Sunday, December 25, 2016

(183) GOD’S MOST MAGNIFICENT CREATION………FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF AN ENGINEER

Design, Design, Design:
 You are amazing; you are a walking miracle.

AMDG

I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well (Psalm 139:14).

        The Bodies Revealed Exposition at the Bossard Library in Gallipolis, Ohio has only one week left.  If you haven’t seen it yet, GO!  You will receive some wondrous insights…….not only the physiological and anatomical aspects of the dozen systems of the human body, but also the spiritual and the philosophical.

        They utilized a new means of preserving by plastinating human organs, blood vessels, bones, muscles, tendons, etc. that freeze the body into the position desired.  Thus these cadavers, transformed into numerous plastinates, seem to come alive doing athletic poses.  You’ve certainly seen gymnastic events in the Olympics.  How can the human body do that…..the flips, the balancing, the jumping, the climbing, the lifts, the running, etc.?  Despite all of the technological advances we can’t design a single robot to duplicate all of these feats.  Even if we could, how long would the contraption last?  


The human body can go on and on for up to about a hundred years with no replacement by spare parts if we take care of it.  When the body has cuts and bruises, it’s programmed to mend and repair itself.  When the body gets sick, it will usually heal itself.  Thanks to our health professionals for helping that healing process along or helping us to compensate for handicaps.  Can a car repair itself?  How long will your car last even with the periodic replacement of parts, oil changes, and repairs?





        This magnificent creation must start out with the Skeletal System of strong bones……206 of them five times stronger than mild steel.  They meet at over 230 joints where they are hooked up by tendons and muscles.  The muscles of the Muscular System contract or relax to move the skeleton.  
  

That movement requires energy obtained from nutrients that combine with inhaled oxygen of the red corpuscles, both of which are carried by six quarts of blood through a network of some 100,000 miles of blood vessels (arteries, veins, and capillaries) throughout the body that comprise the Cardiovascular System.  A single blood cell might travel 12,000 miles in a single day with each circuit from the heart taking 20 to 60 seconds.  The ten ounce heart is the strongest organ, pumping three ounces of blood with every beat, 2½ billion of them over 75 years, one million barrels, enough to fill three supertankers.
  
The products of this form of combustion of nutrients is carbon dioxide that is carried by the blood to the lungs and exhaled as part of the Respiratory System.  The lungs have 300 – 500 million grape like structures called trachea.  The kidneys filter out the other waste products in the blood and eliminate them through the Urinary System.  Go to http://www.innerbody.com/ or  https://quizlet.com/3064799/12-systems-of-the-body-whats-their-function-flash-cards/, or  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_systems_of_the_human_body for more detail on each system.



        The Digestive System, emitting two quarts of gastric juices per day with 5 million glands, processes the food that we eat and the liquids that we drink in a great laboratory to produce the building blocks for our body and the products that provide energy to do physical work and to think.  The small intestine is about ten feet long with a surface area of about 1500 square feet.  

        The large intestine is an additional ten feet in length.  Villi cells absorb the nutrients into the blood.  The waste products in digestion are eliminated through the large intestine.  The body produces a new stomach lining every three or four days. 


        The mouth and its teeth prepare the food for the digestive system to process.  Each tooth has a particular function……to bite, to cut, to crush, to chew, etc.  Our teeth are part of our smiles.  If we take care of them, our teeth can last for a century (if we live that long), contributing to the beauty of our bodies.  The jaw and the teeth can exert a pressure of over 100 lbs/in.    


          The Endocrine System provides the hormones, exquisite chemicals that regulate growth, metabolism, and general body function.  The Immune System helps the other systems fight disease in conjunction with the white corpuscles of the blood.  The Lymphatic System picks up fluids leaked from the capillaries, houses white blood cells, and supports the immune system.


          At this point we’re just ghosts…….walking skeletons with muscles and organs.  We need something to protect these vital organs and systems.  The largest and heaviest organ of the body, the skin does this as part of the Integumentary System as shown below.  The skin synthesizes Vitamin D and is the largest sensory organ, through which we feel external stimuli.  Furthermore, it gives our bodies a great beauty.

          The hypothalamus of the brain acts like a thermostat to maintain the body temperature at 98.6 °F.  When the temperature of the body increases, it signals the skin’s glands.  The evaporating sweat absorbs body heat.  When cold, it sends a signal to the muscles to shiver, thus generating heat.

        The Senses. Even with this new coat of skin we’re not even zombies yet.  We must be able to sense our environment and communicate with others.  We feel through nerves on the skin.  The pupils of the eyes adjust for brightness; and convert reflected light of different frequencies to give color into an image which the lens focuses upon the retina, consisting of about 100 million rods and 7 million cones.  For speech, the vibrations of vocal cords of the communicator in conjunction with air from the lungs and the position of the tongue produce intelligible signals through generated sound waves of different frequency, emphasis, and volume.  The ears transform sound waves with different nuances into electrical signals to the brain of the receiver.  Molecules of different gases affect nerve endings in the nose in a characteristic way which we call smell.

That’s still not enough for any kind of creature.  We need something to coordinate all of these systems of the body; to receive and interpret sensory inputs via the skin; the eyes into a three dimensional image in color; the ears to respond to these sensory inputs with different volumes, pitch, cadence, and emphasis; to think, to reason, to exercise our free will, to write, to communicate, to adapt to new and strange environments, to compose and play music, to invent, to create, to love.
 
All of this is done through nerve fibers connected to neurons within the magnificent human brain as part of the Nervous System.  The brain is the command center, connected to an immense network of over 60,000 miles of nerve paths through 250 million nerve fibers like a land line telephone network.  Faster than the most powerful supercomputer in many ways, the brain regulates all of the body’s vital functions.  The human brain itself has about 86 billion neurons and 85 billion smaller "nonneuronal" (neuroglial) cells in the human male brain.   
  
        The greatest unknown frontier in the universe is the human brain.  This three pound supercomputer can store information equivalent to 250 million books.  Even with miniaturization, a huge computer would be necessary.  If one would absorb one byte of information every second 24/7, it would require something like three centuries to fill up the human brain.  Yes, retrieval is often a problem.  When the great genius, Albert Einstein died, they dissected his brain and discovered that he never used most of it.  For more detail go to http://www.brainline.org/multimedia/interactive_brain/the_human_brain.html?gclid=CNL_p_eYh9ECFQIIaQod1IgD7w or http://www.livescience.com/29365-human-brain.html or https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_brain


         The computer is actually extremely stupid, a dumb machine.  The human mind invented it and must program in great detail each step of an operation, line by line.  It can only do what the human mind tells it to do and how, spelling out each step in great detail.  Miss even a comma in the program and the computer responds…….”syntax error” because it doesn’t know what to do.  It cannot create unless told how.  True, once the computer knows what to do, it’s a fabulous tool, faster than any human, but can never replace the human brain.  

        


          The basic building block of it all is the cell, so intricate and complex, so ingenious, different for each system of the body, so small that a microscope is needed to explore its inner parts. According to one estimate, the human body has 3.72 x 1013 or 37 trillion cells.  On top of all that, the body can repair itself by constructing new cells and eliminating the dead ones.  The human body even manufactures its own blood cells.

        We’re still not complete!  At the moment of conception God gave each one of us a soul. The integration of body and soul makes us immortal human beings, created according to the image and likeness of God……..so magnificent that our loving, merciful, almighty, awesome Son of God humbly stooped down to became one of us to teach us how to live and save us from our sins.  THAT’S WHAT CHRISTMAS IS ALL ABOUT!  After the fall of man and the loss of paradise, humanity had to wait 4000 years for the Redeemer and now we can receive Him even daily into our hearts in the Holy Eucharist.  After death we, our souls, continue to live.  All that gives every person, rich or poor, educated or illiterate, tremendous dignity.

At the Last Judgment, our souls will be reunited with our bodies restored to youthful vigor that for eternity will never get sick, break down, or wear out.  We’ll all be together again with our deceased loved ones …….free of crippling handicaps, diseases, bad habits, addictions, or emotional and spiritual wounds.  Our eternal state of well-being, ecstasy, or high (for lack of a better way to describe it) will be being with God. All we know is that no eyes have seen or ears has heard what God has in store for those who love Him…….beyond our imaginations.  MAKE SURE THAT YOU GET THERE!!!!
  
        For the here and now that’s not all!  God allows one man and one woman to become one in a loving mutual self-giving relationship consecrated by marriage and to participate in the creation of another human being created for eternity as the product of that deep love.  Let us not abuse this sacred privilege!  That’s where God utilizes the Reproductive System.  

        A computer programmer would need thousands of lines of code to program a lifeless robot which can only do simple functions.  Infinitely more complex is the magnificent you.  The entire program for creating a human being, equivalent to millions of lines of code, is in the DNA molecule and its hundreds of genes after the union of one tiny ovum and one much tinier sperm. 


By the fifth week of pregnancy the baby’s heart is beating.  By the 11th week all of the major organs are formed, by no means a simple blob of tissue.  By 40 weeks the beautiful baby is fully formed and ready to make his/her grand entrance into our world  We are ingeniously and wondrously made by a great engineer, the master designer, the master programmer, an awesome God according to His image and likeness. 

Yet we destroy His ingeniously marvelous creative work in forms of murder, including abortion, a blatant and very serious if not vicious offense against our creator.  Does the mother and her abortionist really know and understand what they are doing?  May our awesome God have mercy on them! 

How can anyone say that great masterpiece came by random chance?  Let us go to the exhibition with a deep respect for each person who once occupied each human body and glorify God.
  
        Every organ of the body is ingeniously and wondrously made……so complex that we have doctors who devote their lives specializing in and learning about a single body system or only one or two organs.  They are all beautifully compacted in limited space.  Take the human eye for example…….its physics, chemistry, and biology in the refraction of light through the lens, the differentiation of colors, the adaptation to different amounts of light, seeing in three dimensions, etc.  A good ophthalmologist has to recognize an ingenious design in the eyes alone.  It would take a lot of mental gymnastics to rationalize all of that to millions of years of random selection with no designer or guiding hand.  According to the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, left alone with no guiding hand nature tends to disorder not order. 
 
        After I first saw Body Worlds as one with an engineering background at the famous Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, all I could think was “design, design, design!”  I left awe-struck, thinking:  “How can anybody say that the human body, so magnificent, came by random chance out of a collection of chemical substances?”  Even the great genius, Albert Einstein recognized a great designer, albeit not a personal one.  Evolution can be compatible with Church teaching if and only if the hand of the great designer is recognized.  Go to “Bodies Revealed” again at the Bossard Library, but with a spiritual perspective.  You’ll come out of there praising God and giving Him glory!
  
You can see a permanent exhibit of Body Worlds and many other fascinating exhibits at Discovery Times Square; 226 West 44th St. between 7th & 8th Avenues off of Times Square when visiting New York City (http://www.discoverytsx.com/about).  For more information about future exhibitions of “Bodies Revealed”, go to http://www.premierexhibitions.com/exhibitions/14/14/bodies-revealed/about-exhibition.

APPENDIX

         For healthy living the secular Body Worlds recommends 1) Exercise; 2) Prayer and Meditation; 3) Proper Food in moderate amounts (80% full) low in meat; 4) Purposeful Life; 5) Use Your Talents; 6) Exercise your Brain; 7) Life Long Learning; 8) Be active; 9) Feel Loved and important in sharing your wisdom.

        Although implied above, I would add to get out of yourself and give of yourself with humility in LOVE…….first a close relationship with God and then serving Him by serving neighbor in whom God is present.  Use your talents for others even if it is a paid  job.  That will lead to a fulfilling and satisfying job.  Success in serving others leads to personal success.

      Body Works adds: “To know how to grow old is the masterwork of wisdom and one of the most difficult chapters in the great art of living.----  Henri Armiel (1821 – 1881), Swiss philosopher, poet, and critic.  An ager is sugar which attaches on to proteins.  Over the age of 30, the body needs 8% less energy every ten years.   

Sunday, November 27, 2016

(182) Poland, Peru, and the Ukraine Consecrate Their Countries to God


Public Consecrations of countries to God in which political leaders have a role are unprecedented in modern times, but recently three sovereign nations have done so.  That gives hope for the world that is rapidly sliding into materialistic secularism……Poland, Peru, and the Ukraine for a start, and the Church in Russia is beginning to bloom. 




















         Poland Recognizes Christ as Their King

        
        Historically, Poland has been a staunchly Catholic country, strong even under Communism.  However, as a member of the very secular European Union, it had been slipping.  Ten years ago while my wife was taking care of her ailing father, I taught at a local college and my four kids were going to a Polish school.  From my reading about a failed Polish parliamentary resolution I asked about the idea of declaring Christ the King of Poland among priests and others.  There didn’t seem to be much interest.  One priest was hung up about separation of Church and state.    

But to my surprise a week ago on November 19, the eve of the great Feast of Christ the King, during a solemn ceremony at the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Krakow, the Catholic bishops of Poland officially recognized Christ as King of Poland.  Furthermore, the consecration was carried out in the presence of Polish President Andrzej Duda, implying presidential approval.  The consecration Mass was officiated by St. Pope John Paul’s former secretary, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz.  On the actual feast, the Polish people followed that up by consecrating Poland and themselves to Christ the King in every parish in the country after a novena of preparation. See http://www.churchmilitant.com/news/article/christ-recognized-as-king-of-poland and http://www.sspx.org/en/news-events/news/polish-recognition-christ-king and also http://www.cnsnews.com/blog/michael-w-chapman/polish-bishops-and-president-duda-declare-christ-king-poland.

Christ the King has a biblical basis.  It was prophesied several times, especially in the Old Testament Book of Isaiah that the Messiah would be a king in the royal line of David and His kingdom would last forever.  In Luke 1:31-33 of the New Testament the Archangel Gabriel says to Mary: “Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.  He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end."
By his presence at the Consecration Mass the President of Poland Andrzej Duda
 gives official recognition of Christ as King of Poland.

The action of the Polish bishops is consistent with Pope Pius XI's 1925 encyclical "Quas Primas," which solidified the devotion to Christ the King and established the feast.  He wrote: "When once men recognize, both in private and in public life, that Christ is King, society will at last receive the great blessings of real liberty, well-ordered discipline, peace and harmony………Our Lord's regal office invests the human authority of princes and rulers with a religious significance; it ennobles the citizen's duty of obedience…….Nations will be reminded by the annual celebration of this feast that not only private individuals but also rulers and princes are bound to give public honor and obedience to Christ."     See http://w2.vatican.va/content/pius-xi/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xi_enc_11121925_quas-primas.html.

This encyclical was Pius XI’s response to growing nationalism and secularism…….the promotion of human development through material means with no role for faith, religion, or belief in God.  In secular states, there may be freedom of worship within the home or church building, but freedom of religion outside of the church building to practice the faith, follow basic beliefs, and have an influence in the public square through its own publications, schools, hospitals, etc. is restricted if not eliminated.  Secularism breeds an erosion of basic God given freedoms and rights. 
  
The official statement/prayer of the Episcopate of Poland regarding the act of recognition of Christ as King of Poland reads as follows:

 “We profess in face of God and Earth, that we need your rule. We profess, that you and only you have holy rights to us that never expired. Therefore with humility we bend our heads to you, The Lord of the Universe, and we recognize your rule over Poland and our whole nation, that lives in the motherland and away in the wide world. Hereby Poland in the 1,050th anniversary of its baptism, solemnly recognizes the rule of Jesus Christ.”

This recognition of Christ as King of Poland complements the historical title of the Queen Mother Mary as Queen of Poland declared by King John Casimir in 1656 after 70 monks and 180 locals defended the Monastery of Jasna Góra that housed the image of Our Lady of Czestochowa against a Swedish force of 4,000. 

The defeat of radical Islam (the Ottoman Turks with 200,000 troops) on September 11, 1683 by King Sobieski and the repulsion of the invasion of over 100,000 Soviet troops on the Feast of the Assumption August 15, 1920 are attributed by Poles to Mary’s intercession.

Had the Ottoman Turks won in 1683, radical Islam would have  been largely unopposed in conquering Rome and fulfilling their dream of hoisting the Islamic flag over the Basilica of St. Peter in Rome.  Today ISIS has the same dream and has made no secret of it. 

The Battle of Warsaw (1920) is often called the “Miracle on the Vistula” or in Polish “Cud nad Wisla”. Had the Soviets won in 1920 they could have advanced to the English Channel since the armies of Western Europe were exhausted and weak.  Then all of Europe would have been Communist at least for a time.  A Communist Reign of Terror ruled Hungary for six months in 1919 until repulsed by Admiral Horthy.  My father lived under it and shared his experience under it many times.

Clearly, God is in control of History. 
   
For more detail see my Blog #125 as well as http://www.motherofallpeoples.com/2009/09/mary-queen-of-poland/ and http://www.catholictradition.org/Mary/czesto.htm for Mary Queen of Poland.   For the Battle of Vienna see  http://catholicism.org/ad-rem-no-45.html and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_ViennaFor the Battle of Warsaw see http://www.crisismagazine.com/2012/how-the-poles-saved-civilization-part-ii and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Warsaw_(1920)

Videos on the Battle of Vienna include a 49 minute documentary at   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pc-RWtovrqg and a full length movie at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jvoRuO3g9Ew.  The same is dubbed in Polish at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCr1TmqxO5Q.  Two fascinating videos on the Battle of Warsaw include https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_SSaQbQiW9s, a documentary analysis of the battle.   A full length movie on the Battle of Warsaw in Polish can be found at  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ksf7fmTGuUc.  For a shorter 38 minute version of the same movie in Polish with English subtitles, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4I61EkSdgg

Consecration of Perú

        A month before the President of Peru, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (78), an alumnus of both Oxford and Princeton, former functionary of the World Bank, successful investment banker in the United States, and economist, officially consecrated Peru to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary at the National Prayer Breakfast on October 21, 2016 in Lima.  Interesting is that the President of Peru is the son of Polish/German father and French mother who immigrated to Perú.  Having Jewish roots and a renowned pathologist, they had fled Nazism in 1933.  See http://perureports.com/pedro-pablo-kuczynski/  and   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pedro_Pablo_Kuczynski.
        
The purpose of the annual prayer breakfast in Peru is to bring a message of optimism and reconciliation.  Kuczynski was the first Peruvian president to attend one of the 21 breakfasts to date.  This year’s theme was the “Mercy of the Love of God”.





























In his speech, Kuczynski proclaimed: "By the authority vested in me, I make an act of consecration of myself, my family and the Republic of Peru to the love and protection of Almighty God through the intercession of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. I place in your loving hands my government with all of its workers and citizens that are under my responsibility. I offer to God Almighty my thoughts and decisions as President so that I may use them for the good of our country and always be conscious of the Ten Commandments in governing it.” He asked for God’s forgiveness “for all the transgressions I may have committed in the past, all those committed by the Republic in the past, and for all those decisions that may have been made contrary to his commandments and I ask for his help in changing everything that separates us from Him.  For more detail in Spanish, see http://diocesisdecelayamx.blogspot.com/2016/10/video-presidente-kuczynski-consagra-el.html and the video of the consecration speech http://aciprensamx.blogspot.com/2016/10/video-presidente-kuczynski-consagra-el.html and http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/peruvian-president-consecrates-nation-to-sacred-heart-immaculate-heart-23070/ as well as http://www.churchmilitant.com/news/article/peru-consecrated-to-the-sacred-and-immaculate-hearts in English.  


  I’m especially proud of Perú because I spent 14 years (1965 – 1982) of my life in Arequipa, teaching at the universities of Santa María and San Agustín.  Hundreds of missionaries from all over the world gave their lives to Perú…….USA, Spain, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Malta, etc.  I would like to think that the Lord used us to make a difference, small but significant.  What a privilege!
Consecration of Ecuador


     The action of Kuczynski has one precedent in neighboring Ecuador more than a century before.  The then Ecuadorian president Gabriel Garcia Moreno consecrated Ecuador to the Sacred Heart on March 25, 1874.  Ecuador's official act of consecration reads: "Prostrate before your divine presence, all the public powers of the Church and of the State offer and consecrate to Thee now and for always the Republic of Ecuador as Thy exclusive possession and property."  This consecration is enshrined in Ecuador's constitution:
Art. 1: The Republic of Ecuador consecrates itself to the Holy Heart of Jesus, proclaiming it as Patron and Protector.
Art. 2: The Feast of that same Sacred Heart of Jesus is prescribed as a civil first-class holy day, to be observed in every cathedral of this Republic by diocesan prelates with all possible ceremony. 

Consecration of the Ukraine

            On October 23, 2016 the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Patriarch Sviatoslav Shevchuk, at a ceremony held at Fatima consecrated the Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. 


His words in Fatima are as follows:  “Mary, we stand today before your countenance and consecrate to your Immaculate Heart and place under your protection the Ukraine and other Eastern European nations and the world. We offer you all the pain and suffering of Ukraine, because only through conversion and repentance comes peace. Receive our offering and save our people and our land and the world from sin and death.”  For greater detail see http://op54rosary.ning.com/forum/topics/ukraine-consecrated-to-the-immaculate-heart and http://news.ugcc.ua/en/news/the_head_of_the_ugcc_in_fatima_consecrated_ukraine_to_the_immaculate_heart_of_mary_77901.html.





































   The country is mired in a war since 2014 with ethnic Russian speaking Ukrainian separatists who with the help of Russia are bent upon having eastern Ukraine annexed to Russia.  The Ukraine had already been forcibly absorbed by the very repressive atheistic Soviet Union from 1919 to 1991, when it finally obtained its independence.  For more detail see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ukrainian_Soviet_Socialist_Republic and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_pro-Russian_unrest_in_Ukraine.       

 In Russia of all places the faith is growing as never before since the consecration of Russia by St. Pope John Paul II in union with the bishops of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1984……..the number of churches has increased from 400 to 30,000; monasteries from 22 to 800, and schools of theology from 0 to 100.  See http://paulrsebastianphd.blogspot.com/2016/10/177-consecration-to-immaculate-heart.html for the time line after the consecration.

Not a Theocracy. The consecrations in Poland, Peru, Ecuador, and the Ukraine in no way mean any dictatorial theocracy like Sharia Law or a decrease in democracy.  All basic human rights remain and constitutional guarantees remain intact.  Man will always have a free will.  However, the people prayerfully place their countries in the hands of God, and entrust their nations to Him, asking for His guidance and protection.  They aspire to a mindset that prayerfully seeks the will of God in all policies and decision making as well as faithfulness to Him, His Ten Commandments, and the moral/social teachings of the Church which invariably have a biblical basis.  An individual or a Country can never go wrong by trusting in the will of God which is always for the best in the long run. 

The consecration may be to the Immaculate Heart, i.e., as most Catholics believe in the path to Jesus through Mary since her mission is to bring souls to her Son.  The Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart are united as one.  Thus her will is God’s will.  After all, Mary received her great mission from the Father to conceive by the Holy Spirit her spouse and give birth to the Son of God.   
A Country faithful to its consecration has a much better chance for social order, tranquility, and  just socioeconomic development within its borders than under secularism and the chaotic moral relativism where everybody does what is right in his/her own mind, the same mentality that led to the ruin of Sodom and Gomorra.

One can also make an individual consecration to Mary according to St. Louis de Montfort.  See http://www.iipg.org/consecration1.htm.

May other countries follow the example of Ecuador, Peru, the Ukraine, and Poland.  May these initial consecrations be part of a trend that will bring all nations back to God who loves us infinitely and thirsts for souls and their love.   

Sunday, November 20, 2016

(181) VIVA CRISTO REY: THOUSANDS DIED FOR THE FREEDOM TO PROCLAIM IT......The Role of the Knights of Columbus for Religious Liberty Against Persecution of the Church in Mexico

The persecutions in Mexico of the 1920s produced numerous saints.  Six of them were member were members of the Knights of Columbus.  They share the reliquary above.  It was financed by the Knights of Columbus of Mexico and donated to the Supreme Council.  It can be seen in the Knights of Columbus National Museum in its national headquarters in New Haven, Connecticut.


          Viva Cristo Rey!  Hail Christ the King!  This Sunday is the Feast
of Christ the King.  Pope Pius XI proclaimed the feast in 1925 in his
as a response to growing nationalism and secularism…….the promotion
of human development through material means with no role for faith,
religion, or belief in God.  In secular states, there may be freedom of 
worship within the home or church building, but freedom of religion 
outside of the church building to practice the faith, follow basic beliefs, 
and have an influence in the public square through its own publications, schools, hospitals, etc. is restricted if not eliminated.
 
In the United States secularism is growing at an alarming rate and indeed threatens religious freedom.  Catholic institutions are being forced to provide health insurance that includes coverage for sterilization, abortifacients, and in some cases abortion.  In the future the government’s version of political correctness could be imposed upon pastors even in homilies.  Western Europe is very secular; the European Union in its constitution refused to recognize the historical contribution of the Church to their civilization, institutions, and culture.  

 However, there is hope……Poland, Peru, and the Ukraine for a start, and Church in Russia is beginning to bloom.  Historically, Poland has been a staunchly Catholic country, strong even under Communism.  However, as a member of the very secular European Union, it had been slipping.  But yesterday, the eve of the  great Feast of Christ the King, during a solemn ceremony at the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Krakow, the Catholic bishops of Poland officially recognized Christ as King of Poland.  The consecration was carried out in the presence of Polish President Andrzej Duda, implying presidential approval.  The consecration Mass was officiated by St. Pope John Paul’s former secretary, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz.  Today, on the actual feast, the Polish people followed that up by consecrating Poland and themselves to Christ the King in every parish in the country after a novena of preparation.  See http://www.churchmilitant.com/news/article/christ-recognized-as-king-of-poland.  


A month before the President of Peru, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, officially consecrated Peru at the National Prayer Breakfast on October 21, 2016 in Lima to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  The action echoes that Ecuadorian president Gabriel Garcia Moreno, who consecrated Ecuador to the Sacred Heart on March 25, 1874.  Two days later on October 23, the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Patriarch Sviatoslav Shevchuk, at a ceremony held at Fatima consecrated the Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. See  http://www.sspx.org/en/news-events/news/polish-recognition-christ-king.

 In Russia of all places the faith is growing as never before since the consecration of Russia by St. Pope John Paul II in union with the bishops of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1984……..the number of churches has increased from 400 to 30,000; monasteries from 22 to 800, and schools of theology from 0 to 100.

          The Knights of Columbus was founded in the United States in 1882 and in Mexico in 1905.  By 1923 the latter had 43 councils and 6,000 members.  The Knights provide great fellowship while serving the parish 
and the community.  Its life insurance with a top financial rating at lower than commercial rates provides for the security of the families of its knights.  Any surplus is used for Knights of Columbus charities and rebates for its policy holders.  At the same time the Knights of Columbus promotes religious freedom, the traditional family and marriage, the right to life, 
and the spiritual formation of its members. 

The Cristero San Gaspar Regiment that fought against Mexican government troops.  Their battle cry was “Viva Cristo Rey”.  The Cristero War for religious freedom lasted for three years……1926 – 1929.  The primary target of the persecutions was priests. 

       In Mexico during the Cristero War (1926-1929), hundreds of knights gave their lives in the battle for religious freedom against intense persecution and six of them are saints.  Can that happen here?  Indifferent and lax Christians may not recognize the threat to religious freedom until they have lost it completely.  We must be vigilant and fight to maintain our religious liberty. 

In Mexico the Knights of Columbus helped to organize the main Catholic institutions into the League for the Defense of Religious Liberty.  The League raised the nation’s consciousness and demanded respect for human rights.  In the United States the Knights of Columbus provided aid for the exiled and the migrants.  They lobbied the Coolidge Administration and rallied public opinion in an education campaign, issuing 5 million pamphlets with eye witness accounts, to pressure the Mexican government to cease its intense persecution of the Catholic Church and  thousands of executions of its members, especially priests who were forbidden from even saying Mass.  As a result, President Plutarco Calles outlawed the Knights of Columbus and its members were singled out for persecution.  Pius XI publicly gave the Knights of Columbus special praise.

        Anybody repeating the rallying cry of the Cristeros, “Viva Cristo Rey” risked his life.  Priests and layman alike were forced to renounce Christ in public or face punishment, torture, or death.  The priest below was taken from the altar and shot in front of his own church.  See my blogs #42, #120, and #132 for greater detail on the Cristero War, Blessed Miguel Pro, and newly canonized St. José Sanchez del Rio, a martyr at the age of 14.



            In the year 2000 St. Pope John Paul II canonized 25 Mexican martyrs, mostly priests (see
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saints_of_the_Cristero_War).  Six of them were members of the Knights of Columbus.  Their photos are above with a reliquary they share.  It was financed by the Knights of Columbus of Mexico and donated to the Supreme Council.  Their stories tell what the priesthood is all about.  As Fr. Juan Diego Brunetta said, their stories affirm the priesthood and the role of priest as servant to spread the good news.  

           St. Pope John Paul II said in his encyclical, “Ecclesia in America” (see https://www.ewtn.com/jp99/ecclesia.htm), “They stir us up to take up fearlessly and fervently today’s task of the new evangelization.” They continue to evangelize by inspiring us to be faithful Catholics.  Let’s review their heroic stories.


San José María Robles Hurtado inspired enthusiasm and devotion to the Sacred Heart in Tocolotlán.  While preparing for Mass he was arrested by government soldiers and led to his execution.  He knelt down in front of the firing squad, blessed his parish and his murderers, and forgave them.

San Rodrigo Aguilar Alemán delayed his escape from the Colegio de San Ignacio in Ejutla to destroy the seminary’s student enrollment records.  When asked to identify himself, he replied: “I am a priest”.  He blessed the noose of the rope and loudly forgave his executioners.  The officer in charge asked the priest, hanging from a mango tree in the town square:  “Who lives?”  “Christ the King and Our Lady of Guadalupe” was the reply.   They lowered him three times and asked him the same question and got the same answer each time.

San Luis Batis Sainz dedicated himself to youth as pastor in Zacatecas.  In 1926 he was arrested with one of his aides, Manuel Morales.  He pleaded for the life of this layman for the sake of his family.  However, Morales said:  “I am dying for God, and God will care for my children.” Smiling, Father Bátis absolved his aide and said, “I’ll see you in heaven.”.  What faith!  Would we be up to that?

San Mateo Correa Magallanes was seized while bringing the Eucharist to a sick woman and sent to prison.  The commandante ordered him to hear confessions of the other prisoners.  Then he was ordered with a death threat to reveal what he heard from the penitants.  “I’ll never do that”,  repied the priest.  “I am willing to die”.  Absolutely nothing can justify a priest to break the sacred seal of confession.

San Miguel de la Mora would say Mass in secret.  He took part with other priests in a Holy Hour led by his Bishop after signing a rejection of the anti-Catholic laws.  After being taken to army headquarters, the Captain in charge shot the priest dead while praying the rosary in Tecalitlan, Jalisco.

San Pedro de Jesús Maldonado Lucero promoted perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and devotion to Mary.  After being exiled to Texas in 1937, he returned to administer the sacraments.  While distributing ashes on the first day of Lent, he was seized by a gang who beat him to a pulp with rifle butts and left him in a pool of blood.  His tombstone reads: “You are a priest”.
In 2005 Pope Benedict beatified 13 other martyrs, three of whom were members of the Knights of Columbus.  They include José Trinidad Rangel Montaño, a diocesan priest from León in San Felipe, Guanajuato; Andrés Sola Molist, a Spanish Claretian priest in León, Guanajuato; and Leonardo Pérez Larios, a layman.  The three were executed together in 1927.
Clearly, persecution and adversity breed heroism, holiness, and sanctity.  This era of persecution was probably the darkest chapter of Mexican history, yet perhaps  the most glorious.  The number of cannonized saints Mexico produced is incredible.  According to one story, a mystic asked Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patroness of Mexico: “Where were you during all this time?”  Mary replied”  “I was there all the time”.  The title of the movie underwritten by the Knights of Columbus is so appropriate: “For Greater Glory” (available at ignatius.com).  They sacrificed all for greater glory.  Can we have that same priority amidst all of the distractions of ambition for prestige, promotion, and money?
Supreme Knight Carl Anderson affirmed: “The Order’s history is forever linked to the history of this great nation. ....... Loving God above all things and our neighbor as we love ourselves is the only response that we can give to Christ the King”.    See
 https://www.kofc.org/un/en/resources/communications/martyrs_booklet.pdf.

Links to My Articles on Mexico and the Cristero War

  • (132) Blessed José Sanchez del Rio: Boy Martyr & Real Soldier of Christ..........His Participation in the Cristero War & the Intense Persecution of the Church by the Government of Mexico

  • (120) The Cristero War: The Historical Context of "For Greater Glory", the Star Studded Movie

  • (104) Our Lady of Guadalupe (I): Binding the Americas Together

  • (105) Our Lady of Guadalupe (II): Mary's Message to us in the Image

  • (106) Review of the visit of the Pilgrim Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe: The Marian Prayer Program of the Knights of Columbus at St. Louis Church Gallipolis December 11-16, 2012

  • (65) The Papal Volunteers for Latin America (PAVLA) After 50 Years V - Long Range Effects & What Are They Doing Now?  See also Blogs #61, 62, 63, and 64.

  • (42) Blessed Padre Miguel Pro S.J.: 20th Century Mexican Martyr for Christ the King