Monday, May 22, 2023

"But It's Not Infallible:" Another Feeneyite Folly

 




I rarely go on Twitter, as I don't have much time to spare in my life. One exception was a day in April of this year. I was on maybe 15 minutes when a Feeneyite challenged me to a debate. Feeneyites will never debate in a neutral forum where arguments can be made and studied, because they know they would lose. That's why I accept the challenge provided it is on a neutral forum, and in writing. This is the manner in which any Traditionalist should respond to them on the Internet or social media (especially Twitter). Here is how Feeneyites "argue" on Twitter:
  • challenge someone to a debate
  • if they refuse the challenge call them names ("liar," "fool," and even vulgarities) to get them to agree. If they don't agree, claim they are "cowards" and "can't deny infallible Church teachings" which allegedly "prove" their position"
  • if they agree, immediately send screenshots from Fred and Bobby (already saved and waiting to go) that have infallible decrees in bold, italicized, and underscored twice, that allegedly "prove" that Baptism of Desire (BOD) and Baptism of Blood (BOB) are "heretical" because only sacramental Baptism by water can save a person's soul
  •  when you attempt to respond, they will inundate you with scripted responses and more screenshots of ex cathedra pronouncements. There are so many screenshots, you can't keep up
  • The Feeneyite then declares you unable to respond, and further declares himself the "winner" of the "debate"
 What all these Feeneyites have in common is the use of "infallible pronouncements" (privately interpreted, of course).  If you bring up any catechism, approved theologian, or papal encyclical that teaches BOD, they quickly respond, "But that's not infallible! You have to obey infallible teachings, everything else can be wrong. St. Thomas Aquinas was wrong about the Immaculate Conception as well as BOD."  How does someone respond? Must Catholics only obey infallible teachings? Can the pope teach error when not speaking ex cathedra? This post will address those questions.

The Pope's Authority When Teaching Non-Infallibly
(The following section I have condensed from theologian Fenton, The Church of Christ, Cluny Media, [2016] reprint of 1951 Humani Generis and the Holy Father's Ordinary Magisterium  pgs. 110-123---Introibo). 

On August 12, 1950, Pope Pius XII promulgated his encyclical Humani Generis, which exposed and rejected some false opinions threatening to undermine the foundations of Catholic doctrine. His Holiness asked the great Thomist and Dominican theologian, Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, a fervent anti-Modernist, to draft the encyclical. Paragraph number 20 of that document states:  

Nor must it be thought that what is expounded in Encyclical Letters does not of itself demand consent, since in writing such Letters the Popes do not exercise the supreme power of their Teaching Authority. For these matters are taught with the ordinary teaching authority, of which it is true to say: "He who heareth you, heareth me"; and generally what is expounded and inculcated in Encyclical Letters already for other reasons appertains to Catholic doctrine. But if the Supreme Pontiffs in their official documents purposely pass judgment on a matter up to that time under dispute, it is obvious that that matter, according to the mind and will of the Pontiffs, cannot be any longer considered a question open to discussion among theologians.

This paragraph brings forth great theological truths. I will condense the commentary on these truths as written by theologian Fenton. 

1. The teachings of the pope are not to be minimized based on the subterfuge that he is not exercising the fullness of his authority.
The teachings of the encyclicals posits an assensum per se (an assent by its very nature), because it is a teaching of the supreme doctrinal authority within the One True Church of Christ. Catholics are bound to give, not merely a polite acknowledgement, but a genuine and sincere acceptance, to the teachings which the pope sets forth with a theological qualification less than de fide (of faith--infallible) or even doctrina certa (certain doctrine).

Humani Generis thus reasserts the right of the Supreme Pontiff to command "opinionative"assent.  When in his encyclicals, or in any other documents or utterances of his doctrinal office, he imposes a teaching upon the members of the Church with anything less than his supreme authority (i.e., as infallible), the faithful must accept his opinionative judgement as their own. The obligation to assent  is not satisfied when a person merely allows that a teaching set forth in a non-infallible papal pronouncement is a "respectable opinion." Catholics are bound, guided by the teaching authority of Christ which comes to them in the declarations of His Vicar on Earth, to take that opinion as their own.

The day may come when an opinion of this kind needs to be modified. The Church Herself allows for this possibility by not proclaiming it as definitive and binding for all time. The holding of this opinion will possibly be seen as no longer necessary for the purity of the faith. The labors of the approved theologians will, in large part, be responsible for this development. The modifications of these declarations, when and if such modification ever comes, in no way violates the infallibility or Indefectibility of the Church since the doctrine in question was never presented as infallible and irreformable teaching.

2. The pope also teaches in a universal and ordinary manner; encyclicals are always based largely on assertions that have been taught by the Magisterium (in one form or another) before.
The Vatican Council of 1870 infallibly defined that a dogma of the faith is a truth which the Church finds contained in either of the two sources of Revelation (Holy Scripture and Sacred Tradition) and which She presents as divine revelation that all must accept as such. The Council goes on to explain that such presentation may be done in an extraordinary manner (infallible definitions of popes and ecumenical councils), or in a universal and ordinary way (the unanimous teachings of the approved theologians or teachings of the bishops spread throughout the world). 

The Vatican Council of 1870 also presents as dogmatic the assertion that the pope enjoys the same infallibility in defining dogma that the universal Church possesses. Since the bishops can define a dogma in an extraordinary way (ecumenical council called and approved by the pope), or in a universal and ordinary way (when approving theology manuals and catechisms, etc.), it follows that the pope can also teach in an extraordinary manner (ex cathedra pronouncements like the Immaculate Conception, Assumption, canonizations, etc.), he can also do so in an ordinary way, as in an encyclical letter. The pope's teaching is truly universal because he exercises true episcopal jurisdiction over each of the faithful. Many theologians consider the papal bull Apostolicae Curae of Pope Leo XIII, declaring Anglican Orders "absolutely null and utterly void," to be in this category of a dogmatic pronouncement. 

3.When the pope passes judgment on a disputed theological point, it is no longer up for debate and discussion among theologians. This is one (but not the only) sign that the pope has exercised his supreme authority in an ordinary manner.
An example is the Apostolic Constitution Sacramentum Ordinis, promulgated by Pope Pius XII, who settled long standing controversies over exactly what constituted the necessary and proper matter and form for Holy Orders when ordaining/consecrating deacons, priests, and bishops. 

What About Papal Teaching Not In Encyclical Letters?

There are many other means whereby the pope speaks authoritatively, other than an encyclical. Pope Pius XII, the last true pope of the Catholic Church before the Great Apostasy (1939-1958), used allocutions, as different mediums of communication were coming out.  Are allocutions and other non-encyclicals binding on Catholics?

In his treatise Authentic Teaching of the Magisterium, theologian Cotter teaches:

The Pope [Pius XII] has no doubt that those Catholic theologians whom he has in mind throughout the encyclical [Humani Generis] are willing to abide by the definitive decisions of the Magisterium, those handed down, solemni iudicio, They are neither heretics nor schismatics. But he complains that they ignore papal pronouncements that come to them with less authority, such as encyclicals. If reputable theologians have disagreed in the past, that assume that nothing less than a solemn definition can settle the matter; and as long as none such is forthcoming, everyone is presumed free to construe papal documents according to his own interpretation of Tradition.

In reply, the Pope reminds them that encyclicals, besides often containing matters of dogma, may intend to settle points hitherto disputed, and that such decisions demand of themselves a positive assent on the part of the faithful, theologians included. In issuing them the popes exercise what is technically known as the Ordinary or Authentic Magisterium, of which it is true to say: "He that heareth you, heareth Me."
(As cited in Contemporary Moral Theology, [1962], 1:24-26). 

Theologian Cotter notes, though the papal statement refers primarily to encyclicals, it is not restricted to these. Rather, it covers the whole range of what is called the "Ordinary Magisterium" of the Holy Father. Everything that has been said, therefore, could apply to the papal radio messages and allocutions; yet, since these have played such a prominent part in papal teaching (especially under Pope Pius XII), they merit special attention. Pope Pius XII himself, made it strikingly clear that his discourses, even when given to small groups, can contain authoritative teaching for the whole Church. 

In his radio message on the education of the Christian conscience, Pope Pius XII said:

Mindful, however, of the right and duty of the Apostolic See to intervene authoritatively, when the need arises, in moral questions, in the address of 29th October last we set out to enlighten men's consciences on the problems of married life. With the self-same authority we declare today to educators and to young people also that the divine commandment of purity of soul and body still holds without any lesser obligation for the youth of today.

According to theologian Hurth (consultor to the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office and a staunch anti-Modernist) papal radio addresses and allocutions have the same doctrinal value as encyclicals: they are an integral part of the ordinary teaching of the pope; and, as such, though not infallible, they require both internal and external acceptance. (Ibid, pg. 26; Emphasis mine). 

Catholics Must Assent To Non-Infallible Teachings. Therefore, Feeneyites Are Not Catholic
Feeneyites have the temerity to claim that there is no positive duty to accept non-infallible teachings of the Church. Here's what the popes themselves have taught:

Pope Leo XIII:
In defining the limits of the obedience owed to the pastors of souls, but most of all to the authority of the Roman Pontiff, it must not be supposed that it is only to be yielded in relation to dogmas of which the obstinate denial cannot be disjoined from the crime of heresy. Nay, further, it is not enough sincerely and firmly to assent to doctrines which, though not defined by any solemn pronouncement of the Church, are by her proposed to belief, as divinely revealed, in her common and universal teaching, and which the [1870] Vatican Council declared are to be believed “with Catholic and divine faith.” But this likewise must be reckoned amongst the duties of Christians, that they allow themselves to be ruled and directed by the authority and leadership of bishops, and, above all, of the Apostolic See.
(See Sapientiae Christianae, para. #24; Emphasis mine). 

Pope Pius IX:
Nor can we pass over in silence the audacity of those who, not enduring sound doctrine, contend that “without sin and without any sacrifice of the Catholic profession assent and obedience may be refused to those judgments and decrees of the Apostolic See, whose object is declared to concern the Church’s general good and her rights and discipline, so only it does not touch the dogmata of faith and morals.” But no one can be found not clearly and distinctly to see and understand how grievously this is opposed to the Catholic dogma of the full power given from God by Christ our Lord Himself to the Roman Pontiff of feeding, ruling and guiding the Universal Church.
(See Quanta Cura, para. #5; Emphasis mine).

Pope Pius XI:
Wherefore, let the faithful also be on their guard against the overrated independence of private judgment and that false autonomy of human reason. For it is quite foreign to everyone bearing the name of a Christian to trust his own mental powers with such pride as to agree only with those things which he can examine from their inner nature, and to imagine that the Church, sent by God to teach and guide all nations, is not conversant with present affairs and circumstances; or even that they must obey only in those matters which she has decreed by solemn definition as though her other decisions might be presumed to be false or putting forward insufficient motive for truth and honesty. Quite to the contrary, a characteristic of all true followers of Christ, lettered or unlettered, is to suffer themselves to be guided and led in all things that touch upon faith or morals by the Holy Church of God through its Supreme Pastor the Roman Pontiff, who is himself guided by Jesus Christ Our Lord.
(See Casti Connubii, para. #104; Emphasis mine). 

Could the Pope Teach Heresy as an "Innocent Mistake"?

In the face of all of the above, which Feeneyites deny, they will claim that in non-infallible teaching, a pope could introduce a heresy as an "innocent mistake." This is impossible because of the dogma of Indefectibility, which states that the Catholic Church must endure as an institution until the end of time, and must remain essentially the same until the end of time. This means that She must have perfect continuity of dogma and moral teaching, with no contradictions, perfect continuity of worship, and perfect continuity of all of its essential disciplines. It is based on the very words of Our Lord Jesus Christ: “Behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.” (St. Matthew 28:20).

Christ also said to the Apostles: “He that heareth you, heareth Me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth Me; and he that despiseth Me, despiseth Him that sent Me.” (St. Luke 10:16). This means that every Catholic can, and must, listen to the Church teaching as the teaching of Christ Himself. What if they are not teaching infallibly? Such teachings are nevertheless protected by the Holy Ghost from teaching any pernicious doctrine. This means the Church cannot teach anything which is contrary to Catholic doctrine or morals, and which would be a sin to embrace. The Church also cannot impose evil disciplines, and thereby prescribe something evil to the faithful, making it sinful to observe; nor can the Church give anything which would constitute an incentive to impiety. 

This completely rules out any possibility of the pope teaching heresy, for the protection of the Holy Ghost precludes it. Theologian Fenton teaches:

To the Holy Father’s responsibility of caring for the sheep of Christ’s fold, there corresponds, on the part of the Church’s membership, the basic obligation of following his directions, in doctrinal as well as disciplinary matters. In this field, God has given the Holy Father a kind of infallibility distinct from the charism of doctrinal infallibility in the strict sense. He has so constructed and ordered the Church that those who follow the directives given to the entire kingdom of God on earth will never be brought into the position of ruining themselves spiritually through this obedience. Our Lord dwells within His Church in such a way that those who obey disciplinary and doctrinal directives of this society can never find themselves displeasing God through their adherence to the teachings and the commands given to the universal Church militant. Hence there can be no valid reason to discountenance even the non-infallible teaching authority of Christ’s vicar on earth.

(See "The American Ecclesiastical Review;" [August 1949], “The Doctrinal Authority of Papal Encyclicals, Part I”, pgs. 144-145). 

A Feeneyite Conundrum: Were Popes Pius IX and XII True Popes?
It has been demonstrated that a pope, when teaching the Church infallibly or non-infallibly, cannot teach heresy, and Catholics must submit to those teachings. Feeneyites claim that water Baptism excludes both BOD and BOB, because only water Baptism can save a soul, and that this is a dogma of Divine and Catholic Faith. For Fred and Bobby Dimond, and their followers in Feeneyism, you are a heretic if you profess either BOD or BOB. 

Now consider the following teachings of the popes:
In his encyclical Quanto Conficiamur Moerore, Pope Pius IX declares in para. #7:

Here, too, our beloved sons and venerable brothers, it is again necessary to mention and censure a very grave error entrapping some Catholics who believe that it is possible to arrive at eternal salvation although living in error and alienated from the true faith and Catholic unity. Such belief is certainly opposed to Catholic teaching. There are, of course, those who are struggling with invincible ignorance about our most holy religion. Sincerely observing the natural law and its precepts inscribed by God on all hearts and ready to obey God, they live honest lives and are able to attain eternal life by the efficacious virtue of divine light and grace. Because God knows, searches and clearly understands the minds, hearts, thoughts, and nature of all, his supreme kindness and clemency do not permit anyone at all who is not guilty of deliberate sin to suffer eternal punishments. (Emphasis mine).

In the first part I emphasized, Pope Pius IX clearly states the dogma Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus (Outside The Church No Salvation). In the next part, he acknowledges that those invincibly ignorant, who live honest lives according to the Natural Law, and are open to the actual graces of God can be saved, not by baptism of water--or he would have written it--but "by the efficacious virtue of divine light and grace." God can infuse them with sanctifying grace and the True Faith before death (Baptism of Desire).

Pope Pius XII (Oct. 29, 1951): Address to the Congress of the Italian Catholic Association of Midwives:

If what We have said up to now deals with the protection and the care of natural life, it should hold all the more in regard to the supernatural life which the newly born infant receives with Baptism. In the present economy there is no other way of communicating this life to the child who has not yet the use of reason. But, nevertheless, the state of grace at the moment of death is absolutely necessary for salvation. Without it, it is not possible to attain supernatural happiness, the beatific vision of God. An act of love can suffice for an adult to obtain sanctifying grace and supply for the absence of Baptism; for the unborn child or for the newly born, this way is not open...(Emphasis mine).

Pope Pius XII clearly teaches Baptism of Desire. Neither Pope Pius IX nor Pope Pius XII were speaking infallibly, yet they cannot be giving a doctrine contrary to the Catholic Faith, especially heresy. Pope Gregory XVI in Quo Graviora (1833) states, "The Church is the pillar and foundation of truth, all of which truth is taught by the Holy Ghost. Should the Church be able to order, yield to, or permit those things which tend toward the destruction of souls and the disgrace and detriment of the sacrament instituted by Christ?”

If the popes cannot teach heresy, and they teach BOD, it logically follows that BOD is NOT heresy, and Feeneyism collapses. They must submit to the teaching authority of the pope. Some may protest, "No! The pope was merely speaking as a private theologian and not meaning to bind the Church." That's ridiculous, but let's suppose it true. Feeneyites have a bigger problem. It brings them to a place they don't want to be. As St. Alphonsus Liguori teaches: "If ever a pope, as a private person, should fall into heresy, he would at once fall from the pontificate.”(See Oeuvres Completes. 9:232; Emphasis mine). 

Here now is the Feeneyite conundrum: If Pope Pius XII (or IX) were truly pope, then the teaching on BOD cannot be heretical, either innocently or otherwise. If either pope were expressing his opinion as a private theologian, and teaching BOD is heresy, they could not be pope. Which is it? Feeneyite Richard Ibranyi has pushed the vacancy in the papacy back to 1130 AD, with the death of Pope Honorius II. Another Feeneyite who commented once on this blog has Pope Leo V in 903 AD as the last true pope. (I call such people "Vacancy Pushers"--pushing back the time of the vacancy). Any answer? Fred? Bobby? 

Conclusion
Never debate a Feeneyite on their terms. If they want an open and honest debate, do so on an independent platform where arguments are written and can be studied. No Feeneyite to date has ever agreed to such with me. As my friend and fellow Traditionalist blogger, Steve Speray says, "Feeneyites have a certain sickness of soul." It is clear that two popes non-infallibly taught BOD. Since popes cannot teach heresy when they teach the Church (infallibly or non-infallibly), Feeneyites must submit to the teaching of BOD. If they spoke as "mere private theologians," they fell from office and could not be pope.

It's no wonder Feeneyism, with all its errors regarding the Church, gives rise to the whacky ideas of those such as Ibranyi. Pretty soon they'll take the vacancy back to St. Peter himself. I can hear it now: "I always had a sneaking suspicion about that Pope St. Linus!"

Monday, May 15, 2023

Choosing A Marriage Partner In Today's World

 

I have received many requests from younger readers to write a post on finding a marriage partner as a young Traditionalist in the Great Apostasy. Many are both confused as to what to look for in today's society, and worried about getting into a bad marriage. Who can blame them? Our Lady of Fatima is credited as saying, "Many marriages are not good; they do not please Our Lord and are not of God." I believe it, and she said that in 1917! The fact that many marriages are not good are borne out by these frightening statistics: 

In the United States, between 35%-50% of first-time marriages end in divorce, increasing to approximately 60% for second marriages (sic)  and 70% for marriages (sic) after the second. This gives the US one of the highest divorce rates in the world. Divorces can be emotionally and financially difficult, and can greatly impact not only the divorcees but also their children...the overall rates of both marriage and divorce are decreasing in the US. This trend is the result of multiple factors, but one of the most prominent is a tendency for Millennials to wait longer before entering into marriage, or simply forgo marriage altogether in favor of cohabitation. (i.e. shacking up and glorifying fornication). 
(See worldpopulationreview.com/state-rankings/divorce-rate-by-state).

Also of interest was that men and women of deeply held religious beliefs were 14% less likely to divorce than all other couples. In my 20s, I asked Fr. DePauw about the married vocation. This post is a compilation of my notes and exchange of letters on the topic with Father.  I hope this information will serve as a source of general principles for discerning matrimony.

Marriage is a Vocation
Never forget that it has always been taught by the Church that there are four vocations given to humanity by God. The word "vocation" comes from the Latin "vocare" meaning "to call or summon." Each of us is summoned by God to sanctify both ourselves and the world in one of four callings: the priesthood (for men only); the religious life (nuns, brothers, monks);the married life; and the single life. Marriage is therefore both a vocation and a sacrament. It must be entered into, like any vocation, intelligently and after prayerful consideration. The most important thing you can do is to pray often . 

Always be resigned to God's Will for you. In addition to praying for a particular vocation, it is wise to pray that God will guide you to where He wants you to be. Although you may desire marriage, it may be God's Holy Will that you remain in the single vocation or consider the religious vocation (nun, brother, monk) or priesthood. The following are some reasons NOT to get married. Be honest with yourself-- if any of these  reasons are your motivation for marriage, it is not your vocation:

  • All (or almost all) of my friends/family are married, so I should get married too
  • My parents want me to get married
  • I don't like being alone
  • People will think I'm strange or a sodomite if I don't get married by a certain age
  • A woman's "biological clock is ticking" and she decides she would like to have a child, so marry someone
  • You are afraid your boyfriend or girlfriend will leave you and you won't find anyone else, so marry them
  • You want to experience sex without sinning
In addition, there are several character traits that you should not possess if you want to enter the married state in life.

Do not seek marriage if:

1. You are self-centered and not willing to enter a vocation where sacrifices for your spouse and children are frequently necessary.

2. You are easily offended and hold grudges. This attitude will take a terrible toll on your spouse, your children, and you. 

3. Your career comes first, and you will place advancement in that career ahead of your spouse and children.

4. You have an unresolved serious vice, such as porn addiction, drinking too much, using recreational drugs, or gambling. 

Your primary motivation for getting married should be to procreate and grow the Body of Christ on Earth, and to help your spouse and children reach Heaven.

What to Look for in a Potential Spouse
A potential spouse should ideally be a member of the One True Church. The Church has always discouraged Mixed Marriages (between a Catholic and a validly baptized heretic or schismatic), and marriage where there is Disparity of Cult (between a Catholic and someone unbaptized; pagans, Jews, Mohammedans, etc). The Church will only marry such couples if the promises are signed as per Canon Law which require the non-Catholic party to promise (a) not to try and convert the Catholic party, or prevent their practice of the faith, and (b) all children of the union, both natural born and/or adopted must be baptized and raised exclusively in the One True Church. (See Canons 1060-1064, and Canons 1070-1071). 

In this time of Great Apostasy, most Traditionalist clergy I know are more willing to allow for such marriages since the pool of  available Traditionalists is low, compared to finding a true Catholic pre-Vatican II. Nevertheless, one must be extra vigilant that any potential spouse is clearly open to the True Faith. He/she must be willing to sign the promises and get married before a Traditionalist priest. Furthermore, he/she should want to accompany you to Mass and enjoy learning about the Church. This is of paramount importance. If the Faith is not respected and admired, don't think of that person as someone to be involved with and contemplate marriage. 

General Characteristics
A man or woman is marriageable if you (a) have a true friendship and (b) are attracted to the person physically for who they are as a person.

(A) True Friendship
This is a close and platonic bond. Think of your best friend. He/she should be like that. You appreciate your best friend as someone who is loyal, agreeable, helpful, kind, and inspiring. Your potential spouse should be like this too. You will sometimes hear a happily married person say, "I married my best friend." That's why the union is happy and successful. You should have some common interests as well as a basic common worldview. Someone who sees nothing wrong with abortion, sodomites, and trans-perverts is so removed from the Traditionalist Catholic perspective you should not consider  him/her as spouse material. 

(B) Personal Sex Attraction
There must be some physical attraction between potential spouses, but personal sex attraction is more and better than mere sexual attraction. It is attraction to the whole person, such that you want to be with that person and only that person. A person who is so attracted wants complete possession of his/her beloved. The mere thought of the other person feeling something for another makes for feelings of jealousy. A person thus attracted wants the same response from his beloved, the complete monopoly of his/her affections, because you want no one else.

When both true friendship and personal sex attraction are present, you have true love.

Moral Qualifications
Rather than list such qualifications, ask yourself these questions in regard to the person you are considering for a spouse. For sake of brevity, "he" will be used to signify a person of either gender.

  • Would this marriage with him help me to avoid sin and sanctify my soul leading to my salvation?
  • Does he make you want to be a better person and bring out the best in you?
  • Are you morally better or worse because of the time spent with him?
  • Would he be virtuous enough to remain faithful to his marriage vows no matter what misfortune may overtake you, such as illness or poverty?
  • Can/does he control his temper?
  • What are his moral views and view of Traditionalist Catholicism (sedevacantism)?
Agreement
Additional questions to ask yourself:
  • Is there a reasonable degree of similarity in your views on money, recreation, work, interests, and hobbies?
  • Are there habits he has which you can't overlook and bother you?
  • Can you live in peace with each other's family members?
  • Are his friends good people?
  • Do you feel at ease together?
  • Can you be yourself with him?
  • Is he loyal and you never have to question that he might commit adultery?
Specific questions regarding a potential wife:
  • Does she love children and see motherhood as greater than a career?
  • Does she reject feminism?
Specific questions regarding a potential husband:
  • Does he love children?
  • Can he hold down a respectable, honest job and make a decent income for a family man?
  • Is he responsible? 

A Personal View
(This section is comprised of  my personal reflections and experiences as a Traditionalist who married later in life.

A reader once asked me about my personal views/experiences and I reproduce much of that private email I sent to him here. What I said about women applies equally to men. You may accept or disregard my opinions, as they are mine as a simple layman.---Introibo). 

Let me be the first to tell you some somber news: there are not many women who would make good wives. In today's neo-pagan world, it is very hard to meet someone. I did feel that I was to remain in the single vocation for life because of that very reason. If it was God's Will, then so be it. I always avoided bars and clubs because the odds of finding a quality person in such a pagan atmosphere is slim. I dated a lot until I met my future wife. Most dates came from "Christian Dating Websites," singles events, and (occasionally) set-ups from friends. I always made it a rule never to date someone with whom I work; if it goes south, you need to face them everyday--not good. 

Most of my dates were "one-date wonders." The reason? Let me list them (and the list is not exhaustive):

  • They lied about themselves online and when we spoke on the phone. Automatic "good bye" from me. Things lied about included their physical looks (some used pictures of another woman), occupation, level of education, and even age. When I was in my late 30s, a woman online claimed to be 40, wanted children, and everything else seemed good, so I agreed to a date for dinner. She was twenty-four (24) years older than me.  (Used pics from over 20 years earlier). The only children she would be having would be via Divine Intervention. It was such an egregious lie, it is one of the few times I actually said goodbye as soon as I met the lady and didn't politely have dinner.
  •  Many told me on the date that they have children out of wedlock and see nothing wrong with raising children like that while sleeping around
  • Some made it clear they did not want children
  • Some were into occult practices (use of Ouija boards, yoga before statues of Hindu "gods," Reiki, etc.) They were ALL members of the Vatican II sect
  • Some had serious psychological problems. One woman was calling me over a dozen times a day after ONE date, and wanted to know "when we could move in together."  I had to threaten a restraining order to get her to leave me alone
  • One woman who seemed really nice was with me on our second date when I saw two men with dark glasses frequently looking at our table in the restaurant. I saw one had a gun on him. I whispered to her not to be nervous, I would tell the waiter to call the police. She said not to worry, they were two FBI agents. I asked her why the FBI was following us on a date. She explained her ex-boyfriend was a drug lord and she turned State's evidence against him. I told her we would finish dinner, I would pay (of course) and she would leave with the FBI--good luck, but I will not be killed by some criminal out for revenge. Now if the FBI was there, it would probably be to get me as "Enemy #1" on their list of "Most Wanted Traditionalists." 
Remember, this was AFTER I eliminated considering anyone because they were: divorced or had a phony annulment, were openly anti-Catholic (and on "Christian/Catholic" sites), were too old/young, not at all attractive to me (there must be some attraction), were not educated, and those who openly stated they didn't want kids and/or marriage. So after over 90% were eliminated, what I wrote about above was what I was meeting. 

I will share the four lessons I learned through all of this madness:

 Lesson 1: Go for 100% of what you want, don't settle, and keep your eyes open at all times

Lesson 2: You can find someone who has everything right, but is still not right for YOU. There may be insurmountable personality conflicts.

Lesson 3: Discuss what's important early in the relationship. If they don't give an enthusiastic answer you want, end it.  Otherwise, you waste your time.

Lesson 4 (most important): Never date anyone in the Vatican II sect unless they don't practice, and never get involved with anyone who is not genuinely open to Traditionalist Catholicism and conversion. 

Conclusion
I hope this post was helpful to my readers who are considering marriage as their vocation. Please let me know in the comments what you thought or if there is anything else I could add. I will end with two important prayers, one for everyone discerning a vocation, and one for those who feel called to the married vocation.

For all seeking to know their vocation:
God of Wisdom and of Counsel, Thou see in my heart a sincere desire to please Thee alone and to conform myself entirely to Thy Holy Will in the choice of my state in life. Grant me, I humbly implore Thee, by the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, my Mother and my holy Patrons, the grace to know what state in life I should choose and to embrace it when known, in order that thus I may seek Thy glory and increase it, work out my own salvation, and deserve the heavenly reward which Thou hast promised to those who do Thy Holy Will. Amen. (See in modern English online here:ourcatholicprayers.com/prayers-to-choose-a-vocation.html). 

For those discerning marriage:
Immaculate Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and my hope! I beseech thee to help me find a spouse, if Holy Matrimony is God's Will for me. Lead me to a (man/woman) who is devout and holy, so that we may raise a truly Catholic family. May we be good to each other, and help each other, not only in temporal needs, but to assist each other and our children to obtain true holiness and eternal life with thee and thy Divine Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.  

Monday, May 8, 2023

Our Lady's Miraculous Medal

 

To My Readers: This week, my guest poster Lee, presents an incredible post about a most powerful sacramental: The Miraculous Medal of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary. Until reading this post, I was unaware that there is an evil counterfeit Miraculous Medal in circulation. I learned a lot, and I'm sure you will as well. Feel free to comment as always. If anyone has a specific comment or question for me, I will respond as usual, but it might take me longer to reply this week.

God bless you all, my dear readers---Introibo

Our Lady's Miraculous Medal
By Lee

“April showers bring May flowers,” as the old saying goes. What's particularly beautiful about May and flowers is that it reminds us all of one very important thing—-mothers. The most glorious of all mothers is of course the Mother of God. As St. John Vianney says of her: "The Ave Maria is a prayer that is never wearisome. The devotion to the Holy Virgin is delicious, sweet, nourishing. When we talk on earthly subjects or politics, we grow weary; but when we talk of the Holy Virgin, it is always new. All the saints have a great devotion to Our Lady; no grace comes from Heaven without passing through her hands. We cannot go into a house without speaking to the porter; well, the Holy Virgin is the portress of Heaven."

St. John Vianney's contemporary in France was St. Catherine Laboure. Like St. John Vianney, she was one of those saints who had great devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. In fact, after her mother died when she was nine years old, she picked up a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary and kissed it exclaiming, "Now you will be my mother." 

When she was twelve years old she received first Holy Communion and every morning from the year 1818 onward she got up at 4 o'clock and walked several miles to attend at Mass. Her only desire was to give herself without reserve to Jesus as she continually had Jesus and Mary on her mind.

By the time her oldest sister left to join the Daughters of Charity, she fulfilled the daily tasks of looking after everything on her father's homestead. Cooking, housework, serving meals to the workman in the fields, and tending farm animals was her life. Despite all her labors she never forgot her vocation. Her habits of speaking was kept at a minimal. Her spirit of mortification and penance helped her hear Christ whom she longed desired as well as His mother.

One day Catherine had a dream where she saw an old priest at the altar. She drew back when he beckoned to her after Mass. Later, the vision moved to a sick room where she saw the same priest who said to her: "My child, it is good to look after the sick. You run away from me now, but one day you will be glad to come to me. God has designs for you. Do not forget it!" 

Some time later, Catherine was visiting a hospital of the Daughters of Charity. She noticed a priest's picture on the wall. When she asked one of the sisters who it was, the sister said it was the founder of their Order, St. Vincent de Paul. This was the priest she recognized in the dream.

The Three Apparitions of the Blessed Virgin

In January of 1830, St. Catherine had entered the hospice of the Daughters of Charity at Chatillon-sur-Seine. Three months later she was in Paris in order to enter into the Mother House of the Daughters of Charity located on the Rue du Bac. Before she started receiving apparitions from the Holy Mother, God gave her other extraordinary visions first. For three consecutive days she beheld the heart of St. Vincent de Paul each time under a different aspect. At other times, she was able to see Jesus during Mass, when he would appear as he was described in the liturgy of the day.

In her own words, she describes the following concerning the three apparitions she experienced:

July 18th 1830 (First apparition):

“And then came the Feast of Saint Vincent when our good Mother Martha, on the evening before, gave us an instruction on devotion to the Blessed Virgin, which gave me a desire to see the Blessed Virgin, such that I went to bed with that thought on that same night, that I should see my good Mother whom I had desired to see for such a long time. As a piece of linen from a surplice of Saint Vincent had been distributed, I cut off half of it which I swallowed, and I went to sleep, in the thought that Saint Vincent should obtain for me the grace to see the Blessed Virgin.

Finally, at half past eleven in the evening I heard myself being called by name: ‘Sister LabourĂ©, Sister LabourĂ©’. Waking up, I looked in the direction where I heard the voice... I pulled aside the curtain. I saw a child four or five years old, who said to me: ‘Come to the chapel, the Blessed Virgin is waiting for you.’ I dressed quickly and made my way alongside this child, who had remained standing, without coming any further than the head of my bed.... I followed him, keeping him always on my left.

Everywhere we passed was lighted up, which astonished me a lot. But I was even more surprised when I went into the chapel and the door opened itself, though the child had scarcely touched it with his fingertips. My surprise was even more complete when I saw that all the tapers and candles were alight, which reminded me of the Midnight Mass. However, I saw nothing of the Blessed Virgin.

The child led me into the sanctuary; to the side of the director’s chair, where I knelt down, while the child remained standing the whole time. As I found the time rather long, I looked around to see if the sisters who kept watch in the house were passing through the gallery.

At last the time had come. The child let me know. He said to me, ‘Here is the Blessed Virgin. Here she is!’ I heard a sound like the rustle of a silk gown coming from the side of the tribune near Saint Joseph’s picture, which finally came and alighted on the altar steps on the gospel side and went to sit in a chair like that of Saint Anne’s.

Catherine continues her account: It was not the same face as Saint Anne... I doubted whether this was the Blessed Virgin. However, the child who was there said to me, ‘Here is the Blessed Virgin!’ It would be impossible for me to say what I experienced at this time, what was happening within me. It seemed to me that I did not see the Blessed Virgin. It was then that the child spoke to me, no longer as a child, but as a very strong man and in the strongest terms. Then, looking at the Blessed Virgin, I just made one leap towards her, and knelt down on the altar-steps, with my hands resting on the lap of the Blessed Virgin...

Then there took place the sweetest moment of my life. It would be impossible for me to tell all that I experienced. She told me how I was to behave towards my director and several things which I must not tell, how I was to behave in my troubles, that I was to come (pointing with Her left hand to the foot of the altar) and throw myself at the foot of the altar and there to pour forth my heart, that there I should receive all the consolations that I needed... I then asked her to explain to me the meaning of all the things I had seen, and she explained everything to me.

‘My child’ Our Lady said, ‘the good God wishes to entrust you with a mission. You will have much difficulty, but you will overcome these difficulties by thinking that you are doing it for the glory of the good God. You will know what comes from the good God. You will be tormented by it till you have told it to him who is entrusted with your guidance. You will be opposed, but you will always have the grace. Do not fear. Tell everything which happens within you with confidence... with simplicity.

You will see a certain thing. Give an account of what you will see and hear. You will be inspired in your prayer.

Come to the foot of this altar. There graces will be poured out on all those, rich or poor, who ask for them with confidence and fervor. I will be with you myself; I will always keep my eyes upon you, and I will enrich you with many graces.’

Graces will be bestowed, particularly upon all who ask for them, but they must pray. They must pray!

I do not know how long I stayed. All I know is that after ‘She had gone,’ I only noticed something which was fading away. Finally, no more than a shadow that was moving in the direction of the tribune, the side from which she had come. I got up from the steps of the altar, and I saw the child where I had left him. He said to me, ‘She has gone.’ We went back by the same way, which was still illuminated, and this child was always on my left.

I believe that this child was my guardian angel who made himself visible so that I should see the Blessed Virgin, because I had often prayed to him that he would obtain this favor, for me. He was dressed in white and bore a miraculous light with him, that is to say, he was resplendent with light. He was either four or five years old. When I got back to bed, it was two o’clock in the morning, for I heard the clock strike. I did not go to sleep again.”

November 27th 1830 (Second apparition):

 “I thought that the Blessed Virgin would grant me this grace, but my desire was so strong that I was convinced that I would actually see her at her most beautiful."

On the 27th of November, 1830, which was a Saturday, and the eve of the First Sunday of Advent, while making my meditation in profound silence, at half past five in the evening, I seemed to hear on the right hand side of the sanctuary something like the rustling of a silk dress. Glancing in that direction, I perceived the Blessed Virgin, standing near Saint Joseph’s picture. Her height was medium, and her countenance indescribably beautiful. She was dressed in a robe the color of the dawn, high-necked, with plain sleeves. Her head was covered with a white veil, which floated over her shoulders down to her feet. She wore a narrow lace band round her hair. Her face was not concealed. Her feet rested upon a globe, or rather one half of a globe, for that was all that could be seen. Her hands which were on a level with her waist, held in an easy manner another globe, a figure of the world. Her eyes were raised to Heaven, and her countenance beamed with light as she offered the globe to Our Lord.

Suddenly, her fingers were covered with rings and most beautiful precious stones. Rays of dazzling light gleamed forth from them, and the whole of her figure was enveloped in such radiance that her feet and robe were no longer visible.

The jewels varied in size as did also the rays of light they threw out. I could not express what I felt, nor what I learned, in these few moments. As I was busy contemplating her, the Blessed Virgin fixed her eyes upon me, and a voice said in the depths of my heart: ‘This globe which you see represents the whole world, especially France, and each person in particular.’

I would not know how to express the beauty and brilliancy of these rays. The Blessed Virgin added: ‘Behold the symbol of the graces I shed upon those who ask me for them.’ And she made me understand how pleasant it was to pray to the Blessed Virgin, how generous she is to all who implore her intercession... How many favors she grants to those who ask her for them with confidence and the joy that she experienced in granting graces! At this moment I was not myself, I was in raptures!

There now formed around the Blessed Virgin a frame rather oval in shape on which were written in letters of gold these words: ‘O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee.’

Then a voice said to me: ‘Have a medal struck upon this model. All those who wear it, when it is blessed, will receive great graces especially if they wear it round the neck. Those who repeat this prayer with devotion will be in a special manner under the protection of the Mother of God. Graces will be abundantly bestowed upon those who have confidence.’

At the same instant, the oval frame seemed to turn around. Then I saw on the back of it the letter ‘M’, surmounted by a cross, with a crossbar beneath it, and under the monogram of the name of Mary, the Holy Hearts of Jesus and of His Mother; the first surrounded by a crown of thorns and the second trans-pierced by a sword. I was anxious to know what words must be placed on the reverse side of the medal and after many prayers, one day in meditation I seemed to hear a voice which said to me: ‘The M with the Cross and the two Hearts tell enough.’

(No mention is made in Sister Catherine’s notes of the twelve stars which surrounded the monogram of Mary and the two Hearts. However, they are always figured on the back of the medal. It is certain that this detail was given by the sister at the time of the apparitions.)

December ? 1830 (Third apparition):

Catherine felt sure that she would see Our Lady again. Sometime during the month of December her hope was realized. At the afternoon meditation, she had another vision similar to that of November 27th . There was one remarkable difference however. Our Blessed Mother, who according to Sister Labouré appeared to be about forty years of age, instead of remaining near the picture of Saint Joseph, passed in front of it and stood at the back of the tabernacle, a little above it.

The invocation ‘O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee’ was traced in letters of gold and encircled the apparition as before. Catherine saw again at the back of the oval the monogram of the Blessed Virgin surmounted by the Cross, and beneath, the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. In Catherine’s own words: “I saw the Blessed Virgin near the tabernacle, to the back of it. She was dressed in white... under her feet was a white ball. She was so beautiful that it would be impossible for me to describe her beauty. Her hands, which were raised to the level of the waist, in a very easy fashion, were holding a ball which represented the globe, surmounted by a little golden cross.

Suddenly her fingers became adorned with rings and with precious stones of great splendor the rays which issued from them showered a dazzling light on all sides and filled the area below them, so that one could no longer see the feet of the Blessed Virgin.

The larger stones gave larger rays, and the smaller ones, smaller rays. To tell you what I learned at the moment when the Blessed Virgin was offering the globe to Our Lord would be impossible to repeat... what I experienced.” Saint Catherine again received the order to have a medal struck according to the model. This was the last time Our Lady was to appear to her and she distinctly heard this message. ‘You will not see me any more, but you will hear my voice during your prayers’. And then, Catherine tells us, everything disappeared from my sight, like a candle that is blown out.

And from that day forward, till she departed this world in 1876, with only those few exceptions authorized by Heaven above, for a period of forty six years, the saint of silence was to keep these visions a secret, pondering them in the depths of her heart.

She terminates her account in these words: To tell you what I understood at the moment the Blessed Virgin offered the globe to Our Lord, would be impossible, or what my feelings were whilst gazing on her! A voice in the depths of my heart said to me: ‘These rays are symbolic of the graces the Blessed Virgin obtains for those who ask for them’.” These few lines, according to her, should be inscribed at the base of the Blessed Virgin’s statue. On this occasion, contrary to her usual custom, she could not refrain from an exclamation of joy at the thought of the homages which would be rendered Mary! Oh! How delightful to hear it said: Mary is Queen of the Universe, and particularly of France! The children will proclaim it, She is Queen of each soul!”

First Medals Struck

Catherine spoke to no one about her visions and her mission except her Spiritual Director, Fr. John Marie Aladel. He was only thirty years old in 1830, and this was no small task that was thrust upon him. He and Catherine had many confrontations before the first medals were struck in June 1832. Eventually, at his request, Catherine wrote out three full accounts of her visions. She was a person of sound common sense, had a great eye for details and a gift for describing well what she saw and heard.

After almost two years of keen discernment Fr. Aladel took advantage of a visit to Archbishop Hyacinth de Quelen of Paris in January of 1832 to discuss his penitent, her visions, and the request of the Blessed Virgin for a medal to be struck. The Archbishop listened carefully and questioned Fr. Aladel in detail, and finally gave his permission for the medals to be made. He himself was very devoted to the Immaculate Conception of Mary and asked that he be given some of the first medals that would be made.

The first two thousand medals were delivered on June 30, 1832. The spread of the Medal was almost like a miracle in itself. The first batch disappeared very quickly. Pope Gregory XVI put one of them at the foot of the crucifix on his desk.

The Redemptorist founder of the Sisters Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in America, Fr. Gillet, had the design of the medal placed on his ordination card in 1836. The stories of the cures and wonders of the medal helped to spread its use far and wide.

By 1836 the firm of Vachette had sold several million medals. Eleven other engravers in Paris had done the same. And four engravers in Lyons were hard pressed to meet the demands for the medal. Archbishop de Quelen instituted a Canonical Inquiry starting on February 11th, 1836. The conclusions of the inquiry were that the medal was of supernatural origin and that the wonders worked through it were genuine. This inquiry helped win the approval of the Holy See in 1895 for a feast in honor of the Medal, and helped in the process of beatification and canonization of Sister Catherine.

Conversions through the Medal

Archbishop de Quelen attributed to the first miraculous medal deathbed conversion of a publicly impenitent sinner, Monseigneur de Pradt, former chaplain to Napoleon and unlawful Archbishop of Mechlin (Malines) who had accepted his office from the hands of the Emperor and now lay dying, defiant and unreconciled to the Church. The Archbishop had tried to see him on several occasions and had been rebuffed. So he took a miraculous medal with him, and was finally allowed in to see the Baron, who was so touched by grace that he repented and confessed his sins. The next day he received the sacraments from the Archbishop and died in his arms in 1837. This was the first great triumph of the miraculous medal.

The story of Claude Newman

Claude Newman was an African American man who was born on December 1st, 1923 to Willie and Floretta (Young) Newman in Stuttgart, Arkansas. In 1928, Claude’s father Willie took Claude and his older brother away from their mother for unknown reasons, and they are brought to their grandmother, Ellen Newman, of Bovina, Warren County, Mississippi.

In 1939, Claude’s beloved grandmother, Ellen Newman, married a man named Sid Cook. Soon Sid became abusive toward Ellen, which deeply angered Claude. In 1940, Claude worked as a farm-hand on Ceres Plantation in Bovina, Mississippi. The plantation was owned by a wealthy landowner named U.G. Flowers, and Sid Cook was born and raised on this plantation. Claude got married in 1940 at the age of 17 to a young woman of the same age. On December 19th, 1942, Claude was apparently still very angered by Sid’s abusive treatment towards his grandmother Ellen, and egged on by a dominant friend named Elbert Harris, Claude lay in waiting at Sid Cook’s house (Sid Cook and Ellen Newman having since separated). Claude shoots Sid as he enters, killing him, and takes his money, then flees to his mother’s house in Arkansas, arriving on December 20th.

In January 1943, Claude was apprehended in Arkansas and was returned to Vicksburg, Mississippi and made a coerced confession on January 13. Despite the protests of Claude’s lawyer Harry K. Murray, his confession was admitted as evidence, and he was found guilty by jury, and was initially sentenced to die in the electric chair on May 14, 1943. Later an appeal to retry the case was rejected by state Attorney General and he was rescheduled to be executed on January 20, 1944.

The majority of the information that will now be presented comes from a tape recording of a radio show interview of Father O’Leary a priest who came to know Claude very well during Claude’s imprisonment. While Claude was in jail awaiting execution, he shared a cell-block with four other prisoners. One night, the five men were sitting around talking and eventually the conversation ran out. During this time, Claude noticed a medal on a string around one of the other prisoner’s neck. Curious, he asked the other prisoner what the medal was. The young prisoner was a Catholic, but he apparently did not know (or did not want to talk) about the medal, and seemingly embarrassed, he appeared angry and suddenly took the medal off from around his own neck and threw it on the floor at Claude’s feet with a curse and a cuss, telling him to take the thing.” Claude picked up the medal, and after looking it over, he placed it around his own neck, although he had no idea whose image it was on the medal; to him it was simply a trinket, but for some reason he felt attracted to it, and wanted to wear it.

During the night while sleeping on top of his cot, he was awakened with a touch upon his wrist. Awakening with a start, there stood, as Claude told Father O’Leary afterwards, ‘the most beautiful woman that God ever created.' At first he was quite frightened, not knowing what to make of this extraordinary beautiful glowing woman. The lady soon calmed Claude down, and then said to him, "If you would like me to be your mother, and you would like to be my child, send for a priest of the Catholic Church.” And after saying these words she suddenly disappeared. Excited, Claude immediately started to yell "a ghost, a ghost” and started screaming that he wanted a Catholic priest. Father Robert O’Leary SVD (1911–1984), the priest who tells the story, was called first thing the next morning. Upon arrival he went to see Claude who told him of what had happened the night before. Deeply impressed by the events, Claude, along with the other four men in his cell-block, asked for religious instruction in the Catholic faith.

Father O’Leary returned to the prison the next day to begin instruction for the prisoners. It was then that the priest learned that Claude Newman could neither read nor write at all. The only way he could tell if a book was right-side-up was if the book contained a picture. Claude told him that he had never been to school, and Father O’Leary soon discovered that his ignorance of religion was even more profound. He knew practically nothing about religion or the Christian faith. He knew that there was a God, but he did not know that Jesus was God. And so Claude began receiving instructions, and the other prisoners helped him with his studies.

After a few days, two of the religious sisters from Father O’Leary’s parish-school obtained permission from the warden to come to the prison. They wanted to meet Claude and hear his remarkable story, and they also wanted to visit the women in the prison. Soon, on another floor of the prison, the Sisters began to teach some of the women-prisoners the catechism as well. Several weeks passed, and it came time when Father O’Leary was going to give instructions about the sacrament of confession. The sisters too sat in on the class. The priest said to the prisoners, "Ok boys, today I’m going to teach you about the sacrament of confession.” Claude said, "Oh, I know about that! The Lady told me that when we go to confession we are kneeling down not before a priest, but we’re kneeling down by the Cross of Her Son. And that when we are truly sorry for our sins, and we confess our sins, the blood He shed flows down over us and washes us free from all sins.” Hearing Claude say this, Father O’Leary and the Sisters sat stunned with their mouths wide open. Claude thought they were angry and said, "Oh don’t be angry, don’t be angry, I didn’t mean to blurt it out.” The priest said, we’re not angry Claude. We are just surprised. You have seen her again?” Claude replied, "Come around the cell-block away from the others.”

When they were alone, Claude said to the priest, "She told me that if you doubted me or showed hesitancy, I was to remind you that lying in a ditch in Holland in 1940, you made a vow to her which she’s still waiting for you to keep.” And, Father O’Leary recalls, "Claude then told me precisely what the vow was.” Claude’s revelation absolutely convinced Father O’Leary that Claude was telling the truth about his visions of Our Lady. The promise Fr. O’Leary made to Our Lady in 1940 from a ditch in Holland (the proof Claude gave the priest that Our Lady really was appearing to him) was this: that when he could, he would build a church in honor of Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception. He did just that in 1947. He had been transferred to Clarksdale, Mississippi in 1945 when a group of African American Catholic laymen asked to have a church built there. The Bishop of Natchez, Mississippi had been sent $5000 by Archbishop Cushing of Boston for the “Negro missions.” The Bishop and Father O’Leary commissioned the church of the Immaculate Conception to be built, and it is still there today. Father O’Leary and Clark then returned to the catechism class on confession. Claude kept telling the other prisoners, "You should not be afraid to go to confession. You’re really telling God your sins, not the priest.” Then Claude said, "You know, the lady said that confession is something like a telephone. We talk through the priest to God, and God talks back to us through the priest.”

About a week later, Father O’Leary was preparing to teach the class about the Blessed Sacrament. The sisters were again present for this lesson too. Claude indicated that the lady had also taught him about the Eucharist, and he asked if he could tell the priest what she said.

Fr. O’Leary agreed immediately. Claude related, "The Lady told me that in Communion, I will only see what looks like a piece of bread. But she told me that It is really and truly her Son, and that He will be with me just as He was with her before He was born in Bethlehem. She told me that I should spend my time like she did during her lifetime with Him — in loving Him, adoring Him, thanking Him, praising Him and asking Him for blessings. I shouldn’t be distracted or bothered by anybody else or anything else, but I should spend those few minutes in my thoughts alone with Him.”

As the weeks progressed, eventually they finished the catechism instructions and Claude and the other prisoners were received into the Catholic Church. The St. Mary’s parish (Vicksburg, MI) baptismal log has recorded his baptism on January 16th, 1944. Fr. O’Leary officiated and a young nun, Sr. Bena Henken, served as his godmother. Soon afterwards the time came for Claude to be executed. He was to be executed at five minutes after twelve, midnight, on January 20, 1944. The sheriff, named Williamson, asked him, "Claude, you have the privilege of a last request. What do you want? "Well, said Claude, all of my friends are all shook up. The jailer is all shook up. But you don’t understand. I’m not going to die; only this body. I’m going to be with her. So, then I would like to have a party.” "What do you mean?” asked the sheriff. "A party!” said Claude. "Will you give Father O’Leary permission to bring in some cakes and ice cream and will you allow the prisoners on the second floor to be freed in the main room so that we can all be together and have a party?” Somebody might attack Father,” cautioned the warden. Claude turned to the men who were standing by and said, "Oh no they won’t, right fellas?”

The warden consented and posted additional guards for the party. So, Father O’Leary visited a wealthy patron of the parish, and she generously supplied the ice cream and cake, and everyone enjoyed the party. Afterwards, because Claude had requested it, they made a Holy Hour, praying especially for Claude and for all of their souls. Fr. O’Leary brought prayer books from the Church, and they all said together the Stations of the Cross, and made a Holy Hour, without the Blessed Sacrament. As the time neared for Claude’s execution, the men were put back in their cells. The priest then went to the chapel to get the Blessed Sacrament so that he could give Claude Holy Communion in the moment before his execution.

Father O’Leary returned to Claude’s cell. Claude knelt on one side of the bars, the priest knelt on the other, and they prayed together as the clock ticked toward Claude’s execution.

Father O’Leary then had a sudden inspiration. He reminded Claude about James Hughes, a white prisoner in the same jail who hated Claude intensely. This prisoner had led a horribly immoral life, and like Claude he too was sentenced to be executed for murder. James was raised a Catholic, but now he was a reprobate, and rejected God and all things Christian. Father O’Leary then said, "Maybe our Blessed Mother wants you to offer this denial of being with her for his conversion.” And the priest continued, "Why don’t you offer to God every moment that you are separated from your heavenly Mother for this prisoner, so that he will not be separated from God for all eternity.” Claude thought for a moment, then agreed, and he asked Father O’Leary to teach him the words to make the offering. Father O’Leary complied, and he later testified that from that moment on the only two people on earth who knew about this personal offering were Claude and himself, because it was a private matter between God, the Blessed Mother, Claude and himself. A few hours later (still on the morning after his reprieve of execution) Fr. O’Leary came once again to visit Claude, and Claude said to the priest, "James hated me before, but oh Father, how he hates me now!” (This was because James had heard about Claude’s reprieve and was jealous). To encourage him the good priest said, "Well, perhaps that’s a good sign.”

During his two weeks reprieve, Claude generously offered his sacrifice and prayers for his fellow prisoner, the reprobate James Hughes. Two weeks later, Claude was finally put to death by the electric chair on February 4th, 1944. Concerning Claude’s holy death Father O’Leary testified: "I’ve never seen anyone go to his death as joyfully and happily. Even the official witnesses and the newspaper reporters were amazed. They said they couldn’t understand how anyone could go and sit in the electric chair while at the same time actually beaming with happiness.”

Claude’s death notice was printed in the Vicksburg evening news on the day of his
execution February 4th, 1944. His last words to Father O’Leary were, "Father, I will remember you. And whenever you have a request, ask me, and I will ask her.”

The conversion of fellow inmate James Hughes

Three months after Claude’s execution, on May 19, 1944, the white man named James Hughes — the one whom Claude had offered his sacrifice for, was to be executed. Father O’Leary said, “This man was the filthiest, most immoral person I had ever come across. His hatred for God and for everything spiritual defied description.” He would not allow a priest or any clergyman in his cell. Just before his execution, the county doctor pleaded with him to at least kneel down and say the “Our Father” before the sheriff would come for him. The prisoner spat in the doctor’s face. When he was strapped into the electric chair, the sheriff said to him, “If you have something to say, say it now.” The condemned man started to blaspheme.

All of a sudden he stopped speaking, and his eyes became fixed on the corner of the room, and his face turned to one of absolute horror. Suddenly he screamed in terror — a horrible scream that shocked everyone present. Turning to the sheriff, he then said, “Sheriff, get me a priest!” Now, Father O’Leary had been in the room because Mississippi law at that time required a clergyman to be present at executions. The priest, however, had hidden himself behind some reporters because the condemned man had threatened to curse God if he saw a clergyman. Upon calling for a priest, Father O’Leary immediately went to the condemned man. The room was cleared of everyone else, and the priest heard the man’s confession. The man said he had been a Catholic, but turned away from his religion when he was 18 because of his immoral life. He confessed all of his sins with deep repentance and intense fervor.

While everyone was returning to the room, the sheriff asked the priest, “Father, what made him change his mind?” “I don’t know” said Father O’Leary, “I didn’t ask him.” The sheriff said, “Well, I will never sleep tonight if I don’t ask him.” The Sheriff went to the condemned man and asked, “Son, what changed your mind?”

The prisoner responded, “Remember that black man Claude — the one whom I hated so much? Well he’s standing there [and he pointed], over in that corner. And behind him with one hand on each shoulder is the Blessed Virgin Mary. And Claude said to me, "I offered my death in union with Christ on the Cross for your salvation. She has obtained for you this gift of seeing your place in Hell if you do not repent." I have been shown my place in Hell, and that’s why I screamed.”

James Hughes was executed as scheduled, but the heavenly appearance of our Blessed Mother with Claude Newman and the subsequent vision of hell had instantly converted his soul in the last moments of his life. With the help of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Father O’Leary had taught Claude to unite himself with the suffering of Jesus by offering his own sufferings to Him, just as we all can do for others, and Claude’s suffering helped to pay the price for James’ remarkable last minute conversion and repentance. Therefore we must never under-estimate the value of our suffering joined with that of Jesus Christ’s, and also the power and loving intercession of Our Blessed Mother in heaven.

Beware of the Counterfeit Medal

In the May 2016 archive of Chiesa Viva 
(Link in Italian here: http://www.chiesaviva.com/493%20mensile.pdf) Dr. Franco Adessa explains from Pages 17-21 how there is a Satanic/Freemasonic version of the Miraculous Medal which has circulated in more recent years. Here is some of what he had to say that I was able to translate in English from the first page (17):

In the journal, “Miracles” of February 19, 2016, on pages 6-7, an article was published entitled: “Symbols of Freemasonry and the Devil on the Medal of the Rue du Bac? The truth.” Here is the list of the counterfeit Medal alterations, which were reported in the article:

1. Stars do not have 5 points but 6 points. You can also find false versions with 5 points, but the layout and location (of the stars) are different than the original.

2. The “M” is not in an upright position, but tilted.

3. The Cross and the “M” intertwine in an opposite direction of the original.

4. On the hearts, there appears, in disguise, as if they were thorns, the symbol of Freemasonry, i.e., the square and the compass.

5. The sword of the Heart of Mary does not pass through the heart, itself, but is [placed] behind it.

6. The Cross has a very strange shape and its arms are not right. At the end of each arm of the Cross, there appear to be spikes. The fake version of the cross, can end with spikes that look like horns or forks and are reminiscent, at the top (together with the part that is above) of what Lucifer has on his head, as represented in Satanic and Masonic iconography.

7. In the false and Masonic version, a 6-pointed star appears over the cross, which would, according to Masonic symbolism, represent the light of Lucifer, himself. Versions with 5-pointed stars instead of 6, can also be found but always with a star on top of the cross, placed in a perpendicular manner, and many times this star is inverted. In the original, there is no star above the Cross in a perpendicular manner, but two stars, each placed at the upper sides of the Cross. The same can be seen in the lower part of the medal.

Father Michael Barone, with the title: “It’s false but harmless,” says: I was informed by the Chapel of the Rue du Bac, from which it can also be assumed from the official site (www.chapellenotredamedelamedail-lemiraculeuse.com) that there is no complaint about an alleged false miraculous Medal in circulation. Father Michael says he believes that it is only a reproduction error on the part of those who have coined it, without paying much attention to the position of the various signs.

In 1830, Our Lady came to offer us the Miraculous Medal, at the very moment in which the leaders of Freemasonry, namely the Satanic Order of the Bavarian Illuminati, were plotting their darkest conspiracies against the Church of Christ! It should be no surprise at all, then, to discover that the Secret Heads of Freemasonry have alterated the Miraculous Medal, in hatred of God and the Immaculate Virgin, not only in order to show contempt for the sacred and for mockery, but, above all, to diminish the power of this gift received from the Madonna. The first thing one must to do, though, is to try to locate all the changes made on the Miraculous Medal, and arrange them in a unique mosaic from which the key idea of the Satanic-Masonic doctrine will emerge giving all these alterations their precise and unique meaning.

Conclusion
When Pope Pius XII canonized St. Catherine Laboure, he had this to say about the Miraculous Medal: Everyone is familiar today with the ‘miraculous medal.’This medal, with its image of ‘Mary conceived without sin,’ was revealed to a humble daughter of Saint Vincent de Paul whom We had the joy of inscribing in the catalogue of Saints, and it has spread its spiritual and material wonders everywhere.

We should always be mindful of why we use sacramentals. As the Baltimore Catechisms teaches us:

471. What are the chief benefits obtained by the use of the sacramentals?
The chief benefits obtained by the use of the sacramentals are:
first, actual graces;
second, the forgiveness of venial sins;
third, the remission of temporal punishment;
fourth, health of body and material blessings;
fifth, protection from evil spirits.

Therefore, we should make use of them daily and make an effort to recognize and avoid any counterfeits.