Days of Penance


A common contemporary misunderstanding among Catholics is the belief that days of penance passed away with the Second Vatican Council.  By no means!  Lent remains the most familiar period of penance  for sin, but so, too, do Fridays throughout the year.  The practice of the Church changed only regarding what specifically is given up as a penance.  Whereas, in the past meat was always to be given up on Fridays, today, either meat or something else may be given up; or else, one may do a charitable or spiritual work of some type.  Regardless, some act of penance, chosen by the individual, must be offered on Fridays throughout the year.  For Friday remains a day of penance every bit as much as it was in the past.

For those to whom this is surprising news, I’ve collected a few authoritative statements on the subject.  At the very bottom is also a link to an explanation of the changes in the Church’s penitential practice published by the American bishops in 1966.


From the Catechism of the Catholic Church  #1438:

The seasons and days of penance in the course of the liturgical year (Lent, and each Friday in memory of the death of the Lord) are intense moments of the Church’s penitential practice. These times are particularly appropriate for spiritual exercises, penitential liturgies, pilgrimages as signs of penance, voluntary self-denial such as fasting and almsgiving, and fraternal sharing (charitable and missionary works).




From the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church  #301:

What forms does penance take in the Christian life?

Penance can be expressed in many and various ways but above all in fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. These and many other forms of penance can be practiced in the daily life of a Christian, particularly during the time of Lent and on the penitential day of Friday.

From the Code of Canon Law:

Can. 1249  The divine law binds all the Christian faithful to do penance each in his or her own way. In order for all to be united among themselves by some common observance of penance, however, penitential days are prescribed on which the Christian faithful devote themselves in a special way to prayer, perform works of piety and charity, and deny themselves by fulfilling their own obligations more faithfully and especially by observing fast and abstinence, according to the norm of the following canons.

Can. 1250  The penitential days and times in the universal Church are every Friday of the whole year and the season of Lent.

Can. 1251  Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

Can. 1252  The law of abstinence binds those who have completed their fourteenth year. The law of fasting binds those who have attained their majority, until the beginning of their sixtieth year. Pastors of souls and parents are to ensure that even those who by reason of their age are not bound by the law of fasting and abstinence, are taught the true meaning of penance.

Pastoral Statement on Penance and Abstinence:

The Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano


Approximately in the year 700 A. D. in the Italian city of Lanciano at the monastery of St. Longinus, a Basilian monk was preparing to offer Mass.  Because he was struggling with his faith in the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist, he prayerfully asked God for help.  Perhaps he said, “Lord I believe, but help my unbelief.”  He then proceeded to the altar.

During the holy Mass, at the double consecration when our Lord’s words from the Last Supper are repeated over wheaten hosts and a chalice of ordinary wine mixed with water, a visible change in the Eucharistic elements occurred.  With the consecratory words, “This is My Body,” the appearances of the host changed from bread to flesh, and with the words, “This is the chalice of My Blood,” the appearances of the wine changed to that of blood.  The priest, with nervous excitement, recognized in this miracle the answer to his prayers.  He then invited the congregation to come forward and see the miracle for themselves.  The people wept for joy and, after Mass, left the parish to tell family, friends, and strangers of this extraordinary blessing.  Shortly afterwards, the bishop was informed.  He investigated and declared it to be a Eucharistic miracle.

Thirteen hundred years later, without the aid of modern scientific methods of preservation or sealing, these Eucharistic elements are still in tact and on display in the cathedral.  This in itself is miraculous.  The Host still appears like flesh, while the Precious Blood has coagulated into five pellets – suggesting our Lord’s five wounds to his hands, feet, and side.

In the year 1970, Archbishop Pacifico Perentoni of Lanciano decided to allow fragments of these Eucharistic elements to be examined in a laboratory.  The tests were to be conducted by Dr. Odoardo Linoli, professor of anatomy and pathological histology, and chemistry and clinical microscopy, as well as former head of the Laboratory of Pathological Anatomy at the Hospital of Arrezo.  He would be assisted by Dr. Ruggero Bertelli, professor emeritus of Human Anatomy at the Universtity of Siena.

On March 4, 1971, the results of the tests were presented to the public.

  • The Contents of the chalice were fresh human Blood, AB type, and contained  chlorides, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, sodium, and calcium.
  • The Host was human flesh, perfectly preserved, containing fresh human Blood, AB type.
  • This Flesh was the cross section of the wall of a human heart, the myocardium and the endocardium.
  • The particular sample of the Heart could normally be obtained only by a skilled pathologist.
  • No traces of preservatives were found, nor would the freshness of the samples have allowed extraction from a cadaver.

In an interview with ZENIT, Dr. Linoli later stated,

“As regards the flesh, I had in my hand the endocardium.  Therefore, there is no doubt at all that it is cardiac tissue.”

Regarding the Precious Blood, he said,

“The blood group is the same as that of the Man of the Holy Shroud of Turin, and it is particular because it has the characteristics of a man who was born and lived in the Middle East regions.”

In 1973, the Higher Council of the World Health Organization assigned a number of scientists to investigate the findings of doctors Linoli and Bertelli.  Over a period of fifteen months, five hundred examinations were conducted.  The findings only reaffirmed the original results, and these were published in New York and Geneva in 1976.  In 1981, Dr. Linoli himself tested his previous findings using more advanced technology, and the results were the same.

A Catholic might logically wonder, “In light of such objective and scientific evidence for the Real Presence, how could a non-believer persist in their unbelief?”  I would respond with two personal stories.

First, one day while hiking with an atheist, I asked my unbelieving companion what he thought of Eucharistic miracles.  I then recounted the story of Lanciano.  He responded, “Well it might have been the flesh and blood of some one, but how do you know it was the flesh and blood of Jesus?”

Second, I once mentioned the issue of Eucharistic miracles to a rather renowned Protestant apologist who was speaking at a local Baptist church.  His immediate response was to claim that all such apparent Eucharistic miracles were actually demonic delusions. 

Presented with objective evidence demonstrating the veracity of Catholic teaching, what else can the stubborn unbeliever do but run?  What else but descend into illogical absurdities that require as much “faith” as do the miracles themselves?

The responses of these two men are sobering reminders that, believing is not only a matter of the intellect; it is a matter also of the will.  A person can have a plenitude of reasons to believe.  He or she can have a deep intellectual comprehension of doctrines and morals, apologetical arguments to support them, and even additional “motives of credibility” provided by miracles.  And yet, the tiny human creature can freely resist and deny the Creator of the universe, because faith requires the virtue of humility, the grace-inspired willingness to bow before the Great Other and profess His Holy Name.   And many people would rather do anything other than bow to the Great Other.

The various Eucharistic miracles that have occurred over the centuries are certainly extraordinary.  And yet, in another way, they are entirely ordinary.  They indicate a hidden reality that is invisibly present on the altars even of the smallest and most ordinary Catholic parishes throughout the world; namely, the abiding presence of Emmanuel – God with us – wherever the holy Mass is offered.  For at every valid Mass, the words of consecration convert mere bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ so that nothing remains of that bread and wine except their appearances.  What the faithful receive in Holy Communion is the very same divine Person Who died on Calvary – the same Flesh that was pierced by nail and lance for our sins, and the same Blood that was spilled at the scourging and later flowed down the beams of the Cross.

In the Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano, science demonstrated what the faithful already see with the luminous eyes of faith – that which the Church has proclaimed for two thousand years and can be found even in a children’s catechism.  Baltimore Catechism One teaches,

“Q. What is the Holy Eucharist?
A. The Holy Eucharist is the Sacrament which contains the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, of Our Lord Jesus Christ under the appearances of bread and wine.”

Truly, as Our Lord once prayed,

“I praise thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou didst hide these things from the wise and prudent, and didst reveal them to little ones” (Mt. 11:25).


 Dr. Linoli

Classes in Catholicism

Our various classes have resumed for the new school year.  There are presently three groups.  The course, Catholic Apologetics, will be taught at the Little Sisters of the Poor St. Joseph’s Residence in Enfield, CT (1365 Enfield St.), beginning Monday, September 19, and at Christ the King parish center in Ludlow, MA (41 Warsaw Ave.), beginning on Tuesday, September 20.

Another course entitled, Answering Common Objections, held on the first and third Thursdays of the month, will resume on Thursday, October 6, at Holy Trinity parish center in Westfield, MA (335 Elm St.).

Catholic Apologetics is a four-year course, but students are welcome to take as much or as little of it as they choose.  The course is intended to give students a thorough knowledge of the faith, with an emphasis on explaining and defending it.

Answering Common Objections is less of a course and more of a series of ongoing talks on the faith.  It is simpler than the Catholic Apologetics course, and therefore, would be suitable for fallen-away or non-Catholics who wanted to learn the basics.

In addition, I also have another course called The Fundamentals of Catholicism that examines the essential teachings of the faith.  I’m not presently teaching this course anywhere, but I would be happy to offer it wherever there is interest.

All classes are held approximately from 7-8:30 pm.  Although there is no set fee, donations of any amount to support the apostolate are greatly needed and appreciated.

It goes without saying that these groups are small in number – anything from 3-20 people.  So, new students are always welcome.  Again, I would be happy to start new classes wherever there is interest (in the southern New England area).  It requires only several students and a quiet room.  I’ve taught these classes for about 15 years now in school rooms, boardrooms, living rooms, and kitchens, and I’m willing to offer them wherever there is a sincere interest in Catholic truth.  So, please spread the word.

For more information, please leave a phone message at (413) 568-4429, and I’ll get back to you.  Or else, send an email to:

Saint Justin Martyr, Patron Saint of Apologists and Philosophers

Even the Devil Must Bear Witness

Fall of Satan

I was born and raised in a liberal Catholic environment.  I attended twelve years of Catholic school, went to Sunday Mass with my family, was an altar boy, went to monthly confession with my class, and was educated by nuns and priests as well as Catholic laymen.  My father was the school physician and cared for the parish priests, and my mother was the parish organist.  To state the obvious, my upbringing was Catholic, Catholic, Catholic.  But the key word in all of this is not the term “Catholic,” but the term “liberal.”  To say we were Catholics is simply misleading; rather, we were liberal Catholics, and this little qualifier changes everything.  It means that, although ostensibly my daily life was surrounded by the appearances of Catholicism, in fact, the Catholicism generally went no deeper than the appearances.  And to make brief what could be a very long story, let me summarize the rest by saying that my intellect during those twelve years was far from Catholic.

We did not study the Bible; we did not study the Catechism; we did not study the history of the Church; we did not learn how to understand, explain, or defend the Church’s teachings; we did not read the lives of the Saints; we did not pray the Rosary, say grace before meals, attend the Stations of the Cross or Eucharistic Benediction, or practice penances.  The ostensibly Catholic environment in which I was raised expected only that we would remain in an ostensibly Catholic environment, never taking our religion too seriously, never inquiring too deeply into its teachings, and never practicing too literally its morality.  The Holy Mass and the Holy Eucharist?  Frequent confession?  Heaven, hell, and purgatory?  Grace, free will, and merit?  Atonement and Redemption?  Apostolic succession?  Papal infallibility?  The Purpose of life?  Heresy, apostasy, and schism?  Divorce, adultery, cohabitation, contraception, and homosexuality?  Whatever.  I was vaguely familiar with these terms and presumed they were Catholic issues of some type, but I couldn’t possibly understand or explain them, nor did I feel obligated to believe or respect them, nor did I.  It was merely the stuff that liberal Catholics could expect to hear about once in a while – usually from the old men in Rome – but that shouldn’t cause them any fear or concern.  For none of it – we lazily presumed – was actually true or even important.  And if it was…whatever.

What was the outcome of this liberal Catholic upbringing?  With a heavy heart I can say – like so many of you – the outcome has been that most of my siblings have left the Church.  And during my twenties, when I began to ask all the big questions in life and found that my religious formation offered me no answers, I left as well and became a virulent anti-Catholic.  For I thought the problem was Catholicism itself.

Shouldn’t this have been expected?  After all, if our priests and bishops have preached for decades that one Church, denomination, or religion is basically as good as any other, then isn’t it only natural and logical that those who have absorbed such ecumenical cheerleading should never again come back?  Yes, if everyone and their pet is going to heaven, regardless of their religion, personal beliefs, or actual sins, then why should we stay for even one more Kyrie?  If there is no substantial difference between St. Mary’s Catholic Parish and Duck River Baptist Church, then let’s skip the whole religious thing and sleep in on Sunday mornings.

It is the countless Catholics who have fallen away that have actually acted on the sermons of the past fifty years.  They are the ones who have taken it all seriously.  And those who have remained in the Church – they are the ones who have, thanks be to God Almighty, not taken seriously the preaching of the liberals and ecumaniacs.  Our pastors should be thankful that many of us simply ignore their homilies and remain in spite of them.  And if ever we take them seriously, they’ll know it when they see our empty pews.

For at least six years I despised the Catholic Church and every trace or shadow of Catholicism.  During that time, I trained myself in the black craft of anti-Catholic argumentation.  I formed my intellect with the writings of the Protestant so-called “Reformers;” I studied the King James Version Bible, supplemented by Protestant commentaries; I read Church history from a Protestant perspective; I attended countless worship services of both denominations and cults, prayed fervently for the purest Gospel faith, and believed I was born again and saved; and I often discussed and debated Christian belief with both Protestant ministers and lay people, constantly enforcing my own positions with anti-Catholic arguments.

In spite of this monumental intellectual effort, in spite of studying religion for hours each day, the cracks in my anti-Catholicsm began to appear.  They struck its foundation from every direction, from studying more carefully the Bible, from reading the Apostolic Fathers, from reflecting on Church history, and from considering the catastrophic state of Christendom in light of the private interpretation of Holy Scripture.  All of these noble pursuits revealed the flaws in my arguments and the errors in Protestantism itself.  Their combined effect increasingly pointed back to the last place on earth I was willing to go.  I told myself over and over, “God forbid; I will never again be a Catholic.”  In a panic, I begged God in prayer to save me from Catholicism and to help me remain Protestant.  I asked Him to lead me to anyone or anything that would help me maintain a Protestant faith.   A hundred times I prayed, “Lord, save me from this!  Don’t ever ask me to be Catholic again!”  And then God answered my prayers with another type of fracture: He forced the devil to bear witness to the truth.

I had always been fascinated with the New Age Movement – fascinated in that I recognized the grave threat this neo-pagan revival posed to the Christian faith and world.  As a result, I had studied about it for years and gained a sound understanding of its fundamental beliefs and practices.  One topic that frequently came up in these studies was Satanism – the beliefs and practices of Satanists.  But I recognized over and over again one aspect of Satanic practice that increasingly bothered me: the Black Mass.  When the foremost opponents of the Kingdom of God – the Christ-loathing Satanists – gathered to offer their most formal and solemn blasphemous praises to the devil, they performed a mockery of the Catholic Mass said backwards in Latin and on the back of a naked woman!  They did not perform a mockery of a Protestant service.  They did not sing multiple hymn verses to Satan, or listen to forty-five minute sermons on hatred and blasphemy, or answer an evil altar call, or read backwards the KJV Bible, or even preach their own Satanic Bible on street corners.  No.  When Satanists wanted to perform the wickedest act of blasphemy, they turned to a mockery of the Holy Mass.  And when they wanted to perform the lowest act of sacrilege, they sought to desecrate a Host.  No, not a piece of communion bread from a Protestant service, but only a Host consecrated at Holy Mass by a Catholic priest.

These unwelcome realizations caused me great pain as I reflected on their meaning.  Why, I wondered, would the Satanists not mock Protestantism – almost as a favor to me?  Then I could have a desperately needed reason to remain Protestant!

Three more giant cracks soon appeared.  I learned, first, that one of the most significant symptoms of demonic possession was the inability of the possessed to tolerate the moment of consecration at Holy Mass, and second, that they could not bear to consume a consecrated Host.  And then I learned from a former Satanic priestess (turned Catholic) that such a person could identify a single consecrated Host in a bowl of unconsecrated hosts.  Why?  Because the demons, the possessed, and those who have received certain powers from the devil, are painfully sensitive to the presence of their enemy, Jesus Christ.  CRACK!

The Church teaches that – mystery of mysteries – the devil and his fallen angelic companions can do nothing except what they are allowed to do by God.  They are not free; rather, they are like chained junkyard dogs – vicious as can preternaturally be, but hopelessly chained by Divine Providence.  And in spite of all their wicked stratagems and desires, the demons cannot prevent one iota of the establishment of God’s Kingdom, and they even contribute to its establishment with their resistance to it.

In hating, the demons only bear witness to divine love; in killing, they only bear witness to divine life; and in despising the Gospel, they only bear witness to the truth that sets us free.  For every act of demonic evil is answered with infinitely superior acts of divine goodness – in Christ’s Incarnation and atoning death, in the establishment of His Church, in her edifying teachings and grace-bearing sacraments, and in God’s promises of a blessed eternal life for the just in the presence of the beautiful Thrice-Holy God.  No matter what he does or where he goes, even the devil must bear witness.

In the Gospels, the demons, speaking through the possessed, repeatedly bore witness to Christ.  In His presence they would pitiably cry out,

“We know who you are, the Holy One of God!  Have you come to torment us before the time?”

They feared Christ; they dreaded His holy presence and divine power.  They wanted to run from Him, but couldn’t.  As our Lord drove them out of the possessed, they would fall to the ground in their last moments, flailing about and screaming in the agony of exorcism, bearing witness over and over again to Christ our Lord.  And to this day, nothing has changed.  Exorcisms continue to bear witness to the spiritual powers given to the Church by Christ, while the inability of the possessed to endure the Holy Mass and the Holy Eucharist bears witness to the Real Presence of Christ in the Sacrament of sacraments.

Several years before she died, my mother heard me tell on The Fullness of Truth radio program the story of the Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano.  My own beloved mother, a life-long Catholic who had secretly prayed daily for my return to the Church, had never heard of this remarkable story in which the findings of modern science demonstrated the assertions of faith in the Eucharistic Real Presence.  She could only shake her head afterwards and ask one question that I will never forget: “Why?  Why did they never tell us such things?”

Indeed, why hadn’t they told us such things?  Why did the Church miserably fail to testify to herself, to her own magnificent teachings, and to her precious divine Savior and His saving Gospel?  Would it have caused a breach in the truth-loathing liberal and ecumenical mission to do so?  Must everything be thrown overboard in order to save and serve the New-Church euphoria, including immortal souls?

I guess my parents could only give us what they had been given.

How I wish all of these astounding and life-transforming truths had been persuasively taught to us so many years ago in that liberal Catholic environment.  If they had, that godless liberalism, alas exorcised by Gospel truth, would have instantly fled back to the fiery hell from which it had come.

“At Jesus’ name
every knee must bend
In the heavens, on the earth,
and under the earth,
and every tongue proclaim
to the glory of God the Father:

– Phil. 2:10-11

Jesus Christ, the Great Divider

Candle in Darkness

The Gospel reading for the Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time contains an important teaching that is fundamental to the faith:

“Do you think that I came to give peace upon the earth?  No, I tell you, but division.  For henceforth in one house five will be divided, three against two, and two against three.  They will be divided, father against son and son against his father; mother against daughter and daughter against the mother; mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law” (Lk. 12:51053).

This teaching is so important that Jesus dwells on it for a moment, explaining and emphasizing it almost to the point of being redundant.  Simply, following Him will produce all types and degrees of division between people, even between members of the same family.

This is not the message we hear from the world, or from the world in the Church.  Rather, Christ is allegedly the great harmonizer Who “heals” all divisions.  If we follow His Gospel of unity, then we will find ourselves generally at peace with the world and with those around us.  In fact, the mark of the true Christian who “gets it” is that they are relaxed and open to others and to the life styles and beliefs of others.  They are peacemakers in the sense that they object to nothing and accept everything.  They simply live and let live.

It is a lie.  The worldling’s notion of peace and harmony is, in fact, the sin of religious indifference  and the vice of cowardice.  And these common moral failures are far more popular than the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Hence, you will hear this indifference and cowardice preached far and wide, from both pulpit and podium, from both Church and State.

Jesus did not come in order to bring division.  Dividing people was not His immediate purpose.  But because He has come and called all of us to accept Him, His teaching, and His Church, there will be divisions even between the closest of persons – between spouses, parents and children, and best friends.  Why?  Because some will accept Him while others will reject Him.  Some will embrace His teachings and others will denounce them.

Let’s not be subjective about “accepting” Jesus.  In using the term, I don’t in any way refer to a vague and sentimental sort of acceptance, so that we merely have warm feelings towards Christ.  For genuine faith ultimately is theological; it is specific and holds with undying certainty to clear defined ideas about God, man, the world, and the future.  And this is the reason that true faith brings hardship and division: it holds uncompromisingly to certain defined truths which concern all human persons.

In the last Beatitude, Jesus said,

“Blessed are you when men reproach you, and persecute you, and speaking falsely, say all manner of evil against you, for my sake.  Rejoice and exult, because your reward is great in heaven; for so did they persecute the prophets who were before you” (Mt. 5:11-12).

This passage refers to unjust persecution for the sake of Christ.  In other words, one is mistreated and mocked by others specifically because one is faithful in some matter to Christ.  This is the division that the faithful cannot, and must not, avoid.  As the world and its adherents increasingly immerse themselves in the most depraved forms of immorality and irreligiosity, and as they continue to promote these – first as an enlightened way, and then as the only permissible way – as a result, standing firm in the truths proclaimed by Christ and His Church will increasingly identify us as “different,” and therefore, as divisive.  Fidelity to the Gospel will separate us from those around us.  Loyalty to the God of revelation will divide us from those who overtly or covertly reject that revelation.  This concerns both doctrines and morals, for to accept one thing as true requires that we accept the contrary thing as false, and this is precisely what Christ asks of us: to adhere to the light and renounce the darkness.  But it’s also the consequence of being creatures endowed with reason.  Hence, it is only logical and consistent that, to believe in one body of beliefs is to disbelieve in all contrary bodies of beliefs.  Of course, the modern knee-jerk reaction to this view is to say that one should remain open to all beliefs.  But this is ultimately to say that nothing is true; therefore, belief is irrelevant.  It is doctrinal and moral relativism and the vice of indifference parading as the virtue of tolerance.

To accept as true the teachings of Christ and His Church, and to strive to practice them and teach them to others that they, too, may accept them, is to be divisive.  Sorry, but truth divides, as do love, goodness, and beauty.  Hence, when considering the religion of Islam, one is faced with two  very different Gabriels.   In the Gospel of St. Luke, the angel Gabriel announced to the Virgin Mary that she would bear a Son who would be called the “Son of the Most High” and the “Son of God” (Lk. 1:32, 35).  (Incidentally, at Jesus’ trial before the Sanhedrin Council, the high priest asked Him if he was the Son of God, and Jesus answered, using a Jewish mode of affirmation, “Yes.”)  And yet, the Quran – allegedly revealed to Mohammad by the angel Gabriel – asserts that it is below the majesty of Allah to have a son.  Therefore, it flatly denies the divine Sonship of Christ.

This presents the faithful with a dilemma: we cannot accept both Gabriels, for one denied what the other affirmed.  Both revelations cannot logically be true, for they are opposites.   In addition, at #67 the Catechism says,

“Christian faith cannot accept ‘revelations’ that claim to surpass or correct the Revelation of which Christ is the fulfillment, as is the case in certain non-Christian religions and also in certain recent sects which base themselves on such ‘revelations.'”

This passage certainly refers to Islam, since Muslims claim that wherever the Bible and the Quran disagree, the Quran is to be followed since it corrects the corrupted biblical text.

To accept the Christian revelation as true requires that we reject the veracity of the alleged revelations of Mohammad.  This will cause division between Christians and Muslims (though there need not be violence), but there is no other way except the way of indifference, of feigning agreement by avoiding the facts of our respective religions.

Notice that I referred above to the “veracity” of Mohammad’s revelations, and not to their historicity.  It is entirely possible that Mohammad received the contents of the Quran through a real angelic revelation.  I don’t dispute that.  The question is, however, What was the nature of that angel?  And here I’m obviously suggesting the possibility of a demonic event.

Would you like to avoid all division with others?  Would you like to be thought of as an easy-going laid-back and peaceable sort of character who gets along with everyone at all times?  Would you like to escape those tense disagreements about morality with others, those agonizing discussions with your homosexual son, lesbian daughter, cohabitating friends, or transvestite co-worker?  Are you tired of being called “judgmental” purely for mentioning the idea of right and wrong conduct?  It’s very simple and the approach is sure to work: simply be a lukewarm Christian, a cafeteria Catholic, a closet Catholic, a fair-weather friend of God.  Pick and choose from the Deposit of Faith only the happier and easier items.  Follow the spirit of the times and hold only the popular opinions.  Simply omit from the ancient faith whatever the world deems inappropriate, and therefore, divisive.  Let the campaigning politicians, the Hollywood whores, and today’s most militant special interest groups be your savior and redeemer, your Mater et Magistra (Mother and Teacher).  If you follow the world, then the world will let you be.  It will let you be its slave, that is, and permit you to think and act only as it thinks and acts – minute by minute and trend by trend.

The disciples of Christ are not called to be mundane slaves, but free men and women who follow their Lord wherever He leads.  And to the degree that we do follow Him – yes, we will often be divisive in the opinion of the world, dividing truth from error, good from evil, and light from darkness.

“You are the light of the world.  A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.  Neither do men light a lamp and put it under a measure, but upon the lamp-stand, so as to give light to all in the house” (Mt. 5:14-15).




Are Islam and Catholicism Equally Violent?

Ali Hammuda

On July 31, during the return flight from Poland to Rome, as usual pope Francis held a press conference.  He was asked the following question by reporter Antoine Marie Izoarde.

“Holy Father, before all I make the congratulations to you and Father Lombardi and also to Fr. Spadaro for the feast of St. Ignatius, if you allow me. The question is a little difficult: Catholics are a bit in shock, and not only in France, after the barbarous assassination of Fr. Jacques Hamel – as you know well – in his church while celebrating the Holy Mass. Four days ago you here told us that all religions want peace. But this holy, 86-year-old priest was clearly killed in the name of Islam. So Holy Father, I have two brief questions: why do you, when you speak of these violent events, always speak of terrorists, but never of Islam, never use the word Islam? And then, aside from prayer and dialogue, which are obviously essential, what concrete initiatives can you advise or suggest in order to counteract Islamic violence? Thank you, Holiness.

The Holy Father responded,

“I don’t like to speak of Islamic violence, because every day, when I browse the newspapers, I see violence, here in Italy… this one who has murdered his girlfriend, another who has murdered the mother-in-law… and these are baptized Catholics! There are violent Catholics! If I speak of Islamic violence, I must speak of Catholic violence . . . and no, not all Muslims are violent, not all Catholics are violent. It is like a fruit salad; there’s everything. There are violent persons of this religion… this is true: I believe that in pretty much every religion there is always a small group of fundamentalists. Fundamentalists. We have them. When fundamentalism comes to kill, it can kill with the language — the Apostle James says this, not me — and even with a knife, no? I do not believe it is right to identify Islam with violence. This is not right or true. I had a long conversation with the imam, the Grand Imam of the Al-Azhar University, and I know how they think . . . They seek peace, encounter . . . The nuncio to an African country told me that the capital where he is there is a trail of people, always full, at the Jubilee Holy Door. And some approach the confessionals — Catholics — others to the benches to pray, but the majority go forward, to pray at the altar of Our Lady… these are Muslims, who want to make the Jubilee. They are brothers, they live… When I was in Central Africa, I went to them, and even the imam came up on the Popemobile… We can coexist well… But there are fundamentalist groups, and even I ask… there is a question… How many young people, how many young people of our Europe, whom we have left empty of ideals, who do not have work… they take drugs, alcohol, or go there to enlist in fundamentalist groups. One can say that the so-called ISIS, but it is an Islamic State which presents itself as violent . . . because when they show us their identity cards, they show us how on the Libyan coast how they slit the Egyptians’ throats or other things… But this is a fundamentalist group which is called ISIS… but you cannot say, I do not believe, that it is true or right that Islam is terrorist” (Catholic News Agency).


It is so difficult to read Pope Francis’ comments; it’s literally painful.  I pray for him regularly, but I’m sorry; he scares the living daylights out of me.  He is the universal representative and global communicator for the Christian religion to the entire Christian and non-Christian world.  And yet, his statements are consistently so confused and filled with vagueness and generalities that seem tailor-designed to offer optimum opportunity to anti-Catholics.    For example, what exactly is a “Catholic Fundamentalist?”  Please name a specific Catholic Fundamentalist individual and the Catholic Fundamentalist group to which he or she belongs.  I know of two groups which many people would describe in such a derogatory way: pro-life Catholics and traditional Catholics.  But calling a Catholic “pro-life” is like saying he or she believes in the Fifth Commandment, and calling them “traditional” is like saying they hold to a faith that was handed down to them.  In other words, if the word “Catholic” has any coherent meaning, it refers to that type of Christian who, among other things, holds to a pro-life morality and accepts the apostolic faith handed down to them (traditio) with the strongest of convictions.  Many Catholics have died for these fundamental convictions and have been canonized by the Church for it.  So, who and what exactly are these fundamentalists?  Are they the members of Opus Dei?  Are we now stooping to the level of Hollywood anti-Catholic conspiracy theories?  Or are they the theologians and doctors of the Church, such as Saint Alphonsus Liguori, whose feast day is celebrated today?   If so, then please call me a fundamentalist Catholic too, and I will be most honored.

More importantly, I have to respond to the implication that Catholics are violent, just like some Muslims.  This is absolutely absurd.  First and foremost, no Catholic denies that Catholics commit sins.  This is why we have the sacrament of penance: Christ knew we would sin; it is inevitable.  But to speak of this fact in the context of raping, slitting throats, and beheading in the name of Islam is dangerously misleading.  The murderers of Father Jacques Hamel committed their crimes in the name of Islam.  We find this to be the case over and over again in France, Germany, throughout Europe, the Middle East, and in America as well.  Such violence may be an act of Jihad, or Sharia, or an honor killing, but it is all done in the name of Islam and for the glory of Allah.   And it is for good reason that the cry “Allahu Akbar” inspires terror in the hearts of non-Muslims the world over.

Now, the pope’s comments about Catholic violence – “every day, when I browse the newspapers, I see violence, here in Italy… this one who has murdered his girlfriend, another who has murdered the mother-in-law… and these are baptized Catholics!  There are violent Catholics!” – these comments do not in any way refer to actual Catholic violence.   Nor do they refer to a movement or organization of Catholic violence.  Nor could we find a Catholic in the universe who would claim that the acts committed by the above mentioned men were motivated by a particular reading of the Catholic religion and supported by even a single priest or bishop.  Rather, these acts are merely two examples of violence committed by people who happen to be Catholic.  The guy who murdered his girlfriend did not do so inspired by a Gospel verse.  The man who murdered his mother-in-law did not do so to gain a heavenly reward promised in a paragraph of the Catechism.  There is no association whatsoever between their crimes and their Catholic religion.   On the contrary, Catholics who commit such acts and die unrepentant can be certain that they will burn in hell for eternity.  And that is the defined teaching of the Church.  But the case is just the opposite regarding atrocities committed by Muslims.  Such acts of violence are blatantly religious, and the perpetrators are determined to their dying breath to make this clear to all who can hear.  Allahu Akbar!  Allah is greatest!

The claim is often made that it is only fanatical Muslims who kill in the name of Islam; these persons are allegedly isolated demented individuals who clearly are misusing Koranic texts and giving them interpretations that good peace-loving Muslims do not.  So, the religion and its book are not to be blamed, but only such mistaken loners.

The main question here is: How does one know precisely what is, and what is not, authentic Islamic teaching?  What definitive Islamic authority can settle all disputes of interpretation?  After all, Catholicism has an authoritative Sacred Tradition, a magisterium, and a charism of papal infallibility that can settle all questions and disputes regarding Catholic doctrine and morals.  If Pope Francis wanted to, he could appeal to his authority on the highest level and define a truth that all Catholics would then be bound to hold, under pain of mortal sin.  Can Islam do the same?  No, it cannot.  Instead, there are schools of thought and law, with Islamic Imams and scholars differing on important issues – one of them being the true nature of Jihad.  For example, British Imam Ali Hammadu teaches that, because the end of the world is near, it is permissible for a man to have sex slaves.  His teachings have been called “radical,” “twisted,” and “hard-line,” but says who?  Who among the Muslims can authoritatively, definitely, and universally settle this question, or any other question regarding Islamic faith and morals?  Is there a universal Imam appealed to in the Quran whose successors now make such decisions?  No, there is not.  Islam does not have a “pope” that can settle such issues for all the world’s Muslims.

This introduces the next question: Who can tell us if Islam is, or is not, a violent religion?  Those Koranic verses about killing in the service of Allah – what Muslim can definitively explain to us infidels and unbelievers whether they refer to the actual murdering of people, or to the metaphorical killing of vice, or to both?   Who can determine whether the Muslim so-called “fanatic” who goes on a killing spree after Friday prayers is actually the devout Muslim, so that those peace-loving non-violent Muslims are actually the indifferent who couldn’t be bothered to suffer or even lose their lives in the service of Allah?  Are the warriors of ISIS the true Muslims who serve and die for Allah and gain the 72 promised “houris” in a sensual paradise?  They certainly believe they are, and they happen to study the Quran for hours each day.  And yet, non-Muslims do not hesitate to insist that ISIS has it all wrong, that they do not understand their own religion nearly as well as we understand their religion – we who have never even read the Quran!

If we want to make a legitimate claim that Catholicism is equally violent to Islam, then we have to produce countless examples of Catholics emerging from their Good Friday services and going on killing sprees, say, at nursing homes.  If we can find many cases of this happening decade after decade, then perhaps we have a case.  But who is cowering in fear that a Eucharistic Benediction service will be followed by beheadings committed by Catholics quoting the Gospels and the Catechism and shouting “Te Deum”?   The New Testament, the Catechism, and before the Holy Eucharist are the last places where one could find inspiration for violence.

If Catholicism is equally violent to Islam, then let’s please see the daily reports throughout the world of Catholics committing bloody atrocities against the innocent, inspired entirely by their religion.  Where are they?  And where are the Catholic equivalents of Ali Hammuda?

I have a challenge for all those who claim Islam is an inherently peaceful and tolerant religion: stop repeating the platitudes and read the entire Quran for yourselves.  I think you’ll be quite shocked by what you find, starting from the first pages.

French Priest Murdered in Church

Fr. Jacques Hamel

A Catholic priest was beheaded and a nun seriously injured during an attack by Islamists in a church in Rouen, France.   During 9am Mass on Tuesday, two teenaged males entered the parish of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, shouting “Daesh” (Arabic for “Islamic State”) and “Jihad”.  The young men took several hostages, including the priest, two nuns, and two lay people.  One of the nuns managed to escape and then contacted the police.  During the attack, one of the young men preached something like a sermon in Arabic from the altar.  Then, while filming the attack, they forced 85 year-old Father Jacques Hamel to kneel, and then slit his throat.  French police finally shot and killed the attackers as they left the Church shouting, “Allahu Akbar.”  Both of them lived locally and were known to authorities.  ISIS has claimed responsibility.

The so-called “religion of peace” strikes again.  Is it any wonder?  After all, the Qur’an says,

“When you meet the disbelievers in battle, strike them in the neck” (47:4).

But our political and religious leaders just don’t get the message; they refuse to see the light, to recognize the battle all around us.  How many methodical executions will it take to awaken them to the fact that Islam is not a religion of peace, that a war has been declared against all “disbelievers,” and that this war is now being openly waged in Europe and America?  It is being fought – right now, today, tomorrow, and the next day – while our potentates cozily snooze away in pleasant dreams of peace.  Their unwillingness to rise to the occasion, look straight into the eyes of evil, and call it evil, is a threat to all of us.

The essential element in the West’s defeat by Islam is the absurd tolerance of the radical left that amounts to a dictatorship of indifference.  Even as innocent people are regularly slaughtered by militant Muslims, westerners cower in fear of denouncing the murderers, lest they be identified as “intolerant,” “Islamophobic,” or “hate-mongers.”  This politically-motivated and imposed fear so dominates our cultures that, following the latest Islamic atrocity, one can easily predict the twaddle and blather soon to flow from our media and political and religious leaders.  Hence, tomorrow’s comments from the powers-that-be will make abundant references to “senseless violence,” atrocities carried out by “loners,” and deep concern for repercussions against the “peaceful Muslim community.”  Meanwhile, the authorities will continue to “search for a motive” for the attack.  And all of this for the simple reason that they refuse to recognize our sworn enemy.

It is a game for lunatics – these redundant post-attack performances by the left.  One could write tomorrow’s news reports today, because the radical left strictly follows a script and dictates it to others.  When one commonsensical thing screams to be said, just the opposite is said.  When all the solicitude should be directed towards Christians and all non-Muslims, instead, it is directed exclusively towards Muslims, towards the religion that inspires the killing.  Tomorrow, the increased security will be placed around mosques, more so than around churches or synagogues.  With every act of religiously-motivated terror, Islam is all the more proclaimed, defended, and even celebrated as a religion of kindness and mercy.  This is the insanity of the radical left that has lost the very instinct of survival, and that threatens with charges of hate crimes all those who respond to the murder of the innocent with righteous anger.

This psychological control imposed upon the west by western political and religious leaders of the progressive type is key to the Islamization of our world.  It is the essential element in silencing legitimate expressions of outrage and indignation, and in eliminating any meaningful resistance.  Islam could never conquer the west by shear violence, by jihad alone.  No, the successful Islamization of the west requires the cooperation of that emasculating ideology called Liberalism, which consistently favors the wrong party and sympathizes, not with the innocent victim, but with the ruthless aggressor.  Alas, this is the cabal trained in the killing fields of abortion on demand.  We should never expect to find a compassionate heart beating in the chests of these leftist monsters that rule us.

In the name of openness, tolerance, diversity, and multi-culturalism, we have had taken from us the right to survive.