Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Will this be the first American-born woman martyr?

Jamie Schmidt
To the great honor of this nation which stands under the heavenly patronage of the Immaculata, there are now a good number of Saints and Blesseds who have been born in and/or worked in the U.S.A. However, only one native-born U.S. citizen has so far been raised to the altars of the Church wearing the glorious Martyr’s crown: Blessed Stanley Rother, a La Salette missionary priest from Oklahoma who was murdered in 1981 by a death squad while ministering to the poor in Guatemala. (The heroic North American Martyrs, of course, were missionaries born in France and shed their blood for the faith well over a century before the United States came into existence.) However, no American woman or lay person – and no U.S. citizen at all who died on this nation’s soil – has so far been honored by the Church as a martyr.

That may well change in the near future, as the unplanned result of a horrific, coldly planned and unprovoked crime that took place last week, less than half an hour’s drive from my church in downtown St. Louis, Missouri. The local community — Catholic and non-Catholic — has reacted with abhorrence, and indeed, St. Louis County police chief Jon Belmar said it was “among the most heinous crimes” he had seen in his 32 years in law enforcement — an atrocity that “shocked the senses.” Yet the ways of Divine Providence are strange: as we have seen so many times throughout history, God can bring great good out of evil, even in one overwhelming instant. However, as I write, most St. Louis area Catholics are perhaps still too numb with shock to have noticed the rays of spiritual light that are emerging from this seeming black hole.

So what happened? During mid-afternoon last Monday, November 19, 2018, all seemed quiet in the Manchester Road branch of St. Louis’ main religious goods vendor, Catholic Supply. A stocky, middle-aged man walked in and noted that only three people were in the store — all women. Two were store workers, one fiftyish, the other in her twenties, and the third was a customer who had just come in. After exchanging a few words, the man said he was going back to his car to get a credit card and would be right back to make a purchase. But when he re-entered, it was not a card, but a revolver that he had in his hand. He immediately herded the three terrified women at gunpoint back into a secluded corner of the store, and forced them all to strip off their clothing. Then, still at gunpoint, he forced two of the women — the two store workers — to satiate his perverse lust with unnatural sex acts.

Then this brute came to his third victim, the would-be customer, who according to friends had probably come to purchase some materials for her Rosary-making apostolate. This was Jamie Schmidt, 53, a quiet mother of three who worked as a secretarial assistant at the St. Louis Community College in the western suburb of Wildwood, and was active in her parish church, St. Anthony of Padua at High Ridge in neighboring Franklin County. There was nothing obviously extraordinary about this lady. But now she did something very extraordinary indeed. Having just been forced to witness in terror the sexual assault of the two women beside her, Mrs. Schmidt was ordered to bend down for the same purpose.

But Mrs. Schmidt — naked, defenseless, and with the barrel of a loaded gun pointed at her head — Just Said No.

With death staring her in the face, Jamie quietly refused to allow her purity, her personal dignity, and her marriage covenant to be outraged. And her point-blank refusal to bow to her assailant’s demands was met instantly with a point-blank shot that felled her on the spot. Even then, this monster was not satisfied. With his victim bleeding in agony right there on the floor, he kept on for a while longer insisting that the other two traumatized women continue gratifying his passion before he finally fled the store. Jamie was quickly taken to a hospital but was pronounced dead later that evening.

Fortunately, following their immediate diffusion of the perpetrator’s appearance and dress described by the two survivors, the St. Louis County police did a first-rate job in tracking him down, and by Wednesday 21, the day before Thanksgiving, Thomas Bruce, 53, of Jefferson County, was arrested at his trailer park residence and is currently being held without bail on 17 charges, including first-degree murder, multiple counts of sodomy, armed criminal action, kidnapping, burglary and tampering with evidence.

This tale of indomitable resistance to demonic evil calls for deep reflection. Jamie Schmidt’s act of supreme courage and nobility, called forth immediately in a moment of sudden crisis, clearly did not come from nowhere. The action of grace had been evidently working quietly but deeply in the soul of this lady who had outward lived devoutly but unobtrusively, like any number of other good Catholics. Her husband Gregg Schmidt, who married Jamie, his high school sweetheart, in 1990, has understandably been too distraught, together with their three children, to make any public statement as of this writing. But her good friend and fellow parishioner at St. Anthony’s, Laura Sheldon, commented to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in last Wednesday's report, “She was very simple, very modest, very quiet. If you ever needed help, she would be there. That’s just the way Jamie was.” She was also active in a parish group that organized women’s retreats. Furthermore, Mrs. Schmidt was notably talented artistically and musically, and used her gifts in God's service: she adorned St. Anthony’s with some fine paintings, and was active in the parish choir, sometimes performing solo parts. “Her voice was just beautiful,” said her friend Laura.

Was Jamie Schmidt’s sacrifice of her life, then, a case of true martyrdom? Only the Church will be able to decide that authoritatively, of course, after mature reflection. But the evidence available so far strongly suggests an affirmative response, and would certainly seem to warrant the prompt opening of her cause for beatification at the diocesan level. While there can be little doubt about her heroism in that supreme moment of her existence, another prerequisite for martyrdom is that the perpetrator must have acted not simply out of personal hatred, greed or ideological/political enmity, but in odium Christi - out of hatred for Christ. And the parallels and precedents here are well established. Even though this murder was not carried out with any explicit reference to the victim’s profession of the Catholic faith, it is part of that faith that the natural moral law, inscribed in all hearts by God, has as its Author the divine Wisdom, the Logos, who has now become incarnate as Jesus our Redeemer. Speaking of “God's beloved Son” (Col. 1: 13), St. Paul goes on to affirm, “For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible . . . all things were created through him and for him” (v. 16).

It is known that Thomas Bruce had absolutely no personal grudge against any of his three victims, none of whom he had ever encountered before. His barbaric act of slaughter, as far as we can tell from the evidence so far available, was therefore an implicit act of hatred and rebellion against Christ the incarnate Wisdom, whose divine and natural law rebuked and condemned the perverse and adulterous lust that found such resolute resistance from this brave woman who carried Christ in her heart. Jamie’s eventual canonization as a martyr would therefore appear to follow closely the Church's precedents in raising to the altar the young St. Maria Goretti (stabbed to death for refusing to fornicate with an assailant), St. Charles Lwanga and his companions (who chose death by fire rather than engage in sodomy with a homosexual tyrant), and indeed, that archetypal martyr St. John the Baptist, who lost his head for denouncing another king’s violation of the moral law regarding marriage.

Now, at a time when the relaxation, corruption and violation of God’s laws regarding sexual purity and marriage is far worse in modern society — and even within very high levels of the Church herself! — than when Saints Maria Goretti and Charles Lwanga were canonized in the middle of last century, how wonderful it will be if, out of last week’s unspeakable tragedy in St. Louis, there should arise a new spiritual beacon to illuminate our beloved United States, the wider world, and indeed, our Church — overshadowed as it is by the ongoing sexual revolution with its abuse scandals and the weak vacillation of an Amoris Laetitia-stained magisterium! How beautiful, if the shining example can be raised to the altars of a new native-born American martyr saint — a woman who proclaimed at the cost of her own lifeblood that Christ’s laws against adultery and sexual perversion are clear, absolute, and unequivocal!

May it please God that, before long, we may be able to invoke the intercession of Saint Jamie Schmidt — to help Make America Pure Again!

By: Fr. Brian W. Harrison, O.S

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Medjugorje November 25, 2018 Monthly Message

“Dear children! This is a time of grace and prayer, a time of waiting and giving. God is giving Himself to you that we may love Him above everything. Therefore, little children, open your hearts and families, so that this waiting may become prayer and love and, especially, giving. I am with you, little children, and encourage you not to give up from what is good  because the fruits are seen and heard of afar. That is why the enemy is angry and uses everything to lead you away from prayer. Thank you for having responded to my call.”


*GOSPEL **- JN 18:33B-37*

Pilate said to Jesus,
*"Are you the King of the Jews?"*
Jesus answered, "Do you say this on your own or have others told you about Me?"
Pilate answered, "I am not a Jew, am I?
Your own nation and the chief priests handed you over to me.
What have you done?"
Jesus answered, *"My kingdom does not belong to this world.*
If My kingdom did belong to this world,
My attendants would be fighting to keep Me from being handed over to the Jews.
But as it is, My kingdom is not here."
So Pilate said to Him, "Then You are a king?"
Jesus answered, *"You say I am a king.*
* For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to ther truth Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to My Voice."*

*The Catechism of the Catholic Church*

*574 **From the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, certain Pharisees and partisans of Herod together with priests and scribes agreed together to destroy Him.* Because of certain of His acts—expelling demons, forgiving sins, healing on the sabbath day, His novel interpretation of the precepts of the Law regarding purity, and His familiarity with tax collectors and public sinners —*some ill–intentioned persons suspected Jesus of demonic possession*. He is accused of blasphemy and false prophecy, religious crimes which the Law punished with death by stoning.

*600* To God, all moments of time are present in their immediacy. When therefore He establishes His eternal plan of “predestination,” He includes in it each person’s free response to His grace: *“In this city, in fact, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus*, Whom You anointed, to do whatever Your Hand and Your plan had predestined to take place.” *For the sake of accomplishing His plan of salvation, God permitted the acts that flowed from their blindness.*

*597* The historical complexity of Jesus’ trial is apparent in the Gospel accounts. *The personal sin of the participants (Judas, the Sanhedrin, Pilate) is known to God alone.* Hence *we cannot lay responsibility for the trial on the Jews in Jerusalem as a whole*, despite the outcry of a manipulated crowd and the global reproaches contained in the apostles’ calls to conversion after Pentecost.Jesus himself, *in forgiving them on the cross, and Peter in following suit, both accept “the ignorance” of the Jews of Jerusalem and even of their leaders*. Still less can we extend responsibility to other Jews of different times and places, based merely on the crowd’s cry: “His blood be on us and on our children!” a formula for ratifying a judicial sentence. As the Church declared at the

Second Vatican Council:

*From “The Passion” Testimony of Catalina Rivas (Part 1.12.3, 1.14.3)*

*3)* *Represented in Pilate, I saw the souls who lack the courage and generosity to vigorously break away from the demands of the world and from their own nature.* Instead of uprooting what their conscience tells them about not being of the world and of nature and what their conscience tellst hem about not being in the right spirit, *they yield to a whim*; they get pleasure out of superficial satisfaction; *they partially surrender to the demands of their passion*, and to ease remorse, *they tell themselves “I have already deprived myself of this or that, and that is enough.*”

*3)* I did not answer any of Pilate’s questions. But when he asked: *“Are
You the King of the Jews?”*, then with seriousness and integrity, I answered: *“You have said so; I am the King, but My kingdom is not of this world…”* With these words I wanted to teach many souls how, when they are presented with the opportunity to endure suffering or a humiliation that could easily be avoided, they should answer with generosity: “*My kingdom is not of this world…”. That is to say, I do not seek the praises of human beings*. My Homeland is not this one, yet soon I will rest where it truly is. Now, take courage to fulfill My duty without taking into account the opinion of the world. What matters to Me is not their esteem but to follow the voice of grace that suffocates the inducements of nature. If I am not able to conquer alone, I will ask for strength and counsel since, *on many occasions, passions and excessive self-love blind the soul and impel it to act wrongly*.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

November 15, 2018 Terror of demons, Fount of renewal

Feast of St. Albert the Great

Rocked to the core again!
Just minutes after clicking send on my last email, I got the news that the Vatican had shut down the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) from taking any official action on the sexual abuse scandal.   
Again, I was rocked to the core.   Some problems will resolve by themselves with the passage of time.  This one will not.  It will only get worse because this is an active attack on the Church by the evil one.
While our Bishops look for ways to increase accountability and transparency there is no number of administrative acts that can resolve this.  Renewal through grace is the answer.  This renewal and grace are the promise of Our Lady of America.
On this date in 1956, the Blessed Virgin made this request of the Bishops:
(from the messages)

On the morning of November 15, 1956, Our Lady taught me this little prayer: "By thy Holy and Immaculate Conception, O Mary, deliver us from evil.” Our Lady then asked me to draw a picture of her first appearance. She also requested a statue made according to this likeness and placed, after being solemnly carried in procession, in the Shrine of The Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. She wishes to be honored there in a special way as Our Lady of America, the Immaculate Virgin.’

Sr Mary Ephrem goes on to write about Our Lady describing the situation:

From January 1957 to 1958, Our Lady's warnings came to me again and again. These are her words spoken in January 1957: "The hour grows late. My Son's patience will not last forever. Help me hold back His anger, which is about to descend on sinful and ungrateful men. Suffering and anguish, such as never before experienced, is about to overtake mankind. It is the darkest hour. But if men will come to me, my Immaculate Heart will make it bright again with the mercy which my Son will rain down through my hands. Help me save those who will not save themselves. Help me bring once again the sunshine of God's peace upon the world." To my spiritual director I was asked to send this message: “Hurry, my son, for the time is short but the punishment will be long, and for many, forever. "Tell the Bishops of the United States, my loyal sons, of my desires and how I wish them to be carried out. Through him who is head over you, make known the longings of my Immaculate Heart to establish the reign of my Divine Son in the hearts of men and thus save them from the scourge of heaven, both now and hereafter." Our Lady, again addressing herself to me, spoke sadly yet hopefully: "My daughter, will my children in America listen to my pleadings and console my Immaculate Heart? Will my loyal sons carry out my desires and thus help me bring the peace of Christ once again to mankind? 'Pray and do penance, my sweet child, that this may come to pass. Trust me and love me; I so desire it. Do not forget your poor Mother, who weeps over the loss of so many of her children."

And Our Lady promises renewal as well:

"I am pleased, my child, with the love and honor my children in America give to me, especially through my glorious and unique privilege of the Immaculate Conception. I promise to reward their love by working through the power of my Son's Heart and my Immaculate Heart miracles of grace among them. I do not promise miracles of the body, but of the soul."

While Our Lady has a multitude of titles, there is one that comes to mind for this moment; Terror of demons
The evil of the acts at the root of the sexual abuse scandal and constant attacks on the Church are both from the same source – Satan.   
Please pray the Rosary for Our Lady, Terror of demons to free our Church from demonic oppression.  And pray the Rosary to Our Lady of America, the Immaculate Virgin that the acts she requests of our Bishops be accomplished with haste and the spiritual renewal to begin.  Do this in unity with Our Lady for the salvation of souls!
By thy Holy and Immaculate Conception O Mary, deliver us from evil.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Development of Love

Presence of God – My God, from all eternity You have gone before me with
Your infinite love; increase my love for You.
“What shall prevent God from doing that which He will in the soul that is resigned, annihilated, and detached?” (John of the Cross Ascent of Mt. Carmel II, 4,2). This statement of St. John of the Cross makes you understand that God has an immense desire to work in your soul, to lead you to sanctity and to union with Himself, provided you commit yourself into His hands, despoiled of every attachment, annihilated in your self-love, entirely docile, malleable, and adaptable to His action. The Lord comes to your assistance with purifying trials in order to empty you of self, to detach you from creatures, to immerse you in true humility, but at the same time He helps you to grow in love, the strong bond which must unite you to Him. All the work which God accomplishes in your soul is done in view of making you advance in this virtue; exterior and interior trials, humiliations, powerlessness, aridity, struggles, and tempests are meant in the divine plan to extinguish the illusory fires of self-love, pride, earthly affections, and all other irregular passions, so that only one fire may burn within you, ever more intensely and strongly, the fire of charity.

The more the Lord purifies you, the more your heart will be freed from all dross and become capable of concentrating all its affection upon Him. Walk, then, in this way by accepting purification in view of a deeper love, and by orientating your whole spiritual life toward the exercise of love. What you suffer, suffer for love, that is, suffer it willingly, without rebellion or complaint, and then, in the measure that your soul is humbled, despoiled, and mortified, it will also be clothed with charity. The trials which God sends you have the purpose not only of purifying your heart, but also of dilating it in charity. They aim at deepening your capacity for love; not, certainly, a sensible love, but a powerful love of the will, which tends toward God through pure benevolence, independent of all personal consolation, its sole pursuit being His glory and good pleasure.


“O Lord of my soul and my only Good! When a soul has resolved to love You, and forsaking everything, does all in its power toward that end, so that it may the better employ itself in Your love, why do You not grant it at once the joy of ascending to the possession of this perfect love? But I am wrong: I should have made my complaint by asking why we ourselves have no desire so to ascend, for it is we alone who are at fault in not at once enjoying so great a dignity.

“If we attain to the perfect possession of this true love of God, it brings all blessings with it. But so [ungenerously] and so slow are we in giving ourselves wholly to God that we do not prepare ourselves as we should to receive that precious love which it is His Majesty’s will that we should enjoy only at a great price.

“There is nothing on earth with which so great a blessing can be purchased; but if we did what we could to obtain it, if we cherished no attachment to earthly things, and if all our cares and all our intercourse were centered in heaven, I believe there is no doubt that this blessing would be given us very speedily…. But we think we are giving God everything, whereas what we are really offering Him is the revenue or the fruits of our land while keeping the stock and the right of ownership of it in our own hands…. A nice way of seeking His love! And then we want it quickly and in great handfuls, as one might say.

“O Lord, if You do not give us this treasure all at once, it is because we do not make a full surrender of ourselves. May it please You to give it to us at least little by little, even though the receiving of it may cost us all the trials in the world.

“No, my God, love does not consist in shedding tears, in enjoying those consolations and that tenderness which for the most part we desire and in which we find comfort, but in serving You with righteousness, fortitude of soul, and humility. The other seems to me to be receiving rather than giving anything ….

“May it never please Your Majesty that a gift so precious as Your love be given to people who serve You solely to obtain consolations” (Teresa of Jesus The Book of Her Life 11).

Monday, November 12, 2018

Deliver us from evil! Feast of St Josephat, Bishop and Martyr

Today, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops are meeting in Baltimore Maryland. Dominating the meeting will be the sexual abuse crisis which continues to rock the Church (see "Rocked to the Core").

The root of this crisis is evil. In this case evil is a noun and not an adjective. It is an attack on the Mystical Body of Christ. The bad news is that left to our own devices it is beyond human capacity to fix. The good news it hat while we cannot fix it, it is fixable!

The Church is made up of people and we are all sinners (notable exception is the Holy Family). Therefore, it should be no surprise that some priests and bishops have gravely fallen. Even among the first 12 apostles, Judas turned out to be a very bad actor and others were notable sinners as well. So Jesus, from the very beginning showed us what to expect; there will be corruption and sin in the Church. Let us not be dismayed by this reality. There is hope

Wherever evil exists, it is for us to root it out. While bishops have the powers of exorcism, all of us have the power of prayer and begging for Our Lady's intercession. Because of the graces and authority given by Her Son Jesus, she can accomplish more than any other intercessor.

Our Lady of America, The Immaculate Virgin has come with a very powerful intercessory prayer that is perfectly suited to our time and the crisis in the Church: "By thy Holy and Immaculate Conception O Mary, deliver us from evil." In this devotion she has promised the graces necessary to deal with this crisis. Dare I say, any other way will prove to be folly!

In this devotion Our Lady has put special emphasis on spiritual healings and the graces necessary to seek purity. In this case, purity to overcome corruption and sin along with healing for those who have been spiritually injured by its effects. Our Lady knows what we need and she desperately wants to grant our needs, but we must accept her gift.

Please pray! First that our Bishops will come to understand the reality of what is facing the Church and second that they recognize, seek and accept the graces of Our Lady of America, the Immaculate Virgin by responding to her requests and accepting the graces

Our part is to spread this devotion, to pray for her intercession and to live a life of purity as called for by Our Lady. Most importantly, pray for our bishops and priests!

A note of caution! It is so easy to be angry at the bishops for allowing this to happen. Please don't be angry. Please pray for them. Encourage them. For those bishops that are complicit in this evil, pray they seek forgiveness, reconciliation, conversion and purity. For the other bishops that are left cleaning up this mess, pray that they have faith, courage and graces to see the reality of this situation and that the intercession and graces already promised by Our Lady of America are the (only?) answer.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Message to Mirjana Soldo of November 2nd, 2018

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling"Dear children, My motherly heart suffers as I am looking at my children who do not love the truth, those who are hiding it—as I look at my children who do not pray with their feelings and actions. I am sad as I am saying to my Son that many of my children no longer have faith, that they do not know Him—my Son. That is why I call you, apostles of my love: you strive to look to the very depth in human hearts and there you are certain to find the little hidden treasure. To look in this way is mercy from the Heavenly Father. To seek the good even where there is the greatest evil—to strive to comprehend each other and not to judge—that is what my Son is asking of you. And I, as a mother, am calling you to listen to Him.
My children, the spirit is mightier than the flesh, and, carried by love and actions, it overcomes all obstacles. Do not forget: my Son has loved you and loves you. His love is with you and in you when you are one with Him. He is the light of the world and no one and nothing will be able to stop Him in the final glory.
Therefore, apostles of my love, do not be afraid to witness the truth. Witness it with enthusiasm, with works, with love, with your sacrifice, and, above all, in humility. Witness the truth to all those who have not come to know my Son. I will be alongside you. I will encourage you. Witness the love which never ends because it comes from the Heavenly Father who is eternal and who offers eternity to all of my children. The spirit of my Son will be alongside you.
Anew I am calling you, my children: pray for your shepherds, pray that the love of my Son may lead them. Thank you."