Here’s yesterday’s “Catholic Answers Live” radio show in which I discuss some general principles for Catholics who want to evangelize Mormons, especially their missionaries who will, sooner or later, show up on your doorstep, ready to talk religion. Be ready for them!
Also, as an aside, here’s a tract I wrote on this subject many years ago, and here’s an article on “The Great Apostasy” that I mention during the show. (It’s a crucial Mormon doctrine which Catholics should clearly understand so they can zero in on it when missionaries show up at the door).
Check out this very encouraging story out of North Carolina. It recalls to my mind St. James’ teaching on prayer and its effects:
“The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects. Elijah was a man of like nature with ourselves and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth its fruit. My brethren, if any one among you wanders from the truth and some one brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:16-20).
A Raleigh abortuary that has seen constant prayer from pro-lifers with the popular 40 Days for Life campaign has ceased performing abortions.
The Raleigh News and Observer reported Wednesday that National Women’s Health Organization of Raleigh is, in the words of one local pro-abortion affiliate, “in transition.” The affiliate, Ann Rose, said that the last abortions would be conducted on Saturday, but she would not explain what other changes the “transition” would entail.
The paper reports that the abortuary was generally thought to be for sale after its founder, pro-abortion activist Susan Hill, passed away of breast cancer in February. There are two other facilities in Raleigh where abortions are performed.
David Bereit, the national director of 40 Days for Life, praised the end of the destruction of unborn life at a building where prayer witnesses with the nationwide campaign have kept vigil. North Carolina was one of the first states ever to conduct a 40 Days for Life campaign.
“Even as we praise God for this victory, pray that this center, which has done so much harm, completely closes and that the workers experience conversions!” said Bereit.
Bereit also lauded statistics cited by the News and Observer story, which show that abortions have been declining in North Carolina; the abortion rate dropped 4.6% between 2007 and 2008.
“Your prayers and faithful efforts continue to bear great fruit!” Bereit told supporters. (source)
During yesterday’s general audience at St. Peter’s, Pope Benedict delivered the third of three installments of his catechesis on the perennial importance of St. Thomas Aquinas. The whole message is excellent, and I would like to draw your attention to a few things he said about the rationality of belief in God and the irrationality of atheism. This is just a morsel, of course, but I thought you might find the Holy Father’s simple yet cogent point to be interesting and useful, as I did.
“To those who object that faith is nonsense, because it makes one believe something that does not fall under the experience of the senses, St. Thomas gives a very articulated answer, and recalls that this is an inconsistent doubt, because human intelligence is limited and cannot know everything.
“Only in the case that we could know perfectly all visible and invisible things, would it then be genuine nonsense to accept truths purely on faith. However, it is impossible to live, St. Thomas observes, without trusting the experience of others, where personal knowledge does not reach.
“Hence it is reasonable to have faith in God who reveals Himself and in the testimony of the Apostles: they were few, simple and poor, dismayed by the Crucifixion of their Teacher; and yet many wise, noble and rich persons were converted in a short time upon listening to their preaching. It is, in fact, a historically striking phenomenon, to which with difficulty one can give any other reasonable answer, other than that of the Apostles’ encounter with the Risen Lord” . . . (continue reading)
By now, a year and a half after the well casing of Marcial Maciel’s double life finally blew apart, wrecking the Legion-of-Christ rig he had constructed to house and conceal it, and gushing a torrent of nauseating revelations into the public consciousness, we all have a bad case of Maciel-fatigue. I know I do. I’m sick of it. (And if you aren’t sick of it, watch the video at the bottom of this post and I predict you will be sick of it too — sick at heart.)
And yet, we should shake off the fatigue, brace ourselves, and take stock of just how widespread the damage could become that this man (and whoever knowingly abetted him in his depredations) has inflicted on the Church.
How bizarrely ironic that the order Maciel established to be a vanguard of joyful, militant, conquering supporters and defenders of the pope should now be one of the present pope’s biggest headaches. This thought undoubtedly torments many Legionary priests and affiliated laypeople who’ve been wondering whether to abandon the burning rig or stay put and, hoping against hope, wait for the fire that threatens to consume everything to be extinguished.
In my estimation, amidst all the uncertainty, at least one thing is certain: The Legion of Christ as we have known it is over, and it’s not coming back.
Most people’s guess is that the house that Marcial Maciel built will either be completely rehabbed from its foundation to its gables — everyone knows that a fresh coat of paint won’t do the job — or it will be razed and rebuilt from the ground up with fresh materials. Some are clamoring for it simply to be razed, plowed over, and sown with salt. I doubt that will happen. Pope Benedict is benevolent and sagacious, and he knows that while the organization’s founder had a rather Molochian appetite for children, the Legion is not Carthage.
Three scenarios seem possible, either of the first two being far more likely, it seems to me:
1) The Legion may be radically reformed and reoriented and thus salvaged;
2) It may be drastically reduced in size (i.e., personnel), scope of activities, and influence, due to continuing defections of its priests, a drying up of new vocations, and the vigorous pruning by the pope and his collaborators;
3) It may go away altogether.
If the last scenario plays out, the Legion’s far-flung empire of schools, seminaries, apostolic enterprises and, most importantly of all, priestly vocations, would all have to be somehow absorbed en masse into the infrastructure of the Church.
Just a few years ago,heck, one year ago, such a notion would have been unthinkable. Like BP, the Legion of Christ was just too big to fail.
Well, stranger things have happened. Stranger things might yet happen.
What’s really strange, and I mean “strange” in the baleful and sinister sense, is how Fr. Maciel’s cerement-swathed hand reaches out from the grave to besmirch the memory of Pope John Paul II — the pope he feigned such adoring dedication to for all those years. While he surely harmed many men, women, and children by exploiting and devouring their trusting innocence and generosity in order to sate his own appetites, it seems that what distinguishes him as a truly implacable sociopath whose life was “devoid of scruples” is that he preyed upon even his own children.
The more it goes, the more it seems as if the trail of destruction lying in the wake of this man’s astonishing 87 years of bustling activity on this earth doesn’t just diminish, but dwarfs, whatever good he may have done along the way in the greedy, grubby pursuit of his goals.
As the pope and those who are helping him weigh the options and pray for divine guidance, I have no doubt that they are doing some pretty intense cost/benefit analyses.
St. Paul reminds us that where sin abounds, God’s grace abounds all the more (Rom. 5:20). I believe this with all my heart. Which is why I also believe the Church will need an immense amount of grace if it is to repair and restore what has been lost here.
If you have trouble viewing the above video link (apparently some of my foreign readers have), here’s another one which should work: