The Future of the Catholic Church is the Same as Its Past

Father Stanley Rother Copyright Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved

Copyright Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved

Ok, so I’m the daughter of a mechanic, the granddaughter of a laborer who at one time dug ditches and was glad for the work on one side of my family, and a real-life horse-breaking, cattle-branding cowboy on the other.

My great-grandfathers were farmers and blacksmiths. Cherokee blood flows in my veins from a time when being Cherokee wasn’t cool.

I am working class from the soles of my dusty bare feet to the top of my frizzy hair. My generation was the first in our family to darken the doorway of an institution of higher learning, and I think we all felt considerably out of place there. Our background, the pond that spawned us, did not fit us for the many pretenses and — to us — absurdities of indirection of the intellectual world. At the same time, our education unfitted us for the world from which we came.

We were, all of us, doomed to wander through life as strangers in a strange land of social dislocation.

Patheos’ symposium on the future of the Catholic Church has some mighty fine thinkers contributing to it. All of them approach the question from an intellectual viewpoint. We have people telling us about how their ministries have informed them of the lacks in the Church’s outreach, others discuss how the future of the Church should be for gay people, or from the viewpoint of clergy.

But I don’t see anything there that even acknowledges the existence of people like me. The working class is right out in discussions of much of anything these days. The people that fight the wars, build the buildings, unstop the plumbing, lay down the roads, grow the food and keep the wiring from frying us, are invisible in almost all discussion of anything in this country, whether that be the ubiquitous “rights talk” that Mary Anne Glendon references, or, sadly, the future of the Catholic Church.

I am going to posit that the major failure of both American government and American Christianity in these past decades is the abject failure to protect, nurture and dignify the working class. It seems that every single thing we’ve done, whether it is the revision of our tax codes, our constant war-making, the destruction of the family or the la-la-la attitude of so much of our clergy, has fallen on the heads of the working class.

Make no mistake about it, our tax code is now constructed so that government is supported by the workers of this country, even while that same government exports jobs, and degrades our public education into a method of transmitting social values that are anathema to the survival of working class social structure and values. At the same time, our religious leaders, both of the right and the left, have gone off chasing after the whiff of close contact with the powerful and abandoned the full Gospel calls for justice and mercy.

How does this apply to the future of the Catholic Church?

It applies because of all the babbling voices of moral exhortation in our splintered and polarized society, the Catholic Church is the only one that speaks for the whole Gospel of Christ. Almost in spite of her clergy, the Catholic Church has refused to hew either to the right or the left, but has laid claim to the calls to human dignity that are inherent in the teachings of Christ for all people. This means that the same Catholic Church which speaks for the sanctity of human life also speaks for the dignity of the worker, the right of working people to earn a living wage and labor in an environment that treats them like people, not chattel.

Instead of following demonic influences that seek to deny the Beatitudes on the one hand or the Ten Commandments on the other, the Catholic Church recognizes that they are both the same and must be equally honored.

Right now, the Catholic Church in America is foundering like a horse that has gobbled down too much soft grass in the springtime. It has imbibed of the cultural riches and now many of its institutions, including its institutions of higher learning, flat-out refuse to honor Church teaching and be Catholic in a real-world way. When they are called to choose Christ or to choose Caesar, they choose Caesar.

Catholics as a whole have taken to heart the unspoken message of do-what-you-want that they frequently get from those in leadership positions in the Church who do what they want themselves. This feels like a kind of freedom to those who are doing well. But for those on the bottom side of the wheel, this moral dissolution leads to life destruction.

Working class people suffer from being disrespected by everyone from presidential candidates to the Church itself. While presidential candidates Obama and Romney both took a turn at dissing working people in private fund-raisers with rich folk, the Church disses them by ignoring them.

It is not enough to lobby for reversals in the legal shearing of working class lambs that has been taking place in government, although that is certainly salutary. It is also not enough to provide ministries of food, medical care, etc, to people who cannot afford them, although that is both necessary and wonderful.

The Church cannot simply “minister” to working class people in their physical needs and stop there. It must lead and convert the exploited and abused working class. I believe that is what Pope Francis has been saying when he tells bishops that they must get out among the people; that the church is not just another non-profit charity.

The future of the Catholic Church lies in the same place as its past. It lies in doing what Jesus directed Peter to do: Feed my lambs.

Too much of Catholic school education has become a rich kids’ privilege. It does not matter if the kids are Catholic or not. It does not matter if the teachers and officials in these schools follow Church teaching or not.

The Church needs to go back and provide Catholic education that is actually Catholic, and it needs to make sure that it is available to the people who need it most. People who are stuck holding down two or three McJobs simultaneously to support their families cannot nurture their children properly and often end up with failed marriages. Add the abominable inner city schools to this, and what you have is a recipe for one lost generation, going on to attempt to raise another generation which will be even more lost.

Meanwhile, the Church closes its parishes in the inner cities and builds both churches and schools in the rich suburbs “where the people are.” The fact is that the moving vans that trundle the vestments and hymnals from the slums to the wealthy neighborhoods are driving past tens of thousands of people who are in desperate need of the Church. They are being abandoned with the idiotic claim that they are not there.

Father Stanley Rother showed us the way, if we would but see it. We need priests who will go into the inner city and into working class neighborhoods with the same missionary fervor and loving heart that he took to Guatemala. We need a Church that ministers to working class people as if they were actual human beings. The bizarre otherness that has been imposed on them by those who are exploiting and using them has no place in a Church that follows Jesus the carpenter.

Father Rother, servant of God, is a true priest for our times. He embodies both the Church’s past and its future.

The Catholic Church is either a missionary Church, bent on conversion and mission, or it is a sacrament dispenser that has no part in the lives of its people.

I could go on and on about the plight of working people in America. I could, and I probably should, write a book about it one day.

The future of the Catholic Church in America could not possibly be brighter. This nation is imploding morally in both the social and the economic realms.  There is one answer to the anguish and misery this will create, and that answer is the shed blood of Jesus Christ.

The Catholic Church is the full repository of the faith. It does not trim the Gospels to suit secular power politics. As such, it is the one institution that has the prophetic and moral voice to speak for everyone.

As Jesus said, the fields are ripe for the harvest. What the Church needs is laborers who will bring in this harvest.

I don’t think it will find them in its various ivory towers and islands of privilege.

 

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK

“A Shepherd Cannot Run Away,” Father Stanley Rother, Martyr

This is my first blog post for the National Catholic Register. It’s about Father Stanley Rother, martyr, a priest who refused to flee his post to save himself.

American Martyr Fr. Stanley Rother: “A

Shepherd Cannot Leave His Flock”

“The reality is that we are in danger.
This is one of the reasons I have for staying in the face of physical harm.
The shepherd cannot run away at the first sign of danger. Pray for us…”
Father Stanley Rother, 18 months before his martyrdom

In Okarche Oklahoma, the sky goes on forever and the wind never stops blowing.

Father Stanley Rother lies in an unpretentious grave in a tiny church cemetery on a road that you’ll miss if you aren’t looking carefully. His grave, which is one of many with the name “Rother” on it, is marked by a simple black headstone. The only thing that sets it apart is the necklace of stones ringing its edges.

Father Rother began his life here, on this prairie, in this town. He was confirmed and baptized in Holy Trinity Catholic Church, which is the only Catholic Church in Okarche. He offered his first Mass as a priest here.

His life ended in an isolated village in Guatemala when he fell in a hail of bullets. Last week, the Congregation of the Causes of Saints recognized Father Rother as a martyr, which puts him on the long road to official recognition as a saint of the Church.

Stanley Rother was as Oklahoman as the red dirt he tilled on his family’s farm


Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/rhamilton/american-martyr-fr.-stanley-rother/#ixzz3f8wTMLa8

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK

Holy Martyrs of ISIS, Pray for Us

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Harrison Staab https://www.flickr.com/photos/harrystaab/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Harrison Staab https://www.flickr.com/photos/harrystaab/

As they now stand amid the white-robed multitudes, and behold the Throne of the Almighty One, let us speak their names in prayer. As they shimmer within the great cloud of witnesses, let us — in the Communion of Saints — ask their intercession before the Lamb.

+Holy Martyr Milad Makeen Zaky, pray for us, and for the whole world,
+Holy Martyr Abanub Ayad Atiya, pray for your ISIS murderers,
+Holy Martyr Maged Solaimain Shehata, pray for their salvation,
+Holy Martyr Yusuf Shukry Yunan, pray for the release of all their captives,
+Holy Martyr Kirollos Shokry Fawzy, pray for all in the path of ISIS,
+Holy Martyr Bishoy Astafanus Kamel, pray for the displaced, for those made refugees by ISIS,
+Holy Martyr Somaily Astafanus Kamel, pray for the protection of our Holy Lands and our history,
+Holy Martyr Malak Ibrahim Sinweet, pray for those who act now in resistance against ISIS,
+Holy Martyr Tawadros Yusuf Tawadros, pray for those in immediate danger from forces of evil,
+Holy Martyr Girgis Milad Sinweet, pray for those infected with the virus of hatred and extremism,
+Holy Martyr Mina Fayez Aziz, pray for families being challenged, throughtout the world, by ISIS,
+Holy Martyr Hany Abdelmesih Salib, pray aid workers may work together unmolested, to give assistance,
+Holy Martyr Bishoy Adel Khalaf, pray for the targeted clergy and religious of the Near East churches,
+Holy Martyr Samuel Alham Wilson, pray for all people of good will, in every religion, every nation,
+Holy Martyr Whose name we do not know — you “Worker from Awr village” — pray for those in leadership, whose names we know all too well, that that their motives may be purified of political intrigue, and for their salvation,
+Holy Martyr Ezat Bishri Naseef, pray for Jews, throughout the world, chosen of God and so despised,
+Holy Martyr Loqa Nagaty, pray for the “two lungs” of Christianity, East and West, to breathe together,
+Holy Martyr Gaber Munir Adly, pray for the illumination of that which is All-Good,
+Holy Martyr Esam Badir Samir, pray that in beholding it, we will wish to serve it,
+Holy Martyr Malak Farag Abram, pray for the generation in power, that their egos may be put aside and their hearts might be opened to the Way, the Truth and the Life,
+Holy Martyr Sameh Salah Faruq, pray for the generations to come.
O new martyrs, now numbering among the ancients through a malevolent force as old as Eden, keep us particularly in your prayers. Once again, we are focused on the mysterious lands where humanity first came into being, and into knowing, and where all will finally be revealed. Pray that we may put aside all that is irrelevant to the moment and, looking forever to the East, prepare our spirits for the engagements into which we may be called, whether we live amid these places of ancient roads and portals, or in the most modern of dwellings.
Mary, the God-bearer, pray for us,
Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for us,
Saint John the Forerunner, pray for us,
All Holy Men and Women, pray for us.
Amen, Amen.

 

Written by The Anchoress, Elizabeth Scalia

 

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK

The Price of Clean Hands: He Died for Refusing a Bribe

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Arlington County https://www.flickr.com/photos/arlingtonva/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Arlington County https://www.flickr.com/photos/arlingtonva/

Officials who take bribes are committing a crime against just and stable government. Considering the enormous harm that unjust and unstable governments do to vast numbers of people, this is, in a very real sense, a crime against humanity.

Countries that are mired in the corruption of bribe taking find themselves unable to defend their citizens against criminal organizations such as Boko Haram.

This is the story of one young Congolese young man who refused a bribe and paid with his life. The Vatican calls him a Christian martyr.

YouTube Preview Image

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK

Brother of Two ISIS Victims Testifies to Their Christian Faith

 

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Ted https://www.flickr.com/photos/frted/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Ted https://www.flickr.com/photos/frted/

The brother of two of the 21 Coptic Christians murdered in Libya used live television (17 February) to thank their killers for including the men’s declaration of faith in the video of their execution.
Beshir called SAT-7′s weekly worship programme, We Will Sing and said how he and his entire village were proud of the 21 men including his brothers Bishoy Estafanos Kamel (25) and Samuel Estafanos Kamel (23), because they were “a badge of honour to Christianity”.

This video of the call is a blessing and a challenge to watch.

Twenty-one St Stephens were martyred on that beach. The challenge for us is, how can we carry their witness to the whole world?

YouTube Preview Image

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK

Christians are Suffering and Dying for Christ. We Must Stand Witness.

Armen1 1

The first genocide of the 20th Century, the “forgotten genocide,” was the genocide of Armenian Christians.
We must not “forget” again. 

 

Nobody knows. 

Nobody sees.

Nobody knows but me.

That is the lament of victims of discrimination and violence throughout time.

They are trapped in the unimaginable alone experienced by people who fall into the hands of human monsters. It is impossible to describe the depth of terror, horror, pain and absolute, total and complete isolation that is part of the shock of being helpless in the hands of satan’s disciples on this earth.

The survivors can’t tell of it, not really. Because if they try, there are no words. Because if they try, they find that they are speaking to blank walls of incomprehension and denial.

The rest of us don’t want to hear these stories because they remind us of our own deep helplessness. People who have never looked into the pitiless eyes of satan in another person’s face and known that they were his to do with as he chose, do not want to consider that the only thing separating them from a similar fate is geography or chance.

There is nothing special about American Christians that we have not been subjected to the violence that attacks other Christians around the world. We are not more faithful. We are not more holy. Quite the opposite.

The difference between them and us is a matter of government. It is not innate in ourselves. The tightening noose of social discrimination that Christians face here either is a harbinger of worse to come or not, and that, whether we want to accept it or not, does depend on us.

We can choose to fight back and not go there. We can boycott the products of media outlets that defame us. We can speak out about our faith and defend ourselves.

They can’t.

Christians who live in places where killing Christians is always a question and not an anathema, live their lives under a genocidal Sword of Damocles.

We can not turn our backs on them and their stories of great suffering because it upsets us to be reminded that satan walks the earth in human form. We must not avoid them for fear that satan will come at us through the rage we feel over their suffering, that standing witness for them can open a doorway to satan in our own hearts.

People are suffering and dying for Christ, and it is our vocation in these times to stand witness.

Christians in the Middle East and in much of Africa are suffering their own Shoah. They are being annihilated and driven from their homes. They are being kidnapped, raped and sold into slavery.

The satanic barbarity of ISIS, Boko Haram, the Islamic Brotherhood and al-Qaeda are a testament to what giving your heart to satan and following him can turn people into. These men who do these things are fallen, fallen, fallen. They are satan’s disciples.

They are fallen, but the Christians they murder are lifted up. They are martyrs to Our Lord in the same way that Christians have been martyred for Jesus throughout our history. They are His saints. Every Christian that ISIS and Boko Haram murders goes to heaven. And each one of their murderers — unless they face the horrible reality of what they have done and repent from the heart — is destined for the flames of eternal hell. They will burn there alongside Hitler, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Stalin, Osama bin Laden and all their followers.

No matter how they lie to themselves, these things they do are not of God. They are from the pit.

Our job, dear brothers and sisters, is to stand witness to our fallen brothers and sisters in Christ. We must tell their stories. We must lift them and their sacrifice up because they are being lifted up in the exact way that Our Lord was and for the same reason, so that the world can see them and be healed by turning to Him.

We need healing desperately in this world, and that healing we need can only come from one place: The Cross.

When we witness the violent persecution of Christians, we are seeing a re-enactment of Calvary in our world right in front of our eyes, today. Every Christian who suffers and dies at the hands of these satanic human monsters is Christ crucified again in real time in front of our eyes.

Can you wait with me one hour? Jesus asked Peter, James and John.

Will you run away from me again? He asks us. Will you shout crucify Him! as they did? Or, will you just walk away and hide your faces because bearing witness hurts too much?

We must stand witness to these our brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering and dying for Him. We must. It is our charge, our call and duty. It is our vocation before God.

We must write about them and develop a literature for them as the Jews did for those who died in the Holocaust. Because this is another holocaust. It is the holocaust of Christians in an entire region of the world.

Satan’s lessor disciples; the ones who make fun of Christian persecution and who try to bully into silence those of us who must bear witness, are our small cross. Their carping bits of nastiness should be meaningless to us. Offer up whatever pangs you feel for those who have died and pray for those who do this, then keep on keeping on bearing witness to the truth of this martyrdom of a whole people for their faith in Christ.

It is painful and exhausting to stand witness to atrocity. But we must do it, and we must do it in the Lord.

Any lessor action would be running away from Him all over again.

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK

Book Review: Saints and Social Justice, a Guide to Changing the World.

To join the discussion about Saints and Social Justice, A Guide to Changing the World, or to order a copy, go here

Saints and Social Justice is an inspiring book.

Brandon Vogt, who is donating — tithing sounds more like it — 100% of his royalties from this book to Catholic Charities, has put the faces and stories of several saints on the universal call to social justice that comes to us from Our Lord. By doing this, he shows us how the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes and the parable of the Good Samaritan have been acted out in the 2,000 year history of our faith.

Reading this book made me want to be a better person and a better Christian.

This is going to be a short review, because I don’t need to say a lot.

Saints and Social Justice, A Guide to Changing the World is well-researched, well-written, inspiring and enjoyable to read.

I recommend it.

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK

Miracle Approved. Fulton Sheen on the Way to Sainthood.

Archbishop Fulton Sheen may soon be called Blessed Fulton Sheen. Watch the video below and learn more about it.

YouTube Preview Image

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK

Convert to Islam or You Will Be Crucified Like Christ

Don’t let this story fill you with hate.

That is exactly what the devil wants.

Let it fill you with awe at the faith of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Consider the depth of faith and the power of the Holy Spirit to sustain them, even in this. Consider also the great trust God has given them and how fully they lived up to that trust.

They are saints.

The Daily Mail broke a story, complete with graphic photos, of two men who were crucified by Syrian rebels. The rebels put signs on the men saying that they were crucified for using explosive devices against the rebels. It does not say if these men were Christians, but considering their crucifixions, that seems likely. This story has all the sex appeal any publication could want: Graphic photos, horrific suffering and rage-inducing injustice.

The bad guys, it seems are very bad indeed.

But there is another story that, as usual, is not being reported. Christians have been threatened with crucifixion and have been martyred at the hands of the Syrian rebels for refusing to deny Christ and convert to Islam for quite a while now. Mainstream news organizations don’t report this, even though it would be a ratings getter for them.

According to FrontPage Mag, Sister Raghad, the former head of the Patriarchate School in Damascus, has testified that she personally witnessed this. The rebels are telling Christians, “Convert to Islam or you will be crucified like Christ.”

These reports make me even more certain that the American people did the right thing by opposing the plan to use Tomahawk missiles on Syria. If we had done that, it would have destroyed the remaining infrastructure and stability of the country and almost certainly have led to the rebel’s victory in this war.

Soldiers 12724 1

Photo Source: News.Naij.com

The question of who is funding these rebels so that they can wage war against the nation of Syria is a serious one. That kind of money does not come from individual wealth. Even Bill Gates would find himself going broke if he was personally funding a war against an established government, especially a government that is being supported by another government, in this case, Russia.

I’ve read reports that the United States is funding these rebels. That makes a kind of sense. After all, (1) Not many nations have the spare cash to fund whole wars on the side, and (2) Why else would we have been so eager to launch Tomahawk missiles into Syria and thus help these rebels win?

I’m raising these political issues because they lead to a couple of important questions: (1) To what extent, if any, are our tax dollars, which come directly from the money we make by going to work every day, being used in support of the violent persecution of our brothers and sisters in Christ? (2) If we are funding the rebels, who is benefitting from it? It’s not the American people or the people of Syria.

Our brothers and sisters who die for Jesus are in heaven. They have joined the long line of martyrs for Christ that goes back to Stephen.

What would you do if someone who meant it and could do it told you Convert to Islam or you will be crucified like Christ?

Before you give a glib answer, think how hard it is for you to stand up for him against television networks and people on your job. Consider how often students in school convert to the trendy anti-Christian babble the teachers and the other students are peddling, not because they will be crucified, but because they will be shunned and made fun of?

When was the last time you denied Jesus by keeping silent when someone disparaged Him or made a cutting comment about Christians?

Now, answer again. What would you do if someone who meant it and who had the power over you to do it told you Convert to Islam or you will be crucified like Christ?

The people who refuse to deny Jesus in the face of persecution, torture, and certain death are His chosen ones. They are His saints. Their blood is the blood of martyrs.

Don’t let their passion, which is so much like His passion, provoke you to hatred and rage. Let it provoke you to awe and respect.

And action.

If our government is funding these rebels, we the people need to know why our government is allowing them to persecute Christians. We have the right, as citizens of this country to ask and be answered about this.

In the meantime, I intend to pray and ask these martyred ones to intercede for persecuted Christians, everywhere.

Because they, like Him, have been lifted up.

Syria

Photo Source: Archbishop Nassar, Maronite archbishop, Damascus

From FrontPage Mag:

Sister Raghad, the former head of the Patriarchate School in Damascus who currently resides in France, told Vatican Radio how she personally witnessed jihadi rebels terrorize Ma‘loula, including by pressuring Christians to proclaim the shehada—Islam’s credo that there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger—which, when uttered before Muslim witnesses transforms the speaker into a Muslim, with the death penalty for apostasy should the convert later “renege” by returning to Christianity.

According to the nun, those Christians who refused to embrace Islam were

killed in atrocious and violent ways that cannot be described.  If you want examples, they crucified two youths in Ma‘loula for refusing to proclaim Islam’s credo, saying to them: “Perhaps you want to die like your teacher [Christ] whom you believe in?  You have two choices: either proclaim the shehada or else be crucified.  One of them was crucified before his father, whom they also killed.”

In fact, according to earlier media reports from October 2013, soon after Ma‘loula fell to the jihadis, one “shaky voiced” elderly Christian man had reported that he heard the invading jihadis shouting, “Convert to Islam, or you will be crucified like Jesus.”

It is, of course, a documented fact that some Christians in Ma‘loula were put to death for refusing to convert to Islam, such as Minas, an Armenian man, while other families succumbed to pressure and converted to Islam at the tip of the sword.

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK

John Paul II Taught Us What It Means to Follow God to the End

 

Cardinal Sandri reflects on John Paul II’s courage as he followed Our Lord through to the end of his pontificate.

YouTube Preview Image

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X