Clearing the Heart to See the Truth

Hidden Treasures, Blessed Adventures in Italy...

Pilgrimages reflect and remind the pilgrim of his sojourn on earth. They are not vacations, but, rather, journeys into God’s providence. It is a time of recognizing what is our true goal, union with God in heaven, versus what is merely the means to get there, our life on earth. We often get those two mixed up. I recently returned from leading a pilgrimage to Italy. I was reminded several times that I still lack patience and charity, and so my earthly pilgrimage still has a long way to go in achieving its end. Nevertheless, this pilgrimage was for me a truly blessed adventure. God never allows our own weaknesses and sins to completely deter Him from accomplishing what He wants to do in us. He only asks that we allow Him the opportunity. I experienced profound grace at every destination. It would take too long to recount the entire journey, but there were some hidden treasures that are worth sharing. Our pilgrimage started in Florence. Florence possesses some of the greatest art treasures on earth and is an art-lover’s paradise. One of the sites that really struck me was the convent of San Marco. This ancient monastery is less known compared to some of the other art museums in the city. 600 years ago, inside this old Dominican cloister, lived a friar and master-painter named Fr Angelico, Blessed Fra Angelico, as St. John Paull II beatified him in 1982. He was asked by his superior to paint frescos inside each monk’s cell. Those frescos are still there, and their splendor has not faded with the passing of the centuries. The holiness of Fra Angelico radiates through his work. Michelangelo said of him, “he must have seen heaven to...

An American Experience and the Inconsistency of Civil Rights...

A few nights ago I watched an interesting documentary on PBS called American Experience. This particular episode was entitled, “1964.” The makers of the show examined that particular year as the year that ignited the social revolution in America. The issue that caused the combustion: Civil rights; in particular, the efforts of northern white college kids who headed to Mississippi in the summer of 1964 in order to assist southern black citizens to register to vote. As the show progressed, my sentiments certainly followed the trajectory of the show’s emotional appeal. The civil rights movement revealed both the ugly and the beautiful struggle of a certain segment of American citizenry to gain political access to a rule of government that is supposed to be of the people, by the people, and for the people. I greatly admired the efforts of these Northern white college kids and black civil rights activists in the face of possible violence and even death—as was the case when three volunteers met their doom one night when they encountered some Klansmen. Their bodies were later discovered in shallow graves near a dam in the process of being constructed. Yet, I was also aware of a particular undertone during the entirety of the program. This undertone became clear when, later in the episode, a historian made a statement that both shocked and rankled me. He said that these white kids returned home from their experiences in Mississippi with the stark realization that everything their parents had told them about America was a lie! America as a society, he opined, was utterly bankrupt. His statement was followed by footage of police brutality, footage of the Klan beating people and terrorizing citizens, footage of Republican senator Barry Goldwater...

Mars Hill and the Blueprint for the New Evangelization...

“The times of ignorance God overlooked but now he commands all men everywhere to repent…” (St. Paul’s address to the Areopagus in Athens, Act 17:30.) I just recently returned from a pilgrimage of the footsteps of St. Paul to Greece and Turkey. I went with my wonderful Archbishop, Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, as well as the Midwestern region of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre. While journeying the ancient mission routes of St. Paul and companions, this eleven-day pilgrimage proffered many interesting sights and experiences. I don’t have the space to recount them all here, but encountering the ancient Roman provincial cities where Paul preached and proclaimed the Gospel left me speechless at times. There was one experience, however, that exceeded the others, and because it was so amazing I must recount it for you. On the last day of the pilgrimage, we celebrated Mass on Mars hill, the famed meeting place of the Athenian governing council known as the Areopagus. Our tour guide knew of a perfect place on the craggy hilltop to celebrate Mass. The ancient Greeks had carved some steps and a flat spot out of the rocky face to use as a meeting space. Our guide told us that these carved steps predated the time of St. Paul. As this was the only spot on Mars Hill that had level ground with what was clearly intended to be used as a platform, an exciting question sparked my mind: could this be the very spot where St. Paul addressed the Areopagus some 2000 years prior? Although there is no way of knowing, I was nevertheless sure of his powerful presence there. Msgr. Brier asked me to offer the reading for the Mass. I also...

Religious Liberty and the Mandate: A Historical Examination of the Modern Loss of Faith...

The Health and Human Service Department from the Obama Administration recently made a shocking decision regarding a new health care mandate for insurance companies. In an egregious affront to the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights, this department, headed by a so-called Catholic from Kansas, Kathleen Sebelius, declared that all insurance companies must offer—free of charge—coverage for contraceptives and abortion-causing pharmaceuticals like the birth control pill and the RU- 486, otherwise known as the ‘morning after’ pill, over and against one’s conscience. Thus, for Catholic institutions like hospitals and universities, this, in effect, forces them to offer this coverage to employees, with the employer, i.e. the Church, footing at least part of the bill by means of paying the higher premium costs by the Insurance providers. Obviously, the Church cannot and will not formerly cooperate with evil in such a way, which this mandate expects. If nothing changes, the results will be devastating. This administration has now made it clear: the state has made itself the opponent of the Catholic Church—or, rather, views the Church as an opponent, rather than an ally—when it comes to providing health for the poor.   This move will obliterate the Catholic Church’s involvement in the sphere of public service for health and higher education. The Catholic Church can neither morally support nor financially offer coverage for employees regarding contraception, sterilization, and/or abortifacients, as the new HHS policy mandates. Catholic hospital or university employers will be forced out of business as they will be unable to offer health insurance benefits to their employees, who will, in turn, be forced to find employment elsewhere. The other alternative, one which at least one Catholic hospital system in California has already chosen, is to sever ties with the...
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