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July 31, 2020 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

Editor’s Note: Commenting in his parish bulletin about the “cancel culture” of recent days, Fr. George Rutler of the Church of St. Michael in New York City mentioned the efforts to censor such patriotic songs as America the Beautiful. He said that “there are also demands to eliminate our National Anthem because the author owned slaves. In fact, Francis Scott Key freed his slaves and pleaded before the Supreme Court for the liberation of 300 African slaves captured off the ship Antelope along the Florida coast. He also worked with John Quincy Adams in the Amistad case to free 53 slaves.”
Fr. Rutler said that Key’s anthem was based on verses he composed in 1805 to celebrate the victory over the Muslim slave-trading pirates on the Barbary Coast: ‘And pale beam’d the Crescent, its splendor obscured / By the light of the star-spangled flag of our nation.’ Although the founder of Islam was a slave trader, the bigoted zeal of contemporary rioters hesitates to menace mosques.”
He said that “some of these petulant Jacobins demand to replace our National Anthem with the pretentious doggerel of the song Imagine by John Lennon: ‘Imagine there’s no heaven / It’s easy if you try / No hell below us / Above us only sky.’ That is not quite Francis Scott Key, Julia Ward Howe, or Katharine Lee Bates. When the opioid bubble bursts, heaven and hell remain. Take your choice.”

Q. Twenty-give years ago, a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary wept tears of human blood in Civitavecchia, Italy, and there were a series of heavenly messages about the situation in the Church today. LifeSiteNews recently posted a lengthy report on these events. Why has The Wanderer been silent? — J.G., Iowa.
A. We can’t recall if the events in Civitavecchia have been reported in this newspaper, but here is what we know about those events. On February 2, 1995, six-year-old Jessica Gregori called her father to come see tears of blood on the cheeks and gown of a 16-inch-high statue of the Virgin Mary. (The phenomenon would repeat itself 13 times over the next four days and then stop.) Jessica’s father, Fabio, told his parish priest about the incident, and the priest informed the bishop, the Most Rev. Girolamo Grillo, who was skeptical about the report.
On March 15, however, the bishop changed his attitude while reciting the “Hail, Holy Queen” before the statue, which had been kept in a closet, but was brought out at the request of his sister. When he and others present said the line, “Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us,” the statue began to weep blood again. After DNA tests concluded that the tears were male human blood, Grillo said that it was the Blood of Christ.
He convened a diocesan commission to investigate the matter and, in 2005, a member of the commission said that “in Civitavecchia there is the finger of God.” The bishop sent the complete dossier to Rome, where a commission was also set up, but no decision of that commission has been published at the time of this writing.
Pope St. John Paul II reportedly visited Civitavecchia incognito and prayed before the statue, and little Jessica traveled to Portugal in 1996 and met with Sr. Lucia of Fatima and reportedly compared the messages she had received with those the Blessed Mother had confided to Sr. Lucia. Much of this information is contained in a recent book, Civitavecchia: 25 Years with Mary, by Fr. Flavio Ubodi, a Capuchin theologian who was on the diocesan commission and who served as Bishop Grillo’s delegate to the Gregori family.
Asked in an interview with the Daily Compass if Marian apparitions should be disregarded because Revelation is complete, Fr. Ubodi said it is true that “Revelation was completed with the death of the last Apostle,” but added that “revelations and private messages, in fact, are like a call to live what is already contained in Sacred Scripture, in Tradition, and they transport us into the urgency of the present time. It is as if Our Lady wanted to tell us: ‘Look, my children, you have taken the wrong path. Go back! Return to the Gospel! Convert!’ Now I ask: We may not be required to believe it, but why turn away from a mother who, with all her love, shows us the way?”
Of interest are the messages which our Lady is reported to have given in Civitavecchia. According to an interview with Maike Hickson in LifeSiteNews, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò quoted Jessica as having said that “the main message is that they want to destroy the family. And then the apostasy in the Church and the risk of a third world war.”
Our Lady is reported to have said of Italy: “Your nation is in grave danger. In Rome, darkness is descending more and more on the Rock that my Son Jesus left you on which to build up, educate, and spiritually raise His children. Bishops, your task is to continue the growth of God’s Church since you are God’s heirs.” Other messages:
“Satan is taking over all humanity, and now he is trying to destroy the Church of God by means of many priests….Satan knows that his time is running out because my Son Jesus is about to intervene. I beg you, help me. Do not let my Son intervene because I, your dear mother, want to save many souls and bring them to my Son and not leave them to Satan. Pray that God our Father will grant me some more time because this is the last period granted to me by God. My mantle is now open to all of you, full of graces, to place you all close to my Immaculate Heart. It is about to close; then my Son will deliver His divine justice.”
“My children, the darkness of Satan is now obscuring the whole world, and it is also obscuring the Church of God. Prepare to live what I had revealed to my little daughters of Fatima….After the painful years of Satan’s darkness, the years of the triumph of my Immaculate Heart are now imminent.”
“The Lord has clothed me with His light and the Holy Spirit with His power. My task is to take all my children away from Satan and bring them back to the perfect glorification of the Most Holy Trinity. My wish is that you all consecrate yourselves to my Immaculate Heart so that I can lead you all to Jesus, cultivating you in my heavenly garden.”

Q. In Matt. 6:7-8, Jesus says, “In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” How does this relate to prayers such as the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, various litanies, and even the most popular devotional prayer known to Catholics, the holy rosary? These are all beautiful prayers and can reap many spiritual benefits. I doubt that Jesus was referring to such prayers in this Scripture passage. What was the significance of His words? — M.O., Maryland.
A. The babbling that Jesus mentioned probably meant the pagan practice of reciting the names of a long list of their gods, hoping that one of them would respond favorably to their petition. “Pagans would recite long litanies of divine names to gain the attention of gods,” says the commentary on these verses in the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible New Testament.
“This was meant to insure that the deity was addressed properly. Jesus considers the practice empty — i.e., devoid of faith and of love for the deity. Note that His warning is not aimed at repetitious or lengthy prayer in itself. With a pure heart, such prayer can be fruitful and intimate.”
To confirm this, the commentary notes that Jesus used repetitious prayer to the Father on at least two occasions. For example, in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before His death, Jesus three times asked His Father to let the cup of suffering pass Him by (Matt. 26:39, 42, 44).
Likewise, the night before Jesus chose His twelve Apostles, “he departed to the mountain to pray, and he spent the whole night in prayer to God” (Luke 6:12).
Furthermore, the Catechism of the Catholic Church (n. 2668) says that “the invocation of the holy name of Jesus is the simplest way of praying always. When the holy name is repeated often by a humbly attentive heart, the prayer is not lost by heaping up empty phrases [cf. Matt. 6:7], but holds fast to the word and ‘brings forth fruit with patience’ [cf. Luke 8:15]. Thus prayer is possible ‘at all times’ because it is not one occupation among others but the only occupation: that of loving God, which animates and transfigures every action in Christ Jesus.”

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Catechism

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Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

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Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: Commenting in his parish bulletin about the “cancel culture” of recent days, Fr. George Rutler of the Church of St. Michael in New York City mentioned the efforts to censor such patriotic songs as America the Beautiful. He said that “there are also demands to eliminate our National Anthem because the author owned slaves. In fact, Francis Scott…Continue Reading

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