Out of the 386 apparitions, the Church has decided that "yes" there is a supernatural character only in eight cases: Fatima (Portugal), Beauraing (Belgium), Banneux (Belgium), Akita (Japan), Syracuse (Italy), Zeitoun (Egypt), Manila (Philippines) (according to some sources), and Betania (Venezuela). Local bishops have approved of the faith expression at the sites where these eight apparitions occurred. http://campus.udayton.edu/mary/resources/aprtable.html
I have noted this site on this blog before years ago, but a reminder is good. If it is not approved, do not follow...period.
I hope you listened to this. It was wonderful. The Prime Minister can invoke Moses and God, why not our president? Feedback from some Dems is horrible. They are so blinded by POTUS they cannot see the point.
What people do not realize is that Israel represents Western Civilization in the Middle East.
God bless those who had the courage to invite him today.
For those who did not watch this, good luck finding it on the controlled US media.
So Scripture says of Tobias, “Thus the Lord permitted him to be tempted so that an example might be given to posterity of his patience, like blessed Job.” (Tob. 2:12) Be careful not to believe that the Lord had been persuaded by the words of Satan to permit Job to be afflicted, but he ordered this from his eternal disposition to make clear Job’s virtue against the false accusations of the impious. Therefore, false accusations are placed first and the divine permission follows.
It is interesting that two of the most intriguing books in the Old Testament deal with angels, suffering and men with families. These themes are, of course, not accidents, but detailed histories woven into morality stories for us to learn about higher virtues.
The type of suffering into which both Job and Tobias enter is not due to their sins, but because of their virtues.
God is perfecting them. And, as Thomas points out in the above paragraph, the stories are for our benefit-examples not only of patience, but the deep patience of suffering.
America as a whole nation experienced intense suffering during The Great Depression and droughts which happened at the same time. The Dust Bowl of Oklahoma and other states remain scarred in the memories.
That generation is disappearing, My mother remembers tramps everywhere in St. Louis and her mother feeding people on the steps of the back porch. She remember people selling apples on the street.
We endured great suffering during the Civil War, our greatest war.
No one is immune from suffering. But, we need not fear.
There are different types of reasons for suffering. The first is indifferent or natural evils, such as drought, tornadoes, floods. Humans have always faced these and these are not demonic, just natural.
The second type is malicious, such as murder, abortion, or abuse. Negligence is also malicious, as is greed and all the seven deadly sins.
The third type is accidental, which is merely owing to man's errors or a combination of nature and sin, such as the buildings collapsing two weeks ago, killing people.
But, notice what the great Thomas states about natural suffering:
Consider that since all this aforementioned adversity comes from Satan, it is necessary to confess that with God’s permission demons can bring about turbulence in the air, can stir up the winds and can make fire fall from heaven. For although corporeal matter obeys only the nod of God the Creator for the reception of forms, and does not obey the nod of either the good or the wicked angels, corporeal nature is still born to obey spiritual nature as far as local movement is concerned. Evidence of this appears in men, for the members of the body are moved at the mere command of the will to pursue the act desired by the will. Whatever then can be done only with local motion, can be done by not only the good but also the wicked angels from their natural power, unless prohibited by divine power. The winds the rains and other like disturbances in the atmosphere come about only from the motion of the vapors released from the earth and the water. Thus the natural power of a demon is sufficient to procure these things. However, sometimes they are prohibited from this by divine power so that they are not permitted to do everything which they can do naturally. Nor is this contrary to what is said in Jeremiah, “Are there any among the false gods of the nations which can give rain?” (14:22) For it is one thing that the rain takes place by natural cause and this is the office of God alone who orders natural causes to this; it is another thing to use artificially those natural causes ordered by God to rain to produce rain or wind sometimes in an almost extraordinary way
Many Catholics cannot deal with the suffering of the innocent, but we call these people saints, or martyrs.
As in Job, as Thomas points out, Satan wants to bring us to impatience and blasphemy. One of the most famous photos of the Depression is Dorothea Lange's of a California Mother. Here is a description.
Florence Owens Thompson and her children in Nipomo, California is a photo taken in February of 1936. The woman had seven children. Here is part of an interview from the photographer.
I saw and approached the hungry and desperate mother, as if drawn by a magnet. I do not remember how I explained my presence or my camera to her, but I do remember she asked me no questions. I made five exposures, working closer and closer from the same direction. I did not ask her name or her history. She told me her age, that she was thirty-two. She said that they had been living on frozen vegetables from the surrounding fields, and birds that the children killed. She had just sold the tires from her car to buy food. There she sat in that lean- to tent with her children huddled around her, and seemed to know that my pictures might help her, and so she helped me. There was a sort of equality about it.
(From: Popular Photography, Feb. 1960).
Migrant Mother, as she was called, was a pea picker.
Daily, perhaps, God allows us to face suffering not only for our own perfection, but for that of others.
If we cooperate, like Job, and face the mystery, we shall not only be purified, but deified, as Bernard writes.
I grew up with these photos, as my parents were alive and remembered such sad tales. Thankfully, my dad's family did not experience the Depression, but some did.
Many young men traveled to find work which did not exist.
February 1939. Calipatria, Imperial Valley. Car on siding across tracks from pea packing plant. Twenty-five year old itinerant, originally from Oregon. “On the road eight years, all over the country, every state in the union, back and forth, pick up a job here and there, traveling all the time.”
What Job and Tobias experienced shadowed what we all experience to some extent. Catholics, perhaps, or those who love the Lord and contemplate His Passion, know that suffering is part of the human experience, part of who we are as human beings. Suffering is a great mystery. But, many people do not want to engage in the sufferings of others. They want to avoid suffering, as if it is a disease, like the measles.
I know this from experience. In the greatest times of suffering in my life, I have either been alone or with one person, my son. Sadly, those who suffer are ostracized, like Job. Even his wife scolded him.
This child could have been my mother, my aunts, anyone caught up in the times of trouble.
December 1935. “Resettled farm child. From Taos Junction to Bosque Farms project, New Mexico.”
And the woman below told people the same thing I have told people. June 1938. Outskirts of El Paso, Texas. “Young Negro wife cooking breakfast. ‘Do you suppose I’d be out on the highway cooking my steak if I had it good at home?’ Occupations: hotel maid, cook, laundress.”
She had to explain her suffering to someone who obviously did not understand that her state was not her choice. She was a Job, a Tobias.
Her suffering is my suffering, and it should be yours as well. That is one of the lessons of Job.
There is a famous story of a young girl in France, who was Jewish. On her way home from school, on July 15 or 16, 1942, she witnessed the infamous Vel d’Hiv roundup, when up to 13,000 Jews in Paris were taken to the old stadium Vélodrome d'Hiver and sent to Auschwitz. The young girl had enough sense not to go home, but turned around and went to the closest house. She knocked on the door and an older woman answered. The woman opened the door, looked at the girl, and let her in. Through out the entire war and occupation of Paris, this woman pretended that this girl was her own. The child was saved by a brave woman, who would have been killed, if she was discovered hiding a Jewess. The young girl was about twelve years old.
I am sharing some of the details as I am writing to parents a harsh but necessary lesson. As parents, it is our duty to protect our children from harm. It is not our duty to protect them from the truth of coming times of trials. Children in the next years will be facing a number of extremely difficult situations which will change their lives. These changes should not come as a shock or surprise to even those in grade school. Like this young girl, who knew what was happening, and used her common sense to survive, we need to be training children to live in the Church Militant, not the Church Mushy. There is a wrong way that parents look at suffering. Too many want to pretend that their children will not suffer. But, we have a duty to prepare our children spiritually for suffering. What does this mean? I have written many posts on the formation of virtue in children from a young age. That is merely the first step. Formation in the virtues means reading books about virtues, going to Mass in the week, going to regular confession, saying the rosary, going to proper Adoration.
When my son was eight, I took him to the abortion vigil across from where a clinic was being built, and he said the rosary with the group there. The priest who led the vigils told me recently that my young son confided in him that he wanted to be a priest. There is a connection. Another priest who influenced my son at the age of thirteen came out of the Serbian-Croatian wars as a young man. He shared stories of horrible persecution, and so did his wife. They lost family members because of their religion. They are Byzantine Catholics. The lives of the martyrs should be shown as soon as possible, especially such great movies as A Man for All Seasons. Ten to twelve would be an appropriate age to begin with movies, but books can be read much earlier. One can share the news about the Christians being persecuted in Syria, or Bethlehem or Saudi Arabia, or Pakistan and show children the lives modern martyrs. Families can pray for these Christians.
Agnes, Lucy, Tarcisius, Agatha, Odilo, Hugh of Lincoln,Peter Yu Tae-cho, the Ulma children, Ambrosio Kibuuka, Denis Ssebuggwawo, Kizito,Reparata, and José Luis Sánchez del Río are either Servants of God or Blesseds, or Saints. They are all martyrs, and so are the seven sons of the Mother in the Book of Maccabees, which you can find here. http://supertradmum-etheldredasplace.blogspot.com/2013/08/the-mother-of-seven-brothers.html They were aged three to eighteen when they were martyred-all of the above. The Church honors them. There are many more child or adolescent saints who were martyred.
Denis SSebuggwawo, Age 16
I was reading books about the early martyrs at age seven. So was my son. The third step, as stories and movies is step two, would be the praying to martyrs, especially if the child is named after one. I named my son after two martyrs, knowing the days to come would bring suffering, and he would need strong patrons. Talk about the reality of the political situation if it begins to impinge on the family. Do not hide the truth, for example, if your church is shut down because of the lack of vocations or a priest shortage, share this with the family. If there are heresies or contraception taught in the schools, talk about this. Children need to know the future of the Church as real and affecting their lives. This would be step four. Step five would be explaining to them that to be a Catholic means making a decision for Christ and His Church even in hard times. Our children are surrounded more and more by people who hate the Church, hate Christ, and the ways of God. Step six would include discussions on what it means to be in the world, but not of the world. And, I would hope that parents would be living a life which is teaching this truth on a daily basis. Parents, it is our duty to raise saints, not marshmallow children.
Those in the Church Mushy may not be able to save their souls in the times to come. We are responsible for teaching our children how to become saints in a hostile world. And, of course, if you are helping your children become closer to Jesus, they will know that they are not alone. Say the Guardian Angel prayer daily. I do. to be continued....
In the Orthodox Church of Syria, as in our Catholic Church, the mother of the seven martyred sons and her offspring are honoured as saints. Their relics are in St. Andrew's in Cologne. I have come across variations of the spelling of her name, but the most common among the Syrian Churches, including the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church is St. Solomonia or Solomoni. Her body is apparently incorrupt, which would deny the story that she was burned to death, but here is a photo of her coffin.
The names of the young men reveal several odd national names. These are Abim, Antonius, Gurias, Eleazar, Eusebonus, Alimus and Marcellus. according to Syrian tradition.See2 Maccabees, Chapter 7 They were brutally, sadistically martyred in 166 BC. What I find fascinating is that several Doctors of the Church have sermons on these martyrs, but that they are virtually ignored today. St Cyprian of Carthage, St Ambrose of Milan, St Gregory Nazianzus and St John Chrysostom all spoke of them. All these facts are fromthe link under the coffin photo. However, when I was in Tyburn, I found another bit of writing about these martyrs with an older version of the name of the mother. When I find those notes, I shall share that name. But, here, from the same site, is the complete sermon from St Cyprian, which I reproduce, as it is timely.
Saint Cyprian of Carthage: On Martyrdom and the Maccabees
That it was predicted before that the world would hate us, and that it would stir up persecutions against us, and that no new thing is happening to the Christians—for from the beginning of the world the good have suffered, and the righteous have been oppressed and slain by the unrighteous.
St. Cyprian of Carthage.The Lord in the Gospel forewarns and foretells, saying: If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also (Jn. 15:18–20). And again: The time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me. But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you (Jn. 16:2–4). And again: Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy (Jn. 16:20). And again: These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world (Jn. 16:33).
And when His disciples questioned Him concerning the sign of His coming, and the consummation of the world, He answered, saying: And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened. Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together. Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Mt. 24:4–31). Thus, these things that are now happening to Christians are not new or sudden; since the good and righteous, and those who are devoted to God in the law of innocence and the fear of true religion, advance always through afflictions, wrongs, the severe and manifold penalties of troubles, and in the hardship of a narrow path.
Thus, at the very beginning of the world, righteous Abel was the first to be slain by his brother. Jacob was driven into exile, Joseph was sold, and king Saul persecuted the merciful David. King Ahab endeavored to oppress Elias, who firmly and bravely asserted the majesty of God. Zacharias the priest was slain between the temple and the altar, that he himself might become a sacrifice there, where he was accustomed to offer sacrifices to God. So many martyrdoms of the righteous have, in fact, often been celebrated; so many examples of faith and virtue have been set forth to future generations. The three youths, Ananias, Azarias, and Misäel, equal in age, agreeing in love, steadfast in faith, constant in virtue, stronger than the flames and penalties that urged them, proclaim that they only obey God, that they know Him alone, that they worship Him alone, saying: “O king Nebuchodonosor, there is no need for us to answer thee in this matter. For the God whom we serve is able to deliver us out of the furnace of burning fire; and He will deliver us from thy hands, O king. And if not, be it known unto thee, that we do not serve thy gods, and we do not adore the golden image which thou hast set up.”(Dan. 3:16–18). And Daniel, devoted to God, and filled with the Holy Spirit, exclaims and says: “I worship nothing but the Lord my God, who founded heaven and the earth.” Tobias also, although under a royal and tyrannical slavery, yet free in feeling and spirit, maintains his confession to God, and sublimely announces both the divine power and majesty, saying: “In the land of my captivity I confess to Him, and I show forth His power in a sinful nation.” Tob. 13:6.
What, indeed, do we find in the Maccabees of seven brethren, equals alike in their lot of birth and virtues, filling up the number seven in the sacrament of a perfected completion? Seven brethren were thus associated in martyrdom. As the first seven days in the divine arrangement containing seven thousand years,as the seven spirits and seven angels which stand and go in and out before the face of God, the seven-branched lamp in the tabernacle of witness, the seven golden candlesticks in the Apocalypse, and the seven columns in Solomon upon which Wisdom built her house—so here also the number seven of the brethren, embracing, in the quantity of their number, the seven churches, as likewise in the first book of Kings we read that the barren hath borne seven. And in Isaiah, seven women lay hold on one man, whose name they ask to be called upon them. And the Apostle Paul, who refers to this lawful and certain number, writes to the seven churches. And in the Apocalypse, the Lord directs His divine and heavenly precepts to the seven churches and their angels, which number is now found in this case, in the seven brethren, that a lawful consummation may be completed. With the seven children is manifestly associated also the mother, their origin and root, who subsequently begat seven churches, she herself having been first, and alone founded upon a rock. Nor is it of no account that in their sufferings the mother alone is with her children. For martyrs who witness themselves as the sons of God in suffering are now no more counted as of any father but God, as in the Gospel the Lord teaches, saying, And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven (Mt. 23:9).
But what utterances of confessions did they herald forth! How illustrious, how great proofs of faith did they afford! The king Antiochus, their enemy—yea, in Antiochus Antichrist was set forth—sought to pollute the mouths of martyrs, glorious and unconquered in the spirit of confession, with the contagion of swine’s flesh. When he had severely beaten them with whips and yet could prevail nothing, he commanded iron plates to be heated, and when the plates had been made to glow, he commanded him who had spoken first, and who had most provoked the king by the constancy of his virtue and faith, to be brought up and roasted, his tongue that had confessed God having first been pulled out and cut off—this happened the more gloriously to the martyr. For the tongue which had confessed the name of God ought itself first to go to God. Then, sharper pains were devised for the second—before he tortured the other limbs, he tore off his scalp with the hair, doubtless with a purpose in his hatred. For since Christ is the head of the man, and God is the head of Christ, he who tore the head of the martyr was persecuting God and Christ in that head. But he, trusting in his martyrdom, and promising to himself the reward of resurrection from the retribution of God, exclaimed and said, “Thou indeed impotently destroyest us out of this present life; but the King of the world will raise us up, who die for His laws, unto the eternal resurrection of life.” (2 Macc. 7:9 [Heb. 11:35.]) When the third was challenged, he quickly put forth his tongue; for he had learned from his brother to despise the punishment of cutting off the tongue. Moreover, he firmly held forth his hands to be cut off, greatly happy about such a mode of punishment, since it was his lot to imitate the form of his Lord’s passion, by stretching forth his hands. And also the fourth, with like virtue, despised the tortures and answered, to restrain the king, with a heavenly voice exclaiming, said, “It is better that those who are given to death by men should wait for hope from God, to be raised up by Him again to eternal life. For to thee there shall be no resurrection to life”(2 Macc. 7:14). The fifth, besides treading underfoot the torments of the king, and his severe and various tortures, animated by the strength of faith to prescience and knowledge of future events by the Spirit of divinity, foretold the wrath of God to the king, and the vengeance that should swiftly follow. “Having power,” said he, “among men, though thou art corruptible, thou doest what thou wilt. But think not that our race is forsaken of God. Abide, and see His great power, how He will torment thee and thy seed.” (2 Macc. 7:16). What alleviation that was to the martyr! How substantial a comfort it was in his sufferings not to consider his own torments, but to predict the penalties of his tormentor!
But in the sixth, not his bravery only, but also his humility, is to be set forth. The martyr claimed nothing to himself, nor even made an account of the honor of his own confession with proud words, but rather ascribed it to his sins that he was suffering persecution from the king, while he attributed to God that afterwards he should be avenged. He taught that martyrs are modest, that they were confident of vengeance, and boasted nothing in their suffering. “Do not,” said he, “needlessly err; for we on our own account suffer these things, as sinning against our God. But think not thou that thou shalt be unpunished, who darest to fight against God.” (2 Macc. 7:18). Also the admirable mother, who, neither broken down by the weakness of her sex, nor moved by her manifold bereavement, looked upon her dying children with cheerfulness, and did not reckon those things to be punishments of her darlings, but glories, giving as great a witness to God by the virtue of her eyes, as her children had given by the tortures and suffering of their limbs; when, after the punishment and slaying of six, there remained one of the brethren, to whom the king promised riches, and power, and many things, that his cruelty and ferocity might be soothed by the satisfaction of even one being subdued. He asked the mother to entreat that her son might be cast down with herself. She entreated, but as befitting a mother of martyrs—as befitting one who was mindful of the law and of God—as befitting one who loved her sons not delicately, but bravely. For she entreated that he would confess God. She entreated that this one would not be separated from his brothers in the alliance of praise and glory—then only would she consider herself the mother of seven sons, if she should bring forth seven sons not to the world, but to God.
Therefore arming him, and strengthening him, and so bearing her son by a more blessed birth, she said, “O son, pity me that bare thee ten months in the womb, and gave thee milk for three years, and nourished thee and brought thee up to this age; I pray thee, O son, look upon heaven and the earth; and having considered all the things which are in them, understand that out of nothing God made these things and the human race. Therefore, O son, do not fear that executioner; but being made worthy of thy brethren, receive death, that in the same mercy I may receive thee with thy brethren.” (2 Macc. 7:27). The mother’s praise was great in her exhortation to virtue, but greater in the fear of God and in the truth of faith, that she promised nothing to herself or her son from the honor of the six martyrs, nor believed that the prayer of the brothers would avail for the salvation of one who should deny, but rather persuaded him to become a sharer in their suffering, that in the day of judgment he might be found with his brethren. After this the mother also dies with her children. There was nothing more befitting than that she who had borne and made martyrs should be joined in the fellowship of glory with them, and that she herself should follow those whom she had sent before to God.
And lest any should embrace the wicked part of deceivers when the opportunity either of a certificate or of any such matter is offered to him whereby he may deceive, let us not be silent also about Eleazar, who, when the ministers of the king offered him an opportunity to pretend to receive the flesh which was allowable for him to eat, in order to mislead the king [into thinking] that he ate those things which were forced upon him from the sacrifices and unlawful meats, would not consent to this deception, saying that it was fitting neither for his age nor nobility to feign it, for others would be scandalized and led into error. They might think that Eleazar, being ninety years old, had left and betrayed the law of God, and had gone over to the manner of aliens. It was not of so much consequence to gain the short moments of life, and so incur eternal punishment from an offended God. And having been long tortured, and finally reduced to extremity, dying in the midst of stripes and tortures, he groaned and said, “O Lord, that hast holy knowledge, it is manifest that although I might be delivered from death, I suffer the severest pains of body, being beaten with scourges; but with my mind, on account of Thy fear, I willingly suffer these things.”(2 Macc. vi. 30). Surely his faith was sincere, and his virtue sound and abundantly pure, not to have regarded king Antiochus, but God to be Judge, and to have known that it could not avail him for salvation if he should mock and deceive man when God, who is the judge of our conscience and who only is to be feared, cannot at all be mocked nor deceived.
If, therefore, we also live as dedicated and devoted to God—if we make our way over the ancient and sacred footsteps of the righteous, let us go through the same proofs of sufferings, the same testimonies of passions, considering the glory of our time the greater on this account, that while ancient examples may be numbered, yet that subsequently, when the abundance of virtue and faith was in excess, the Christian martyrs cannot be numbered, as the Apocalypse testifies and says: After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen. And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them (Rev. 7:9–15). But if the assembly of the Christian martyrs is shown and proved to be so great, let no one think it a hard or a difficult thing to become a martyr, when he sees that the crowd of martyrs cannot be numbered.
Some Catholics have been taught erroneously that there is no longer a hierarchy of vocations. In the Midwestern part of the States, this was commonly taught by the priests in liberal dioceses: that marriage was equal to the call to the priesthood and religious life. Some priests insisted this "new teaching" was a result of Vatican II. Hmmm....
Blessed John Paul II has a neglected letter on this subject. In hisApostolic Exhortation Vita Consecrata, the Blessed writes this:
Many of the baptized throughout history have been invited to live such a life "in the image of Christ". But this is possible only on the basis of a special vocation and in virtue of a particular gift of the Spirit. For in such a life baptismal consecration develops into a radical response in the following of Christ through acceptance of the evangelical counsels, the first and essential of which is the sacred bond of chastity for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven.This special way of "following Christ", at the origin of which is always the initiative of the Father, has an essential Christological and pneumatological meaning: it expresses in a particularly vivid way the Trinitarian nature of the Christian life and it anticipates in a certain way that eschatological fulfilment towards which the whole Church is tending.n the Gospel, many of Christ's words and actions shed light on the meaning of this special vocation.
All baptized and confirmed Catholics have the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit, but some are called to live this more clearly and closely in the Holy Spirit. Blessed (correct to Saint-stm) John Paul II continues:
All are equally called to follow Christ, to discover in him the ultimate meaning of their lives, until they are able to say with the Apostle: "For to me to live is Christ" (Phil 1:21). But those who are called to the consecrated life have a special experience of the light which shines forth from the Incarnate Word. For the profession of the evangelical counsels makes them a kind of sign and prophetic statement for the community of the brethren and for the world; consequently they can echo in a particular way the ecstatic words spoken by Peter: "Lord, it is well that we are here" (Mt17:4). These words bespeak the Christocentric orientation of the whole Christian life. But they also eloquently express the radical nature of the vocation to the consecrated life: how good it is for us to be with you, to devote ourselves to you, to make you the one focus of our lives! Truly those who have been given the grace of this special communion of love with Christ feel as it were caught up in his splendour: he is "the fairest of the sons of men" (Ps 45:2), the One beyond compare.
I think that one reason there have been less vocations is that children and adolescents have not been challenge to be that icon of Christ in the world, have not been challenged to follow the radical call.
All people like a challenge. The best and the brightest want to be marines, brain surgeons, great writers, even inventors. Those who are challenged at an early age rise to the challenge.
We have two generations of mediocrity owing to the fact that parents have not challenged their children, or rarely. Some parents have even let their children decide for themselves whether they want baptism. Parents will stand before God and be judged for this laxity.
John Paul II continues the old, old idea that the religious life and priesthood are special callings from God. The evangelical counsels are thus above all a gift of the Holy Trinity. The consecrated life proclaims what the Father, through the Son and in the Spirit, brings about by his love, his goodness and his beauty. In fact, "the religious state reveals the transcendence of the Kingdom of God and its requirements over all earthly things. To all people it shows wonderfully at work within the Church the surpassing greatness of the force of Christ the King and the boundless power of the Holy Spirit."The first duty of the consecrated life is to make visible the marvels wrought by God in the frail humanity of those who are called. They bear witness to these marvels not so much in words as by the eloquent language of a transfigured life, capable of amazing the world. To people's astonishment they respond by proclaiming the wonders of grace accomplished by the Lord in those whom he loves. To the degree that consecrated persons let themselves be guided by the Spirit to the heights of perfection they can exclaim: "I see the beauty of your grace, I contemplate its radiance, I reflect its light; I am caught up in its ineffable splendour; I am taken outside myself as I think of myself; I see how I was and what I have become. O wonder! I am vigilant, I am full of respect for myself, of reverence and of fear, as I would be were I before you; I do not know what to do, I am seized by fear, I do not know where to sit, where to go, where to put these members which are yours; in what deeds, in what works shall I use them, these amazing divine marvels!"
I talk to people who cannot see or do not want to see we are not all created the same. We all have different gifts and talents. I would love to be an Olympic swimmer. I have always loved tennis and wish I had more skill and talent. But, no, these are not my gifts.
There are levels of holiness. Even the Church recognizes this by calling some saints Great and some Doctors of the Church. All saints are holy, but they are not the same.
Tradition with a small "t" in the Church says that St. Francis is the saint most like Christ Himself. In the Old Testament, we are told in the Scriptures that St. David, the King, is "a man after God Own Heart". St. Francis is not just the man who loved birds and tamed wolves. He has the stigmata. King David was not merely the one who killed Goliath and thousands of heathens, he ordered his kingdom and wrote beautiful hymns to God. He prophesied as well, and is a type of Christ.
By the way, yesterday in the old calendar, the Saints of the Maccabee Family use to be celebrated. Think on that-men who fought for freedom and the keeping of the Mosaic Law as well as the correct liturgical practices, who shed blood rather than witness the pollution of the sacred Temple, are saints.
This feast needs to be emphasized now, in this time.
That was there vocation, as was Joshua's, to be warriors. Are there any men out there responding to that call?
Parents, challenge your children. Priests, religious and all in the consecrated life, re-read this beautiful letter. Challenge others to follow by entering the narrow pat