Sunday, January 30, 2005

Not All Of Life’s Teachers Are Found In The Classroom!

(Fourth Sunday of the Year (A): This homily was given on January 30, 2005 at St. Pius X Church, Westerly, R.I. Read Matthew 5: 1-12.)

[For the audio version of this homily, click here: Fourth Sunday of the Year 2005]

One of Mark Twain’s best known lines is this one: “I never let my schooling interfere with my education.”

There are probably several million students who have quoted that statement over the years—students who were looking for a good reason to skip school or not do their homework!

“But mom, remember what Mark Twain said: ‘I never let my schooling interfere with my education.’”

To which most moms have probably responded, “I don’t care what Mark Twain said, just go to your room and finish your homework!”

I’m sure this statement was originally said tongue-in-cheek by Mr. Twain (or Mr. Clemens, if you want to use his proper name). And yet, standing behind his words is a very important truth: Not all of life’s teachers are found in the classroom! Some are found there, certainly, but most are found in other places.

Mark Twain knew that during his life he had been educated in locations other than school buildings. And so have we!

In this regard, Jesus Christ—who speaks to us in Scripture and through his Church and sometimes in other ways—is supposed to be our primary teacher outside of the classroom (and also inside the classroom, if you happen to go to a Catholic School). You could say that Jesus is to be our “Instructor for Life, Numero Uno”.

Of course, I’m not so na├»ve as to think that Jesus actually occupies that position in the life of every baptized Catholic—but he should!

We see Jesus in his role as “teacher” in today’s Gospel text from Matthew 5. Here the Lord presents himself to us as “The New Moses.” Moses, as we all know, was the great teacher of God’s Old Testament Law, a law that was rooted in the Ten Commandments. God first gave those commandments to Moses on Mt. Sinai, and when Moses came down the mountain he gave them to the people of Israel.

Jesus, in this scene (and for the next 3 chapters of Matthew), presents the “New Law of the Gospel” to his disciples. Just as Moses “proclaimed” the Old Law from a mountain, so Jesus proclaims this New Law from a mountain. And just as the Old Law was rooted in the Ten Commandments, so this New Law of human conduct is rooted in those same commandments, and in these 8 sayings known to the world as “the Beatitudes.”

If we are trying to live a Christ-centered life—that is to say, if we are striving to make Jesus our primary teacher, then these are the virtues and attitudes to which we will aspire. First of all, we will recognize our complete dependence on God and try to live accordingly (basically that’s what it means to be poor in spirit). We will desire the virtue of meekness (which is another word for humility). We will be sorrowful in the face of the sin and evil we encounter in the world. We will be merciful and forgive those who offend us. We will desire justice (and work for it!). We will want our motives to be pure. We will work for peace (beginning in our families!); and we will be willing to stand up for the truth of Christ and to endure the persecution that sometimes comes with being a truly committed Catholic.

These 8 Beatitudes represent some of the core lessons of Jesus Christ, the Teacher. But let’s be honest and clear about it: Jesus is not the only teacher outside the classroom who is influencing us and our culture at the present time (which is precisely why the Beatitudes are talked about much more than they’re lived!); and he’s definitely not the only teacher influencing our young people.

Let me demonstrate that fact with a little story. Recently an adult shared with me a conversation she had with a local 13-year-old boy. She was trying to be empathetic, as she spoke to this young man about some of the pressures teenagers are currently facing in contemporary American society. He then asked her to get specific regarding some of these “pressures”. Well, this woman just happens to know what some middle school children have been doing in Wilcox Park on Friday nights. (If you don’t know—and I didn’t until I spoke with this woman—the best way I can explain it in this setting is that they’re following the example set by a former president.)

So she brought this into the discussion.

And what was his response?

He said, “What’s the big deal? No one’s getting hurt. And at least no one’s getting pregnant!”
When she attempted to convince him that this behavior is wrong (that it’s a violation of the 6th commandment), and that these young people are putting their physical and spiritual lives in danger, he said, “You guys (i.e. grown-ups) think that stuff will scare us, but it doesn’t. We aren’t gonna stop.”

Later, when the topic of teen pregnancy was raised, he said, “If some girl does get pregnant, she can always have an abortion. It’s not like ‘it’ can feel anything anyway.”

“It,” of course, is the baby.

Not all of life’s teachers are found in the classroom.

Who is teaching this young man about life? Who is teaching him about right and wrong? Who is teaching him how to interact properly with members of the opposite sex?

Certainly not Jesus Christ!

Some better candidates might be the people at MTV, or the people who put pornography on the internet, or the producers of TV shows like Desperate Housewives and The OC—because he’s obviously learning a lot more from sources like those!

The fact is, our contemporary American culture—which is steeped in materialism and hedonism—attempts to “educate” all of us every day. And sometimes it succeeds—as it obviously has with that 13-year-old.

We’ve all heard the saying: “You are what you eat.”

Well, here’s a similar saying that’s equally as true: “You are what you learn.”

If you learn something and accept it as true, it will have a definite effect on your life—for better or for worse! Just ask that 13-year-old boy or some of his friends from the park.

How important it is, therefore, that we learn—and accept—the truth of Jesus Christ, as summarized in the Beatitudes and the Ten Commandments!

For young people, Catholic schools and CCD programs can certainly help this to happen, by reinforcing the Gospel message. But, since most learning and character building take place outside the classroom, it all has to begin somewhere else.

That “somewhere else,” of course, is in the home, in the family.

So, what exactly are you learning, and what exactly are you teaching? That’s a question for everyone, but most especially for the parents here present.

Jesus Christ wants to work through you to teach your children, since you are their primary religious educators. But for that to happen, you’ve got to be learning from the Lord yourselves (as we all need to be learning from him)!

Notice what it says about the disciples of Jesus at the beginning of this Gospel text from Matthew 5. In the opening line we read, “When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him, [and] he began to teach them . . . “

The disciples learned the Beatitudes that day—and they eventually became good teachers of the Beatitudes—because they came to Jesus! If they had not come to Christ, they would have learned nothing of the Beatitudes; consequently they would not have been able to teach them.

We come to Jesus when we’re faithful to Mass, and when we listen at Mass with open ears and hearts—because the Word of Christ is taught here.

We come to Jesus when we have a regular prayer time each day, when we read Scripture, when we go to Confession, and when we study the content of our Catholic faith.

We even come to Jesus when we surround ourselves with good Catholic friends who speak the Lord’s word to us in their own way. These are friends who encourage us to be faithful, and who aren’t afraid to challenge us or correct us when we begin to waver.

Lord Jesus Christ we have come to you, our teacher, at this Mass, and we thank you for having instructed us through the Scriptures that were just read, and through the homily we’ve just heard.
Help us, by the grace of the Eucharist we will receive in a few moments, to go forth from this assembly and to be good teachers of this message both by our words and by our actions. And may our teaching have a powerful influence on all those young people who are looking to us every day for guidance and direction. We ask this through the same Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

The Call Of The First Priests, And The Call Of The Priest Today

(Third Sunday of the Year (A): This homily was given on January 23, 2005 at St. Pius X Church, Westerly, R.I. Read Matthew 4: 12-23.)

[For the audio version of this homily, click here: Third Sunday of the Year 2005]

Fr. Stephen Rossetti is a Catholic priest and a licensed clinical psychologist. He often speaks at formal gatherings of clergy throughout the United States. A few years ago, he gave a presentation to all the priests of our diocese at our annual pastoral studies’ day in Warwick.

After the terrible sex abuse scandals of 2002, Fr. Rossetti decided to survey priests in 11 different dioceses in order to assess their morale. Given the negative portrayal of the priesthood in the media (especially after the scandals), he expected the worst—he expected to find many priests on the verge of despair. But, much to his surprise, that was not the case. Generally speaking, the results were very positive.

For example, 92% of the 834 priests he surveyed said they either agreed or strongly agreed with the statement: “Overall, I am happy as a priest.” In October of 2002, the Los Angeles Times ran a poll of 1,854 priests (this, interestingly enough, was done right in the midst of the scandals) and their poll yielded a similar result: 91% of the priests said they were satisfied with the “way [their] life as a priest [was] going,” and 90% said they would do it all over again. If they could turn back the hands of time, they would choose once more to respond to God’s grace and serve the Lord in the Catholic priesthood.

“As [Jesus] was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them, ‘Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ At once they left their nets and followed him. He walked along from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him.”

This was the call of the very first priests, as recounted for us in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 4. And here, I believe, we receive an insight as to why priestly morale today is still very high, in spite of the horrible sins committed by a small percentage of unfaithful priests and bishops over the last 50 years. The insight, simply put, is this: the invitation to serve Jesus Christ in the priesthood is both powerful and inspiring!

When Jesus called them that day on the Sea of Galilee, these apostles didn’t fully understand the nature of the summons. What it actually meant to be a “fisher of men” would only become clear to them with the passage of time and with the help of God’s grace. But even at this point—on the day the Lord called them—these 4 men knew they were being asked to follow someone very special and to do something exceedingly extraordinary!

Why else would they have left their families? Why else would they have left their fishing business? Why else would they have made this radical change in their lives?

Obviously they were convinced that Jesus Christ was worth it!

And so is every good priest today!—every good priest, that is, who understands the dignity of the priesthood! He is also convinced that following Christ and proclaiming the gospel and helping to save souls are worth the personal sacrifice! (Now do you see why those survey numbers of Fr. Rossetti and the Los Angeles Times were so positive?)

I should also mention in this context that this is a response I often give to those who criticize the discipline of celibacy for priests in the Latin Rite. I say to them, “Don’t you think Jesus is worth it? He’s the Son of God and the Savior of the world—isn’t he worth giving up marriage and family for?”

By the way, if you think he’s not worth it, then that says an awful lot about your faith (or perhaps I should say, about your lack of faith!).

That’s not to say it’s easy to live a celibate life! Of course, Jesus never said it would be. But having heard the confessions of married people for the last 19 years, I also know that being married and raising children in the modern world are not easy!

The bottom line is this: If God calls you to it, then he will certainly give you the grace to live it. That truth applies both to the priesthood and to marriage.

And he will give you the grace to live your vocation joyfully!

When Peter, Andrew, James and John left everything to follow Christ as his apostles, I definitely don’t think they left with frowns on their faces! They knew they were embarking on a new adventure, and I’m quite certain they were happy and excited about it. They couldn’t wait for it all to begin!

Perhaps one of the reasons for their excitement was that they had already heard about Jesus from some of their friends and relatives. Remember, the Bible doesn’t give us every detail of every event that occurred during our Lord’s earthly ministry; hence, it’s quite possible that these men already knew at least something about Jesus before they met him on their boats that day.

They had probably been told that this Jesus was a powerful rabbi who said and who did some unique and incredible things; consequently, they were thrilled when he invited them to be among his closest followers.
Every dedicated priest throughout history has felt that same enthusiasm and excitement!

And it’s clear from this Gospel reading that Jesus wasted no time in showing them what their future priestly ministry would involve. After we’re told that the 4 men left everything behind, the next line of the text says, “[Jesus] went around all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness among the people.”

Priestly ministry, following the example of Jesus, involves all these elements: teaching, proclaiming the gospel, and, in a certain sense, “curing.” That last point relates in a special way to the sacraments. The sacraments, which are rooted in the priesthood of Christ himself, bring us the “curing” grace of God in various ways. Perhaps we’ve never thought of them in that way before. In baptism, for example, we are “cured” of original sin and made adopted children of God; in the sacrament of Confession we are “cured” of the eternal consequences of our personal sins; in the Eucharist we are “cured” of our spiritual hunger; in the sacrament of Confirmation we are “cured” of fear, and receive the grace to witness to Christ in the world; in the sacrament of Anointing we are “cured” of spiritual—and sometimes even of physical—ailments.

And this priestly activity of “curing” is not only oriented toward life in this world. Ultimately the cures imparted by the priest in his sacramental ministry are designed to get people into heaven! They have an eternal dimension, which is what makes them so important—and so unique.

A good medical doctor brings people physical cures and healings (and for that we should thank God!), but these last only for a time. Even the most gifted doctor eventually loses every one of his patients—because his patients all have mortal bodies, and those bodies die even after the best of medical care.

But a priest is an instrument of Jesus Christ for the salvation of souls, for the salvation of persons! Through the ministry of word and sacrament, a priest prepares human beings for their ETERNAL destiny! As such, his intention in serving his “patients” is to lose none of them! He desires—and he prays—that all those who hear him and receive the sacraments from him will someday end up in God’s eternal and glorious kingdom.

That is the incredible potential of priestly ministry. It’s literally “out of this world.” And that’s why I thank God every day that he called me—unworthy as I am—to be a “fisher of men,” as he called those first apostles 2,000 years ago on the Sea of Galilee.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Our Baptismal Mission

(Baptism of the Lord (A): This homily was given on January 9, 2005 at St. Pius X Church, Westerly, R.I. Read Acts 10: 34-38; Matthew 3: 13-17.)

[For the audio version of this homily, click here: Baptism of the Lord 2005]

When I checked my e-mail one day last week I came across a letter entitled, “Fuming mad.” With that title, I couldn’t wait to open it! It was from a doctor in the parish, and here’s what she wrote:

“I plan to be at youth group next Thursday and I have a special request. Can we please discuss that pervert Alfred Kinsey? The movie review of the ‘good doctor's’ biography is in today's Providence Journal. The kids should be quite clear about the lies this guy passed off as science, not to mention the hideous sexual crimes he directed against children all in the name of ‘science’.”

I thought that was a very good suggestion; consequently that’s exactly what we did this past Thursday night with our teenagers. We gave them the “real scoop” on Dr. Kinsey, the highly-praised sex-researcher who in many ways paved the way for the sexual revolution of the last 40 years.

“Fr. Ray, what does this have to do with the baptism of Jesus Christ in the Jordan River by John the Baptist 2000 years ago?”

The answer is: It has a lot to do with it!

The moment Jesus was baptized was the moment his 3-year earthly ministry officially began.

And what was the purpose of his ministry? What was his mission?

Part of the answer to that question is given to us in today’s second reading from Acts 10. In that text St. Peter says (and here I’m using the older translation of the passage): “I take it you know what has been reported all over Judea about Jesus of Nazareth, beginning in Galilee with the baptism John preached; of the way God anointed him with the Holy Spirit and power. He went about doing good works and healing all who were in the grip of the devil, and God was with him.”

That’s where today’s second reading ends. But in the very next verse Peter goes on to say, “We are witnesses to all [that this Jesus] did in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him finally, hanging him on a tree, only to have God raise him up on the third day . . .”

The purpose of Jesus’ ministry—his mission, according to St. Peter—was to do good, and, most importantly, to free people from the grip of the devil. That “grip” comes from sin, and it ultimately leads to hell. Which is precisely why Peter mentions Jesus’ death and resurrection in the very next line! We are delivered from the devil’s grip—here and in the life to come—through the events of Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

Just before he died on the cross, our Lord said, “It is finished.” If he had wanted to he could have said, “Mission accomplished; my ministry is now fulfilled,” and it would have had the same meaning.

And yet, in spite of all this, there is still something incomplete about Jesus’ mission, is there not?

Yes, salvation has been attained for the human race, in the sense that every person can be saved by the blood of Christ; everyone has the potential to receive sanctifying grace and forgiveness for their sins.

But that grace still must be applied to individual souls! Jesus fulfilled his earthly mission and won the grace of salvation for us, but now that grace has to be applied to you and to me and to all those out there in the world.

And that’s where we come into the picture. As Jesus’ disciples, we have a responsibility to continue his mission by bringing souls to him so that they can experience redemption.

This is part of our mission in this life—a mission that’s rooted in our baptism!

You see, when we’re baptized as Catholic Christians, we aren’t just baptized for our own benefit. Yes, we’re born again; yes, we’re forgiven; yes, we receive sanctifying grace and become members of the Church and heirs to the kingdom of heaven. But if we actually intend to enter that kingdom at the end of our lives here on earth, we need to take seriously our baptismal responsibility to evangelize others.

The new Catechism reminds us of this requirement in paragraph 1270. There it says, “Reborn as sons of God, [the baptized] must profess before men the faith they have received from God through the Church and participate in the apostolic and missionary activity of the People of God.”

This is one reason why I deal with a lot of current events and issues in my homilies. I consider it my responsibility as your pastor to help you know the truth of Christ, and how that truth applies to what’s going on in the world right now, so that you can go out there and defend and spread the faith—which is your baptismal responsibility!

Which brings us back to Dr. Kinsey. (No, I didn’t forget about him.) As is the case with Hugh Hefner and Margaret Sanger (the founder of Planned Parenthood), Alfred Kinsey has been turned into a big hero by the modern-day promoters of the sexual revolution (such as the people who made this new movie about him starring Liam Neeson that came out a few weeks ago).

In today’s world, if you’re going to fulfill your baptismal mission and bring other people to Jesus Christ, you need to know the truth about Alfred Kinsey and others like him. You have to be able to help men and women understand why they should listen to Jesus and the Church—rather than Kinsey, Sanger and Hefner—when it comes to matters of sexual morality.

The doctor who wrote me that e-mail understands this quite well. That’s why she wanted me to address the topic with the teenagers. She wanted me to enlighten them on the real Alfred Kinsey, so that they can be better defenders and promoters of the truth of Christ. After all, those teens have the same baptismal responsibility that the rest of us do.

On that note, here are some of the real facts about Kinsey that I shared with them the other night. You’re not likely to hear any of these from people in the liberal media. Believe it or not, I’ve out some of the more disgusting ones:

1. Kinsey compiled statistics of “normal” sexual behavior by including a high percentage of pedophiles, inmates, sex offenders, pimps and prostitutes and described them as “average” Americans. [And you wonder why he classified so many perverted acts as “normal”?] He kept no records that could corroborate his findings.

2. The Kinsey data are the scientific basis for the Model Penal Code, which led to the elimination, or reduction in penalties for sex offenses, including rape, child abuse and prostitution.

3. Kinsey’s data are also the basis for most of America’s sex education curricula, which begin with the premise that children are “sexual beings” entitled to sex at all ages.

4. He believed that all sexual behaviors were “natural,” including bestiality, pedophilia, homosexuality, sodomy, and sadistic sex. He argued that sex and morality had no connection. (Source: Concerned Women for America web site:

By the way, there’s also evidence that Kinsey sanctioned sexual experiments on children. Bet that isn’t in this new movie! The same media people who bashed the Church for her scandals a few years ago are completely silent on this matter. According to Dr. Judith Reisman—who’s done extensive research on the issue—Alfred Kinsey allowed hundreds (and perhaps even thousands) of children to be abused in obtaining information for his “scientific” reports.

If a committed Catholic knows these facts about Alfred Kinsey—a man who is extolled in our secular society—he will have a much easier time making the case for chastity. That should be obvious. If you can show somebody that one of the founders of the sexual revolution was a “sexually-confused, dishonest, voyeuristic pedophile-advocate” (as one web site called him), you’ll have a much easier time getting them to see that the teachings of the Catholic Church on sexuality make a lot of sense.

In fact, the more you know the truth about any of the hot-button issues of our time—abortion, stem cell research, etc.—the more reasonable and rational the “old fashioned” Gospel becomes.

And helping people to see the reasonableness of the Gospel, is a real help in bringing them closer to Christ and the Church; it’s a key to evangelizing them in today’s scientific culture.

In the final verse of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit. And teach them to carry out all that I have commanded you.”

We are all called to teach others the truth of Jesus Christ—first and foremost by what we do, but also by what we say. That’s part of our baptismal mission. May the Lord help us to do it well, so that at the moment of our death we will be able to say what Jesus could have said on Good Friday: “Mission accomplished!”

Saturday, January 01, 2005

The Real Mary and the ‘Gnostic’ Mary

Maia Morgenstern as Mary in The Passion of the Christ.

(Mary, the Mother of God, 2005: This homily was given on January 1, 2005 at St. Pius X Church, Westerly, R.I.)

[For the audio version of this homily, click here: Mary, the Mother of God 2005]

On December 12th CNN aired a program entitled, “The Two Marys.” I’m sure some of you saw it. It was about our Blessed Mother and Mary Magdalene.

I didn’t watch the program—I didn’t have an hour of time to waste that night. But thankfully, because of the blessings of cyberspace, I was able to read a transcript of the show on CNN’s web site.

I’d like to be able to tell you that I was pleasantly surprised by what I read, but I won’t lie. It was typical anti-Catholic, anti-Christian rot, and it was almost completely predictable! I could have written part of the script myself!

I mention this today because the way CNN dealt with the “two Marys” the other night is fast becoming the standard media approach to Christian—and especially to Catholic—topics and issues.

Let me briefly outline that approach for you now, using this recent program as an example.

First, a little background information is required. . . .

In the early centuries of the Church, our Christian ancestors faced many different enemies. Christian converts from Judaism, for example, were often thrown out of their synagogues and treated like social outcasts, because they were thought to be heretics from the true Jewish faith. Christians in the Roman Empire were fed to the lions or killed in other creative ways by the Caesars for almost 3 centuries after the Lord’s death and resurrection. And at the same time members of the Church were opposed philosophically and intellectually by various groups of people known collectively as “the Gnostics.” (The title comes from the Greek word for knowledge.)

In the CNN program on the two Marys, Gnostic writings were cited in support of some bizarre, outlandish ideas about Mary Magdalene and the Blessed Mother.

I was not surprised; I fully expected that to happen. As I said a few moments ago these people are so predictable!

What upset me most, however, was that the narrator, Sigourney Weaver (obviously someone with lots of theological credentials!) gave the impression that these Gnostic writings were Christian.

But that’s a lie! They were not! And that is so important for us to understand, because these Gnostic texts are often presented in the media today as early Christian writings. And I believe that’s done in order to deceive true believers like you and me!

Or they are used by anti-Catholic novelists like Dan Brown! Most Christians don’t know this, but many of the “historical facts” he cites in his novel, “The DaVinci Code” are nothing more than anti-Christian lies found in ancient Gnostic literature.

Now what makes these Gnostic writings so useful in deceiving Christians is the fact that in many cases they have the names of biblical people attached to them (although they were NOT written by those people): the Gospel of Thomas (which inspired that anti-Catholic movie, “Stigmata”—do you remember it?); the Gospel of Mary Magdalene; the Gospel of Philip; the Apocalypse of Peter—and on and on the list goes.

So here’s what happens: CNN, Dan Brown, and others of that ilk refer to these Gnostic writings as if they are Christian sources, and then they quote from these documents to try to undermine the truths of the Catholic faith. And lots of Catholics fall for it! They buy into the deception, hook, line, and sinker!

But—I’ll say it again—these are not Christian texts! They were written by the ENEMIES of the Church!

Let me put it to you this way (and this is the bottom line): trying to learn about our Blessed Mother and the ancient Church from the Gnostics is like trying to learn about Catholicism today from the writings of Jack Chick! (Jack Chick is the publisher of those anti-Catholic cartoon tracts that your fundamentalist friends will hand you from time to time.)

So instead of getting the “real scoop” on Mary Magdalene and the Blessed Mother the other night, millions of Americans got the “ancient-Gnostic scoop” on these two women courtesy of actress-turned-theologian Sigourney Weaver and a number of liberal university professors who obviously missed their true calling!

We learned from them that Mary Magdalene was a first century working girl who probably ran Jesus’ ministry, and who might have been Jesus’ wife as well as the first pope. How’s that for a resume? But all these “facts” were later suppressed by evil men in the Church who conveniently turned her into a prostitute and blackened her name for centuries—until CNN and Dan Brown came along to vindicate her!

As for our Blessed Mother, she was really a first century feminist who was deeply involved in politics, and who probably offered direct assistance to people like the Zealots who were fighting against the Roman occupation of Palestine.

As for the virgin birth of Jesus, that was basically made up by Matthew and Luke. Many great leaders in the ancient world, like Alexander the Great, were thought to have had “special births,” so the gospel writers wanted to make sure Jesus had a special birth too!

Devotion to Mary was promoted in the early centuries by more evil men in the Church, not because Mary was really virtuous, but rather because she was a good “marketing tool” for Christianity. And now, in the modern world, Mary is becoming a great role model for female Protestant ministers.

Those are some of the messages viewers received who watched this CNN program.


Toward the end of the movie, “A Few Good Men,” Colonel Nathan Jessep (played so effectively by Jack Nicholson) shouts the now famous line, “You can’t handle the truth!”

I think that’s the real problem here: these contemporary enemies of the true faith can’t handle the truth!

They can’t deal with the simple truth that Mary Magdalene was pure and holy after her conversion.

They can’t deal with the truth that she wasn’t interested in sin or evil after Jesus cast 7 devils out of her.

They can’t deal with the truth that she was given the privilege of being the first to proclaim the resurrection because she had faithfully followed our Lord to the Cross. Unlike the apostles, she hadn’t run away.

And most of all, they can’t deal with the real Mary, the real Blessed Mother.

They can’t deal with the truth that Mary was a strong woman, and that her strength was rooted in her submission—her PERFECT submission—to God’s will. They think that kind of submission is a sign of weakness, but they’re wrong! It takes an inner strength to say Yes to God and No to evil like Mary did throughout her life. Giving in to temptation (which is what we all do on a daily basis) is the real sign of weakness.

They can’t deal with the truth that sex wasn’t the overriding urge of Mary’s life; consequently, they have to explain away her virginity (and Jesus’ miraculous birth).

They can’t deal with the truth that Mary didn’t hate men; they can’t deal with the truth that she was humble, and selfless, and that she didn’t think that politics was the most important aspect of human existence!

Because this is the case—because they can’t accept the truth of who our Blessed Mother really was—these people reject the true Mary and they create a diabolical counterfeit to take her place, with the help of some ancient Gnostic writings.

How sad!

But the amazing thing is, the real Mary still loves them, and watches over them, and prays for their conversions from her place in heaven—as she prays for the deepening conversion of all of us.

We need to pray for these men and women as well.

Because the real Mary is much more exciting—and much more inspiring—than the false Mary they’ve created in their minds.

It’s that real Mary who is honored on this New Year’s Day at St. Pius X Church in Westerly, and in Catholic churches throughout the world.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us—and pray especially for those who do not know (and do not care to know) the REAL you!