to be considered the far more sinister sleeping beast.
These hardy and farsighted souls began to formulate a battle cry.

Joseph Stalin had come to power in the Soviet Union in 1929.
Cold, calculating and menacing…a terror the world would not soon forget.
Promoting and spreading the Communist ideal was a top priority.
A totalitarianism manifesto which would eventually dominate the world…if he and others
were to have their way.
Seeds were planted deeply into the various “western” democracies where the grounds were
ripe and fertile as the State would be seen as the
both the new god and guardian of the people…

It would be just a short ten years following his rise to power that in 1939
a toxic union would form between Hitler and Stalin.
A union that barley lasted 2 short years…that was…
once Hitler had decided his need of Stalin was no longer beneficial…
as he merely beat Stalin to the divorce.

And yet we must back up a few years.

Around 1934 Pope Pius XI, along with his top aide Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli
(later Pope Pius XII),
had a meeting with a certain American Catholic Bishop.
His name was Fulton Sheen and his was a bigger than life persona.
He was a dynamic and charismatic personality who was known as both a top
notch educator as well as notable orator.
Sheen was widely popular in the United States with both Catholic and non Catholics alike.
The Pope knew a catalyst when he saw one.

Calling Sheen to Rome, the Pope told the Bishop that he wanted him to study the works
of Karl Marx in order that he could better understand the terrible threat Communism
was to be against not only Christianity but to the betterment of mankind.
The Pope trusted this young vibrant servant of Christ with defending the faith
as well as guarding the dignity of all human life against the growing scourge
of Communism.

Shortly after returning to the States, Sheen addressed the faithful.

“They have thrown down the gauntlet to the world.
The voice is either brotherhood in Christ or comradeship in anti-Christ.
There is no alternative.
If the one does not regin the other will.
They will have chosen the comradeship in anti-Christ —
they can devour anything that is not brotherhood in Christ.
Communism was inspired not by the sprit of Christ but by the spirit of the serpent…
The Mystical Body of the Anti-Christ”

He predicted that neither ‘New Deals [n]or fascism’ would stop communism because they
could not ‘summon’ forth sufficent zeal and fervor.’
They lacked communists’ absolute devotion to their religion”

(excerpt from A Pope and A President / Paul Kengor)

So as we now stand on the landscape of this 21st century…
far removed from the horrors of WWII and it’s battle between the good and evil,
freedom or enslavement…and even decades from that most famous command heard
round the world…
“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall”
we must ask ourselves…how different are our times?

Are we not living in what many now call a post Christian society where secularism
and political activism have both risen to the forefront as the new religions?
Have we not merely traded one form of ism for another..that of progressivism, liberalism,
socialism, and even the counter nationalism…

May we each recall the wisdom offered during those previous dark days….

“The anti-God regime is always the anti-human regime”
Bishop Fulton Sheen