Order and the Border

060617-A-3715G-017In 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:

  1. pexels-photo-311884Asylum 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.
  2. 34984422_10155910751409032_4960135220503248896_nAmerica 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).
  3. 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…
  4. Lastly, I leave you with balanced thoughts from this insightful and real article, and from Fr. Mike Schmitz:

 

*Hint: it was about school violence.

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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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).

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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.

All Things New

Just watched The Passion of the Christ again.

Just teared up again at only one scene.

Just watched said scene twice.

Just teared up again.

Each time.

This:


Of all the truth in Sacred Scripture, only this line from Revelation 21:5 gets me every time. I’ve written and thought on it so much (like here, about strawberries in Heaven), and yet these words of the Lord at the end of time still do something.

It’s because I have sinned. The people I love dearly have sinned. We all have sinned and  our sin has made us hideous. The world is ugly because of us. And we cannot do a thing about it. The sun isn’t as sunny because of our sin. The breeze isn’t as fresh because of our sin. The peony isn’t as fragrant because of our sin. The strawberry isn’t as sweet, the birdsong isn’t as breathtaking, and we are not as glorious as God made us to be (not even close) — all because of my sin.

Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s words on sin have affected me deeply this past Triduum:

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Because I now know the horror of my past sins. I don’t know them in their full terror yet: that I will know only when Jesus makes it known when He judges me before everyone. But I do know now how ugly my sin made me. And I need Jesus to make all things new: I need Him to make me new.

*Note: Though Jesus does not speak “See, Mother, I make all things new” in the Gospels (He speaks so in Revelation 21:5), Mel Gibson’s decision to have Him say this during His Passion is very worthy. He tells Mary, His Mother, not to worry, because He will make all this suffering and sorrow into a beautiful new creation. Jesus is only beginning to re-create and renew.

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Silence is Violence

tumblr_oeag54jrop1qciy3ro1_1280There is a first time for everything, and this is the first Holy Smack movie review that is focused on the flaws of a film. I was not impressed by Martin Scorsese’s latest “Silence” and I cannot recommend it to anyone whose faith in Christ and His Church is not mature and convicted. This movie can be incredible violence and poison to a soul still searching for sure faith (which is most everyone).

That said, this review is also an anti-venom to help prevent confusion, heresy, blasphemy, or apostasy from taking root in viewers. Here we go:

— (NO SPOILERS) —

——1) The mistake of the “Silence” story is the same mistake some of the disciples make in the Gospels (Matthew 26:6-13), namely that they are more concerned for creatures than for the Creator, they prefer helping the poor instead of honoring the Lord. The answer is, of course, they should do both, and prioritize serving and honoring God first, and everything else second, and themselves last.

——2) The logic is because God loves His poor creatures more than anyone can ever! Only God can die… and rise for them! Only God can heal them perfectly, feed them perfectly, save them perfectly, and raise them from the dead, ever perfectly! So to value creatures over the Creator is an unacceptable error. In fact, since God is truth, goodness, beauty, life, and love itself, to not trust Him (and entrust to Him) our efforts would be counter productive at best. The closest analogy to show this futility: trying to put out a house fire but refusing to call the fire department for help, and even blocking the firefighters from approaching… STUPID.

——3) Why would anyone do such a thing? A few reasons: maybe they do not know there are people who can actually help, or more likely: they only trust themselves. When it comes to God, we always must trust Him. Only He knows every perspective, every intention, every ulterior motive, and every possibility. Only God deserves our full trust, so when we put that same trust in just ourselves, we are being prideful and ultimately powerless. Even if things work out in the end, it’s only because God did something to help without us knowing. In other words, there is no luck, there is only God’s grace.

——4) The film also does not seem to realize that Jesus will raise the dead, that He Himself rose from the dead, that this is the most important miracle that gives a basis to all faith in Christ! That to doubt His resurrection is to doubt God! The countless martyrs and saints of the Church all went to their deaths trusting that Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life, and that even though they are suffering and dying, Jesus will vindicate them and glorify them in eternal life. That is why the martyrs have the courage and the love to endure suffering, because to endure eternal life without God would be terrible to them.silence-movie-martin-scorsese

——5) The movie goes so far as to even claim that Christ would want us to betray and deny Him if doing so would spare people suffering and death, yet this totally disregards what Jesus actually promises in the Gospels (Matthew 10:32- 33) that:

“Whoever acknowledges me before men, I too will acknowledge him before my Father who is in heaven; and whoever disowns me before men, before my Father in heaven I too will disown him.”

So for Scorsese to overlook this and have Jesus contradict Himself in the movie is absurd and even offensive. If Jesus contradicts Himself here, how do we know for sure He isn’t lying? And if He is lying (which would be the case automatically)… then it ain’t Jesus talking; it’s Satan.

——6) So there they are, the greatest flaws of “Silence”. There are plenty more, but to list them all would be exhausting right now. If you find something and want it discussed, please feel free to leave a comment! But I leave you with this: Christ came not to rid suffering, for He Himself endured great suffering out of love, but He did come to fill it with Himself. Thus, to deny Christ would be to deny the very person who can and wants to help us endure and triumph.silence-martin-scorsese-andrew-garfield-adam-driver-liam-neeson-2-pm

——Bonus) One thing I did appreciate in “Silence” was that the prayers and clandestine Masses were in the historically accurate Traditional Latin Form, and also to see that the Traditional Latin Mass was powerful to the Japanese faithful who suffered to the end with dignity and love for God. One of the martyrs even sang either the Tantum Ergo or the O Salutaris Hostia (I forget which) during his martyrdom.

And for another perspective, please see:

My First Rorate Mass

This morning was my very first Rorate Caeli Mass (please click link for stunning photos), a unique votive Mass for Mary starting in the dark of night’s end and ending at dawn, presenting for us how we are to wait for the true Light of the world (the whole point of Advent).

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(Photo Credit: John Cosmas)

The entirety of the liturgy is in candlelight. The shadows of the saints adorn the vaulted ceilings and walls. The altar shimmers in the firelight. The pews and handmissals glow under the candles. Everyone has their own little censer of wax, wick and fire.

Yet the moment that moved me most was the very end, at the Last Gospel (John 1: 1-14), the same Gospel read at the end of each Tridentine Mass. But today, as I was listening to the priest read the holy words, as I was wandering lost in the Latin and in the silence, waiting in the darkness of daybreak, waiting with a church full of people, waiting with my dwindling candlestick succumbing to the dark, waiting… waiting to genuflect at the very moment THE WORD WAS MADE FLESH.

My knee hits the floor.Nativity by Rembrandt.jpg

And then I understood. God Himself came down from Heaven and hit the ground. He covered Himself in the dust of earth, clothed Himself in the mortality of man, smothered Himself in our fallen nature. Touchdown: the Lord touched the ground, touched Creation and began His reclamation. He wore our worn world, but adorned you and me with Himself, with Divinity. And the least we could do was genuflect when we remember He did all this to be with us (Emmanuel), and for us to be with Him.

The world waited for the moment THE WORD WAS MADE FLESH. And the girl the world waited for, and for her yes. The pathetic candlelights waiting for the sun. The blind and those in darkness waiting to wake. Hopeless and helpless sinners waiting for more to life, waiting for a way to become saints. All of us waiting for a way to Heaven.

Let’s stop waiting.

Because it’s all been accomplished. All that’s left to be done is for you and me to decide: will we say yes, too?

Merry soon Christmas.

*All this meaning in the simple gesture of genuflecting…

**More awesome photos of Rorate Masses around the country.

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Do What the Devil Don’t Want

In the last few years, I’ve come to see more clearly when the serpent is tempting me. I don’t always know, but it’s been easier to notice, especially when I keep in mind that I want to do what the devil doesn’t want me to do. I think it’s a pretty good motto for a Christian to live by: DO WHAT THE DEVIL DON’T WANT. Some examples:

  1. The last thing the devil wants me to do when I see a beautiful person is to pray for her. Instead, the devil would rather have me lust and abuse the woman. So what do I do?
  2. The last thing the devil wants is for me to start my day by offering it to God’s will. Instead, the devil would much rather have me forget God and go on with my life in my own selfish way.
  3. The last thing the devil wants is for me to forgive my friends when they betray me. The devil would rather me lash out and plot revenge.
  4. The last thing the devil wants is for me to ask God for help and trust in the Lord when chaos and danger happens. The devil really wants me to curse the day and turn my back on Him who is the o
    only person who can truly help me.

I think you get the trend, right?BetterWay

The better way is always the way the devil hates. So always choose the better, not the easier!

And I think you realize also that by doing what the devil doesn’t want, you almost automatically do what Jesus wants.

So do not let the devil win, because if he wins, you will always lose. But if Jesus wins, then you win too. And don’t you want to win?