To commemorate this feast, let me hold out a candle and shed light on another crime that has been wounding our Mother Church. As our Lord had warned: there is nothing done in secret that will not be revealed.
The truth will set you free, and truth is: arguably one of the most terrible ongoing failures of Pope Francis has been his dealings with Communist China. Yet, Pope Francis is in the unique and powerful position to solve this disaster, if he would only choose to. It has become apparent he lacks the will, and his mishandling here has harmed many in the Church. Perhaps my family background (Catholic-Chinese-Vietnamese) makes this hit closest to home, and perhaps I know not all the facts, but here are indeed troubling implications that must be known so that we can fast and pray all the more for our Pope:
Moreover, it is concerning that the entire China Deal was drafted and signed without any input from legitimate Chinese Catholic bishops and cardinals (where’s subsidiarity in that?). That McCarrick was involved should have rendered the deal suspect and worthy of a second look, but instead the Pope has moved forward with it, despite protests from his persecuted Chinese cardinal and his persecuted Chinese sheep under an emboldened Communist president (people are dying). Though “provisional” in status, the deal’s done nothing good for the Church in China, and yet it remains, and remains a useful tool to the Communists who continue using it to draw out confused Catholics from the underground Church.
The China Deal has zero merit, and it is increasingly obvious. Because it is now even obvious to a simpleton like me, it is only a matter of time until other communist countries (i.e., Vietnam, North Korea) catch on that they too can get away with culling the Church’s children without the shepherd of Rome even lifting his staff:
I love the pope and pray for him everyday, but because of what I now know, I sadly cannot trust him. May Mother Mary severely discipline all disciples who have become lazy servants, “beating the menservants and the maidservants, eating and drinking and getting drunk” because of our Master’s delay (Luke 12:41-48). With our Blessed Mother’s help, may we all become good and faithful servants, doing whatever He tells us.
UPDATE 2/14/2020: Cardinal Zen gives this thorough interview with EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo:
Over the years of reading and viewing the testimonies of several exorcists, I have realized that the more I was aware of the Evil One, the more I knew his limitations, weaknesses, and powerlessness against our Lord Jesus. Rather than increase my fear, knowledge of Satan’s abilities and tricks actually increased my confidence in the Catholic Church and her King. Because of this, I am sharing these best-of-the-best resources of exorcism experiences, hoping they help you as much as they have helped me grow in faith.
Many exorcists have a police officer present during the diagnosis process, or even during the ritual. Jesse Romero is one such [former] officer, and his experiences are riveting:
Demonology is not a common specialization for laypersons, but Adam Blai is not a common layman. His work as a demonologist has been a great aid to many exorcists, and his interview by Patrick Coffin (of prior Catholic Answers fame) is deeply informative:
Father Cliff Ermatinger’s presentations through the 2015 Miles Christi Conference are exceptional and should be listened to carefully at full length (available here for purchase, set #23). Here is a brief sample:
As for The Conjuring, arguably the most popular recent exorcism movie series, please see my review here.
But Netflix is a hypocrite. It’s not really serious about abortion rights. Because if it were, it wouldn’t be streaming pro-life movies like I Am Mother. That’s right, Netflix actually streams a very pro-life, very anti-abortion movie. If Netflix doesn’t realize its contradictory stance, then it’s either simply hypocritical, or incredibly ignorant of its own content, or it’s secretly anti-abortion. I’m not sure what they are, but here are the pro-life signs from their recent critically acclaimed hit film itself:
The film presents a feminine-voiced robot as a mechanical mother tasked with raising a baby girl. In fact, every mother figure in this film is female/feminine. In our LGBTQRSTUV+ conscious culture, why is the mother presented as womanly and feminine? Why do advanced, super artificial-intelligence robots of the future use old-fashioned traditional family roles in its attempt to raise the perfect human? Hint: because that’s how humans are meant to be best nurtured.
There’s no mistake that motherhood is the theme of the film (the title?). But notice the plot twist: Mother-Bot has been long terminating human girls when they failed to qualify for continued existence. Mother-Bot administers tests on her daughters, and only raises the current protagonist because she has been passing. When we find that other girls had been gestated, born, raised, tested, failed, and then incinerated, we sense the film wants us to feel horrified. The fact that we don’t know how many girls have been burned to bones alludes even more to the fact that we may perhaps never know how many girls have been aborted in our world (in China alone, its missing an estimated 30-50 million girls. Talk about an actual war-on-women).
But back to the film: so what if Mother-Bot terminated some girls during gestation? So what if Mother-Bot discovered a mutation, or a disease, or some other condition the unborn baby had, and then deemed her unqualified for the perfect life (whatever perfect even means)? What difference is there between terminating the girl then or terminating later? The motive is the same: the girl is not good enough.
Here we see a commentary on the rampant objectification of girls and women in our culture. If she isn’t beautiful enough, hot enough, smart enough, small enough, skinny enough, et cetera enough, then she’s not worth it. If she doesn’t make me happy enough, proud enough, successful enough, then she’s something I must destroy. I decide if her life is worth the work I need to put in. –Mother-Bot
But why does the film try to make us sense this mentality is horrific? If abortion is a woman’s right (as Netflix claims), then why is Mother-Bot not just an everyday hero doing what every mother should be free to do? Sure, you can say it’s because the baby isn’t actually inside Mother-Bot, but Mother-Bot even says in the film that she is more than just one robot, she is all of them, and the entire gestation/nursery facility, by extension. She runs everything, so actually Daughter is very much inside Mother-Bot, using her resources, time, energy, and space. And that relates very much to the argument for abortion-after-birth that is getting popular among many politicians of a certain political party: John Rogers (AL), Governor Northam (VA), Del. Tran (VA). After all, born babies keep using their mother’s resources, time, energy, and space… for years and decades.
So point made: real motherhood is not about killing one’s children. We see this argued for by Daughter when she is upset about her culled siblings. If termination wasn’t bad, why all the outrage and fear from Daughter? Remember, Daughter is human: she is the protagonist who represents us in the film, as fellow humans who are pro-life/dignity/children/parenthood. Mother is the cold, mechanical, utilitarian, false-motherhood antagonist who is pro-choice/abortion. The choice is easy: be like Daughter!
If that’s not enough signs of the film’s pro-life message, consider how the myriad fetuses are addressed: they’re called brothers and sisters. Including the unborn embryos! Their not called “clumps of cells”, or “potential people”, or merely “products of conception”. They are already family members.
Additionally, quite a few Catholic symbols appeared both prominently and subtly in I Am Mother. Obviously, the rosary (as our Blessed Mother’s prayer), and the Marian icons (in the shipping container where the woman lived), but also that Daughter becomes the mother-figure for her newborn brother. Daughter, in a sense, is the virgin mother of the baby boy. For any astute Catholic, that’s an obvious reference to the only real-life Virgin Mother. Sadly, where the film is going with all this religious motherhood imagery is still lost on me, so if you have any insights, I’d be glad to hear it.
On a related note, there’s also the issue of manufacturing children and growing them in gestation machines (as opposed to to conceiving children and carrying them in their mothers’ wombs). I’ve been mulling on writing something about this topic for a while, so this is a sign for me to get it out. But before it gets written, please see #3-4 above for arguments closely relevant, and also my philosophy thesis discussing the humanity and absurd predicament of frozen embryonic children.
So there we have it. Signs strongly suggesting that Netflix is flip-floppy about its abortion advocacy. Sure, boycott a pro-life state, but don’t boycott a pro-life movie streaming from your own collection? Come on. Just come out and say it: Netflix is secretly anti-abortion (or at least conflicted).
So I just spent approximately six hours of my life watching Infinity War and Endgame, and here are the most meaningful moments I noticed–mostly hinted in Infinity War, and fully displayed in its sequel.
The overarching theme of the films revolves around Thanos’ goal: controlling overpopulation. This applies to our society today, considering many politicians and scientists who claim the world will end unless our numbers are drastically cut. They tout the necessity and value of sterilization, contraception, euthanasia, and abortion. However, Thanos brings it all together to the logical conclusion, and from this epic, we see truly the flaws of this overpopulation control: it is unjustifiable and unheroic. Let me explain with examples from the films: [First], the longer abortion is promoted, the more we reach Thanos’ coveted ratio: 50% decimation. In America alone, the ratio is already currently 1/6 (missing 50 million out of 300 million)! If this trend continues, we’ll be at 1/2 soon. So, do we really want to fulfill Thanos’ dream in our reality? Especially when we’re so invested in the Avengers countering his actions? Don’t we want to imitate the Avengers and end this legalized decimation? [Second], many who support abortion and population culling may claim that this mischaracterizes their goal since living people were just abruptly wiped out in the film, whereas abortion in reality is more tolerable since those lives never even got to start living, thus if they never got to live, it doesn’t cause any suffering to anyone: they don’t miss us, we don’t miss them, because we never got to meet. But, here’s where Thanos comes in: after realizing the inability of the surviving Avengers to accept his necessary evil of 50% decimation, Thanos revises his scheme. He will destroy 100% of life in the universe, and then recreate new life that is oblivious to the fact that there was life before it. In short, Thanos thinks that ignorance will make the universe’s recreated inhabitants gratefully accept his benevolent decimation, sort of saying: “If I never knew what I lost, I’d be happy, so that’s all that matters.” Yet this fails to satisfy the Avengers’ morality, and more importantly, this fails to satisfy audience’s morality. We know in our rational core that this remains evil, and ignorance is not a tolerable solution.
And just in case we still couldn’t tell the Avengers are pro-life (although some of the actors contradict themselves here): when Warmachine hatches the idea of time-traveling to abort or murder baby-Thanos, the rest of the team not only dismiss the idea, but revolt against it. They rightly protest the idea of assassinating a young, innocent Thanos, because such a Thanos simply remains innocent of his future undecided crimes! This reminds me of when certain people pilloried a political commentator for defending another baby before his possible-future-undecided crimes, when actually he was just arguing the same thing the Avengers would in Endgame. Have a listen to Ben Shapiro’s point here, and why the logic of aborting criminals (while they are innocent infants) is unethical and absurd.
One of the most moving moments of Endgame must be Natasha’s martyr-like self-sacrifice, and Clint’s competing with her for the mission. This scene drew some sort of moisture from my eyes, because I saw that this is how we are called to live and die, especially as Christians. If only we all fought to die for one another like these two did. Truly an inspirational moment here, and one that applies not only to times of great struggle, but also to moments that only seem mediocre. Get your tissues (or sleeve) ready for this scene.
Another great moment was when Hulk/Banner realized that there was no mistake with his Jekyll-Hyde condition; there was a meaning, a purpose. He volunteers to use the Infinity Stone gauntlet to snap the decimated 50% back into life, knowing that doing so would cripple him as it did Thanos when he had snapped that same 50% into death. Banner says, upon realizing that he alone must do this: “The radiation [from the stones] is mostly gamma. It’s like I was made for this,” meaning that his radioactive condition happened so he could rise to this challenge. Banner [the super scientist] understands here that everything truly does happen for a reason.
Speaking of everything happening for a reason: notice how traditional the Avengers are. Each one of them either gives up marriage to be celibate and serve others with their lives, or they marry, start a family and have children the natural organic way. Stark and Potts, Clint and Nicole, Rogers and Carter. Their relationships are healthy, wholesome, and heartening. In a culture so confused about marriage, family, and children, this reminder in the film is subtle and important, but very needed.
[Some quality daddy-daughter time.]
After overcoming the final battle with Thanos, Clint mentions that he wishes Natasha somehow knew they had succeeded, that her sacrifice was not in vain. Wanda responds that Natasha does know, even though she had been long dead. This hints at the reality of an afterlife, a life that is beyond the physical universe, and in our current hyper-materialistic culture, any reminder of this reality is welcome.
Which leads into what will happen to us at the end of time, the end of this material universe. Endgame‘s ending depicts the joy of reuniting with long-lost loved ones, with the global (and even universal) reunion of all. The cathartic joy in the film is palpable, and I don’t recall any popular film that presents this universe-wide reunion so well. In our true Christian faith, the film’s ending hints at the coming communion of saints, the resurrection of the dead, and the life everlasting, where we who have chosen God will have the life, the family, and the love that He has originally made us to know. For more about this epic reunion, please see here where I daydream how the New Heaven and New Earth might be like. It’s really the only thing worth daydreaming about, and unlike Endgame, it’s only the beginning of a far better life than any human could dream up, because it’s God’s dream for us.
In the last few weeks, there’s been a ton of yelling and shouting about the immigration system and situation in America. But sadly, because our national discussions are manipulated by an unreliable media, all this attention will be replaced in a few weeks with another topic–whatever topic makes the media more money. Think about it! What topic was dominating our time and minds just a few months ago?* And today nobody in media remembers or cares.
So before immigration is replaced with another money-making topic, let’s order things out and think through the deeper issues that all the hateful yelling and ad hominems are smothering:
Asylum seekers do not want to come to America. Some might, but they all want their own nation of origin to have been worth staying in. Refugees wish they never had to leave their homeland. Nobody desires to abandon and forsake the country of their culture! When my parents (and hundreds of thousands of other refugees of the Vietnam War) escaped to America, they longed for freedom and dignity to determine their lives. If Vietnam was a free country, with human rights respected, nobody would have risked death crossing jungles and oceans to find freedom elsewhere. So the deeper crisis is how to help nations of origin improve their economies, governance, and societies so that their own citizens are glad to stay and build up their nation. Just imagine how bad the reality must be for refugees to flee the only home they’ve known! If we don’t think creatively and effectively here, then we’re not solving any core problems–we’re just putting bandages on a busted Titanic. America cannot physically and realistically take in every Earthling–even if she wanted to–and especially when so much of the rest of the world is gorgeous but tragically doomed because of corruption and poverty. But corruption and poverty are solvable through hard work! Let’s stop overthinking how to bandage the sinking ship, and focus on how to prevent ships from hitting icebergs, and then people will stop desperately resorting to lifeboats because their own ship is in great shape! Long-term solutions typically have long-term results.
America is not safe for anyone. There is a secret system of legalized prejudice and murder in this country responsible for at least 50 million victims since 1973. Anyone serious about welcoming immigrants and refugees must be even more serious about abortion, or else risk being a hypocrite. How can we say we care for those in danger when we allow children to be murdered in hospitals and clinics? How can we fight for children being separated from their mothers when we already allow children to be slaughtered from the womb of their mothers? If we want America to be a land of welcome to every human life, then we must actually welcome every human life. That’s only consistent and to be expected. We can start by diverting federal funding for abortion (millions of bucks) to helping refugees and Americans in need (babies and struggling parents included). If we do not generously love our own children, then how can we… (finish the logical conclusion).
America is not at her best right now. For our nation to be even better, she needs to know Christ and His Church. The only reason why we have a culture and civilization that seeks to care for the suffering and the struggling is because Jesus Christ taught us to (and slowly His teaching became general civil law). So do not think we will solve this situation, nor any situation, without God. We need prayer to replace all the shouting and attacking. If only the most vociferous and outspoken among us and in government and media were just as insistent with their prayer life… if only…
In 1830 France, our Blessed Mother went out of her way to design a medal for us earthlings. That’s right: there’s a medal in our Catholic Christian heritage that originated from Heaven–truly out of this world.
Popularly known as the Miraculous Medal, the Medal of the Immaculate Conception (Nov. 28th feastday) has the reputation of working wonders for those who live or seek a life of faith in Jesus Christ. Basically, the medal is a sign we can wear to remind us who our Mother is, what it means to be her children, and how to follow her Son–our Lord. I myself have worn the same Miraculous Medal for over five years now; I intend to wear it for the rest of my life. I’m sure I will eventually know how this sign of faith has helped me, but for now, let me share how it has truly been miraculous for these two sons who did not know her Son:
A Jewish man who became an atheist has a crisis of meaning in his life. He meets a beautiful woman, knows intuitively that she is from Heaven, and asks if she has a favorite prayer. What she eventually admits is the very same prayer on the Miraculous Medal: O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee. But don’t settle with my measly summary, have a listen for yourself!
An ex-Satanic high wizard receives a Miraculous Medal and is pulled out of Satan’s slavery. The Blessed Virgin Mary recruits him to join her Son’s army instead. But like I said above, don’t take my summary as is; listen for yourself! And trust me, just have a listen…
So there! Two testimonies about why you don’t meddle with this Medal. It’s connection to the super-saint (Mary) means you should respect it, wear it, and pray it. In fact, it’s probably my most often used prayer, and I customize it most of the time, replacing the us with any specific names of persons I know who need her prayer and power. Example: O Mary, conceived without sin, please pray for Pope Francis who has recourse to thee.
And now allow me to introduce Rosa MysticaMedals, a small family business based in Atlanta, GA that salvages and recasts replicas of traditional medals so that we can enjoy them today (they definitely make medals like they used to!). Rosa Mystica was kind and generous enough to send me a sterling silver antique Miraculous Medal to review, and I must say that I am very impressed with the quality of the cast (made in Murica). Please visit their site and have a look at their extensive collection, and pray for their continued success!
Today, for the Feast of Mother Mary’s birthday (every September 8th!), I decided to take a break and celebrate with a show: The Nun (a prequel to the excellent Conjuring movies). Though I had high expectations for the film, and was disappointed, it did leave me with enough surprises to merit a review! Here’s what’s worth sharing:
The Nun is Marian… very Mary focused! Throughout the film, we hear the Ave Maria (Hail Mary) prayer in LATIN, almost constantly! And not only are the characters praying Rosaries to fight off evil, a statue of our Blessed Mother actually (and literally) points the way to Jesus. So, I was very happily surprised to see the Divine timing here (today is Mary’s birthday, after all).
And the Divine timing continues: during the last month, the scandal in the Catholic Church has been rising to terrible heights. We see in our present time that hell has hijacked our priests, bishops, and perhaps even our Pope. We see Satan has taken on the look of our ordained servants of Christ and His Church, and have corrupted the image of the holy priesthood. We see in this movie the same: a demon has disguised itself as a deformed nun, using the distortion to terrorize us. May we not let this deception of Satan continue!
Lastly, the film started drawing some tears from me when the lead character–Sister Irene–decides to profess her final vows amidst terrible evil attacking her. You would think that any sane woman would flee if she knew that the closer she drew to Christ, the more Satan would attack her. But not so for Sister Irene: she knows the truth that Satan would keep attacking anyway, and that her love for Christ was worth the onslaught.
Which leads to Sister Irene being a bride of Christ “worthy of carrying something so sacred” as the Precious Blood of Jesus. Here, the priest in the film surrenders the care of the holy relic of Christ’s Blood to Sister Irene. And of course, she knows how to use this relic, and isn’t afraid to! But even how exactly she uses Christ’s Blood to defeat the demon is insightful:
She puts the Precious Blood into her mouth (as in receiving Holy Communion). By doing so, this allows her to ambush the demon with the secret weapon. The symbolism shouldn’t escape us: when we receive the Eucharist worthily, we all become bearers of the secret weapon against hell.
So, the Nun was an overall surprise for me, especially during the current crisis in our Church. The movie could have easily taken advantage of the evil events plaguing us today, but decides to show us a Church with good nuns and priests who are doing their job following Jesus: caring for souls and fending off the true wolves in wool.