Mary Points the Way

the-nun-movie-posterToday, 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:

—SPOILER ALERT—

  1. 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).
  2. 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!
  3. 5b9148b872977-imageLastly, 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.
  4. 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:
  5. 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.e2842e035b9195c11199d2-31682311_

Note: see here for another positive review.

 

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Wolves in Wool

NOTICE: any minors who read and are affected by this article, please talk immediately with your parents or any trusted adult about what you feel and think.

Our Lord warned us they would come–wolves dressed in wool, disguised as priests, and even as bishops, but actually minions of Satan working to deceive and sow dissent. Jesus went so far as to give us examples in Judas Iscariot, and also St. Peter (before his repentance).*

The brutally bare warnings are throughout the New Testament, but my personal fave (if there must be such) is from the repentant St. Peter himself (2 Peter 2:1-2):

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their licentiousness, and because of them the way of truth will be reviled.

The rest of the passage is even more brutal, yet this is my favorite passage on false shepherds because it comes from a man who denied our Lord, knows the terror and despair of denying Christ, and returns to the Church to strengthen us evermore as our first pope (Luke 22:31-32):

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren.”

This gives me hope that despite the vomit-inducing evils of some members of our Church leadership, the grace to repent and convert exists for them and for all of us sinners.

paedophileThat being said, I must also clearly say that any child or young person who has been harmed in any way (mentally, physically, spiritually) by any cleric/teacher must not only inform their parents immediately, but must also report everything to police without delay–even if it happened long ago. Tragically but realistically, we can no longer only trust our Church’s authorities to protect our most vulnerable; we must also turn to civil law and authorities (yes, call 911).

After scandal after scandal, cover-up after cover-up, victim after victim, and even a full-length film, I can no longer in good conscience remain publicly silent about this filth in the Church (quoting Pope Benedict XVI). My students, the youth I mentor, and my god-children (and all adults who love them) deserve to know the truth and how to hold abusers accountable. We must not fear any threats from any abuser! Criminals frighten victims because they are afraid of what victims can do to them. Criminals actually fear victims because they do not want to face justice. Helping false shepherds keep their evils a secret only encourages their abuse to continue, and even keeps them from a chance to repent.

We must help the Church clean house. And mark my words: if any of my beloveds are abused by false shepherds and teachers, I will not hesitate to report everything to police. That is a promise to my Lord and my God, and to the little ones and to the Church that He loves.

Mother Mary, protect us and keep up close to your Son, especially those furthest from Him.

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For more information on this filth, please see these articles (click author names for full statements):

  1. Dr. Janet Smith: It is very painful for any Catholic to learn of the shocking and immoral behavior of Cardinal McCarrick, which exploited, violated and betrayed the trust of so many young men. Even more appalling is the fact that his success in the Church reveals a continued existence of a culture within the Church that permits such behavior to take place and prevents it from coming to light. Bishops, priests, religious and laity must band together to find a way to eradicate what has been repeatedly spoken of as a network of homosexuals who abuse people and who control too much of what goes on in dioceses, orders, and even in the curia.
  2. Christopher R. Altieri: At a bare minimum, you must see to it that the children and young people everywhere are safe, and that vulnerable people are protected; that no seminary should become or continue to be a farm for perversion, nor any chancery or chapter a hotbed of corruption and disorder – for, so long as they are, parishes and schools and oratories cannot fail to become playgrounds for perverts. I say again: it is your duty to see, and to act – even to see and to denounce your brother bishops’ failures and misdeeds and miscarriages of duty when and where you do see them.
  3. JD Flynn: But when a bishop behaves with sexual immorality, the effects ripple across his entire diocese. Priests and seminarians who object to that sexual immorality leave quickly, or find themselves marginalized. Those who rise to leadership positions are those who are left: those who are willing to accept the bishop’s sexual immorality, those who are complicit in it, or those who are too naive to notice it. Those in the first two categories, being willing to accept some rejections of Catholic teaching, are usually also likely to accept other rejections of Catholic teaching. That can be reflected in their pastoral leadership and catechesis, and consequently, an entire diocese can be formed with a theological perspective framed by relativism, tolerance of immorality, or compromise. The effects of a bishop’s sexual immorality can lead to spiritual and catechetical decline across an entire diocese.

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*A possible reason Jesus gave us the example of Judas and pre-repentant Peter: to show us that we are all capable of betraying and denying Him, and to rely on His grace to not fall away, and to repent if we do. Moreover: to show us that our faith, hope, and love must be in Jesus alone–not in any mere man, even if he is a priest/bishop/pope.

Chris Pratt is Wrong (a little)

jurassic_3So it’s no surprise the famed Chris Pratt is a believer, and a brave believer! He went before a public audience and shared (in between jokes and sarcasm) that:

  1. We have a soul, and it must be cared for.
  2. God exists, and He is love.
  3. We must pray. MUST.
  4. We are imperfect, and God’s grace is sufficient for us. Anyone who says we are perfect the way we are is deceived, or lying.

Please watch his award speech if you haven’t already. It really is something! But while you listen, see if you can pick out his small error that can have huge negative consequences on our Christian faith.

Now believe me, I hate being a nit-picker, but as soon as I heard Pratt’s error, I couldn’t ignore it. I tried ignoring the whole past week, but I would remember it and shudder… until now I must say something. I believe that’s how the Holy Spirit usually works on me; He nags my conscience and makes it obvious I must respond.

So here goes: at the 3:33 mark, Pratt says “there is a powerful force that designed you [as imperfect].” THAT IS NOT TRUE. Everything else Pratt says about God (and about feeding meds to dogs, and pooping, and helping others, and being a turd) is true, but NOT THIS.

God did not and does not make us imperfect. He absolutely did not design us that way. Instead, sin made us imperfect. From Original Sin* to each personal sin we commit: a little bit of us dies with every sin we choose. When we commit venial sins, a bit of us dies, and when it’s a mortal sin, a huge chunk of us dies.

Our sins deform us, like drugs and alcohol in the womb of a mother. Our sins corrupt us, like lies and evil in our minds. Our sins fool us, like pride and selfishness, into thinking we are the most important person in our lives. Sin makes us imperfect, and God’s grace, given to us through the precious blood of Christ, pulls us out of sin so that we can choose to live forever in HIS perfection, in a perfection that goes beyond perfection, forever better than perfect.

If you’re curious why God would even allow us to freely sin, please see my post on the Lego Movie.

So I hope that clears things up, because I haven’t seen anyone call Pratt out on this little error (with big ripples). May God continue blessing Pratt and his beloveds, and all his fans, and may Pratt continue glorifying God more and ever more!

Image: 2018 MTV Movie And TV Awards - Show

*Original Sin was a doozy: it took out the entire human race until Jesus nuked it with His Passion and Resurrection. While Original Sin can now be washed away in Baptism and free us for Heaven, its vestiges still linger in biological disease, concupiscence, psychological disorders, etc.

The Snow Children: Human Life from Zygote to Zombie

SnowChildrenSince completing my MA Theology thesis on Our Lady of the Eschaton, I just thought I’d finally get around to sharing the thesis from my past B. Philosophy studies as a seminarian (2015), fully titled The Snow Children: Human Life from Zygote to Zombie.

That’s right: I used the word zombie in my thesis title (I considered posting a picture of zombies here, for effect… but am afraid it would have been a tad too effective in the wrong direction).

The thesis is about the consequences and controversies behind freezing human embryonic persons–namely how are they actually persons, and how should we care for them? And there are perhaps millions of them, frozen and forsaken.

If that sounds interesting, it’s because it is! And very important as medical science continues to creep on human rights and the dignity of human life from conception to natural death. So take a look for yourself at my attempt to tackle this question philosophically (not theologically, though that can be done as well and in a different post).

*May our Blessed Mother watch over these poor banished children, forgotten in storage.

Our Lady of the Eschaton

OLOEI could have graduated with my MA Theology last year. I could have been done with everything way sooner. But because I overlooked a few things (like taking enough credits), my thesis defense was yesterday, and my commencement was today: April 28th, 2018–also the feast day of St. Louis de Montfort.

The same saint who I based my thesis work on (his True Devotion text is a must for any serious Catholic Christian).

The saint I once dismissed as a mushy Mama’s boy.

The saint who helped me know our heavenly Mother in a deeper way.

Not a coincidence.

In hindsight, this seems quite obvious. After all, I had handfuls of strange, mystical-like experiences with our Lady, for five years I carried a mini-statue of Our Lady of La Vang to all my classes throughout seminary and the Masters program, and my wall is an iconostasis of Marian icons and images.

And to think I was once unsure what I would research and write about for my thesis!

Our Lady of the Eschaton: The Blessed Virgin Mary’s Mission in the End Times According to St. Louis de Montfort, is posted here for you to peruse and enjoy. Like the title says, it’s about Mary’s Second Coming at the end of time. That’s right… it’s about the big bad end of the world and how Mary has a role in it.

Got your attention yet?

If not, here’s more: the devil is trying to stop Mary, and he’s trying to trick you into doing his dirty work.

*click here to find out more*

Blessings this Feast of St. Louis de Montfort!

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Her Creation

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Unveiled from man’s side,
From Adam’s blood and bone, arise.
Arrive as a dream prevailed
From lonesome nightmare,
From solitude of despair.

Warmth of his breath,
Beat of his breast:
From your lungs come song,
Your bosom come milk and rest.

Your halo of hair, man longs
To wander as forests of Eden,
To gaze deep, combing for stars,
Diving deep, steeped in reefs,
Wading the seabed’s scars.

Light of his sight,
Vision of his mission:
In your eyes he finds purpose,
To guard your soul unto Heaven.

Your womb: a room, a haven
For his love and your love,
For My love to beget new children:
New Adams and New Eves,
All new keys to My Kingdom.

Face of his faith,
Love of his life:
His love and fidelity to thee
Are signs of his hope, love, and faith in Me.

Be loved, beloved daughter,
Accept him as My gift
Bestowed from My power, for your honor.
Unveil to him your beauty:
His reminder to pay any price for Paradise.

By Evan Pham . Sept 29, 2016 . Michaelmas

Masterpiece

Our Lady of La Vang

I am the most brutal critic of cheesy Christian art.

We are beautiful. The angels and saints are beautiful. Our Lady is beautiful. Our Lord is beautiful. All because God is beauty itself.

So when I see a piece of art that fails to capture at least 1% of that true and infinite beauty, I get into a fury. My soul aches at the injustice. I have seen countless statues worth smashing, paintings worth torching, icons worth dissolving in acid, and songs never worth listening to again. You could say I’m almost an iconoclastic heretic…

Except I cherish the truly beautiful images of our Faith. And Beauty should do just that: draw us away from heresy.

With that said, let me feature a work worthy of Our Lady of La Vang (aka: Our Lady of Vietnam), one that captures the seriousness and royalty of Mary as Christ’s (and our) Queen Mother, one that shows the sweet Child Jesus as exactly that: sweet. This one masterpiece finally cancels out the tons of horrid images of Our Lady of La Vang that I have suffered through (of which I will spare you from).

OLLaVang

Drawing by Tracy L. Christianson, prints available from PortraitsOfSaints.com

The little statue in the photo is a decent sculpture of Our Lady of La Vang, and I am so grateful to the artists who have given their talents to doing some justice for the beauty of our Lord and Lady. Please support Tracy in her ongoing work by ordering your own prints, by praying for her, and all these artists who have shared their work here on HolySmack.

Oh Mary, conceived without sin, please pray for all your artists, for they have recourse to thee. Amen.