The Pope and Faith
The just-concluded Year of Faith was begun by Pope Benedict XVI and was brought to completion by Pope Francis. It seems fitting that the popes should have done this, for it is their special mission to "strengthen the brethren" in the faith (Luke 22:32).
Following are a few reflections on faith in the pope:
With all the members of the Catholic Church, I can say that the pope is my father — my spiritual father, whom God has given to me. And whoever the pope happens to be, I am grateful to God for him. "I will not leave you orphaned" (John 14:18), Jesus said, and he has kept his promise. In the pope, he has provided a spiritual father for all the Church.
Because he is my father, I love and honor the pope — the present Pope and every pope whom God in his providence gives to the Church. I love the pope because his office as head of the Church on earth was established by Christ himself (Matthew 16:18), and it is good to love the holy things of God.
Although no pope is perfect, and each will commit his own personal mistakes, I know that I can trust each one. Through a unique gift of God, each successor of St. Peter faithfully preserves and hands on the Catholic and apostolic faith, and in these matters, each is infallible — he will not err. Jesus has made the pope and the Church he founded on the pope a rock of faith on which I can found my life.
Just as the prophets of old each had their own message to share — a message given to them by God — so each pope, while preserving and proclaiming the whole Catholic faith, emphasizes certain truths in proclaiming the message of the Gospel.
Like a little child sitting at the feet of his father listening to him teach, I want to sit at the feet of my father the pope, and listen and learn from him.
I pray for the Pope, and I know that he prays for me, for his prayer embraces each and every member of the Church. I can think of no one more in need of prayer than the pope to carry out his daily labors, nor can I think of anyone whose prayers I would more rather have.
Many saints and holy people have suffered much, and even been martyred, rather than deny the authority of the pope. I hope that I too would be willing to suffer and even to die before I would deny the authority that Christ has entrusted to St. Peter and his successors.
The devil wants to divide God’s Church, and he is eager to separate each member of the Church from the pope. But with God’s help, I will not let the devil have his way. On the contrary, I desire and humbly pray that God will always allow me to be a loyal and obedient son of my father the pope.
Thanks be to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Pope Francis for this gift of the Year of Faith. Thanks be to God for the gift of our faith. And thanks be to Jesus Christ, who suffered and died to save us — and whom all the popes have professed and proclaimed as Lord and God.
To him be glory and honor, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.
Father James King
Diocese of Peoria, Illinois
Another Time Bomb
The Affordable Care Act has classified the natural biological process of conception unique to women and essential for the propagation of our species, along with their unborn children, as a disease, thereby creating the legal framework to provide contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs as preventive health measures to be required in all insurance plans.
This single provision, apparently lost in more than 30,000 pages, is a violation of our rights, dignity and freedoms on multiple levels.
Reclassifying a woman’s God-given ability to procreate as a disease is absurd and an attack on human dignity. If some thug forced his girlfriend to abort their child, could this even be considered a crime, if an unborn child is classified as a disease in the new law?
This law is offensive because women are not diseased; they are created in the image of God. Everyone needs to cry out against this affront to womanhood.
As someone who believes in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, as revealed in the Torah and the Bible, the contraception provision is absolutely against my conscience and against my religion.
As I am a citizen of the United States of America, this law discriminates against me because of my religious beliefs. It is giving me the ultimatum that I must either violate my faith by participating in the culture of death or else the government will treat me like a second-class citizen worthy to be yoked with state-imposed penalties because I believe in Jesus Christ.
The president promised he would protect freedom of religion and conscience before the law passed. We want what we were promised!
Imposing contraception on all plans violates the spirit of competition designed into the health-care exchanges. The net effect is that people who do not use or want contraceptive services are being coerced to pay for those who do. If I go out to a bar to have a few drinks or dinner, I don’t demand that the person staying at home pick up my tab. The fruit of an unjust dictate is more injustice.
To be fair, contraception should be included in some plans and allowed to compete for subscribers against plans which don’t provide it. This is a commonsense fix to an otherwise intractable problem. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has struck down the contraception mandate on businesses. The same clearly applies to individuals.
Lawmakers, please fix this provision so that we can purchase insurance which does not violate human dignity, freedom of conscience and religion.
Ambitious politicians have exploited the University of Notre Dame since then-New York Gov. Mario Cuomo’s 1984 on-campus speech. Therein, he eliminated religious morality from the forging of public policy.
Not until graduation 2009, however, did the university similarly sell its soul for the sake of progressive exhibitionism and to support a long-standing fantasy that it is the ninth Ivy League school.
In a highly publicized, mutually exploitative production, Notre Dame shamelessly bestowed high honors and praise upon America’s foremost pro-abortion zealot, Barack Obama.
Four years after Notre Dame’s endorsement, and the president’s re-election, Obama would apparently purge the Church from both military and civilian life. On the latter, we ponder Obama’s condescending disdain for Catholic education, abortion-funding mandates for Catholic institutions, the inevitable unfettered access to abortifacients by minors and the elimination of parental counsel and consent in matters of their children’s reproductive "privacy."
Worse yet, because of Notre Dame’s ambiguous identity and scandalous priorities, ambivalent Catholic women may feel encouraged to choose abortion over life. After all, iconic Notre Dame chose the low road.
If Notre Dame is "where the Church does its thinking," then perhaps the Church should look elsewhere. Those who celebrate or otherwise support pro-choice politicians effectively become abortion enablers.
That concession to secular interests is inimical to the most bedrock of Church tenets — i.e., the sanctity of human life. Many Catholics, including priests, nuns and undergraduate students, live in denial about that fact.
The Notre Dame Alma Mater declares, in honor of our Blessed Mother, that the university is likewise "strong and true." True to what? The university also honored Barack Obama, who equates unwanted conception with disease. Under the specter of additional abortion-friendly Supreme Court appointments, we wonder if Notre Dame is capable of substantive Catholic leadership or if it will continue stumbling toward a dubious, hybrid identity — neither Catholic nor secular.
True leadership involves risk — not the politically safe, conveniently progressive aggrandizement that is typical of Notre Dame advertising.
The legion Notre Dame following should expect administrators beneath the Golden Dome: 1) to concede that they made an egregious, self-serving and deadly error in May 2009; 2) to educate the faithful about abortion enabling; and then, 3) to make further restitution by "fighting" for the unborn in their recently expanded football-game infomercials.
Such rectitude may be the last hope for Catholic tradition in this country, for truth in advertising at Notre Dame and for the lives of countless unborn innocents.
Entrustment to Mary
Related to Pope Francis’ devotion to Mary:
Entrustment to Mary has come of age. This entrustment, which most people have never heard of, has now been taught from the highest and most trustworthy places in the Church. No less than Vatican II, in the document on the lay apostolate, encouraged, "Everyone should have a genuine devotion to Mary and entrust his life to her motherly care."
Blessed John Paul II was the next high authority to promote this entrustment. In his 1987 Marian Year encyclical, John Paul II specifically recommended entrustment to Mary, according to the method of St. Louis de Montfort, as an effective means to live faithfully the Christian life.
John Paul II himself made this entrustment to Mary and recommended it to us on other occasions. In his book Be Not Afraid, he wrote about the great influence that the spirituality of St. Louis de Montfort had on him as a young man. Entrustment to Mary is central to de Montfort’s spirituality. The Pope was so affected that he even took a form of renewing the entrustment as his papal motto: "Totus Tuus," which means I am all thine [Mary].
In another book, Gift and Mercy, John Paul II writes about how, through the entrustment, Mary does bring us closer to Christ, provided "we live her mystery in Christ." Pope John Paul II goes on to say that the book True Devotion to Mary, in which de Montfort encourages us to entrust ourselves to Mary, is sometimes hard to follow, but his Mariological thought is rooted in sound theology.
Another saint, also influenced by de Montfort, devised an alternative method for entrusting oneself to Mary. St. Maximilian Kolbe, a Polish priest who died at Auschwitz, has an entrustment that more intently focuses on Mary as the Immaculate Conception, as close to the Holy Spirit and as mediatrix of all graces.
Vatican II did not specify a particular method of entrustment, only that we should have one. Both de Montfort and Kolbe have excellent methods. And there are others. It is up to you to choose!