In Defense of Pope Francis

I am sick of listening to Catholics complain about the Pope because he isn’t Pope John Paul II or Benedict XVI. Why do they think they can judge the Pope? Our Church teaches that the pope is picked by the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who guides the cardinals as they vote. Do his critics really believe this? In my opinion if you don’t believe this you might as well not be Catholic. If the pope is not selected by the Spirit and guided by the Spirit, we may as well join a Protestant denomination where they vote on doctrine.
The pope is answerable to only 3 persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. His job is to do what they want not what some people want. He is guided by the Holy Spirit. He is also human, a sinner who also makes mistakes but so has every pope in history including Peter. Why do we focus on the negative? Do we really know what is going on or understand what the Spirit is doing?
I remember how many people criticize Paul VI for his teaching on artificial contraception. Most Catholics ignored it but now we are discovering the medical and societal consequences of contraception. Do you know breast cancer has increased 640% since the pill became common? Do you know how much damage was done to the environment because of the pill or how it contributed to the breakdown of families? I’m sure Paul VI had no understanding of all the consequences, but God did.
Do we understand where Francis is coming from or what God is trying to do? I see Francis emphasizing Jesus’ call to mercy. Didn’t Jesus eat with sinners and call sinners to join Him? Didn’t He say that He came for sinners not the righteous? Did He not say judge not lest you be judged, to forgive 7 x 7? Didn’t God say that He desired mercy not sacrifice? Doesn’t God want us to reach out to sinners? Didn’t Jesus die for them too? Didn’t he criticize the Pharisees for their emphasis on law rather than mercy? What do you think He wants Francis to do?
I hear a lot of criticism of Amoris Laetitia. How well do the critics understand the issue? I know people have deliberately misinterpreted it to suit their own purposes. Isn’t it true that no matter what Francis wrote they would do what they wanted anyway? Have they really thought about the issue of divorce? Jesus taught that what God has put together let no man put asunder. Has God really put all these marriages together? I doubt it. Our society has changed. People don’t wait to be married until they are sure. They certainly don’t seek God’s guidance in selecting a mate.
I know a Protestant minister who was married in the Catholic church at age 17. His bride was 16. It was a legal marriage, but I doubt if it was valid in the eyes of the church and should never have been performed by a priest. But he was in the Army. This was 1968 and it kept him out of Vietnam. His marriage failed, and he never sought an annulment because he thought it would make his 3 kids illegitimate. After he remarried he was told to leave the church. No one really investigated his circumstances and asked if annulment was possible. How many other people like him have left the Church?
I’m sure that a lot of marriages that failed were never valid in the first place. There must be a commitment to make it work, a willingness to be open to children and a commitment to be faithful among other criteria. Jesus said what God has put together let no man put asunder. Do you really think God put a woman with a man who would abuse his wife and children or someone who had no intention of being faithful?
I also heard criticism because a pro-abortion woman in the Netherlands received some award from the Vatican. That proves the pope isn’t pro-life. Some reporter claims that the Pope knows everything that goes on in the Vatican. Really? With his trip to Chile this past week and all the other things going on he will personally investigate every nominee for an award? I know this past week he came out with a strong pro-life statement.
I also heard criticism because the Pope apologized to people during his recent trip to Chile. It was stated that Jesus never apologized. I looked at the paper the same day and read that his apology was to victims of priestly abuse. I know Jesus never apologized but He also never encountered people who were abused by His priests. Think about it if you object to this apology it implies that you see nothing wrong with the abuse.
We must be cautious not to become like the Pharisees who failed to see God in their midst. We aren’t supposed to be a Church of perfect people before heaven. God calls us to reach out to all people. He died for everyone not just the righteous or the conservatives. Can we really be sure that we are so righteous? What about our attitudes of negativity, of judging people, our critical spirits? Can we be so sure that we aren’t the 5:00 workers Jesus referred to in His parable? Don’t we too often reject the Holy Spirit’s nudges?
As Pope Francis said who are we to judge? If we reject what the pope is saying and doing and publicly criticize him how are we different from Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, Martin Luther or Archbishop Lefebvre? And what good does it do to criticize the pope? Can he hear your criticism? Is it God or Satan calling you to promote dissension within the Church?


Our Soldiers Are Being Betrayed!

When a person joins the United States Military they are required to take an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States. Often they enlisted because of their patriotism and love of our country with all its freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution they swear to defend.  Too often they are sent off to places like Iraq and Afghanistan.  Unfortunately, not all come home in one piece.

But to them it is worth it to sacrifice and suffer for the country they love, to protect our freedom.  They are true heroes.

It is a shame that while they willingly go off to war, our politicians and judges ignore the Constitution so many brave Americans have given their lives to defend.

The First Amendment of the Constitution, in effect since 1791, guarantees freedom of speech, assembly, peaceful protest and freedom of religion.  The Free Exercise Clause guarantees protection from the government forcing you to violate your religion.  That is why the Amish, Quakers, Mennonites have never been forced to join the military.  The Supreme Court in the case of Welsh v U.S. in 1970 even extended this right to those who objected to war on the basis of a personal moral code.

Yet today there are those who don’t care about these rights if you disagree with what they want to do.  Bakers are fined for not baking cakes for same-sex marriages, even though they are private individuals.  People are arrested for praying outside of abortion clinics and offering counseling and alternatives.  Pregnancy centers in California are being forced to offer abortion referrals. And the Little Sisters of the Poor are still being force to either pay a penalty or fund abortion and contraception coverage despite the President’s executive order stopping the contraception mandate for religious organizations.  The Attorney General of Pennsylvania sued and a Federal judge throughout the order.

Tell me! Exactly what are our soldiers being sent off to defend?  They and this country are being betrayed.

For Greater Glory

A few months ago i saw on DVD the movie, For Greater Glory, starring Raul Julia. Excellent movie something every Christian especially Catholic should see. Around 1926 the President, Calles, decided the Catholic Church to be his political enemy and tried to suppress the faith. Churches were invaded and priests captured were executed on the spot. Mexico was a Catholic country, the last place you would expect this, much more Catholic than the U.S. is presently.
Think about it. If it happened in Mexico it could happen here. Look at the way this country is going. Our last president considered us to be his enemy and did every thing to oppress the Church that he could with his contraception mandate. And we let him get away with it. He was reelected with around 50% of the Catholic vote. How stupid can we be!
The Catholics in Mexico refused to sit by and do nothing. They fought back rebelling after peaceful protests failed. They with political support from the U.S. thanks to pressure from the Knights of Columbus forced Calles to give in and allow the churches to reopen and mass to be said.
We need to follow their example and fight back. Despite the change in the presidency the church is still under attack. The Little Sisters of the Poor are still being forced to pay a penalty or pay for abortion and contraception coverage. President Trump issued an executive order stopping this but the attorney generals of 5 states sued and a Federal Court threw out his order. They don’t care what the Constitution say. They don’t care about the results of the last election. They are still pushing the culture of death and immorality, still going after the faithful. The Lord help us if they actually win the next election

Touched by the Spirit



Next month I will be teaching the RCIA class about the Eucharist.  One person I will bring up is Kevin, an usher at our church who was diagnosed with a mass on his brain.  Kevin was taken to Duke where an MRI revealed a 2-inch inoperable tumor.  He was given steroids to prepare for Chemo and I prayed over him before mass to be totally open to the power of the Eucharist.  The doctors gave him another MRI before beginning Chemo.  The tumor was ½ inch.  The doctor was confused because steroids don’t shrink tumors.  It was the power of the Eucharist.  How did I know that would work?  Where did I get that insight?  It was simply the touch of the Holy Spirit.

I was baptized in the Holy Spirit on June 28, 2000.  Looking back now I see His influence in my life.  My understanding of the Eucharist changed dramatically.  I knew Jesus was present in all his power and glory in the Eucharist, the same living person who walked the roads of Galilee and healed all who asked.  I realized through the Spirit that the host is a living person who longs to pour His love upon us, to bless our socks off.  He is Love Incarnate, a love that is all-encompassing and interested in our whole lives not just our salvation. We can come to the Eucharist for everything, help with the stress of teaching junior high or taking care of my month in the last year of her life.  To me Jesus was personally present in the Eucharist and I could come to Him there for everything.  My job is to point to Him and teach people about the awesome incredible love that is present in the Blessed Sacrament, helping them to open to his love.

I also realize in an intimate way the awesomeness and totally of God’s love.  He wants to love us in the here and now, not just in eternity.  With God there is always more, more than He has and more that He wants to give us.  There is no limit to what He can do, only our openness and trust in what He wants to do.

Because of the Spirit’s touch my life changed dramatically.  Not only have I a passion for adoration and the Eucharist but evangelization.  The Spirit has led me into Eucharistic Ministry, the RCIA, Legion of Mary, the charismatic renewal and healing ministries so far.  He’s not done yet.

Where is the Spirit leading you?

Time For A New Pentecost

I recently read Alan Schreck’s A Mighty Current of Grace, The Story of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. This history is something that all Catholics should be made aware of.  It was very different from what I expected.

Did you know that Pope XIII wrote an encyclical on the Holy Spirit and began the Pentecost novena we say between the feasts of the Ascension and Pentecost in the late 1890’s.  January 1, 1901, he said a votive mass to the Holy Spirit.  The response of the Holy Spirit was to pour out on a Bible class led by Charles Parham in Topeka, Kansas, the very same day.  What does that say about the opposition of many Catholics to ecumenism?

The Popes following Leo XIII had to focus on World War I and II and the struggle against modernism.  However, Pope Pius XII, led by the Spirit, encouraged Catholics to study the Bible and worked towards ecumenism.

It was John XXIII who really got the ball rolling when he called the Second Vatican Council.  His opening prayer said with all the bishops there called for a new Pentecost.  The documents of Vatican II talked about charisms and said the laity should be encouraged by pastors to grow in their use of charisms.  This was before the beginning of the Charismatic Renewal at Duquesne University.

In January 1967, Ralph Kiefer and William Storey, the professors who led the retreat at Duquesne attended a prayer meeting at a neo-Pentecostal church where they were baptized in the Holy Spirit.  A month later they led the retreat of the Chi Rho society at Duquesne where the Holy Spirit fell upon the students as they prayed for the gifts they received in Baptism and Confirmation be activated.

From there the movement spread to Notre Dame and Michigan State where the students had friends.  Prayer groups were established and the one at Notre Dame became a key player in the spread of the Renewal.  Many teachers went to Notre Dame for summer school to work on advance degrees, were exposed to the Renewal and brought it back home.

Because the Renewal spread so rapidly many prayer groups turned to Pentecostal and neo-Pentecostal churches for help praying for the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and teachings on charisms.  This was totally new to Catholics but not to Pentecostals.  Many of the first prayer groups were ecumenical.

It is important to note the ecumenical roots of the Renewal.  This was the direction the Holy Spirit was leading us.  You can see this by His response to Leo XIII’s votive mass.  He wants the Church to reach out to other Christians, to pray together and work together to save His people.  It is also important to understand that the Holy Spirit is not limited to Life in the Spirit Seminars.  The Pentecostals and early members of the Renewal never went through a Life in the Spirit seminar.  The first edition of the manual didn’t come out before 1971.  The Holy Spirit can do whatever He wants, come however He wants.

The Baptism in the Holy Spirit was questioned by many Catholics.  Why would we need this if we received the Holy Spirit through the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation?  There was a commission established by the Vatican, the Malines commission to investigate.  One of the key members was Joseph Ratzinger.  They proclaimed the Baptism to be real and often necessary.  Unfortunately, many who received the Sacrament of Confirmation were too immature or not taught adequately about the Holy Spirit to really understand the magnitude of the gifts they were receiving.  They were not conscious of the power of the Holy Spirit so that they could respond to the direction of the Holy Spirit.  We need to made a conscious decision to accept the Lord and surrender to His will.

Joseph Ratzinger, of course later became Cardinal Ratzinger and Pope Benedict XVI.  He was very supportive of the Renewal.  In 2008 the Pope prayed in New York for “the grace of a new Pentecost for the Church in America” when he visited New York.  Popes Paul VI and John Paul II also supported the Renewal and met frequently with the leaders of the Renewal.

Pope Francis is again calling for a new Pentecost and has said the only hope for the world is the Holy Spirit.  In meetings with charismatic leaders he calls for everyone to be baptized in the Holy Spirit and for leaders of prayer groups not to withhold the Baptism from those who seek it.  He challenges us to be open to the Spirit and new ways of doing things.  He urges us to reach out to our Christian brethren and pray with them.

We are being called to something totally new.  The Popes have been praying for the Holy Spirit for over a century.  They want everyone to experience the touch of the Holy Spirit.  It is our job to reach out to bring people into a new deeper relationship with the Holy Spirit.  We are called to be the Spirit’s instruments in bringing about the New Pentecost Vatican II prayed for.  How will you respond?

Pray Boldly With Faith!

Our prayer group was blessed by the visit of a snow bird, Larry, who was involved in an ecumenical healing ministry in Michigan. Of course we took advantage of the opportunity to be prayed over. One thing I noticed about the way Larry prayed over people was that it was simple, direct and bold. “ In the name of Jesus I command this shoulder to be healed. “ No wishy-washy prayers, no rambling prayers and no doubt that God would answer his prayer and no suggestions to try anti-inflammatory medicine or to do less for God, he just prayed in faith that God would do ask he asked. Isn’t this what the early disciples did?
Isn’t this what we are called to do? We possess the same Holy Spirit as the early disciples. The Spirit we possess is not watered down but present in all His power and love which He passionately longs to pour out upon the world. We have not been given the Holy Spirit to keep for ourselves. We are called to reach out to the people around us and bring His love.
We live in a world desperately in need of God’s love and mercy. We are the people God has created and raised up as His instruments to bring His love to the world. So, why are we holding back? Why are we timid? Why do we lack confidence?
Is our mistake that we think in depends on us? Do we feel inadequate praying over someone? Jesus promised in John 14:12 that we would do greater works than the ones He did. Three times so far this Easter Season we’ve heard that promise. How often have we heard that Promise? When is it going to sink in that He meant it?
We are called to reach out in faith and trust God to do what is best for the people we are reaching out to. Our success does not depend on our abilities or inadequacies but on the infinite love of an almighty God.

Are We Really Different From Judas?

Are We Really Different From Judas?

It is so easy to point fingers at Judas, Peter and the crowd at the Passion and look down on them and feel superior. The question we have to ask ourselves is whether we are really any different. Sure we haven’t received 30 pieces of silver but haven’t we often sold Jesus out for other reasons? Maybe we gone against his teachings to fit in, to be accepted, for prestige or to get ahead in the company.

Are we not like Peter when we fail to stand up for Christ on the issues of the day? Are we often silent on issues related to traditional marriage, cohabitation, pornography, discrimination and economic justice? We don’t want to offend the crowd or stand out. Are we not more worried about what people will think than how our cowardice hurts Jesus again? How many times have we kept our mouths close about the trash on TV or the immorality of the latest # 1 movie? We don’t want people to think we are old-fashioned?

Have we really stood up for Jesus on any issue unpopular with modern society? Have we risk rejection by people because of our standing for Jesus? How often? How can we point the finger at Judas or Peter when we are also lacking in courage and corrupted by a desire to fit in and get ahead? Are we really willing to sacrifice for Christ or do we just want to fit in and get ahead?