LGBT Ideology and Catholic Faith

In the United States these days, there is a strong endorsement and celebration of LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) ideology. Not only that, but it is considered taboo to have a viewpoint opposing the LGBT movement, the “woke” agenda, and the “tolerant” camp.
Some additions have been made to the movement’s name over the years, and the full acronym is now “LGBTQIA+,” but I will use the abbreviation “LGBT” for short.

Basically, there are two sides to this issue. One side is emotionally sympathetic toward the cause of LGBT people, viewing them as an oppressed minority, and therefore urges that individuals, and society as a whole, should practice God’s love by moving in the direction of acceptance, even celebration, of them. The other side, on the contrary, is looking at the issue, not in terms of acceptance or rejection of people, but rather in terms of truth and falsehood. The argument of this side is that anything that leads to the destruction of the soul must be avoided, and that love (defined by Thomas Aquinas as “that which wills the good of the other”) means trying to help people understand the truth about what behaviors lead to destruction and what behaviors lead to salvation.

How did LGBT Pride Month begin?

How did Pride Month begin in the first place?
The origin of Pride Month, which celebrates the LGBT community, was a series of protests in New York City, now known as the “Stonewall Riots,” or the “Stonewall Rebellion.” The following description of this incident (or series of incidents), summarized from Wikipedia, is based on the reports of the gay community, and does not include testimony from the police, but it is generally believed to be accurate.

The “Stonewall Inn,” a gay bar, was frequently raided by the police because of its association with the Genovese crime family, and because of its exposed go-go dancers. Although the police were mainly there to prevent crime, they also behaved in ways that could be considered harassment of the LGBT people gathered there.

June 28, 1969 at the Stonewall was not the same as any other night. The patrons were feeling sad after the death, six days earlier, of actress Judy Garland, who had been in favor of homosexual rights. They had gathered at the Stonewall Inn in memory of Judy when the police raid began. The repeated raids by the police, plus the death of actress Judy Garland, had taken their patience to the limit, and they began to attack the police officers. The situation quickly escalated into a riot, which continued for the next few days, eventually involving over 2,000 LGBT people and over 400 police officers.

On June 28, 1970, a parade was held to commemorate the first anniversary of the riots. Since then, June has become a memorable month for LGBT people, and Pride Month was born.

U.S. Presidents Who Supported LGBT Ideology

In June 1999, President Bill Clinton, in honor of the Stonewall riots, designated June as Gay and Lesbian Pride Month.

In June 2011, President Barack Obama added “bisexual” and “transgender” to the categories to be celebrated during Pride Month.

In 2012, then-Vice-President Joe Biden (who is now the President), a member of the Catholic Church, began to publicly endorse same-sex marriage, with complete disregard for Catholic doctrine. Prior to that, as a Senator, Biden had consistently voted against same-sex marriage. Nobody knows why he suddenly changed his mind in 2012; however, support for LGBT ideology has been one of the major elements of the Democrat Party platform since the days of Bill Clinton. It is likely that Biden, a Democrat, supported same-sex marriage for political reasons.

Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” (Matthew 6:24). Biden supports not only same-sex marriage, but also abortion “rights,” and transgender “care,” putting his career ahead of God, and is clearly a Catholic in name only.

Questioning Moral Issues

The Pride events held in Washington D.C. this year, including one held at the White House on June 10, were well attended, and approved of by many, but some moral questions were raised.

In the U.S., we are free to have events and celebrate. (Needless to say, though, you can’t have illegal, publicly unauthorized events.) This means that there is nothing wrong with LGBT people celebrating Pride Month, as long as the events are done in an appropriate way by people who agree with the celebration.

However, at a recent Pride parade, some participants wore costumes that were so extreme that they would normally be considered indecent exposure. A parade that you wouldn’t want your children to see took place in broad daylight.

The Problem Behind the Events

As the website ChurchLaw & Tax points out, the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution embraces two concepts: freedom of belief, and freedom of conduct. Unlike belief, conduct can be regulated in order to protect the community.

I believe that the real issue behind the “Pride” events is the question of what kind of activities, what kind of lifestyles, should be celebrated with great “pride” by the non-denominational (but not, officially, atheistic or secularist) U.S. government.

Furthermore, there is a tendency, at government-sponsored events, to condone behavior that would otherwise be unacceptable. People get the impression that as long as they are participating in a Pride parade, they can do whatever they want. Is it too unreasonable to ask that, parade or no parade, a minimum standard of public decency should be maintained? Surely society can insist on that much, without being considered “discriminatory” and “hateful.”

The Bible: Harmful to Children?

The issue of LGBT ideology affects not only the Church, but also (recently) schools as well.

Books that favor LGBT ideology are now being placed in school libraries; some of these books have explicit sexual content.

According to a June 29 article by Colorado Public Radio (CPR) News, conservative parents are protesting against the presence, in school libraries, of LGBTQ books, and books with sexual content. In response, one parent is demanding that the Bible should be removed from school libraries, because of its (supposedly) explicit and inappropriate sexual and violent content.

The article states: “The American Library Association has recorded more than 1,200 challenges in 2022, the highest number since it began keeping data about censorship in libraries more than 20 years ago” (After a Colorado Springs school district banned several books, one parent is requesting they pull the Bible, too | Colorado Public Radio (cpr.org)).
Many states in the U.S. are currently experiencing similar problems.

The Fatima saint Jacinta warned that it is dangerous to neglect the teachings of the Church, which are eternal, and to follow fads. It is a great contradiction to compare the teachings of the Bible, which are the truth, with books that teach a shifting secular ideology, as if they were equal. In any case, there is no doubt that the culture war is intensifying.

Catholic Doctrine Regarding Chastity and Homosexuality

Catholic concerns about homosexuality are not new, and in recent times, the Church has simply reiterated what it has always taught. For example, in October 1986, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (who later became Pope Benedict XVI) addressed homosexuality in a letter to the Bishops of Rome as follows (Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons (vatican.va)):

“Nevertheless, increasing numbers of people today, even within the Church, are bringing enormous pressure to bear on the Church to accept the homosexual condition as though it were not disordered and to condone homosexual activity.” 

So, what exactly is the Catholic doctrine with regard to homosexuality? The Catechism of the Catholic Church states the following (Paragraphs 2357–2358):

2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,* tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.”** They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

* Cf. Gen. 19:1–29; Rom. 1:24–27; 1 Cor. 6:10; 1 Tim. 1:10.

** CDF, Persona humana 8.

Of course, homosexual practices are only one way of committing sins of lust (one of the seven deadly sins); the Catechism deals with many other forms of lust as well, some of which it mentions, in a summary section, as follows (Paragraph 2396):

2396 Among the sins gravely contrary to chastity are masturbation, fornication, pornography, and homosexual practices.

Cardinal Ratzinger explains that the issue of homosexuality is complex and requires theologically balanced advice. He further clarifies that the use of sexual faculties can only be good between a husband and wife. He goes on to emphasize that the Church’s rejection of false ideas that hinder salvation is not a restriction of personal dignity and freedom, but rather a defense of freedom and dignity. (A truly pastoral approach to LGBT persons must acknowledge sin and proclaim the truth about sexuality.)

Is the church guilty of teaching that sin is sin?

Jesus Preaching (1652) Rembrandt

Some people say, “The Catholic Church rejects LGBT people,” and further, “I strive to love and accept all people, because God is love, and he wants us to love one another; not to accept LGBT people is to be a hater who does not practice God’s teaching.” To such people I say, “Calling a sin a sin is not the same as being a hater. God loves all sinners (in other words, all people), and commands us to do the same.

He also hates sin, and wants us to save us from it. To avoid confusion, God has told us clearly (in the Bible and in Church teaching) what things are sins. The Bible says, “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death” (Proverbs 14:12). He has done this not because he is mean, but because sin leads to misery, and God wants us to be happy. “

As for the Church supposedly ”rejecting people:” the Catholic Church asks all its members to be faithful to Catholic doctrine and morals. In other words, anyone who believes what the Church teaches, and is willing to put it into practice, may join the Church. Even if a member of the Church does not correctly believe or practice, he can repent and be forgiven and amend his life, and he will remain a member of the Church in good standing. This is because the Church rejects sin, not people.

If you don’t believe what the Church teaches, don’t join it. To accuse those who do believe it of being “haters,” however, is neither honest nor fair.

Anna-Kate Howell against the LGBTQIA+ Pride Mass

As part of the “culture war,” LGBT ideology has already made its way into the Catholic Church. On June 14, for example, the third annual LGBTQIA+ Pride Mass was held at the Jesuit-run Holy Trinity Church, attended by President Joe Biden. Opponents of the Mass point out that, while it is not entirely or clearly contrary to Catholic doctrine, it is nonetheless problematic (Catholic With Same-Sex Attraction Calls on Cdl. Gregory to Cancel DC ‘Pride Mass’ – LifeSite).

Anna-Kate Howell is a 31-year-old student pursuing a master’s degree in theology. She experiences SSA (same-sex attraction), and also opposes the Pride Mass. She confesses that, in the past, she lived a sinful life that was sexually promiscuous, and even, at the age of 26, had a same-sex marriage. The following are the key points from a letter that Anna sent to Cardinal Gregory of D.C., the parish director of Holy Trinity Church.

–          LGBTQ is not our identity. We experience same-sex attraction, but we do not wish to be identified by our disordered impulses. That would be the sin of pride.

–          Clarifying the teaching of the Catholic Church is more important than ever. This is because of the concern that there are people within the Church who exploit ambiguity, and use it as a weapon.

–          We do not celebrate the impulse to sin (the impulse known as same-sex attraction), and we do not want to mislead people outside the Church.

–          People may say, “But participation in Pride doesn’t mean that we agree with every person, every float, or every message we are marching alongside.” True, but I could say the same thing about a Catholic who gives large sums of money to Planned Parenthood: perhaps he or she does not agree with every procedure they perform. Both arguments are ridiculous. Everyone knows that “Pride Month” is mainly about celebrating sexual sins, just as Planned Parenthood exists mainly to perform abortions. For Catholics to show support for either one is scandalous.

–          “Your Eminence [Cardinal Gregory], it is my desire as a Catholic to assume the best of every person I encounter. In that spirit of charity, I choose to believe that you are not someone who wishes to create confusion, scandalize believers and nonbelievers alike, or harm the witness of the Church to persons with same-sex attraction.”

–          “I believe that it is your desire to accompany persons like me with respect and sensitivity, never forgetting that we are human beings imbued by almighty God with dignity that transcends any disordered dispositions from which we might suffer. It is because I believe these things to be true of you that I am asking you with all my heart as your sister in Christ to please put a stop to the Pride Mass. … It will do no good and a great deal of harm for this event to occur.”

Finally, Anna ends her letter with a prayer for God’s blessing.

Jesus told his disciples, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24). This is no easy task. The suffering Anna has gone through must have been extraordinary. I find in Anna’s letter a special strength and persuasiveness that comes from someone who is prepared to carry her own cross.

Cardinal Gregory of D.C. did not order the Mass to be canceled. But I am convinced that her letter gave me, as well as many other Catholics, the courage to continue defending our faith. I pray that the Cardinal will be a good example to the priests and faithful in his diocese, clearly showing them what is right, and guiding them to avoid the death of their souls.

Image: An ancient painting from a Greek tomb. Archaeological Museum of Paestum in Italy

St. Joan of Arc: Prelude to Tragedy (2)

Even my bosom friend in whom I trusted,
who ate of my bread, has lifted his heel against me.

-Psalm 41:9.

The common people worshipped Joan and were intoxicated by the victory and peace she brought. In contrast to such enthusiastic people, some of the French nobles and military commanders were jealous of Joan. Joan’s real enemies were among her allies, as Psalm 41:9 says.

The Gift of the Red Dress, and the Prediction

Near Châlons, on her way to Reims, Joan met with some friends who had arrived from the village of Domrémy. After spending a pleasant time with them, Joan was sent a red dress. Then she said something that seemed to foreshadow the tragic fate that awaited her; she told her two old friends that her only fear for the future was betrayal. (See: Gower, Ronald Sutherland, Lord, Joan of Arc. 1893.)

Was Joan simply telling her friends about her vague fears? Or was she receiving some kind of warning from God? Perhaps coincidentally, the red color of the dress that was sent to her is the liturgical color of a martyr. It seems as if it symbolized her death, as she followed God’s guidance to the end, and was burned.
In any case, this little episode foreshadowed the tragedy that was to take place in Compiègne.

July 17, 1429: The Coronation of the King. Divine Prophecy is Fulfilled

The will of God, as Joan had told it to the king, had been fulfilled. Charles VII was finally crowned king.

The king entered the cathedral of Reims with the Maid of Orléans at his right hand. He was anointed and made King of France with the holy oil of the old abbey church of Saint-Rémy. Joan is said to have carried a banner and stood by the king’s side during the coronation.

IV. Le sacre de Charles VII: V. “Te deum”

It was not a tradition at a coronation ceremony for someone to hold a banner at the king’s side. The king, by allowing this breach of protocol, made it clear that he was still grateful for Joan’s achievement.

After the coronation, Joan is known to have knelt down, embraced the king’s feet, and proclaimed the following:

“Noble King, now is accomplished the pleasure of God, who willed that I should raise the siege of Orleans and should bring you to this city of Reims to receive your holy coronation, thus showing that you are the true King, him to whom the throne of France must belong.”

It is said that upon hearing these words, all those present (except the king) wept. From Joan’s words, we understand that she had no arrogance, and did not take credit for the king’s glory.

Joan’s wish for a place of eternal rest

“When I die, I should wish to be buried here among these good and devout people,”
she said. “I know not—it will come when God pleases; but how I would that God would allow me to return to my home, to my sister and my brothers! For how glad would they be to see me back again! At any rate,’’ she added, ‘‘I have done what my Saviour commanded me to do.” (Gower, Ronald Sutherland, Lord, Joan of Arc. 1893.)

The coronation was a success. And yet, in spite of all the pomp and circumstance, somehow she left the archbishop with words that sounded as if she had forebodings of her future.

Joan was speaking of her death and burial. At this time, she was still in her teens. At such an age, it seems unnatural for her to have been concerned with where she would be buried when she died. She went on to assert that the mission entrusted to her by God had been fulfilled.

Charles VII praised Joan’s achievements and made her, as well as her family, nobility, giving them a coat of arms and monetary rewards. According to Dr. Jeremy Adams, after the coronation, the king declared that Joan’s work was done and asked her to return to the countryside. Having accomplished her mission, she could have returned to her native village of Domrémy and lived a quiet life there, serving God as a nun. In fact, however, she chose a different path.

April 1430: Failure to Retake Paris

Joan believed that Paris had to be retaken to maintain the future security of France. But the people of Paris had already sworn allegiance to Henry VI of England. Fearing reprisals if the King of France took control of Paris, the people fortified the walled city’s defenses. Unfortunately, Joan’s troops were insufficient to attack a place with such strong walls and towers as Paris. The indecisive Charles VII finally sent more troops, and Joan launched an attack, but her army failed to retake Paris.

Joan was wounded in the thigh by a crossbow bolt, but remained on the battlefield. In the end, she had to retreat, against her will, but she protested that she would have won the battle if her troops had continued the attack.

Two Avengers—False Mouth, False Right Hand

Stretch forth thy hand from on high,
rescue me and deliver me from the many waters,
from the hand of aliens,
whose mouths speak lies,
and whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood.

-Psalm 144:7–8.

Joan’s failure to retake Paris delighted her enemies, who pretended to be her allies. Two enemies in particular, the Archbishop of Reims, and Georges de la Trémoille (c.1382 – 6 May 1446), influenced the king to put all the blame on Joan. As a result, the king authorized the Archbishop of Reims to conclude a truce with England, contrary to Joan’s wishes.

Regnault de Chartres (1380–1444)

The Archbishop of Reims at this time, Regnault de Chartres (1380–1444), was the very bishop who had heard the ominous words of foreboding from Joan at the coronation. Joan would not have thought that he was an enemy.

How did the archbishop feel when he heard Joan speaking about where she wanted to be buried after her death? No one knows. It is said, however, that later, when Joan was captured, the archbishop was overjoyed, saying that it was proof of God’s justice. He was also the one who brought the news of Joan’s capture to the people of Reims, telling them that Joan was proud and had incurred God’s wrath by trying to follow her own will rather than God’s.

Georges de La Trémoille (1382 – 1446)

The other main adversary of Joan was a nobleman named Georges de la Trémoille (c.1382 – 6 May 1446). He was distantly related to Gilles de Ré, a loyal follower of Joan who later became known as a murderer. La Trémoille, through his shrewdness, had a great influence on Charles VII. His cruelty can be seen in the fact that, merely for his personal financial gain and status, he kidnapped and drowned Pierre de Jacques, who had been one of Charles VII’s favorites.

He had done everything in his power to keep the king from going to Reims. He also thwarted Joan on various occasions, and when she wanted to attack Paris again, he prevented her from doing so. It is said that his influence was also responsible for the king’s failure to obtain Joan’s release when she was later captured.

Joan’s Dark Fate Spelled Out by Her Voices

Joan’s voices no longer gave her any clear commands as they once had done, but she continued to fight to save France.
In early April 1430, while Joan was in the town of Melun during Easter week, St. Catherine and St. Margaret spoke to her telling her that she would be taken prisoner before St. John’s Day (June 24), but not to fear. It is said that she asked of the saints that, when she was captured, she might die immediately. The Battle of Jargeau 12 Jun 1429 (jeanne-darc.info)

After this, Joan decided to go to the battle of Lagny-sur-Marne. Even the fear of possible capture did not dampen her burning desire to save France. Joan of Arc | Biography, Death, Accomplishments, & Facts | Britannica

April 1430: The Battle of Lagny-sur-Marne: The Beheaded Man

The Burgundians, on the side of the English, had assembled a large force at Arras to reinforce their defense of Paris. The Burgundian army was led by Franquet of Arras, who was heading for Lagny. However, on their way to Lagny, they sacked another city, alerting the French to the danger and allowing them to prepare for battle.

Thanks to the troops at Lagny, French reinforcements, and the efforts of Joan and her men, Franquet of Arras was captured, and his men were either killed or taken prisoner. Franquet was then supposed to have been exchanged for a prisoner of war that Joan wanted, but it turned out that that prisoner was already dead. Moreover, it was revealed at his trial that Franquet of Arras was guilty not only of plunder, but also of murder. Asked what to do with him, Joan told her men, “Do with this man as justice demands.” The Battle of Jargeau 12 Jun 1429 (jeanne-darc.info)

God has mercy on human sin.

Joan was not specific about the punishment that justice demanded. The punishment that Franquet received was beheading. Later, the beheading of Franquet would be a determining factor in Joan’s fate: the Inquisition held Joan responsible for it, and it was one of the reasons for her execution by fire.

Was the execution of Franquet justified? Well, on the one hand, he was tried by a jury and found guilty of murder, and the penalty for murder, in those days, was death. On the other hand, as a prisoner of war, he was entitled to some rights, including, it could be argued (but this is a gray area), the right to be returned to his own nation, to be tried there by a jury of his fellow-countrymen.

The Bible says, “But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

We do not know how much responsibility Joan bore, in God’s eyes, for the beheading of Franquet. But if she had had compassion on him, as Christ had compassion on us sinners, Franquet would have had a chance to survive.

May 23, 1430: Joan captured at the siege of Compiègne

The Capture of Joan of Arc, ca. 1850 by Adolphe Alexandre Dillens

The final battle of Joan’s life was the siege of Compiègne on the Day of Pentecost. In theory, to engage in battle on a Sunday, let alone a major Holy Day such as Pentecost, was forbidden by the Peace and Truce of God, a set of rules which had been established throughout Europe, beginning in the 10th Century, to regulate and limit the conduct of warfare. By the 15th Century, however, the Peace and Truce of God was being ignored by pretty much everyone. (While researching this topic, I was surprised to learn that the spirit of secularism was already so widespread in the mid-fifteenth century.) Perhaps Joan did want her army to fight on the holy Feast of Pentecost; perhaps her army insisted on doing so in spite of her wishes. We will never know.

At any rate, Joan, with about 500–600 cavalry and infantry, attacked the Dukes of Burgundy. During the battle, Joan was dragged off her horse by an archer, and taken prisoner by the Burgundians. It is said that the English and Burgundians were more pleased with the capture of Joan than they were with the capture of 500 soldiers. (See: The campaigns of Joan of Arc, according to the Chronicles of Enguerrand de Monstrelet (deremilitari.org))

Once captured, Joan was placed under the guardianship of John II de Luxembourg (1392–1441). His aunt (also named Joan), known as the Demoiselle de Luxembourg, was sympathetic to Joan, and opposed selling her to the English. She threatened to cancel her nephew’s inheritance if he did so.

Joan sold to England

Her sympathy for Joan may have been due to the fact that she, like Joan, was very devout. Unfortunately for Joan, in 1430, the Demoiselle visited Avignon to pray at the tomb of her brother Pierre, and, while there, died.

The Demoiselle’s brother, Pierre de Luxembourg, who had been a Cardinal at Avignon until his death in 1387, was considered by some to be a saint (he was eventually beatified by Pope Clement VII in 1527).

John II, no longer worried about his inheritance, sold John to the English in exchange for a ransom. He ignored the terms of his aunt’s last will and testament, which stipulated that he would not sell Joan to the English in exchange for a ransom. John II had acquired a vast fortune. However, he never spent it, for he died the following year.

Joan had a series of fortunate moments in quick succession, up until the coronation of King Charles VII. After that, however, a dark shadow seems to have been cast over her life. Again and again, Joan found herself in situations where she should have been set free; again and again, she was betrayed.

Image: Joan in Reims Cathedral by Jules-Eugène Lenepveu

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The Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Happy Feast of the Sacred Heart!

The Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is celebrated on the Friday following the Feast of Corpus Christi.

The feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus dates back to the 17th century, when the visionary and nun St. Margaret Mary Alacoque of France received a divine revelation. It is a relatively new feast in the 2000-year history of the Church, but after several stages of approval by the Vatican, it is now considered one of the most important feasts on the Church’s calendar.

Sacred Heart of Jesus: Flesh and Spirit

The Breviary is the book that contains the words (but not the chants) of the Divine Office, that is, a collection of Catholic prayers, psalms, and readings (from the Bible and other sources), arranged according to the Liturgical Year, and traditionally used daily by all priests and nuns in the Western Church. Of course, it is written in Latin. The traditional Latin Breviary has been translated into beautiful English and published by a certain liturgical foundation as the (unofficial) English version of the Breviary. That version contains a very clear and easy-to-understand commentary on the Sacred Heart of Jesus, based on Catholic theology. The following is a summary of that commentary:

When did devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus begin? – from the Breviary

There is no record of when devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus began, but there can be no doubt that it is an old tradition. It is clear that this devotion already existed in the early Church (at least in embryonic form). The following is a summary of the Breviary’s comments on the Sacred Heart:

For example, regarding the love of God, our Lord explained to Nicodemus that “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son” (John 3:16). The symbol of love is the heart.

Paul’s letters also mention God’s love and mercy.

“But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

Not only the love of Jesus, but also the wounds of his Passion began to be an object of meditation and devotion in the early Church. St. Paul writes:

“Henceforth let no man trouble me; for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus” (Galatians 6:17), traditionally interpreted as a reference to the Stigmata.

St. Augustine and St. John Chrysostom, both 4th century saints, compare the crucified Christ with Adam. They explain that just as Adam slept and Eve was taken from his side, so Christ crucified, “sleeping” in death, was pierced in the side by the spear, and blood and water flowed out, giving birth to the Church.

A Commentary on the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Our Lord said, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, …” (Matthew 11:29). Our Lord’s use of the word “heart” shows us that the concept of Jesus’ Sacred Heart already existed in his own lifetime.

In Biblical usage, the heart symbolizes not only the emotions but also the whole inner or spiritual life of a human being. So, the heart of Jesus symbolizes his love, his mercy, his wisdom, and so on. But the Sacred Heart of Jesus is more than just a symbol.

The essence of Christianity is that, at a certain time, a little before the beginning of the First Century A.D., God, the Eternal Word, became a human being with a physical human body. That human being is named “Jesus,” and he is simultaneously God and man. To worship the humanity of Jesus is to worship the divinity of Jesus, who is God, because they are inextricably linked. Therefore, the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a day on which we praise and worship God by praising and worshipping the physical heart of Jesus, the muscle in his chest which pumped the blood through his body. Thus far the summarized Breviary.

An interesting aspect of Christianity is that in addition to worshipping God the Spirit, it also worships the physical body of Jesus Christ. As far as I know, Christianity is the only religion that makes an actual body, a physical heart, the object of worship, while at the same time insisting on monotheism. The Sacred Heart of Jesus is a feast that is full of the mysteries of God, deeply related to the Trinity, which is incomprehensible to human beings.

As a side note, the word “heart” mentioned above refers to the physical heart, in both Greek and Hebrew. Furthermore, to better understand the worship of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the physical heart, we need to know the Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I cannot explain the Trinity, so I will not do so here. If you are interested, please ask your parish priest.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus and the 12 Promises

Chanted Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Latin | Litaniae Sacri Cordis Iesu (English Captions)

Jesus made twelve promises to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque regarding those who have faith in his Sacred Heart. It is said that St. Margaret Mary, who spread devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, instituted the Holy Hour. Also, on the first Friday of each month, she prostrated herself on the ground and prayed, sharing the sorrows of Christ. She also received communion every first Friday. Just as St. Margaret Mary received Communion every first Friday, the devotion of the Sacred Heart of Jesus consists of attending Mass on the first Friday of the month for nine consecutive months. Here are the twelve promises mentioned above:

1. I will give them all the graces necessary for their state in life.

2 I will give them peace in their families.

3 I will console them in all their troubles.

4. They shall find in my heart an assured refuge during life and especially at the hour of death.

5. I will pour abundant blessings on all their undertakings.

6. Sinners shall find in my heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.

7. Tepid souls shall become fervent.

8. Fervent souls shall speedily rise to great perfection.

9. I will bless the homes in which the image of my Sacred Heart shall be exposed and honored.

10. I will give to priests the power to touch the most hardened hearts.

11. Those who propagate this devotion shall have their name written in my Heart and it shall never be effaced.

12. The all-powerful love of my Heart will grant to all those who shall receive Communion on the first Friday of nine consecutive months the grace of final repentance; they shall not die under my displeasure, nor without receiving the sacraments; my Heart shall be their assured refuge at that last hour.

12 Promises from the Sacred Heart of Jesus (catholicexchange.com) 

God’s Mercy on JFK for his devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

American President John F. Kennedy is famous for his tragic death. However, few people know about the mercy of the Sacred Heart of Jesus at his deathbed. John F. Kennedy was the first Catholic President of the United States, but, as is clear from the details of his personal life, he was not a very devout Catholic. However, when he was still a young man, his mother made sure that he performed the devotion of the Nine First Fridays, the devotion of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. (12 Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus: Peace in Home and Life – YouTube)

On November 22, 1963, President Kennedy was shot. He was rushed to a nearby hospital. At the hospital to which Kennedy was taken, it just so happened that a priest was there, preparing to visit another patient. That priest was able to administer the last rites to the dying Kennedy.

When Kennedy was brought to the hospital, “the president was unresponsive, had slow agonal respirations (gasping) and no palpable pulse or blood pressure” (Could We Save JFK Today? | MedPage Today). No one can say precisely when the soul leaves the body. However, I believe that Kennedy’s soul was still in his body when, by a strange coincidence, he was able to receive the last sacrament, as promised by the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Whenever I learn of such a story, I am reminded of the words Mother T. wrote down, “What is coincidence in the eyes of man is inevitability in the eyes of God.”

St. Margaret Mary: Jesus Hidden in the Eucharistic Bread

“Jesus is found in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, in which love keeps him tied like a victim, always ready to be sacrificed for the glory of his Father, and for our salvation. His life is totally hidden from the eyes of the world, which succeed in seeing only the poor and humble appearances of bread and wine. […] Jesus is always alone in the Blessed Sacrament. Try to never miss any Communion, lest we give great joy to our enemy the devil!”

–  St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (See: MIRACLES-Mystics panels (santuariodesanjose.com))

The Eucharistic Bread cannot be described without the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Eucharistic Bread is the Body of Jesus, and the heart is a central and essential part of that body. Without the heart, the body cannot live or function as a body. That is why symbolically, the heart can stand for the whole body.

There are many mystical feasts in June. Corpus Christi and the Feast of the Sacred Heart are among the most important of them. Whenever I celebrate these feasts, I feel very happy to be a Catholic.

Image: Two Angels with the Sacred Heart in Stained Glass

Source: The Anglican Breviary, Containing the Divine Office According to the General Usages of the Western Church, Put into English in Accordance with the Book of Common Prayer. New York, Frank Gavin Liturgical Foundation, Inc. 1955.

Corpus Christi: The Holy Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ

Happy Feast of Corpus Christi!

In Catholicism, this day (the Second Sunday after Pentecost, or, more traditionally, the previous Thursday) is the Feast of Corpus Christi, the celebration of the Eucharistic Bread, the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. In our local priest’s homily for Corpus Christi, he mentioned that there are two major differences between Catholics and mainstream Protestants, namely: the Pope, and the Eucharistic Bread. We Catholics believe that the Pope is the Vicar of Christ in the one and only Church created by God, and that the Eucharistic Bread, after having been consecrated by a priest, is the body of Jesus.

The feast of the Corpus Christi began with a revelation from God

Juliana of Liège (c. 1192—5 April 1258) was a 13th-century nun and mystic who, being an orphan, was placed in a convent when she was five years old. Life in the convent led Juliana to develop a special reverence for the Eucharist.

In 1208, our Lord appeared to Juliana and instructed her to petition for a new liturgical feast day for the celebration of the Eucharist. Juliana, however, did not immediately tell her superiors about the vision, but kept it a secret. Similar visions continued for the next 20 years, and the request for a new feast day was finally transmitted to the bishop of Liège by a priest who heard her confession. Juliana also sent a letter to the Dominicans and to the Bishop, requesting that the feast of the Eucharist be instituted.

Upon receiving Juliana’s letter, the bishop instituted the feast of the Eucharist in the diocese of Liège in 1246. A certain archdeacon in the diocese, Jacques Pantaléon, found this new feast to be very moving, and considered it a very important addition to the Church’s calendar.

In 1264, Jacques Pantaléon became Pope Urban IV, and that same year he instituted the feast of the Corpus Christi for the whole Latin rite Church.

Author of the Corpus Christi Liturgy: St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274)

When the feast of Corpus Christi was instituted, Urban IV asked Thomas Aquinas to write and arrange the liturgy for the Divine Office and Mass of the new feast day. Adoro Te Devote, one of the hymns written by Thomas Aquinas for the occasion, was given a melody and continues to be sung at Masses on the feast of Corpus Christi to this day.

Adoro Te Devote, Sisters of Aquinas -Sisters of Aquinas

Adoro Te Devote

O Godhead hid, devoutly I adore Thee, Who truly art within the forms before me; To Thee my heart I bow with bended knee, As failing quite in contemplating Thee.

Sight, touch, and taste in Thee are each deceived; The ear alone most safely is believed: I believe all the Son of God has spoken, Than Truth’s own word there is no truer token.

God only on the Cross lay hid from view; But here lies hid at once the Manhood too: And I, in both professing my belief, Make the same prayer as the repentant thief.

Thy wounds, as Thomas saw, I do not see; Yet Thee confess my Lord and God to be: Make me believe Thee ever more and more; In Thee my hope, in Thee my love to store.

O thou Memorial of our Lord’s own dying! O Bread that living art and vivifying! Make ever Thou my soul on Thee to live; Ever a taste of Heavenly sweetness give.

O loving Pelican! O Jesu, Lord! Unclean I am, but cleanse me in Thy Blood; Of which a single drop, for sinners spilt, Is ransom for a world’s entire guilt.

Jesu! Whom for the present veil’d I see, What I so thirst for, O vouchsafe to me: That I may see Thy countenance unfolding, And may be blest Thy glory in beholding. Amen.

St. Thomas Aquinas, tr. E. Caswall.  (Source from EWTN)

The Mystery of Transubstantiation

In the Bible, Jesus speaks of the Eucharist, the “bread of life,” as His body and blood. For the apostles, Jesus’ words were at first incomprehensible. Only after His resurrection did they understand the meaning of His words.

Both the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church teach that the Eucharistic bread becomes the Body of Christ, but the Eastern Orthodox Church is content to leave the details of this great mystery unexplained. How, then, does the Western Church, the Catholic Church, explain the mystery of the Eucharistic Bread?

Eucharistic Bread, the Body of Jesus

Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” (Matthew 26:26)

The Church teaches that, when the priest at Mass says, “This is my body,” speaking the words of Christ, it is Christ, the Word, who is speaking through the words of the priest. At that moment, the bread on the altar becomes the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ.

This mystery has been discussed by theologians using Aristotelian philosophy. It has been defined as “transubstantiation.” In order to understand transubstantiation, one must think in terms of the Aristotelian categories of “substance” and “accident.” Simply put, “substance” is the noun that says what a thing is, and “accidents” are the adjectives that describe that thing.

In the case of the altar bread, or “host,” one could say that, before consecration, it is “thin, white, round, bread-flavored bread.” The substance in this case is the noun “bread;” the accidents are the adjectives “thin, white, round, bread-flavored,” and whatever other adjectives one might use to describe the bread. “Transubstantiation” means that the substance changes, but not the accidents. So, after consecration, the host would be correctly described as “the thin, white, round, bread-flavored body of Christ.”

Thanks to this sacred mystery of transubstantiation, the Eucharistic bread we partake of at Mass is not a bloody piece of meat.

With the Bread of Life, we will never hunger.

Jesus said, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).

When I knew very little about Christianity, one of the things that strongly attracted me to Catholicism among the many denominations was the Eucharistic Bread, one of the Catholic sacraments. When I saw the faithful receiving Holy Communion in Catholic churches, I was eager to have the Eucharist. I started attending Bible classes at the church in order to get baptized, and was really disappointed when I found out that it would take several months to prepare for baptism. I felt as if I had been left without food when I was hungry. Finally, after finishing the Bible classes, when I was baptized and received the holy Eucharistic bread, I felt as if my body and mind were filled with wonder.

Since then, I have not felt the hunger that I felt before my baptism, but during the pandemic, when the churches did not celebrate Mass for the general congregation, I began to feel the same hunger that I had felt before. To be honest, I was happy to attend Mass online, since it was so much easier and more convenient. Then, however, a hunger returned that is hard to explain in words. My faith in the Eucharistic Mysteries was not deep, at first; but when I began to feel that spiritual hunger, I realized for the first time how much the Eucharist had filled my body and soul.

Receiving the Precious Eucharistic Bread

Catholics emphasize the importance of the Mass and the Eucharist.

Padre Pio loved the Mass and Communion so much that he said, “It would be easier for the world to exist without the sun than without the Mass.” The example of Padre Pio indicates just how important the Eucharist is. Prolific Catholic authors Bob and Penny Lord wrote about him as follows:

“Padre Pio … had a lifelong love affair with Our Lord Jesus in the Eucharist. To him, the Eucharist was the center of all spiritual benefits. It was the life breath of the soul. … After his ordination, he took a long time for the Consecration of the Mass, to the point where parishioners complained about all the time he spent, in ecstasy, before the bread and wine as they became the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus.” (Saint Padre Pio – devoted to the Eucharist and Mary

Most of us will probably never experience Mass the way Padre Pio did, but his experience shows us that the Mass is a supernatural event of great magnitude, and not a mere human ceremony. Also, Pope St. Gregory the Great is said to have witnessed our Lord’s Passion while saying Mass, and there have been many Eucharistic miracles to show us clearly that the consecrated host is truly the body of Jesus (you can read about some of them here: http://www.miracolieucaristici.org/en/Liste/list.html).

In his homily for Corpus Christi, my parish priest stressed the need for confession before receiving Holy Communion. With regard to the need for faith in the Sacrament, he said, “If you don’t believe, don’t receive.” Also, he recommended receiving the host on the tongue (as it has been done for centuries), and urged people, if they insisted on receiving in the hand, to please consume the host as soon as possible after receiving it. Finally, he advised us to remember to say a prayer of thanksgiving after communion.

After receiving Holy Communion, Padre Pio would give thanks and pray (in part) as follows:

“Help me to recognize You as Your disciples did at the Breaking of the Bread, so that the Eucharist Communion be the light which disperses darkness, the power which sustains me, the unique joy of my heart.” (Excerpt from Padre Pio prayed this prayer after receiving Holy Communion, Aleteia)

May your Eucharistic feast and week be filled with grace.

image: Eucharist, painting on the church altar