Saturday, September 11, 2021

(257) The Sacred and Eucharistic Heart of Jesus Triumphs on the Streets of Budapest, Hungary

 AMDG


    All this week September 5-12 Budapest, Hungary is hosting the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress, a religious gathering held for the purpose of increasing faith in the Blessed Sacrament and promoting Eucharistic devotion. This follows the tradition of Catholic Hungary founded by their first king, St. Stephen (975-1038), who introduced Christianity to the people.  In appreciation Pope Sylvester donated a crown to St. Stephen which is displayed in the national museum in Budapest.  

        Today according to Eurobarometer 2019 75% of  of the population of 9.8 million Hungarians claim to be Christian and 62% Catholic including the Byzantine Rite (3%).  For a history of the Catholic Church in Hungary see  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_Church_in_Hungary. 

The 34th International Eucharistic Congress May 25-29, 1938

        This is not the first time that Hungary hosted such an important event.  It was the 34th International Eucharistic Congress May 25-29, 1938 (a week after I was born), and a little over a year before the official start of World War II when Germany invaded Poland September 1, 1939.  Half a million pilgrims attended from all over the world.  However, the Nazi government of Germany forbade its citizens from attending.  The flag of Hungary was red, white, and green with the crown of St. Stephen in the center.  See https://hungarytoday.hu/budapest-first-international-eucharistic-congress-pictures-fortepan/ and the video https://hungarytoday.hu/budapest-first-international-eucharistic-congress-pictures-fortepan/.



      Then Hungary had to suffer the ravages of World War II.  Caught between two tyrannical totalitarian regimes…….Germany to the west and the Soviet Union to the east, Hungary chose as an ally perceived to be the lesser of the two evils……Germany.  Previously, Hungary had to live under Communism for six months in 1919.  Before long Germany occupied Hungary.  Towards the end of the war the Soviet Union occupied the country.  Tyrannical boots marched up and down the streets of Budapest.  Who would have dreamed of another Eucharistic Congress in Budapest?

      Once the war ended, the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin, taking advantage of the Yalta and Potsdam agreements, set up puppet regimes in Hungary and imposed Communism upon the people while the West did nothing to prevent it.  Churches were closed; apostolic and charitable work of the Church was forbidden.  Priests were tortured and jailed, including the primate of Hungary, József Cardinal Mindszenty (1892-1975).  Basic freedoms of religion, assembly, and the press were crushed.  The Hungarian flag with the crown of St. Stephen was replaced by the hammer and cycle.  Who would have dreamed of another Eucharistic Congress in Budapest?

      In 1956 the people revolted under Imre Nagy.  They destroyed Communist tanks with home-made Molotov Cocktails made of gasoline.  The flag of Hungary now consisted of a hole in the center formerly occupied by the hammer and cycle.  Cardinal Mindszenty was freed.  These patriots were winning and controlled the country.  Fearing the defeat of Communism, the Soviet Union under Nikita Khrushchev sent in troops to crush the rebellion.  Soviet tanks patrolled the streets, killing and destroying.  Freedom fighters either fled by the thousands or were executed.  Who would have dreamed of another Eucharistic Congress in Budapest?  In the 1970s and 1980s the Communist regime mellowed somewhat, but the people were still not free and the Cold War continued.

   Finally in 1989 Communism in Europe collapsed because socialism over the long run is untenable.  Central planning and government ownership of the means of production were very inefficient.  Shortages of basic commodities were common.  There was little or no incentive to innovate and increase productivity.  The economy was stagnant and inflationary.  The people needed and yearned for basic freedoms.  Then democracy was restored and business had the freedom to prosper, benefiting both capital and labor.  The Church had freedom to evangelize and serve the people with diverse charities.  No longer does the Hungarian flag have the hammer and cycle in the center.


      An Immense Procession Through the Streets of Budapest. This week Hungary has the freedom to host the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress. The Eucharist is the source for the life and mission of Christians”, Cardinal Péter Erdó, Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, said at the opening Mass.  Each day consists of Holy Mass, prayer, catechesis, workshops, exhibits, testimonies, and adoration.  Even the President of Hungary, János Áder gave a testimony!

      The climax was a Eucharistic procession of some 100,000 prayerful people extending over several blocks……young and old, men, women, and children followed by a truck carrying a platform holding an altar with a large monstrance……..the Blessed Sacrament…….the Eucharist, the body of Christ, soul and divinity, His true presence, manifesting His infinite love towards each one of us.
 

     See for yourself the Mass and procession at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybiKar-POXY&ab_channel=EWTN.  The opening ceremony and Mass with huge choir and instrumental accompaniments can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKHxVCN0_Xo&ab_channel=EWTN.  It was indeed a joy to hear Hungarian spoken and Hungarian hymns that I heard my parents and relatives frequently speak. For the closing Papal Mass see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y9pzJjr7uPA&ab_channel=VaticanNews-English.  For the much shorter five minute highlights video see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ffIxGT63ues&ab_channel=VaticanNews-English.  

The huge Heroes Square was once the scene of Communist demonstrations, military parades, and propaganda shows.  Now it is the venue of an outdoor Mass with a huge platform that served as the altar.  The boots of the Gestapo marched on these streets, seizing Jews from their apartments and sending them to the gas chambers.  Later the boots of Communist soldiers trod the streets.  During the 1956 Hungarian Revolution Soviet tanks patrolled the boulevards, destroyed numerous buildings, and fired on the people as blood flowed onto the streets.  Who would have dreamed of a Eucharistic procession on these same streets?    

Today September 11, 2021 the Blessed Sacrament, the Body of Christ, of whom the people are a part, is processing on the very same streets that have such a bloody history.  This is the triumph of the cross which was part of the procession.  THIS IS THE TRIUMPH OF THE EUCHARISTIC HEART OF JESUS that always comes sooner or later even when the current outlook seems to be so dark!  God is always in control.  

To me the most significant event of the Eucharistic Congress was the triumphal procession of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus.  I, as a son of deceased Hungarian immigrants (they met Cardinal Mindszenty in the U.S. in the early 1970s), having lived through all of these events many bloody between the 1938 and 2021 Eucharistic congresses in the news and family discussions, can tearfully appreciate the magnitude of this triumph of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus on the streets of Budapest.

Presidents, kings, and dictators come and go through the millenniums.  Empires rise and fall.  Nazism and European Communism that once threatened all of mankind are now on the ash heaps of history.  Throughout history forces of evil have tried to stamp out Christianity --from pagan Rome to atheistic Communism and radical Islam-- but the Church has always prevailed.  Through all of this there is one constant.  The truth of the Eucharist endures and continues to thrive.  How true the theme of the Congress is: “In You (Eucharistic Jesus) is the source of all our blessings” (Cfr.: Ps 87, 7).   

    Today there is another enemy perhaps more sinister than ever……secularism that takes God out of social discourse and public life, ignoring traditional morality and Church teaching for the false gods of pleasure, personal convenience, money, power, prestige, and the materialistic accumulation of wealth and things while restricting religion to the four walls of the church as though God did not exist. This mentality has caused a marked drift of people away from the Church.  

     Let us pray today on this 20th anniversary of 9/11 (2001) that the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus will also triumph with a Eucharistic Revival that will bring those who have drifted away back to the Church as faithful Catholics.  Lord, please do not permit another 9/11 that brings people back to the Church only for the duration of the terrorism crisis.  

Sunday, August 22, 2021

(256) A Eucharistic Revival Is Coming........in Your Parish, in the World, and in Our Hearts

AMDG 


Leonardo Da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” captures the shocking instant when Christ said "One of you will betray me".  That was shortly after the breaking of the bread in which Christ instituted the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist……“Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which will be given up for you; do this in memory of me’” (Luke 22:19).  At the Mass the priest (another Christ) does exactly the same as Christ did at the Last Supper which is made present to us.  We have the same privilege as the first apostles of receiving God’s greatest gift to us on Earth…..the Eucharist, Christ Himself……body and blood, soul and divinity.  Since God can do all things, He certainly can change bread and wine into His very own body and blood.  This is repeated at every Mass all over the world.  How awesome is that?

                Many Catholics are drifting away from the Faith.  The secularization of America is one cause; we have lost the reverent sense of the sacred and the transcendent.  But the primary cause is indifference and lack of love of the Eucharist, which is the source, the center, and the summit of Catholic practice and belief since the apostles.  

        Some see the Eucharist as a mere symbol; they may as well be Protestants.  Although one who receives Holy Communion must be in the state of grace, most Catholics have not been to Confession since their first confession as children.  As the great Catholic author, Flannery O’Connor said, “If the Eucharist is just a symbol, then the hell with it”. 

Thus the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has organized the National Eucharistic Revival which the Knights of Columbus is supporting and promoting.  At the Spring meeting the Bishops voted to draft a document on the meaning of the Eucharist in the life of the Church.  The goal, according to the USCCB, is “to renew the Church by enkindling a living relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist.”  Diocesan events, forming parish leaders and a national Eucharistic congress in 2024 are seen as having a central role in that.

Many dioceses have responded by sponsoring revivals of traditional Eucharistic belief and adoration.  Dioceses in Florida have had an annual “Florida Eucharistic Congress” for the last several years, and the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia, had one in 2020. The Dioceses of Charlotte, North Carolina, and Memphis, Tennessee, are preparing for ones later this year; the Archdiocese of Atlanta is planning for one next June.  

In Steubenville, our diocese held a Eucharistic procession throughout the downtown area.  During three Sundays of August every Mass in the Diocese of Columbus has a Eucharistic homily and ends with a Holy Half-Hour of Benediction and Adoration.  See www.RealPresenceRealFuture.org. The Diocese of Charlotte, NC has held annual Eucharistic congresses since 2005.  This article coincides with a very Eucharistic Gospel today Sunday August 22, 2021 from the Gospel of John Chapter 6.

 

        The 52nd International Eucharistic Congress in Budapest, Hungary September 5-12 will receive extensive coverage on EWTN.  A Eucharistic Congress (coming together) is a religious gathering held for the purpose of increasing faith in the Blessed Sacrament and promoting Eucharistic devotion.  The theme is “In You (Eucharistic Jesus) is the source of all our blessings."  Pope Francis has high hopes in saying “We pray that the Eucharistic event in Budapest may foster processes of renewal in Christian communities so that the salvation of which the Eucharist is the source may also be translated into a Eucharistic culture capable of inspiring men and women of goodwill in the fields of charity, peace, family, care of creation.”

    Clergy, religious and laity from five continents will gather in Budapest.  EWTN’s week-long coverage includes a closing Mass with Pope Francis, marking the first Congress to be visited by a Pontiff in 21 years.  Each day consists of Holy Mass, prayer, catechesis, workshops, exhibits, testimonies, and adoration.  On Saturday evening there will be a Eucharistic procession through the large capital city of Hungary.  This small central European country previously hosted the 34th International Eucharistic Congress May 25-29, 1938 a year before the official start of World War II with a half a million people attending. 

    Chicago hosted the 26th International Eucharistic Congress in 1926 with an attendance of 800,000, the first in the United States.  See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ikZDvq1vjo&ab_channel=ChicagoHistoryMuseum).  Philadelphia hosted another 50 years later in 1976 with 1.5 million people attending.  Two future saints spoke at that event……Cardinal Karol Wojtila (St. Pope John Paul II) and Mother Teresa.  The theme was “The Eucharist and the Hungers of the Human Family.” 

        The very first Congress was celebrated in Lille, France under its Bishop Gaston de Segur.  However, the prime mover was a laywoman, Marie-Marthe-Baptistine Tamisier (1834-1910), who spent a decade lobbying clergy.  What a legacy for a simple laywoman!  The theme was "The Eucharist saves the world".  The next Eucharistic Congress will be in Quito, Ecuador in 2024.  For a history of the international Eucharistic congresses, go to

   

The exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, reminds us of the appearance of Christ to St. Faustina while red and blue rays radiated from His heart.  The red rays indicate our Lord’s blood shed on the cross in reparation and the blue the cleansing water of Baptism also shed from His side when pierced by the lance of the centurion.  The passion and death of Christ was the ultimate act of mercy in making reparation for our sins so that we can enter Heaven if we only believe and follow Him. 

The Jews were flabbergasted and incredulous after Christ said, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world" (John 6:51).  They walked away in disbelief.  If the Eucharist were a mere symbol, Our Lord would have called them back and clarified.  His bold words remained without compromise for every generation until the end of time.  The Eucharist is a demonstration of God’s infinite love and mercy for us.  Adoration is an opportunity to become closer to God and to pray for the conversion of sinners as Mary asked us.   

            The Holy Half-Hour begins with the prayer that the Angel of Peace taught the shepherd children at Fatima. 

“My God, I believe, I adore, I trust and I love You!  I ask pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love You.”

“Most Holy Trinity –Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—I adore You profoundly.  I offer You the most precious Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the sacrileges, outrages, and indifferences by which He is offended.  Through the infinite merits the Sacred Heart of Jesus and through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg the conversion of poor sinners.” 

Most Holy Trinity, I adore You!  My God, my God, I love You in the Most Blessed Sacrament.  O My Jesus, I offer this for the love of You, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  Take the time to share your problems with the Lord, to know Him, and become closer to Him.


A Eucharistic procession.  Call it coincidence or whatever, but the sun’s rays are shining over the monstrance which houses the Body of Christ…….Jesus Christ Himself.

 A Matchless Mystical Medicine

(From the Manual for Eucharistic Adoration

by the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration)

    “I put before you the one great thing to love on earth: the Blessed Sacrament….There you will find romance, glory, honor, fidelity, and the true way of all your loves upon earth” (J.R.R. Tolkien).  What riches, glory, and grace we possess in the treasury of our Catholic faith!  How good God is to us, who are so weak and so very much in need of His mercy and His love!

      We have been given a priceless gift, a matchless mystical medicine.  Yet it is not a thing but a Person: Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament.  He has promised to remain with us until the end of the world, in order to exhaust every effort in guiding us to Heaven, in securing our true peace and our only happiness.

     If we have been baptized into the Catholic Faith as infants and have spent our Sundays attending Mass, perhaps we have missed what many converts are so ecstatic about.  We are prone to a certain “house-blindness”, going through the motions of the Faith without bothering to scratch the surface.  But for those who are brave enough to venture farther than surface skimming, an entirely new chapter of their lives begins to unfold when the true reality before us is realized: The same Jesus we read about in the Bible, hear about in the readings of Mass, and watch movies about (if they are trendy enough) is the very same Jesus we receive and adore in the Most Blessed Sacrament.   

       Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity…..Stop for a moment and spend some time thinking about what this really means.  I adore Jesus’ Body in the Sacred Host?  At Mass I consume His Sacred Body?  I drink His Blood?  I receive His Soul into my Soul?  Somehow I receive His Divinity?  Could this be possible?  How could He deign to be so intimate with me, a poor sinner?

     It is something far beyond our comprehension, but it is true.  Not only are we able to receive Jesus in Holy Communion at each Mass as baptized Catholics in the state of grace, but we also have Him available in another very intimate way.  He remains with us so that we may come to Him and gaze upon Him, “Face to face,” in the Most Blessed Sacrament, solemnly exposed for adoration.

     St. Paul wrote about the transforming power of gazing upon Our Lord: “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into His likeness from one degree of glory to another” (2 Cor 3:18).  To spend time with Him is to become more like Him.

     We may find it difficult to believe that God has a vested interest in us, but He certainly does!  He loves us so much that He died for us.  Yet after His resurrection and His glorious ascension to the right hand of the Father, He did not want to leave us as orphans.  He has gone before us to prepare a place for us.  Even so, He desires at the same time to be intimately present to us.  He desires to show us that He is interested in every detail of our lives.  How does He do this?  He waits for a visit from us wherever He is present in the Holy Sacrament throughout the world.

For those who do not believe in the true presence of the Body & Blood, Soul & Divinity of Jesus Christ, God has granted many Eucharistic miracles.  The most famous is the Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano, Italy. In 750 AD a doubting priest noticed that the bread He consecrated turned into flesh and blood, actually the heart muscle.  The blood type is AB, the same as the blood of the Shroud of Turin.  For almost 13 centuries this flesh and blood has remained fresh and living.  Go to Lanciano, Italy and see for yourself.  There have been numerous Eucharistic miracles over the centuries.  Whenever the Eucharist turned into flesh, it was always heart muscle in extreme duress as on the cross and blood type AB.  With these miracles, our Lord is really telling us: “I love you so much that I give you my all, my very heart.  I want to be with you in Holy Communion”. 

    See https://www.churchpop.com/2015/06/28/5-extraordinary-eucharistic-miracles-with-pictures/ and

http://www.therealpresence.org/eucharst/mir/a3.html

For a video presentation on Eucharistic Miracles by Fr. Chris Alar M.I.C go to

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hJ1apYsc7RI&ab_channel=DivineMercy and

another video presentation with a scientific analysis by Dr. Taylor Marshall at

https://www.youtube.com/watch?=r2gtNiiMmzU&ab_channel=DrTaylorMarshall   

    The Church Has Always Adored Christ in the Eucharist (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1378-1380, 1418)

      “The Catholic Church has always offered and still offers to the sacrament of the Eucharist the cult of adoration, not only during Mass, but also outside of it, reserving the consecrated host with the utmost care, exposing them to the solemn veneration of the faithful, and carrying them in procession”.

  The tabernacle was first intended for the reservation of the Eucharist in a worthy place so that it could be brought to the sick outside of Mass.  As faith in the real presence of Christ in His Eucharist deepened, the Church became conscious of the meaning of silent adoration of the Lord present under the Eucharistic species.  It is for this reason that the tabernacle should be located in an especially worthy place in the church and should be constructed in such a way that it emphasizes and manifests the truth of the real presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.

      It is highly fitting that Christ should have wanted to remain present to His Church in this unique way.  Since Christ was about to take His departure from His own in His visible form, He wanted to give us His sacramental presence; since He was about to offer Himself on the cross to save us, He wanted us to have the memorial of the love with which He loved us “to the end”, even to the giving of His life.  In His Eucharistic presence He remains mysteriously in our midst as the one who loved us and gave Himself up for us, and He remains under signs that express and communicate this love.  To visit the Blessed Sacrament is…..a proof of gratitude, an expression of love, and a duty of adoration toward Christ our Lord” (St. Pope Paul VI).




Sunday, August 15, 2021

(255) The Battle of Warsaw a.k.a. The Miracle on the Vistula (Cud nad Wisła)..........How Mary Saved Central & Western Europe From Communism on August 15, 1920

 AMDG

A painting of the Battle of Warsaw, often Called the Miracle on the Vistula (Cud nad Wisła) August 15, 1920 exactly 101 years ago to the day (when this article was posted).  The Vistula River flows south to north past Krakow and Warsaw into the Baltic Sea.  Notice the image of Mary above the battle on the left.

HOW MARY SAVED EUROPE FROM COMMUNISM ON AUGUST 15, 1920

Did you know that all of Europe could have gone Communist in 1920 and Mary played a major part in saving a continent?  This is a chapter of Polish history which was eliminated from school textbooks during the years under Communism (1945 – 1989).  Let me tell you why. 

During the thick of World War I, the Germans sent Vladimir Lenin and other exiled revolutionaries to their native Russia to destabilize the country and knock it out of the war.  On October 25, 1917 just 12 days after the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima, the Bolsheviks fomented the Communist Revolution and seized control of Russia.  On March 3, 1918 they exited World War I eight months before the actual end by accepting the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk.  The Communists consolidated power and annexed neighboring countries to form the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (the USSR). 

After World War I finally ended with an armistice on November 11, 1918, Germany, Austria-Hungary, France, and the rest of Europe were devastated by the war and were weak both militarily and economically with considerable unemployment, hyperinflation, and unrest.  Communism advocated world revolution with dreams of eventually making the entire earth Communist.  Having had time to rearm, the Soviets saw opportunities for a Communist revolution in much of Europe. 

Europe was ripe for a Communist takeover in 1920.  Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, and other Communist leaders of Russia aspired to occupy Rome, Berlin, Paris, and all of Europe together with the workers and Communists of each country who they expected to revolt (the “Communist Revolution of the Proletariat”).  Under Béla Kun, the Communists had previously taken over Hungary on March 21, 1919 with a reign of terror which my father and Uncle Geza resisted as students until the “Lenin Boys” were driven out five months later. The Communists called religion the opiate of the masses which was met with the retort: “Communism is the opiate of the asses”.

Poland was granted its independence in late 1918 by the victorious Allies after having been divided up and absorbed by Russia, Prussia, and Austria for 125 years.  Because it did not exist as a nation, Poland was not on the map.  However, it was the Church and the love of Mary that provided a common bond which united the people to maintain their national and ethnic identity during those dark years.   

Newly independent Poland was trying to find its way as a nation with its new government in 1920.  Poland stood in the way of a Bolshevik onslaught across Europe and would provide avenues to the west (Berlin and Paris) and southwest (Rome).  A force of over 100,000 Soviet troops filled with revolutionary zeal under the command of General Mikhail Tukhachevsky advanced and were poised to conquer Warsaw.  Things looked very bleak for the outnumbered, weak, and under-equipped Polish forces.

General Władysław Sikorski with the staff of the Polish 5th Army during the Battle of Warsaw

In the meantime, the people of Warsaw were mobilized to defend the city and its survival as a nation was at stake.   Even women and boy scouts were used.  People were also mobilized to pray and the rosary was a big part of it.  Ethnic Poles all over the world prayed. 

Images of the Battle of Warsaw.  In the top left photo the Polish infantry is advancing.  The bottom left photo shows Polish soldiers marching to the front.  

Twenty veteran American pilots volunteered to fight for Poland as part of the Kościuszko Squadron.  Breaking the Soviet code, Polish forces under the command of General Józef Piłsudski were able to intercept Soviet communications and discover their strategy and positions.  Thus Piłsudski devised a counter strategy where he withdrew his best troops defending Warsaw and attacked from the rear, almost surrounding the Soviet forces. 


                           Polish troops during a lull in the Battle of Warsaw

For much greater battle detail, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Warsaw_(1920), https://www.crisismagazine.com/2012/how-the-poles-saved-civilization-part-i, and http://www.crisismagazine.com/2012/how-the-poles-saved-civilization-part-ii. Two fascinating videos include  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_SSaQbQiW9s, a documentary analysis of the battle and a 2 hour 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.

        It is said by Polish sources that a large image of Mary appeared over the Polish troops, as shown in the above painting, apparently aiding the Polish army.  Since most of the Soviet soldiers were raised in the Orthodox religion which ardently reveres Mary, this image caused great fear among them and many panicked……..surrendering or fleeing.  Some Soviet soldiers admitted the veracity of this account.


General Józef Piłsudski, Commander of the Polish Forces

Again because of the intercession of Mary, Poland saved European civilization and established its borders as an independent nation until the beginning of World War II in 1939 when Germany occupied western Poland and the Soviets occupied eastern Poland.  Today the Polish people call this the “Cud nad Wisła” or the “Miracle of the Vistula” that occurred on August 15, 1920, the Feast of the Assumption…….reminiscent of the many times that God came to the rescue of the Israelites with miraculous victories. 

Unlike King Sobieski (“I came, I saw, and God won”........see https://paulrsebastianphd.blogspot.com/2019/09/232-why-osama-bin-laden-chose-911-to.html) in the victory that repelled the invasion of Islamic Turkey and saved Europe in the Battle of Vienna on September 12, 1683…….General Józef Piłsudski and other secularist leaders attributed the astonishing victory not to God, but to their own skill and genius.  Sadly, the Communists attacked again 27 years later after World War II and took over Poland until 1989.

Lenin called it an enormous defeat…..some 20,000 dead, 33,000 wounded, and 66,000 captured compared to Polish losses of some 4,500 killed, 22,000 wounded, and 10,000 missing.   Thus he was resigned to develop socialism mainly in Russia and gradually in the rest of the world, fomenting its errors as Mary prophesized in Fatima in 1917. 

    The British diplomat Edgar Vincent, 1st Viscount D'Abernon regards this event as one of the most important battles in history on his expanded list of most decisive battles, because the Polish victory over the Soviets stopped the spread of Communism in Europe in 1920.

The main altar of the Black Madonna at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa or Jasna Góra.  Notice the crown she is wearing as Queen of Poland.  It is said that St. Luke painted it.  See “Everything you always wanted to know about Poland’s Black Madonna” at https://aleteia.org/2017/09/06/everything-you-always-wanted-to-know-about-polands-black-madonna/.

     No wonder Our Lady, the Virgin Mary was proclaimed the Queen of Poland (Najświętsza Maryja Panna Królowa Polski) by Pope Benedict XV in 1920 at the request of Polish bishops, although so recognized by the people since 1652.  Due to Mary's many battles over the centuries with Satan and the forces of evil, Bishop Robert Barron in his homily today in the Basilica of the Assumption in Baltimore referred to the Queen Mother of Christ the King as the "Warrior Queen". 



Saturday, June 26, 2021

(254) THE BAPTISMS OF TWO BABIES CREATED FOR ETERNITY........One in Byzantium (Byzantine Rite) and the Other in Rome (Latin Rite).......John Paul Herrera-Sebastian II and Anselmo Dante Spiotta Land Safely on Planet Earth and Expand the Sebastian Extended Family

AMDG

In the space of three days (May 26 & May 29) the Sebastian extended family quickly increased by two to eleven. The family gathers after the Baptism of Baby Anselmo Dante Spiotta.  From left to right are grandparents Paul & Jaga, Daniel, Stephanie, & Baby Anselm Spiotta; John-Paul I, Elizabeth, & Baby John Paul II; Joseph, and Naomi Sebastian Faro.  John Faro, a medical student at the University of Cincinnati, could not come due to an important capstone end of  the third year exam.

        When the Archangel Gabriel asked Mary if she would be willing to accept the great mission that God had for this young and simple virgin in her teen years and she gave her “Fiat” or "Yes" for the ages. He also informed her that her cousin Elizabeth was with child and was already in her sixth month. “Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste......” to help. In that same spirit Jaga with me tagging along traveled to Dallas to help our daughter-in-law Elizabeth and daughter Stephanie who were both with child. So began a ten week (May 1 to July 7) shuttle between the two homes a couple of miles apart.


Overdue and ready to be induced, John Paul takes his wife Elizabeth to the hospital.  Because of Covid-19 only her husband and mother were allowed to be with her.   

    On Monday evening May 24, already two days overdue, our son John-Paul took his wife Elizabeth Herrera-Sebastian to the hospital to be slowly induced because Dr. Carmichael didn't want the baby to be too big.  Our daughter Naomi, a labor & delivery nurse, gave Elizabeth some reassuring coaching through texting from Cincinnati while her mother Nancy Herrera was on the scene with her support. 

    After 46 hours of labor and suspenseful waiting......It's a boy!  John Paul and Elizabeth wanted the gender of the baby to be a surprise and indeed he was.  He's no longer "Little Nugget", his prenatal nickname, but John Paul Herrera-Sebastian II, who made his appearance on the world stage and came home this past Friday to a joyous welcome as Act 2 began in his life with his Mom directing. Elizabeth's theatrical plays at Nimitz High School are fantasy. This is for real as Baby John Paul will have many scenes full of adventures in his life.  A second John Paul entered the life of Elizabeth and her life has changed forever.

Elizabeth Herrera-Sebastian joyfully introduces to the world her new born son on May 26, John Paul Herrera-Sebastian II (a.k.a. a.k.a. JP, Juan Pablito, Jasiek, and Jasiu), both having come out of the ordeal like champions.

    Elizabeth came through it all like a champ with John Paul I and her mother, Nancy Herrera at her side.  On May 26 at 6:43 pm Baby John Paul Herrera-Sebastian II tipped the scale at 7 lbs 11 ounces....... 20.5 inches....... long fingers....... big Sebastian feet as expected (his father wears size 14 boats).  

"I might be sleeping, but I got home before you were born, Cousin Anselmo.  I’m looking forward to being your friend."

        They brought him home to a joyful welcome two days later.  We all took turns holding him, and thoroughly enjoyed it......Grandpa Tony and Grandma Nancy Baeza Herrera with daughter Victoria, Jaga, and I.  In the following days more relatives and friends came to take their turns holding this gift from Heaven......great-grandmother Agnes Herrera, great-grandmother Manuela Salas, great-grandfather Oscar Baeza, aunt Elaine Bowersock, cousin Jacob Bowersock, etc.

The JP2 Grandpa Club......Tony Herrera, Paul Sebastian, and great-grandfather Oscar Baeza, a career army veteran.

    With the compound last name, Tony Herrera has a grandson to carry on his family name.  We're very happy about that. My grandfather, Rev. Vladimir Mihalich had five daughters with no one to carry on his name. I did to some extent in Peru, signing all of my articles in the city's two newspapers as Pablo Sebastian Mihalich. It's customary in Hispanic countries for the child to carry the surnames of the father and the mother in that order.

      Including Herrera as part of the surname honors the Latin Amercan heritage of Baby John Paul II. That name honors his Polish heritage and the great St. Pope John Paul II (1920-2005) from Poland, now a canonized saint for the ages.  See  "Accomplishments of St.  Pope John Paul"

http://paulrsebastianphd.blogspot.com/2011/10/accomplishments-of-blessed-pope-john.html and "Memories of Seeing St. Pope John Paul II Three Times When He Visited Detroit September 1987"

http://paulrsebastianphd.blogspot.com/2012/10/memories-of-seeing-blesseed-pope-john.html.  Baby John Paul grandparents were there.  At the same time Baby John-Paul II was named after his father.

    One born, one more to go.  Anselmo already named was due on June 5.  So the day after little Juan Pablito came home, May 29, we were happy to have a few days to relax and enjoy him.  However, it seems, Anselmito didn't like the idea of being upstaged.  Stephanie came to greet her new nephew for the first time on that Saturday morning. However, since 9 am, Stefcia was starting to feel contractions and vomited.  She asked Jaga, her mother, to accompany her to her home and to the hospital when the time comes.    

    I started to write an e-mail requesting prayers, but after Stephanie took a shower as her sister Naomi suggested from Cincinnati, the frequency of Stephanie's contractions decreased.  Seeming like a false alarm, I got ready to take a shower myself and a text message came from Jaga: “Water bag broke. We're going to the hospital”.  

    It was a race against time and traffic. The contractions were getting more intense. They arrived at the hospital, a labyrinth of buildings in Fort Worth, with an entrance difficult to find. In the parking lot they somehow ran into their obstetrician, Dr. Melisa Weider, who led them to their room.   Later she related: "I wondered to myself what would have happened if I had not met them in the parking lot."  The doula, Kaitlyn G'sell admitted that she was nervous that the baby might be born in the car.  


Stephanie Sebastian Spiotta joyfully introduces to the world Anselmo Dante Spiotta (a.k.a. Elmo, Anselm, and Anselmito) on May 29.  Both mother and son came out of 
their 7½  hours of  labor beautifully.

      In contrast to Elizabeth........after 7½ hours of  labor it only took a couple of strenuous pushes and the baby popped out within half an hour with the support of her husband Daniel along with the coaching of her mother Jaga and the doula, Stephanie had a relic of St. Therese the Little Flower with her and prayed for a birth that was not too hard because she is too little for a difficult one.  

       Baby Anselmo landed on planet Earth at 4:24 pm, Saturday May 29. Jaga promptly sent another message as I finished my shower:  "Baby is here."  Wow!  This baby means business!......Anselmo Dante Spiotta checked in at 8 lb. 9 oz, 21 in, and of course, big Sebastian feet.

Baby Anselmo comes home.  “Here I am, folks!  I’m right behind you, Juan Pablito, three days after you were born and I’ll catch up.”  

     The name Anselmo Dante Spiotta honors his rich Italian heritage.  His patron saint to follow as a model is St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109), a noted Doctor of the Church and Archbishop of Canterbury, England.  Born in the Italian Alps, his birth name was Anselmo d'Aosta.  Among his more noted books is “Why God Became a Man”.  His theological method stressed by Augustine is “Faith Seeking Understanding”.  The latter by its Latin name is “Fides quaerens intellectum”, which is the motto on the emblem of Thomas Aquinas College, the alma mater of Baby Anselm’s mother.  For more detail on St. Anselm see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anselm_of_Canterbury.     

         Jaga, Joseph, and I helped to clean the Spiotta house the next day. Daniel's parents Ron and Anne Spiotta arrived early in the evening after a 14 hour drive from Chicago.  Daniel's brother Raymond was about to drive north to Chicago from Kansas, but instead went due south to Texas.  The next day May 31 there was another joyous welcome for mother, father, and Baby Elmo. Daniel's family and our complete family were there for a second joyful welcome.

Grandma Spiotta full of joy with her first grandson.  Notice the beautiful peony flowers she brought from her garden especially for Stephanie (one of her favorite flowers).  Ron and Anne enjoyed the scent throughout the 14 hour drive.  So little Elmo was born during the peony season.

     Joseph was already here since Baby Juan Pablito came home, doing his software development work for Epic from our bedroom which served as a makeshift office.  Naomi arranged her schedule and vacation time to be with us for these momentous occasions in our family, having arrived the previous night.  What does Naomi do as a labor & delivery nurse?  Take a look at her t-shirt: “We take people out of tight spaces.

    Grandpa Spiotta made an exquisite Heirloom Baby Cradle with a lot of love put into it not only for his first grandchild, but also for all of his grandchildren and great grandchildren that will follow.  It’s something out of pioneer days that you can’t buy anywhere. Ron Spiotta wrote a beautiful message for them to be handed down with the rocking cradle through many future generations of Spiottas.  See Ron Spiotta's message in its entirety in the Appendix and how he did it.  

     Ron leads a family office, which provides wealth management and financial administrative services for high net worth families.  Yet he has a remarkable versatility outside of finance to have fine woodworking as a hobby.  The heirloom baby cradle is in the photo below. 

Mom and Dad Spiotta admire their Baby Anselmo and his grandpa's work.

    Thank you, Lord for allowing me to live to see my first two grandchildren. What magnificent creations!  And God allows us to participate in them.  As He intended, each of our babies is the product of a man and a woman deep in love in complete mutual self-giving.......a certain reflection of the Holy Trinity.

Two new families and the two cousins meet......Daniel & Stephanie Sebastian Spiotta with Baby Anselmo; John Paul I & Elizabeth Herrera-Sebastian with Baby John Paul II.  

   The union of a microscopic sperm and ovum forms the baby's first cell, including the unique DNA molecule which has the complete complex program to form a unique little human being as a baby in the womb and after birth continue to develop him/her little by little into a mature adult while the parents provide loving care and food. Imagine, even if it were possible (of course it is not) to write a computer program to create a comparable robot.........that would require perhaps millions of lines of code. 

    God in His magnificent providence, planned and designed it all.......making the following Bible verse very true.

You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother's womb.

I praise you, so wonderfully you made me; wonderful are your works!

My very self you knew; my bones were not hidden from you,

When I was being made in secret, fashioned as in the depths of the earth.” (Psalm 139:13-15)

The two little angels seem to be flying with their wings as one asks the other, "Who are you, Bub?"  "Don't you know I'm your cousin?"  Baby Juan Pablito is on the left and Baby Anselmito is on the right.  May the two cousins be good friends for the rest of their lives.

    These two tiny babies really were created out of nothing for eternity as were their parents, grandparents, and ancestors dating back to Adam and Eve. The little baby has its intricate mechanisms and complex systems in place.......skeletal, circulatory, respiratory, digestive, nervous, reproductive, etc. and after further development able to think, to talk, to see, to hear, to express ideas, to feel, to walk, to run, to work, and to create. One must see design in it all.  For more detail see

"God's Most Magnificent Creation........From the Perspective of an Engineer........Design, Design: You are amazing; you are a walking miracle".

http://paulrsebastianphd.blogspot.com/2016/12/183-gods-most-magnificent-creationfrom.html

         Juan Pablito, one month old, learns how to smile, not only cry.    

    It's fascinating to watch the baby develop each month in the womb through ultrasound and after birth continue to develop physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually for the rest of his life. The human being is God's most marvelous work, created according to His own image and likeness for eternity, each with a special mission. The human being has added dignity because Christ, the Son of God suffered and died to redeem him/her. To destroy that marvelous work of God......that's the tremendous evil of abortion!


Their first Father’s Day together……John Paul I and John Paul II

      Multiple Languages. You may have noted above that both babies are addressed by their official names and alternate names depending upon the situation or context.  One is the language spoken.  Both babies will have at least some knowledge of three languages……English, Polish, and Spanish.  Grandpa Sebastian, Grandpa Herrera, Great grandmother Manuela, and others will speak to them only in Spanish.  John Paul, Stephanie, their mother Babcia Sebastian, and relatives will speak to them in Polish.

      According to research a child is capable of learning an unlimited number of languages and will not confuse one language with another as long as each person consistently speaks to the child in one and only one language.  Then the child identifies the language with the person.  

Three generations celebrate Father’s Day with a painting of the Holy Family behind them........Daniel & Baby Anselmo Spiotta and John Paul I & Baby John Paul II Sebastian with Grandpa Sebastian in the middle.

The Miracle of Baptism

        Our two babies were baptized, one in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church and the other in the Byzantine Rite, thus becoming baby Christians.........Anselmo Dante Spiotta on Friday June 4 in “Rome” at Mater Dei Latin Mass Parish in Irving, Texas and John Paul Herrera-Sebastian II the next day on his father's birthday in “Byzantium” at St. Basil the Great Ruthenian Byzantine Catholic Church also in Irving, a suburb of Dallas.  For an explanation of the rites of the Catholic Church to adapt to diverse cultures, go to  "The Diverse Rites of the Catholic Church........Our Byzantine Catholic Experience Deep in the Heart of Texas During the Eastertide"

https://paulrsebastianphd.blogspot.com/2021/05/251-our-byzantine-catholic-experience.htm 

        The bi-ritual Benedictine monk from New Zealand, Fr. Christopher Andrews baptized them both …....Anselmito in the Latin Rite and Juan Pablito in the Byzantine rite of the Catholic Church. He also married John-Paul and Elizabeth. 

The Byzantine Catholic Exorcism Ritual on Baby John Paul with Godmother Victoria Herrera and Fr. Christopher Andrews.

    Both baptisms have a short exorcism ritual of any possible evil spirit affecting the one to be baptized.  That makes sense when one considers that the devil (sometimes called accuser and divider) has been very active throughout history.......persecutions from shortly after Pentecost until now still intense, heresies, schisms, the negative consequences in the aftermath of the Protestant Reformation to Catholics and Protestants alike, internal corruption, plagues, human sacrifice, abortion, genocide, wars, conquest, revolutions, terrorism, slavery, racism, discord, exploitation of the poor, strikes, crime, the drug epidemic, family breakups, abuse of women and children, promiscuity, etc.......in sum, old fashioned sin while the Church miraculously survives crisis after crisis, century after century because Christ is always with us as He promised (Matthew 28:20).  The battle between good and evil is constant

Fr. Christopher Andrews baptizes Baby Anselmo Dante Spiotta in the Latin rite while his godfather Raymond Spiotta, godmother Claire Galin, and his parents look on.  Since Baby Anselm’s parents belong to Mater Dei Latin Mass parish, naturally the Baptism was also conducted in Latin. 

    In the Latin Rite the form is pouring water over the baby's head while saying “I baptize you Anselmo in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit”.  If a baby is in danger of imminent death and no priest is available, anyone can baptize using this form. 

Baby John Paul Herrera-Sebastian II is baptized by immersion up to his forehead in the Byzantine Rite by Fr. Christopher Andrews.

        In the Byzantine Rite the words are the same, but the baby is immersed in a large brass bowl of water, including his/her forehead. Then the baptized puts on a new robe or garment, signifying that s/he is a new person in Christ, aspiring to live a new and holy life.

The Anointing of Baby Anselm

    In both rites the baptized person is anointed with holy oils or chrism. That continues the Baptism of the Holy Spirit in anointing the baptized as priest, prophet, and king.........priest in the sense that we assist the priest in offering Christ in the Eucharist, prophet in the sense that we must speak for God with our witness and evangelize as revealed in the Bible, and king in the sense that we are to serve others as heirs of the Kingdom of Heaven and as heirs we have the authority and mission to restore God's proper order in society.


Baby John Paul with his godmother Victoria Herrera and godfather Joseph Sebastian at his side is anointed with the holy oils as part of the sacrament of Confirmation.  His parents look on.  

Baby John Paul in the arms of his godmother receives his First Holy Communion in the presence of his mother and altar server Andrew Gill. 

    Baby Juan Pablito received the three sacraments of initiation all at once.......Baptism, Confirmation to deepen the first sacrament, and the Eucharist with a morsel.  The child will make his/her first confession at about the age of seven or eight.  In the late 1990s we attended a Byzantine Catholic liturgy with Jaga holding our Baby Joseph.  The priest came through the standing room only congregation, dispensing Holy Communion.  We were taken by surprise when our Roman Catholic Joseph received his First Holy Communion at the age of one.

Parents and Priest consecrate Baby Anselm to Mary.

    At the end of the Byzantine liturgy, the priest raised Baby Juan Pablito over his head and processed with him around the altar, consecrating him to God the same as Mary and Joseph consecrated their first born to God in the temple.

Baby John Paul in the sanctuary being consecrated to the Lord  at the altar in front of the tabernacle  

    Godparents. Baby Anselmo's godfather is his Uncle Raymond Spiotta, brother of Daniel. His godmother is Dr. Claire Galin, a dear friend. 

From left to right are Godfather Raymond Spiotta, Anselm's father Daniel Spiotta, Fr. Christopher Andrews, mother Stephanie holding Baby Anselm, and Godmother Claire Galin. 

      Baby Juan Pablito's godfather is Joseph Sebastian, the kid brother of John-Paul. His godmother is Victoria Herrera, Elizabeth's sister.

Baby Juan Pablito's parents John Paul and Elizabeth Sebastian together with the godparents Aunt Victoria (holding her godson) and younger brother Uncle Joseph Sebastian.

         The godparents speak for the child in making the Baptismal promises……rejecting Satan and all his works (sin) and also to profess basic Catholic beliefs.

         Being asked to be a godparent is not simply an honorary formality, but a great responsibility, a lifelong commitment.  A godparent should supplement the baby's spiritual formation and more so if his/her parents are negligent in that regard.  For the rest of his/her life the godparent should keep in contact at least yearly and keep the child in his/her prayers.  Thus it is important to choose younger godparents who are faithful Catholics.  I should talk (that's easy); I lost contact with my goddaughter Alinda Alegre Chalco in Peru and must work on it. 

        Godparents are special and really become part of the extended family if not already a part. That link between parents and godparents solidifies the extended family.   In Latin America godparents become “compadres” or other parents.

  Baptism is the first of the seven sacraments.......outward signs instituted by Christ to give grace.  According to St. Pope John Paul II the Great, it is the most important of the sacraments. Christ instituted Baptism when He himself allowed St. John the Baptist to baptize Him (Matthew 3:11-17; Mark 1:4-11; Luke 3:15-22) to show His solidarity with the human race. At the same time, the Holy Spirit anointed Him as priest, prophet, and king. 

The sin of Adam and Eve was blatant disobedience, a rejection of God's word and acceptance of the deceitful words of the devil.  As a result all humanity was deprived of Heaven and the children of the first parents bear much of their shame for committing the original sin.  Thus every human being that comes into this world bears that stigma inherited from our first parents, a spiritual disease, a state or condition of sin, a propensity to sin with an absence of sanctifying grace or holiness.  This is called original sin.  

        It took a redeemer, namely Jesus Christ, the Son of God to make reparation for the original sin and all the sins of the world.  Christ instituted Baptism as a gift to be received by faith in order to wash away the stain of original sin and all other past sins, purify the soul, and instill in it a sharing of the divine life of God which is sanctifying grace.  The water is a sign of life and of cleansing.  Baptism opens the gates of Heaven to all who accept God and follow Him. 

       With Baptism one is reborn as an adopted child (son) of God, and united with Jesus into His death and Resurrection…..dying of the old self and rising to a new and fullness of life in Christ. 

   Baptism joins us to Christ’s priesthood as well as to His prophetic and kingly mission. Our priestly mission is to offer sacrifices to God……our good works, praise, our crosses (suffering), and participate with the priest at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  We share in Christ’s prophetic mission by being living witnesses to Him.  We are royal heirs to the kingdom of God.       

     Furthermore, the baptized person is initiated into the Church, which is the Mystical Body of Christ.  As St. Paul said, “We were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body” (1 Corinthians 12:13).  See https://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/sacraments-and-sacramentals/baptism .     

Is Baby Juan Pablito praying with a decade rosary?  May he frequently pray the Rosary as Our Lady of Fatima asked for the conversion of sinners and for world peace.  

    The two boys will never be so pure in their lives on this side of eternity. May each one of them, Anselm and John Paul, be always faithful to the Church and the special mission that God has for each one of them. May they lead their future siblings in that direction.


Everybody loves newly baptized Baby Juan Pablito, the center of attraction for the Sebastian-Herrera Extended Family.  Left to right are Daniel & Stephanie with cousin Baby Anselm Spiotta hiding in his blanket, Aunt Naomi Sebastian Faro, grandparents Paul & Jaga Sebastian, John-Paul & little brother Joseph Sebastian, Aunt Victoria Herrera with her godson Baby Juan Pablito and her big sister Elizabeth, grandparents Nancy & Tony Herrera, and Fr. Christopher Andrews.


John-Paul & Elizabeth with newly baptized Baby Juan Pablito flanked on the left by cousin Jacob Bowersock soon to be a West Point plebe.  On the right are the two great grandmothers, Manuela Salas and Agnes Herrera followed by Elaine Bowersock, Elizabeth's aunt.

John-Paul & Elizabeth Sebastian with their heavenly gift and Tony Herrera's lovely sisters.......Stella on the left with Christina and their mother Agnes at his side.

        For more photos of the birth and baptism of Baby John Paul, you may request a large collection of photos and videos from his mother, Elizabeth Herrera-Sebastian.  Her e-mail address is: “Elizabeth Herrera-Sebastian” <eherrera1@udallas.edu>. 


What's the old man doing?  Reading to his son Anselm?  Doesn't look like a story book.  OK then, multitasking!  Early exposure to Shakespeare?  That's the way to study for a PhD........get this future scholar to help his father!  Actually Daniel is re-reading Shakespeare's "King Lear" in preparation for the in-person class he's teaching at the Catholic University of Dallas.  Daniel's dissertation topic is on the works of Shakespeare, who some scholars believe was a closet Catholic in Elizabethan England.
   
The Spiotta Family increases by one.  From left to right Ron & Anne Spiotta, Stephanie & Daniel Spiotta with  Baby Anselmo, and Raymond Spiotta.


The Spiotta-Sebastian Extended Family.  From left to right Raymond Spiotta, Ron & Anne Spiotta, Daniel & Stephanie with Baby Anselmo, Jaga & Paul Sebastian, Joseph Sebastian, Elizabeth & John Paul Sebastian with Baby John Paul, and Naomi Sebastian Faro.  Missing is John Faro, a medical student at the University of Cincinnati, who could not come because of the very important capstone exam after the third year.  

 For more photos of the birth and Baptism of Anselmo Dante Spiotta, write “Daniel Spiotta” djspiotta22@gmail.com. 


APPENDIX

Mama Stephanie admiring her baby Anselmo and the Heirloom Baby Cradle built by his paternal grandfather, Ron Spiotta.


Ronald J. Spiotta

“Heirloom Baby Cradle”

Woodsmith Magazine – Issue 48

May 15, 2021

TO MY GRANDCHILDREN

         This Heirloom Baby Cradle was handcrafted by me, Ronald J. Spiotta. It is constructed from solid 4/4 walnut, and was completed on May 15, 2021. The cradle plans were originally published in Woodsmith Magazine, Issue No. 48 (December 1986).

        When our oldest son, Raymond, was still in the womb 33 years ago, I purchased from Woodsmith Magazine the “Heirloom Cradle Kit,” consisting of 22 spindles and 6 knobs. I intended to build this cradle for Ray in 1988 – but only after completing the changing table I was then making to match a hutch that Anne’s dad (Paul Maxwell) made for her in 1981.

        By the time I finished building Raymond’s changing table, it was obvious that the cradle could not be completed before Ray would outgrow it. So, I literally shelved the project, putting the spindle kit in my woodshop cabinet … and I waited … for over three decades!

        In October 2020, upon learning that Daniel & Stephanie were expecting their first child in June 2021, I recovered the spindle kit from my woodshop cabinet and committed to build the cradle for my grandkids instead of for my own kids.

        Soon thereafter, I began studying the published plans, devising my modifications thereto, and developing a production program. Walnut stock was purchased on January 15, 2021, and construction began in February, as time permitted. 

            This cradle was by far the most challenging of my woodworking projects – and in myriad ways, it was the most satisfying. Excepting the lathe, every single power tool in my woodshop was utilized in the cradle’s creation. Many new construction processes, joinery techniques, and finishes were employed in achieving the final product. Very fun! 

            Most delightful, however, is the hope that this “Heirloom Baby Cradle” will become just that – a Spiotta Family Heirloom to be shared by Daniel and Raymond (and their progeny) as future generations of Spiottas are rocked to soothing slumber within the lovingly-built basket of this cradle. 

A MESSAGE FROM MY HEART TO MY GRANDCHILDREN AND THEIR CHILDREN 

           Although you will have no memory of spending any time in this cradle, know this: Your Grandpa built this cradle with you in mind, and the basket in which you slept was filled with my love for you.

          Anne and I have been praying for you from before you were even a twinkle in your parents’ eyes. It has been our fervent prayer: 

§ That you will grow up “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)

§ That in God’s perfect time, you will repent of your sin and cry out to the Lord Jesus Christ for mercy, grace, and redemption – for “there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) 

§ That, like Jesus, you will keep “increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” (Luke 2:52) 

§ That you will become a godly man or woman: embracing the gospel, zealous for the glory of Jesus Christ, and pursuing a life empowered and controlled by the Holy Spirit. 

        In Psalm 139 King David records a beautiful expression of God’s majestic, omnipotent, and creative power. Anne and I have marveled at these verses for a very long time – since the days our children, Raymond and Daniel, were yet in the womb. Even now, decades later as our first grandchild is being prepared by the Father to commence “the days that were ordained for me,” our marvel is rekindled afresh!

            Psalm 139:13-18 – 

            13 For Thou didst form my inward parts;

Thou didst weave me in my mother’s womb.

14 I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

Wonderful are Thy works,

And my soul knows it very well.

15 My frame was not hidden from Thee,

When I was made in secret,

And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth.

16 Thine eyes have seen my unformed substance;

And in Thy book they were all written,

The days that were ordained for me,

When as yet there was not one of them.

17 How precious also are Thy thoughts to me, O God!

How vast is the sum of them!

18 If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.

                               When I awake, I am still with Thee. 

           May you never cease to wonder at the mighty, magnificent, and skillful craftsmanship with which God wove you together and imparted life to both body and soul …

         May your heart cry out with David’s: “Wonderful are Thy works, and my soul knows it very well!” … 

            May you cling to God’s infinite thoughts as intimately precious … and … 

            May you rejoice that He is still with you when you awake from sleep in your cradle.