The Gift of Miracles,  Fr. Robert DeGrandis (with Linda Schubert), a book that finally addresses the miracles available to us, that have happened to others, with testimonies and pointers on unleashing the power of God. What are miracles? What are their characteristics? What are the "action steps"? Have miracles occurred in places like Medjugorje? How do we pray for them? CLICK HERE


Persecution watch:


There are some real dynamics moving and they are for the Church to consider and perhaps even raise alarm about.

There is the flexing of secular muscle: In Connecticut, state legislators made a move two weeks ago to control the finances of parishes (by installing lay boards). It was met by fierce opposition -- hundreds protesting -- and the legislature backed down.

But a bold move indeed.

In Los Angeles, a prosecutor has forcefully pursued felony charges against Cardinal Roger Mahony over allegedly shielding sexual abusers. The zeal with which this was announced -- and the vague grounds in some cases -- indicate feelings that may run deeper than simple prosecutorial fervor. Translation: anti-Catholicism.

In Washington, new guidelines on health-care workers and reproductive "rights" have led to fears that Catholic hospitals may one day have to perform abortions or close down. Is it a legitimate fear?

In New York City, the Port Authority (which control transportation hubs and holds title to the World Trade Center property) wants to seize land owned by a church that doesn't want to sell that land (so that a new trade center can be erected). In short, there is a move to take property dedicated to God and turn it into land commemorating world commerce.

Are these just scattered incidents -- or hints of a new and heightened secular humanism that will not tolerate Christianity (and particularly Catholicism), or at least lower tolerance to record levels?

Each move the Pope has made in recent weeks has been blasted by the secular press (see Africa and condoms; see too the media uproar over the Pius X bishop).

Are we coming into a time when -- as one mystically-inclined priest predicted -- "priests in Rome will be afraid to wear their habit in public"?

If so, the answer is that priests should all wear their collars in public; they should all get bolder. We should all be bold as Christians. (Bumper-stickers, fish emblems).

It is only standing up to oppression that in the end will resolve it (and the best time to do so is when that oppression is incipient).

As a directive from the Congregation for the Clergy stated in 1994s: "In a secularized and tendentiously materialistic society, where even the external signs of sacred and supernatural realities tend to be disappearing, the necessity is particularly felt that the priest-man of God, dispenser of His mysteries-should be recognizable in the sight of the community, even through the clothing he wears, as an unmistakable sign of his dedication and of his identity as a recipient of a public ministry. The priest should be recognizable above all through his behavior, but also through his dressing in a way that renders immediately perceptible to all the faithful, even to all men, his identity and his belonging to God and to the Church" (see Canon 284). 

At the same time, there is statue desecration. It is more frequent than we can remember -- most recently at Georgetown University (where a representation of the Blessed Mother has been repeatedly painted) and at a cemetery in Upstate New York.

Such incidents are now standard daily fare in the news and raise concern when one recalls what has happened elsewhere. "I can't help mentioning the diabolical fury directed against the Mother of God between 1979 and 1981," wrote an African bishop, Monsignor Aloys Bigirumwami, of Nyundo, in 1984. "The wild iconoclasts removed and broke all the statues which were in the churches and at the crossroads throughout the whole of Rwanda, yet the voices of those in authority were not raised in protest at such sacrilegious acts."

Let us note that the Church-approved apparition in Rwanda at Kibeho erupted soon after -- warning of carnage in that nation, which soon materialized in the way of a brutal civil war and a chain of horrid massacres (one at the very site of apparitions).

The U.S. -- the West -- are nowhere near that iconoclasm -- but can it come suddenly, in a radically secular atmosphere -- and might the statue vandalism and attacks against clerics be a hint of what could develop rapidly if unchecked?

Then there is the upcoming movie, Angels and Demons. It's another Ron Howard production based on another Dan Brown (DaVinci Code) book and will cast the Church into the role of world enemy.

The day before that movie is released, the Pope will be in the Holy Land, offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in Nazareth (overlooking the plain of Megiddo).

Ironically, Pope Benedict once cited another book called Lord of the World (written in 1908 by Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson). "Essentially," notes a synopsis, "the novel imagines a socialist and humanist world where religion has been either suppressed or ignored. People have no history or hope so they often turn to euthanasia, which is legal. Further there is a 'one-world' government that uses Esperanto for its language and ultimately becomes a servant of the anti-Christ. In brief: The Catholic church has been suppressed by the rest of the world, which has turned to a form of 'self religion.'"

In a final scene -- during a persecution -- a fictional pope (Silvester) offers the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in Nazareth (overlooking the plain of Megiddo).

Symbolism here? Megiddo, of course, is where Armageddon is supposed to occur one day in the future.

[resources: Our Lady of Kibeho and The Day Will Come]

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