Category Archives: Godly Patriotism

One Remarkable Man: Brother Joseph Dutton by Deacon Marty McIndoe

Brother Joseph with some of his leper friends  More pictures at the end.

God gives us the gift of remarkable people to remind us that mankind can be so much more than it often is. One of these remarkable people is Brother Joseph Dutton. Brother Dutton was born Ira Dutton on April 27, 1847 on a family farm in Stowe, Vermont. When he was only four years old, his family moved to Janesville, Wisconsin. Ira was an intelligent boy and industrious student. He worked hard to be able to attend college. After college the Civil War began and he joined the Army on the side of the North. He was assigned duties as a quartermaster. This not only kept him out of battle, but also provided training for what God would call him to do. At the end of the war he met a woman that he fell in love with. They were married, but sadly she left him after a year and asked for a divorce. This really upset Ira because he loved his wife and took his marriage vows very seriously.

Ira took a job where he disinterred the bodies of Civil War soldiers from the battlefield graves to be able to move them to the new National Cemeteries. Ira knew this was an important job, but it was also gruesome and depressing. To deal with his depressing job, and the separation from his wife, Ira began drinking heavily. He was able to remain sober for the day job, but was usually drunk for the rest of the time. He did this for about ten years. Ira saw that alcohol was destroying him, so when our Nation was celebrating the 100th year of the Declaration of Independence in 1876, Ira declared independence from alcohol. At this time he made a decision to get right with God and he began searching out different religions. Ira decided to become a Roman Catholic. When he was baptized, he took on the new name of Joseph. He then moved to a Trappist Monastery in Gethsemane, Kentucky to live and pray and work with the monks. Joseph never took formal vows. He left after almost two years knowing that God was calling him to a life of serving others.

When Joseph attended a religious conference he heard about the work that Father Damian was doing with the Lepers in Hawaii. Joseph immediately felt called to go to Hawaii and help Father Damian. Joseph felt this was a way that he could lead a life of penance and also help others. He immediately began making preparations to go to Molokai. He contacted both Church and Civil authorities to obtain permission to go. He never thought to contact Father Damian. Joseph was set and headed for the long journey to Molokai. The day that he arrived on Molokai, July 19, 1886, a very surprised Father Damian greeted this man. Joseph told Father Damian that he had come to devote the rest of his life to serving the lepers and helping Father Damian. One can only imagine how pleased Father Damian was. Father Damian had made numerous requests to both Church and Civil leaders to send him help. None of them seemed to be able to. Now, Joseph appears and becomes Father Damian’s right hand man (and later successor). Even though Joseph was not part of a religious community, from that day on Father Damian called Joseph, Brother Joseph. He has been known as that ever since.

The day after his arrival, Brother Joseph learned how to clean and care for the lepers wounds. This was quite a hard thing for most people to do since lepers are very contagious and at that time it was a disease that ended in death after grueling suffering. Brother Joseph found that the time he had spent disinterring Civil War bodied had prepared him to be able to deal with seeing and treating the lepers wounds. Brother Joseph proved to be a hard and tireless worker. Even though he and Father Damian had quite different personalities, they became very close. They both shared the same desire to serve God’s people who suffered from leprosy. They also both shared a strong love of God. Father Damian once said of Brother Joseph, “..a middle aged, well educated man. He resides here with me and as a true brother helps me caring for the sick. He too, though not a priest, finds his comfort in the Blessed Sacrament. You will admire with me the almighty power of Grace in favor of my new companion.”

Even though Father Damian knew he was dying from leprosy himself, his new friend brought him new hope that the colony would continue. Both of them worked hard together to make the leper colony as good as it could become. On April 15, 1889, Father Damian died from the disease. They had a funeral mass of celebration (something that they did very often with each death in the colony). After his death, the full responsibility of the Leper Colony fell upon Brother Joseph. He was thankful for his training as an Army quartermaster. It helped him in making sure the Colony had all the supplies that it needed. Brother Joseph was also responsible for significant building projects in the community. Finally another priest was sent to the colony, Father Lambert Carmardy to help.

In 1898 the United States formally annexed Hawaii as a U.S. territory. This made Brother Joseph very happy. Brother Joseph was a true Patriot and from the moment he came to Molokai, he hoisted the US Flag every morning and brought it down every evening. He gave the lepers in the colony a sense of his own patriotism. Now this land was US soil and they all rejoiced. The annexation also brought more help to the colony. The government sent funds and help to improve life in the Colony.

In 1908, Brother Dutton heard that the US White Fleet would be coming past Hawaii. Brother Dutton wished that somehow the Fleet would sail past his Colony. President Theodore Roosevelt heard of this wish and sent a Presidential Order to Admiral Charles Stillman Perry to go by Molokai and give a military salute to the Colony. The ships came in battle formation and each ship dipped their colors in salute and Brother Joseph and the Colony dipped their flag in salute for each ship. It was a huge moment for Brother Joseph and the Colony to receive such an honor from the President and the US government.

Even though Brother Joseph was living a life of isolation from the world, he corresponded with many friends. Word of Father Damian’s death and all that Brother Joseph was doing reached out to the world with great interest. Brother Joseph received many letters (and donations) and requests for pictures of him. Brother Joseph was never interested in making himself a hero. He responded to his popularity by saying, “All these writers make me out a hero, while I don’t feel a bit like one. I don’t claim to have done any great things; I am merely trying in a small way to help my neighbor and my own soul”.

After serving almost forty five years at the Colony, Brother Joseph Dutton died in 1931. He was mourned and missed by all in the Colony. World leaders paid tribute to him but one of the best is by President Calvin Coolidge. He said. “Whenever his story is told, men will pause to worship. His faith, his work, his self sacrifice appeal to people because there is always something of the same spirit in them. Therein lies the moral power of the world. He realized a vision that we all have.”

In 1949, Blessed Sacrament Church was built on the land that Brother Joseph’s family farm occupied in Stowe Vermont. It has beautiful Murals painted by Andre Girard on the outside walls of the Church. These murals tell the story of Brother Joseph and the Leper Colony on Molokai. The people of Stowe wanted to tell the story of their remarkable native, Brother Joseph Dutton and to give him honor. I believe that we all should tell the story and give honor to Brother Joseph by the way we live our lives. As President Coolidge said, “he realized a vision that we all have”.

Note: On June 23rd, 2015 the Diocese of Honolulu took the first of many steps to Sainthood for Brother Joseph. They created the Brother Joseph Dutton Guild to gather information for the cause.

St Philomena Church in the leper colony.

Blessed Sacrament Church in Stowe Vermont on the farmland where Brother Joseph was born

Some of the murals depicting Brother Joseph on Molokai located on the outside of the Church in Stowe Vermont.

A close up of the mural depicting Brother Joseph meeting Father Damian

Forgiveness, a Truly Miraculous gift by Deacon Marty McIndoe

Detective Steven McDonald and his son, NYPD Officer Conor McDonald.

               In a previous post I talked about miraculous healings that have occurred in the scriptures and throughout history in to this present day.  I even shared some that I personally witnessed; but what about the person that doesn’t seem to receive a miraculous healing?   Does that mean that God has ignored him or her or that God is not at work?   First of all I think that God is at work in all things.  Secondly, what we see as a lack of healing, or lack of a miracle, is just another way that God has chosen to work.  Often the real miracles are those that are not apparent.  I would like to give you an example of this in the Life of Detective Steven McDonald of the New York Police Department.

               On July 12, 1986, New York Police Officer Steven McDonald went in to Central Park with Sergeant Peter King as part of their normal, everyday duties.  They were on alert for petty crimes as well as looking for clues to a recent string of bicycle thefts in that area.  They saw a group of suspicious looking teens who began to run as soon as they saw the police.  The police officers chased them, Steven McDonald going in one direction, and his partner in another direction.

               Steven McDonald stopped several of the boys to question them.  He tells us that he spotted a bulge in the sock of one of the youngest boys and believed it to be a gun.  He bent over to examine it and a tall 15 year old boy came and pointed a gun at the police officer’s head.  Officer McDonald said that he then heard a deafening explosion, saw a muzzle flash and felt the bullet strike him just above his right eye.   He immediately fell flat and the boy shot him a second time hitting him in the throat.  Then, while still lying on the ground, the boy shot him a third time.  Officer McDonald recalled, “I was in pain; I was numb; I knew I was dying, and I didn’t want to die. It was terrifying.  My partner was yelling into his police radio: “Ten Thirteen Central! Ten Thirteen!” and when I heard that code, I knew I was in a very bad way. Then I closed my eyes…”

               When the first officers to respond arrived on the scene, they found Sergeant King on the ground, covered in Steven’s blood, cradling him in his arms.  Sergeant King was crying. They knew that every second counted so they carried Steven into the back of their vehicle and rushed him to Harlem’s Metropolitan Hospital, twenty blocks away.  There the medical staff saw the severity of the shooting and worked hard to stabilize him.  They did not expect him to live.  The Chief Surgeon told the Police Commissioner, “He’s not going to make it. Call the family. Tell them to come say goodbye.”   But Steven’s will to live stood firm.  His survival is a miracle itself, but his injuries left him completely paralyzed from the neck down.  He couldn’t even breathe on his own.

                 Officer McDonald had been married just eight months to his 23 year old wife, Patti Ann.  She was three months pregnant.  Together they would have to face the unbelievable changes that being paralyzed causes.  Not quite fair for a young married couple.  It would be very easy for them both to be filled with self pity, hatred and spite.  But these two practicing Catholics decided to choose another course.  At Detective Steven McDonald’s funeral, 30 years after his attack, Mayor Bill de Blasio said that Steven McDonald inspired New York City by choosing a spiritual journey over self-pity and spite.  He inspired not only NYC, but the world.  To me, Steven McDonald exemplifies how God can work, even in the worst of situations.  I know it was a miracle that he survived, but there was no miracle to bring him healing of his paralysis.  Perhaps the biggest miracle is what Steven did with his life.

               About six months after being brutally assaulted with gunfire by Shavod “Budda” Jones, Officer Steven McDonald made a statement, through his wife, saying, “I forgive him and hope he can find peace and purpose in his life”.  This defined the rest of McDonald’s life.  Jones was sentenced to ten years in prison for attempted murder.  McDonald said, “Strangely we became friends. It began with my writing to him. At first he didn’t answer my letters, but then he wrote back. Then one night a year or two later, he called my home from prison and apologized to my wife, my son, and me. We accepted his apology, and I told him I hoped he and I could work together in the future. I hoped that one day we might travel around the country together sharing how this act of violence had changed both our lives, and how it had given us an understanding of what is most important in life.”  However, three days after his release from jail, Jones died in a motorcycle accident.  That hope was never realized, but McDonald continued his crusade for forgiveness and peace.

               The New York City Police Department kept McDonald on their roster in a special position.  He was eventually promoted to the rank of Detective.  Pat Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association called McDonald “a true American hero.”   At his funeral Lynch said, “Steven McDonald was the most courageous and forgiving man I have ever known.  Despite the tremendous pain in his life, both physical and emotional, his concern for his fellow police officers and for the people of New York City never wavered. Since that fateful day in 1986, Steven dedicated his life to fighting hate and encouraging forgiveness through his actions. He was a powerful force for all that is good and is an inspiration to all of us. His, was a life well lived. We join his family, a true New York City police family, his friends and fellow officers in prayer and mourning the loss of a truly special man.”

               The influence of Detective McDonald was felt not only in New York, but worldwide.   He took his message of forgiveness and peace to Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Israel.  He met with world leaders such as Pope John Paul II and Nelson Mandela.  He spoke at two Republican National Conventions.  He was interviewed by Barbara Walters on TV and attended many civil and religious functions in his area.  I was fortunate to see and hear him and can attest to the fact that he was a man of deep faith, and love of God and His people.  He was a die-hard hockey fan of the New York Rangers.  His relationship over the years with them has been a source of real blessing to so many.  The Rangers named an award in his honor.

               About six months after the shooting, Steven’s son Conor was born.  Conor followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather and great-grandfather in becoming a NYC Police Officer.  I have a good friend who is a NYC Police Officer who worked with Conor and praised him for being such a good person and good Police Officer.  A family of faith and desire to serve keeps bringing forth good men.  In an article by Johann Christoph Arnold, he states,

                              “When visiting Steven in his Long Island home (since meeting in 1997, we have become close friends), I am often struck by the extent of his incapacitation. Life in a wheelchair is hard enough for an elderly person to accept, but to be plucked out of an active, fun-loving life in your prime is devastating. Add to that a tracheotomy to breathe through and total dependence on a nurse and other caregivers, and life can seem pretty confining at times. Steven is matter-of fact about this:

                              “There’s nothing easy about being paralyzed. I have not been able to hold my wife in my  arms for two decades. Conor is now a young man, and I’ve never been able to have a catch with him. It’s frustrating – difficult – ugly – at times.”

                              So why did he forgive? Again, he himself says it best:

                              “I forgave Shavod because I believe the only thing worse than receiving a bullet in my spine would have been to nurture revenge in my heart. Such an attitude would have extended my injury to my soul, hurting my wife, son, and others even more. It’s bad enough that the physical effects are permanent, but at least I can choose to prevent spiritual injury.”

                             ” When I was a very young kid, Dr. King came to my town in New York. My mother went to hear him speak, and she was very impressed by what she heard. I hope you can be inspired by his words too. Dr. King said that there’s some good in the worst of us, and some evil in the best of us, and that when we learn this, we’ll be more loving and forgiving. He also said, “Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it’s a permanent attitude.”  In other words, it is something you have to work for. Just like you have to work to keep your body fit and your mind alert, you’ve got to work on your heart too. Forgiving is not just a one-time decision. You’ve got to live forgiveness, every day.”

               This is a lesson that the world needs to take in.  Steven McDonald spoke and lived out that lesson.  Sure, it was a miracle that he lived through the gunshots and it would have been a great miracle if he could have been freed from his paralysis, but to me the greatest miracle is what Steven did for so many other people working through his disabilities.  His faith and desire to spread the message of forgiveness and peace resounds throughout the world.

               Detective Stephen King, New York City Police Officer, husband, father, devout Catholic and ambassador of forgiveness and peace died of a heart attack on January 10, 2017 in his Long Island home.  His life continues to touch many.

              

 

 

              

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prayer, the Bible and Presidential Inaugurations by Deacon Marty McIndoe

               President George Washington started the tradition of being sworn in with his hand on the bible and most Presidents have followed that.  However, President John Quincy Adams used a Law book and President Theodore Roosevelt used nothing at all.   President Trump used the same bible that Abraham Lincoln used in 1861, as well as one given to him by his mother.  President Trump’s wife, Melania, our new First Lady, held both bibles.

               Although President Washington had a prayer session after his inauguration, the use of prayer at the inauguration didn’t begin until 1933 when President Franklyn Roosevelt had a minister give a benediction.  At his second inauguration in 1933 he had both an invocation and benediction done.  Since then, there have usually been one or two ministers of various religions adding prayers.  In today’s inauguration ceremony of President Donald Trump we had six clergy deliver six different prayers or scriptures.  This is the largest number in any Presidential Inauguration.  President Trump had one Catholic, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York; one Jewish, Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder of the SIMON WIESENTHAL CENTER and its MUSEUM OF TOLERANCE in Los Angeles;  and four evangelical Protestants, Rev. Samuel Rodriques president of the NATIONAL HISPANIC CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE, Pastor Paula White of NEW DESTINY CHRISTIAN CENTER in Florida, Rev. Franklyn Graham president of BILLY GRAHAM EVANGELISTIC ASSOCIATION, and Bishop Wayne T. Jackson of GREAT FAITH MINISTRIES INTERNATIONAL in Detroit.  None of the ministers were from President Trump’s Presbyterian denomination.  I thought that all of the prayers and scriptures were right on target.  The President himself mentioned God several times in his speech.  I do believe that we are off to a great start.  However, we the people need to continue on in lifting our new administration up in prayer.   We need to ask that they be guided by the Holy Spirit and that they govern us using Gospel values.

               Today at mass my Pastor, Fr. Steve Hannafin, did a great job of tying in today’s reading of Jesus choosing the twelve apostles and comparing that to our starting a new administration.  He pointed out that all of the twelve had flaws and weaknesses, and none were perfect, but Jesus chose them and empowered them to build His Church.  Our new administration is made up of people, like us, who have flaws and weaknesses.  It is important to pray for them.  Fr. Hannafin ended our prayer of intercessions with a prayer that comes from the Book of Blessings but was based upon a prayer that was composed by Archbishop John Carroll on the occasion of President George Washington’s inauguration in 1789.  I include it here so that we may all pray for our new administration and pray the God will bless America.

Almighty and eternal God,
you have revealed your glory to all nations.
God of power and might, wisdom and justice,
through you authority is rightly administered,
laws are enacted, and judgment is decreed….
:
Assist with your spirit of counsel and fortitude
the President of these United States,
that his administration may be conducted in righteousness,
and be eminently useful to your people over whom he/she presides.
May he encourage due respect for virtue and religion.
May he execute the laws with justice and mercy.
May he/ seek to restrain crime, vice, and immorality.

We likewise commend to your unbounded mercy
all citizens of the United States,
that we be blessed in the knowledge and sanctified in the observance of your holy law.
May we be preserved in union and that peace which the world cannot give;
and, after enjoying the blessings of this life,
be admitted to those which are eternal.

We pray to you, who are Lord and God,
for ever and ever.

AMEN

OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, KING OF THE UNIVERSE – by Deacon Marty McIndoe

christ-the-king-statue1

Christ The King statue in Świebodzin, Poland.  This is the largest statue of Jesus in the world (yes, even larger than Rio de Janeiro).  It is 33 meters (over 108 feet) tall.  One meter for each year of Jesus life.  Note the gold crown.

               The last Sunday of the Church liturgical Calendar is celebrated as the Solemnity of Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.  Although Christians have celebrated Jesus as the King of Kings since the very beginnings and the Jews have celebrated the Messiah as the coming King long before Jesus, this Feast is relatively new.  Pope Pius XI instituted this Feast in 1925 in his encyclical QUAS PRIMAS and it was first celebrated in 1926.  Pope Pius XI instituted this Feast as a result of changes that were occurring throughout the world.  There was a rise of both Communism and non-Christian dictatorships that tried to keep their people from worshiping God and following the Church.  There was a large growth of secularism that had people questioning the role of God and the Church in their lives.  People were simply denying Christ and doubting His authority and existence, as well as doubting the Church’s power to continue Christ’s authority. 

               The truth of the matter is, this seems to be occurring again today.  People are putting Jesus aside and are not going to Church.  Even our own government has tried to take away the Church’s authority over its people.  God has been taken out of our government, and schools and courts.  That is why this Feast is so timely even today.  Our recent Presidential elections have shown a great divide in our country and some people seem lost.   The problem is, our hope should not be fully in who is leading our country.  Our hope should be in the Lord.  I saw a sign before the elections that really brings this home.  It said:

nomatterwhoispresidentjesusisking

 

               Today’s Feast day celebrates that very thought, and much more.  Let us look at what Pope Pius XI hoped to accomplish in celebrating this feast:

1 – That nations would see that the Church has the right to freedom, and immunity from the state (Quas Primas 32).

2 – That leaders and nations would see that they are bound to give respect to Christ (Quas Primas 31).

3 – That the faithful would gain strength and courage from the celebration of the feas, as we reminded that Christ must reign in our hearts, minds, wills, and bodies (Quas Primas 33)

               The first two of these are a constant battle.  We need to make sure that the State recognizes our rights to freely worship God as we are called to do.  The second is also difficult.  We must elect leaders who can give respect to Jesus.  The third, and last, is where we ourselves need to work the hardest.  We MUST see Jesus as King of everything that we are.  He must reign in our hearts, minds, wills and bodies.  Today individualism has been so embraced that for many, the only authority is the individual self.  They reject the idea of Jesus as ruler.  Many see the title of King or Lord as archaic and borrowed from oppressive systems of government.  Certainly some Kings have been oppressive, but Jesus surely is not that kind of King.  He himself said in Mark 10: 42-45, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. 43 But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”  Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the King of the Jews?” and Jesus replied in John 18: 36-37, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” 37 Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”

               Jesus certainly knew the oppressive nature of some Kings and in contrast to them he showed His role as King as one of humble service and commanded all His followers to do the same.  He tied His Kingdom to His own suffering and death.  He will come again as King to judge the nations.  However He showed us that His Kingdom is one of love and mercy and peace and forgiveness.  Jesus turned around the concept of Kingship.  We know that when we make Him King of all that we are and all that we do, we will experience that Kingdom.

               Let us all strive to make Jesus our King.  Here is a prayer that may help us in doing that:

Act of Dedication of the Human Race to Jesus Christ the King

Most sweet Jesus,
Redeemer of the human race,
look down upon us humbly prostrate before you.
We are yours, and yours we wish to be;
but to be more surely united with you,
behold each one of us freely consecrates himself today
to your Most Sacred Heart.
Many indeed have never known you;
many, too, despising your precepts, have rejected you.
Have mercy on them all, most merciful Jesus,
and draw them to your Sacred Heart.
Be King, O Lord,
not only of the faithful who have never forsaken you,
but also of the prodigal children who have abandoned you;
grant that they may quickly return to their Father’s house,
lest they die of wretchedness and hunger.
Be King of those who are deceived by erroneous opinions,
or whom discord keeps aloof,
and call them back
to the harbor of truth and the unity of faith,
so that soon there may be
but one flock and one Shepherd.
Grant, O Lord, to your Church assurance
of freedom and immunity from harm;
give tranquility of order to all nations;
make the earth resound from pole to pole with one cry:
Praise to the divine Heart that wrought our salvation;
to it be glory and honor for ever. Amen.
Also known as “Iesu dulcissime, Redemptor”

 

 

“That they all might be one” – Our big failure by Deacon Marty McIndoe

Even though Jesus repeatedly calls His people to be united, in practice we are quite divided.  Presently, and tragically, the divisions in Christendom, which is 64 percent Roman Catholic, 13 percent Eastern Churches (mostly Orthodox) and 23 percent Protestant (with an estimate of over 33,000 denominations), speaks very poorly about the unity that Jesus calls us to.

The divisions started in the 400’s and again in 1054 when the Roman Church and Eastern Church split, with the largest split in the 1500’s with the beginning of Protestantism.  Check out the timeline below:

christianitysplittimeline

There is no doubt that the division of the Church is not what Jesus had in mind when he said, “that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be one in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me” John 17:21.

Throughout the ages, there have been many men and women who have worked to bring the Church back together.  One of them is Saint Josaphat.  We celebrate his feast on November 12th.  I thought it would be beneficial for us to take a look at this Saint, who fought hard for, and gave his life for, unifying the Roman and Eastern Churches.

Saint Josaphat was born in Lithuania in 1580 in to an Eastern Catholic family.  The country was divided between Catholics and Orthodox.  When Saint Josaphat was 15, the bishops of the Ukrainian and Byelorussian Churches who lived within the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth held a Ruthenian Synod in 1595 and voted to unite with Rome under Pope Clement VIII.   The churches were united and those who followed the Byzantine rites were allowed to continue doing that.  In 1604 Saint Josaphat entered the Byzantine monastery of The Holy Trinity.  In 1614 he was ordained the Catholic Archbishop of Polotsk.  He always held firm to unity with Rome, but did not like that some Roman Catholics wanted to replace the Byzantine rites with Roman rites.  He believed that unity with Rome was important but that unity did not mean giving up the Byzantine traditions of his people.  Many of the other Catholic bishops of his country did not like Josaphat because he refused to “Latinize” his churches.  Saint Josaphat worked hard to maintain unity with Rome, while maintaining their Byzantine traditions.  He saw no problem with doing that.  Rome certainly agreed, but many of the people in his country did not.

There was considerable political friction between the Catholics and the Orthodox.  The Orthodox ordained their own Archbishop of Polotsk and the frictions reached the point that violence erupted.  While Josaphat was visiting Vitebsk (Belarus), he was cruelly hacked to death on November 12, 1623. He was about forty-five years old.

Josaphat had said before his martyrdom, “I rejoice to offer my life for my holy Catholic faith.” He had prayed, “Grant that I be found worthy, Lord, to shed my blood for the union and obedience to the Apostolic See.”  All that Saint Josaphat did, was done for the sake of Unity of the Church.

In May 1643, twenty years after his death, Pope Urban VIII declared him “Blessed.” But it was not until June 29, 1867, that Pope Pius IX canonized him “Saint.” He was the first saint of the Eastern Church to be formally canonized by Rome.  On November 12, 1923, the tercentenary of Josaphat’s martyrdom, Pope Pius XI declared him the heavenly Patron of Reunion between Orthodox and Catholics. During the Second Vatican Council, at the express wish of Pope John XXIII, who himself was most interested in reunion, the body of St. Josaphat was finally laid to rest at the magnificent altar of St. Basil in St. Peter’s Basilica. This took place on November 25, 1963.  In 1964, newspaper photos of Pope Paul VI embracing Athenagoras I, the Orthodox patriarch of Constantinople, marked a significant step toward the healing of a division in Christendom that has spanned more than nine centuries.  The Church is still working on that unity today.

So what does that mean for us today?  It has been only a few days since the election of our new President.  Newscasters keep telling us that the country is much divided.  Even within families there is a great deal of separation.  Some family members don’t even talk to each other.  The Churches themselves are still much divided and Unity seems almost unreachable.  It appears that we are a people who like to separate ourselves into different camps.  There is no doubt that Jesus called for unity, especially in His Church.  We need to have a certain amount of unity in our country.  Unity within our families is much needed.  Unity is definitely something we must strive for at so many levels.  I know that it is difficult.    However, with a great deal of prayer, and with hard work, I hope someday we can.  May Saint Josaphat pray to help us achieve that unity.

 

 

 

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness by Deacon Marty McIndoe

lifelibetypursuithappiness

               Our country began with our Declaration of Independence which states the well known phrase, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”  It goes on to say that governments are instituted to protect those rights.  I think it is time for all of us to see how well our government is doing in protecting these rights.

               The United States of America has maintained a strong Army, Navy and Air force (and related services) to try to keep its citizens safe from foreign aggression.  It has done a pretty good job of this, but there have been some instances where it just was not enough.  Our 9/11 attack as well as subsequent terrorist attacks have shown this.  Still, we responded to these attacks by strengthening our intelligence services and our military.  There have been some indications that recently our military has been weakened by financial cuts and political decisions.  We must be careful to keep our military strong as we do face a definite threat from foreign governments and ideologies.  To protect our way of life in America is a primary function of our government.  I personally salute all those who have served us in our military and have not only kept our country free, but have also helped free other countries.  We should be very proud of their service.  War and fighting is an absolutely terrible thing, but unfortunately has sometimes been necessary.  I pray that some day we may all live together in Peace, but that seems so far away.

               Our government also must protect the Life and Liberty of its citizens from people inside of our borders.  It is unfortunate, but very true, that we need protection on the home front.  We have numerous Law Enforcement Agencies to protect us from crime.  This crime can be life threatening and liberty threatening.  Our Police and related services have a difficult job and need our support.  The work that they do puts their own lives at risk, but they do that to protect us.  The vast majority of the time, they do an excellent job and should be commended.  Our government, at all of its levels, should be very supportive of our Law Enforcement Agencies.

               Our liberty is very important to us.  We are known as the Home of the Free and our personal liberties are among the best in the world.  Yes, we do have laws that sometimes seem to hinder our liberty, but it is important for governments to pass laws that help to protect us.  Some people still complain about speed limit laws and seat belt laws, but they save many lives.  Government has the difficult job of deciding what laws are necessary to protect the majority, and what laws are just too restrictive on our freedoms.  At the heart of these laws, the government must see how they affect the three unalienable rights of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.  Thomas Jefferson said, “The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good government.”

               Presently there is one nationwide “law” that I believe is at odds with what Thomas Jefferson said and with the three unalienable rights, especially the right of Life.  The most important right is the right to Life.  Without that, there is nothing.  Somehow we have allowed our country to legalize the killing of unborn children.  Right now we average about 2,000 abortions per day.  Our government is supposed to protect its citizens, especially those who cannot protect themselves.  We have allowed a society to exist where mothers can kill their sons and daughters simply because having them would be an inconvenience to them.   This is so wrong.  Not only that, it seems that the primary agent in all of this, Planned Parenthood, is targeting “undesirables” such as black and poor and immigrant peoples.   Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, is quoted as saying, “Birth control must lead ultimately to a cleaner race.” (April 1932 Birth Control Review) and “We don’t want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population” (Women, Morality and Birth Control – New York Publishing Co. 1922).  Our country should be so much better than that.  Alveda King, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, said, “The most dangerous place for an African-American is in the womb”.  This was based on a NYC Dept of Health report showing that 60% of all pregnancies of black women end in abortion.  It looks like Margaret Sanger is getting what she wanted.

               There has always been the argument that woman should have the right to choose because it is their body.  However, what about the right to live of the baby inside the womb?  That baby has no one to speak for her or him.  It is the government’s responsibility to protect that life.  Another argument is that the government should allow free access to abortions because if it doesn’t, women will find someone to perform it that is not skilled.  To me, that is a poor argument.  We don’t legalize things to make it easier because people will do it anyway.  The mass killing of babies in this country is truly an abomination and must be stopped.

               We have also been a country where we acknowledge the Freedom to practice our Faith.  Recently the government has been forcing some church organizations to do things that are not allowed in their faith.  This too is so wrong.   Let’s hope that our government stance changes to reflect what our founding fathers set up in this country.  It is sad to see that God has been taken out of our schools, courts and government meetings.  It is time to bring Him back.

               I think that there are so many people that feel that our country is headed in the wrong direction on so many levels.  I do think that is true, but I also see our country as something really great.  We do need to return to some of the values that we have had in the past.  Let all of us work for this and pray for this.  God Bless America.

 

An Election Editorial by Catholic Girl Blogging

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It’s funny what a strange dream can lead to.

Last night I had a dream that I was standing in a pitch black room.  The only light came from two glowing red lines, one in front of me and the other behind me.  Faint white smoke plumed from the red line in front of me, indicating its heat.  Out of the darkness, someone approached me from behind and began to chuckle in my ear.
I woke up trembling to my alarm.

The minute I logged on to Facebook, I was hit with posts about Trump and Hilary; the Clinton campaign emails about Catholics being backwards, Trump’s disgusting words about women and so on.
Not a day goes by without the election being on my mind.  November 8th once felt like a far-off event, but now it’s drawing nearer, getting closer each day like a hungry spider slowly crawling to its cocooned prey.
While I waited in the drive thru on my lunch break, I found myself pondering the dream.  As I replayed it in my head, a strange thought crept in:
“You have no choice, my dear.  You must choose.”

I silently murmured to myself, “And what if I don’t choose?”
At that moment, I had a mental image of the red lines turning into ropes and a trapdoor that had been under my feet the whole time opening.
I snapped out of it when I heard, “Welcome to Jack-n-the-Box!  May I take your order?” With a shaky voice, I ordered my food.

Just like the frightening dream, our country is locked airtight in the devil’s bind; we currently have two disordered candidates with their personal character being questionable at best and repulsive at worst.  The way I see it, this political bind was years in the making and our nation fell headfirst into this trap long ago.

I’m probably going to sound like a Republican old man living in a red state when I say this, but truth is still truth no matter who is telling it.  Out of my way, Donald, this Independent female blogger from bluest of blue California is about to tell it like it is.
We have kicked God out of America; out of our schools, out of our media, even out of our homes.  We have rejected the values our Lord holds dear.  Our nation allows unborn babies to be slaughtered for any reason, continues to redefine marriage and mocks morality.  You know something is wrong with a country where a rapist can serve only six months in the county jail for violating an unconscious woman.

Mother Teresa once said, “Find your own Calcutta.”  No need for me to look far, Mama T, because I’m living in it.  We may not have people literally dying on the side of the road, but we are a nation of homeless people, splintered families and abandoned veterans.  America may be rich in resources, but we are poor in principles.  We are a prosperous but hopeless land, thinking we can make it on our own and without the God who bestowed upon us our freedoms in the first place.

Of course the devil would take advantage of this.  He has done so little by little, convincing us to remove God from the public square in small doses.  What started as snowball removals, such as attempting to take God off the dollar bill and then successfully removing Him out of our schools, has avalanched to where we have became a nation under God in name only.  People are more divided than ever before.  We no longer see each other as children of God, but rather as enemies if we disagree with one another.
How else do you think two people whose personal values are not rooted in Christ have been able to run for the highest office in the land?

So here we are, trapped in a ditch of our own making, being forced to choose between two candidates nobody wants to elect.  We have come to a crossroads regarding what we want our nation to be and we have no idea where to go from here.  Can our divided culture be healed?  Can the damage that has been done be reversed?  Can this damning bind be undone?

In all honesty, I don’t know.  I really wish I could tell you that all will be well, but everything depends on individual Americans, and based on the way things are now, I don’t think a revolution of compassion is on the horizon any time soon.

What I do know is that society will change once we change our hearts.  We as a nation must open our hearts in order to change them.  Jesus is a savior, but He is also a gentleman and will never force Himself on any person or any country.  If we are not willing to turn to Him, then He will let us hit rock bottom if that is what it takes to open our eyes.

I say this a lot on the Catholic Girl Bloggin’ FB page and I’ll say it here: The best thing you can do is just strive to be a better person in your every day life.  Instead of getting into a shouting match with a friend over a political issue, stop and try to remember how much you value their friendship and then try to find common ground with them.  Hold open doors, call a family member and tell them you love them, smile at a passing stranger, help someone carry their things, find volunteer work or a charity event to participate in.  The list of ways you can exercise kindness is endless.

I know, this seems like a cop out, but it actually isn’t when you really think about it. Kindness means going outward instead of turning inward, which is something many Americans have done.  Once you look beyond yourself and see the struggles of others, you begin to wonder what you can do to serve them.  It was selfishness and pride that got our country in this mess, so maybe humility and mercy can be the stepping stones towards a new tomorrow.  You won’t fix this country in a day, but you can change the outlook of one person’s day and maybe, just maybe, that person will go on to help another and a gradual chain reaction will begin.

Any time you are a positive force in your family, at your job, within your neighborhood or wherever you are, you are doing the will of God.  It is written in John 13:35, “This is how all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

In the dark torrential sea of political discord, you have the opportunity to be the calm island where weary travelers seek refuge.  America is in a big mess, but you have the power to have an impact in your own humble way.

“Sanctify yourself and you will sanctify society.”
–Saint Francis of Assisi

“Modern prophets say that our economics have failed us.  No!  It is not our economics which have failed; it is man who has failed-man who has forgotten God.  Hence no manner of economic or political readjustment can possibly save our civilization; we can be saved only by a renovation of the inner man, only by a purging of our hearts and souls; for only by seeking first the Kingdom of God and His Justice will all these other things be added unto us.”
–Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

Our Lady Undoer of Knots, pray for us.

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Bio:
Catholic Girl Bloggin’ is a twentysomething California gal who started the blog in June of 2015. She writes movie reviews, saints biographies and frequently shares quotes from her heroes, Padre Pio and Mother Teresa. You can check out Catholic Girl Bloggin’ at
http://catholicgirlbloggin.net/

HALO Missions – Africa – 2016 by Deacon Marty McIndoe

It is amazing what can be accomplished in a short period of time and with limited resources, and with God’s blessings.   Last year, two of my good friends decided to start a local charity that would bring Medical and Educational help to orphan children of the world.   We started our first mission in 2015 by going to Zambia in Central Africa.   We chose Zambia because it has one of the highest concentrations of orphan children in the world.   We shared our vision last year and had two local fundraisers, one in Patchogue and one in East Islip.  Thanks to the generosity of local people, four of us, the two co-founders, Dr. James Bopp and Christopher McGuire, Brother Jim (Nurse) and myself (Chaplain) went to Zambia (we paid our own travel, hotel and food so all the money  collected could go directly to the orphans).  With the help of Teen Missions, we were able to treat hundreds of children for various medical illnesses.   We also were able to help 109 orphans have the means to attend school and we helped finance an addition to the school.   Although we accomplished a great deal, we also saw so much need.  We knew that the children and their caretakers needed more than just medical treatments.  They also suffered from many dental and vision problems.   We were determined to help them with that.  Again with local fundraisers and asking for volunteer dentists, we assembled a team of six dentists and made arrangement with SEE International to give us vision help for our 2016 misssion.  The team is now working in Zambia and I want to share with you some pictures and comments that Christopher McGuire was able to send out.   We also, this year, sent ahead clothing for the children, as the need was so severe.  We also,  gave the children American flags so they could see who were helping them.   Please continue to pray for the team and the patients they will serve.  If you would like to help financially, please go to http://www.halomissions.org        God is so good.

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HALO Missions is off to Johannesburg and on to Ndola.

 

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42 hours door to door. Here is HALO dental team the next morning just before getting to work. Led by Dr. Wynn from Stony brook University. Devin, Justin, Michael and Nichole. The first dentists many of their patients have ever seen. Pulling many infected teeth these doctors were lifesavers.

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The kids love the younger dentists. Here fooling around on snap chat swapping faces.
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Long day today. 340 Dental patients. 240 medical patients. Tomorrow the ophthalmic starts cataract surgeries if all goes well.
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Hard at work and then taking a break to hand out clothes.
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Hicksville Dentist Michael Criss spent his birthday giving his great talents to the extreme poor. We took him to celebrate at a Zambian restaurant. If you’ve never had Zambian pizza, don’t.
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Dr James Bopp (medical) takes a break from treating patients to provide clothing to the orphans.
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Today Christopher McGuire  left the medical team and travelled with Oscar Chama of Teenmissions by bus with 13 candidates to drive to Lufwanyama Hospital, which is about 3.5 hours from our location. The hospital is new and modern for Zambia, but devoid of patients and doctors, making it a virtual ghost town. (The patients have no way to get to the hospital and can’t afford the care even if they arrived.). Since our last visit we labored to gain the approval of the hospital and the government to use the facility for cataract surgeries. Doctor James Bopp worked tirelessly with See International and Argentinian surgeon Dr. Stone to make this a reality. With so many logistical hurdles, including obtaining and transporting the equipment, today Dr. Stone started conducting the procedures. I arrived (Dr. Bopp was treating patients) just in time to see the first cataract surgery performed today and to take these pictures. Dr. Stone will perform approximately 15 more surgeries before he leaves and train the Teenmissions staff to screen candidates for future missions. (The clinic was overrun with dental and medical patients, with over 600 seen).
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Children with children.   They are so beautiful and filled with life.  Look at those eyes.
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Patients got American flags. Here’s a Zambian girl named charity.
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Best part of the day was handing out clothes. with Chris McGuire
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Before and After
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We wanted to make sure the children are aware of the best America has to offer.
Please continue to pray for this mission.  If you can help financially, please help us to help these (and other) orphans.  Go to http://www.halomissions.org for more information.

A POWERFUL SPIRITUAL WEAPON FOR US ALL by Deacon Marty McIndoe

Our Lady of the Rosary (Victory)
Our Lady of the Rosary (Victory)

               The course of world history was dramatically changed in 1571.  On October 7th, about 30,000 Muslim men and 300 Muslim ships gathered off the coast of Corinth, Greece, ready to make their attack on Europe.  A Christian army of about the same size with about 100 fewer ships went to stop them.  Europe was threatened and the Muslims had already taken over the Byzantine Empire by 1453.  An increasingly divided Christian world was being governed by Islamic law.  Even some parts of Europe, right up in to the Danube River Valley, were under Islamic rule.  In 1570 Cyprus had been overtaken.  Now the Muslim armies were attacking Greece and Italy with the intention of capturing Rome and the Church.  The future of western Christian civilization was hanging on this battle.

               Pope St. Pius V knew that something had to be done, and that the future of the Church depended upon it.  He also knew that even though the Christian and Muslim armies were about equal in size, the Muslims were fierce and determined fighters and they had 100 more ships.  He knew that God’s intervention was needed to assure a victory.  He was also aware that the Rosary was a very powerful method of prayer and he asked everyone to pray the Rosary asking for a Christian victory.   Pope Pius V asked all of the religious convents and priories throughout Europe to pray.  He also had all of the armies and fleet crew members praying the Rosary.   On the day of the battle of Lepanto, October 7, 1571, the Pope left a meeting with his cardinals to go to the window and pray the Rosary.  He had no way of actually knowing that this was the day of the battle.  He returned to the meeting and told the Cardinals that the Catholic fleet had been victorious.   Mary had assured him of that, long before any conventional news methods could reach him.

               The victory had been quite miraculous.  Even though they were outnumbered, the Christian fleet lost only 17 ships and about 7,500 men, while the Muslim fleet was totally destroyed or captured and the Muslims lost almost all of their 30,000 men.  The Christians also set free over 2,000 slaves that the Muslims had on their ships.  There was no doubt that a miracle had occurred.  Europe was saved.  St. Pius V immediately attributed the Victory to the prayers said in the Rosary.  He instituted the feast of Our Lady Of the Rosary, which we still celebrate today.

               It is interesting to note that not only the prayers of Mary through the Rosary were present, but a little bit of the New World was there too.  In 1531 when Mary appeared to Juan Diego in Central Mexico, she gave him a special image of herself that is still in existence today.  The local Archbishop of Mexico had an exact copy of this image made and sent it to King Philip II of Spain.  When the king was sending his fleet to fight at Lepanto, he gave Andrea Doria, one of the three principal admirals of the fleet, the copy of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  The admiral placed it in his ship and led the fleet in to battle.  They also flew the blue flag of Our Lady of Guadalupe on their masthead.

               The Rosary has been, and still is, a powerful spiritual weapon for all of us.  When reciting the scriptural prayers of the Rosary and when meditating on the various mysteries of the Life of Jesus we draw ourselves in to the very message of the Gospel.  It lifts us to new spiritual heights.  All of us have various “battles” that we fight in our own lives.  The Rosary can help us be victorious over them.  I also think that it is important to mention that the Rosary lifts us in to the arms of Jesus, who is the Prince of Peace.  Although this article pays special attention to the military battle of Lepanto, we must remember that the primary goal of Jesus is to bring peace.  Let us continue to pray the Rosary asking God to lift us up and grant us the Peace that only He can give.

REMEMBERING 9/11/2001 by Deacon John Clymore and additions by Deacon Marty McIndoe

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This morning I ran in to a friend of mine who was one of the survivors of the attack on the World Trade Center Towers.  He was working in the building when the first plane hit.  We talked about the day, and I could still see the pain in his eyes, even after 15 years.  I also thought about other friends of mine who lost their son, Alfred (employee of Cantor Fitzgerald), in the attack and another friend who lost her father (fireman).  Her wedding is coming up in October.  We had a special remembrance at our Church today which ended with a bag piper playing AMAZING GRACE and a NYC Fireman walking through carrying a folded flag (like those given at a funeral).  I looked out from the altar and saw many parishioners crying.  We were all affected by this horrific act of terrorism, and must never forget it.  I still remember how we ALL pulled together in prayer and action right after September 11th.  We have lost so much of that.  A friend of mine, Deacon John Clymore, wrote the following article about his experiences that day.  He has given me permission to share it with you.  Here is his article:

THE FIRST DAY What a beautiful day it was; a sky lit up in blue with the most beautiful clouds. I Was just starting my work day on Halsey Street in downtown Newark, NJ. I was working for The Commission for The Blind & Visually Impaired for the State. My work was with the executive director for this branch of service who was blind since the age of seven, having lost both eyes to infection. I would read for her and put it on cassette; I would also bring her to different locations in the state and the surrounding states. On this, what was to be a day of destruction, I was in my office when shortly after 0800 a jet hit one of the towers, and someone yelled that the tower was struck. We gathered in the lobby of the 5th floor where there was a television.  At first we thought it was a terrible accident and so we prayed.  Then the second tower took a hit and we realized we were attacked and there was absolutely nothing we could do but pray. Never had I ever felt so defenseless and different emotions took their turn on me; fear, anger, sadness just some of those running through me.  At about 0900 a decision was made to close the building and to send employees home. Here was the start of a very long day.  Many of the dozens of employees were blind, many had working dogs and they needed to be brought home. I had a state vehicle that held two passengers and their dogs. They lived in northern Jersey and on a normal day, it would take less than an hour to take them home, but not this day.  It took about three hours to deliver them to their homes. Now the journey home, I lived in south jersey in a little borough named Union Beach. The NJ turnpike and the parkway south would actually be quicker going home with very little traffic heading south, but across the lanes going north were police, fire, and military vehicles heading to NY City to aid in the ongoing rescue after the collapse of the twin towers. Upon arriving home I walked to the beach where directly across the bay lay NY City. Now, where the towers stood, were dust & ashes with the sky full of black smoke. The beach was covered with hundreds of people, the time about three o’clock in the afternoon. People were walking back and forth praying the rosary.  People were sobbing openly not knowing how to help or what to do.

THE SECOND DAY Holy Family Catholic Church was overflowing for morning Mass, people praying, people still sobbing some not knowing whether family were alive or dead, for many in Monmouth county worked in the towers. We were watching nervously the rescue taking place on the TV hoping and praying that people would be found alive in the rubble. The terrible deed would cost many lives. First responders lost hundreds, and many firemen and police were killed

THE THIRD DAY The church is overflowing again and people were in prayer and sobbing still. There was so much respect and a different attitude toward each other, no matter what color race or culture we were, we were one, we were Americans.  Back to the present day,  the leadership of AMERICA causes division amongst races, culture, and religion; shame on the political powers for doing this. It is from both major parties; they are a disgrace from the White House down to the street.

THE FOURTH DAY

The Church is still overflowing with people still as one in prayer and pain with no place to turn but GOD. Back to today,  society takes the Jews and Christians and throws them to the wolves, especially the Catholics.  What has Greed and political powers cost the people of AMERICA? Wake up AMERICA and get back to who we are.
THE FIFTH, SIXTH, AND SEVENTH DAY

The Holy Church is still overflowing. There is not a sound from the sky except that of nature. For there is a no fly zone throughout America and this silence is different. There is a story circulating, a line dozens deep standing outside of St Patrick Cathedral, for it is filled with people waiting to enter. Outside there is a reporter asking questions and she stops in front of a gentle man and asks “are you Catholic” and he answers “no, I am a Jew.”  She said, “Why are you standing in a line to enter a Catholic Church?”  He responded, “To pray”.   The reporter said, “Shouldn’t you be at a Synagogue” and his response is amazing.   He said, “No the Catholic doors are open to all and this is a time when we all need to pray together!!!”            Peace Deacon John Clymore

 

My friends, how true this last statement is.  I believe that Deacon John Clymore did a wonderful job of not only sharing what he saw happening, but also pointed out the extreme difference 15 years has made.  After the horrific attack, our country pulled together, under God, and saw each other as fellow Americans.  Today God plays a small role in the lives of most Americans, and we seem so divided.   We cannot forget this terrible act of terrorism against our country, and we should not forget how we must turn to God and towards each other as Americans.  Let us work towards better unity within our country and let us remember that our National Motto is, IN GOD WE TRUST.

Freedom and Obligation – by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, adapted by Deacon Marty McIndoe

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Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas delivered the 2016 Commencement Address at Hillsdale College this year.   I feel that he had a lot of great things to say for our current generation.  As a matter of fact, his statements are great for all generations.   Personally, I am very disappointed in many of the directions that this country and this culture are taking.  Justice Thomas is too, and shed some light on some of our difficulties and made recommendations to overcome them.  The link to his full address on the Hillsdale College website is given below if you wish to read the whole thing.   I have taken excerpts of some of the most important parts for this article.  For God and Country.

This has been a most difficult term at the Court. The difficulty is underscored by the sudden and tragic passing of my colleague and friend, Justice Antonin Scalia. I think it is fitting to say a few words about him. Many will focus on his intellect and his legal prowess. I do not demur on either count. But there is so much more than that. When I think of Justice Scalia, I think of the good man who I could instinctively trust during my first days on the Court. He was, in the tradition of the South of my youth, a man of his word, a man of character. Over the almost 25 years that we were together on the Court, I think we made it a better place for each other. I know that he did for me. He was kind to me when it mattered most. He is, and will be, sorely missed.

As the years since I attended college edge toward a half century, I feel a bit out of place talking with college students or recent graduates. So much has changed since I left college in 1971. Things that were considered firm have long since lost their vitality, and much that seemed inconceivable is now firmly or universally established. Hallmarks of my youth, such as patriotism and religion, seem more like outliers, if not afterthoughts. So in a sense, I feel woefully out of place speaking at commencement ceremonies. My words will perhaps seem somewhat vintage in character rather than current or up-to-date. In that context, I admit to being unapologetically Catholic, unapologetically patriotic, and unapologetically a constitutionalist.

In my youth, we had a small farm. I am convinced that the time I spent there had much to do with my firm resolve never to farm again. Work seemed to spring eternal, like the weeds that consumed so much of our time and efforts. One of the messages constantly conveyed in those days was our obligation to take care of the land and to use it to produce food for ourselves and for others. If there was to be independence, self-sufficiency, or freedom, then we first had to understand, accept, and discharge our responsibilities. The latter were the necessary (but not always sufficient) antecedents or precursors of the former. The only guarantee was that if you did not discharge your responsibilities, there could be no independence, no self-sufficiency, and no freedom.

In a broader context, we were obligated in our neighborhood to be good neighbors so that the neighborhood would thrive. Whether there was to be a clean, thriving neighborhood was directly connected to our efforts. So there was always, to our way of thinking, a connection between the things we valued most and our personal obligations or efforts. There could be no freedom without each of us discharging our responsibilities. When we heard the words duty, honor, and country, no more needed to be said. But that is a bygone era. Today, we rarely hear of our personal responsibilities in discussions of broad notions such as freedom or liberty. It is as though freedom and liberty exist wholly independent of anything we do, as if they are predestined.

It is all too commonly thought that we all deserve the same reward or the same status, notwithstanding the differences in our efforts or in our abilities. This is why we hear so often about what is deserved or who is entitled. By this way of thinking, the student who treats spring break like a seven-day bacchanalia is entitled to the same success as the conscientious classmate who works and studies while he plays. And isn’t this same sense of entitlement often applied today to freedom.  At the end of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Benjamin Franklin was asked what the gathering had accomplished. “A republic,” he replied, “if you can keep it.” Nearly a century later, in a two-minute speech at Gettysburg, President Lincoln spoke similarly. It is for the current generation, he said, to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

So many who have gone before us have done precisely that, dedicating their lives to preserving and enhancing our nation both in war and in peace, taking care that those who have given the last full measure of devotion have not done so in vain.

America’s Founders and many successive generations believed in natural rights. To establish a government based on the consent of the governed, as the Declaration of Independence makes clear, they gave up only that portion of their rights necessary to create a limited government of the kind needed to secure all of their rights. The Founders then structured that government so that it could not jeopardize the liberty that flowed from natural rights. Even though this liberty is inherent, it is not guaranteed. Indeed, the founding documents of our country are an assertion of this liberty against the King of England—arguably the most powerful man in the world at the time—at the risk of the Founders’ lives, fortunes, and sacred honor. Over the lifespan of our great country, many occasions have arisen that required this liberty, and the form of government that ensures it, to be defended if it was to survive.

At the risk of understating what is necessary to preserve liberty and our form of government, I think more and more that it depends on good citizens discharging their daily duties and obligations.  Having been a young graduate myself, I think it is hard enough to solve your own problems, which can sometimes seem to defy solution. And in addressing your own obligations and responsibilities in the right way, you actually do an important part on behalf of liberty and free government.

I often wondered why my grandparents remained such model citizens, even when our country’s failures were so obvious. In the arrogance of my early adult life, I challenged my grandfather and doubted America’s ideals. He bluntly asked: “So, where else would you live?” Though not a lettered man, he knew that our constitutional ideals remained our best hope, and that we should work to achieve them rather than undermine them. “Son,” he said, “don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.” That is, don’t discard what is precious along with what is tainted.

Today, when it seems that grievance rather than responsibility is the main means of elevation, my grandfather’s beliefs may sound odd or discordant. But he and others like him at the time resolved to conduct themselves in a way consistent with America’s ideals. They were law-abiding, hardworking, and disciplined. They discharged their responsibilities to their families and neighbors as best they could. They taught us that despite unfair treatment, we were to be good citizens and good people. If we were to have a functioning neighborhood, we first had to be good neighbors. If we were to have a good city, state, and country, we first had to be good citizens. The same went for our school and our church. We were to keep in mind the corporal works of mercy and the great commandment: “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” Being wronged by others did not justify reciprocal conduct. Right was right, and two wrongs did not make a right. What we wanted to do did not define what was right—nor, I might add, did our capacious litany of wants define liberty. Rather, what was right defined what we were required to do and what we were permitted to do. It defined our duties and our responsibilities. Whether those duties meant cutting our neighbor’s lawn, visiting the sick, feeding the hungry, or going off to war as my brother did, we were to discharge them honorably.

As I admitted at the outset, I am of a different time. I knew no one, for example, who was surprised at President Kennedy’s famous exhortation in his 1961 Inaugural Address: “Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.” That sentiment was as common as saying the Pledge of Allegiance or singing the National Anthem, as pervasive as shopping at Army-Navy surplus stores. Today there is much more focus on our rights and on what we are owed, and much less on our obligations and duties—unless, of course, it is about our duty to submit to some new proposed policy.

My grandfather often reminded us that if we didn’t work, we didn’t eat, and that if we didn’t plant, we couldn’t harvest. There is always a relationship between responsibilities and benefits. In agrarian societies, that is more obvious. As society becomes more complex and specialized, it is more difficult to discern. But it is equally true. If you continue to run up charges on your credit card, at some point you reach your credit limit. If you continue to make withdrawals from your savings account, you eventually deplete your funds. Likewise, if we continue to consume the benefits of a free society without replenishing or nourishing that society, we will eventually deplete that as well.  If we are content to let others do the  work of replenishing and defending liberty while we consume the benefits, we will someday run out of other people’s willingness to sacrifice—or even out of courageous people willing to make the sacrifice.

.               As the years have moved swiftly by, I have often reflected on the important citizenship lessons of my life. For the most part, it was the unplanned array of small things. There was the kind gesture from a neighbor. There was my grandmother dividing our dinner because someone showed up unannounced. There was the stranger stopping to help us get our crops out of the field before a big storm. There were the nuns who believed in us and lived in our neighborhood. There was the librarian who brought books to Mass so that I would not be without reading on the farm. Small gestures such as these become large lessons about how to live our lives. We watched and learned what it means to be a good person, a good neighbor, a good citizen. Who will be watching you? And what will you be teaching them?

I implore you to take a few minutes to thank those who made it possible for you to come this far—your parents, your teachers, your pastor. These are the people who have shown you how to sacrifice for those you love, even when that sacrifice is not always appreciated. As you go through life, try to be a person whose actions teach others how to be better people and better citizens. Reach out to the shy person who is not so popular. Stand up for others when they’re being treated unfairly. Take the time to listen to the friend who’s having a difficult time. Do not hide your faith and your beliefs under a bushel basket, especially in this world that seems to have gone mad with political correctness. Treat others the way you would like to be treated if you stood in their shoes.

I have every faith that you will be a beacon of light for others to follow, like “a city on a hill [that] cannot be hidden.” May God bless each of you now and throughout your lives, and may God bless America.

 

Reprinted by permission from IMPRIMIS, a publication of Hillsdale College.

Link to Hillsdale College:  http://hillsdale.edu

 

 

 

 

Independence Day – A Great Beginning, by the Grace of God by Deacon Marty McIndoe

20150201_145250The cross marks the spot where the first mass was celebrated in what would become The United States of America (St. Augustine, Florida).  This happened 211 years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence (1565).

            The final stanza of our National Anthem, “The Star-spangled Banner”, has the phrase, “And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust.”  In 1864 the phrase, IN GOD WE TRUST, began appearing on our currency.  In 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Congress made the phrase IN GOD WE TRUST our National motto.  When you read any of our original documents, from the Declaration of Independence to the Constitution to the Bill of Rights you can see that the “fathers” of our country saw the need for God in the everyday workings of the people and the government.  Unfortunately today people and the government are turning further and further away from the recognition of God’s work within our country and within our personal lives.  This troubles me greatly.  I thought that for this Independence Day we could look at some quotes from our founding fathers.  After the quotes are listed, I have a link to a post written by my friend, Rich Lamm entitled, 7 Awesome Fact About Charles Carroll, A True American Catholic and Patriot.  This is found on the Epic Pew website, one that I really enjoy.  Make sure that you follow the link at the end of the article to check it out.  It is fascinating.

 

Samuel Adam

As the Declaration of Independence was being signed, 1776, Samuel Adams declared:

“We have this day restored the Sovereign to Whom all men ought to be obedient. He reigns in heaven and from the rising to the setting of the sun, let His kingdom come.”

~ Samuel Adams (1722 – 1803) is one of the Founding Fathers of the United States.

 

George Washington

“It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.”

~ George Washington (1789 – 1797), first President of the United States

 

Thomas Jefferson
3rd U.S. President, Drafter and Signer of the Declaration of Independence

“God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever; That a revolution of the wheel of fortune, a change of situation, is among possible events; that it may become probable by Supernatural influence! The Almighty has no attribute which can take side with us in that event.”
Notes on the State of Virginia, Query XVIII, p. 237.

“I am a real Christian – that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus Christ.”

The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, p. 385.

 

John Hancock
1st Signer of the Declaration of Independence

“Resistance to tyranny becomes the Christian and social duty of each individual. … Continue steadfast and, with a proper sense of your dependence on God, nobly defend those rights which heaven gave, and no man ought to take from us.”
History of the United States of America, Vol. II, p. 229.

 

James Monroe
5th U.S. President

“When we view the blessings with which our country has been favored, those which we now enjoy, and the means which we possess of handing them down unimpaired to our latest posterity, our attention is irresistibly drawn to the source from whence they flow.  Let us then, unite in offering our most grateful acknowledgments for these blessings to the Divine Author of All Good.”
–Monroe made this statement in his 2nd Annual Message to Congress, November 16, 1818.

 

John Quincy Adams
6th U.S. President

“The hope of a Christian is inseparable from his faith. Whoever believes in the divine inspiration of the Holy Scriptures must hope that the religion of Jesus shall prevail throughout the earth.

Never since the foundation of the world have the prospects of mankind been more encouraging to that hope than they appear to be at the present time. And may the associated distribution of the Bible proceed and prosper till the Lord shall have made ‘bare His holy arm in the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God’ (Isaiah 52:10).”
Life of John Quincy Adams, p. 248.

William Penn
Founder of Pennsylvania

“I do declare to the whole world that we believe the Scriptures to contain a declaration of the mind and will of God in and to those ages in which they were written; being given forth by the Holy Ghost moving in the hearts of holy men of God; that they ought also to be read, believed, and fulfilled in our day; being used for reproof and instruction, that the man of God may be perfect. They are a declaration and testimony of heavenly things themselves, and, as such, we carry a high respect for them. We accept them as the words of God Himself.”
Treatise of the Religion of the Quakers, p. 355.

 

Benjamin Rush
Signer of the Declaration of Independence and Ratifier of the U.S. Constitution

“The gospel of Jesus Christ prescribes the wisest rules for just conduct in every situation of life. Happy they who are enabled to obey them in all situations!”
The Autobiography of Benjamin Rush, pp. 165-166.

“Christianity is the only true and perfect religion, and that in proportion as mankind adopts its principles and obeys its precepts, they will be wise and happy.”
Essays, Literary, Moral, and Philosophical, published in 1798.

I know there is an objection among many people to teaching children doctrines of any kind, because they are liable to be controverted. But let us not be wiser than our Maker.

“If moral precepts alone could have reformed mankind, the mission of the Son of God into all the world would have been unnecessary.

The perfect morality of the gospel rests upon the doctrine which, though often controverted has never been refuted: I mean the vicarious life and death of the Son of God.”
Essays, Literary, Moral, and Philosophical, published in 1798.

 

John Witherspoon
Signer of the Declaration of Independence, Clergyman and President of Princeton University

“While we give praise to God, the Supreme Disposer of all events, for His interposition on our behalf, let us guard against the dangerous error of trusting in, or boasting of, an arm of flesh … If your cause is just, if your principles are pure, and if your conduct is prudent, you need not fear the multitude of opposing hosts.

“What follows from this? That he is the best friend to American liberty, who is most sincere and active in promoting true and undefiled religion, and who sets himself with the greatest firmness to bear down profanity and immorality of every kind.

“Whoever is an avowed enemy of God, I scruple not to call him an enemy of his country.”
–Sermon at Princeton University, “The Dominion of Providence over the Passions of Men,” May 17, 1776.

 

Alexander Hamilton
Signer of the Declaration of Independence and Ratifier of the U.S. Constitution

“I have carefully examined the evidences of the Christian religion, and if I was sitting as a juror upon its authenticity I would unhesitatingly give my verdict in its favor.

I can prove its truth as clearly as any proposition ever submitted to the mind of man.”
Famous American Statesmen, p. 126.

 

Patrick Henry
Ratifier of the U.S. Constitution

“It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.”
The Trumpet Voice of Freedom: Patrick Henry of Virginia, p. iii.

“The Bible … is a book worth more than all the other books that were ever printed.”
Sketches of the Life and Character of Patrick Henry, p. 402.

Certainly the majority of the founding fathers were Episcopal or Protestant.  However, many Catholics also added to the building of our country.  As a matter of fact, two hundred and eleven (211) years BEFORE the Declaration of Independence was signed, Father Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales celebrated the first Catholic mass on what was to become American soil.  He did this in St. Augustine, Florida (see picture).  One of the signers of the Declaration of Independence was Charles Carroll, Catholic and Patriot.  Check out his story at the Epic Pew site by clicking here:  http://epicpew.com/7-fact-charles-carroll-true-american-catholic-patriot/

God bless you and God bless America!