Life or Death: A Catholic Perspective on the Abortion Issue

In the past, I actually did not think that abortion was equivalent to murder, because I didn’t think much about it at all. When the issue of abortion was brought to my attention, and I researched it, and learned the facts about how the fetus grows and how it is aborted, I was horrified. I suspect that many pro-choice people are probably as ignorant of the truth about abortion as I used to be.

In this article, I would like to discuss why abortion is an important issue, and what the Catholic perspective on this issue is.

God’s Forgiveness and the Sin of Abortion in Catholicism

The teaching of the Catholic Church is that it is always wrong to willfully take the life of an innocent human being. An unborn child is human, and is obviously innocent. So, the killing of an unborn child, or abortion, is the taking of an innocent human life, and is therefore a mortal sin. If a person leaves this world with even one unrepented mortal sin, that sin will send him or her headlong into eternal hell. So, anyone who has committed or cooperated with the mortal sin of abortion, just as in the case of any other mortal sin, must make a good confession, sincerely asking God for forgiveness, in order for his or her soul to be redeemed.

What about non-Catholics?

As it turns out, even non-Catholics who do not make a sacramental confession can be forgiven and benefit from God’s grace, because God loves them. In one of my local priest’s sermons, he emphasized that, while it is true that our Lord Jesus Christ said “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but by me” (John 14:6), and even though Christ founded one Church, which he desires all men to join, it does not follow that everyone who is not Catholic must, necessarily, go to hell.

The priest explained that God’s forgiveness and grace sometimes operate in mysterious ways, without any outward and visible signs. The priest emphasized that, while we Catholics have the great advantage of the sacraments, nevertheless, God’s grace is available, in some way, to all people.

Does Having an Abortion mean Going to hell?

“We all make many mistakes” (James 3:2).

The priest stated that the people who go to hell are those who, whether Catholic or non-Catholic, reject the forgiveness and grace of God, who is love. God values free will above all else, and therefore cannot extend His salvation to those who willfully reject it.

What this means with regard to abortion is that, on the one hand, to have an abortion, or to pay for or otherwise cooperate with one, are grave sins that could potentially send a person to hell; on the other hand, any person, Catholic or not, who loves God, is sorry for having offended him, and truly repents of his or her sins (what is known as “perfect contrition”) can be forgiven by God for abortion or any other sin. “As I live, says the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live” (Ezekiel 33:11).

Public Opinion on Abortion in the United States

In January 1972, the Supreme Court of the United States, in its decision in the Roe v. Wade case, ruled that all laws prohibiting abortion were unconstitutional. However, in June 2022, the Supreme Court overturned that decision, ruling that there is no constitutionally-protected “right” to abortion. That means that each of the fifty States is now free to prohibit abortion if it wishes to do so.

A subsequent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center found that 62% of U.S. adults said that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while 36% said it should be illegal in all or most cases. Another survey found that relatively few Americans hold absolutist views on the issue.

The survey found that 83% of non-religious people are pro-choice. Among Christians, according to the survey, a majority of black Protestants (71%) and white non-evangelical Protestants (61%) take the position that abortion should be legal in all or most cases. But nearly three-quarters of white evangelicals (73%) say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases.

Are cultural Catholics pro-choice?

Also, according to the survey, 53% of Catholics believe that abortion is not morally wrong.

At first glance, this is a shocking result, but, of course, it is possible to get a different result by changing the way the survey questions are asked. Moreover, I believe that this number includes what are called “cultural Catholics.” Cultural Catholics are those who check the box for Catholic on the survey, but do not care about Catholic doctrine or morals, and do not attend Church regularly. Clearly, the 53% of Catholics who responded to the survey as indicated above are ignorant of doctrinal and moral matters.

Is Abortion the Answer?

One of the questions posed to those who oppose abortion is what to do if a woman becomes pregnant as the result of rape. As far as Catholics are concerned, abortion is not an option. This is true even if the rape victim has an unwanted pregnancy and the financial and psychological burden makes it difficult for her to have a baby.

Rape is a serious problem in the U.S. According to RAINN, a rape occurs every 68 seconds, and one in six women experience sexual victimization in their lives.

However, abortion has been found to have no positive outcome for rape victims. According to Live Action, 88 percent of rape survivors who choose to have an abortion regret it. Also, 93% of rape survivors who have had an abortion say they would not recommend abortion to others in the same situation.

Rape is an act of violence for which a woman bears no responsibility; abortion is an act of violence for which she is morally responsible. (Students for life of America)

Rape Survivors Speak Up, “I did not choose to be raped, nor did I choose to become pregnant. Nor did my child want me to become pregnant. I have no right to take his life because of the horrible situation that happened to me.” (Students for life of America)

One major problem that emerges from these facts is the misperception that abortion is the solution for a woman who has been victimized. There is also a need for more welfare and community support for women who are brave enough to choose to have a child. I have always resented the fact that victims of sexual crimes are subjected to further suffering after they have been victimized. I have always felt that giving women the “right” to abortion does not do anything to mitigate the damage caused by serious sex crimes.

Dr. Bernard N. Nathanson, who assisted in the Roe v. Wade Decision

OB/GYN Dr. Bernard N. Nathanson, known as “the Abortion King,” was a pro-choice activist who helped to bring about the victory of his side in the Roe v. Wade decision. However, ultrasound images caused Nathanson to change his mind about abortion.

He saw a fetus smiling, stretching, and wiggling its toes in the womb. He could also see the fetus shrinking away from the abortion equipment, which he felt was a sign that the fetus was in pain. After seeing the truth about the unborn child thanks to ultrasound, he founded the National Abortion Abolition Society. (For more about Dr. Nathanson, see Inside the Vatican.)

Dr. Nathanson calls abortion “the cruelest holocaust in American history.” The fetus is not a hunk of meat, but a human baby trying to escape the abortion apparatus. According to Pew Research Center abortions are on the decline in the United States. On the other hand, drug-induced abortions are on the rise. For example, even in the conservative state of Texas, where state law makes abortion illegal, drug abortions are up 1100% (Celebrate Life Magazine. Winter 2023, p. 30). The holocaust, as Dr. Nathanson calls it, is far from over.

Deuteronomy: Choosing Life

In the Bible, God commands us to choose life:

“I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19).

The words “therefore choose life” are imperative in both the Japanese (Don Bosco Colloquial) and English (RSV) translations, as well as in the Greek, Latin, and some other English translations. One of the Ten Commandments is “Thou shalt not kill,” meaning, “Thou shalt not kill innocent people.” In other words, abortion is equivalent to murder.

The God who gave us life commanded us to “choose life.” We humans have no right to rewrite that divine command.

A Child whose Mother Chose Life

Ryan Bomberger, a child conceived as the result of a rape, is a Christian, a designer, an Emmy Award-winning artist, a songwriter, an author, and a “factivist” (Bomberger coined the word from “activist” and “fact.”)He wrote the song “Meant to Be” to thank his biological mother for her choice of life.

The song is a message to his mother, to thank her for giving him a life that has had, and continues to have, meaning in the past and in the present, as the English phrase “meant to be” suggests.

“MEANT TO BE” by Ryan Scott Bomberger – YouTube

What organizations are on the side of abortion “rights”?

Even though I am aware of the “pro-life” teaching, when I see news stories advocating the “right” to abortion, I often feel as though it might be okay for a woman to have an abortion if her pregnancy was the result of a sex crime, or if she has health problems. But the idea of compromising on abortion “rights” is a devious trick.

Satanic Temple, a pro-abortion group

The Satanic Temple, which was approved as a religious organization in 2019, continues to work for abortion “rights.” They say that they do not really worship the devil, but interestingly, they display images of the devil prominently on their website, and they actively support ideas that are contrary to Christianity.

As I read this news, I was reminded of the English saying, “If it looks like a duck and sounds like a duck, it probably is a duck.” I thought to myself, with regard to the Satanic Temple, “If they look like Satanists, and act like Satanists…”

Fr. Gabriele Amorth, who was an exorcist, described how people who willingly violate God’s law are similar to the fallen angels:

“The original sins of the angels are the same as those who implicitly or explicitly adhere to Satanism. Angels and men who follow Satan base their existence on three principles and practical rules of life: you can do what you wish, that is, without subjugation to God’s laws; you obey no one; and you are the god of yourself.” (Catholic Exchange, April 19, 2023)

From the secular world’s point of view, when it comes to abortion, the Catholic Church and the Satanic Temple, as described above, are just two odd but colorful groups with a difference of opinion. It would seem as if the problem would be solved if those who take a stand against abortion did not impose their anti-abortion values on others.

For the pro-life movement, however, the right to life, from conception to natural death, is not only a religious dogma, but also a basic principle of natural law, part of the foundation of a just and stable society. A society that does not protect or care for its most vulnerable members will eventually dissolve into the anarchy of “might makes right.”

“Abortion rights” or “freedom of choice” (the choice of a woman to have an abortion or not) might sound like a good idea at first, but those who support this idea, like their (acknowledged or unacknowledged) leader, the devil, have an ungodly agenda. And the devil’s goal is always the destruction of society, of the family, of the Church, and of souls.

Life over Political Correctness

The topic of abortion is complicated by many factors: political, moral, and religious. Recent social trends, strongly left-wing, have made opposition to abortion out of step with the political correctness of “mainstream” society. Catholics have even been called extremists, and have even been arrested for praying in front of abortion clinics—not rioting, not violence, but merely praying.

The issue of abortion is often thought to entail a conflict between religious beliefs and secular values. This causes some people (on both sides) to become very emotional. And yet, abortion is not the sort of issue that one should make up one’s mind about based only on one’s own personal feelings. A clear understanding of this issue does not depend on one’s feelings about religion. Even atheists can understand, with reason alone, that abortion is wrong. (See, for example, this webpage: Secularprolife)

The choice between life and death does not depend on political correctness or religious dogma, but on human nature. The world should not become a place where “choosing life” is considered extremist.

I strongly hope and pray that the day will come soon when all lives will be protected by civil law, in accordance with natural law and God’s will.

Image: Virgin Mary and baby Jesus

Benedict’s Anniversary, Without Benedict (1)

On April 19, 2023, New Liturgical Movement published the following (in an article written by Gregory DiPippo) in memory of former Pope Benedict XVI:

“Today is the first time that we mark the anniversary of Benedict XVI’s election to the Papacy in 2005 without having him among us in this world: a good day to offer a prayer for his eternal repose.

Deus, qui inter summos sacerdótes fámulum tuum Benedictum ineffábili tua dispositióne connumerári voluisti: praesta, quáesumus; ut, qui Unigéniti Filii tui vices in terris gerébat, sanctórum tuórum Pontíficum consortio perpétuo aggregétur. Per eundem Christum, Dóminum nostrum. Amen.

God, Who in Thy ineffable providence, did will that Thy servant Benedict should be numbered among the high priests, grant, we beseech Thee, that he, who on earth held the place of Thine Only-begotten Son, may be joined forevermore to the fellowship of Thy holy pontiffs. Through the same Christ, Our Lord. Amen.”

The Resignation of Benedict XVI

Benedict XVI, who resigned from the Papacy on February 28, 2013, remained in the Vatican as Pope Emeritus, and passed to his eternal reward on December 31, 2022, at the age of 95. Therefore, this year will mark the first time since Benedict XVI became Pope that he will be absent from the Vatican.

Even after Benedict XVI’s unexpected resignation, it was thought by conservatives and traditionalists that Benedict XVI might still, in fact, be the Pope.

Benedict XVI: popular among traditionalists and conservatives.

Benedict XVI was one of the longest-lived popes in history. He was multilingual, able to read not only ecclesiastical Latin but also ancient Greek and classical Hebrew. Perhaps Benedict XVI’s mastery of Latin helped him to appreciate the importance of the traditional Latin Mass, which he safeguarded and encouraged with his Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum. He also left us many valuable books.

Benedict XVI’s sudden departure from office sent tremors through the Catholic Church and the faithful. It is no wonder that the unprepared faithful did not want him to step down. So, did some people want to believe that Benedict XVI was still Pope after the abdication drama, simply for sentimental reasons? Actually, the reasons are not so simple.

To an outsider unfamiliar with Catholicism, there would appear to be no doubt that Cardinal Bergoglio (Francis) is the current Pope. It would be hard for such an outsider to see how conservatives and traditionalists could arrive at any other conclusion. However, to one familiar with the details of Benedict XVI’s abdication, as well as the background behind it and the events surrounding it, things are not so simple. From the point of view of Catholic doctrine, canon law, and precedent, the precise meaning of Benedict XVI’s status as ” Pope Emeritus” is not at all clear.

Why did Benedict XVI step down?

First, the reasons for the Pope’s abrupt departure.
There are a number of factors that cannot be ignored that make one wonder if there was a reason for Benedict XVI’s abdication that could not be made public. On the other hand, it can be said that none of the various speculations about the reasons for the Pope’s departure are anything more than speculation.

Benedict XVI’s Retirement Announced on the Day of the Founding of Vatican City State

First, the official public announcement of Benedict XVI’s resignation was made on February 11. The statement reads (in part), “Due to my advanced age, I have come to believe that my strength is no longer adequate for the full exercise of the Papacy.”

February 11 was the date of the Lateran Treaty of 1929, by which the Vatican was recognized as an independent state. In other words, it is the day on which the Vatican City State was founded, with the Pope as its absolute monarch. Is it a coincidence that Benedict XVI announced his stepping down (or his forcible removal?) on such an important day?

I do not think it is a coincidence. It seems as if the Pope was signaling that his (theoretical) power as absolute monarch of the Vatican City State had been overthrown. If so, then who was really in charge? Could it have been someone involved in the Vatican banking scandal? If such was the case, it was the day that someone (or some group) involved in the Vatican banking scandal seized control of Vatican City and its king, the Pope.

The Vatican Bank Scandal and Benedict XVI

Power and corruption are inextricably linked, and the Vatican is no exception. Benedict XVI was the first pope to attempt to reform the Vatican Bank, which is rumored to have ties to criminal organizations. The Vatican Bank has been the subject of many dark rumors, including various theories about the mysterious death of Pope John Paul I, the Mafia, and the Freemasons. It is therefore believed by many that Benedict XVI’s reforms were stalled by people and organizations that were unfriendly to his intentions.

In addition, none of the allegations of money laundering, ties to criminal organizations, unaccounted money, etc. that should have been investigated in the Vatican bank scandal have been properly investigated; or, if they have been investigated, the results have never been revealed. The following is a summary of the complex and difficult-to-understand case, summarized from an article in the Financial Times on December 6, 2013.

Stop doing business with the Vatican Bank

It all started when, in the wake of the Euro crisis, the EU banking investigative body decided to investigate Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan (also in Germany), and UniCredit Bank (in Italy), all of which had business with the Vatican.

Upon learning of the investigation, the European banks under investigation reportedly warned the Vatican Bank that they might find themselves no longer able to do business with it. Soon after, UniCredit Bank, which was suspected of money laundering, became the first major institution to stop doing business with the Vatican Bank.

European investigators suspected that there was corruption in the Vatican Bank, but they could not investigate it directly, because the Vatican City is an independent state, and not a member of the E.U. So, investigators began to put pressure on several EU banks that do business with the Vatican.

Action taken by Benedict XVI

To remedy the situation, in 2009 Benedict XVI appointed a new head of the Vatican Bank, the Italian Ettore Gotti Tedeschi. He also invited MoneyVal (an organization that investigates allegations of money laundering) to investigate the Vatican Bank.

Although Tedeschi was well-liked by the Italian banking community, he did not get along well with many of the Cardinals. In May 2012, the directors of the Vatican Bank expelled him and accused him of money laundering. The Italian government subsequently investigated Mr. Tedeschi but did not charge him with any crime.
In March 2012, Germany’s JP Morgan withdrew from doing business with the Vatican.
MoneyVal’s investigation found that the Vatican Bank had a rating of 9 out of 16.

Vatican ATM Suspension and Sudden Resignation of Benedict XVI

Then, on January 1, 2013, the Vatican ATMs shut down. This happened because the Bank of Italy put pressure on Deutsche Bank, which held the right to operate the Vatican ATMs. The Bank of Italy sent a letter to Deutsche Bank, saying that the Vatican Bank was not compliant with international law, and questioning whether Deutsche Bank, by cooperating with the Vatican Bank, was engaging in illegal activity. Alarmed by this crisis, Deutsche Bank decided to suspend the operation of Vatican ATMs.

To resolve the problem, Benedict XVI appointed a German, Ernst von Freyberg, as the new head of the bank and a Swiss, Rene Bruelhart, as the Vatican Finance Regulator. Mr. Bruelhart then asked the Aduno Group, a Swiss bank unaffiliated with the EU, to operate the ATMs. Then, On February 11, Benedict XVI abruptly announced his resignation. The next day, February 12, the contract with the Aduno Group was finalized, and the ATMs began functioning again.

Swiss banks are known for their extremely high level of secrecy. To this day, Aduno holds the right to operate the Vatican ATMs, keeping them out of the reach of the EU. In addition, a Frenchman, Jean-Baptiste de Franssu, was appointed by Pope Francis on July 9, 2014, as the head of the Vatican’s bank, a position he holds to this day.

Benedict XVI decides to step down after a mystical experience?

According to an article in the Guardian dated August 21, 2013, Benedict XVI decided to step down after a mystical experience, after which he decided to devote his life to prayer. According to the Guardian, the news was reported by the news agency Zenit. Zenit, which was said to be the source of the information, temporarily ceased operations in December 2020. It now appears to be back in business, but I was unable to find the article attributed to that source.

On the other hand, CNA (Catholic News Agency), in an August 27, 2013 article, denies that Benedict XVI stepped down due to a mystical experience. In the article, Benedict’s personal secretary, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, is quoted as saying that the story was “fabricated from alpha to omega.”

Compared to Archbishop Gänswein and CNA, an anonymous source and a missing Zenit article have little credibility. The story of Benedict XVI’s “mystical experience” is probably nothing more than a myth.

image of Benedict XVI from Turn back to God

The Risen Lord Jesus Christ: Savior of Souls (2)

Today, the place said to be the tomb of the resurrected Christ may be found in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. How did this church come to be?

The tomb of Christ where St. Helena made a pilgrimage.

The story goes that Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine (Reign 25 July 306 – 22 May 337), went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and asked the inhabitants of Jerusalem where Christ’s tomb was. They led her to a certain Roman temple of Venus, beneath which, according to a tradition that had been handed down through the centuries, lay the spot where Jesus had been buried. Because it was a pagan temple, neither the Christian nor Jewish inhabitants would enter it. Before the conversion of Emperor Constantine, Roman emperors were pagans, not Christians. It is likely that the Romans built a pagan temple over the tomb of Christ in order to prevent Christians from worshipping there. Hearing of this fact, Emperor Constantine ordered the pagan temple to be destroyed. Afterward, he caused a magnificent church to be built on the spot. A legend adds that Helena also found the remains of our Lord’s cross at that time.

Eusebius, the fourth-century church historian, wrote that Helena went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and built churches at the places of Christ’s birth, his ascension, and his resurrection. Other than that, we cannot be sure what really happened. However, to this day, pilgrims from all over the world visit the Church of the Holy Sepulcher to venerate what they believe to be the tomb of Jesus, the place where he rose again from the dead.

Mary Magdalene, the first to see the resurrected Jesus

Christ Appearing to Mary Magdalene, ‘Noli me tangere’

Mary Magdalene was the first person to see the resurrected Jesus. Her encounter with the empty tomb and the risen Lord is described in the Gospel of John, chapter 20, vv. 1–18.

At the Easter Mass I attended, a priest spoke about faith, using the analogy of “Doubting” Thomas and Mary Magdalene. When the risen Jesus spoke to Mary, without hesitation she answered, “Rabboni” (Teacher). Thomas made it clear that he would not believe until he laid his hands on Jesus’ scars. The priest said that for modern people, Thomas’s reaction was easier to understand than Mary Magdalene’s.

I have always been impressed by the faith of Mary Magdalene. Although she did not even touch the risen Jesus, she had no doubt at all that he had bodily risen, and she immediately went to announce his resurrection to the rest of the disciples, as she had been told to do. I find myself tempted to want to know the scientific evidence for the resurrection, even though I know the Biblical story.

As I listened to the priest say, “Blessed are those who believe without seeing” (John 20: 29), I realized once again that I had been paying attention only to what I could see, in other words, the things of this world. I feel that I should pray more earnestly that I may become the kind of person who can believe in the unseen God, not only in the things that can be seen.

Easter Baptism

In my church, seven people were baptized on Easter. They ranged in age from young to old. They looked so happy and bright and shining. I think that Easter, symbolically, fits perfectly with baptism, and their baptism will be for them a memory that will last a lifetime.

When I was baptized, I felt as happy as they did. I felt as if I had been born anew, because my mind and body became lighter. Not only that, but the chronic feeling of depression and disappointment in life that I had been feeling was gone.

I don’t know the real reason, but think that before baptism, my soul was spiritually dead. I believe that through my baptism, I was brought back to life by the life of Christ. Even now, I sometimes feel depressed, but the feeling of total darkness in my heart that I used to feel has completely disappeared. I can be sad and yet still feel at peace with myself.

Regarding miracles, Rev. W. Wilmers, S.J., in his Handbook of the Christian Religion (Benzinger, 1891), writes as follows (p. 18): “If God can work miracles; if, as the Lord of the universe, He wishes to speak to us through miracles, He can also so dispose circumstances, and so influence our mind, that in many cases we may know with certainty that a miracle has taken place.” For me, the “resurrection” of my soul after baptism was that kind of miracle.

Image: Christ`s tomb, in the Old City of Jerusalem, Israel

The Risen Lord Jesus Christ: Did Jesus die on the cross? (1)

Best Wishes for a Joyful Feast of the Resurrection of our Lord!

After Lent comes the most important feast day of all for Christians: Easter.
The liturgies of the Sacred Triduum and Easter celebrate the crucifixion, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Resurrection: a Divine Mystery

All liturgies are important, but Easter is special among them for Christians. We believe in the salvation of souls through the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. I knew very little about Easter until I began studying Christianity in preparation for my baptism. Probably, for most non-Christians (such as I once was), it is just a day of Easter eggs and the Easter Bunny. Common sense tells us that the resurrection of a dead person ought to be simply impossible. How can anyone be expected to believe such a thing?

Well, if we believe that Jesus Christ is God, and that God is omnipotent, it follows that our Lord Jesus can perform any miracle he wants to, including the miracle of bringing himself back to life after having died. And the Church teaches that that is exactly what he did. For those of sufficient faith, that answer is enough. I suspect, however, that for most people, faith needs a little help from circumstantial evidence.

I, too, used to be skeptical with regard to the resurrection. I thought that perhaps Jesus was in a state of suspended animation—a kind of swoon, or coma—when He was taken down from the cross, and that He recovered from his “swoon” in the sepulcher. However, I found out that this was almost impossible. The Roman soldiers of the time were well versed in how to execute criminals. It would have taken a miracle to survive a Roman crucifixion.

The Fate of Spartacus and his 6,000 Companions

So, what exactly was the punishment of crucifixion? Crucifixion was a method of execution intended especially for the lower classes and slaves who tried to rebel against the Roman government. It was not used on Roman citizens.

One well-known crucifixion figure is the story of Spartacus and his 6,000 companions.

Between 73 and 71 B.C., the gladiator Spartacus led a slave revolt (gladiators were members of the slave class in Roman society). However, the rebel slaves were defeated by the Roman army. The Roman soldiers made a long line of crosses along the road connecting Rome and Capua, and crucified Spartacus and 6,000 of his companions on these crosses.

Crucifixion was chosen because it was torture and execution combined in one simple device. Also, the simplicity of the method made it convenient for executing a large number of criminals at once.

Since the Romans had already successfully crucified Spartacus and 6,000 of his companions, it would have been a simple task to execute Jesus and two other criminals. No record of a criminal surviving a Roman execution has ever been found. The most likely reason is that no one survived.

Was it Possible to Survive a Crucifixion?

During a Roman Crucifixion, there was always a soldier on guard at the cross until the criminal was dead. It generally took about two or three days for the criminal to die. If the Romans were in a hurry, and the criminal did not die quickly enough, an iron club was sometimes used to break his legs, so that his body would lose support and he would die quickly from suffocation.

Also, to make him an example, the criminal was crucified in full view of the passersby and of the people. It is said that sometimes, as the criminals were hanging helplessly on their crosses, vultures and crows would fly down and peck at their eyeballs.

Roman law stated clearly that if the criminal survived or escaped, the soldier on guard was to be crucified in the criminal’s place. This ensured that the soldier did not fail in his duty.

In the case of Jesus, he died only three hours after being nailed to the cross. That was a shorter time than usual, so the soldier on guard had to make sure that Jesus was actually dead. To that end, he drove a spear through Jesus’ side and into his heart. Even if Jesus had survived the massive blood loss from his scourging, the crown of thorns, and the nail wounds, a spear through the heart would surely have killed him. John was standing by the cross, and watched the whole thing. John’s Gospel describes what was undoubtedly a piercing of the heart.

The Heart of Jesus Pierced by a Spear

Here is how St. John describes the piercing of our Lord’s side:

“But one of the soldiers pierced [Jesus’] side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. He who saw it has borne witness” (John 19:34–35).

My question here is, what was the “water” that John saw? According to a joint paper by William D. Edwards, MD; Wesley J. Gabel, MDiv; Floyd E. Hosmer, MS, AM, the water that flowed from Jesus’ body was probably serous pleural fluid and pericardial fluid. The paper is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

However, this theory would be true only if Jesus had been impaled from the right side. The Gospel says nothing about whether Jesus was pierced on the right side or on the left side. What is interesting, however, is that the man whose image is on the Shroud of Turin, thought to be Jesus, was pierced on the right side.

Is this a coincidence? There is more than one curious fact about this cloth. The Shroud of Turin has many mysterious characteristics that cannot be explained scientifically.

At any rate, given the thoroughness of Roman executions, it is impossible to believe that the Roman soldiers could have failed to execute our Lord. The idea that Jesus, after having been tortured and crucified by the Romans, was not dead, but only swooning, does not stand up to scrutiny.

There are also other theories designed to explain away the Resurrection, such as that what the Apostles saw on Easter was not a resurrected body, but rather a hallucination or a ghost, or that the Apostles simply invented the story of the Resurrection, and perpetrated a massive fraud. I have examined these theories as well; I do not have time to explain all the results of my research in this post, but suffice it to say: all of the other rationalizing theories also do not stand up to scrutiny.

The more one knows, the more difficult it seems to be to doubt the resurrection of our Lord Jesus.

Image: Two sheep by fsHH

Continued in part two.

Good Friday and the Passion of the Lord

The Friday of the Passion, or, Good Friday

Maundy Thursday, the day of our commemoration of the “Last Supper,” is over; The Friday of the Passion is upon us. The Friday of the Passion, the day of the suffering and death of Jesus Christ, is the most solemn day of the Holy Triduum (the last three days of Lent, consisting of Maundy Thursday, The Friday of the Passion, and Holy Saturday). In English it is called “Good Friday;” there are many theories as to the origin of this name. It commemorates the Crucifixion of our Lord, the day of salvation, when, as we Christians believe, Christ, who is perfectly good, became obedient unto death, in order to atone for the sins of all mankind.

Good Friday Liturgy

Good Friday is a day of prayer and fasting. Below is a small sampling of what the Catholic Church around the world looks like on Good Friday.

Christians In Jerusalem Walk In A procession To Mark Good Friday | Good Friday 2023 LIVE | News18

In Jerusalem

In Jerusalem, many Christian clergy and laypeople gather each year to pray and walk in procession along the Via Dolorosa, or Way of the Cross, the path which, according to legend, Jesus followed on his way to the Crucifixion. The fourteen “Stations,” where the procession stops for special prayers and meditations, are places associated with Jesus either in the Bible or in unwritten tradition. The procession along the Via Dolorosa was begun in Jerusalem by Franciscan friars. Since then, Franciscans have been walking the Way of the Cross every Friday. A live news broadcast shows many people participating in this year’s event. I could also see many Franciscan friars walking the Way of the Cross.

In the Vatican

April 7, 2023, Celebration of the Passion of the Lord Pope Francis

In the Vatican, the Good Friday Mass was celebrated in St. Peter’s Basilica. Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa, a priest and theologian of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchins, delivered the homily. Using Nietzsche as an example, Cardinal Cantalamessa explained that if God is “dead,” it is usually man himself that is enthroned in the central place formerly occupied by God. He also noted how dangerous it is to be ruled by an imperfect man rather than by God, who is perfectly good. In particular, he warned that Western countries, which have become de-Christianized, are in danger of losing their souls in the black hole of relativism and nihilism, which is the end result of atheism.

In Washington, D.C., U.S.A

At the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., U.S.A., the liturgy was conducted by the Most Reverend Walter R. Rossi. Fr. Rossi described the history of the Way of the Cross, and talked about his favorite book of meditations on it (the one written by St. Alphonsus Liguori). He also sang two verses (in English translation) from the Stabat Mater, the traditional 14th-century chant often sung during the Way of the Cross. He also used the Virgin Mary’s grief as an analogy, referring to the grief of mothers who lost their children in violent crimes and wars. He also emphasized that the Virgin Mary is our protector. He concluded by asking the Blessed Virgin Mary to help us remain close to Christ until the end.

In Tokyo, Japan

At St. Mary’s Cathedral in Tokyo, Japan, Archbishop Isao Kikuchi said that the Lord’s Passion Day, where we find the cross of the Lord, is the starting point of our faith. He also spoke of aligning our hearts with the Passion of the Lord, who suffered for us. He encouraged us to follow the example of the Virgin Mary, who remained by the cross, and found the way to the true glory and hope that lies beyond suffering. Finally, he prayed for the Pope, for all those who serve the Church, for the victims of the earthquake in southeastern Turkey, for medical personnel, and for all those suffering from war.

Praying the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary

When I pray the Rosary, I find that I have always been least fond of the Sorrowful Mysteries (usually prayed on Tuesday and Friday), which end with the death of Christ on the cross. The “realness” of the story of our Lord’s cruel treatment and execution makes me feel uncomfortable.

When I feel that way, I continue praying the rosary, while trying to focus on the thought that Christ died for love of us, and brought salvation to us all. I am a little surprised at myself, because even when I watch movies that are somewhat violent, etc., they seem fake to me, and they don’t bother me. Maybe it is the weight of my sins that I find so horrible and disgusting.

I often wonder if I am conscious enough of my sins. Am I able to think like the “good thief” who, being crucified to one side of Christ, could say to the thief on the other side, “We are receiving the due reward of our deeds” (Luke 23:41)? Our Lord tells us, “Take up your cross and follow me.” I pray that Christ will grant me the forgiveness of my sins, and the courage to carry my own cross.

Image: Reproduction of painting Pieta of Villeneuve les Avignon. The author is probably Enguerrand Quarton. 15. century, Louvre, Paris.

Holy Thursday, the Day of the Last Supper

Only three days left until Easter on Sunday.

Maundy Thursday, the Thursday before Easter, is the commemoration of the Last Supper. The “Last Supper” is the name given to the meal (probably a Passover meal) that Jesus ate with his disciples before his Passion. It is one of the oldest Christian feasts; it is not known when it began. Perhaps the twelve Apostles celebrated some version of the Maundy Thursday liturgy in the earliest years of the Church.

The exact date of the Last Supper, and whether or not it was a Passover meal, is the subject of much debate, and theologians and researchers hold many competing theories on the topic. I will not discuss those theories here. Suffice it to say that the Last Supper, and the commemoration of it on Maundy Thursday, are important in almost all Christian denominations.

“The Last Supper,” as Painted by a Genius Artist

The Last Supper. 1495- 1498, Leonard da Vinci

Numerous artists have depicted the Last Supper. However, one of the most famous paintings in the world is Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” (1495-1498), in the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan. The painting is so poorly preserved that it is said to be a miracle that it still exists.

In Leonardo’s painting, Judas, who later betrays Jesus, can be seen holding a bag of money. Although this is not the traditional method of portraying the story as the Bible describes it, it is instantly understood as “Judas the betrayer,” creating a more dramatic effect. And then there is John. Traditionally, John’s head is depicted facing Jesus. In Leonardo’s painting, however, John’s head is facing away from Jesus. This creates a space between Jesus and John, and the visual effect is to draw more attention to Jesus in the center. What is interesting is that only Jesus is depicted with a halo, not his disciples.

Unlike the more traditional work painted by the nun Neri (introduced below), Leonardo’s painting is one in which the human drama between the apostle and Jesus is conveyed with great feeling. While the disciples of Jesus and Jesus are depicted realistically, the painting as a whole gives us a sense of holiness and mystery. The genius of Leonardo da Vinci is truly amazing.

“The Last Supper”, as Painted by a Nun

The Last Supper. 1550s, Plautilla Neri

In a composition very similar to Leonardo’s painting, Plautilla Neri (1524-1588), a Dominican nun, also painted a version of the Last Supper, in Santa Maria Novella in Florence; it is the only surviving painting that bears her signature.

Judas in Neri’s painting is depicted as the biblical figure “who has dipped his hand in the dish” (Matthew 26:23). Also, Judas is the only person depicted in the painting without a haloNeri’s depiction does not emphasize the originality of the artist, as Leonardo’s does, but is traditional and based on the Bible.

While nuns of the time (if they were artists) usually made only small works, such as book illustrations, this is a large 7m x 2m oil painting. I suspect that Neri may have been inspired by Leonardo’s “Last Supper.” Maybe it was the example of Leonardo’s painting that inspired her to make her own painting so large.

The Meaning of Lamentations

Traditionally, on Holy Thursday morning, we sing some verses from the beginning of the Lamentations of Jeremiah (“Lamentationes” in Latin, “Threnoi” in Greek, “Kinoth” in Hebrew). Symbolically, the Lamentations relate to the condition of the world after the murder of the Messiah, and to the condition of a soul that has fallen into sin.

According to Haydock’s Bible commentary, the prophet Jeremiah spoke the words of God relating to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. Whether the Lamentations were written before or after the destruction of Jerusalem is unknown.

St. Jerome states that the Lamentations were written before the destruction of Jerusalem, at the time of the death of King Josiah. If so, of course, the same Lamentations could also have been sung again at the time of the death of King Zechariah and the destruction of Jerusalem. Symbolically, the Lamentations relate to the condition of the world after the murder of the Messiah, and to the condition of a soul that has fallen into sin.

Ancient Chant for Maundy Thursday

Gregorian chant began in Rome, and spread throughout the Western world, but Spain and Portugal have their own unique kind of chant, called Mozarabic chant. Like Gregorian chant, Mozarabic chant is sung in Latin. Its melody, perhaps influenced by Arabic music, is a melody of deep sadness befitting a lament. When I listen to the rich spiritual sound of the Mozarabic chanting of the Lamentations, I can feel the close connection between music, prayer, and faith.

Mozarabic Lamentations | Holy Thursday, Lectio 1/Gregorian Chant Academy

Here is the content of the chant, in English (King James Version):





1 (Aleph) How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of people! 

How is she become as a widow! she that was great among the nations, 

And princess among the provinces, how is she become tributary! 

2 (Beth) She weepeth sore in the night, and her tears are on her cheeks: 

Among all her lovers she hath none to comfort her: 

All her friends have dealt treacherously with her, they are become her enemies. 

3 (Gimel) Judah is gone into captivity because of affliction, and because of great servitude: 

She dwelleth among the heathen, she findeth no rest: 

All her persecutors overtook her between the straits. 

4 (Daleth) The ways of Zion do mourn, because none come to the solemn feasts: 

All her gates are desolate: her priests sigh: 

Her virgins are afflicted, and she is in bitterness. 

5 (He) Her adversaries are the chief, her enemies prosper; 

For the Lord hath afflicted her for the multitude of her transgressions: 

Her children are gone into captivity before the enemy. 

Traditionally, Holy Thursday Mass was celebrated in the morning, like other Masses, but since Vatican II, it has been celebrated in the evening. In the church, we prayed for families, priests, the sick, the dead, and for the United States to respect all human life (from conception to natural death).

The end of the Lenten season is now only two days away.

Should the Seal of the Confessional be protected by law?

Some stories in the news recently have led to a controversy over the confidentiality of information divulged during the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Such confidentiality is known as “the seal of the confessional,” or “clergy-penitent privilege.” The controversy concerns whether it is advisable, or even constitutional, to legally require priests to report to the police any information they have heard in the confessional, if that information relates to the sexual abuse of children.

The states of Washington and Vermont are deliberating on whether to repeal their civil laws that protect the seal of the confessional. In response, Bishop Thomas Daly of the Diocese of Spokane, Washington, told the Washington Examiner, in an interview this week, that Catholic clergy would refuse to comply if the bill (HB 1098) proposed in the state legislature is enacted –LifeSite News, March 3.

The Confidentiality of the Confessions is non-negotiable

Bishop Thomas Daly’s declared that, if such legislation were enacted, he would go to jail rather than break the seal of the confessional. He added that he was confident that his fellow Catholic clergymen would all do the same. Furthermore, Bishop Daly affirmed that “the integrity of the sacraments is non-negotiable.”

According to the March 8 edition of America Magazine, the States of Washington and Delaware will decide within a few weeks whether the bill will become law.

Also, in Wilmington, Delaware, Bishop Koenig of Wilmington stated that the seal of the confessional will not be broken “under any circumstances,” despite the proposed legislation against the sacraments. – LifeSite News, Mar 9.

The Delaware News (March 8) says a decision will be made within a few weeks on whether this bill will become law.

In both cases, it appears that the information has not yet been updated since March 8.

In 2019, the California legislature attempted to enact a law that would have required priests to become mandatory reporters of certain kinds of information heard in the confessional. That attempt failed. Based on precedent, I expect this year’s attempts to fail as well, but I am not convinced that somebody will not try the same thing again someday. There is a strong possibility that similar attempts to hinder the work of priests will find their way into legislatures in the future.

A Church Interior with Women at the Confessional 1863
Ludwig Passini

Is the Seal of the Confessional Unnecessary?

On the other hand, a certain priest supported the idea of revoking the clergy-penitent privilege. The following is a summary of the story:

Fr. James E. Connell, a retired Catholic priest from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, wrote an editorial in which he supported the idea of revoking clergy-client privilege. Wisconsin Archbishop Jerome Listecki lamented the disturbing words of Fr. Connell, and stripped him of all faculties to administer the sacrament of reconciliation.- LifeSite, Mar 23.

The right to administer the Sacrament of Reconciliation comes from a priest’s archbishop or bishop; therefore, Fr. Connell will no longer be able to hear confessions in any Catholic diocese in the world. If Fr. Connell (or any other priest) were to break the seal of the confessional, he would incur automatic excommunication.

The Sacrament of Reconciliation (or Confession), in which one confesses one’s sins to God through a priest, is different from what the world considers “confession” to a person. Forgiveness of sins involves the salvation of a soul. Some priests have been martyred for not revealing the sins of penitents. And any priest who, under any circumstances whatsoever, reveals information heard during a confession, incurs automatic excommunication.

I believe that Archbishop Listecki’s revocation of the faculties of Fr. Connell was also intended to eliminate the risk of his excommunication. And I hope that the confidence of the faithful that the content of their confessions will remain secret will encourage them to receive more frequently the sacrament that is the salvation of their souls.

Lawyers Consider Legislation to Mandate Reporting of Confessions

In an article published by the Ethics and Public Policy Center, Eric Kniffin, an outstanding First Amendment lawyer who has defended the rights of over 300 religious and other groups, points out three major problems with the proposed laws in Washington State, Vermont, and Delaware, namely:

1) The proposed laws incorrectly presume that the government could coerce priests to break the seal of the confessional. In reality, if these laws were passed, the result would not be priests “turning State’s evidence;” the result would be priests in jail.

2) The proposed laws incorrectly presume that breaking the seal of the confessional would make children safer. In reality, if these laws were passed, abusers (and other sinners as well) would tend to stay away from confession. Children would be less safe as a result.

3) The proposed laws discriminate against religion. The proposed laws attack clergy-penitent privilege (i.e. the seal of the confessional), but they make no mention of attorney-client privilege (lawyers do not reveal what their clients tell them). In other words, according to the proposed laws, secrecy is OK if it is for secular reasons, but it is not OK if it is for religious reasons. That is discrimination against religion, which is unconstitutional.

Kniffin concludes by quoting Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby, who recently wrote, “Protecting children is a matter of crucial importance. Protecting religious faith is too. It isn’t the job of lawmakers to privilege one of those worthy aims over the other. It is to strive, with care and respect, to do both.”

Freedom of religion is important for everyone. In a society that forces priests to choose between excommunication and arrest, no one is truly free.

Revealing the Content of Confessions

As mentioned earlier, what is said in the confessional is strictly confidential.

Two years ago, a book was published that comes close to exposing such confessional confidentiality, namely: Je Vous Pardonne Tous vos Péchés (I Forgive All Your Sins) by Vincent Mongaillard, France. The book is a collection of true stories, provided by 40 priests, about confessions that they have heard. Both priests and penitents remain anonymous; one priest who was interviewed for the book explained that, in order to avoid violating Church law, all personal details of the confessions were changed.

Some excerpts were translated and published by Harper’s Magazine; they range from the comical confessions of a couple in their fifties to the regret one priest felt after giving absolution to a criminal. My impression (based solely on the excerpts I read) is that most of the confessions seem to be about common errors people make (many of them, for example, involve marital infidelity).

Even if the book does not violate Church law, I still feel that the dignity of the Sacrament of Reconciliation would be better served by concealing such stories than by revealing them.

A point made by a priest about the Sacrament of Reconciliation

In an interview on LifeSite News, Michel Rodrigue, a priest also known as a mystic, was talking about the Spiritual War are facing. He emphasized the importance of receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation along with prayer. Regarding the Sacrament of Reconciliation, Fr. Rodriguez gave the following advice:

1) Confess both mortal and venial sins.
2) Confess sins of omission, that is, the things that you should have done but did not do.

Until now, I have not paid much attention to 2), the things I should have done but did not do. However, it occurred to me that the simple fact that I didn’t do some things — things that might be considered duties, or things merely advisable — could be a sign of sloth, which is one of the seven deadly sins.

I realized that just because I am working and keeping myself busy, that does not mean that I am free from sloth. Sloth is the sin of spiritual laziness, which is difficult to become aware of, and troublesome to deal with, without the grace of God.

It is said that, since Vatican II, the number of people going to confession has decreased. I have experienced many times that my mind and body have become lighter after receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I am not the only one. A formerly Protestant acquaintance of mine told me that after he converted and made his first confession, when he received sacramental absolution the first time, he felt a sense of exhilaration and lightness, as if a huge load had literally been lifted from his back.

Mother T. always told me how important it was to pray and receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We should not miss out on the benefit of being offered such a powerful sacrament.

The Seal of the Confessional and Religious Freedom

In the United States, the rift between State and Church is growing ever larger. As mentioned earlier, the biggest problem is the pressure that threatens the religious freedom of the Church. Pressures include laws that would force Catholic hospitals to perform abortions, laws that would make Church-affiliated organizations pay for contraceptives used by their employees, laws that would force Catholic adoption agencies to place children with same-sex couples, and (now) proposed laws that would revoke clergy-penitent privilege.

When people talk about requiring priests to break the seal of the confessional, it reminds of me of people who support the “ordination” of women; in both cases, they are talking about something that is quite simply impossible. Just as, in 1994, Pope John Paul II declared that “the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women,” so it is in this case, with respect to the revoking of clergy-penitent privilege: the Church has no authority to do it. The seal of the confessional is not only Church law, it is “God’s teaching;” even if the Pope himself wanted to change it, he could not.

The secular state, however, is not going to readily accept the fact that the Church has rights independent of it.

The real purpose of bringing up the language of “child sexual abuse” in regard to this issue is to sway people’s emotions, and blind their eyes to the fact that the proposed laws seek to change a thing that cannot, in fact, be changed. The proposed laws are not really about preventing child abuse. They are nothing less than an attack on freedom of religion, an attack on the sacraments, and an attack on the Church.

Image: Wooden judge`s gavel. Law. Judge`s office

The Pardon Crucifix: Indulgenced by Pope St. Pius X

Do you know about the Pardon Crucifix?

Catholics have many treasures that have been “buried” in the long history of the Church and are now little known. Fr. Richard Heilman, the creator of the Combat Rosary (the official rosary of the Swiss Guard), said that when the devil hates something, “he simply tries to hide it from people.” The Pardon Crucifix, which is not well known to the faithful, is one such treasure.

The origin of this type of crucifix is unknown, but it first became well-known in 1904, when some French priests introduced it to a cardinal at the Marian Congress. In the following year, devotion to this crucifix was encouraged with an indulgence promulgated by Pope St. Pius X.

Sometimes the Pardon Crucifix is flanked by the Miraculous Medal of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the St. Benedict Medal. Any one of these sacramentals would be hateful to the devil, but the three combined form a powerful weapon against evil.

The Prayers and Indulgences of the Pardon Crucifix

The indulgence attached to the Pardon Crucifix, like all indulgences, offers reduction of penance, not absolution of sin. For a moment I thought it was absolution (as if I didn’t have to go to confession) and other such imprudent thoughts.

In the early sixteenth century, there was some confusion about the exact nature of indulgences, but this matter (along with many others) was clarified at the Council of Trent in 1563. Since then, an indulgence has been clearly defined as “a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, §1471).

With regard to the Pardon Crucifix, Pope St. Pius X granted the following indulgences:

§  Whoever carries on his person the Pardon Crucifix, may thereby gain an indulgence.

§  For devoutly kissing the Crucifix, an indulgence is gained.

§  Whoever says one of the following invocations before this crucifix may gain each time an indulgence: “Our Father who art in heaven, forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” “I beg the Blessed Virgin Mary to pray to the Lord our God for me.”

§  Whoever, habitually devout to this Crucifix, will fulfill the necessary conditions of Confession and Holy Communion, may gain a Plenary Indulgence on the following feasts: On the feasts of the Five Wounds of our Lord, the Invention of the Holy Cross, the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, the Immaculate Conception, and the Seven Dolors of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

§  Whoever, at the moment of death, fortified with the Sacraments of the Church, or contrite of heart in the supposition of being unable to receive them, will kiss this Crucifix and ask pardon of God for his sins, and pardon his neighbor, will gain a Plenary Indulgence.

The feast days mentioned by the Pope are as follows:

– February 6 (in Lisbon, the Friday following Ash Wednesday): The Feast of the Five Sacred Wounds of the Lord

– May 3: Feast of the Discovery of the Holy Cross

– September 14: Feast of the Holy Cross

– December 8: Feast of the Immaculate Conception

– Friday before Palm Sunday, and September 15: Feast of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Also, he wrote this:

 “Pontifical Rescript of June 1905,
to M.M. the Abbes Lemann:

Prefect of the Sacred Congregation of Indulgences

To the faithful, who devoutly kiss this Crucifix and gain these precious indulgences, we recommend to have in view the following intentions: To testify love for Our Lord and the Blessed Virgin; gratitude towards our Holy Father, the Pope, to beg for the remission of one’s sins; the deliverance of the souls in Purgatory; the return of the nations to the Faith; forgiveness among Christians; reconciliation among members of the Catholic Church.”

By another Pontifical rescript of November 14, 1905, Pope Pius X declared that the indulgences attached to the Pardon Crucifix are applicable to the souls in Purgatory.

The Pardon Crucifix, a lost indulgence

In the wake of the Second Vatican Council, Paul VI published a new Handbook of Indulgences, dated June 29 (the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul), 1968.

Near the beginning of that book, it states: “suppressed are all general grants of indulgences not incorporated into the new Enchiridion [Handbook] as well as all the legislation on indulgences of the Codex Iuris Canonici…” and so on. In other words, all indulgences were cancelled, except for the ones contained in the new book.

The thicker of the two books is the pre-Vatican II Handbook of Indulgences, and the thinner one is the post-Vatican II Handbook. You can see for yourself that there has been a drastic reduction in the number of indulgences. The Pardon Crucifix indulgence is not contained in the new book.

On the other hand, however, the Pardon Crucifix (like every crucifix), the Miraculous Medal of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the St. Benedict Medal, are all powerful sacramentals; and prayers to the saints and prayer before a crucifix still carry the benefit of indulgences. In short, the Pardon Crucifix, and the medals in some cases attached to it, together form a great spiritual treasure. I believe that it is a blessing from God, an inevitability in the name of coincidence.

The Pardon Crucifix in the Scapular

I came to know about this crucifix thanks to a priest who sent one to me from Japan. I had never heard of the Pardon Crucifix until then. As I mentioned earlier, it combines (in this case) three powerful sacramentals in one. It gave me great strength as a person with chronic family problems.

The crucifix that was sent to me was also placed in the scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. I think it is a very good idea to put the Pardon Crucifix in the Scapular, because if you are allergic to metal, as I am, you can wear it without worrying about your allergy, and you will receive the added benefit of the Scapular. I am very grateful.

Although the Pardon Crucifix no longer carries an official indulgence, it still symbolically carries the body of our Lord. I sincerely hope that this powerful sacramental will become more widely known.

Source for Papal documents: The Pardon Crucifix | Catholicism Pure & Simple (

St. Patrick: The Life of St. Patrick by Muirch (2)

The Life of St. Patrick by Muirchu goes on to tell about the first person that St. Patrick baptized in Ireland. That person was a man named Dichu, a pig keeper. After baptizing Dichu, St. Patrick set out for his former master’s house, where he had been enslaved. He wanted to baptize the master who had enslaved him. But before Patrick got there, someone told the slave master something to the effect that Patrick had now returned to become his master. The slave master was so infatuated with the devil that he gathered all his possessions around him in his house, and set fire to it all, rather than let Patrick become his master. He committed suicide.

St. Patrick’s Prophecy

Patrick arrived in time to see the slave master’s house burning, but too late to save him. He looked at the burning house and just cried for a while. He left a prophecy from God about the slave master’s family, namely, that this man’s sons would not rule over others, but rather, would be subject to others, from generation to generation forever.

“I do not know, God knows.” Patrick repeated several times, meaning, “It was never a curse. It is a prophecy from God.” For Christians, suicide is one of the most serious sins and a terrible temptation from the devil. The slave master rejected God’s salvation, was tempted by the devil, and chose death rather than humility, or than the giving of his worldly wealth to anyone.

I believe that this legend, though adapted, could possibly have been true. It is not a common miracle story. It is more realistic than most legends, in that Patrick, who was trying to bring salvation, was just crying, and the slave master’s family received a prophecy of a dark future from God. What happened to that family afterwards is unknown. However, the fact that there are no further stories of miracles or other subsequent events makes me think that it is highly likely that they met an unfortunate end, as St. Patrick foretold.

St. Patrick’s grave

St. Patrick`s Tomb, Downpatrick, Northern Ireland

St. Patrick’s grave is in Downpatrick, Northern Ireland. Legend has it that before Patrick died, he left a wish about where his body should be buried.

He instructed the people (so the legend says) that, when he died and his body was in its coffin, they should put the coffin on an oxcart, and then let the ox pull the cart wherever it wanted to go. Wherever the ox stopped, that is where Patrick was to be buried. The people followed Patrick’s wish, and the ox pulled the cart to the top of a hill, where, accordingly, Patrick was buried. A stone was set up to mark the spot, and it soon became a popular site for pilgrimages.

Later, in the twelfth century, St. Patrick’s relics were moved to the Church of the Holy Trinity (Down Cathedral Church), where they remain today, together with those of St. Bridget and St. Columba. The hill, however, remains a major pilgrimage site.

However, the traditional story that St. Patrick’s relics are now in Down Cathedral seems to be only legend: according to E. Sellner, no one knows where he was buried.

Seeing (online) the tomb of St. Patrick, I was reminded of the gravestones at the small but historic St. Patrick’s Church (which is now closed) in a certain town I once visited. There were several graves in the back of that church. Being a history buff, one day I went to see the graves out of curiosity. I found out that the graves belonged to the past priests of the church, and among them was the grave of a young priest who died when he was in his 30s. Since he was in his 30s, I wondered what life had been like for him; it must have been hard to accept death at such a young age. I am sure that, like St. Patrick, he left his hometown, followed God’s will, and became one of the unknown saints.

St. Patrick’s Feast Day during Lent

Every year, when the Feast of St. Patrick comes around, which means that Lent will be over in a few weeks, I am encouraged—mainly for the not very spiritual reason that I refrain from sweets as much as possible during Lent, and I want to eat as much sweet food as I can on Easter.

During Lent, the feast days are purposely kept few (in the Novus Ordo calendar). Reflecting on the life of St. Patrick, a life of continuous hardship, I feel that he is a saint suitable for the Lenten season. Someday, I would like to visit the places in Ireland related to St. Patrick, and attend Mass there.

Image: Saint Patrick statue in Downpatrick

Source for the life of Patrick: Davies, Oliver: Celtic Spirituality. PaulistPress, 1999.

Source for St. Patrick’s burial place: Sellner, Edward: Wisdom of the Celtic Saints. Ave Maria Press, 1993.

St. Patrick: Irish Apostle whose Symbol is a Clover (1)

The feast day of St. Patrick, March 17, is here again this year. St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland. Many Americans have Irish ancestry. For this reason, he is a popular saint in the United States.

Traditionally, three-leaf clovers (shamrocks) are used in decorations on St. Patrick’s Day. This is because, according to legend, Patrick used a three-leaf clover to explain to people about the Trinity, a mystery of God that is incomprehensible to the human mind. In fact, this story seems to have been invented in the 18th century. However, we can learn a little about the actual life of St. Patrick from his “Confessions” (meaning, his autobiography) and his “Letter to the Soldiers of the Coroticus”.

The Life of St. Patrick: his journey to becoming a missionary in Ireland

The dates of the birth and death of St. Patrick, who spread Christianity to Ireland, are unknown. It is believed that he was probably born in England in the late 4th or early 5th century. According to Patrick’s own recollections, he was the son of a Christian deacon, but was not a deeply religious man. The following is a brief account of Patrick’s journey to Ireland, where he was led to become a missionary.

Patrick was about 16 years old when an event occurred that would change his life forever. He was captured by Irish raiders, enslaved, and sold as a shepherd. Regarding his being placed in such a difficult situation, he wrote in his Confessions: “I deserved it because I had turned away from God and had not kept His commandments. I did not listen to the priests who advised me on how to be saved.” Being a shepherd in those days was a demanding job that constantly put one’s life in danger. Patrick continues that such an ordeal was not a punishment from God, but a blessing from God, who instilled in him more faith than he had had.

God’s Mysterious Guidance

His life in Ireland consisted of tending sheep and praying. One day, while he was sleeping, he heard a mysterious voice telling him that he would return to his homeland. Finally, the mysterious voice said, “Behold, your ship is ready.” And so, at the age of 23, Patrick traveled more than 200 miles, as a fugitive slave, to the landing place. When Patrick finally made it to the ship, the captain refused to let him aboard. Undeterred, Patrick prayed to God. Through God’s action, he was allowed to board the ship.

Three days later, Patrick and the other passengers got off the ship in England and began traveling through the wilderness. After 28 days in the wilderness, they finally ran out of food. The captain of the ship asked Patrick to pray to the all-powerful and great Christian God. Patrick prayed, and a herd of pigs appeared; Patrick and his companions killed the pigs, ate the pork, and regained their strength. Patrick also describes how he was attacked by demons that night and was saved by prayer.

In the past, travel in Ireland was safer by boat than by land. Patrick’s account of his wilderness journey is proof of the dangers and difficulties involved, which would be unthinkable today. It is unclear whether Patrick made it safely to his hometown or whether he gave up the journey and remained in a different place for a while.

France to Ireland

A few years later, Patrick was captured a second time. Finally, he escaped again and returned to his parents in England. However, due to his lack of education and his harsh experiences, he found it difficult to return to a normal life. Patrick felt a strong sense of mission from God and decided to go to Rome, even though his parents and relatives tried to stop him. On his way to Rome, he met St. Germanus. Patrick was to study for the priesthood under St. Germanus in Auxerre, Gaul (France).

It was during this time that he also received some mysterious guidance. He had a dream in which a man named Victoricus brought him countless letters from Ireland. With God’s guidance, Patrick decided to return to Ireland.

The rest of Patrick’s life is not from his own autobiography, but is a legend that has been passed down from generation to generation. What can be stated as historical fact is that Patrick introduced Christianity to Ireland, as well as the written word, the Roman calendar, and church traditions. The Christianity spread by Patrick took root throughout Ireland. After his death, Ireland became one of the most monasticized countries in the world, a storehouse of knowledge, and a training center for priests, monks, and nuns. Even monks and nuns from Rome came to study there.

A Strange Druidic Prophecy.

These stories are from the Life of St. Patrick by Muirchu, which was written about 150 years after Patrick’s death:

After arriving in Ireland, Patrick, who was now a bishop, went to Tara, which was ruled by a pagan king (the son of Nial) who had many Druids with him.
About two or three years before the arrival of Patrick, the Druids began prophesying to the king that someone was coming to their island who would try to destroy their way of life. The Druids’ prophecy, in poetic form (as was customary at the time), describes Patrick and Christianity with remarkable accuracy. It went like this:

The Druids’ Prophecy

A new way of life is about to come to Ireland from the outside.
It will be like a kingdom; it will come from far away across the seas;
It will bring an annoying teaching with it.
This teaching will be given out by a handful, yet received by many,
And it will be held in honor by all.
It will overthrow kingdoms, kill the kings who resist it,
And seduce the crowds.
It will destroy all our gods, and cast out our Druidic skills and works;
And this kingdom will have no end.
One with shaven head will come here with his curled-headed stick.
He will sing foul things from his home with perforated head.
From his table in the front part of his house,
His whole family will reply to him, “Let it be, let it be!”

Is the Druidic prophecy real?

I love myths, legends, and folk tales. One reason for this is that some of the tales passed down to us are based on fact, albeit adapted or exaggerated.

The ancient Druids were famous for sacrificing human beings in a cruel manner and for being able to foretell the future. Clearly, the Druids practiced a satanic religion. If the Druids’ prophecies were made with the help of demonic forces, it would explain why the content of those prophecies sometimes reminds me of the stories of demons who do not want to (or cannot) describe holy things, and who use the names of everyday objects to describe them.

In William Caxton’s translation of The Golden Legend, there is a story about an exorcist’s chalice, which the devil calls a “pot.” Of course, the stories in The Golden Legend are not always historically true, but it seems to me that all the descriptions of holy things in the Druidic prophecies are quite similar, using the names of everyday objects.

Exorcist Fr. Vincent Lampert stated in one interview that demons avoid talking about holy things. The Druidic prophecy describes a Catholic bishop with a shaved head and a staff, but it does so indirectly. And the final “may it be so” is a translation of the Hebrew word “Amen.”

Although this story may have been invented later, I think it is a very interesting prophecy because of the cultural background of Ireland at that time.

Continued in part two.

Image: Scenes from the Life of Saint Patrick. National Gallery of Ireland

Source for the life of Patrick: Celtic Spirituality. Oliver Davies : PaulistPress, 1999.