A Tale Of Two Cities: The City of Man and The City of God

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.” – Charles Dickens

A Tale of Two Cities is a historical novel by Charles Dickens, set in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution. The novel tells the story of the French Doctor Manette, his 18-year-long imprisonment in the Bastille in Paris and his release to live in London with his daughter Lucie, whom he had never met. The story is set against the conditions that led up to the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror.

Contrasted are the social and political events taking place in Paris and London during (and prior to) the French Revolution in the mid-to-late eighteenth century. Dickens draws unsettling parallels between the two cities, describing abject poverty, appalling starvation, rampant crime, ruthless capital punishment, and aristocratic greed. The novel questions the degree to which the French revolutionaries of the late eighteenth century upheld Enlightenment-era ideals of rational thought, tolerance, constitutional government, and liberty.

Book the First: Recalled to Life

Book One opens in 1775 and focuses on the symbolic resurrection of Dr. Alexandre Manette, who has finally been released after an eighteen-year imprisonment in the Bastille. Lucie Manette (his dutiful seventeen-year-old daughter) and Jarvis Lorry (a business-minded bank clerk) retrieve him from a garret at the top of a wine shop in Paris. Dr. Manette cannot remember who he is, but he begins to recall his past life after seeing Lucie for the first time.

Book the Second: The Golden Thread

Book Two takes place five years after the events of Book One. It focuses on Charles Darnay, a French emigrant who denounces his aristocratic heritage for a new life in England. Darnay, whose real surname is Evrémonde, is on trial for treason—but is spared by the intervention of Sydney Carton, a young, alcoholic attorney who happens to be nearly identical to Darnay. Dr. Manette, who made a full recovery from his trauma-induced memory loss, builds a successful medical practice in his home near Soho. Darnay, unaware that his father and uncle were responsible for Dr. Manette’s long imprisonment, falls in love with Lucie Manette, and the two marry. The novel’s preoccupation with revolutionary sentiment deepens as the French peasantry buckles under increasing oppression from the aristocracy. The French Revolution begins, and Darnay decides to rescue his uncle’s longtime servant, Monsieur Gabette, from Paris.

Book the Third: The Track of a Storm

Book Three highlights the brutality of the French Revolution, particularly during the Reign of Terror in Paris between 1793 and 1794. Darnay, who cannot hide his aristocratic heritage, is imprisoned for the crimes of the Evrémondes. He is initially released (with the help of Dr. Manette, who rushed to Paris with Lucie after they learned about Darnay’s imprisonment) but is rearrested and sentenced to death. Ultimately, Sydney Carton, the irredeemable drunk, selflessly switches places with Darnay—sacrificing himself so Lucie, whom he loves, can return to London with her husband and daughter.  – (e-notes.com)




The City of God is a challenge to human society to choose which city it wishes to be a part of, and Augustine sees his task as clearly marking out the parameters of each choice. Augustine concludes that the purpose of history is to show the unfolding of God’s plan, which involves fostering the City of Heaven and filling it with “worthy citizens.” For this purpose, God initiated all of creation itself. In such a grand plan, the fall of Rome is insignificant.

Augustine presents the four essential elements of his philosophy in The City of God: the church, the state, the City of Heaven, and the City of the World. The church is divinely established and leads humankind to eternal goodness, which is God.

St. Augustine, in addressing Rome, asserts that Christianity saved the city from complete destruction and that Rome’s fall was the result of internal moral decay. Not unlike the conditions leading to the French-Revolution. He further outlined his vision of two societies, that of the elect (“The City of God”) and that of the damned (“The City of Man”). That which made or broke society in the past is the same which makes or breaks society today. For a people who chose to turn a blind eye to their past, will find that those same destructive societal influences then are, today, simply called by a different name. Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen tells us that: “There are likely no new things happening in our world. There are only old things happening to new people.” We only fool ourselves to think otherwise. This is why society continues to make the same mistakes.

Carlton and Christ go to their deaths willingly. In that they are the same but different, for Christ is God and unlike Carlton was destined to do so from all eternity. Carlton was born into this world to live. Christ was born into it to die. Each in their death do it out of love: Carlton upon a guillotine and Christ upon the cross.

Each is seen by the worldly to be a failure for they lack the four things most deemed to be associated with the successful: wealth, power, pleasure and honor. Yet the desires of the world can enslave; for each can possess, as well as, be possessed. Of the two, Christ is the best example. He has no wealth – for he has but a cloth about His waist. He has no pleasure – for He has been scourged and beaten. He is powerless – for He is pinned to the cross by nails. He is not honored – for he is ridiculed, mocked and spit upon. Carlton and Christ, in particular, possess none of these supposed attributes. Carlton and Christ are denied the four things, and Christ, especially so, upon the cross. When one looks upon each in good conscience, common sense and a contrite heart; one sees a happy man. For the greatest attribute that ever was graced to man is love. This one attribute, so often foreign to the City of Man, opens wide the gate to the City of God. Where one never again will know the worst of times, but, rather, only the best of times.

In his sacrifice for the love of another, Sydney Carlton, has become, as St. Augustine says, a worthy citizen of “The City of God.” And Carlton validates this in his final words as he ascends to the Guillotine: “I see a beautiful city and a brilliant people rising from this abyss, and, in their struggles to be truly free, in their triumphs and defeats, through long years to come, I see the evil of this time and of the previous time of which this is the natural birth, gradually making expiation for itself and wearing out. . . .
I see that child who lay upon her bosom and who bore my name, a man winning his way up in that path of life which once was mine. I see him winning it so well, that my name is made illustrious there by the light of his. . . .
It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest I go to than I have ever known.”


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Where Advent Leads

CROSSROADS-Right Choices

xmas mangerLet’s go back and think of all the repercussions of the sin of Adam. There isn’t an Arab; there isn’t an American;  there isn’t a European; there isn’t an Asiatic in the world who does not feel within himself something of the complexes, the contradictions, the contrarieties, the civil wars, the rebellions inside of his human nature which he has inherited from Adam. We all struggle against temptation. Why? Simply because our human nature was disordered in the beginning. There is a terrific monotony about human nature. You must not think that you are the only one in the world who has a tortured soul. Now if the sin of Adam has had so many repercussions in every human being that has ever lived, shall we deny that the Incarnation of our Blessed Lord has had a greater repercussion? Can it be that the sin of one man can have greater effects and…

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Thanksgiving: Why Tradition Matters

On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving break, mom picked me up from school. We were going to stop by the supermarket, prior to returning home, for a few more Thanksgiving dinner food items. I was anxious to get home and enjoy every minute of the four-day vacation.

Dinner that night would be uneventful, as mom would be spending the better part of the evening prepping for Thanksgiving dinner. That preparation would include: homemade tomato sauce and meatballs, homemade pasta, sausage stuffing for the turkey,  pumpkin pie and, a favorite of mine, icebox cake(ingredients being-chocolate pudding, hand whipped cream, vanilla tea biscuits and chocolate wafer cookies).

When I awoke Thanksgiving morning, dad was still sleeping, having worked the night shift as a pressman. He would soon enjoy the wonderful aroma that I was, as I entered the kitchen. Mom had been up since 6AM stuffing the turkey, which was at this time in the oven. The cold and partially sunlit day, a prelude to the stark winter which lay ahead, made the warmth of the delightful happening in the kitchen quite welcome.

As mom was preparing a well-timed dinner (for which we would afterwards be most contentedly grateful), my dad was dressing for his most important task. He and my  brothers were assigned the duty of picking up our grandparents who would spend Thanksgiving with us. Mom had planned in some leeway, having had past experience with the potential pitfalls of the grandparent pickup. One can never anticipate who might have popped in at my grandparents’ house to visit; especially on a holiday. If there were visitors, then a holiday drink had to be shared, or an offense would have been committed. My dad and brothers were ones not to offend. Since cell phones were not available at that time, mom would place a call to my grandparents’ house to impress the urgency, upon my dad, that it might be wise to get on the  road.

When all had arrived, coats were removed and put aside as the ceremonial welcome took place. Part of which was a barrage of kisses from my grandparents, which necessitated a wipe down before dinner. At the conclusion of the welcoming ritual, all were seated around our kitchen table. We were all as snug as the proverbial bug in a rug. Few homes of that era had a formal dining room. The kitchen was a place for food preparation, consumption and celebration.

After Thanksgiving grace was offered, the first of three courses was served.                     First course: Antipasto, an assortment of Italian cold cuts, cheeses, olives and roasted peppers and yes-anchovies; served with crusted Italian bread.                                        Second course: Lasagna, and for my grandfather-homemade pasta, which was his preference over lasagna: how that’s possible is beyond my understanding. A side dish of meatballs and sausage simmering in mom’s tomato sauce complimented the pasta duo.                                                                                                                                                  Third, and main course: a large turkey, that could barely fit in the oven. Side dishes were: roasted white potatoes, baked sweet potatoes, assorted vegetables and gravy fashioned from turkey drippings. And last but not least-the stuffing. My brothers and I would jockey for position for the rights to the most sought after crusted portion of the stuffing. Beverages would include red and/or white wine, as is customarily served at an Italian dinning table; and, of course, soft drinks for the youngsters.

When a sufficient period of time had passed from the assault on such a culinary delight, dessert was then served. Out came an assortment of confectionary enticements; pumpkin pie, Icebox cake, assorted fruit, roasted chestnuts and an array of Italian pastries contributed by my grandmother. No self-respecting Italian ever arrived as a guest for dinner without having something in hand. Coffee would round out the last segment of the memorable meal. One side note of interest. Not once did anyone, save for the kids, leave their seat at the table-not even for a bathroom break.

As wonderful as the dinner was that my mom prepared; the conversation enjoyed by those present obviously is what kept us riveted to our seats. The stories that we have heard before always seem to have an added new dimension. As time passes and we grow older, we seem to appreciate them even more. We had a love for our parents and reverence for our grandparents that, too often, is not understood today. The traditions we now cherish were safeguarded by the transference from one generation to another. Although the warmth from the oven no longer lingered; still evident, was that certain warmth which is unique only to family. The best of who we are can be found in our past; as persons, families or a nation. Don’t leave it there.

As we prepare to share Thanksgiving with loved ones, we should pause and give a thought, before that celebration, to those who find themselves not so thankful. There are those in our country or in foreign lands who suffer greatly through poverty brought about by financial deficiency or that of persecution. We can relish our celebration all the more, knowing that these unfortunates have not been forgotten. If a family such a these can, at least for a day, enjoy what we take for granted, then the warmth we hold so dear will have substance. All that is needed to make such a day for someone, and possibly in so doing turn an attitude of despair to hope, is a contribution of time or money to those legitimate organizations that can make it happen. Turning thought into action, can transform dreams into reality.

Remember our unfortunate neighbors, near or far, in your Thanksgiving prayer;  so that this day made memorable for them, through charitable efforts, will not be just for a day, but through a change in circumstances, one of many to come. This prayer is not solely directed to the financially poor, but, as well, to those who suffer spiritual poverty. For we, who through that charitable effort, in filling a stomach, may likely open a heart; through which God can enter and heal a soul.

“For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat;  I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in… Then shall the just answer him, saying: Lord, when did we administer these things to you? And the king answering, shall say to them: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me.” – (Matthew 25:35-40) 

One who seeks a better life, just may find it by making life better for another.


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Why We Vote

The Crisis

by Thomas Paine

December 23, 1776

“THESE are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated. Britain, with an army to enforce her tyranny, has declared that she has a right (not only to TAX) but “to BIND us in ALL CASES WHATSOEVER” and if being bound in that manner, is not slavery, then is there not such a thing as slavery upon earth. Even the expression is impious; for so unlimited a power can belong only to God.” – Thomas Paine

Freedom is found only in democracy. And by its nature freedom, like free-will, is its own enemy. For one is free to preserve it or destroy it. When the creed of a nation is eroded then the identity and integriity of that nation has been compromised and the liberty of the people is then endangered. The American creed is the Declaration of Independence protected by its Constitution. Patriots in Thomas Paine’s day took to the musket and canon to protect liberty. Today we go to the polls. Let your voice heard and VOTE. Preserve liberty and the right to do good consience through common sense.

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“Something that has particularly characterized our age is what might be called “de-eucharistization”, a decline in the love of the Eucharist. It started when some theologians, completely misunderstanding the Vatican Council, felt that there was no such thing as the presence of Christ in the Sacrament and even cast some doubt on the value of it. So we suffer from what the whole world is suffering. Saint Paul calls it a want of feeling. Sociologists tell us that family life and relationships between people have very much degenerated. There is a want of sensitivity and delicacy toward one another. Maybe the grossness of our carnal age has made us put less stress upon those common courtesies and urbanities which make up life. Little affection is shown between wife and husband, between mother and children, or between father and children. I mean a show of affection; there is love in providing for them, but the manifestation of love has gone into decline. And it leads to a decline in the spiritual order. We have become poor lovers of God. We are not sensitive and responsive.” – Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen (Through the Year with Fulton Sheen – 1985)

This want of feeling that Saint Paul speaks of often is due to falling into routine. A going through the motions as we do with many mundane activities. When one first gets one’s driver’s license, that person, filled with excitement, looks for any reason to drive about. This newness has a sparkle about it. Yet as time passes the novelty wears off and the act of driving becomes but a necessity. And in routine we develop a sloppiness. We are not as attune as we should be to safety rules and proper roadway protocol. What is true here can be true in our behavior toward the Eucharist. Those who receive the Eucharist for the first time as a child or convert have an understanding then that they are very likely not to have as time passes. Conscientious devolves to negligence. Initially there too is a sparkle inspired by enthusiasm. But here it is more than the newness of driving. It is the newness of relationship. A relationship with Christ. We are taught by Him and believe that He is present in that sacrament. It is not an object of anonymity, but is known. It is visible in the form of bread, yet Christ said that it is His body. And as bread nourishes the body, conserving life, so too does the Eucharist nourish the soul. For it is the food that conserves life eternal. “For those who eat My flesh and drink My blood will have eternal life.” Yet in being human we oft-times allow relationships to erode. We take others for granted in the assumption that they will always be there. A husband need not abuse his wife to lose her. He just needs to ignore her.

Yet, though we may lose our zest for the Christ by our lack of it in the Eucharist, He does not lose His zest for us. The “Hound of Heaven” is relentless in His pursuit of our love. In the furthest corner of our souls there remains for always a burning ember of His being. It is in every heart that comes to beat in this world. And one day, if we will it, it will again become emblazoned with a yearning for Him that will restore to us the understanding that He is always with us in the species of bread and wine as His body, blood, soul and divinity found only in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. This was His meaning when He told the Apostles that He would always be with them, even to the end of time.

Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta often admitted that she experienced a great darkness. While administering to the poor, downtrodden and sick in one of the worst parts of this world she often felt no real fulfillment in the task that God had called her to. Yet, the love of Christ passed through her by her acts of charity to those suffering who were most in need to know that someone loved and cared. Great numbers of those she aided asked her: “Is Jesus like you?” She replied, “No, I  try to be like Him.” Those who asked and heard her answer converted to Christianity.

Christ tells us that if we love Him we must do what He tells us. In this day of [I’ve got to be me] we lose sight of the value in obedience. For through obedience ego is subdued, opening the way for us to truly be free. Free from arrogance. Free from selfishness. Mother Teresa was a conduit of Christ’s love and healing, and was therefore free to pass it on to others by her obedience. Though she lacked the feeling one receives when a job is well done, she saw the result of Christ’s work, through her, as it shone forth from the faces of those who had lost all hope in humanity yet found it in Christ through her.

So, even though we may not feel the enthusiasm as the first communicant or convert when receiving the Eucharist, we can still enjoy the grace that is inherent in it as with all the other sacraments. Love is not achieved through feeling but from willing. It is through sacrifice in totality to another that love becomes reality. Not in how I feel, which is no more than an infatuation. And, as we know, though feelings fade love is everlasting. This is so only through the will and the willingness to be obedient. In feelings, we will not have Christ within us. Although I may not find a thrill when I receive the Eucharist, but receive with the proper protocol and reverence, I will know that I am obedient to His command, to “Do this in remembrance of Me.” In obedience to Christ is found our love.

Yet there are those who do not revere the Eucharist, not due to a lack of enthusiasm, but, rather, due to a lack of faith. In G.K. Chesterton’s “The Ball and Cross,” Mr. Turnbull finds himself smitten with a local Miss named Madeline. He is distraught, however, because he is a devout atheist as she is a devout Catholic. He is so taken with her that, although he despises God, he still attends Mass with her. Outside the church after one Mass Mr. Turnbull seems troubled. So Madeline attempts to console him by saying that: “I know the Mass is long, but it is eased because the people love God.” Turnbull, in reluctant defiance, replies: “But I don’t love God. How can you love that which you can’t see.” He realizes that he has offended her and apologizes. He tells Madeline that she is a breath of freshness by all that is good and honest, while he is dirty and dishonest. She sympathetically encourages him to attend the next mass in an hour and, before, reveal his troubles to the priest in confession. For the forgiveness he seeks will come from God through the priest. Again, Turnbull pushes back, now with less reluctance, “There is no God, I don’t believe in him!” Madeline responds with calm understanding: “But I touched His body just this morning in Church.” Turnbull responds exasperated, “What body?! It is only a piece of bread! Only a piece of bread!!” Madeline moves toward Mr. Turnbull, face to face, and with a strong expression of tough-love says; “If it was only a piece of bread, then why didn’t you eat it!” Mr. Turnbull’s eyes were then opened by this truth. If there was nothing special in this Eucharist, then why had he been so reluctant to consume it. There must be a God, for what other sane reason could there be to hate that which is not.

When I am hesitant to act upon my convictions, they become suspect. I, then, discover that I have been a fool to no other than myself. 










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Lady Justice Unmasked

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.  – Matthew 18: 15-17

Here Christ gives us a process to justice. An orderly method to reveal truth. He does not say to shun the accused upon accusation, but only after completing an orderly process. A process that is fair to all, not playing favorites, and not drawn out. Above all it holds to evidence. As we can see, the burden of proof is on the accuser and not the accused. As is true of our own justice system. The accuser is he who approaches the accused, brings forth witnesses, and seeks the Church-which is like the courts; the authority-to render judgment. Yet in the end, and only the end of the process is the accuser left to shun the accused. Thereby, labeling him as the most unsavory of that time and most likely will be shunned by many.

For those who are of my age may remember a TV series titled “Dragnet.” The series centered around two Los Angeles, Ca. detectives. One particular case they investigated on Christmas day. A parish priest had reported that the figurine of the baby Jesus was missing from the Nativity display. The parishioners were deeply saddened for it was a poor community and they had dug deep to finance the display which represented their common sacrifice, which as on Good Friday would be made manifest in the adult Jesus. The detectives, Friday and Gannon, took this investigation as seriously as they would any other. They combed the neighborhood, going door to door, questioning residents and business owners alike. Their questioning process was always the same; to the point. When a person being questioned for information on new leads began to veer off by offering a spinning opinion Detective Friday would abruptly interrupt with the famous line: “The facts lady, just the facts.” The case ends successfully by the thief turning himself in…or somewhat so. The priest called the detectives back to the church, where the baby Jesus had gone missing, after days of investigation. When they arrived, there in the manger was the missing baby Jesus. Their perturbed dispositions changed when the priest brought out the thief. It was a little boy who apologized to the detectives. Behind him he pulled a little red wagon. When asked why he did this, the little boy answered: “I promised the baby Jesus that if I got a red wagon for Christmas I would give him a ride.” I’m sorry, he said, I was only keeping my promise. The detectives both smiled and said there would be no arrest today. Because there was no abduction, just a promise kept. That is why we presume innocence before guilt. We have come to find that too many are imprisoned or ostracized unnecessarily on knee-jerk reaction. Or as Friday and Gannon would say of many of their questionable witnesses: “Too quick to judge.”

While playing golf, a friend of mine was lining up an impossible putt, I thought, based upon a pin placement. So I offered: “If you make that putt I will buy you dinner.” And we were about to dine at an expensive restaurant. As he let the putt go I was sure I could leave my wallet at  home. Then, as is usually the case with a sure thing, the ball made its target. The impossible happened. There justice had taken place on the golf course. I, in my bet, in reality, accused my friend of failure before the facts were in. Rather than me fulfilling my burden of proof, my failure to collect on the bet proved his innocence of a non-missed putt. Case closed. I learned my lesson; no sure thing is a sure thing. This is what is missing from our justice system to insure its honesty; “the loser buys.” No better deterrent is there to frivolous law suits or vague accusations than the thought that if one loses the case one would then be responsible for paying both sides of the legal fees. Then only those with factual veracity would bring suit. My friend, however, showed the better part of justice. For only after judgment is rendered can mercy be shown. And his mercy to me was pardon from the cost of the two dinners.

In every courtroom stands Lady Justice who is blindfolded. In her hand is held the scales of justice symbolizing the idea of the fair distribution of law, with no influence of bias, privilege or corruption. She sees not gender, race, ethnicity, politics nor religious preference. Here is her fairness, in that her judgment will be based only on the facts brought before her. The blindfold over her eyes allows perfect vision in judgment not distorted by bias toward nor against any. Thereby, fulfilling the promise for a fair and speedy legal process. However, today, this is not so in most cases. For the double standard  has been allowed to permeate our justice system through the poison of politics. Lust for power perpetuated by a self-oriented society has sown discord among it citizens and nurtured corruption for those whose creed is any means necessary to achieve the end desired. G.K. Chesterton tells us: “When man no longer cares for God he no longer cares for those who are made in His image.” Free then is man or woman to submit a neighbor to any undeserved and unfounded slander.

The blindfold has been removed from Lady Justice tipping the scales in one direction over the other. Fairness has irreparably been damaged. Facts are of little matter when public opinion is earmarked to determine guilt or innocence. The fear created from the struggle for control of one ideology over another now is the force that governs where a stand is taken. Not on what is right but rather what wins. This is not the justice system of democracy. It is the injustice of tyranny. Facts no longer determine the outcome of a trial but rather the mightier will prevail. In this environment the constitution that protects the rights of all citizens is under attack. And unless righteous men and women stand firm against it, democracy will be thrust off the cliff of indifference by its contrary; Marxism. Nikita Khrushchev will have made good on his promise: “We will bury you.” And, sadly, not by another’s hand, but by our own. This madness we see about us whenever there is a change in governance is due to a turning away from a process that has served this country well for over two centuries. Those who seek to alter this process for their own selfish agenda show no prudent forethought. For the seed that is being sown can harvest only chaos. Injustice we see enacted upon one, we must understand, is injustice enacted upon us all. Democracy is a danger unto itself. For in being free, we are free to act against that which protects that freedom. The United States is unique in that it lives by a creed. A creed – of, by and for the people – that is secure in the Constitution. Should that static constitution become irreparably eroded by the double standard then no one’s freedom can ever again be guaranteed.

As the Pope is fallible, as a man, in all things except the doctrine of the church, so, too, are those who are elected to govern and serve on the courts fallible except in applying our Constitution. In the hands of Machiavellian political activists, who see that Constitution as a living document made for manipulation, freedom is forever lost. For freedom reigns only in the hands of the people. When the blindfold is lifted from Lady Justice’s eyes she become blind to the truth. And the truth is what truly makes us free.

For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.  – James 3:16

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Jesus said to his disciples, “Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to anyone by whom they come! – Luke 17:1

Throughout the Church’s history, since Her founding in Christ, scandals have come and gone. Christ warned that “Scandals you will always have.” Who could refute such a warning, for the Church’s custodians are comprised of fallible men. Yet each time Holy Mother Church was in need of repair through reform God has sent such a reformer – the likes of Saint Francis of Assisi – willing to sacrifice all to realign Her with the intent of the Divine Founder.

In the 1990s reported cases of sexual abuse by Catholic Clergy began receiving significant media and public attention. In 2002 most noted accusations came from the victims out of the Boston Diocese, where Rev. John J. Geoghan had been accused of sexually abusing them as alter boys. These and other allegations were dealt with in secret by bishops, and often the accused priests were assigned to parishes outside the dioceses in question or other non-parish related duties.

The office of state Attorney General Josh Shapiro impaneled the grand jury in 2016 to investigate allegations of child sex crimes across six of the Pennsylvania’s eight Catholic dioceses: Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Allentown, Scranton, Erie and Greensburg.

On August 15, 2018 the grand jury in Pittsburgh Pa., which completed its investigation in April, produced a 900-plus page report that names more than 300 members of the clergy by name in connection to sex crimes against children. More than 1,000 children were found to have been abused.

According to a 2004 research study by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 4,392 Catholic priests and deacons in active ministry between 1950 and 2002 have been plausibly (neither withdrawn nor disproven) accused by 10,667 individuals of the sexual abuse of a youth under the age of 18. Estimating the number of priests and deacons active in the same period at 110,000, the report concluded that approximately 4% have faced these allegations. The report noted that “It is impossible to determine from our surveys what percent of all actual cases of abuse that occurred between 1950 and 2002 have been reported to the Church and are therefore in our dataset.” The Augustin Cardinal Bea, S.J. specializes in abuse counseling and is considered an expert on clerical abuse; he states “approximately 4% of priests during the past half century (and mostly in the 1960s and 1970s) have had a sexual experience with a minor.” According to Newsweek magazine, this figure is similar to the rate of frequency in the rest of the adult population.

Allegations of and convictions for sexual abuse by clergy have occurred in many countries. There are no accurate figures available on the number of sexual abuse cases in different regions. But, in 2002 The Boston Globe reported, “clearly the issue has been most prominent in the United States.” The US is the country with the highest number of reported Catholic sex abuse cases.

After the United States, the country with the next highest number of reported cases is Ireland. A significant number of cases have also been reported in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and countries in Europe, Latin America, Africa, and Asia. All between the dates of 1950-2010 BBC news release dated 2010.

As regards the reported abuse cases by Catholic clergy, 1950, seems to be the beginning of the saddest and most disconcerting period in the Catholic Church. Not only in the United States, but in other countries around the world, as well.

Bella Dodd was a Catholic girl – born in Italy – who, because of certain events and influences in her life, became one of the most powerful figures of the American Communist Party at the height of its power during the late 1930’s and 1940’s? The story of Maria Assunta Isabella Visono’s journey from a poor southern Italian village to the intrigues of Soviet Communist penetration of America is fascinating and frightening. It should be better known than it is. – Aug. 31st -Catholicism.org

In the early 1950s, Mrs. Bella Dodd provided detailed explanations of the Communist subversion of the Church. Speaking as a former high-ranking official of the American Communist Party, Mrs. Dodd said: “In the 1930s we put eleven hundred men into the priesthood in order to destroy the Church from within.” The idea was for these men to be ordained and progress to positions of influence and authority as Monsignors and Bishops. She stated that: “Right now they are in the highest places in the Church” — where they were working to bring about change in order to weaken the Church’s effectiveness against Communism. She also said that these changes would be so [drastic] that “you will not recognise the Catholic Church.” Dodd gave testimony on communist infiltration of Church and state before the House UnAmerican Activities Committee in the 1950s.

On Tuesday, August 5, 1952 she publicly announced that on April 7th of the same year, she was received back into the Roman Catholic Church. Not being able to secure her baptismal certificate from Italy after inquiry, she was therefore conditionally baptized by Bishop Fulton J. Sheen in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York. Sheen was instrumental in opening Dodd’s eyes to the flawed philosophy of Communism and its lies thereby leading to a change of heart and her eventual return to the church. Only when she became clearly aware of what she had done and her part in this subversion of the church did she want to dedicate the rest of her life praying for forgiveness and reparation for the harm that she had helped inflict upon the church.  However, Sheen convinced her that it would be more important that she tell her story. Which led to her testimony as noted above.

“Becoming a priest and Bishop”

It takes 5 years of study before a seminarian can be ordained a priest.

Bishops are always men. In addition, Canon Law 378 § 1 requires that a candidate for the Latin episcopacy should be:

  1. outstanding in solid faith, good morals, piety, zeal for souls, wisdom, prudence, and human virtues, and endowed with other qualities which make him suitable to fulfill the office in question;
  2. of good reputation;
  3. at least thirty-five years old;
  4. ordained to the preliterate for at least five years;
  5. in possession of a doctorate or at least a licentiate in sacred scripture, theology, or canon law from an institute of higher studies approved by the Apostolic See, or at least truly expert in the same disciplines. – Wikipedia

Dependent on the above criteria, it could take as many as fifteen years or more to achieve the status of bishop. This information will have more than passing meaning in how it and the aforementioned data may relate to the main subject of this post.

Bishops are those who have the authority to assign selected priests to head and organize the running of seminaries. The seminaries provide the necessary education and training to fulfill the requirements for ordination. These seminarian head masters are responsible for the design of the programs in which the seminarian will partake.

Beyond the outrageous atrocities perpetrated by the guilty priests, I, as a Catholic, am deeply saddened that such as this could have taken place in the Church for decades without being stopped in its tracks. I am also perplexed. In that how could such a continual wave of sin come upon the Church, seemingly, as a sudden tsunami. I refer to the data that I have collected above. Not only in the U.S.A, but around the world clergy abuses seem centered in a time period between 1950 to 2002, when the first study was made as victims came forward. The Bella Dodd testimony raises a red flag. The time at which these 1,100 communist infiltrators entered the church and had followed the process to achieve the ranks needed to be in authority to implement subversion tactics coincides quite timely with the sad events of clergy child abuses. If one would wish to weaken and damage the Church, what better evil strategy could be chosen than a [drastic] one that would shatter the trust of its parishioners and provide fodder for Her outside secular enemies. Whether this is the lit fuse for the present explosive circumstances or a part, will not be known unless an in-depth investigation is pursued.  Any means necessary to achieve the desired end is acceptable for those who believe that man, himself, is God .

The Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen tells us that: “A priest in not his own.” This is true, as well, for a woman who decides to become a nun. But, for the purpose here I will keep my focus on the priest. A man does not seek the priesthood, or should not, based upon some a fad or emotion. It is the ultimate sacrifice. The five years spent as a seminarian is not like pursuing a college degree in physics. It is a five-year development of a relationship between the seminarian and Christ. During that time one must have determined that his life is no longer his but Christ’s. If any doubt remains he must not accept ordination. That is how serious this commitment should be taken. This is the ultimate human expression of love. Once he lies prostrate before the altar at his ordination he will from that day forward have the authority to consecrate the Holy Eucharist; the Blessed Sacrament of the sacred Body and Blood of Christ. He is then and for always a conduit of Christ on earth. In every execution of the Sacraments it is not he but Christ who touches and heals our souls. We look to the priests and bishops to guide us in the will of Christ as Christ has so willed it since the apostles. It would be impossible to betray Christ if not for free will. But, the priest is not his own. He joins his will to that of Christ, if he truly is a priest. Only those who possess ulterior motives can be capable of such an affront to God as to harm the innocent. Fr. James Schall says: “We decide on our chosen ends when we decide upon the actions that lead to those ends.” One leads to the city of the man and one leads to the city of God. The former is the end result of evolution and the latter of revelation. As the priest chooses so too is influenced his flock.

The potential for vice or virtue is in us all. No matter the outside influence, it is the individual who decides to give in or to turn away from sin. These priests, not the infiltrators, came to the church because of love and a willingness of that love to do His will and sacrifice all for their role in the salvation of souls. The causes of social justice can be an enticing endeavor to the religious. To help their neighbor as Christ urges us too. But, in their zeal to help the poor, disenfranchised, and downtrodden the priest sometimes loses sight of his first commitment; saving souls not ruining lives. Well meaning clergy falsely believe the secular thought that in order to change the individual for the better, that, first, society had to change for the better. However, social fixes are accomplished by first fixing the individual. It took but One solitary figure to change the world. He turned it upside down so that it may be turned right side up. To make the Church right again it must first make itself right with God. Confess to its sins, seek absolution and make amends. Conform its will completely once again with its founder, Christ. It starts here and now. Including the Pope, bishops, priests, religious and laity. Those who were guilty of abuse and those who covered it up. We will know we are right again when the world hates us for the right reason, the only reason; that we are one with  Christ.

“If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea.” – Matthew 18:6

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