A Knight Must Be Willing To Be Led

September 6, 2010

To all of my wonderful visitors to Mary’s Anawim …

Please visit my new blog at http://www.knightsofdivinemercy.com/.  With the article written in the National Catholic Register, shown in my previous post, I have made the decision that the time has come to focus the technological side of my ministry on this amazing apostolate for men’s faith formation.  All are welcome to visit the blog at http://www.knightsofdivinemercy.com/, but we are encouraging the men to make comments and get the discussions going.

Mary’s Anawim began on July 7, 2007 (07-07-07), which was the same day our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI took a giant leap forward in helping our Church recover a sense of the sacred by issuing his Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontificum issued Motu Proprio.  For those of us who have been drying up in the desert of secularism, this seemed to be the beginning of very exciting times – truly the first buds of the springtime of the New Evangelization.

In the picture above you see a knight kneeling in submission before the altar of God. That is the ‘state’ we are always seeking as the Knights of Divine Mercy. Our motto, Deo submissus in Deo potens (the one who has submitted to God is powerful in God), asks us to be humble, teachable, and willing to be led.

At this point in my ministry, as we all campaign to recover a sense of the sacred in this new springtime, I feel my role – my call – is to do all I can, within the power God has given me, to raise an army of ‘SOLID’ men who are willing to enter the fray of secularism and pull out the lost souls of our family and friends (“I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy” –United States Army Ranger Oath).

The deprogramming of our loved ones from the secular indoctrination begins by raising an army of those who are truly taking their faith seriously. Without this example of conviction and resolve, there is little or nothing compelling our loved ones to come home to their faith again. And so the Knights of Divine Mercy begin, first, by working at their personal holiness.

Please pray for the Knights of Divine Mercy. And, if you please, I’ll take a few of your prayers too as we step out in reclaiming surrendered ground.

Ad Jesum per Mariam,

Fr. Richard Heilman


Knights of Divine Mercy Battle the Culture

September 6, 2010

Congratulations to the Knights of Divine Mercy for this wonderful article in the National Catholic Register:

Father Rick Heilman may be known for his spiritual direction on Relevant Radio’s “The Inner Life” show, but he’s also on a mission to raise up an army of men that God can use — men who are in a state of grace, Eucharistic-centric, and submissive to his will.

Since he founded the Knights of Divine Mercy in 2006 at his parish communities of Pine Bluff and Mt. Horeb, Wis., in the Diocese of Madison, the group has grown to more than 300 “knights,” drawing 80 to 100 men regularly from hundreds of miles around to First Friday meetings, and is poised to go national.

The group’s mission involves building up the spiritual strength of men, training them in the skills of successful moral living, and helping men discover how they are to cooperate with God’s grace. It aims to help men seek and perfect the virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude, temperance, faith, hope and love. The monthly meetings include Eucharistic adoration, devotional prayers and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, confession, a spiritual talk, Benediction and social time.

Jeff Mahoney says he was blown away when he first attended a “night of Knights” two years ago. 

“I wanted to join a men’s group to strengthen my faith. This is what I was looking for,” says Mahoney, a husband and father of an 8-month-old son. “I know men don’t like watered-down stuff. They’re looking for a challenge, a battle. Going to the ‘night of Knights’ and seeing these other men thirsting for Christ spurred me on to get closer to Christ.”

Mahoney, already a devoted Catholic with a special devotion to the Divine Mercy, credits the group with helping him prioritize his life and put God first. He started to attend daily Mass and adoration and to pray the Rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet. Prayer led Mahoney to talk to Father Heilman about his desire to serve the apostolate.

Father Heilman, looking to expand the group nationally, appointed him executive director in June. Everything fell into place when Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison, a supporter of the group, offered some office space to the Knights in the Bishop O’Connor Pastoral Center.

Over the past several years, the group has received more than 80 inquiries from around the country to form chapters. It now has a manual, bylaws and “battle pack” of prayer books and sacramentals to help structure those chapters. Several are already forming in Wisconsin, Kentucky and North Dakota. Mahoney says they would like groups to have the blessing of the bishop in their diocese.

Witnessing to the Culture
The group’s motto is Deo Submissus in Deo Potens (The one who has submitted to God is powerful in God).

“We need to face the world under God’s power, not under our own power,” Father Heilman says. “You can’t enter into your call as a man of strong Catholic faith without first having that submission. Once we can get to that place, then we’re free to let God use us in the world in whatever way he chooses.”

David Stiennon, 47, president of St. Ambrose Academy in Madison and a member of Blessed Sacrament Parish, has been driving 30 minutes to St. Mary’s in Pine Bluff for monthly meetings since the group started. He feels challenged to witness the faith in the larger culture. Madison is a very secular public-university town, notes Stiennon, and “ground zero” for human embryonic stem-cell research (some of the first patents were developed here). A multimillion-dollar facility is in the works to further that research, and the governor is extremely supportive of abortion and a no-exceptions rule that employers offer insurance coverage for contraception.

“There is an environment here that challenges people who practice the faith to stand up and be counted. You can feel really isolated,” he says. “The Knights of Divine Mercy brings together guys who will stand with you. It’s a place where you can find other men who are supportive and a priest who is committed to Christ.”

Stiennon started attending prayer vigils outside of abortion clinics and the 40 Days for Life vigil, hosted by Pro-Life Wisconsin. He joined hundreds of community members and 14 other knights outside of an area designated for a late-term abortion facility. The facility never opened, and the abortionist quit. He also got involved with helping to start a health clinic with pro-life, pro-natural family planning Catholic doctors. He even joined the Knights’ schola and learned to sing the Church’s traditional sacred music. The group has performed in parishes and events throughout the diocese, as well as the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis.

“Father Heilman’s goal is to restore the sense of the sacred in our diocese, and he wanted to start by forming a choir. It brings the faith to your heart when you sing those chants,” says Stiennon.

“We’re not asking the men to be in a state of perfection, but that they want to enter into the path of perfection in their life by submitting to God’s power and will,” Father Heilman says. “You’re a knight. Now God can use you.”

Barb Ernster writes from Fridley, Minnesota.

INFORMATION

To start a Knights of Divine Mercy chapter in your diocese, visit KnightsofDivineMercy.com.


Archbishop Chaput: “Systematic Discrimination Against Church Now Seems Inevitable”

September 5, 2010

LifeSiteNews is reporting this …

SPISSKE, PODHRADIE, Slovakia, August 25, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – MUST READ Excerpts from Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput’s address to the 15th symposium for the Canon Law Association of Slovakia on Tuesday:

Today’s secularizers have learned from the past.  They are more adroit in their bigotry; more elegant in their public relations; more intelligent in their work to exclude the Church and individual believers from influencing the moral life of society. Over the next several decades, Christianity will become a faith that can speak in the public square less and less freely.  A society where faith is prevented from vigorous public expression is a society that has fashioned the state into an idol. And when the state becomes an idol, men and women become the sacrificial offering. 

We face an aggressively secular political vision and a consumerist economic model that result – in practice, if not in explicit intent — in a new kind of state-encouraged atheism. 

To put it another way:  The Enlightenment-derived worldview that gave rise to the great murder ideologies of the last century remains very much alive.  Its language is softer, its intentions seem kinder, and its face is friendlier.  But its underlying impulse hasn’t changed — i.e., the dream of building a society apart from God; a world where men and women might live wholly sufficient unto themselves, satisfying their needs and desires through their own ingenuity. 

This vision presumes a frankly “post-Christian” world ruled by rationality, technology and good social engineering.  Religion has a place in this worldview, but only as an individual lifestyle accessory.  People are free to worship and believe whatever they want, so long as they keep their beliefs to themselves and do not presume to intrude their religious idiosyncrasies on the workings of government, the economy, or culture. 

Now, at first hearing, this might sound like a reasonable way to organize a modern society that includes a wide range of ethnic, religious and cultural traditions, different philosophies of life and approaches to living. 

… how does the rhetoric of enlightened, secular tolerance square with the actual experience of faithful Catholics in Europe and North America in recent years? 

In the United States, a nation that is still 80 percent Christian with a high degree of religious practice, government agencies now increasingly seek to dictate how Church ministries should operate, and to force them into practices that would destroy their Catholic identity.  Efforts have been made to discourage or criminalize the expression of certain Catholic beliefs as “hate speech.”  Our courts and legislatures now routinely take actions that undermine marriage and family life, and seek to scrub our public life of Christian symbolism and signs of influence. 

In Europe, we see similar trends, although marked by a more open contempt for Christianity. Church leaders have been reviled in the media and even in the courts for simply expressing Catholic teaching.  

The West is now steadily moving in the direction of that new “inhuman humanism.” And if the Church is to respond faithfully, we need to draw upon the lessons that your Churches learned under totalitarianism. 

A Catholicism of resistance must be based on trust in Christ’s words: “The truth will make you free.” 

Living within the truth means living according to Jesus Christ and God’s Word in Sacred Scripture. It means proclaiming the truth of the Christian Gospel, not only by our words but by our example. It means living every day and every moment from the unshakeable conviction that God lives, and that his love is the motive force of human history and the engine of every authentic human life. It means believing that the truths of the Creed are worth suffering and dying for. 

Living within the truth also means telling the truth and calling things by their right names. And that means exposing the lies by which some men try to force others to live. 

Our societies in the West are Christian by birth, and their survival depends on the endurance of Christian values. Our core principles and political institutions are based, in large measure, on the morality of the Gospel and the Christian vision of man and government. We are talking here not only about Christian theology or religious ideas. We are talking about the moorings of our societies — representative government and the separation of powers; freedom of religion and conscience; and most importantly, the dignity of the human person. 

…we cannot dispense with our history out of some superficial concern over offending our non-Christian neighbors. Notwithstanding the chatter of the “new atheists,” there is no risk that Christianity will ever be forced upon people anywhere in the West. The only “confessional states” in the world today are those ruled by Islamist or atheist dictatorships — regimes that have rejected the Christian West’s belief in individual rights and the balance of powers. 

I would argue that the defense of Western ideals is the only protection that we and our neighbors have against a descent into new forms of repression — whether it might be at the hands of extremist Islam or secularist technocrats. 

But indifference to our Christian past contributes to indifference about defending our values and institutions in the present. And this brings me to the second big lie by which we live today — the lie that there is no unchanging truth. 

Relativism is now the civil religion and public philosophy of the West. Again, the arguments made for this viewpoint can seem persuasive.  Given the pluralism of the modern world, it might seem to make sense that society should want to affirm that no one individual or group has a monopoly on truth; that what one person considers to be good and desirable another may not; and that all cultures and religions should be respected as equally valid. 

In practice, however, we see that without a belief in fixed moral principles and transcendent truths, our political institutions and language become instruments in the service of a new barbarism. In the name of tolerance we come to tolerate the cruelest intolerance; respect for other cultures comes to dictate disparagement of our own; the teaching of “live and let live” justifies the strong living at the expense of the weak. 

This diagnosis helps us understand one of the foundational injustices in the West today — the crime of abortion. 

I realize that the abortion license is a matter of current law in almost every nation in the West. In some cases, this license reflects the will of the majority and is enforced through legal and democratic means. And I’m aware that many people, even in the Church, find it strange that we Catholics in America still make the sanctity of unborn life so central to our public witness. 

Let me tell you why I believe abortion is the crucial issue of our age. 

First, because abortion, too, is about living within the truth. The right to life is the foundation of every other human right. If that right is not inviolate, then no right can be guaranteed. 

Or to put it more bluntly:  Homicide is homicide, no matter how small the victim. 

Here’s another truth that many persons in the Church have not yet fully reckoned: The defense of newborn and preborn life has been a central element of Catholic identity since the Apostolic Age. 

I’ll say that again: From the earliest days of the Church, to be Catholic has meant refusing in any way to participate in the crime of abortion — either by seeking an abortion, performing one, or making this crime possible through actions or inactions in the political or judicial realm. More than that, being Catholic has meant crying out against all that offends the sanctity and dignity of life as it has been revealed by Jesus Christ. 

My point in mentioning abortion is this: Its widespread acceptance in the West shows us that without a grounding in God or a higher truth, our democratic institutions can very easily become weapons against our own human dignity. 

Our most cherished values cannot be defended by reason alone, or simply for their own sake. They have no self-sustaining or “internal” justification. 

There is no inherently logical or utilitarian reason why society should respect the rights of the human person. There is even less reason for recognizing the rights of those whose lives impose burdens on others, as is the case with the child in the womb, the terminally ill, or the physically or mentally disabled. 

If human rights do not come from God, then they devolve to the arbitrary conventions of men and women. The state exists to defend the rights of man and to promote his flourishing. The state can never be the source of those rights. When the state arrogates to itself that power, even a democracy can become totalitarian. 

What is legalized abortion but a form of intimate violence that clothes itself in democracy? The will to power of the strong is given the force of law to kill the weak. 

That is where we are heading in the West today. 

I suggested earlier that the Church’s religious liberty is under assault today in ways not seen since the Nazi and Communist eras. I believe we are now in the position to better understand why. 

Writing in the 1960s, Richard Weaver, an American scholar and social philosopher, said: “I am absolutely convinced that relativism must eventually lead to a regime of force.”  

He was right. There is a kind of “inner logic” that leads relativism to repression. 

This explains the paradox of how Western societies can preach tolerance and diversity while aggressively undermining and penalizing Catholic life. The dogma of tolerance cannot tolerate the Church’s belief that some ideas and behaviors should not be tolerated because they dehumanize us. The dogma that all truths are relative cannot allow the thought that some truths might not be. 

The Catholic beliefs that most deeply irritate the orthodoxies of the West are those concerning abortion, sexuality and the marriage of man and woman. This is no accident. These Christian beliefs express the truth about human fertility, meaning and destiny. 

These truths are subversive in a world that would have us believe that God is not necessary and that human life has no inherent nature or purpose. Thus the Church must be punished because, despite all the sins and weaknesses of her people, she is still the bride of Jesus Christ; still a source of beauty, meaning and hope that refuses to die — and still the most compelling and dangerous heretic of the world’s new order. 

The full 12-page talk can be read here.


State’s bishops encourage ‘faithful citizenship’

September 4, 2010

Source: Catholic Herald

Reiterating that they do not endorse candidates and political parties, and that they do not wish to impose doctrinal beliefs on citizens, the Catholic bishops of Wisconsin, through the Wisconsin Catholic Conference, their public policy arm, have written a letter to Catholics as they prepare to vote in the Sept. 14 primary and again in the general election on Nov. 2.

Titled “A Letter to Catholics in Wisconsin on Faithful Citizenship,” the letter is signed by Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki, Milwaukee; Bishop Robert C. Morlino, Madison; Bishop Peter F. Christensen, Superior; Bishop David L. Ricken, Green Bay; and Bishop William P. Callahan, La Crosse.

Also through the WCC, the bishops are making available “Guidelines for Church Involvement in Electoral Politics” and a question card that voters can use when questioning candidates running for state office. These items are available at www.wisconsincatholic.org. The letter appears in its entirety below.

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

The Second Vatican Council emphasized the unique mission of the lay faithful in transforming the political, social, economic, and cultural realms for the sake of the common good. With the 2010 election season approaching, we wish to affirm this Christian mission in your role as citizens. In writing this letter we have no desire to endorse candidates or political parties. Nor do we seek to impose doctrinal beliefs on fellow citizens. Rather, we provide the following framework of Catholic social teaching to assist you in forming your conscience, in evaluating political candidates and public policies, and in fulfilling your calling to bring the love and truth of Jesus Christ into a world where these are so dearly needed.

All of us – laity, religious, and clergy – are imperfect and in need of reform; so too, our democratic institutions. For this reason, every four years, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issues a statement on faithful citizenship (“Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Catholic Call to Political Responsibility from the Catholic Bishops of the United States,” 2007; www.faithfulcitizenship.org). We invite you to read or reread this statement because a well-formed conscience is essential to the Christian life. Here we briefly highlight the statement’s four main themes.

First and foremost, the right to life of every human person – from conception to natural death – is the primary and thus most essential of all human rights. Faith teaches and human reason confirms that human life is not a privilege bestowed on us by others, but rather a right that society must recognize and protect. As Christians, we are called to witness to an authentic “human ecology” which safeguards all human life – no matter how frail or impaired – from being manipulated or destroyed.

Second, the nature of marriage, between a man and a woman, is established by the Creator as the foundation of the family, which in turn becomes the first and vital cell of society. Due to its service to life, including the procreation and necessary formation of new citizens, marriage is a social l –  not just a sacred – good that government needs to recognize, encourage, and protect. “Marriage…contributes to society because it models the way in which women and men live interdependently and commit, for the whole of life, to seek the good of each other” (USCCB, “Between Man and Woman,” 2003). Marriage promotes the interest of children who need the constant love, attention, and guidance of their mothers and fathers to reach their fullest potential.

Third, our consistent life ethic extends from the vulnerable inside the womb to the vulnerable outside the womb. As Catholics we understand that God has a special love for the poor and all those in danger or distress. Our Lord Jesus Christ tells us, “whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Mt 25:40). As Pope John Paul II explains, “It is not merely a matter of ‘giving from one’s surplus,’ but of helping entire peoples which are presently excluded or marginalized to enter into the sphere of economic and human development. For this to happen…requires above all a change of life-styles, of models of production and consumption, and of the established structures of power which today govern societies” (“Centesimus annus” / “The Hundredth Year,” #58).

Fourth, Pope Benedict XVI reminds us that, “If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation” (World Day of Peace Message, 2010). Our natural resources are gifts from God and we are all responsible for protecting them. Indeed, environmental ecology is intimately tied to human ecology: when we use our natural resources wisely, all human beings, now and in the future, will have the opportunity to thrive.

Being a faithful citizen is never easy. Yet, if Catholics continue to remain engaged, not just politically but also culturally, there is so much good that we will contribute to our nation and to our world.

“Unity in essentials; liberty in non-essentials; charity in both.” This time-honored advice is especially pertinent around election time. While faithful Catholics are united on the essentials of Church doctrine, we sometimes disagree on non?essential matters or in the prudential means of pursuing authentic goods. All of us, however, bear witness to Our Lord Jesus Christ when, in the midst of our vigorous debates, we demonstrate charity and respect for one another.

We thank you for reading this letter and for your contributions as informed, involved, and faithful citizens.

We close by asking you to keep us in your prayers, as you always remain in ours.


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