Sunday, October 13, 2019

(234) Newly Canonized Saint John Henry Cardinal Newman, the Convert

AMDG

Much is Taken from the DVD Series by Bishop Robert Barron, 
“Catholicism: The Pivotal Players”.





























       Today Sunday October 13 five holy men and women were canonized.  The most prominent is Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman.  Bishop Robert Barron believes that Newman is perhaps the greatest theologian since St. Thomas Aquinas; perhaps the single greatest influence upon the Vatican II Council (1962-65) that began 72 years after his death in 1890.   He loved truth about God with a passion.  The inscription he arranged over his grave read:  “Ex umbris et imaginibus in veritatem (From the shadows and images into the truth)”.  He was a noted writer of prose and even poetry, one of the best stylists ever of the English language.  A great apologist and educator, Newman was one of the first to put Catholic thought in dialogue with the very secular Enlightenment.
    
       The Oxford Man as a Student, Tutor, Fellow, & Professor.  Born an Anglican in 1801, his father, a banker, sent him to Oxford at the age of 16 after a deep conversion a year before.  Oxford gave Newman his intellectual and spiritual formation and livelihood until forced out because of his conversion to Catholicism in 1845.  However, before his death, he was allowed to come back and today there is a statue if him on the campus.  Oxford always was a part of him.  

       Newman was very much influenced by John Kebler, who wrote the “Christian Year”, a version of Anglicanism based on Catholic tradition.  Newman looked for a sacramental basis in Anglicanism and a middle way between Protestantism and Catholicism.   He was impressed by the early expressions of ancient Christianity, not by contemporary Catholicism which he then considered superstitious and not patristic (the Theology of the early fathers of 100 – 451 AD).

       In 1833, Newman became a leader in the Oxford Movement, which promoted the reinstatement of early Christian traditions in Liturgy and Theology.  The members wrote tracts on church life and Theology.  They were especially interested in St. Augustine and the teachings of the early Church Fathers as the basis for Christian belief.  The movement had three basic principles: 1) Dogma – for intellectual substance and against Liberalism that claimed that dogma was an expression of feeling; 2) a Visible Church with sacraments and rites which are channels of grace; 3) Anti-Roman (later rejected by Newman) – the belief that the Catholicism wondered away from the Church of the Apostles and the Early Church Fathers by substituting the authority of the Church for that of the Church Fathers.  It objected to devotion to Mary and the saints.

       Tract #90, Newman’s last, was the most controversial since he went against some of the 39 Articles of Anglicanism, the basic tenets of belief of the Church of England.  At the time to advance professionally, to be a professor, or hold public office, one had to take an oath of belief.  As a result Newman was vilified as a traitor all over England.  He then resigned from the movement’s leadership.  Although he would read his many lectures in a droning monotone, they were masterpieces of English literature with its rich prose, Biblical depth, and theological splendor.  Thus his lectures and sermons were in great demand.
 
A Slow Meditative Struggle to Conversion to the Church.  Newman retired to Littlemore near Oxford, to pray, study, and write.  His desire to catholicize Anglicanism was considered a betrayal.  After  closely reading his beloved Church Fathers of the 4th & 5th Centuries on the identity of Christ, Newman  concluded that the Catholic Church was orthodox.  Inscribed on his home altar was his motto: “Cor ad Cor Loquitur” (Heart speaks to heart).  He began to believe that the Church across space and time best judges the truth of Christian doctrine.  

In 1845 John Henry Newman asked an evangelist of the Passionist Order, Fr. Dominic Barberi to receive him into the Church at his home in Littlemore.  The news of the conversion of the nationally known figure was shocking to Anglicans who had broken away from the Church in the 16th Century.  Disowned by his colleagues and the establishment and forced to leave Oxford, all left him heartbroken.  Losing everything, Newman had the integrity and courage to follow God and His truth regardless of the consequences.
 
Ordination and the Oratory. To become a priest one of the all-time great theological minds had to study with young seminarians at Propaganda College in Rome…….a difficult act of humility before being ordained in 1847.  He found the seminary education to be defensive and cramped…..in need of reform.  While in Rome, Fr. Newman joined the Roman Oratory of St. Philip Neri, composed of secular priests, living together under a rule, but not vows.  He was drawn by the intellectual discipline and example of St. Philip Neri.

Feelings of Rejection, Apparent Failure, and Renewal.  Now the future saint was rejected by Anglicans and looked upon with suspicion by Catholics as a former Oxford Professor and Protestant cleric.  In 1849 Fr. Newman founded an oratory in Birmingham, England and later in Dublin, Ireland.  He wrote the “Position of Catholics in England”.  In 1851, Archbishop Paul Cullen, the Primate of Ireland, asked him to found and direct the Catholic University of Dublin.  Again he faced rejection by the Irish bishops for his novel ideas and resigned from the university in 1859.  Rambler Magazine asked him to be its editor, but had to resign a year later after writing another controversial article: “On Consulting the Faithful on Matters of Doctrine”.  Nor was the conservative Pius IX pleased.
        
        In 1864 in answer to an attack by Charles Kingsley, Fr. Newman wrote “Apologia Pro Vita Sua”, an autobiography of his conversion, eloquently showing why he converted.  Its positive impact turned things around; again he was a respected major figure in demand as a speaker and writer.  Pope Leo XIII made him a Cardinal in 1879 at the age of 78 without ever being a bishop. John Henry Cardinal Newman died at the Birmingham Oratory in 1890.  

        Pope Benedict XVI, an eminent theologian himself who was influenced by Newman, beatified him in 2010 in London.  The future saint was so modest that he did not consider himself a theologian.  Today Cardinal Newman is considered to be one of the most influential theologians of all time.

Friday, October 4, 2019

(233) St. Francis of Assisi: a 13th Reformer For a Church in Crisis


AMDG
Much is Taken from the DVD by Bishop Robert Barron, 
“Catholicism: The Pivotal Players”



Francis of Assisi (1182-1226) was handsome, wealthy, carefree, superficial, and self-absorbed; he loved the partying and the good life.  He was a good businessman in helping his father run a cloth store.  The young man wanted to be famous and the most direct road was through military exploits.  In the war with Perugia, another city-state, Francis fought bravely, but was taken prisoner for several months.  

After being released, it was back to business and pleasure, but this time Francis felt an emptiness in that lifestyle and became interested in the spiritual, in the invisible presence of God.  Gradually he felt detached from the world and attached to God.  One day Francis encountered a poor leper, whom he embraced and gave some coins.  This gave him a feeling of great joy and he gave all his possessions to the poor. 

“Rebuild my Church”.  While praying in San Damiano, a small church in disrepair, the cross over the altar came to life and seemed to say: “Francis, repair my house which is falling into ruins”.  However, God usually communicates with us by inspiration.  The Church owned land; the Pope was a temporal ruler; bishops sold offices; and uneducated priests were morally corrupt while the people were indifferent to the faith.  Francis took the command literally and used the profits of his father’s cloth business to repair San Damiano Church.  

Pietro Bernardone demanded retribution at a public trial and his son returned all he had, including the clothes on his back saying: “I stand naked before the Lord” with complete dependence upon the Providence of God for his livelihood.  Thus he renounced wealth, power, and pleasure in exchange for poverty, purity, simplicity, joy, and a complete trust in God.  He was now dressed in the tunic of a hermit with a rope for a belt.    
Francis begged for money to repair San Damiano, singing as a troubadour in French at each donation and was filled with the Holy Spirit.  In repairing Porziuncola, another small church in the woods, he realized that God wanted him not to rebuild buildings, but to rebuild the life of the Church.  Thus often barefoot he began to preach repentance and penance.  

Soon followers joined Francis even though they were mocked, ridiculed, and persecuted as unnerving and crazy heretics.  Just as the mustard seed, the Franciscans started small with one man and now the Franciscans number in the thousands all over the world.
In 1209 Francis traveled to Rome to obtain the permission of Pope Innocent III to start a religious order, which was not his original intention.  The Holy Father was fighting corruption and was trying to hold the Church together.  Recent popes 800 years later in the 21st Century have similar problems.  Pope Innocent dreamt that the Church was collapsing and a poor beggar was holding it up.  The Pope saw the resemblance and gave the band of newly approved Franciscans the task of preaching and promoting penance to Christian countries, a new evangelization for its time, which is also needed today in every country of the world.  The new Franciscans lived in huts in Rivotorto.
St. Francis and St. Clare
St. Clare gave up her wealth in becoming a follower and a female counterpart of Francis in founding her order.  She is considered the mother of the Franciscan nuns.  Often a saint would have a spiritual bond with a woman in sharing thoughts.  In 1958 Pius XII designated her as the patron saint of television.  Her feast day is August 11.
Mission. Although persecuted as heretics, mocked, stripped, beaten, and dragged through fields, Francis and his men awakened a spiritual hunger in the people.  They saw rejection as an opportunity to exercise patience.  He trained his men to practice poverty, simplicity, obedience, and purity while doing charitable works as caring for lepers. 

Then he sent the Friars Minor or little brothers out on mission as far as Spain to preach, beg, and offer peace without defending themselves when attacked.  In Morocco five of his men were beheaded.  Francis himself went to the Holy Land, which was engulfed in the Crusades.  He evangelized the Christian soldiers, some of whom joined him, and fearlessly met with the Sultan…..making his statements clear and simple.  The Sultan was impressed by the courage of Francis, a pioneer in ecumenical dialogue.
The Stigmata. In 1224 Francis retreated to a cave for prayer.  Although he encountered spiritual warfare, Francis had an intense communication with God, even levitating.  The friar asked to feel our Lord’s passion and the intense love He had for us on the cross.  As other saints who gave themselves to God, Francis wanted to participate in the passion of Christ through which He saved the world.  His prayer was answered with the stigmata.  

We can do the same during recovery from accident or illness when we unite our cross with the Lord’s cross and offer the suffering up to God as a dynamic prayer for whatever intention.  In suffering one loses control and must trust in the Lord……complete abandonment to the divine will.  Turning your life to God puts your life out of your control.  Then “it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).          
When death approached in 1226, Francis, almost blind, welcomed death with joy.  He died near the Porziuncola, singing the Canticle of the Sun.  He repeated Psalm 142: “Bring my soul out of this prison that I may praise thy name.”                                                                                       
                            
Teaching of St. Francis. Being detached from the goods of the world, the little poor man pledged loyalty to “Lady Poverty” because it freed him from the rat race for power, wealth, pleasure, privilege, position, and prestige for a life of mission.  Begging for the bare necessities of life forced Francis’ men to completely trust in God, something in common with all of the saints. 
Radically following Christ closely and His Gospel literally, especially the beatitudes, St. Francis sums up what is best in Christianity…….he was simple, humble, close to nature, and deeply in love with God in speaking across the ages to our cynical time.  He was a fierce ascetic who disciplined his body with radical self-denial and looked for the lowest place.  

He wakes us up to the reality of God and brings us back to the basics of life.  St. Francis is a wake-up call for our hyper-secularized world to the reality of God, who is real and we find our joy in Him.  Christianity, i.e., the Gospel can be lived in this radical way and still has power today.  It can be realized and releases power……“turn the other cheek”; completely trust in God that He will take care of us; “love your enemy”; bless those who curse you”.   

St. Francis advocated giving to the Lord what you have and He’ll multiply it.  The friars rejected honor and privilege.  A mark of the community was joy, a necessity for the soul.  They saw perfect joy as suffering with joy for the Lord.  Obedience was essential because one had to let go of his own will.  Francis had a tie to God, his creatures, and nature……..”Brother Sun; Sister Moon”, incidentally a great movie of the 1970s.  He is the patron saint of animals and the environment and his feast day is October 4.  Christianity has never been really tried by the world.  May we follow the Gospel without compromise. 
       Franciscan nuns once served in our parish (St. Louis Church Gallipolis, Ohio) and we once had a Third Order lay group.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

(232) Why Osama bin Laden Chose 9/11 to Terrorize New York City.........How Mary Used Poland to Save Western Europe in the 1683 Battle of Vienna

AMDG

                                                                        The decisive cavalry charge of the winged Husars September 12, 1683, feast of the Holy Name of Mary, 
                                                                        after singing the Polish hymn, “Bogurodzica” (Mother of God).

              It was 1683.  The Ottoman Turks already had 
occupied Hungary, the eastern neighbor of Austria, 
since 1541, and aimed to expand further.  They had 
even dreamed of turning the Basilica of St. Peter in 
Rome into a mosque.  Pope Innocent XI had 
brokered an alliance between the Holy Roman 
Empire and the Kingdom of Poland.  A force of 
300,000 troops of the Ottoman Empire of Turkey 
advanced to the gates of Vienna, thus threatening all 
of Western Europe.  If he could take Vienna, it would 
be an easy road to the English Channel and Western 
Europe might be Muslim today.  They were building 
tunnels under the walls.  The Sultan sent a message 
to the King of Austria, telling him to stay in his 
palace so that he could take his head.
 
        Pope Innocent XI ordered that rosaries be 
recited in the religious houses and churches of 
Rome.  The same prayers of supplication were 
offered throughout the Holy Roman Empire.  The 
situation was so dangerous that the imperial court 
left Vienna for Passau and took refuge there. There 
were special devotions at the Capuchin Church in 
Vienna to Our Lady Help of Christians, whose 
famous picture hangs there.  It would later become 
the symbol of the victory over the Turks by Poland’s 
King Jan Sobieski.

Poland had a major role in decisively saving Western Civilization from militant Islam.  Many Poles see a parallel between Poland and ancient Israel in the Old Testament.  When close to God, they prospered.
 

A portrait of King Sobieski of Poland with his gorget of Our Lady of Częstochowa.

In desperation during this dark time Pope Innocent XI and his allies asked King Jan Sobieski to be the Commander-in-Chief of a coalition of European armies because he had already stopped Turkish intrusions into Poland.  He had a crack cavalry, the best in Europe consisting of the famous Polish lancer Hussar warriors.  On the way to Vienna, his army made a detour and stopped at Poland's national Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa to pray before going into battle and leaving on August 15, the feast of the Assumption.


Kara Mustafa Pasha, Turkish Commander Turks during the Siege of Vienna

King Sobieski arrived at Vienna on the evening of September 11.  The next morning he ordered his men to attend Mass and observed the infantry battle from high ground until late in the afternoon.  Sobieski had four cavalry groups (three Polish and one Austrian-German), a total of 20,000 men.  They waited all day for the order to charge.  After 12 hours of fighting, the Turkish troops below were exhausted.  Finally the order came.  Sobieski’s cavalry, 20,000 strong swooped down from the hills upon the invaders and their camp.  The Polish king led the charge, spearheaded by 3000 heavily armed Polish-Lithuanian Lancer Hussars behind him. 

Before going into the charge, the Husars sung the Polish hymn, “Bogurodzica” (Mother of God), the national anthem at the time.  The elite heavy lancers were developed from an earlier Hungarian prototype.  The Hussars were wearing a sort of wings made from eagle feathers that made an eerie sound in the wind during the surprise attack under the banner of Mary on the feast of the Holy Name of Mary, September 12, 1683.

 In the painting on the right the Cavalry of King Jan Sobieski of Poland overruns the Turkish camp.  The king credited answered prayer: “I came; I saw; and God won”. 

This charge broke the lines of the Ottomans, who were tired from the long fight on two sides.  In the confusion, the cavalry headed straight for the Ottoman camps, while the remaining Vienna garrison sallied out of its defenses and joined in the assault.  This caused the horde of Turkish troops to flee in panic, leaving behind their supplies.  In less than three hours after the cavalry attack, the Christian forces had won the battle and saved Vienna from capture.  Acknowledging the power of prayer, King Sobieski commented: “I came; I saw; and God won.

                                               King Jan Sobieski proclaiming victory.
 
The Turks did not simply withdraw from the walls of Vienna; they fled.  Such was the Turkish flight, they left behind virtually all their stores and baggage. This is when the Viennese, Europe’s most famous coffee-drinkers today, discovered the beverage.  The Turks left quantities of it in their stores when they fled.  The defeat was thorough and humiliating. The Turks left quantities of it in their stores when they fled.  See http://catholicism.org/ad-rem-no-45.html and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Vienna.  Some great videos and an exciting movie are: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pc-RWtovrqg – a 49 minute documentary and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jvoRuO3g9Ew, a full length movie.  The same is dubbed in Polish at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCr1TmqxO5Q
     
The Battle of Vienna is just another chapter in a 1300 year war between radical Islam and western civilization that continues today.  The great victory gave the world a respite……the beginning of a decline of militant Islam until the 21st Century.   Now you know why Osama bin Laden chose 9/11 for his attack on America…….revenge for a humiliating defeat.  Islamic terrorists often use some significant date or anniversary for a strike.  That began the 21st Century War on Terror which really isn’t anything new, just another chapter in the centuries old war.  American troops had to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan and ISIS in Iraq and Syria.  Osama bin Laden and later, the so called Islamic State had dreams of reviving the glory days of the old Caliphate and turn the Basilica of St. Peter into a mosque.  Al Qaida and ISIS, defeated for now, are reduced to sporadic acts of terror, while plotting to regroup and mobilize resources so as to again be a world threat.  Iran continues to be a world threat.  Vigilance will always be required.
  
In gratitude for the victory at the Battle of Vienna Pope Innocent XI extended the Feast of the Holy Name of Mary on September 12 to the Universal Church.  MOTHER MARY, WE ASK YOU TO INTERCEDE FOR PEACE in our world as radical Islam continues to threaten us.  BRING US BACK TO YOUR SON and NURTURE OUR FAITH.  Mary has come to the aid of her children many times.  See the book “Saint Mary of Victory – The Historical Role of Our Lady in the Armed Defense of the Faith” by Gary Potter.

Christianity and Islam both revere Mary as the ideal woman.  The Quran  (http://www.clearquran.com/quran-chapter-019.html) devotes an entire chapter to her (Chap 19).  There is a reason that Mary chose the village of Fatima, which the Moors named after Fatimah, the favorite daughter of Mohammed.  May Mary use these commonalities and connections to evangelize the Muslims, our brothers, and bring us world peace.  May all Islam some day honor the holy name of Mary as the Mother of God, Jesus Christ, the 2nd person of the Holy Trinity.  Then we will be united as one. 
   

Sunday, July 28, 2019

(231) BOB SCHOPIS (1921-2019): One of the Last of the Great Generation That Won World War II

AMDG

Bob Schopis and Ellen faithfully at his side for 70 years.  We study American History.  They lived it.  This photo was taken in about 2011 for the 2012 St. Louis Church Directory.

       Bob and Ellen Schopis are members of the “Great Generation” that got us through the Depression and won World War II.  On December 7, 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and the United States faced a crisis greater than 9/11.  The United States was losing the war at first because the country was woefully unprepared for it.
 
The United States had to mobilize 16 million soldiers from its population of 140 million to fight while retooling its industrial might (mining, oil, steel, vehicles, machinery, etc.) to produce armaments, ammunition, equipment, vehicles, ships, air planes, food to feed the troops and fight a war on two fronts……Europe and the Pacific.  The entire economy was directed toward winning that war.  

     Pro sports were disrupted as such legendary players as Bob Feller, Stan Musial, Ted Williams, and Joe DiMaggio gave up three years of their careers in their prime to join the armed forces.  Thus a one armed pitcher was able to make the big leagues during the war.  In pro football, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Philadelphia Eagles had to temporarily merge into the Steagles.
  
Even Superman and Batman joined the fight in the comic books with the “Japs” and “Krauts” pictured in very uncomplimentary ways.  As little kids, we would play war with toy guns, fighter planes, bombers, and tanks.  I even had a toy air craft carrier.  Oh how we looked up to soldiers like Bob Schopis, especially marines, who would come home on furlough for R & R, a break for rest and recuperation!
 
       As a six year old my mother would send me to the store down the street with money and ration stamps.  There was a limit to how much each family could buy to make sure there was enough for the troops.  When I was in 1st Grade, we had to collect used tin cans to recycle steel for the war effort and sang patriotic songs at school.  The local steel mills were going full blast.  The teachers cajoled us into saving our pennies to buy war bonds.
 
Because Pittsburgh was a prime target, we had air raid drills although neither Germany nor Japan was capable of sending bombers such a distance.  Instead of cars, Chrysler and GM produced tanks and trucks. Boeing and McConnell Douglas produced fighter planes and bombers.
 
I remember seeing one railroad car after another hauling tanks to port.  Bob was risking life and limb on the war front and Ellen was on the home front.  People were huddled at their radios for the latest news about the war after reading about the details in their daily newspapers.  Nobody thought of demonstrating against that war.  The Country was never so united except for our shameful culture of segregation and racial injustice with even a segregated military as well as ethnic Japanese Americans being unjustly forced into internment camps…….paranoia at its worst.
        
At the age of 20 in 1942 Bob Schopis answered the call while young women like Ellen did their part on the home front in the factories and other support jobs.  Bob joined the United States Marines and was deeply involved in the South Pacific Theater, including the August 7, 1942 amphibious landing in the Battle of Guadalcanal, one of the Solomon Islands.  It was the start of the first major allied offensive in the Pacific Theater of operations.  The Japanese finally abandoned the island the following February.  Bob came back; some 416,800 never did, witness the thousands of American graves at Normandy, France.

Robert Schopis, U.S. Marine Corps, about 1942.
       
     The motto of the United States Marines is “Semper Fidelis” (Always Faithful).  Bob lived that motto for the rest of his life.  He was always faithful to his country, his community as a scoutmaster, and later his job in quality control at Stauffer Chemical on the West Virginia side of the Ohio River after utilizing the GI Bill to obtain a degree in Chemistry from the Catholic Seton Hall University in Newark, NJ.  More important, he was faithful to his wife and family of six children, even taking care of Ellen for several months during her illness four or five years ago.

       At lunch after the funeral for Bob Schopis, I asked Ellen, his widowed wife:  “You were married for 70 years, what’s your secret?”  “There is no secret”, she replied in her characteristic New Jersey accent.  “We made a vow, ‘Until death do us part’.  We worked things out.  Marriage is like a roller coaster.  There’s ups and downs, twists and turns.”  In other words, be faithful and adapt.
   
The most important of all, Bob was faithful to God and His Church from Catholic grade and high school to his death.  He was brought up in a Catholic culture that we must restore in our families.  For 70 years this beautiful couple aged together and were fixtures at the 8 o’clock Mass………no flimsy excuses; they were there EVERY SUNDAY because it is a SERIOUS OBLIGATION to God.  Thank you, Bob for serving our country and being a model for us of quiet faithfulness.
 
    Bob was a railroad enthusiast whether model miniatures or the real thing.  In lieu of flowers, he directed contributions to the restoration of the old Gallipolis railroad station complete with a steam engine, passenger car, and a caboose.  Fr. Thomas Hamm, our pastor, beautifully utilized his hobby in the homily.  “Bob stayed on track”.  May we also stay on track on our journey to eternity.

       His son Paul gave a beautiful eulogy at the burial of his father at St. Louis Church Cemetery that gives further insights into this member of the Great Generation.





       The motto of the United States Marines is “Semper Fidelis” (Always Faithful).  Bob lived that motto for the rest of his life.  He was always faithful to his country, his community as a scoutmaster, and later his job in quality control at Stauffer Chemical on the West Virginia side of the Ohio River after utilizing the GI Bill to obtain a degree in Chemistry from the Catholic Seton Hall University in Newark, NJ.  More important, he was faithful to his wife and family of six children, even taking care of Ellen for several months during her illness four or five years ago.



       At lunch after the funeral for Bob Schopis, I asked Ellen, his widowed wife:  “You were married for 70 years, what’s your secret?”  “There is no secret”, she replied in her characteristic New Jersey accent.  “We made a vow, ‘Until death do us part’.  We worked things out.  Marriage is like a roller coaster.  There’s ups and downs, twists and turns.”  In other words, be faithful and adapt.
   
The most important of all, Bob was faithful to God and His Church from Catholic grade and high school to his death.  He was brought up in a Catholic culture that we must restore in our families.  For 70 years this beautiful couple aged together and were fixtures at the 8 o’clock Mass………no flimsy excuses; they were there EVERY SUNDAY because it is a SERIOUS OBLIGATION to God.  Thank you, Bob for serving our country and being a model for us of quiet faithfulness.
 
       Bob was a railroad enthusiast whether model miniatures or the real thing.  In lieu of flowers, he directed contributions to the restauration of the old Gallipolis railroad station complete with a steam engine, passenger car, and a caboose.  Fr. Thomas Hamm, our pastor, beautifully utilized his hobby in the homily.  “Bob stayed on track”.  May we also stay on track on our journey to eternity.

       His son Paul gave a beautiful eulogy at the burial of his father at St. Louis Church Cemetery that gives further insights into this member of the Great Generation.




Eulogy to Bob Schopis By His Son, Paul



“Good morning and welcome, on behalf of my family and myself.  I want to thank all of you for coming here today to help celebrate the life of my father, Robert Schopis and to pay our last respects to him. As his son, I've spent some time reflecting on how to sum up in just a few moments 97 years of living, and at nearly a century’s duration, what a life it was.  

He was born in 1921, to a working class family. He was only 8 years old when the Great Depression started. I remember him telling me that during those years receiving the luxury of an orange and peanuts for Christmas gifts was considered fortunate, as many people were going hungry.  His family put forth their best effort for his education and he was able to attend St. Benedict’s prep school. 

When World War II broke out, and he was called up for military service, he joined the Marines, trained at Paris Island and was deployed to Guadalcanal.  Like many men of his generation, he didn’t talk much about the war itself, rather he talked about getting there and back, his time at Santa Barbara and maybe a few observational anecdotes such as watching aerial combat above the islands, but he almost never talked about his involvement in the fighting, except to say it was an ugly business and he didn’t like to think about it.

He came home, met my mother, and they married.  They produced 6 offspring, his work brought him here to Southeast Ohio, far from the urban environment he was accustomed to.

Like most people, he was a complex and complicated person.  He had a great regard for learning and was truly curious and inquiring about the world around him and how things worked.  He loved reading about history and enjoyed classical music.  On the other hand, much to the chagrin of my mother, he thoroughly enjoyed Benny Hill, sophomoric as it was. He had a generally serious demeanor, but thoroughly enjoyed “playing” with his model trains.  And boy did he love trains.  It would be difficult to remember a family vacation that somehow didn’t involve railroad rides, visits to railroad museums, visits to hobby shops that specialized in model railroading or a combination of all of the above.

He didn’t wear his heart on his sleeve, and was uncomfortable with public displays of affection or emotion.  I remember when my older brother Bob graduated from law school.  We were standing in Mershon Auditorium’s lobby and my brother was moved to hug dad.  I thought he would have the big one right there and then.  On the other hand, when my oldest son Seth was born, mom and he came to visit and he patted me on the shoulder, and gave me “that” look.  He didn’t have to say what he meant; I knew it.  “You’re one of us now; you’re in the club; better buckle up; it’s going to be a wild ride”.

But if there is one thing I want to remember about dad, it is his integrity.  He was one of the most honest people I know.  He was honest in all of his financial dealings; he was considerate of others; and he was intellectually honest.  And if one has a legacy, he can claim that as his.  On the last point, I can cite a few examples.

First, his family, like many of the day, held racially biased attitudes.  Despite the fact that he grew up in a household where that was the prevailing attitude, he came to the conclusion that bigotry was wrong.  As  children, we were prohibited from ever using a racial slur in our house.  If we did, it was a good way to get our mouth washed out with soap.  Parents still did that back then.  My point is: that through his own efforts and listening to individuals such as Dr. Martin Luther King, he realized how wrong racial bigotry was.

He maintained that intellectual honesty well into his advanced years.  In our turbulent and ever evolving times, he continued to read and reevaluate his views and thinking.

Lastly, when it came to his family, he brought his A game; he gave it his best.  He did what he thought was right and as we, his children, approached the age of reason, he let us become ourselves, and for that, Pop I thank you.”




Thursday, July 11, 2019

(230) THE EARLY CHURCH: The Apostles Go Out to Teach All Nations

AMDG

The original 12 apostles including Judas (bottom row betraying Our Lord with a kiss 
by his free will).  He was replaced by St. Matthias (right corner).  St. Paul, often 
called the Apostle of the Gentiles, is also included here, giving a total of 14 in this 
illustrationIt was a motley crew of tough rustic men and fishermen that our Lord 
chose, taught and formed for three years at campfires and walking all over Galilee 
and Judea.  Only St. Matthew, a former tax collector, and Judas, a thief, were out of 
place.  Although the original apostles had the best teacher of all time, they still didn’t 
understand much of our Lord’s teaching until they were filled with the Holy Spirit at 
the first Confirmation on Pentecost.  By virtue of our Baptism and Confirmation, we 
are also called and sent to be apostles in the New Evangelization by prayer and example 
(as fearless witnesses with our lives), by word and deed.   We must continue the work of 
the first apostles and should also be ready to accept persecution (be it direct or indirect, 
subtle or blatant……..ridicule, discrimination, verbal attacks, calumny, false accusations, 
being bad mouthed, loss of job or promotion for being politically incorrect, jail, even 
death).  The New Evangelization is critical today since our Society is becoming more and 
more secularized (without God) as even some of our loved ones are drifting away.  
Secularization includes not only opposition to even the mention of God for the sake of 
“political correctness”, but also indifference to His presence (“He might exist but I don’t 
care”) and living like He does not exist.  Secularism is really functional atheism.

        At the Ascension Christ gave the apostles their 
commission to teach all nations.  However, they were 
apprehensive, afraid, and unsure of themselves.  They still 
did not understand much of what the Lord had taught them.  
Thus they kept a low profile, cooped up in the upper room 
in a prayerful ten day retreat, preparing themselves 
spiritually in wait for the Holy Spirit.  Pentecost changed 
all that!  Our Lord’s teaching became clear to them and it 
all made sense! They were on fire for the Lord.  Filled with 
the Holy Spirit, the apostles immediately went out to spread 
the good news with great zeal.  They felt compelled to share 
what they learned from Jesus and be His instruments to 
change the world.

Although concentrating on Judea until the year 42, the apostles eventually spread out across the known world.  It is not well documented where each apostle went, but there are legends and tradition…….passed down in the local churches, at meals, camp fires, and living rooms where friends and family gather.  Today story telling and conversation are becoming lost arts in the age of television, computers, and i-phones.

 

St. Andrew, brother of St. Peter, may have covered Asia Minor, Armenia, Romania, and Slavic countries such as the Ukraine.  Some of his relics were brought to Scotland and he became its patron saint.  St. James the Greater, brother of St. John, preached in Spain where he is buried.  St. Philip went to Samaria and Asia Minor.   St. Bartholomew (Nathaniel) worked in Turkey, Armenia, Persia, and India.  St. Thomas is associated with southern India where many Christians venerate him.  He probably reached Turkey and possibly Indonesia as well.  St. Matthew preached to the Jews in Palestine and wrote a Gospel directed to them.  St. James the Lesser evangelized in Egypt and Syria.  St. Jude Thaddeus preached the Gospel in Samaria, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, and Libya.  St. Simon the Zealot preached in the Middle East, Iran, and Ethiopia.  St. Matthias planted the faith in Armenia, Turkey and Ethiopia.  

St. John the Apostle wrote the fourth Gospel which is the most theological of the four, three epistles, and finally the Book of Revelation on the island of Patmos.  He took care of Mary in Ephesus, Turkey while evangelizing in the area.  He was the last apostle to die in 98 A.D. (https://www.catholicireland.net/after-pentecost-what-happened-the-twelve/).

  
From the cross before dying, Christ gave His dearest mother to us as our mother in the care of St. John.  The mystic of the 19th Century, Venerable Anne Catherine Emmerich (1784-1824), revealed hidden details in the life of Christ in her book and also the exact location of Mary’s house in Ephesus in present day Turkey.   Apparently, St. John used Ephesus as his base.  It is believed that St. John took Mary to Jerusalem for a council of the Church and that’s where the dormition and Assumption of Mary took place.  According the Quran, Mary is the most perfect woman that God ever created.  Thus  Muslims revere Mary and visit her house in great numbers.  

The apostles were so convinced of Christ’s teachings and His resurrection, to which they are witnesses, that they were willing to face any obstacle, face scourging, and even die for the faith.  All the apostles were martyred except St. John, who was banished to the Greek island of Patmos after miraculously surviving immersion in boiling oil.  All of this gives greater credence to what they taught since they had nothing to gain and everything to lose materially.
   
Early Trials in Jerusalem. In the name of Christ the apostles healed the sick and those disturbed by unclean spirits (Acts 5).  In Acts 10 Peter restored Tabitha to life.  These works or signs gave credence to their teaching.  Acts 5 also describes how the apostles were imprisoned, but that night were freed by an angel, who ordered them to go back and preach in the temple area.  Again they were seized and brought to the Sanhedrin.  

      In defense Peter said:  “We must obey God rather than men”.  But a Pharisee in the Sanhedrin named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, respected by all the people……said to them, "Fellow Israelites, be careful what you are about to do to these men……So now I tell you, have nothing to do with these men, and let them go. For if this endeavor or this activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself.  But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them; you may even find yourselves fighting against God." They were persuaded by him.  After recalling the apostles, they had them flogged, ordered them to stop speaking in the name of Jesus…….So they left the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name.  And all day long, both at the temple and in their homes, they did not stop teaching and proclaiming the Messiah, Jesus.  Nothing could stop them.

The Church grew rapidly.  The apostles were unable to both preach and serve the material needs of the people without neglecting their prayer life.  Thus they delegated the charitable works to others as St. Stephen, ordaining them by praying and laying hands over them.  This was the beginning of an organizational structure under the overall leadership of St. Peter (Acts 6).
  
                              The bronze statue of St. Peter in his basilica in Vatican City.  
                              His toe is worn down by so many people kissing it.

St. Peter. Christ Himself ordained Peter (and implicitly his 265 successors) as His vicar on earth, the first Pope when He said: “And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.” (Matthew 16:18-19).  Accordingly, the other apostles and new Christians deferred to him as the head of the Church as described in Acts (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Peter  and http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12260a.htm).

Under the leadership of St. Peter and guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Church evangelized non-Jews and did not require Christians to observe old Jewish norms and laws as to food, circumcision, etc. since gentiles also received the Holy Spirit (Acts 10, 11,  & 11).  Two epistles are attributed to St. Peter.  He had considerable influence on the Gospel of Mark since the evangelist accompanied him in many of his apostolic endeavors.

St. Peter went on a preaching tour of Asia Minor.  He taught in Rome and took charge as Bishop there before being martyred under Nero on June 29 in the year 67.  He spent nine months chained to a column in a filthy dungeon.  According to tradition he was fleeing Rome during a violent persecution.  Outside the city Peter confronted the risen Christ who was walking toward Rome.  Peter asked the Lord: “Quo Vadis?” (Where are you going?).  Jesus answered:  "I am going to Rome to be crucified again".  This gave Peter the courage to return and continue His mission there.   The Polish writer Henryk Sienkiewicz authored the novel “Quo Vadis” which won the 1905 Nobel Prize for Literature.  It was made into a movie which was nominated for eight academy awards in 1951.  It is available on Amazon.com and probably Netflix and video stores.

                    His statue in front of the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome.

St. Paul, originally a well educated Pharisee and a zealous persecutor of Christians who oversaw the martyrdom of St. Stephen (Acts 7), was converted by Christ Himself on the Road to Damascus (Acts 9).  The energy and zeal of St. Paul was a great stimulus to the Church as described in much of the Acts of the Apostles where he is very prominent.  Since St. Luke accompanied him, the evangelist was an eye witness to much of what St. Paul  did and recorded it in the Acts of the Apostles.  Thus St. Paul is better documented than all of the saints of the first 15 centuries after Christ.  The great majority of the Epistles are attributed to St. Paul.  They are letters to Christian groups after teaching them and moving on.  He is known as the apostle of the gentiles, preaching through much of the Roman Empire.