Saturday, July 01, 2006

High Anxiety

"You little fool..." -My Mother's words to me on many occasions.

I seem to be the only nut case blogging on this holiday weekend. So what's my deal? It is hot out, I'm on vacation and I'm avoiding repairing a statue for a client, or finishing a painting, along with mowing the lawn and painting the trim on my house. And I feel guilty - High Anxiety! (Which, by the way, I finally found the video. I watched it and it just isn't as funny as I remembered it - although still enjoyable. The characters are so great and the parody on Hitchcock films is wonderful. I owe many of my lines at work to this film - "These are desperately sick people we're dealing with here!" when defending my crew from criticism. Or, "I assure you, my father is just as sane as I am!" when my management style is questioned.)

Speaking of crazy people, today is the feast of St. Simon Salus, a fool for Christ, if I remember correctly, 'salus' means fool. Here's a quick synopsis of his life from today's "Magnificat":

"St. Simon took up a penitential life in the solitude of the desert near the Dead Sea. After spending twenty nine years thus, he returned to his native city of Emesa, Syria. Simeon imposed upon himself the very humiliating penance of deliberately making himself appear foolish and ridiculous to others, so as to crush his own pride. He was favored by God with extraordinary graces and wrought miracles by his prayers." Works for me! Although I'm still not humble and I have never wrought a miracle, except maybe not getting fired from my job.

Speaking of fools and work. Where I work I come across some very different people, who often remind me of "holy fools". Some of them I really believe are very holy. One man in particular, claims to have revelations from God the Father. Since I've worked there he has repeated to me every year, "This is the year of the chastisement." I like him very much however. He blesses us with holy oils he gets from shrines and prays over us. One notices a sense of peace after each encounter. (Although my assistant can't stand it when he visits the Store.) He's in his 60's I'd say and he has a great white beard and long hair suggesting older images of God the Father, or an "yurodyvi" the Russian word for ascetics who follow the path of foolishness for Christ. He never says anything contrary to the faith - he's just convinced of the messages he receives - which are secrets.

Then there is this other guy. He's scary. he comes in ranting and raving about the bad images we sell - Our Lady talks to him - she's now telling him that her image of Guadalupe is evil and is idolatrous. He talks and talks and talks. He told one co-worker that he should leave our company or else his children will die in his arms. He says the place is evil and will be destroyed. He's told customers they are going to hell. Pretty nuts. I'm going to bar him from the Store if he keeps it up. In his regard I think he is definitely delusional and "desperately ill'. (If I'm found murdered at work he may have committed the crime! So remember this post!)

All in all, I like people with mental illness. I have tremendous compassion for them, probably because my mother was rather neurotic and depressed. I pray for people with mental illness, they are a precious gift for humanity, and their sufferings are a special blessing of Christ's cross. They can also be fun.

My advice for the holiday weekend, "EAT FRESH!" (As Jon Lovitz for Subway says. He's another little fool I love!)

Friday, June 30, 2006

On the feast of the first Roman Martyrs

Missionaries of Charity

Four Missionaries of Charity were confronted in India and detained by Hindus as they were going on their regular rounds to visit patients in a hospital. They have been arrested and jailed.

One always imagines the people of India to be so gentle, especially Hindus, who revere cows and animals and believe in reincarnation, why would four little nuns be such a threat? Here's the story from Asia News:

Four Sisters of Mother Teresa imprisoned on proselytism charges

The four Missionaries of Charity were harassed and imprisoned on proselytism and conversion charges. The archbishop of Hyderabad told AsiaNews about their complete dedication to the poor and called for an in-depth inquiry into what happened.

Hyderabad (AsiaNews) – A crowd of Hindu fanatics set upon four sisters of Mother Teresa in a hospital and had them arrested by local police on charges of proselytism and conversion of the sick.

Archbishop Oswald Gracias, President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India told AsiaNews: “This tragic attack on the nuns of Mother Teresa is shocking and has to be condemned in the strongest terms. This is all the more so because these nuns are known all over the world for their altruism and dedication to the poor.”

The four Missionaries of Charity were attacked on 25 June as they went about their weekly visit in a hospital in the city of Tirupati – a Hindu pilgrimage place – in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh. The four sisters, all aged around 35, were in the government hospital of Ruia, where they usually spend time with patients who are terminally with AIDS. A group of around 50 fanatics of the Hindu Dharma Parirakshana Samithi [group for the defence of the Hindu religion] broke into the hospital, blocked the four sisters and accused them of trying to convert patients.
The crowd swelled rapidly and soon there were around 300 people. They forced the sisters to remain in the hospital until 8.30pm. Then police officials arrived and took the women to the local police station.

Mgr Marampudi Joji, Metropolitan Archbishop of Hyderabad, told AsiaNews: “The sisters have official government permission to do visit the wards, which they have done every Sunday for the past 20 years. The sisters, in agreement with the hospital administration, have welcomed these dying patients into their homes, where they can die surrounded by dignity and love.”

I know in the past some of Mother's nuns have been killed, I do not kow if they are classified as martyrs however. St. Francis of Assisi saw martyrs from his Order within his lifetime. The slap on the face we used to receive at Confirmation was a sign of what we could expect for our witness to Christ and the Gospel. The red vesture of a Cardinal is to signify his readiness to die for Christ. There are so many symbols of martyrdom in Catholic life, and the possibility is no longer unlikely for any Christian anywhere in the world.

Here is another story I found, an anecdote from the life of Blessed Mother Teresa, I guess it shows that there have been troubles from the beginning:

Sister Andrea tells the story of Mother Teresa and the Kali temple in Calcutta. “The temple is a Hindu temple, and Mother and the sisters were there helping the poor and dying. This upset the locals, that someone of another faith would be in a Hindu temple helping Hindus, and the local people called for an official to remove Mother. The man arrived and entered the temple to find Mother washing a dying man and sisters helping various people. The official walked out on the steps of the temple and addressed the people: ‘Tomorrow when I return, if I see your wives and sisters doing the work of Mother Teresa, then I will throw her out of the temple.’” (Needless to say Mother and the Sisters were never thrown out. Perhaps these Sisters today will be exonnerated as well.)

I the meantime, let's pray for our sisters, the Missionaries of Charity, on this the feast of the First Holy Martyrs of the Church of Rome. The Missionaries are an extraordinary group of very holy and courageous women. Holy Mother Teresa of Calcutta, pray for your daughters, be with them and comfort them in their trials.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Night of the Long Knives

Pope St. Pius V

I was looking at some traditionalist websites to see if they had anything to say about Paul VI and came across a startling brief by Pius V on the punishment regulated for priests found guilty of homosexuality. (Praise God that we live in the era of Divine Mercy!) After reading it I recalled a moment in history from Nazi Germany that seemed to me even more grotesque. It happened on this night in 1934. (What a strange coincidence that I should recall all of this today - when I went to Wikipedia I discovered that June 30 was the anniversary of the massacre.)

The night of June 29th and June 30th is a dark anniversary of sorts. It came to be known as the night of the long knives when Hitler ordered that members of the SA or "Brown Shirts" (his storm troopers) be purged of communists, gays and other unsavory types he felt threatened his regime. I saw a film about it in the late '60's, I think it was called "The Damned", a film that left a strong impression upon me. That being the case, it is most likely the reason why I thought of the film, and subsequently the event.

The paranoia of all dictators, Adolf Hitler being no exception, revolves around the inability to trust the people surrounding him. These individuals witnessed how power was seized, and therefore, may want to take over the position themselves. Historically, dictators have taken the important step to eliminate their rivals. Hitler was no different and began murdering the competition, individuals within the party whom he had earlier exploited, almost immediately after he gained power.

Many of these men were in his "Brown Shirt" organization. On 30 June 1934, at 3:00 in the morning, Hitler sent his personal bodyguards the "schutzstaffel" or SS to arrest key leaders of the "Brown Shirts." In all, 1000 men were picked up, driven to local prisons and shot. These were the same men that Hitler had used to gain power, and in many cases, were close personal friends. With elimination of potential threats to his rule, and the death of Hindenburg, Hitler was in firm control. The only institution left that posed an immediate threat to his power was the army. As Chancellor and President of Germany, Hitler took the bold step of forcing the army to swear allegiance to him personally. This meant that the soldiers were to fight for him, not their country.

The leader of the SA was Ernst Rohm, a friend of Hitler's. Hitler initially protected Rohm from other elements of the Nazi Party which held his homosexuality to be in violation of the party's evolved anti-gay policy. However, Hitler later changed course when he perceived Rohm to be a potential threat to his power. As mentioned, during this night of 1934 a purge of those who Hitler deemed threats to his power took place. He had Rohm murdered and used Rohm's homosexuality as a justification to quell outrage within the ranks of the SA. After solidifying his power, Hitler would include gay men among those sent to concentration camps during the Holocaust. Many of these gay men were also Jewish and this seems to be a major reason that they were so heavily targeted by the Nazis.

Himmler had initially been a supporter of Rohm, arguing that the charges of homosexuality against him were manufactured by Jews. But after the purge, Hitler elevated Himmler's status and he became very active in the suppression of homosexuality. He exclaimed, "We must exterminate these people root and branch... the homosexual must be eliminated."
(Thanks to Wikipedia and other sources for this information.)

It is interesting to note that "Gay Pride" month ends upon so dismal an anniversary. It is my opinion that acceptance of a person's homosexual orientation is one matter, acceptance of homosexual activity is quite another. Especially when it is forced upon society and culture through legislation such as same-sex marriage laws, gay adoption, etc. I do not in any way condone or approve of concentration camps or murderous rampages, nor any kind of violence against gay people. I just do not trust history however. Currently the gay agenda is useful for the "cultural warriors" seeking to promote the culture of death, just as they were in nascent Nazi Germany. There will be a backlash against all immorality one day, not by Christians but by totalitarian regimes, this could all happen once again. Nevertheless, first of all the Christians will have to suffer persecution from the governments who consider their moral teachings to be hate crimes. Remember, Hitler intended that as well, after the war he intended to crush the Church.

It's an extreme thought for extreme times, and it's late and I'm tired. perhaps I shouldn't post this.

St.'s Peter and Paul

The Coronation of Paul VI.

June 30 marks the forty third anniversary of the Papal coronation of Pope Paul VI, the last pope to accept this ritual. Very few Catholics realize that Paul VI also initiated the crucifix crosier that became so identified with John Paul II. When he adopted this crosier it immediately suggested to me that the Holy Father chose to emmulate the Apostle St. Paul when he wrote, "I came among you preaching Christ crucified, and Him alone." (Please excuse my 'free-base' quotes of Sacred Scripture.) Paul VI became at that time the most widely traveled pontiff in modern history, only to be outdone by his successor JPII. Paul VI closed the Vatican Council and proceeded upon a pontificate of evangelization. Sadly, under his reign all hell broke loose in the Church and he suffered much as a result, doing his best to avoid schism and splintering within the Church. He has been gravely criticized since.

I for one always thought he was a saint. I once referred to him as 'great' in a conversation with a couple of rather intellectual and holy priests. One priest immediaately corrected me with anecdotes of his weaknesses and omissions. I silently accepted the correction however, knowing in my heart that I was speaking of his personal sanctity. To this day I wonder if we may criticize or judge the Supreme Pontiff.

Everyone knows his truly great, as well as prophetic encyclical "Humanae Vitae" which penetrated like a sword through the heart of western culture. This encyclical could possibly be said to have caused something of a 'spiritual' schism of sorts amongst some of the so-called faithful, although no one ever has cited it as such, referring to those who opposed it as dissenting Catholics. As we all know, they remain with us in abundance today.

The Holy father was not immune to assasination attempts, the most notable in the Phillipines when a man armed with a knife nearly attacked him. At one point in his pontificate an ex-seminarian or priest? - if I remember correctly - probably a homosexual activist, accused him of homosexuality. There had been a news clip of the Holy Father decrying the slander on television wherein his voice broke with emotion, denouncing the slanderous accusation. "The Holy Father will have much to suffer." (Our Lady's prophecy at Fatima.) Pope Paul surely did suffer. Physically, morally, and spiritually. He had nearly crippling arthritis, making it difficult for him to walk in his later years. He resorted to the use of the sedan chair carried by attendants (pictured above at his coronation ceremony) when celebrating liturgical functions at St. Peter's and elsewhere in Rome.

The very last two Masses of his that I had the privlege to attend were for today's feast of St. Peter and Paul, and for tomorrow's memorial of the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome. He looked frail and needed a great deal of assistance. I knew he would not live much longer. A year or so later, he was dead. In my mind he was a great Pope, a holy Pope. I do not have the intellectual acumen, the ecclesiastical sophistication, nor the moral or spiritual superiority to say otherwise. His dark eyes looked at me once as he was being carried into St. Peter's, blessing the crowd, and I was certain when our eyes met that he looked into my soul - how many people say things like that? - yet for me it was an inestimable grace. I love him and I love the Pope!

St.'s Peter and Paul, pray for us!