COMPOSITEIntroduction

Catholic Tradition has recently received an increase in the number of letters in which our visitors have expressed concern, anxiety, confusion, anger, an array of feelings and questions about the times we live in. People are worried about the future of their children, the culture and especially the conflict of opinions, facts and ideas that seem to be so much a part of life in the Church and in society. The Pontiff's visit to the United States has added to the list of questions, not brought peace of mind.

In the book, DREAMS, VISIONS & PROPHECIES OF DON BOSCO, edited by Fr. Eugene Brown, The Salesian Society, 1986 we read:

"According to Father Berto, Don Bosco did not further elaborate on the details of the dream [the Globe], but we can easily grasp the message. As long as we are in this valley of tears, God permits periods of light and darkness in our spiritual life, just as day alternates with night. Those who withstand the darkness and apparent abandonment humbly and trustingly soon see light return more brilliant than ever with a new, magnificent rainbow. And if they faithfully and most humbly keep their thoughts centered on God, they come to understand ever more clearly their own nothingness in face of God's sublime majesty and the ineffable beauty of the reward He has prepared for us. Furthermore, they shall always feel that they must remain prostrate before Him and implore His infinite mercy.

"Those instead who, full of themselves, neglect their spiritual life and are concerned only with earthly matters soon lose God's grace and repeatedly fall prey to the infernal monster who, like a roaring lion, endlessly roams about seeking to wrest souls from God.

"Those who are habitually united with God remain unshaken even when subjected to the most harrowing trials because God is their shield. They can count on His help here below while ensuring Heaven for themselves. Humility, then, is the path to Heaven. Humility and greatness go hand in hand, Saint Augustine said, because the humble man is united with God. Humility does not consist in shabbiness of dress, speech or demeanor, but in lying prostrate---mind, heart and soul totally centered on God---with full awareness of one's nothingness, in an endless plea for His mercy.

"Don Bosco constantly fought against all error and sin, but he thought so highly of God's mercy that he openly proclaimed his hope that even Voltaire had obtained God's pardon in his last moments. This indicates how horrible seemed to him, the fate of those who died unreconciled with God." (Vol. X, pp. 63.66)  [pp. 169-170]

My Dear Catholic Visitors and Friends,

I am neither a theologian nor a sage, but a simple Catholic much like you. I do not pretend to have insights that explain much of what is happening all around us. I live by faith, in the Faith, and every thing I do is centered on attaining Heaven. This does not make me perfect, for I am a sinner---every prayer acknowledges my wretched condition, my unworthiness; yet, every prayer for myself and my family and all of your requests, gives thanks to Almighty God for His goodness and His mercy, and the special mercy of His creation par excellence, the Immaculate Mother of God, Mediatrix of all Graces. I pray for the virtue of hope against the vices of presumption and despair, always praying the Three Hail Mary's devotion for the grace of final perseverance and a holy or happy death, consecrating myself to The Virgin Mary ever anew. I never omit the most sincere Act of Contrition I can make, examining my conscience every day at least once and always the daily Rosary and wear the Brown Scapular no matter what else may transpire, this is the absolute minimum that any of us ought to do if we hope to sanctify ourselves and obtain salvation. The things of this world are passing away, it is a blessed eternity we must reach for. We have two short classics about sanctity online in the Classics directory, links provided below. I try to live out the wisdom given to Saint John Bosco, who is shown above, and passed on to us. Where I am quoting Church doctrine or another traditional Church source we are on firm ground. On political matters that are not past historical events, but current crises and possible future events---these are my opinions, which I do not hold alone, although based on known facts; however they are only opinions, you are free to believe otherwise. I welcome challenges in this regard.

I once told a priest, who is very much a modernist because of faulty seminary training and who has little understanding and appreciation of Tradition, what I was reading in this book. He was aghast, urging me to disregard the Saint's writings. He said to me and I hope I am recalling his words without distortion because of faulty memory:

You do not have to believe what he says because he is only a priest, he does not speak for the Church.

When I thought about his advice, rejected immediately, I was very sad, not for me, but for this poor priest. You see, my friends, the Saint never claimed to speak for the Church officially and I never indicated to the priest that I thought he did. It is enough for me that the Saint's prophecies, while not dogmatic, are profitable for spiritual reading and approved of by the Church, just as the revelations of St. Gertrude are and so forth. But what struck me most was the irony of the priest's words themselves. He is not a canonized Saint. If a Saint's counsel is to be discounted because it is his understanding of spiritual matters, and not dogma, should I not also disregard the counsel of the priest in question? Because, he, too, is just a priest with a counsel of sorts. And a Saint who is a priest is not just a priest, not anymore, he is a Saint, a priest who attained salvation. He must have done something right---his visions and ideas did not keep him from Heaven! The problem seems to be with the priest who has trouble with Don Bosco, otherwise why be so insistent that the Saint's counsel is negligible? Actually no priest is just a priest, he is another Christ. No priest should be so dismissive of Saints, whatever their own spiritual inclinations are.

I intend to address your concerns, but before I turn our attention there, only one thing matters ultimately, Heaven or Hell. If we were business magnates we would refer to this as "the bottom line". This is, indeed, the bottom line for every single person ever created by God.

Another priest, a very wise and holy priest of the FSSP, told me that all we need be concerned with is sanctifying ourselves. This does not mean that we ignore the world around us, playing the Pollyana, it just means that we follow the prescription of St. John Bosco and as extolled by so many Martyrs and Saints before him and since him. St. John Bosco has the bottom line limned out to perfection, this ought to be our perspective whatever our state in life. We will always be able to right ourselves in the midst of tumbles if we keep these few brief passages in mind when we are tempted to despair or grow anxious. The tumultuous times we live in can prevent our union with God in thought, word, and deed, our continual contemplation of the Divine Mysteries, if we lose this perspective.

It is always the right time to be loved by God and to return that love as best we can. Now is the acceptable time for mercy, to ask for it unceasingly and place all our trust in Him, and to consecrate ourselves to Mary. True devotion to her is a sign of special favor with God. Always remember this, always!

The subjects for consideration which are primarily grouped by relation to one another, are:

QUERY GROUP I: Part 1
(1) Hope in the world, i.e., security as citizens and Catholics.
(2) Could you explain what you meant by the natural law, I never hear about it anymore. And what about abortion, why don't we hear about it so much?

QUERY GROUP I: Part 2
(3) Is there physical suffering and a worldwide calamity coming? What is meant by a conspiracy in general terms?
(4) Should I give up on politics? Who do I vote for?

QUERY GROUP I: Part 3
(5) Is there a coming persecution of Christians?
(6) Is there really a conspiracy against the Church? What is meant by a conspiracy in practical terms?

QUERY GROUP II: Part 1
(7) Is the Pope a good man?
(8) If the Pope is not a good Pope, what do I [we] do?
(9) Will the Pope do anything about the seminaries accepting men who are homosexual?
How can the Church do this? Why does it seem that there are so many priests who are "gay"?

QUERY GROUP II: Part 2
(10) Why do so many Catholic web sites, traditional ones, have different ideas from each other?
How do I know who or what to believe?
(11) What is sedevacantism? How come they preach different things?
Are there different kinds of sedevacantism? Who is Richard Ibranyi?
(12) What do I teach my children about these times?

QUERY GROUP III: Part 1
(13) Why do people who seem evil become successful and powerful, and why does God permit them?
(14) Why does it seem that I am a failure; I do my best to obey the Commandments and pray every day.
(15) Why are my prayers not answered, why does God not give me what I have asked for?
(16) I feel alienated from God, I think He has abandoned me, and I don't know what to do, prayer does not seem to help me. Help me!

QUERY GROUP III: Part 2
(17) Am I committing a sin if I receive Communion in the hand? Why do you and others say it is a sacrilege? I know you have articles on it, but I don't have the time to read them. I am confused. Are my hands dirtier than my tongue?
(18) Why don't you accept the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary of John Paul II? Aren't you disloyal?


QUERY IV: WHAT DO I DO?
QUERY V: DISTRACTIONS IN PRAYER. WHAT CAUSES THEM; AM I GUILTY?

There are a lot of other questions, but these are either less general, or easily answered in a simple letter such as the wearing of chapel veils, or far too personal and not suitable for such a presentation as this one is. Almost every question we are asked, no matter how personal, falls within the orbit of one of the above, with one exception---problems with particular parish priests. This last quandary will not be taken up, because each dilemma is so particular to each circumstance, and ought to be answered by a priest, not a laywoman. All letters are answered as they come in. Since studies have shown that for every letter submitted there are between 10-1000 who did not write one on the same subject, depending on the media format, I thought this  exercise might be helpful to others.

There is more than one approach to take. I can list the questions and answer them point blank, with no context or setting. Or I can place both the questions and my response within the vast array of dynamics that  take place when human nature, politics and religion meet, collide and impact on one another. There is always a story within the shorter explanation, what one calls the "complexity of life". Every person can take the same set of facts and opinions about the facts and arrive at a different conclusion or not. One's temperament, intellectual strengths or weaknesses, and background influence one's ability to penetrate the meaning of events after facts are revealed. Then, certainly, some people will dispute the facts as facts. This, too, contributes to that complexity. And sometimes there are no easy answers, either that will satisfy everyone or actually answer the question as posed. People may present the same query, in almost the same phrasing, but actually be asking a different question from another in their own minds, because they are seeking different solutions or a resolution that will meet their own circumstances, although the question they have asked may aspire to a general or universal aim. Not only did I group the questions by relationship, you will notice the groups also bear on one another. I have opted for the more in depth approach, taking the risk that I may be providing more than you thought you wanted answered. However, I am replying to questions from the various points of view they were asked, joined together in one narrative. I have been asked the same questions repeatedly in different ways and different questions in the same way. Since each question from every person who has submitted one has already been answered personally by e-mail, the purpose of this small treatise is to place the questions in the greater context of life today. And I repeat, unless I am giving Church teaching, quoting from a Saint, or citing a specific known fact, at least one that is known to me and accepted as fact, everything else is my opinion and only that. You are also alerted that I am operating from square one, in that I receive so many queries from Catholics, and a few from non-Catholics on these subjects, who are not versed in Church history and dogmatic counsels, world history, etc., that one has to begin with beginnings. Catholics who are sincerely searching for answers, have often been dismissed by those in authority, and fed misinformation [out of ignorance] or disinformation [out of deceit]; until the internet they had little access to the Catholic classics and have been deprived of Tradition in general. Once they started exploring the worldwide web there seemed to them to be more confusion, rather than clarity. Their instincts are correct. I receive the sweetest, dearest, most touching questions from people with childlike hearts who have been badly hurt by life. And some have little knowledge at all, but they want to learn. Thus, some of the material will be redundant to a number of you, just skim the paragraphs and move on, if this is the case. I intend to repeat myself for them, for this may be the first time they are reading it. I make no apology because too many Catholics need me to begin at the beginning. This is not their fault, for all they knew they had gained from going to Mass and religious instruction as children. They know something is wrong, but they are not sure if they ought to even think this way. I know this because after I answer a question, they come back with another and sometimes another, and each time, this involves delving further back. I wish I could apologize for the injustice and lack of charity they have endured, but I would not know where to start, nor could I adequately repair the damage, and I am not the person[s] to whom matters should rightly be addressed. I wish I were a bishop or a priest, not because I would want to be, but only because they and you deserve at least this much. I am a poor substitute and for this I do deeply apologize. The context for the context on the next several pages is the counsel of St. John Bosco, supra.

My background is in three "disciplines": philosophy, history, polemics and law [as a student], field research [professional], and teaching [volunteer: remedial assistance and Catholic education]. The first---contemplation and reasoning, the consideration of the great issues of life, truth and logic, social action; the second---the nuts and bolts, the facts of daily life and the impact on persons; the third---application of the other two. The first was primarily from a Catholic perspective, Thomastic, and in the older Socratic method of learning and demonstration of that knowledge through oral exams and written monographs. I make no claims to be an expert in any, just another Catholic striving to save her soul and love my neighbor who has a soul to save, too.


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