Saint Thomas Aquinas

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Apathy, Chastisements and the Selling of our Souls

I've heard it said that the idea of selling one's soul is a myth. It is something that comes from tale and lore of past times that have long been surpassed by the advancement of modern man. In this day and age some deny they have a soul. Yet, who can deny that there is an animating life to the body which contains a unique personality attached to unique actions identifiable to each person, and when that animating force leaves, despite the body remaining, there is a loss of that unique personality? It is not my intention to prove the existence of the soul in this post. It is my intention to show that those who believe they have a soul can actually sell it, and that many people are doing this every day without even realizing it.

One of the most self destructing behaviors of modern man is his lukewarmness towards God. The majority of people in this country, and even across the globe still believe that a God or Creator exists.  Most still believe they have a soul that will continue on after it separates from the body. Most believe that that depending on how they live they will inherit some type of eternal bliss or some form of punishment. Those identifying themselves as being Christian however seem to assume that heaven is a given for them, and that only the Hitlers, Stalins and other unsavory characters are destined for eternal damnation. The idea of sin for them has been lost. This idea combined with the heresy that promotes a false sense of eternal security, has caused the loss of countless souls. Most Christians today seem to forget the words of Christ Himself, "Enter ye in at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there are who go in thereat. How narrow is the gate, and strait is the way that leadeth to life: and few there are that find it! Beware of false prophets, who come to you in the clothing of sheep, but inwardly they are ravening wolves." (Matthew 7:13-15)

One of the worst chastisements from God is not material chastisements as many talk about today. This seems to be the focus of many Christians. As we see our country and Western civilization turn from its Christian moral foundation, many who are trying to remain faithful to Christ look to prophesy and tend to focus on material chastisements that are to come in the future. I am not denying the reality of material chastisements, but what seems to be lost is the sense of the spiritual chastisement that the material rests upon. In other words, God sometimes uses material means to awaken the souls of men who are mired in the cesspool of sin. He allows the consequences of sin to awaken the sinful slumber of man. However, the worst punishment is when God allows men to remain blinded by their sin to ruination of their eternal souls.

As we progress towards a world that denies the reality of absolute moral truths, we are seeing what a great spiritual chastisement looks like. Across the world much of humanity acts as if God does not exist, yet most will pay lip service to Him. Worse, many act as if they are their own gods, denying the existence of evil and sin. A portion of our population believes it has now "progressed to the point of calling good evil, and evil good. "Woe to you that call evil good, and good evil: that put darkness for light, and light for darkness: that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter. Woe to you that are wise in your own eyes, and prudent in your own conceits." (Isaiah 5:20-21) As a result we are seeing the loss of souls at an exponential rate, including many who call themselves Christian. If we recall the vision of hell the children of Fatima were shown by Our Lady, they said that the they saw souls falling into hell at such as volume that it almost resembled a snowstorm.

Why are all of these people falling into hell after their earthly lives have ended? Was it because they were like Hitler or Stalin? Was it because they murdered or were armed bandits of some sort? Were they the lowest of the bunch? Are there so many of these types of villanous people that hell could be flooded with them on a daily basis? I don't think so. A large portion of them are those who are apathetic to God. They are the average man or women living material focused lives. They are those who continue to live in sin without seeking the life giving grace and love of God. They are those living in adultery, those living in impurity, those who steal just a little bit, those whose greed leads to usury and defrauding workers of their wages, those who have told that little white lie, those whose pride causes the loss of charity for one another, those who abuse themselves in drink, those who speak ill of their neighbors, those who are complicit with evil and the list goes on. In other words, these people falling into hell are the average Joe Schmoes who have committed average sins for which they have not repented.

As society turns apathetic to God, God has let us have our way. Thus, the vision of the children at Fatima of people falling into hell was a vision of a spiritual chastisement. God leaves man in his apathetic ways to the ruination of his soul. "Wherefore God gave them up to the desires of their heart, unto uncleanness, to dishonour their own bodies among themselves.  Who changed the truth of God into a lie; and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator..." (Romans 1:24-25)Yet, what are to think of material chastisements? I think that the material chastisements are less of a punishment for they can be tools used by God to get the attention of those who are apathetic to Him. Some may say that this presents a cruel God that was invented by the Jews as is presented in the Old Testament. What many fail to see is that man's sins are the primary cause of many material chastisements. Wars, murder, the spread of many diseases, physical and emotional trauma, depression etc. are caused by man's own immoral choices. They are caused by man himself living outside the grace of God. It is my belief that when these consequences of sin are lessened by God that this is a more severe punishment. When God allows the consequences of sin to remain, man can often find his way back to God. It is a way that God leaves His fingerprints, or a bread trail so that man can find his way back to Him. When God removes the bread trail, then the real disaster begins. This is where we find ourselves today. Many of us live in the soft circumstances of sin.

Today man lives apathetic to God with all the luxuries of life, at least here in the US and most of Western civilization. Most of us are fat and happy and have a good meal on our plates each evening and a warm bed to sleep in. Just look at the average American who is overweight and overeats and enjoys the fruits of life. Many of these people however are living in a state of unrepentant sin and suffer no real consequences for them. Many take anti-depressants to deaden their conscience, or lose themselves in a bottle of wine or in empty chatter. In essence, the end result is in man selling his soul to the devil. A person who lives in a state of sin without the grace of God will not inherit the kingdom of heaven. That means that not only will the Hitlers and Stalins of the world suffer the loss of their souls to eternal ruin, but those who live average lives apathetic to God. Those who say they believe in God but never give Him the worship that is due to Him, and who do not seek His loving grace as He has revealed it to them, will join the ranks of the Hitlers and Stalins. Are we to run to the Church out of fear for losing our souls?

A fear of God is a good thing if it is properly understood. The fear of God goes hand in hand with the love of God. God the Father loves us so much that he Sacrificed His only begotten Son. He is not a cruel God, but one that loves and deserves our love, for He loved us first. We should then set our eyes upon the cross if we are to set our souls free from the hands of sin and the evil one. Gaze and meditate upon a crucifix. We are held in chains by sin until we gaze our eyes upon the loving Savior Jesus Christ. For those who seek Him, we find ourselves in a time of great mercy, while those who do not will perish in their sins as a frog dies in a slowly boiled pot. Christ calls us from the cross to His one and only Church, the Catholic Church. He calls us to be baptized, and to receive the Holy Spirit by giving ourselves to Him wholly. We not only give Him the honor and worship that is due to Him in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, but He sustains us by His love in the Most Holy Sacrament of His Body Blood, Soul and Divinity. He also calls us when we fall into sin to the Sacrament of Confession so we can reconcile ourselves to the Holy Trinity by repenting of our sin. We can either sell our souls to the devil or we can let Christ free our souls by His most pure Sacrifice on the cross. Indeed we "preach Christ crucified." (1 Cor 1:23)

Yes the material chastisements must come. When they do come this will be a sign of great things to follow. Many will turn to God when they see the horror of sin manifested in material ways. As long as we lay in the slumber of sin, things will become progressively worse. This is the year of mercy and indeed God offers us great graces for those who seek them. For those of us who are practicing the faith, let us not think we are above anyone, lest we too shall die in our pride. We have not sacrificed enough for others as Our Lady has asked of us. We have not prayed enough and we had not loved our brothers and sisters enough. Do we have true charity in our souls? "If I speak with the tongues of men, and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.  And if I should have prophecy and should know all mysteries, and all knowledge, and if I should have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And if I should distribute all my goods to feed the poor, and if I should deliver my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing." (1 Cor 13:1-3) So let us also who practice the Catholic faith live in the love of God so that others may come to love Him, lest we also end up selling our souls.

Let St. Catherine of Sienna's words penetrate our hearts, "...dearest brother! Sleep no longer in the death or mortal sin. I tell you, the ax is already laid to the root of the tree. Pick up the shovel of holy fear of God and let the and of love guide it. Come! Shovel our of the filth of your soul and body!... Run back to your creator. Open your souls eye and see how great is the fire of His charity, that He has put up with you and hasn't commanded the earth to open and swallow you, or the wild beasts to devour you! On the contrary, the earth has shared its fruits with you, the sun its warmth and light, and the sky its movement, so that you might live, giving you a bit of time that you might be able to change your ways. And this he has done for love alone." (Letter T21/G306)

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Book Recommendation: Nothing Superfluous

If there is one book you read this year on the Mass, this is it. Father James W. Jackson, FSSP has penned a marvelous explanation of the the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Everything is explained down to the vestments, and everything has a meaning, sometimes more than one. For example, did you know that in the Mass all seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are prayed for? Did you ever wonder why five crosses are carved onto a newly consecrated altar? What about those strict rubrics we have in the ancient Rite, and what do they mean? Get the book to find out. The book clocks in at 352 pages and contains a nice glossary.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Mother Angelica RIP April 20, 1923 - March 27, 2016

Mother Mary Angelica of the Annunciation
April 20, 1923 - March 27, 2016

Today at 5PM, Easter Sunday, Mother Angelica, the founder of EWTN has passed away in the Lord. Arguably one of the most influential figures of American Catholicism and beyond, will long be remembered for the founding of EWTN along with her wit, humor and wisdom which she often displayed on her television show, 'Mother Angelica Live'. Mother founded EWTN in 1980 and went live on August 15th, 1981. The network now reaches 250 million viewers in 140 countries and is the largest religious media network in the world. It is a fitting day for Mother to pass away into the arms of the Lord on this Easter Sunday. She is one of the few bright lights to have graced the television airwaves in our time.

Mother was born in Canton, Ohio, entered The Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration in 1944, and later founded a new house for the order in 1962, in Irondale Alabama, a suburb of Birmingham. EWTN headquarters is now at that location. While traveling in Bogata in 1995, she had revelation to build a shrine honoring Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. In 1996 this inspiration was realized when groundbreaking began in Hanceville Alabaman where The Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament was founded. The sisters moved there in 1999. For many years she hosted her show, 'Mother Angelica Live' which has never truly been replaced. In 2000 she handed over control of EWTN to a board of laymen and in 2001 she suffered a stroke. Throughout Mother's life she suffered from various illnesses and health issues, yet always demonstrating courage in carrying her cross for Christ.

I have not had the privilege to meet Mother, but I have enjoyed the many fruits she has given us from her efforts to bring the Gospel over the airwaves of EWTN. After my conversion to the Catholic faith EWTN was on my television all hours of the day. I have also had the pleasure of visiting both the shrine and EWTN headquarters and they have always been memorable experiences. Although I believe her to be a Saint, say a prayer for her repose over the coming days. Her funeral will be on Friday April 1st. EWTN will be running a series of programs honoring her memory. To learn more about her incredible story, grab a copy of her biography.

Monday, February 8, 2016

A Traditional Catholic View of the Presidential Candidates: Part II Hillary Clinton

Anything but honorable.


The Democratic Party of today is nothing like the Democratic Party before the great depression, that is the era before the New Deal and FDR. The Democratic Party has gradually drifted further and further towards liberal progressivism since that time, to what we see now under the Clinton/Obama regimes.  Looking at this from an American political vantage point in relation to my Catholic faith, there is little in common with the ideology of the modern Democratic Party and that of my Catholic political and moral positions. That being said, what is now considered to be a conservative Republican today is far from the conservative positions of a Barry Goldwater or even a Ronald Reagan for that matter. I will address American conservatism in my upcoming posts, which focus on the Republican candidates.

Before examining Hillary Clinton’s qualifications for president, I want to make clear that the very positions of the modern Democratic platform are contrary to everything I believe to be advantageous to the common good of society. I cannot support this view from either a Catholic position or even from a traditional American conservative position. In the conservative American political context this means that a larger, controlling, socialistic government is in opposition to the common good of society. It also means that there are certain moral principles, which are derived from the natural law, which government cannot transcend. The progressive mindset is the opposite. Their ideology for example, promotes the murder of innocent human life in the womb, and the false notion of social justice such as the promotion of the redefinition of marriage. These are examples of strains of an immoral disease that need to be treated before they infect the whole body, which is coming quickly. This can only be done by a political entity that is willing to treat the noxious disease of a tyrannical government hellbent on promoting moral corruption. Is there a party that will fight the political entity which seeks to enshrine by law, moral decay? Or are the two parties now heading in the same direction? That question will not be answered in this post. What I will say is that the Democratic Party has now essentially progressed into a pseudo-socialist party. This is readily seen by the trial balloon sent up under the personality of Bernie Sanders, which just 15 years ago would have been blown out of the sky by the American public. Today that is not the case. I personally oppose any notion of liberalism or socialism as being an authentic engine that should fuel the American political establishment. A country run under the ideology of American liberalism is doomed to fail. This immediately puts me at odds with any of the DNC candidates, including Hillary Clinton. Be that as it may, I want to assess Hillary Clinton individually as I have done thus far with Donald Trump. 

Assessment of Hillary Clinton

I will be bold enough to say that there is no one more corrupt in the American political system that I know of than Hillary Clinton. Virtue is no friend to this conniving, huckster of a woman. The list of scandals tied to her and her husband is legion. Hillary and Bill’s name and legacy have been associated with scandal ever since their political birth in Arkansas. Here is a small list of some of them. It would take a book to cover them all in any detail.

1993- Travelgate: The Clintons take presidential office and fire everyone in the travel office and replace them with their buddies and then lie about why they fired them. It was proven that Hillary lied about it and the Clintons were investigated. They were found to have fired the employees for good no reason and had to reinstate them. Why did they do this? There were millions of dollars to be had from putting their buddies in control of it.

1994- Whitewater: The Clintons and their real-estate ventures were investigated for fraud. The Whitewater venture was co-owned by friends of the Clintons, the McDougals. Hillary as First lady was subpoenaed for it. Amazingly the documents, which were subpoenaed, were lost or stolen. What is more coincidental is that the man who supposedly had the documents, Vince Foster turned up dead during the investigation. Eventually Susan McDougal took the fall for Hillary, but was conveniently pardoned by Hillary’s crooked partner in crime, her husband Bill. The investigation lasted nearly four years and cost us taxpayers nearly 150 million dollars.

Filegate: The Clintons illegally requested FBI background reports on nearly 1000 Republican officials. Hillary was investigated in 1996 for this but was able to escape by having their security director take the fall for it. He was forced to resign.

Chinagate: The Clintons in exchange for political favors lined their pockets with campaign donations from their China connections. The DOJ investigated and stated that people within the Whitehouse knew about it. They dodged this one as well.

The Clinton Pardon Party: Before leaving office Bill Clinton pardoned 450 criminals many of them serving time for drug trafficking, terrorism, kidnaping and other horrible crimes. Hillary’s was involved with some of her friends receiving pardon favors. One for example who had been charged for tax evasion was pardoned and coincidentally Hillary received money from the person who was pardoned. Hillary received over $500,000 from one drug trafficker who was later pardoned by Bill. The Clinton pardon party was so despised that even the former Democratic president Jimmy Carter called the pardons disgraceful.

Senategate: Hillary in her NY senate race was fined $50,000 for under reporting campaign donations.

2012 Benghazi: Hillary covers up the investigation on the attack. Then testified that she had submitted all the documents that she had for the investigation. Almost two years later another 40 documents had been uncovered and we still do not know if we have them all.

The Clinton Foundation: A “foundation” totally corrupt with so many conflicts of interest we can't count them all. Money is mysteriously being funneled to her campaign pot through “donations” to the foundation. It is illegal to take large amounts of money from individuals for a campaign, but not so through a “Foundation.” Very convenient. In Haiti the Clinton were ripping the poor impoverished people, "Haitian activists protested outside of the Clinton Foundation in New York over the loss of “billions of dollars” that was meant to help rebuild after the devastating 2010 earthquake." Just remember, she is for the poor right?

Current- Emailgate: Hillary is found to have had classified information stored on her home email server which is clearly forbidden under federal law. So far she has also managed to dodge this one as well. I have to wonder who is covering for this woman.

I could go and on with one Hillary scandal after another. Her political career is littered with them. Honesty is not in her vocabulary. She has taken Saul Alinski’s advice to heart, and as long as the end she desires is achieved, the means are of no consequence to her. Saul Alinsky once wrote, “To say that corrupt means corrupt the ends is to believe in the immaculate conception of ends and principles.” I believe Hillary has taken on the very essence of this quote. In case you do not know, she wrote her senior thesis in 1962 on Alinski and she was sympathetic to the character of this immoral monster.


Where does Hillary stand on moral issues such as abortion? In 2009 she won the Margaret Sanger award from Planned Parenthood. That should give you an idea as to how pro-abortion she is. Margaret Sanger is another one of Hillary’s heroes. It is not surprising to find that she admired so many deplorable, 10th rate characters over the course of her life. As far as abortion goes she has stated, “I am and always have been pro-choice, and that is not a right any of should take for granted. There are a number of forces at work in our society that would try to turn back the clock and undermine a woman’s right to chose, and [we] must remain vigilant.” I find it alarming that one who supports the efforts of “social justice” and “human rights” finds it deplorable that anyone would seek to defend the life of an innocent child, who has every much as right to life as the mother does. Hillary also defends partial birth abortion if it means saving the life of the mother. Yet as we know, mothers who love their children would at any time sacrifice their own lives for the life of their beloved children. Not according to Clinton, who selfishly says of partial birth abortion, “Of course it’s a horrible procedure. No one would argue with that. But if your life is at stake, if your health is at stake…” This mentality is insulting to all of the heroic mothers who gave their lives in childbirth so their precious children could live, even if it was without them. Finally on her website she has as reason #13 of why she should be elected in bold type, it says “Hillary will defend Planned Parenthood and women’s health care from Republican attacks.” Hillary is a pro-abortion as they come.

Before I move on, I want to address the error that the liberals are perpetuating concerning “women’s health.” For one, health is strictly defined as restoring a proper working order to the human body. Therefore any procedure, treatment or “medication” that would stop or impede the body from functioning properly cannot be classified as healthcare, period. Therefore, contraception, which objectively stops a women’s body from working properly according to the natural order cannot be considered healthcare. Nor can the killing of a baby in mother’s womb be classified as healthcare. These acts simply do not meet the definition of healthcare. They are instruments of deformation and thus they cannot be funded under any healthcare program. I will not get into distinctions in this post concerning ectopic pregnancies, double effect, etc. The point here is that the majority of abortions and contraceptive acts are being done in effort to deform or stop a women’s body from operating according to its natural end. Therefore Hillary’s statement here rings hollow to any right thinking person not swept away in the fantastical liberal chicanery, which attempts to call night day, and day the night. Indeed the emperor does not have new clothes. Lets stop pretending he does.

I still remember this cover from when I was a kid.
Her View of Government

As all liberals, Hillary holds to the fantasy of government being the solution to all of society’s problems. This is one of the egregious errors of the crippled liberal mind today. The liberal’s ego is so blinded by pride that they think their government programs can build a utopia. There is nothing more dangerous than an ideology, which seeks to create a government designed to control and dictate to its people on a grand scale in order to implement policies, which are designed to create the “perfect” society. This eventually results in unjust attacks on a person's liberty, such as the ones we see by liberals today. We are seeing an increase of an attack on free speech in many liberal countries for example. If one speaks negatively about the vice of homosexuality in certain places you can be prosecuted. Wherever liberal policies are put in place injustice and loss of liberty will follow in its wake. Hillary and Obama for example, do not want the private sector to be involved in healthcare. Instead they want their government to control and run it. In order to do this however, they must calculate a way to take your hard earned money to pay for it. What is worse, if you decide you do not want their healthcare, they make it illegal for you not to have it. Once they have done taken away all of your options they have you cornered under governmental control.

This type of action is a clear usurpation of the US Constitution, but this has not stopped the liberal juggernaut. This leads up to my next point, which is the very likely possibility of this demented lady appointing more asinine liberty bashers to the US Supreme Court. This cements in place another seat of power they can use to pass laws so they can "legally" steal more of your money and force you to buy more government services you don’t want. And they will implement it under the façade of just taxation. The liberals can’t count the ways to spend your hard earned money. Clinton says on her website that community college should be tuition free for everyone. Guess what? You are going to pay for it. There is no question about it, Hillary stands for big government, big taxation, less personal freedom and ultimately social disorder. Watch out as the vultures will eventually come home to nest in the stench-ridden vomit that spews into the streets of American towns and cities across this country that flow forth from the bowels of American liberalism. The face of this American liberalism is Hillary Clinton and the Democratic party. 

For the Working Class?

The next myth I want to address is the myth that the Democrats are for the working class people. How many times have we heard Obama and Hillary talk about the middle class being taxed too much? Guess what? Under Obama the middle class taxes have gone up, not down. For example, the “affordable” healthcare act contains 20 different tax increases on the middle class. You just have not seen them yet! The tax credits the middle class once had were taken away under the Obama presidency, we have seen that. For example a person making $50000.00 a year saw $1000.00 of his disposable income be snatched up by the greedy talons of Obama’s despotic regime in 2013. Hillary has praised Obama and the programs he has implemented over his 8-year reign and she says she will continue on in his footsteps. We keep hearing the myth that the Democrats are for the working class, yet their actions tell us a different story. The only reason a Democrat will help a poor person is to buy a vote. They steal from the working class and enslave them with their own money! Not only is the working class individual paying more taxes, so are small business owners. The fact is, their big government ideology ensures that the middle class will never having a chance of keeping more of their hard earned money. This is just another example of the Janus faced character of Hillary’s political party and the liberal ideology that fuels it. 

The Verdict

Could I as a practicing Catholic ever vote for a Hillary Clinton? I think you can deduce that the answer is a resounding hell no. For that matter no American who believes in anything the founding fathers set up for our country would ever support such chicanery. Our country simply cannot afford another presidential term under Democratic Party rule. There is not much left standing after 8 years under the Obama regime. The vultures are circling overhead waiting for the complete demolition of the American way of life so they can feed on our dead carcasses, and Hillary is just the person to give them a perfect feeding ground. 

Saturday, February 6, 2016

A Traditional Catholic View of the Presidential Candidates: Part I Donald Trump-Updated 2-8-16


After watching coverage of the presidential debates, the general media coverage of the candidates, and after reading news stories covering the various candidates, I have come to a sad conclusion. The conclusion is that America little to offer in the quality of political candidates running for president. We have turned into a vice ridden country which tolerates moral degeneration and as a result we tolerate vice ridden political representatives. Since a large portion of America tolerates vice as a norm of human behavior we should not be surprised that we produce no good fruit on the political vine. I believe that this toleration of vice goes even further to a celebration of vice. "Vice is the new virtue" should be the slogan of the vast majority of the candidates and many of their supporters. There is no whisper of virtue among the lips of a Hillary Clinton or a Donald Trump. Although varying in degrees of immorality, I believe neither are fit to serve the American people as models of virtue, intellectual prowess or pillars of wisdom, and thus do not objectively qualify as presidential material. These two candidates appear to be at this point in time, the two most popular among their parties. A shame indeed. 

In this series of posts I will examine each of the major candidates running for president. I will attempt to judge them all by the same criteria. I have no allegiance to any party or ideology. These blog posts may upset some readers, for that I apologize in advance. But, I think that much needs to be said in light of the upcoming election cycle concerning faithful Catholics. First I will state that these are my opinions based on my personal observations and nothing more. I do not intend to tell anyone who to vote for. I am giving you my opinion on the viability of these candidates based on a specific criteria, and damn the torpedoes. I am unapologetic in being a faithful Catholic first, and a proud American second. In other words, God comes before any political or nationalistic leanings. I also do not view the American political system as the pinnacle of all political systems. I do however have to operate within these imperfect confines due to my place in time and history. 

I want first and foremost to examine these candidates in light of their propensity to virtue or lack of it as they demonstrate on a day to day basis. I will judge the consistency of their stances on what I consider as a faithful Catholic to be critical moral issues. As they say, one cannot have politics without morality. These issues include but are not limited to abortion, "gay marriage", euthanasia, just war, etc. I personally find these issues to be of critical importance in determining a viable candidate. For example, one who cannot defend the innocent life of a baby in the womb is not going to lose a nights sleep over any of the other vices that pass for virtue today. Stealing, lying, cheating, slandering, are all just tools of the trade for an immoral sub-defective politician. At the end of each post I will give my thoughts on whether I would vote for the candidate in the primary and in the presidential election, and under what circumstances I would do so.

Assessment of Donald Trump

On this first post I want to look at one of the most surprising and interesting candidates running. He is the master of reality TV, the golden haired billionaire, also know as the 'Trumpster' it is none other than the amorphous, raucous candidate from New York, 'The Donald' Trump. While I can appreciate his sarcastic and amusing non-politically correct wise cracks, I cannot stand behind someone who has no real convictions other than a popularized slogan of "making America great again." What does that even mean? Does it mean building a wall across the Mexican border? Does it mean stopping abortion on demand? Does it mean putting freedom back in the hands of the average American? Who truly knows? His positions on these have changed over the course of his career. I am not saying that people cannot change their positions over the course of their lives. What I can examine is how a person has demonstrated throughout his or her life, virtue. I think that one can talk a good game, but when it comes to leading people, a demonstration of the virtuous life must precede one's words. In Aristotle's terms, a good lyre plays the right notes at the right rhythm, and is known to be a good lyre player because he demonstrates it by his actions, not just because he says he is a good lyre player.

In my opinion, Donald Trump has demonstrated over his life up to this presidential race a great lack of virtue. For one, he has been "married" three times. He has children from all three of them. The man is arrogant, shows no sign of humility and I guess it is easy for him to mistake himself for King Solomon. Why not add in a few concubines while he is at it to top it all off? A man of great character indeed! A man who cannot keep a commitment to his wife should now be trusted with a country of millions? I won't stop there. What does Trump really believe? How many times can a man contradict himself on public television? Only the master of contradiction himself, Obama can relate to such Janus faced shenanigans. Do we really want another president who cannot remember, nor cares what he said from one day to the next? I want to bring up a list of moral questions for which Trump has given definitive answers on, such as the atrocity of abortion on demand.

For one, he has been strongly pro-choice his entire life. This is well documented. Just before running on the Republican ticket he declared that he was a newly converted pro-lifer. Convenient indeed. I personally do not buy it. There are far too many strong statements made by him in the past such as saying that he would not ban partial birth abortion, that give me pause not to trust him in any matters of grave moral importance. Even after answering the question whether or not he was pro-life, he qualified his yes by stating, "with caveats, life of the mother, incest, and rape.” For the sake of argument, even if I were to give him the benefit of the doubt on this matter, what are we to think about his views on God? Trump after being asked recently if he asks God for forgiveness for anything wrong he has done emphatically stated, "I am not sure I have. I just go on and try to do a better job from there. I don't think so," ... "I think if I do something wrong, I think, I just try and make it right. I don't bring God into that picture. I don't." This is unfortunately a typical anti-intellectual response from Trump, which I detest. I just can't take the guy seriously most of the time.

This is his view of God? How can one who says they believe in God, and who claims to be a Christian, (Presbyterian) make such an absurd statement? One must ask what Trump really believes, because someone who claims to love the Bible and who claims to be a Christian is mocking our Lord Jesus Christ by saying that he keeps God out of the picture when it comes to forgiveness. With this mentality it is not hard to understand why arrogance secretes from the very pores of his body such as when he said, "When someone crosses you, my advice is ‘Get Even!’ That is not typical advice, but it is real life advice. If you do not get even, you are just a schmuck! When people wrong you, go after those people because it is a good feeling and because other people will see you doing it. I love getting even." Again, this mentality is far from a virtuous disposition. As far as I am concerned, rather than running for president, Trump needs to figure out what he really believes concerning God because he does not demonstrate that he really believes in anyone other than himself.

I want to now take a look at his aggrandizement of material wealth. It is easy for Americans to get caught up in this mentality, since many of us aspire to attain more wealth ourselves. Trump is supposedly worth 4 billion dollars. He loves to talk about how much money he has made and how rich he is, as if this was the zenith of all virtue. “The beauty of me is that I’m very rich” Trump once stated.  The trouble is that the aggrandizement of wealth is not one of the virtues. Who knows of the vice-ridden deals he had to make with the mob to get his business bargains done, his towers built, etc. Who built skyscrapers in New York and New Jersey without dealing with the mob? Those who know the business well say no one has, particularly in the era when he struck his deals. This experience may help him in the sleazy environment of American politics, but is that what we as Americans are aiming for in realm of virtue among our political establishment? Let me be clear, there is nothing wrong with being successful or even having wealth in and of itself, but Trump's campaign is clearly run on this mentality that material wealth is king, and that he is the master of it.

Will Trump despite his colossal bank account still be able to be bought by special interests? This may indeed separate him from the other candidates and make him more insulated from lobbyists. I think this is a good thing, and I will not deny that this is a positive attribute concerning the specific issue of the special interest lobby influence on Trump. The trouble is, this in and of itself does not guarantee that Trump would make any better political decisions than anyone else who was being influenced by the lobby. I can substantiate this position because as I have stated above, he lacks virtue. He does not possess the needed attributes like humility, prudence, knowledge or the wisdom required to hold such a high office, and make prudent decisions. I have heard Catholics say that because he is a successful billionaire that this somehow qualifies him to be president. Just because you can build a business does not automatically qualify you to lead others from a high position of political office. If the aggrandizement of wealth at any expense is now considered to be a Catholic virtue then I guess you have an argument for Trump regarding his financial position. 

The Verdict

Republican Primary:  Trump is not on the top of my list for the Republican nomination for presidential candidate. I put him towards the bottom. He would not be my nominee at the voting box in the Republican primaries. I do not think he is very smart, and I do not think he has any true moral convictions for which he would stake his life or career on. He does not come across to me as an authentic man of integrity. I do not view him as a particular well spoken individual. He is certainly not an intellectual. I would favor Rand Paul for example, over Trump in the primary. Unfortunately Rand now appears to be out of the race so that will narrow my options. I will have to pick from one of the others.

Presidential Election: Lets me close this post by posing the question we all have to answer. Would I vote for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders in the presidential race? Grudgingly, reluctantly, I would pull the lever for him with head in hand, making a face palm, over a Hillary Clinton or a Bernie Sanders. What makes him a better choice than either of these two? I have a strong distaste for those who openly support a socialistic ideology and the monumental immorality that emanates from supporting such an ideology. Not to give away my forthcoming posts, but this disqualifies the two Democratic candidates. I will examine both of them closer in my upcoming articles.

What about voting for Trump? After all, I just got through telling you about how bad I think he is. So let me explain the casting of my reluctant, face palm vote for him over the Democrats. Despite Trump's inconsistency and lack of clarity on moral issues such as abortion, and his lack of demonstration for virtue, I do not think he would further many of the socialist causes that are being shoved down our throats by the Democrats. I do not think he would show further support for groups such as Planned Parenthood for example, and it is even possible that he may try to cut them from the government subsidy. Even if he is inconsistent with his stand on abortion, I do not think he would be hellbent on passing further legislation to increase abortion funding. I do not think he would further the "gay" agenda, or take any keen interest in taking away more freedom from the American people. 

I also think he would be more likely to appoint better Supreme Court justices than either of the two Democrats. It is at least better odds at the craps table in regard to the upcoming Supreme appointments. We know where a Hillary or Bernie stands on that. The last thing America needs is for the Supreme Court to be stacked with more liberal appointees. The question of Trump's foreign policy is one that is not very clear to me, and to be honest, this is one of the unknowns that bothers me. Trump comes off to me as kind of a loose canon and I wonder how he would fare in dealing with the many challenges of world affairs. How would he be any different than Clinton or Sanders in this respect? I am honestly not too sure, but I would again roll the dice. Knowing what I know about the corruption of a Clinton or the madness of a Sanders, I do not think he would pose any more danger to our country. 

This closes my first post in this series, giving you some of my brief thoughts on the viability of Donald Trump as a presidential candidate. I would sum up my thoughts on voting for Trump in the presidential election with a quotation from St. Thomas More, "What you cannot turn to good, you must at least make as little bad as you can." I would love to hear your thoughts.

Update: 2-8-16
As I have said in this post, you just can't tell where Trump really stands on anything. In a recent interview he was asked, “When President Trump is in office can we look for more forward motion on equality for gays and lesbians?” His answer? “Well, you can,” Trump answered. ” And look, again, we’re going to bring people together, and thats your thing and other people have their thing. We have to bring all people together and if we don’t we’re not going to have a country anymore.”

So I stand corrected in my statement above where I said I did not think he would advance the homosexual agenda. This makes it even harder to vote for him over the Democrats since this makes his stance on critical moral issues closer to theirs. This makes the odds of rolling the dice on him much less favorable. As more cracks begin to appear in his moral judgments, the likelihood of him getting a vote from me becomes slimmer. If he is just saying this to get votes, then this again proves the immense lack of virtue in his character. I think this guy is now the worst candidate on the Republican ticket by far. He is no conservative even by American political standards to be sure. Lets be sure he does not get the nomination. As I learn more I will continue to update this post. So check back often.

Update: 7-22-16
So, the Donald has become the Republican candidate. It has been over 5 months since my last update, and many things have once again changed. Am I overly excited that Trump is the nominee? No. Has his demeanor changed throughout the race? Not much. He is still as bombastic as ever, and his position continues to change on issues day by day. That being said, is he a better candidate than Hillary? I reluctantly have to answer in the affirmative. If Hillary gets in office we know what we are going to get, more of the same. She will nominate liberal supreme court justices, and the right to bear arms is the next target, among other things. Simply put, Hitlery Rotten Clinton is the probably the most evil person to ever run for president.

Will Trump nominate good supreme court justices? Its hard to say, but in this case, the devil you don't know is a better gamble than the devil you do know. The left wing radicalism that is entrenched in the White House has got to go out with this election. Unfortunately the only way that is going to happen is to vote for Trump. So at this point in time, I am back leaning in that direction. My disgust for Hitlery is the driving force for a vote for Trump, not my enthusiasm for Trump. What a sad day it is that this is the best America has to offer for candidates. 


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Pope Francis and "Immanentizing the Eschaton"

It is my determination that we are living at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to our culture, where little light shines upon us from above. I am not declaring that no light shines from above, but little. The absolute fact of man's original sin manifests itself in many different ways over the centuries. I think that we live in cultural cycles where man suffers enough by his own sin that he eventually looks up and realizes that God has been there all along and that he has committed a grave evil by ignoring him. It is then that man is able to be drawn back to the top of a more civilized, Godly, moral culture.

We find ourselves now looking downward turned in upon ourselves. We as men look once again to build our own utopia on earth believing we have no need for God. Every time in history man turns his back on God and seeks to build a utopia it is a catastrophic failure, resulting in another 'massacre of the innocents.'  I was reading William F. Buckley recently and he cleverly said this myopic, worldly mentality was man's attempt to "immanentize the eschaton." I thought to myself, what a splendid phrase! What does this mean you ask, as I did.  It describes the efforts of man as he looks to deny the transcendence of God. Man elevates his own work in time to be the measure of all things. This is the very definition of anti-Christ. It is man saying to God in so many words or actions, "I will not serve", or "I will serve only myself, I am the measure of all things." We call this arrogance the sin of pride. This results not only in the prevalence of vice and sin in contrast to virtue and holiness, but it results in the denial that any moral absolutes exist! It also denies the need for conversion to any transcendent God. Thus all that remains is man and his own delusional ideas of building a perfect world. The world is his only end.

It is not so surprising anymore to see this in the public square where God has been relegated to a mere superstition, having no relevance in the "real world." However, what is completely appalling is the Catholic Church's unraveling belief in any transcendent, unchangeable God, and replacing it with a worldly philosophy which has its end in the world. This is readily apparent by the open rejection of doctrine and dogma by many bishops, priests and laity in the Church, and the adoption of the ideal of "social justice." I will get to that question in a moment. But, we have reached an even lower level of the metaphorical barrel which I spoke of earlier. We now have a Pope who insists that man is the center of all things, and we now have a God who is not concerned with doctrine, dogma, moral absolutes or right worship. The world takes precedent over the divine, as we saw with the Vatican light show. We have a Pope who now constantly "immanentizes the eschaton."

Now back to the social justice question. If we are to talk of social justice we must define what its proper place is in reference to the eschaton. While all Catholics should express a concern and duty to provide for the poor, or stand up for the unjustly oppressed, today's Church, including Pope Francis seem to be fixated on "social justice" alone. As we know, good works are only the result of the participation in God's grace. Without this, there are no "good works" in the context of flowing from God's grace. This means that as a practicing Catholic, man must have faith in God as He has revealed Himself through His one and only Church. That is He is first a transcendent being, first mover, sustainer of man who cannot change and who is due right worship. Thus doctrine, dogma, faith and the works that man does cannot be separated. Social justice is not something we do, its part of the very fabric of being a believer. But to be clear, to lose the Transcendent in favor of the works of man in time for an end that exists only in time, is to reject the true eschaton, or end, which is God. How has Pope Francis manifested this prevailing worldly mentality to the world? In many ways.

For one, he never espouses a traditional Catholic viewpoint of eschatological action. Pope Francis rarely if ever calls anyone to conversion into the Catholic Church. Instead he gives a false impression when he meets at these interfaith dialogues, where he says things like, "Many think differently, feel differently, seeking God or meeting God in different ways. In this crowd, in this range of religions, there is only one certainty that we have for all: we are all children of God,” In fact, in the true sense of what the Church has defined as "children of God", is defined as those who are children by grace. This means that unless one possesses divine faith and divine grace, one is not a "child of God." Again Pope Francis addresses this is a worldly sense, that since we are created by God, we are then children of God. This is true only in the order of creation, not in the order of divine affiliation, which is what a Catholic should be addressing. To further my point, Pope Francis dos not ask for prayer for the conversion of sinners. Instead he says my "prayer request this month: that sincere dialogue among men and women of different faiths may produce fruits of peace and justice. I have confidence in your prayers.” What is this other than "immanentizing the eschaton?"

I want to stop for a moment and look at Pope Francis' recent decision to commemorate the horrific and scandalous event of the Protestant Reformation. This heretical event has largely been responsible for the collapse of Western Christendom, and the strong moral principles that were built upon it. Pope Francis frequently talks about unity, but what is his idea of unity? It hardly seems that his definition of unity is the same as the Church's definition. Again, Francis adopts the theological tendencies of Cardinal Kasper, who expressed numerous times that he does not believe in the "Ecumenism of the return." That is, it is not the goal of ecumenism to convert anyone to Catholicism. Of course Kasper cleverly says that he distinguishes between the role of ecumenism and evangelism, but it is clear that he only espouses the prior, not the later. This is also the case with our Pope. He rarely if ever speaks of conversion, instead focusing on worldly unity done for the purpose of "peace and justice."

I could go on and on ad-nauseam with numerous examples, but I want to point out one last example of the Pope's attempt to "immanentize the eschaton." Pope Francis recently spoke about the event of Jesus being found in the temple. The Pope gave his thoughts on the event and came to the conclusion that Jesus probably apologized for making the Blessed Mother and Saint Joseph come look for Him! This of course would be impossible since it would involve Jesus committing a sinful act, for which He would have had to apologize for. I do not have the time to go into the full ramifications of this proclamation of the Pope. I recommend that you read Fr. Brian Harrison's article on this. One thing is clear however, and that is Pope Francis looks upon Jesus and this event in a very worldly way, once again demonstrating how Pope Francis attempts to "immanentize the eschaton"

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Celebrating the Reformation?

I will make this post very brief and to the point. Pope Francis is making a specific trip to celebrate the Reformation in Sweden. It is formally being declared as "a joint ecumenical commemoration of the Reformation." As a faithful Catholic, one cannot accept this course of action. It is an insult to the Saints, Our Lady and Our Lord. The Catholic martyrs who gave their lives for the true faith are insulted. The "Reformation" is nothing any sane Catholic could ever support or commemorate. In fact, if the Pope does anything other than calling for all heretical sects to return to the Catholic Church, his trip is in vain.

Saint Francis de Sales, one of the great heroes of the post-Reformation Church wrote:
Perhaps you will say, at last, that after a time your church will spread its wings, and will become Catholic by process of time; but this is talking in the air. For if an Augustine, a Chrysostom, an Ambrose, a Cyprian, a Gregory, and that great multitude of excellent pastors, have not been able to manage well enough to prevent the Church from tumbling over soon after their time, how [shall] Calvin, Luther, and the rest [do so]? What likelihood is there that it should grow stronger now, under the charge of your ministers, who neither in sanctity nor in doctrine are comparable with those? If the Church in its spring, summer, and autumn has not been fruitful, how would you have one gather fruits from it in winter? If in its youth it has made no progress, how far would you have it run in its old age?
To divide Christendom, to create factions there, to tear in pieces the robe of Our Lord, is the effect of their preachings. Christian doctrine is as a gentle rain, which makes unfruitful soil to bring forth: theirs rather resembles hail, which beats down and destroys the harvests, and makes barren the most fertile lands. Take notice of what S. Jude says: Woe to them who …have perished in, the gainsaying of Core (Core was a schismatic); these are spots in their banquets, feasting together without fear, feeding themselves, clouds without water which are carried about by the wind : - they have the exterior of the Scriptures, but they have not the interior moisture of the Spirit:-unfruitful trees of the autumn, -which have not the leaves of the letter nor the fruit of the inner. meaning ; twice dead, -dead to charity by schism, and to faith by heresy;-plucked up by the roots, unable any more to bear fruit; aging waves of the sea, foaming out their own confusion of disputes, contests and violent changes; wandering stars which can serve as guides to no one, and have no firmness of faith but change about in every direction. What wonder then that your preaching is sterile? You have but the bark without the sap, and how would you have it germinate? You have only the sheath without the sword, the letter without the meaning; no wonder you cannot uproot idolatry. So S. Paul (Tim. 3:9) speaking of those who separate from the Church, protests that they shall advance no further. If then your Church can in no way style itself Catholic up to this present, still less can you hope it may do so afterwards, since its preaching is so feeble, and its preachers have never undertaken, as Tertullian says (de Praesc. xlii.), the business or commission "of converting heathens, but only of perverting our own.” Oh what a Church, then, which is neither one, not holy nor Catholic, and, which is worse, can have no reasonable hope whatever that it will ever become so....

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

David Bowie: A Traditional Catholic View

There has been a lot of media hype concerning the recent passing of rock icon David Bowie. Many people are praising him as a genius, a rock legend, one who has "done it all" as if all of these were virtues. This is not surprising coming from the worldly press or worldly people who have no sense of right and wrong, or know the difference between virtue and vice. Coming from Catholics however it is another story.

I have seen many Catholics on Facebook, blogs and websites writing about how great of man and musician he was and how he should be essentially memorialized because of his "artistic" genius. I happen to be a musician who has played and recorded music for over 25 years now. I have had admiration for many musicians and their talent as song writers, and some have influenced me in my musical en-devours. David Bowie however was never one of my favorites for several reasons, which have grown over the years.

When I was in my teens I only owned one cassette tape of Bowie's it was 'Space Oddity'. I listened to it a few times and was unimpressed and it went into the floorboards of my truck. I found his music depressing and his image quite freakish and weird to say the least. Over the years of course it was hard not to see his appearances in films and hear his different musical releases. I was never drawn to his music or his weird image which I always found disturbing, but I never really investigated as to why.

As years have gone by I have done some investigating into the music industry as well as satanism and the occult. I came to find out that many of my musical "heroes" were into some pretty perverted things including occultism, witchcraft and satanism. As a result, over the years I began to limit myself on what music I listened to, depending on the lyrics and the lifestyles of the artists. I ended up ditching many of my CDs and LPs that I thought were detrimental to my soul.

How does this all come back around to Bowie? It so happens that Bowie is one of the worst cases when it comes to the occult, drug use, perverted sexuality and most other vices. One thing that always bothered me about Bowie was how he looked. He appeared to be a cross between a man and women. Bowie was into many perverted sexual acts, and was an admitted admirer of Aleister Crowley, a famous satanist, "do what thou will." Satanism does not always consist of a worship of satan as a person, but as a lived out attitude which glorifies doing whatever one wills no matter the cultural climate one may find themselves in. Bowie was often referred to as androgynous. His on stage antics  were often very feminine and thus he spearheaded the modern movement to blur the lines between men and women. It is no secret that he was bisexual and had relations with many other famous people including Mick Jagger.

Bowie was also into occult type "artistic" ventures all the way up to his death. His early fascination with Crowley is certainly disturbing, but his interests changed over time going into different aspects of the occult. They show up in his videos and art throughout his career. A recent interview with the director of Bowie's very last musical movie clip says that he and Bowie had a mutual admiration for Crowley. The director also talks about some of the imagery in his last video which is quite perverted. I caution you on the vulgarity of the interview that I will link to here, for those who do not want to take my word for it. The article also has a link to the 10 minute video released just before his death, which is steeped in occultism. Watch at your own risk, it is very dark and disturbing.

Was Bowie a nice guy? Perhaps. A genius? Perhaps. He made a successful career out of his musical and artistic en-devours and managed to stay at the top of his game nearly 50 years. Does this make him some type of role model for our generation or someone to be admired? Clearly not. Bowie stood against everything that the Catholic faith stands for. The real problem in today's society is not that people happen to sin. The real problem is that sin is now glorified as something good and virtuous. Unfortunately Bowie was instrumental in sensationalizing the image of sin through his "art." He was instrumental in the movement to tear down the moral compass of our society. Catholics should not be holding this man up as an artistic hero, but an iconoclastic bane that stood more for anarchy and hedonism than anything else.  We would do better to warn people about his "art" and pray for the repose of his soul.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

A Spiritual Plan for the Restoration of the Church

A Spiritual Plan for Restoration

 Follow a spiritual plan to personal holiness and join in the restoration of the Church.

Spiritual Warfare Plan Part I- Personal Holiness

Spiritual Warfare Plan Part II- The Rosary

Spiritual Warfare Plan Part III- Meditation

Spiritual Warfare Plan Part IV- The Gifts of Our Lady

Spiritual Warfare Plan Part V- Repentance and Confession

Spiritual Warfare Plan Part VI- The Latin Mass and the Blessed Sacrament

Spiritual Warfare Plan Part VII- Education and Restoration 

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas From Christ the King 2016

This year Christ the King celebrates Christmas with its new chaplain Father Stephane Dupre, FSSP.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

A Message From Quito: Spanish Art, the Passion and the Year of Mercy

A Message From Quito: Spanish Art, the Passion and the Year of Mercy

I have always been a fan of art. Whether it be music, writing, or visual, I enjoy experiencing well crafted art. Being a Catholic I have come to enjoy the many forms of religious art that the Church has produced throughout history. There has never been a more splendid art form than that which presents the truths of the Catholic faith. Earlier this year I made a pilgrimage to Quito, Ecuador in an effort to experience firsthand devotion to Our Lady of Good Success. During my pilgrimage I had my first real contact with Spanish colonial art. It was eyeopening for me to say the least. As we begin the Year of Mercy, there are many false ideas floating around which detract or derail Our Lord's true message of mercy and I think sharing these pieces of art help to properly orient one towards the true meaning of mercy.

In Quito there are many Churches and museums that have splendid pieces of Spanish art. The statues are the most expressive I have ever seen. There are several pieces in the Franciscan convent that caught my attention and have remained in my mind since my visit. The three I cover here are all related to Our Lord's passion in one way or another. The Spaniards have always had a unique emphasis on Our Lord's passion in art, which is something that is sorely needed in today's Catholic climate.

The Franciscans were the first to establish a convent in Quito. The Franciscan Church and museum found within the cloister both contain fantastic pieces of art including statuary and paintings. The three pieces I will focus on are in the museum of the Franciscan convent. The artistic heritage found in many places throughout Quito derive from Spain, especially from Seville and Granada, which were known for their artistic achievements. After the Reformation the Catholic Church had to counter the evil of the Protestant heresy, and certain changes took place in the wake of the rebellion. One of them was establishing reforms to deepen the traditional values and teachings of the Church, including emphasizing the cult of the Saints, the Blessed Mother and devotion to Christ, especially in His Passion. Thus we see an astounding flourishing of spiritual art following the Reformation, which would come to be known as the Baroque period.

The style which developed sought not only to communicate a theological truth of the faith, but also sought to engage the senses, emotions, and to draw the viewer into the artistic setting personally. Art scholar Gabrielle Palmer says the new art form, "...yielded to organic profusions and to expression of physical vigor and emotional exuberance." Many of the pieces were used in processions on large floats for example, which would draw the viewers into the passion scene. These pieces of art were produced from a guild system in which sculptors and painters would undergo years of apprenticeship. The apprentices often began the work while the master completed the final stages. The process of making the statues which are the focus of this piece, included carving the pieces out of cedar, black oak, balsa or pine. The pieces were then put together with strips of cloth and glue and then covered with many layers of gesso. Often the head was carved in two pieces so the eyes could be glued in place before assembly. The piece was then sized with Armenian bol or clay compound. Finally the statue was then painted, dressed and polished. Final polishing with leather gives the glazed appearance that you see in many of the pieces. The three pieces I will cover are from southern Spain and are known as part of the Granadan tradition.

Jesus del Gran Poder

The first piece that I will talk about is what is known as, 'Jesus del Gran Poder.' Christ is depicted carrying His cross to Golgotha. The image dates to 1620. The statue is carved and originally was supposed to be clothed, but the clothing is actually carved. The style is similar to that which is seen from southern Andalusian Spain. I find the Spanish halo style always striking and the expression on Our Lord's face is very engaging, yet no overly so. As I stood before this image the price Our Lord paid for my sins became very real. The intent of the artist is sure to be felt by those who gaze upon the statue. I was so moved by the statue that I had a large blown up image made of it on canvas to hang on my wall. It is a tremendous image to contemplate what Our Lord has done for us, and the suffering He endured to bring us the gift of mercy.

Ecce Homo

The second piece is another life size statue called, 'Ecce Homo.' The statue is thought to be made by Pedro de Mena's workshop in Spain in the mid 1600s. Again the image demands an emotional response from the viewer. One cannot stand before it without having to reflect on the reality of Christ's suffering. Our Lord is judged as a criminal and sentenced to death before one's eyes. When contemplating the idea of mercy, it should be noted that our sins are what cause such pain and suffering to Our Lord. Looking upon this image you can see your own sins materialize on the body of Our Lord.

Oracion de Jesus en el Huerto

The last piece I will cover is called, 'Oracion de Jesus en el Huerto.' This was the first statue that caught my attention as walked through the museum. The title conveys that this is Christ in His agony in Gethsemane, praying just before being apprehended. The face of Our Lord is expressive and one can actually feel Our Lord's love for us as He contemplates what lies before Him. It is carved out of balsa wood.  Notice how He is sweating blood as He prays looking up to God the Father.

As we celebrate the Year of Mercy, we need to focus on what mercy really means. Gazing upon and contemplating Our Lord in His Passion will move us to repentance so we can live in a state of grace serving Our Lord. An idea of mercy disconnected from Our Lord's Passion is not an authentic image of mercy and these Spanish pieces of art can help us contemplate the way mercy has come to us, which was through tremendous suffering. The words below written by the great Spanish Saint of the 16th century sum up the theology behind these great works of art.

In the passion of our blessed Saviour, six things chiefly are to be meditated upon. First, the bitterness of his sorrow, that we may be compassionate with him.  Secondly, the greatness of our sins, which were the cause of his torments, that we may abhor them. Thirdly, the greatness of the benefit, that we may be grateful for it. Fourthly, the excellency of the divine charity and bounty therein manifested, that we may love Him more fervently. Fifthly, the conveniency of the mystery, that we may be drawn to admiration of it. Lastly, the multiplicity of virtues of our blessed Saviour which did shine in this stupendous mystery, that we may partly imitate and partly admire them; wherefore, in the midst of these meditations, let us sometimes be compassionate with our blessed Saviour in the extremity of his sorrows; extreme indeed, both by reason of the tenderness of his body, as also, for the great affection he bore unto our souls. He did suffer them without any manner of consolation... Sometimes let us stir up in ourselves compunction for our sins, which were the cause of his great sufferings. Sometimes let us kindle in our souls an ardent affection, considering his great affection towards us, which upon the cross he declared and manifested to the whole world. And the benefit which he bestowed upon us in His passion, because He bought us with the inestimable price of his precious blood, of which only, we reap the benefit and commodity.
(St Peter of Alcantara)

Sculpture in the Kingdom of Quito- Gabrielle G. Palmer
A Golden Treatise of Mental Prayer (Chapter IV)- St. Peter of Alcantara