The following are articles that will be part of our Fall Issue of the Good Newsletter:
I was praying on what we should cover in this column; and then what should pop up on my desk? I found the following article which was written many years ago. The truth is always the truth, always timely. As we have been reading the following article about our beloved Church, the life of our Church and of our dear country, there is a tragic echoing ring to the message we were sending years ago to our brothers and sisters in Mother Church, and to our fair country.
Sunday, in our little country church, the recessional hymn was “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” I could barely sing; I felt a lump in my throat and my eyes were filled with tears. Oh, dear Lord what if we should lose our country and all it stands for? What if we should no longer be free to worship as we choose? Dear fair country, have I taken you and our liberty for granted?
I was working with a speech therapist the other day, and the passage I had to read was The Pledge of Allegiance. As the words came screaming off the page, I could barely keep from crying. Oh dear flag for which it stands, have I taken you for granted? As the words popped out of the page, challenging me to say them, I found myself choked up with tears. I remembered how my father, who came to this country when he was three years old, proudly saluted the flag, his hand on his heart, tears spilling unashamedly when he recited the pledge, his pledge to the United States of America. Do you know the pledge of allegiance by heart?
“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under GOD, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.”
There is so much passion, the passion of Our Savior in those words, a liberty we would have to defend with our loved ones fighting overseas to keep those promises alive. The founding fathers had a plan, I believe under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Our ancestors died for those words and their meaning. Our country is the only one that I know of that was founded under GOD! And our Holy Family wanted to insure this gift to us by GOD sending His Mother to look over this land, cover us with Her Mantle, protecting us, even sometimes from ourselves. And how She weeps!
“Our Lady as the Patroness of America.” Mary under her Immaculate Conception was the result of the worldwide Marian movement which culminated in the definition of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception by Blessed Pope Pius IX in 1854. The Sixth Provincial Council of Baltimore had, in 1846, requested the Holy See that Mary under the title of the Immaculate Conception be made patroness of the United States. The petition was granted in 1847.” (Dictionary of Mary, Catholic Publishing Co. N.Y.)
Our Holy Family is watching over this country. They always have! But there were other countries that were under the protection of Mother Mary, and they prospered! Take Mexico! Did you know that for many centuries our Lady of Guadalupe’s Image was on the flag of Mexico! And did you know that under her banner Mexico was one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Then the powers that be took her off the flag but could not take her out of the hearts of the people. And Mexico has not known the position it once had in the world. I could go on and on; Portugal was another country that suffered the same fate. I read somewhere that a man was praying, complaining to God how He could allow the violence in schools. Why doesn’t He do something! God replied, You threw Me out. I’m not allowed In schools!
“Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it!” My father was an enthusiastic student of ancient history. He taught us children that ancient history Is history that is bound to happen. When we study history that has passed and open our eyes to what is presently happening, we find that there is nothing new under the sun. Open my eyes, Lord that I might see! The mistakes we make and the little nothing sins we ignore, will grow into giant catastrophes. Read the Bible! It’s all there! That’s why there is such a drive to do away with the Bible.
Holy Family Mission news. (Brother Joseph)
We have completed the 20 Mysteries of the Rosary Chapels except for the metal roofs, which will be done hopefully this month. Seven of the 20 Chapels are committed so far. Please take a look at page 10 and 11 and consider a memorial for your family by having one of these remaining Chapels inscribed for your family.
We are bringing you new Super Saints programs this fall. The new programs include: Saint Rosalia, Saint Lucy, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati and Saint Gaspar de Bufalo. We are excited about bringing these special Saints and Blessed to you.
Remember that we evangelize by bringing these Blesseds and Saints to you. We provide these programs at no cost to Mother Angelica’s EWTN Global Network, so we depend on your generosity to get this done. You have always responded and we thank you for your continued generosity.
Then we make these programs available to you at as minimal cost as we can to continue our Ministry.
Recently, there has been an increase in interest in our books and dvds in the Asian countries. We are receiving orders from Catholic brothers and sisters of ours in places like Signapore, Philippines, Kerala, India and Hong Kong. They have a strong faith and in many ways are persecuted for their faith. There are pockets of strong Roman Catholics there and in most cases they have had a tradition of being Catholic for centuries. In the case of Kerala, India the tradition is that St. Francis Xavier brought the faith there. Another example is Cebu in the Philippines, this is the place of special devotion to the Infant Jesus of Cebu. The tradition there is that Magellan brought the image of the Child Jesus there as a gift to the Queen of the Philippines on the occasion of her birthday. Read more about this in “Miracles of the Child Jesus.”
Please pray for the spread of our Catholic Faith in this region and for the faithful there that are evangelizing the pagans all around them. There are forces against the Church in every area there, and the battle in on there. It is encouraging to find such strong Faith among the young there.
This issue we want to remind you to register for our annual conference held this year September 26 – 28. See page 5 for information and registration form. If you have been here in the past be sure to return, if you have never been to one of these conferences, you owe it to your yourself and your family to come. Remember the words of Schlinder of “Schlinder’s list.” What is the value of one soul? We invest for our golden years; but how much do we invest in our eternal years.
Consider the ratio of our golden years to our eternal years. Pick a number for your golden years. Now pick a large number for your eternal years. The ratio is close to zero, which means that your golden years are nothing compared to your eternal years and yet we are spending all our energy, time and money on that ratio.
We have had a steady stream of visitors this summer, stopping here while on vacation on passing through on Interstate 40. We had a family reunion here on July 4 and the place was packed with kinfolk from all over the USA.
Good News – Bad News
Finally, last week someone close to our Ministry told us that after the election this fall, gasoline would be down to $2.00 per gallon. Wow we said, that would be good news! Then he proceeded to tell us the bad news that you will be able to buy gasoline only on Tuesdays and only 2 gallons maximum. And again we said, wow that would be bad news! Finally he told us there was more good news in that if they did not have any gasoline to sell, you would get a coupon that would allow you to purchase 4 gallons on the next Tuesday. Yes you guessed it, “if they had any to sell the next Tuesday.”
So let us pray for our beloved America and that we choose wisely.
This is the article we wrote some years ago.
Dear Family, Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
You are all this; but you are so much more; you have been called by the Lord to be Defenders of the Faith, and Soldiers of Christ.
Never before in the History of the Church and the World have we had such an awesome privilege and responsibility to serve God and country.
We have a vested interest in both our beloved Church and in our precious country.
We have seen the slogan (referring to our country), Love her or leave her.
We say (referring to our Church and our Faith), Love it, Learn it, Live it, or Lose it!
We are engaged in a Gentle Revolution.
In our travels around the world, we see our Lord and His Mother gathering soldiers for the battle ahead – love and knowledge of our Faith their armor and shield.
We are a chosen people called to a royal priesthood by virtue of our Baptism.
We have been mandated by our Lord, and all the successors of St. Peter our first Pope, to go out to all the world and evangelize to the lambs who have strayed, and to strengthen, arm and call forth those who have remained to join the battle.
Put on the armor of God! We are in the most glorious days of the Church.
More and more people are realizing what is missing in their lives is God.
We have over 100,000 converts coming into the Catholic Church each year, and that makes the Father in Heaven so very happy. But the Hearts of Jesus and Mary are pierced each time one of their baptized Catholic children leaves Home -leaves the Faith of their fathers – the Roman Catholic Church.
Whose responsibility is it to protect the innocent lambs of God?
Who will be held accountable for every soul who could have been touched by word or deed? Every soul is uniquely created by God and therefore precious to our Father in Heaven. When we stand before the throne of God, how will we respond when Jesus says, I chose you to be an instrument of hope, a bridge for the lost to cross over to the one true Church, but you were too busy. This is our Church. We belong to the family of God. Every child is our child.
Each child of God lost, puts another thorn on Jesus’ Heart, makes our Church the poorer, and makes us the weaker. We believe our Apostolate has been called to help save Jesus’ lambs from being led to slaughter by Judas goats today! We are determined to stop the father of lies from killing any more children, from robbing them of their God and then their lives.
No more are to be lost, as long as we have a breath left in our bodies. What part in the defense of the Church and her family are you being asked to take?
You have to know your Faith, in order to defend yourself and your Church.
You also must know if someone in our own Church is preaching heresy, or is denying the Church’s authority to determine the eternal Truths of the Church. Our Church is in danger. But Jesus made a promise, “The gates of Hell will not prevail against it (His Church).“ Some of our strongest Catholics, converts and those baptized Catholics who had left the Church, have come Home to the One True Church, the Roman Catholic Church, because Jesus wants us all to stand side-by-side, brothers and sisters in Christ, ready to live for her, prepared to die for her, if need be.
There is a madness spreading throughout the world a well-planned, well-disguised design to snatch the innocent and devour them. We are all partners in Christ. The Catholic who is led astray may be your child, your grandchild! The Catholic you will save may be your child, your grandchild! Every child is our child; every soul won or lost is a soul created by God! We, the Mystical Body of Christ, must save the children of God. We, the Church Militant will save the children of God!
Saint Catherine of Genoa
Catherine was born into the Fieschi family, at that time, the most influential of the Guelf families of Genoa in the Province of Liguori in the Northern part of Italy. This famous family produced the powerful, very dynamic Pope Innocent IV in 1234 and then his nephew Adrian V as Pontiff (for only a few weeks). The Fieschi family reached the pinnacle of fame and fortune in the fifteenth century, raising up a Cardinal, and a Viceroy James Fieschi. James would marry Francesca di Negro of Genoa, of an ancient noble family, linking two strong aristocratic families of Genoa. But the Lord had a greater plan; He was to send Catherine, fifth and last of their children, who would some day become a Saint.
It was 1447. Just as Jesus brought His favored three to Mount Tabor to strengthen them for the next high place, Calvary, so would the Lord raise up a Saint to balance in holiness the devastating blow that another, born in that century, would inflict upon His Church. Catherine Fieschi, later known to the world as Saint Catherine of Genoa, would become a Role Model, not only to the Catholic Church but also a much admired inspiration and unifying force to the entire Christian world, bringing back home those whom Martin Luther, the other child of the fifteenth century, separated from Mother Church.
She was destined to be wholly dedicated to the Lord, as His faithful bride, from her youngest years. At eight years old Catherine began to do penance, exchanging her soft luxurious bed for a bit of straw on the hard floor, and her fluffy pillow for a tree stump. She was an obedient child and showed signs of holiness even at that early age.
When she was twelve years old, Catherine had her first glimpse of God’s love; He shared with her some of the pain He had suffered during His Holy Passion. At thirteen, she disclosed to her confessor her desire to become a Nun. As he was also the confessor of the Nuns of Our Lady of Grace Convent where her sister Limbania was already a canoness regular, Catherine pleaded with him to intercede on her behalf. The Superiors rejected Catherine, because it was not their custom to accept girls of such a young age. This greatly hurt Catherine, but she never lost faith in her Lord and His love for her. Then, a year later in 1461, her father died.
A marriage of convenience is arranged for Catherine
With the death of Robert Fieschi, political maneuvering was necessary. How does a family keep its position? They marry off their children, uniting two strong families. And so, although Catherine must have thought sixteen years of age finally would be a suitable age to enter the convent, she became a political pawn, and a marriage of convenience was arranged for her. Her heart was again broken, but she obeyed and was married to a young noble of the prominent, well-to-do Adorno Family, also of Genoa.
The marriage was certainly not made in Heaven; the young husband Giuliano was the direct opposite from Catherine. Whereas she was holy and religious, he was wild and self-indulgent to the sacrifice of everything and everyone. The first ten years of married life were stark, unadulterated hell! He squandered all their wealth on good times and wild women. Catherine, after suffering five years of loneliness, unable to endure her husband’s infidelity and lifestyle, feeling deserted from everyone, even God, turned to the frivolous life of her class, going to parties and becoming more and more involved with the next party and new dress she would wear. Although her attempts at finding some meaning in life were innocent, they did not bring her the joy and peace she sought so desperately; and so the depression she had attempted to overcome grew worse.
God takes over in Catherine’s life, and she is never the same
But God never leaves us alone. It was the Feast of St. Benedict, March 21, 1473. Catherine’s sister Limbania suggested Catherine go to her confessor. The moment she knelt in front of this holy priest, Our Lord overshadowed her and wounded her so powerfully with His unsparingly unconditional Love, she was lost in ecstasy, and was unable to confess her sins. Catherine was suddenly filled with remorse for the life she had been leading. God appeared to be unfurling her life before her, like a film, showing her the many times she had betrayed the love He had for her. But, at the same time, through this Divine Wound as she called it, God revealed the sweet Love that never ended, the Love He had for her and all His children. With this striking contrast of God’s Love and the world’s false gods of empty promises, she became repulsed by all that her society had to offer and cried out: “No more world, no more sin!”
“(I) Have no longer either soul or heart; but my soul and my heart are those of my Beloved.”
When we are faced with the absolute, unreserved Love, Our Lord has for us, it is as if a giant, brilliant light enters our soul, and even the smallest transgression, compared to God’s generous Love becomes to us, a monumental sin. And who is to contradict the great Saints on this point? Are we not taught: To those who much has been given, much is required?
Catherine went home and wept through the night. When the Lord saw how very remorseful she was, He appeared to her, covered with blood, carrying the Cross. As He shared that part of His life and pain, she became deeply filled with His Love and, through that knowledge, a heavy sadness for the last ten wasted years, years she could have spent loving Him. For the next fourteen months, the more the Lord revealed His Love and her sins, the more she desired to be cleansed and lead a new life in Him. As one by one her sins were revealed to her, she repented, and they disappeared, consumed by the flames of His Love, never to reappear.
One day, while praying before the Crucifix, Catherine was lifted up to Our Lord’s wounded Heart on the Cross. This Heart, Which had been pierced out of love for all mankind, was on fire, glowing with the same flames that burned inside her own heart; it was the same fire that He had enkindled in her, the same blaze which had consumed her sins, never to resurface. This so affected Catherine she relived it for years, crying out: “(I) Have no longer either soul or heart; but my soul and my heart are those of my Beloved.”
Catherine was changed! She became totally absorbed in Her Savior. No longer did she need or desire the world and its trappings. After Our Lord appeared to her on the Cross and drew her up to Him, after she felt herself like John the Beloved resting her head on His precious Chest, she saw everything through His Eyes. She no longer had to decide what was right or wrong; rather how it was revealed in the Light of God. How would Jesus feel? What would Jesus do?
She made a general confession on March 24th (three days after her prior confession) and her new life began! We always say, God has a sense of humor. Of course, as calamity strikes, it is difficult to see beyond the darkness to the Light which is about to shine through. Catherine’s husband Giuliano’s life caught up with him and they were reduced to almost total poverty. We do not know if the new-found strength, displayed by Catherine, brought about the change, along with her unrelenting prayers for his salvation, or the frailty of the world’s possessions and glory; but you guessed it, Catherine’s husband was converted!
Catherine’s journey from riches to rags and eternal joy
Giuliano agreed to live a celibate life with Catherine, a life of perpetual abstinence. He became a Franciscan Tertiary. They moved out of their palace to a small house which was conveniently close to the hospital, where the two would serve the sick and helpless. Giuliano tended to the poor and the infirmed, selflessly and tirelessly, until his death on January 10, 1497.
In 1479, six years after their first move from the luxurious to the austere, they went from their modest home to two small rooms in the hospital. They supported themselves, with a small pension Catherine received from her parent’s estate. They served without pay, the poorest of the poor and the most destitute. For eleven years, Catherine served as a nurse, taking on any and all tasks, small and great. In 1490 she was asked to take over the administration of the hospital. Although she would have preferred caring full time for the ill, she took on her new task with the same kind of dedication and zeal. She handled financial matters efficiently, scrupulously accounting for every penny, never taking any recompense for her services. But she did not do this at the expense of her prayer life or her service to the poor and the sick.
Catherine was lifted up to Our Lord’s wounded Heart on the Cross
In 1493, a deadly epidemic spread throughout the province, claiming 80% of the population. Those who contracted the disease died, after suffering excruciating pain accompanied by high fevers. There was a very pious woman in the hospital dying from this highly contagious disease. She underwent the greatest trials, enduring unbearable agony for eight days. Catherine visited and tended to her often. Try as she may, the woman was unable to call on Jesus, the Shepherd for help. Catherine repeated, over and over again, “Call on Jesus.” No matter how she tried, the woman could not reach out to her Savior for consolation. She tried mouthing the words, her lips forming the Name of Jesus, but no sound came forth! One day, seeing the noble effort put forward by her holy patient, Catherine kissed her lips. Hours later, dizziness, flushed cheeks, accompanied by a raging high fever confirmed Catherine’s suspicions, she had contracted the deadly disease. Catherine narrowly escaped death. This close call with the angel of death, however, did not deter her from performing all her hospital duties. She returned to her patients, including the highly contagious, before she herself was completely recuperated.
We see in Catherine, the powerful balance of the Love she had for God, (the First Commandment) and through that Love, the love she had for neighbor (the Second Commandment), the same quality of Love shown by the Savior when He walked the earth – love for His Father, giving all credit to Him, and love for those He came to save, saying: “I am the good Shepherd; I know My own and My own know Me, just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for My sheep.”
The above article is an excerpt from the chapter on Saint Catherine of Genoa which can be found in “Visionaries, Mystics and Stigmatists.” by Bob and Penny Lord along with the lives of other Visionaries, Mystics and Stigmatists.
Requiem for the Age of Innocence
“While the crowds pressed around Jesus, He began to speak to them in these words:
`This is an evil age. It seeks a sign. But no sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah. Just as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be a sign for the present age. At the judgment, the citizens of Nineveh will rise along with the present generation, and they will condemn it. For at the preaching of Jonah they reformed, but you have a greater than Jonah here.’”
How did it happen? How did we go from faith and fidelity to deception and betrayal?
“Those were the days, my friend; we thought they’d never end…” I still remember those days, the good old days, days filled with innocence, love and caring for one’s family, friends and neighbors, days where children revered their parents and grandparents, where the family stuck together, days of trust, days of honor, days of patriotism. Yes, we thought they would never end.
We believed in our country! We placed our hand over our hearts when we pledged allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. Tears came to our eyes, and our voices choked up a little as we sang the National Anthem of our country. We were Americans! When it was time to vote, an electricity filled the air, an excitement, with Daddy explaining the electoral system to us, the importance of casting our vote, and the merits and shortcomings of the different candidates. We were all involved, even those of us who were too young to vote. At four years old, I campaigned clandestinely, while my mother was on duty as one of the inspectors at the Polling Place. Franklin D. Roosevelt badges covering every inch of my favorite red coat, I would find myself being lifted bodily and carted to the other side of the Polling signs, when I wandered too close to the Barber Shop where the voting took place.
Franklin D. Roosevelt was our hero! We would have done anything he asked of us, even die; and many of our loved ones did! It was a time of patriotism and pride–We were Americans! Oh those were days of flags waving and speeches on the street corners, everyone crowding around the speakers or hanging out their windows to hear their platform. We believed in our country! We believed we had a personal interest in the destiny of our nation. What we said or did made a difference. We were important; we counted!
When did my world start to fall apart?
Then the war broke out. December was extremely cold in 1941. We were planning for Christmas as best we could, considering we had not fully pulled ourselves out of the Depression financially. But we looked forward to giving some small gift to each member of the family, to show how much we loved one another. My family had the radio on that Monday, December 8, 1941. We had heard about the bombing of Pearl Harbor the day before. We turned the radio to the evening news, when we heard our President, Franklin D. Roosevelt declaring war on Japan. I’ll never forget that speech he gave to us on that occasion. “Yesterday, December 7, is a day which will live in infamy.” My big brother, along with many other fine young men immediately went down to the recruiting office on Tuesday morning and volunteered for service in the military!
Rationing was never really a problem for us; we had learned early to stretch what little we had. Coming out of the Depression, we made everything go a long way. Dainty suppers became the patriotic cry. They were hard days; but we survived, because we had a common cause which united us; we were no longer Italians and Jews, Germans and Irish, Blacks and Whites, Browns and Yellows; we were Americans. Rosie the Riveter became a badge of honor as our patriotic ladies donned dungarees (called jeans today) and men’s’ shirts, rolled up at the sleeve, put their hair in a net, and took up the slack in the defense plants, doing the jobs the men had done before they went overseas to fight the war to keep our homeland safe. Even our movie stars got into the battle. Clark Gable and Jimmy Stewart joined up; Bob Hope and Betty Grable entertained the troops overseas, and the Andrews Sisters became a household name. USO was a haven for our homesick boys, where the average guy and gal could do their part for the war effort to give our fighting boys a little taste of home while they were away from their own home towns.
The war finally came to an end; we were victorious as we knew we had to be; we had God on our side. Our loved ones began to come home; many came back wounded, some physically and some mentally; the common denominator was they were never to be the same. The war had taken its toll on them, and on us. We were proud, but we were tired. The triumphant G.I.s returned to streets lined with cheering crowds and banners welcoming them. Our boys and girls were home. They had held back the enemy and saved our country and preserved our way of life. They were heroes. As our fighting men and women shared some of the horror stories of war, a little more of our innocence was taken away from us. After the war, there were rumors that President Roosevelt knew about the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor before it happened, but no one believed any of that. We blamed the Navy for having all those ships so close to each other in port at Pearl Harbor, making them such an easy target for the Japanese. President Roosevelt would never have allowed our soldiers and sailors to be put in such jeopardy and die the way they did during that horrendous attack.
Then, in 1947, as the Cold War accelerated, we became aware of just what had been given away to the Russians at the Potsdam and Yalta conferences. Russia had been given carte-blanche in Eastern Europe! They didn’t declare war on Japan until the day after the Atomic bomb was dropped over Hiroshima, and yet they were given territories as a reward, for what? Certainly not for having participated in that war. By this time, Roosevelt was dead, but the decisions he made at Yalta lived on for decades. And we let it happen! Feeling helpless and more than a little impotent, we resumed our lives; but somehow, we lost some of that strong feeling of patriotism.
Nevertheless, it didn’t finish us off. The Korean War broke out, which many said was just political. What were we doing in Southeast Asia, defending a country and a group of people we didn’t even know? We had to look on a map just to find out where Korea was. Many Americans felt we had no business being there. But we were still in the age of innocence, where we believed what our leaders told us. In the instance of Korea, they told us we had to defend the world against the spread of Communism, and so our boys were going to Korea to protect the American way of life. But there was an undercurrent of grumbling about minding our own business. Hadn’t we adopted a policy of Isolationism somewhere along the line?
When did the clock stop?
It was 1963. We were living in Camelot, with a young charismatic President and a princess occupying the place of First Lady. They were beautiful; their children precious–they made an admirable picture in which to mirror our lives. We were so happy, so filled with pride in our country and in our Church. On television, we saw the President of the United States gunned down like an animal. A nation wept! Staring in shock, our eyes, minds and hearts glued to the television, we all silently prayed it was a mistake. Within one year of the death of President Kennedy, our world exploded. The hippy generation descended on us with the long hair, rampant use of drugs, the Beatles and other drug-oriented musical groups taking over our young people. Violence came into our living rooms via what has become a deadly medium, initially designed by God to bring His Word to the world, but taken over by the evil one and his cohort. The potential Pauls became instead Judases, selling our God for thirty pieces of silver once again. Children no longer children playing children’s games, they turned to games promoted on television, games of violence and death until our schools became target ranges and our children, targets.
We must get down on our hands and knees, brothers and sisters, and pray for conversion, true conversion, major conversion. We must ask Our dear Lord Jesus for a return to innocence. Dear Lord, we want You to hold us in the palms of Your Hands. We don’t want a king, Jesus. We don’t want a new Church, a different Church, a modern Church; we want You and Your Church. Come, Lord Jesus! Save us!
The above article was taken from our book, “Beyond Sodom and Gomorrah,” by Bob and Penny Lord.
Blessed Pope Pius IX
The Lord gives us the gift of Pope Pius IX
Family, the Lord has given the Church many heroes down through the centuries, and each person He gives us is for a specific reason for a specific time, but not only for that time. The Nineteenth Century is a perfect example of that. The Church suffered greatly during that century, but the Lord knew we needed Him to be at our sides to assure us that He would keep His promise that the gates of hell would not prevail against His Church. We have an expression which you may have read in any one of our books:
“In times of Crisis, God sends us special grace. This grace may come from Eucharistic Miracles, Apparitions by Our Lady, or Saints and other Powerful Men and Women in the Church. It may come in the form of Angelic intercession. It will come from anywhere the Lord deems necessary. There is only one thing of which we can be assured; it will come. He will use whatever or whoever it takes, whenever it is needed, to protect us from anything or anyone, who would bring us anywhere near the brink of hell, very often, even if it means protecting us from ourselves.”
The Signal grace we want to focus on in this chapter, the special Powerful Man in our Church we want to share with you, is Blessed Pope Pius IX. He was elected Pope at one of the most crucial periods in the history of the Church, and remained at the helm of the ship of the Church longer than any Pope before or since, 32 years. He is responsible for many great things during his papacy, including, but not limited to the Dogma of Papal Infallibility, the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady, the short-lived Vatican I, and his ongoing battle against the elements who were out to destroy the Church, namely the beginnings of the New Age movement, and the liberals all over Europe, but especially Victor Emmanuel in Italy, who not only plotted to steal the papal lands, he ultimately forced our Pope to end his pontificate as a self-imposed prisoner inside the Vatican walls. These and many other attacks made against Pope Pius IX, lovingly called Pio Nonno, caused him much grief throughout his Papacy, but the Lord kept him in charge for 32 years for a good reason; there was a job to be done! God knew that Pope Pius IX could get the job done!
We want to take a minute out here to just thank our Lord Jesus for having given us the gift of Blessed Pope Pius IX. Very often, we don’t know; we find out in retrospect, just how the Lord has been in charge of our destiny. He is always there to watch over us. We don’t always realize this until after the fact. Not having been alive from 1846 to 1878, we don’t know if we would have been aware as it was happening, just how the Lord was with us. Now, 150 years after the fact, we can say “Wow, look how awesome the Lord is. He was protecting us through Pope Pius IX.” But back then, 150 years ago, did they really understand what was happening? It was a difficult, tense time. In retrospect, we can see how the Lord put the right man in the right job. But as we say today, “Where are all the Saints? We used to have all these Saints who protected and guided us. Where are there Saints today?”
And then the Lord reminds us how He gave us St. Don Bosco and St. Thérèse the Little Flower and St. Bernadette of Lourdes in the Nineteenth century, and Maxmillian Kolbe and Edith Stein, Padre Pio and Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II in the Twentieth century. And we have been blessed to be in the presence of a living Saint, Mother Angelica, these last twenty odd years, to sit at her side, and listen to her as she shares her spirituality with us.
How many other Saints are there out there today, just doing what the Lord wants, with no thought of Canonization, or world renown, just as those mentioned above most likely never thought about being Saints? Pope Pius IX was one of those people, without whom we might not have survived from the Nineteenth century to the Twentieth century, to now the Twenty First century. Do you know what we’re saying? When you say to yourself, Lord, where are you? Just look at those dear people whom we know about, who did the Lord’s work in the last 100 years. And those are just the ones we know about! And so we say, Thank You, God, for watching out for us.
Out of the frying pan…..
Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti was elected Pope in 1846, taking the name of Pius IX, in honor of Pius VII, who had been such a good friend and mentor to Mastai-Ferretti, who actually was responsible for his becoming a priest, and in his climb up the hierarchical ladder. Some thought his election was a surprise. Others thought he had been strongly considered from the very beginning of the conclave. He had shown the people as a young bishop in Spoleto, that he had feelings for them. He spoke out about the need for reform of the Papal States. He had even expressed sympathy for the nationalists. He might have been considered a good balance between the liberal and conservative factions in the Roman Curia. He was given the label liberal almost immediately, partly because of his earlier stand during the near revolution of the Papal States.
We have to take a moment out here to explain why the liberal element had become so strong in Italy. For centuries, Italy had been ruled by foreigners, who had systematically chopped up the provinces into little kingdoms. When Napoleon came in and conquered Italy, he crowned himself king of Italy, Napoleon I. He actually united Italy. During his reign, words like unification and constitution began being thrown around. He had done something that no one had ever been able to do. He also proved to the people of Italy that it could be done. So when he went out of power and the Congress of Vienna put everything back the way it had been prior to Napoleon’s take over, it was not at all what they had wanted. They had tasted of unification, and would never be satisfied until it had been accomplished. This is what our Pope Pius IX stepped into, when he accepted the task of ruling the Church and the Papal States. It was not going to be easy.
He realized he was in a hotbed of chaos. So he did all he could to appease the anger and feelings of abandonment in the people and calm the revolutionary factions. He tried to win the rank and file over immediately. He made many concessions. He gave money to the poor; released prisoners from jail. He did all the things Jesus tells us to do, as good shepherds of the flock. But you must remember, in addition to being the spiritual leader for the millions of Catholics in the world, he was also the secular or worldly leader of those people. He was like a king or an emperor. He had lands; he had an army; he had people whom he had to take care of. People had complaints about the State. He was the State. He was the last of the temporal popes in the history of our Church.
He didn’t know it at the time, but by trying to be fair and equitable, he wound up playing into the hands of those who would betray him and do away with the Papal States altogether. To those who wanted an independent, united Italy, they needed the support of the Pope. Italy was all chopped up. Austria controlled Venice and Milan. The French stationed themselves in Ancona. Naples and Sicily were also occupied by the Bourbons, who were also French. With each concession he made, he felt he would appease the masses, and the pressure would be relieved, the situation would be resolved. But all it did was cause the liberals to demand more. They actually misread him. They thought for sure that he would support a change in power. By the time he realized what he had done, it was too late.
The above article was taken from our minibook, “Blessed Pope Pius IX,” by Bob and Penny Lord.