Sunday, November 28, 2010
"OK, I'll call the Chaplain, and alert the Battalion. Make sure that all the teams are assembled and ready".
"Everyone take your positions, each team assemble as already dictated, we are expecting 4 wounded, one gun shot wound through the back, another through the right arm.
There are two Casualties with shrapnel wounds to the face, back and lower legs". "As the Gun Trucks pull in make sure that the litter teams bring in the most severe injuries first and place them from this trauma bed on down.
Make sure that all your pieces are ready: I need your suction on hand, need IV ready to go, need plenty of supplies. Make sure the trauma chests are open and ready".
"Come on people, just as we rehearsed! SPC Jones, I need you to keep monitoring the radio".
"SFC Hartley, they are coming in"!
"Lets get them in now, bring the facial wound here, I need a line in and make sure you get an airway inserted.
CPT Wilson, here is your first Casualty. Place the Chest wound here in the second bed"
"Get started with him, I will be right back".
"What are the last two"?
"SFC Hartley, they are delayed"!
"Ok, take them into the last two beds and begin treating their wounds, Doc will be right there".
"SFC Hartley, this one has a high Blood Pressure of 180/120"
"Keep getting me the vitals every 5 minutes, yell it out. Where is the PA"?
"SFC Hartley, he is on the way, he should be here in just a few minutes"!
"I'm helping on the second bed, I'll maintain spinal traction and keep the airway open".
"Sir our second Casualty has a gun shot wound to the back, his vital signs are becoming rapid".
The above scenario is sometimes a daily routine in a war zone. Sometimes it can happen multiple times a day with many more casualties. Sometimes the result is we lose some of them. That is always a difficult situation.
Sometimes the only thing I can do for someone is pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet! There may not be anything we can do as the wounds were just too catastrophic.
In this scenario, there are so many things happening at once, I have been involved with CPR trying to keep someone alive until the Doc calls it. I would silently pray:
I offer you the Body and Blood,
Soul and Divinity,
of Your Dearly Beloved Son,
Our Lord, Jesus Christ,
in atonement for our sins
and those of the whole world
I would be looking around ensuring that all can be done, making sure that the Casualties are packaged and ready for air transport Medevac if the sky is green. If the sky is red that presents problems getting a ground convoy. Continuing in my mind I would pray:
For the sake of His sorrowful Passion,
have mercy on us and on the whole world.
I remember the promise Our Good Lord made to St. Faustina consoling her that for the dying, if someone prays the Divine Mercy Chaplet the soul would find peace.
This hits home for me literally as my Mother would be told she had two days to live. She developed a massive blood clot that lodged in her right lower leg causing it to turn blue.
Without circulation, her leg did not make it. When I arrived at the hospital, the Doctors did not believe she would survive the knife. They gave her two days to live.
My Brother and I took Mom home to die as she didn't want to die in the hospital, but at home with her family around her.
As soon as we got her in her bed, I elevated her leg giving some comfort, I placed a rosary above the site where it was dead, and bathed the area with holy water and prayer.
Mom's medication such as Morphine helped at times, but what helped her most was praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet with me.
She felt at peace with herself and she was able to rest. This went on for about 10 days when I had to get an extension on my leave as Mom was living longer that what the Doctors projected.
I was sitting next to her bed when Mom asked me,
"Do you believe that the Lord will receive me when I pass".
I told Mom, "Mom, you know He will receive you! You can trust in His word and stand on what He says".
That's when I began to sing to her a song we sing at Mass, "Be Not Afraid"!
Gigi, my wife, was standing on the other side of the bed when she saw Mom's rosary on her desk so she gave it to Mom to hold.
As we were singing the song together, Mom was holding her rosary. It was at this point I noticed the rosary change from silver to gold in her hands. What a sign this was for us and I will write here that the Lord gave my Mom another 18 Months.
Mom was finally taken by the Lord on 1 August 2006. I will never forget how the Divine Mercy Chaplet made such an impact for my Mom.
That would lead to the earlier scenario. In the absence of a Priest, without the Anointing of the Sick (Last Rites), the Divine Mercy Chaplet is an important devotion.
I have meet parents of Soldiers who have died that were consoled by me when learning of our dedication of the Divine Mercy Chaplet praying for their Sons.
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Friday, November 26, 2010
I called the Sheriffs Department at least 5 or 6 times. Each time I tried to be respectful but this was to be very difficult.
Thanksgiving should, however, be more than a day. It should be a way of life. It is unfortunate that it has become an occasion for people, who are important in their own minds, to make grand speeches.
In giving thanks, we should be acknowledging that we are utterly helpless and that anything we are or have is only due to His Divine providence.
Something to think about.
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Thursday, November 25, 2010
Spending some time with him, I learned about an Uncle of mine, one of his Brothers, was wounded in World War II when a Japanese Soldier ran upon him with bayonet.
It was just a few moments when Father Pamula walked into the Soldiers Chapel walking into the office.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
John, important do you suggest is the sacrament of reconciliation before holy communion and how often would you recommend someone to go to confession?
Read what the Apostle Paul says to the church in Corinth (1 Corinthians 10:15-21). Communion is an actual participation in the Body and Blood of our Lord. He asked a very probing question- Can we partake in the cup of Our Lord even as we partake in the cup of demons? No. This statement is deeper than simply abstaining from visible idols.
Mortal sin is, in itself, Idolatry. Would you dare to mock God? Receiving Communion while in a state of mortal sin is a sacrilege because you are
receiving the person of Christ even as you live in willful disobedience of him. The consequences of this are dire (1 Corinthians 11:27-29).
Contrary to what many say, the Bible is very clear about the difference between mortal and venial sin (1 John 5:16-17)
Having said that, you also have to be careful of scrupulosity. The God who will not abide your willful disobedience is also a merciful and loving God who knows that you are going to struggle with the things humans struggle with.
Do not think of God as a mean old man who can't wait to punish you for every transgression. Think of God as someone who loves you so much that He suffered and died for you.
When you think of your Heavenly Father, much like your earthly father, you know when you are genuinely doing your best to please Him and when you know that you owe Him an apology.
In the sacrament of reconciliation, we are not only restored to God, we also receive graces to help us get stronger.
My answer to you is that you go to confession when you feel you need to. If you are in mortal sin or seriously struggling with certain sins. There is no formula stating you should go x number of times except that you should go at least once a year or anytime you are in mortal sin.
If you feel troubled by a lesser- non mortal- sin, say a sincere Act of Contrition during Mass, before you receive.
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Monday, November 15, 2010
It was about 1997, I was stationed with the 194th Military Police Company.
That would be an interesting assignment to work with those who write out tickets on Post.
Before I got there, the Medics assigned to them were being utilized as orderly room clerks.
That was a challenge to turn this program around.
I was able to get cycles at the Troop Medical Clinic for them to work plus I was able to get 100% compliance on all the Battalions shots and MEPRO's requirements.
I developed an internal sick call that helped 40% of the Soldiers to get back to their units quicker due to the Self Care I was able to establish. I enjoyed the opportunity as I always try to improve on any organization upon being assigned.
At this time I was conducting a prayer group at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Clarksville Tennessee. I really enjoyed that opportunity as well.
I would also have people ask me to video Marriages on Fort Campbell and that was always allot of fun. One night after participating in a friends Marriage, I was at the banquet following the celebration where there was great food, music and activities for everyone.
A Lady from our Parish, one of my friends also was present enjoying the events of the evening. She was visiting with some people when suddenly she fell unconscious to the floor.
I quickly began to make an assessment on her and found her totally unconscious. I immediately called for somebody to call 911 and tried to treat her for shock.
After a few minutes the Ambulance arrived quickly and we took her to Blanchfield Hospital on Fort Campbell. She was taken to the Emergency Room and diagnosed to have suffered a brain embolism.
I was informed by the staff that she was brain dead, they had her on life support and prepared her for flight to Nashville at Vanderbilt Hospital. I knew the Doctor very well as I had worked with him for years.
She was being kept alive on life support for weeks. People prayed for her and visited her during that time.
Not long after this some friends invited me to take a group of teenagers to Florida for a revival taking place there.
I was told it was not Catholic but they wanted my thoughts on it from what I would see there.
From my research it was based from the Assemblies of God tradition, something I had an understanding from as my Mother was raised from this belief system. I had two Uncles that were Ministers of this faith so I still had family there.
I agreed to go as an adult chaperon. There were about three adults and eight to ten teenagers to include two of mine who wanted to go. Since they were with Dad, I allowed it.
I drove most of the way going from Fort Campbell Kentucky to Brownsville Florida. I made sure that I brought plenty of good Christian Rock music. It was kind of funny that the Teenagers would from time to time ask me to turn it down. That's usually the other way around.
We finally arrived there and we first arranged for rooms and we went quickly out to wait in line as people waited for the doors to open. Standing out there, people brought chairs and shade as they waited. I did like the music they played from a CD we listened to along the way.
For the most part, people were having a good time and there was high expectation that reminded me of my trip to Medjugorie. I wanted to make comparisons but the events were not the same. People were there for much the same reason but the expressions were widely different. I met some very nice people there and it gave me the chance to explain the Catholic Faith at times.
It wasn't always something I accepted as there were anti-Catholics present. I remember a young person coming forward stated they were Catholic. People mixed in this crowd responded with outright disgust towards the Catholic Church. They applauded when the person renounced their Catholic Faith.
That was not a cherished moment for me. I wish I could have spoken with them prior but there was no way of knowing. As Catholics, this is a familiar happening. This is why Catholics should know what they believe. I certainly explained it to my boys who were there.
The final evening that we were there was by far the most interesting. It all began much as the other nights, but this night they did something that was a bit different. They asked people to come up for a blessing.
People would go up and suddenly fall down as though asleep. They call this "slain in the spirit". I was invited to go into the line for a "blessing". I certainly have no problem receiving a prayer or giving a prayer so I went. I don't know if the expectation was for me to go down or not but I didn't.
I was respectful, but if something like that was to happen, it would have to be the Lord because I'm not putting on an act for anyone. That was my view on it.
As I watched, one lady actually fell hitting her head on a pew and had to be carried out for help. I watched this for awhile when I decided to go back to the entrance of the church to find that people were all over the place laying down in the lobby.
One of the group leaders I was with laterally was laying on her back laughing uncontrollably. Someone tried to step over her also fell laughing. It was if they were being held down. I watched that for a few minutes when I decided to move around to see if I could find some CD's or something.
People were laying all over the place in a trail behind him as he came towards me. As he was touching people with both hands people falling all around, I actually reached out and touched him when he looked at me and noticed I was still standing.
He reached out and hit my Ziphoid Process causing me to kind of react knocking me against the wall. But I did not go down!!!
I could not believe what I was seeing. Not to this extent. I knew Charismatics believed in such things. As a Catholic I wondered if this could be grouped as a "Sacramental", not a usual one granted, but that would be what it is.
It looked like a war zone in that place. I walked through the "slain" back to the lobby where my co-partner was still laying on the floor laughing. She was also talking very high pitched kind of like a munchkin or something.
All of our group finally was outside in the parking lot waiting for me as I waited for this phenomenon to end. Funny thing she did not really recover. We literally had to carry her out of there.
By this time I was laughing so hard I couldn't hardly move once I got her outside. For me, the whole situation was just unbelievable. We finally got her in the van in the passenger seat as she continued to talk in this munchkin voice. She did that the rest of the night. I couldn't help but laugh at all this. Do you think this ended the event?
They were just closing when I came to the door. The workers agreed to serve us so they opened the doors for us.
That was very nice of them to do that. As I walked in, one of the Ladies working there looked at me and began to sporadically jerk around looking at me.
I looked back at her watching her not believing what I am seeing. This lady asked to grab my hand when she began to uncontrollably go into convulsions. This went on for awhile as everyone began to carry on like they did at the church.
Finally, the Lady tried to get control of herself and made it to the cash register but everytime she looked at me she kept going into this uncontrolled convulsions. It took her almost 30 minutes to take my order.
Other people happening to come in wanting to eat something got in line with us only to find themselves in this situation. Here we were at McDonald's and people were laying all over the place.
There was no way these workers (all in McDonalds uniforms) could have known what we had done before we got there. I suppose Charismatics could define what all this was, but I simply placed it under the Sacramental grace, at least that was my hope.
The following morning, my two Sons and I went to Mass not far from where all this happened. My co-partner was suppose to go to Mass with us but she was still weak from all that happened the night before.
I couldn't help but think that if she reacted this way from prayer last night, how would she act when Jesus was truly present in the Eucharist? That whole night was wild.
We laughed the whole trip back to Fort Campbell. I never laughed as hard or long as that trip back. Once we got back, for those who were curious of what my thoughts were on the happenings at the Brownsville Revival, there wasn't much theology I could offer about it.
Catholics, you better know your faith to go into this kind of place. The people were very nice, they wanted to help people in ministry and they give what they have. Is God behind what was happening there? Maybe, for those who were not Catholic? That is possible. Did it help me in any way. I confess I had a good time with the group I was with, the music was excellent. There are positives but ultimately, nothing should take anyone from the Catholic Faith.
I have not found anything biblically that supports such things, I don't see this in the early Church. I do have concerns about this especially if they took this over Mass. That would be a definite issue with me.
I say the same thing about Christian Concerts, I told the Drummer of a Christian Rock Group called "White Cross" that their concerts are a positive thing for Christians, but if it leads people away from the Catholic Faith, that would not be good. It should encourage and strengthen peoples faith.
If there was no faith and they found Christ at such events, experiences are good to learn, but hopefully, God can work through those experiences to make us closer to himself.
The Lady who was my co-partner would soon begin taking instruction for the Catholic Faith. God is so Good as His truth reigns!
Sunday, November 14, 2010
It was in the early Spring of 1988, I was Stationed at Schweinfurt Germany assigned to a Forward Support Unit on Conn Concern (Barracks).
Our Unit had completed training and I was given the opportunity to take some leave. Our Catholic Chaplain, Father Ryan, with a small group of Soldiers and some Dependants planned a trip to Medjugorie.
I was given the opportunity to make the pilgrimage and so the 22 hour bus ride began on 23 March 1988.
We all had to have special passports being some of us were United States Military going into a Communist Third World Country, the former Yugoslavia.
Sometimes the roads were so narrow that you could almost look straight down from the bus window deep into the gorge.
That was a bit scary. Finally, we made it to our destination. Getting off the bus was great as we looked around the area.
Medjugorie is a small village located up in the mountains about 40 miles past Mostar.
From afar, you could see "Cross Mountain" where the people of the village erected a large cross in 1933 to commemorate the Passion of the Lord.
You can see this far off as you drive towards Medjugorie.
The place was alive with small children playing with old soccer balls, there were local farmers with goats that seemed everywhere.
We were quickly assigned with local families to stay during this pilgrimage. It seemed that the whole region was totally converted.
It was for me like a place of fable, something that you might find only in the movies.
I remember that up to this time, as a pilgrim, I was reporting on my documentary I was making that the reports of Mary's appearing here to six children were "possible".
During that first day, 24 March, I was up at one of the sites that Mary was reported to have appeared to the Children, "Cross Mountain" or "Apparition Hill".
A woman (a 5th grade school teacher from Indiana) was extremely excited praising God.
Another visitor from Texas (my home State), began to challenge The woman's excitement with scepticism.
My Friend who called me over to intervene in this situation was one of my Soldiers. He was raised a Baptist and planning to become a Preacher. At least until he finished looking at the Catholic Faith. He was curious how I would handle this situation.
I went to the lady and asked her what had happened. She showed me her rosary describing how it turned from silver to gold while it was in her pocket up on this mountain.
I asked to see it noticing that it was in fact gold in color. Not only was the chain gold but also the corpse on the crucifix was gold which I had never seen a two tone crucifix like this before.
The cross itself remained silver. She continued to tell me that this particular rosary she has had for 20 years. I then turned my attention to the Stranger from Texas.
He was with a group wearing an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe on his jacket. Noticing this, I explained the miracle of the Tilma and Our Lady's appearances there in Mexico. After about ten minutes, his eyes got real big and he was ready to go to the other sites in the area.
I was then able to interview and video the Woman's testimony and her Rosary. The following morning, I was at Mass with some of our group and it was jam packed.
The people singing was very inspiring, people from all over were carrying signs, rosaries, religious items, most importantly, themselves offering themselves enthusiatically in the Mass. Looking around about three rows behind me I noticed the very sceptic I had spoken with on "Cross Mountain".
At the greeting of peace, I reached out to greet him with the sign of peace and I could see the love in his eyes, the total change in his face.
He pulled me towards him in a manner that told me he was no longer a sceptic. All of this was having a positive impact on all our group.
My Soldier was witnessing all these things with me. That would become very important as you shall see. After Mass, I was conversing around together with about 15 members of our group.
Everyone was discussing the events that they were seeing and participating with. I shared what I experienced the night before and the Lady from Indiana's story.
About that point, a commotion was stirring coming towards us. Two men, brothers on pilgrimage there from parts unknown, had identical rosaries before they went to Mass, during the Mass one of them turned gold at the Mass.
All of our group were listening to them speak intently as I videoed the occasion.
There was a definite change in the appearance of the rosaries. That brought on alot of awe and wonder from us. As this was happening, I became interested about our group to see if anyone had witnessed anything like this from among us.
Everyone pulled out their rosaries and the Lord was giving us a sign as we were gathered there. I had my trusty M-5 video camera and I literally was able to capture on video a rosary transform from silver to gold right there on the camera.
A miracle right before us! There were two people holding the rosary as we were all inspecting it, watching it. They were literally trembling as I videoed the scene.
We all walked down the street as did the two men before us, praising the name of the Lord and the work we were witnessing he was doing.
I had my trusty M-5 Panasonic video camera on hand and was able to get her responses.
Soon after I met a Father who brought his son from the United States who had major burns on his body. The boy was terribly scared and the prayer was to find peace. That was answered there.
Later that day I had the chance to speak with a Buddhist that was curious about what was happening here at Medjugorie. After two hours of discussion, he became convinced of the Lord's Resurrection.
The Mass was continuous throughout the day in several languages for people coming there. The English Mass was like 08:00 in the morning. At 17:00 the Church was for the locals who prayed every night as a whole community. Everyone was welcome, but it was always packed. People would be gathered all around the Church outside to participate.
Confession was continuous, there were long lines of people going to Confession. That was powerful and it had a great impact on our Priest, Father Ryan. This pilgrimage was having a great impact on all of us.
One night, I was with some people from England as we went up cross Mountain doing the Stations of the Cross. It took 45 minutes to get up that hill. On a dark night sitting from the top of Cross Mountain what a site looking down on the villages. You could spell the word "love" from up there.
On the morning that we had to leave to go back to Germany, I was outside in the throng of people listening from out in the court yard when an older man speaking broken English to me, pointed to the sky. He exclaimed he could see Jesus. I looked up where he was pointing not seeing anything. I motioned to a friend to take a picture. From this picture, you could see the face of Christ. When I was in Korea, one of the Korean photographers converted to the Catholic Faith. He placed this picture on a board for me. I have had that picture on my wall in all my offices since!
Since June 24, 1981 the feast of St. John the Baptist, more than 30,000,000 people have gone to Medjugorie. Despite the fact of the Government's opposition. Even in 1988 when we were there the Government had plain clothed Military there to harass the masses. I noticed the military helicopters flying over head.
Today, I know Catholics who are strongly supportive of Medjugorie and I know others who are not convinced. All you have to do is Google the subject and you can see all the pros and cons. Is it possible God can still work the miracles and things we have witnessed there and the whole thing be a fraud?
For me, I will defer ultimately for Rome's final verdict. The Bishop of Mostar does not openly support it, yet the Vatican seems to believe it (unofficially). Time will tell, but I must say that not only I was touched by this pilgrimage, so was my Soldier. As soon as we were back in Germany, he was Baptised and Confirmed into the Catholic Faith by Father Ryan! That was a trip that seemed so much like fable, what an experience this was for all of us.
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Saturday, November 13, 2010
It was June of 1985, I had already passed Basic Training and AIT. I was now at my first duty station at Fort Stewart Georgia.
I was assigned as a Medic with the Ambulance Section and given responsibility for a track M113A2 vehicle.
This was great experience for me as I learned a lot as we trained for our missions. I became involved with the local Catholic Church (St. Stephens) in Hinesville Georgia.
I was teaching the 5th grade CCD and still conducting Seminars on Rock music for the area to include a Catholic School in Savannah.
Those were great opportunities as we spoke to many students and families to include the presentation at the Fort Stewart Recreation Center. There were several single Soldiers present and they were very respectful. Father Norton was the Catholic Chaplain at the time and he supported our efforts.
Father Norton would become very special to me as I would serve as a "Lay Eucharistic Minister". During field operations and "in the absence of a Catholic Priest", I was responsible for the Eucharist, I could distribute Holy Communion. We often went to train at Fort Irvin California to conduct desert training for a 30 day rotation.
I would have the Blessed Sacrament with me for Catholic Communion Services in the field.
I could imagine how David felt as he danced before the Ark of the Old Covenant.
I had Jesus Christ in person with me. I will always treasure this gift. I met several Soldiers in my unit that became very special to me.
One was from Philadelphia who would discuss the Catholic Faith with me.
He was raised a Calvinist, but was not practicing it. Originally, he became interested in the work I was doing on the Rock Seminars. He would help me prepare for them. He had some good questions he asked me concerning Purgatory.
He didn't understand why Catholics prayed for the dead. I began with the Old Testament showing that their were three places that were understood in the afterlife. Heaven, Sheol (the Netherworld) and Gehenna (hell).
It is understood that if a person goes to hell, there was no getting out of it. That is eternal punishment. I shared Maccabees 12:38-46 showing that praying for the dead was part of the Jewish belief system.
Some of Judas Maccabeus's men who were killed in battle were found with Pagan amulets that offended God. This was forbidden yet some of them took the risk of disobedience. "Turning to supplication, they prayed that the sinful deed might be fully blotted out. The noble Judas warned the soldiers to keep themselves free from sin, for they had seen with their own eyes what happened because of the sin of those who had fallen. He then took up a collection among all his soldiers, amounting to two thousand silver drachmas, which he sent to Jerusalem to provide for an expiatory sacrifice. In doing this he acted in a very excellent and noble way, inasmuch as he had the resurrection of the dead in view; for if he were not expecting the fallen to rise again, it would have been useless and foolish to pray for them in death. But if he did this with a view to the splendid reward that awaits those who had gone to rest in godliness, it was a holy and pius thought. Thus he made atonement for the dead that they might be freed from this sin".
This perfectly fell into the message I was giving with the Rock Seminars as there are a lot of images that Rock fans wear that are Pagan amulets such as Pentagrams, Hexagrams, and many others.
I explained how this understanding and belief carried over into the New Testament. 1 Peter 3:18-21 states, "For Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous, that he might lead you to God. Put to death in the flesh, he was brought to life in the spirit. In it he also went to preach to the spirits in prison, who had once been disobedient while God patiently waited in the days of Noah during the building of the Ark, in which a few persons, eight in all, were saved through water. This prefigured baptism, which saves you now".
From the time when Adam and Eve were kicked out of the Garden of Eden, mankind had not been allowed back to that relationship with God.
Those who were not damned were placed in "prison" awaiting for the promised Messiah. I shared Luke 16:19-31 explaining Jesus showing two places of the dead.
One was hell where the rich man went and the poor man (Lazarus) was in this "prison" or the "bosom of Abraham".
There is a great chasm that prevents anyone from crossing from either side to the other. Jesus says something very important, warning, "Then Abraham said, 'If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead".
Jesus was speaking of himself. When you read Matthew 27:51-54, your reading about the death of Jesus (Matthew 27:45-50) but follow what happens,
"And behold, the veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth quaked, rocks were split, tombs were opened, and the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep were raised. And coming forth from their tombs after his resurrection, they entered the holy city and appeared to many. The centurion and the men with him who were keeping watch over Jesus feared greatly when they saw the earthquake and all that was happening, and they said, 'Truly, this was the Son of God"! I was beginning to make sense for my friend as he continued to ask questions about this. He felt it was clear that in the Old Testament there was this place of waiting before Christ came.
Was this place of waiting done away with in the New Testament?
According to the teaching of the Catholic Church, no this place was not done away with. Jesus warns, "Therefore, I say to you, every sin and blaphemy will be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come" (Matthew 12:31-32).
Knowing and understanding this, St. Paul writes, "May the Lord grant mercy to the family of Onesiphorus because he often gave me new heart and was not ashamed of my chains. But when he came to Rome, he promptly searched for me and found me. May the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that day. And you know very well the services he rendered in Ephesus" (2 Timothy 1:16-18).
August 1985, our unit was deploying to Fort Irwin California for a 30 day training event. My friend stayed back at Fort Stewart couple of days before he came out there. One night I was asleep near my vehicle when he found me and nudged me waking me up.
He wanted to share with me the good news that he was received into the Catholic Faith. Father Norton had been working with him and that was why he remained a couple of more day in the rear. What a blessing!
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Thursday, November 11, 2010
Sometimes many of us do not make peace with God or our loved ones until the final hour. Even a peace made then is a peace eternal.
Remember that this day commemorates those who laid down their lives for you and those who would have if required. That these noble and courageous people cherish your freedoms that much, you should honor them by making peace with God today and your family.
Happy Veteran's day.
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Wednesday, November 10, 2010
February 7, 1985 I was on the bus from Harrison Arkansas to the Little Rock MEPS to begin my Military career.
I memorized the "Code of Conduct" along the way. I wanted to start my new career with the right motivation.
I remember staying at the hotel waiting for the plane taking us to Ft. Jackson South Carolina for Basic Training (Boot Camp).
The only thing I recall from this short stay in Little Rock was that some of the other applicants had hookers come to their rooms. I was not one of them as I would not have condoned that kind of activity.
I had been practicing my faith solidly for a good while, thankfully, by this time. From the very beginning of my Military career, I felt it was important to be faithful to God. This would be important to note because this was my position throughout my military career.
I would have many schools and field problems where infidelity was rampant. I tried to be a Soldier for Christ first and a good example for those who were away from home for the first time.
Basic training started out just like you see in the movies and the classic stories. We were "herded" on the 'cattle trucks" and we were quickly placed into platoons.
I quickly got the nickname "Padre" because of my strong faith. I encouraged everyone to go to church on Sunday, especially if they were Catholic.
It worked good for most of them, but still others would drift off as some were tempted by females assigned to nearby barracks.
Late at night they would find places to get together.
I tried to discourage that but for some, the temptation was just to strong.
James 1:12-15 states, "Blessed is the man who perseveres in temptation, for when he has been proved he will receive the crown of life that he promised to those who love him. No one experiencing temptation should say, 'I am being tempted by God'; for God is not subject to temptation to evil, and he himself tempts no one. Rather, each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire conceives and brings forth sin, and when sin reaches maturity it gives birth to death".
I come from a strong patriotic background, I have always believed in what the Red, White, and Blue of our flag represents.
The red stands for the blood shed in defense of our freedoms.
The white stands for the purity of our actions.
The Blue stands for the truth by which we stand.
This is why I stand up against those who would burn the flag.
For those who would alter and dishonor the truth from our foundations. This is why Secular Humanism is a danger to freedom. They want to take Christ out of public life making our nation a Secular State.
One of my Brothers joined the Marine Corps because of the problem with the "Hostages of Iran". He felt like he should do something about what was on the news for so long. He had an influence over me.
On one occasion, we were shown a video of how the Russian Soldiers trained. This was while the "Cold War" was still in effect, at the end of the video, the Drill Sergeant invited us to ask questions from what we saw. After a number of troops asked their questions, I raised my hand to make a statement.
The Drill Sergeant gave me permission to speak. I then stood up and said, "Drill Sergeant, we have been watching how our counterparts train. One major reason why I prefer this uniform that I'm wearing now is because it protects our right to worship God in freedom and preserves our liberty to do so. On the other hand, these Russian Soldiers do not mind taking clubs and beating old men, women, and children because they were hiding in a barn to worship God. These people have to worship God in secret".
At that point an immediate round of applause and cheering followed my words which surprised the Drill Sergeant. He was taken off guard with what I said and the response it got. This went on for another 20-30 seconds until the Drill Sergeant regained his composure.
When he gave that look everyone went back to their sitting at attention leaving me standing their alone. The Drill Sergeant looked at me for a moment and said, "That's all Private" and I sat back down.
At the end of the day, often times my Platoon would ask me to say a prayer. I felt that was an honor because they respected me and felt it was important.
On one occasion one of the Drill Sergeants had us in a formation at ease as we watched a demonstration on marching.
The Drill Sergeant was frustrated from what he was seeing. He screamed out, "Who do you think I am, Jesus Christ"? I responded, "Drill Sergeant", I'm not Jesus Christ, but I am a representative of his". That got me a few pushups!
As I reflect back to the time I was in Basic Training, I am so thankful that my faith was solid. My Faith has served me like a compass for over 26 years.
During my time in the Army I have had the chance to witness to thousands of people from all over the world.
God has blessed me far beyond any expectation I can have. The good news is that He is still doing so!
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Monday, November 8, 2010
This past week my bank account was robber of $1,500 dollars as three checks were falsely cashed by a thief at a local bank.
As soon as I found out about it I called the police who responded to the call taking down information.
basically informed me what the possible means are to get the villains and get my money back.
He didn't offer much hope in getting my money back. If they should catch them, the chance of them having our money would be slim to none.
The following day I went to file a warrant out for the arrest of the criminal who went by several alias names.
The Police Officer that originally responded to our call came back to give me what he thought was new information. Information that could save the day!
At this time we ended up talking about the Catholic Faith. I have several objects outside and inside our home that indicates our Christian heritage.
Come to find out the Police Officer was Catholic, but had not been to Mass for about 10 years.
This gave me an opening!
The following day, I went back to the Police Station to meet a detective who was working our case. We spoke for awhile when the opportunity to speak about the Catholic Church came up.
Come to find out the detective was Catholic, but had not been to Mass for several years. That opened the door for another good discussion about the Catholic Faith. We talked for about twenty-minutes on that subject.
That is two police officers in two days that I've had the chance to witness to. As I was leaving the Police Station, a lady who had been sitting in the lobby over heard our discussion.
It turns out she is very interested in the Catholic Faith so I invited her to check out our RCIA class this coming Wednesday. I spoke with the lady for about 20 minutes out side the Police Station.
We are to be a sign and witness to whom we meet as the opportunity dictates. Sometimes it jumps right into your lap!
Perhaps even the villain in this caper might find the Catholic Faith through this episode!
It is an opportunity to forgive, plus it is also an opportunity for the villain to serve out his penace!
For all you thieves out there, here is a good verse for you: "The thief must no longer steal, but rather labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with one in need" (Ephesians 4:28)
Now that is good advice!
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Sunday, November 7, 2010
Today at our Parish, we conducted an Investiture Ceremony during the Mass commissioning ten "Observer" Servers as Apprentice Servers.
There was a ceremonial dressing with the Surplice, conferring of the appropriate cross for the apprentice level of service.
As we conducted this ceremony, I couldn't help remembering that I was once an Altar Boy beginning in the early to middle 1960's.
I can remember our responses at the time was Latin, we used the Paten for Communion, and there was the Communion rail. The following picture would be more what my group picture would have looked like.
In recent times there have been a growing desire for female Altar Servers.
The following question is answered by Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical Athenaeum.
Q: What is the Church's position on the use of female altar servers? May all of the servers be female, or must at least one be male? Do you feel that the use of female altar servers detracts from the building of vocations among young males? — M.C.S.N., Catonsville, Maryland
A: Female altar servers are permitted in all but two U.S. dioceses. They are also common in most English-speaking countries, and in Western Europe. The situation is patchier in the rest of the world, going from total absence to the occasional diocese that allows them.
From the point of view of liturgical law, an official interpretation of Canon 230, Paragraph 2, of the Code of Canon law on the possibility of delegating certain liturgical offices led to a 1994 letter from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments clarifying that girls may serve at the altar. But bishops are not bound to permit them to do so, nor could the episcopal conference limit the bishop's faculty to decide for himself.
A further clarifying letter published in 2001 said priests are not compelled to have girls serve at the altar, even when their bishops grant permission.
The 1994 letter states: "It will always be very appropriate to follow the noble tradition of having boys serve at the altar. As is well known, this has led to a reassuring development of priestly vocations. Thus the obligation to support such groups of altar boys will always continue."
The letter also recommends to bishops to consider "among other things the sensibilities of the faithful, the reasons which would motivate such permission and the different liturgical settings and congregations which gather for the Holy Mass."
Therefore the Holy See's recommendation is to retain as far as possible the custom of having only boys as servers. But it leaves to the bishop the choice of permitting women and girls for a good reason and to the pastor of each parish the decision as to whether to act on the bishop's permission.
From Immaculate Mary's Hermitage Report:
In earlier times, only ordained acolytes, that is, clerics in the fourth minor order conferred upon candidates to the priesthood, were permitted to serve at Mass. The vestments now worn by servers (the cassock and the surplice) are actually clerical vestments that those specially-selected lay men and boys assisting at the altar are permitted by custom to wear.
The Archconfraternity of Saint Stephen is the only recognized world-wide altar servers’ guild in the Church. Its Altar Server Manual is noteworthy for its insistence on high standards on serving correctly. The Confraternity was first established at Westminister Cathedral in London, England, in 1905.
I don't know of any study conducted about Altar Servers who grow up and remain practicing Catholics. I have met a hand full of people who had once served as an Altar Boy but today is not a practicing Catholic.
For those who have abandoned the faith, hopefully their foundation at this level will help make them subject to return. The Bible teaches that if you train a child in the way of righteousness, they would not depart from it.
I know that I value greatly the opportunity I've had to serve at Mass. When I was stationed in Saudi Arabia (1990), Korea (1998), and Iraq (2006-2010), I had the chance to serve Mass as an adult Soldier.
Today, when you see the epic of Harry Potter whose story is surrounded in witchcraft, an Altar Boy has a chance that is far greater than fictional magic, we have the greatest gift God has ever given all mankind.
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Sadly, I was raised around having rosaries in the area. You could probably find one in a drawer, Mom had one on her desk, but we never prayed it together as a family.
My Mother was a convert to the Catholic Faith and I was Baptized at the age of 4 years old. I remember my Mother getting me a green rosary that glowed in the dark.
That hung around for years and I wish I had it today. My devotion with the rosary developed as a process.
I was 22 years old when I embraced the Catholic Faith after about 3 years of not practicing.
College for me was at a Protestant "Non-denominational" background. That is where I had my baseball scholarship. My senior year I began you pray the "Scriptural Rosary" from time to time.
How I really took up the rosary is a bit unorthodox, but it really helped me grow in my faith tremendously. I worked at a Warehouse for about 5 year after I got out of college.
During that time, I worked in the Receiving Department where I was used to take up a hand jack and pick up pallets to haul back to unload trucks.
We had forklifts to place the loaded merchandise in the racks that would go as high as 5 maybe six tiers high. This was a huge plant, thousands and thousands of square feet.
A normal day I could bring in a thousand pallets and walk 30 miles. That was no joke.
I was so good at this, the organization didn't want me doing anything else because through what I did, it kept the whole show running.
I remember tossing up pallets 20 high on that hand jack before I would take the long walk back to receiving.
Because so much of the time I was out on my own I would greet and meet people all over the place all day long, yet I was mostly on my own. I began using the Rosary in a very powerful way.
I began praying the Rosary daily dedicating each decade in segments throughout the day.
I would begin the first decade when I started work at 07:30 until 09:00 when we took our first break. When I was out in the warehouse, I would dedicate that time block for the first mystery.
After the ten minute break I would begin the second mystery between 09:10 till 10:30.
I would dedicate the third mystery from 10:40 until lunch at 12:00.
At 12:30 I began the fourth mystery until 14:00.
Then I would finish the Rosary with the fifth mystery from 14:10 to 15:30.
Through this reflection through out the day, I could tell that my faith was growing leaps and bounds.
My walk with Christ was really literal for me. This helped me understand Mary as well.
To put it simply, this solidified my faith. My days were never boring as I would have countless opportunities to discuss and debate the issues of the day.
I remember one particular lady that I would come to know. She had made the comment to me that the Catholic Church was headed by the Mafia.
I responded that the Protestants were headed by the Klue Klux Klan (KKK) thinking that if you can be off the charts so can I.
As it turned out, this lady was the wife of the "Grand Dragon, the head Chaplain of the KKK (nationally).
That was wild. She didn't appreciate my response. Because she supervised an area of stocking merchandise on the floor, I would see her quite often.
There is a place in the town where I lived that the KKK have what I called a "bat cave" underground where they had tiers of books and pamphlets promoting the "Arian Race" and Hitler. I was flabbergasted at this.
This is why it took along time before Catholics to begin moving into the area.
There was a definite anti-Catholic feel to the place because of the Tony Alamo revivals and the like that would come from time to time.
At the warehouse that I worked, I made friends with a lot of folks, but not on religion.
The Rosary helped kept me focused throughout my day.
Since I have been praying the Rosary, I have seen healing, I have seen answers to prayers, I have seen conversion.
I've seen this in my own life. The Rosary has been a tool in many ways, I would give the Lord praise for protection in car accidents, vehicles damaged by IED's in Iraq.
For me, the Rosary was like an anchor when I was hanging on by a scarlet thread.
I understand that it is a devotion, but Heaven made it part of the peace program of heaven.
I encourage anyone and everyone to pray it for the conversion of sinners and for dedicating it for your intentions.
The following is taken from ourladyswarrior.org:
Besides the Indulgences attached to the Rosary, Our Lady revealed to St. Dominic and Blessed Alan de la Roche additional benefits for those who devoutly pray the Rosary.
Our Lady's promise is shown in darker blue text. Additional explanation on and doctrinal connections to each promise is shown following in the smaller normal text font and color.
Note that the Rosary is the prayer (non-Liturgical) with the most published Magisterial / Papal documents expounding on its excellence. Vatican II's summary on Our Lady is contained in Lumen Gentium chapter VIII.
1. Whosoever shall faithfully serve me by the recitation of the Rosary shall receive signal graces.
Signal Graces are those special and unique Graces to help sanctify us in our state in life. See the remaining promises for an explanation for which these will consist. St. Louis de Montfort states emphatically that the best and fastest way to union with Our Lord is via Our Lady [True Devotion to Mary, chapter four].
2. I promise my special protection and the greatest graces to all those who shall recite the Rosary.
Our Lady is our Advocate and the channel of all God's Grace to us. Our Lady is simply highlighting that She will watch especially over us who pray the Rosary. (see Lumen Gentium chapter VIII - Our Lady #62) [a great more detail is available on this topic in True Devotion to Mary, chapter four, by St. Louis de Montfort]
3. The Rosary shall be a powerful armor against hell, it will destroy vice, decrease sin and defeat heresies.
This promise, along with the next, is simply the reminder on how fervent prayer will help us all grow in holiness by avoiding sin, especially a prayer with the excellence of the Rosary. An increase in holiness necessarily requires a reduction in sin, vice, and doctrinal errors (heresies). If only the Modernists could be convinced to pray the Rosary! (see Lumen Gentium chapter V - The Call to Holiness #42) St. Louis de Montfort states "Since Mary alone crushed all heresies, as we are told by the Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit (Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary)..." [True Devotion to Mary #167]
4. It will cause good works to flourish; it will obtain for souls the abundant mercy of God; it will withdraw the hearts of men from the love of the world and its vanities, and will lift them to the desire for Eternal Things. Oh, that souls would sanctify themselves by this means.
This promise, along with the previous, is the positive part, that being to live in virtue. Becoming holy is not only avoiding sin, but also growing in virtue. (see Lumen Gentium chapter V - The Call to Holiness #42)
5. The soul which recommends itself to me by the recitation of the Rosary shall not perish.
Since Our Lady is our Mother and Advocate, She always assists those who call on Her implicitly by praying the Rosary. The Church reminds us of this in the Memorare prayer, "... never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help or sought your intercession, was left unaided ..."
6. Whosoever shall recite the Rosary devoutly, applying himself to the consideration of its Sacred Mysteries shall never be conquered by misfortune. God will not chastise him in His justice, he shall not perish by an unprovided death; if he be just he shall remain in the grace of God, and become worthy of Eternal Life.
This promise highlights the magnitude of Graces that the Rosary brings to whomever prays it. One will draw down God's Mercy rather than His Justice and will have a final chance to repent (see promise #7). One will not be conquered by misfortune means that Our Lady will obtain for the person sufficient Graces to handle said misfortune (i.e. carry the Crosses allowed by God) without falling into despair. As Sacred Scripture tells us, "For my yoke is sweet and my burden light." (Matthew 11:30)
7. Whoever shall have a true devotion for the Rosary shall not die without the Sacraments of the Church.
This promise highlights the benefits of obtaining the most possible Graces at the hour of death via the Sacraments of Confession, Eucharist, and Extreme Unction (Anointing of the Sick). Being properly disposed while receiving these Sacraments near death ensures one's salvation (although perhaps with a detour through Purgatory) since a final repentance is possible.
8. Those who are faithful to recite the Rosary shall have during their life and at their death the Light of God and the plenitude of His Graces; at the moment of death they shall participate in the Merits of the Saints in Paradise.
Our Lady highlights the great quantity of Graces obtain through praying the Rosary, which assist us during life and at the moment of death. The merits of the Saints are the gift of God's rewards to those persons who responded to His Grace that they obtained during life, and so Our Lady indicates that She will provide a share of that to us at death. With this promise and #7 above, Our Lady is providing the means for the person to have a very holy death.
9. I shall deliver from purgatory those who have been devoted to the Rosary.
Should one require Purgatorial cleansing after death, Our Lady will make a special effort to obtain our release from Purgatory through Her intercession as Advocate.
10. The faithful children of the Rosary shall merit a high degree of Glory in Heaven.
This promise is a logical consequence of promises #3 and #4 since anyone who truly lives a holier life on earth will obtain a higher place in Heaven. The closer one is to God while living on earth, the close that person is to Him also in Heaven. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states "Spiritual progress tends toward ever more union with Christ." (Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 2014)
11. You shall obtain all you ask of me by recitation of the Rosary.
This promise emphasizes Our Lady's role as our Advocate and Mediatrix of all Graces. Of course, all requests are subject to God's Most Perfect Will. God will always grant our request if it is beneficial for our soul, and Our Lady will only intercede for us when our request is good for our salvation. (see Lumen Gentium chapter VIII - Our Lady #62)
12. All those who propagate the Holy Rosary shall be aided by me in their necessities.
If one promotes the praying of the Rosary, Our Lady emphasizes Her Maternal care for us by obtaining many Graces (i.e. spiritual necessities) and also material necessities (neither excess nor luxury), all subject to the Will of God of course.
13. I have obtained from my Divine Son that all the advocates of the Rosary shall have for intercessors the entire Celestial Court during their life and at the hour of death.
Since Our Lady is our Advocate, She brings us additional assistance during our life and at our death from all the saints in Heaven (the Communion of Saints). See paragraphs 954 through 959 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
14. All who recite the Rosary are my Sons, and brothers of my Only Son Jesus Christ.
Since the Rosary is a most excellent prayer focused on Jesus and His Life and activities in salvation history, it brings us closer to Our Lord and Our Lady. Doctrinally, Our Lady is our Mother and Jesus is our Eldest Brother, besides being our God. (see Lumen Gentium chapter VIII - Our Lady #62)
15. Devotion to my Rosary is a great sign of predestination.
Predestination in this context means that, by the sign which is present to a person from the action of devoutly praying the Rosary, God has pre-ordained your salvation. Absolute certainty of salvation can only be truly known if God reveals it to a person because, although we are given sufficient Grace during life, our salvation depends upon our response to said Grace. (See Summa Theologica, Question 23 for a detailed theological explanation). Said another way, if God has guaranteed a person's salvation but has not revealed it to Him, God would want that person to pray the Rosary because of all the benefits and Graces obtained. Therefore the person gets a hint by devotion to the Rosary. This is not to say that praying the Rosary guarantees salvation - by no means. In looking at promises #3 and #4 above, praying the Rosary helps one to live a holy life, which is itself a great sign that a soul is on the road to salvation. (See also paragraphs 381, 488, 600, 2782 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.) In fact, St. Louis de Montfort says even more strongly that "an infallible and unmistakable sign by which we can distinguish a heretic, a man of false doctrine, an enemy of God, from one of God's true friends is that the hardened sinner and heretic show nothing but contempt and indifference to Our Lady..." [True Devotion to Mary, #30]
Reminder: these promises mean that, by faithfully and devoutly praying the Rosary, Our Lady will obtain for us the necessary Graces to obtain said promises. It is still up to each individual soul to respond to those Graces in order to obtain salvation.
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