Thursday, October 28, 2021

The Rise and Fall of America?

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” – Preamble to the U.S. Constitution.

American greatness started with this! Thomas Jefferson and his fellow forefathers acknowledged the existence of unalienable rights.  Recognizing God’s Divine Mandate, that man was created to be free in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness by God’s own hand, was critical in the foundation of this new experiment in government they set to establish. 

Signing the Declaration of Independence

Alternatively, if the concept of freedom was established as coming from man himself, it could be taken away at any time by men.  God is the source of these rights. When man denies God, he denies for himself the very source of his Freedom which then leaves him subject to men as his arbiter.  If able, evil men will place their brother into bondage.

As many in society increasingly choose the perceived conveniences, comfort, and security of the secular world, they steadily move away from God.  And with that chosen course they steadily find themselves losing the freedom our forefathers had so wisely recognized in God’s creation and enshrined in our nation’s founding.

The Constitution was constructed to deliver a Republic form of government, not a pure Democracy where the majority of opinion rules even if that rule is wrong, harmful or endangering to life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness in a segment of our society.  Our Republic is different in that it CAN operate for the protection of the individual against the majority when they get out of control. The three branches of government and the representative nature of our congress offers some protection to individual rights. But even a republic cannot save a people from themselves if they choose to stray.

William Tytle (1711-1792) a Scottish lawyer and historical writer documents the life cycle of democracies and republics. Attributed to him is this description of the rise and fall of democratic nations:

“A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.
The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations from the beginning of history has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence: From bondage to spiritual faith; From spiritual faith to great courage; From courage to liberty; From liberty to abundance; From abundance to selfishness; From selfishness to complacency; From complacency to apathy; From apathy to dependence; From dependence back into bondage.

Even though the progression described by Tytle seems to be confirmed by history, could there be another outcome?  If we could understand the drivers that move us to the next step then perhaps we could break the cycle!   Is it possible?

Looking at the life cycle there are 4 steps to the rise and 4 steps to the fall of democratic societies.  One could divide the circle in two with a straight line up and down.  There is commonality to the four items on the right(rise) and a different commonality to 4 items of the left(fall).   Understanding this exposes the reason for the pivot point from rise to fall.

In society there is individual virtue.  Virtuous choices are ones made according to the natural law as embodied in Matthew 22;34-40:  Love God above all and love your neighbor as yourself.  When taken as a whole, societal virtue is a composite of its member’s virtue (or lack thereof).

In the rise of nations societal virtue is growing and becomes strong.   First is faith and the search for unity among the people. The Second is courage born of faith and unity. Next is liberty which manifests in a people united in faith, which then have courage and numbers to break the tyrannical bondage. During the rise of society, the measure of societal virtue is also rising.

In the life cycle of nations, it becomes obvious that the rise of nations is during the period where faith and the practice of the Golden Rule is strong and growing.   It is also obvious that the demise of nations follows when these are abandoned by more than one half of society.   This results in a situation where neighbor steals from neighbor and fosters other immoral acts under the protection of the government controlled by the now immoral majority. Here are two examples: the taking of innocent life in abortion and the legitimized theft inherent in entitlement and other programs designed for the political benefit of government officials and not for the common good.

In the fall of nations, we see a gradual abandonment of the virtues and then an increasingly rapid pursuit of the vices.  This marginalizes God and abandons the Golden Rule, resulting in grace being largely diminished.  We are then left to the influences of evil.

Very simply, it is Grace that supports the rise of nations.  Without Grace nations collapse.  Without faith the practice of the Golden Rule is gone and is replaced by selfishness.  And without the Golden Rule the flow of grace is halted, and societies move to narcissism, violence and irresponsibility; eroding the pillars of society until they collapse!

It is not hard to see that as a nation, America has moved past the mid-point.  Selfishness abounds and dependence is becoming the norm for a growing part of our society.  I fear for where we are heading with apparent haste!

So that’s the bad news. Now for the good news!

I take issue with Tytle’s conclusion that “A democracy is always temporary in nature.” Here is why.

God is constantly open to us returning to him.  In fact, Heaven gives us easy paths back and even extends personal invitations for us to come to Him.  This is true for individuals and nations.

Right now, America has a personal invitation to return to a life of virtue and practice of the Golden Rule in the devotion to Our Lady, the Immaculate Virgin, Patroness of America.   Our Lady of America is calling us to imitate the Holy Family where virtue was perfect, and sin was perfectly avoided.  

She is calling us, the United States of America, back to increasing greatness by our faith and our imitation of the Holy Family.  She is calling us to place God first, and our brothers and sisters next.  She is calling us to pursue the virtues and avoid sin.  She is calling us to the Golden Rule. She is showing us the way. 

But most importantly she has a promise for us.  She promises that if we pursue imitation of the Holy Family, fervently desire purity, frequent the Sacraments, practice the virtues, avoid sin and pray, she will lavish the graces to persevere in this Holy pursuit.  And if enough of us do this, it will change the future of our Nation.

Growing up I was blessed with wonderful parents.  I forget the context but have never forgotten the words my mother said to me as a young boy; “One person can change the world.”   The more I see in life the more I know this to be true – both for the better or the worse.

Heaven has a hope and plan for America – to lead the world to peace!  Will we rise to the call or disappoint our Sorrowful Mother?  By tapping the infinite treasury of God’s graces merited by Our Lord, Jesus Christ anyone can change the world for the better.  We are called by baptism to do exactly this!

This slide into bondage is not a certainty! We can change the course of history; one soul at a time. Commit today to changing the world in cooperation with Our Lady’s call to America.  We can do this! We must not fail!  Millions of souls are at stake.

Friday, October 22, 2021

St. John Paul II And Pastoral Ministry As A Gift

For many, St. John Paul II is a model pastor for our age.  So many priests of our day have looked up to him in admiration.  Some have discovered their vocation, in part, thanks to his influence.  Then there’s the JPII generation or JPII Catholics.  And his canonization confirms this devotion to the man the crowds greeted with a “JPII, we love you!”  It’s natural to wonder, How did he become such a great and beloved pastor? Of course, many things came together to make it happen.  I just want to focus on one.  It’s something that gives us a window into the soul of Karol Wojtyla as he was a young man preparing for the priesthood, and it can help all of us develop a pastoral heart,  the heart of the Good Shepherd. John Paul II wrote a “Meditation on Givenness” in 1994, which was published a year after his death.  In it, he recounts his state of soul as he prepared for the priesthood.  He goes on at some length as he says, “I was aware that my vocation to the priesthood would put many people in my path, and that God would entrust each one of them in some special way to me: giving them to me and tasking me with them.  It was then that the great need of Marian entrustment was born within me—that need which is encapsulated in the call: Totus Tuus. “These words, first and foremost, are not so much a declaration, as a plea that I do not succumb to any desire, however subtly camouflaged.  They are a prayer that I remain pure, and thus transparent to God and to men.  I pray that my vision, hearing, and intellect remain pure.  Totus Tuus: they all should be at the service of revealing the beauty God has given to man…Totus Tuus.  All yours. Yes.  We must ourselves be a total gift, a disinterested, sincere gift in order to recognize, in every man, the gift that he is, to thank the Giver for the gift of the human person” (Communio 2014, p 882). Part of this is rather surprising.  We all know how important the Totus Tuus Marian consecration was to JP II.  But what’s striking here is what he identifies as the most pressing reason for him to make this total entrustment to our Lady.  He wants to be sure in ministry that he truly receives others as a gift.  He wants to receive those he ministers to adequately as the gift that they truly are, placed in his path by God. Again in his words, “I was aware that my vocation to the priesthood would put many people in my path, and that God would entrust each one of them in some special way to me: giving them to me and tasking me with them.  It was then that the great need of Marian entrustment was born within me—that need which is encapsulated in the call: Totus Tuus.” them.  It was then that the great need of Marian entrustment was born within me—that need which is encapsulated in the call: Totus Tuus.” So that’s some insight into the soul of Karol Wojtyla as he was preparing for the priesthood.  His heart was being formed after the Good Shepherd’s own heart: to receive the people he ministered to as a gift given to him by God.  And it showed in his demeanor as pastor, did it not?  In his deep joy and steady enthusiasm. The pastoral ministry was not so much an obligation to be carried out, though it is that too.  It’s not so much heroic virtue in the service of others, though that too is called for.  It’s not so much sacrificial altruism, though selfless sacrifice is part of it.  On the deepest level, for JPII, the pastoral ministry was the receiving of “the other” as a gift, receiving the people he ministered to as a gift he was then tasked with.  As he says, God “giving them to me and tasking me with them.” And it’s not so far-fetched.  I have a friend who just finished a degree and has begun teaching.  In a casual email, he wrote these words to me, “I am grateful for the students. They are truly a gift. And I thank God I can feel the gift they are.”  That’s nice, huh?  Now, shortly after this, the same friend was telling me how much work it is.  Teaching is hard work.  But that doesn’t negate his earlier words about the gift. So that’s the call of JPII’s pastoral heart: to see the students of the class you teach as a gift God has entrusted you with.  To see the people of the parish you’re assigned to as a gift.  To see the person knocking at your door as a gift God is giving you and tasking you with.  That’s what was in the heart of JPII, a model pastor. In the end, part of God’s overflowing goodness is the “dignity of secondary causality”: to give us a share in His work, through our ministering to others.  It’s part of God’s overflowing goodness.  And as our Gospel tells us, the Lord himself girds himself and ministers to us—hopefully on the Last Day but even now, every day, in the Eucharist. 

Thursday, October 21, 2021

*St. John Paul II Warned Us!* by Dan Lynch

October 22 is the Memorial of St. John Paul II. Our Apostolates promote devotion to him since he inaugurated the New Evangelization and named Our Lady of Guadalupe as the Star of Evangelization.

St. John Paul II credited Our Lady of Guadalupe as his guide. He said, “Ever since I went on pilgrimage for the first time to the splendid Shrine of Guadalupe on January 29, 1979, she has guided my steps in these almost twenty five years of service as Bishop of Rome and universal pastor of the Church. I wish to invoke her, the sure way to encounter Christ, and who was the first evangelizer of America, as the ‘Star of Evangelization,’ entrusting to her the ecclesial work of all her sons and daughters of America.”

Let us not forget St. John Paul II’s warning to America. I led a procession carrying the Missionary Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe many miles to his World Youth Day Mass at Cherry Creek State Park in Denver, Colorado in 1993.

He preached during his homily,  

Death battles against Life: a "culture of death" seeks to impose itself on our desire to live, and live to the full. . . . In our own century, as at no other time in history, the "culture of death" has assumed a social and institutional form of legality to justify the most horrible crimes against humanity: genocide, "final solutions", "ethnic cleansings", and the massive "taking of lives of human beings even before they are born, or before they reach the natural point of death." . . .

Woe to you if you do not succeed in defending life. . . . in order to create a civilization of true justice and love.

Biblical “woes” were warnings of terrible afflictions and chastisements. Jesus Himself warned of a “woe” of the destruction of Jerusalem. He said, “Woe to pregnant women and nursing mothers in those days, for a terrible calamity will come upon the earth and a wrathful judgment upon this people. They will fall by the edge of the sword and be taken as captives to all the Gentiles; and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” (Luke 21:23-24).

He wept over Jerusalem and gave this prophetic warning because the people failed to repent and to recognize the day of His visitation.

His prophetic warning was fulfilled in the year 70 A.D. when the Roman General Titus destroyed Jerusalem and its Temple and killed tens of thousands of people, resulting in  the dispersion of the Jews throughout the world.
We need to heed the warning of St. John Paul II to “succeed in defending life” lest we suffer from a “Great Storm” from the dark cloud that overshadows us filled with the potential chastisements of untold terror, violence and war, the use of nuclear weapons by rogue regimes, persecution of Christians, economic devastation and the pandemic of COVID-19.

 We need to hope and pray for the New Era of Peace prophesied by Our Lady of Fatima and St. John Paul II.

Our Lady told Father Stefano Gobbi of the Marian Movement of Priests in 1995, “It is precisely through the sacrifice of [Pope John Paul II] this, the first of my beloved sons, that divine justice will be espoused to a great mercy. After the time of the trial, which will be one of purification for all the earth, there will spring up upon the world the New Era foretold and announced by him; and thus, in these final times, he invites you all to cross the bright thresholds of hope.”

Using almost the same exact language several years later, Pope John Paul II wrote, “Now is the time of the New Evangelization to lead the People of God in America to cross the threshold of the third millennium with renewed hope.” (Apostolic Exhortation, The Church in America).

Later he announced the New Era that Our Lady prophesied would be announced by him. He wrote,

At the dawn of the new Millennium, we wish to propose once more the message of hope which comes from the stable of Bethlehem: God loves all men and women on earth and gives them the hope of a new era, an era of peace.