Saturday, October 30, 2010

World Priest Day - October 31, 2010

God Bless You All

As we celebrate World Priest Day, 2010, I offer my prayers and heartfelt gratitude to all the priests who have in one way or another touched my life, those who have celebrated the sacraments with me, those who have written things that have inspired me, those who have prayed and worked to overcome the challenges that have come their way that would crush weaker men.

They have included Father John Pirt, our pastor at St. George Parish here in London, Ontario, who celebrated with My Dear Wife and I and gathered friends and relatives, this past summer, the convalidation of our marriage in the Catholic Church.  Of course, I think also of Father Sam Johnston, the 84 year old retired priest of our diocese, who challenged me (and My Dear Wife indirectly) to get on with it, and Father Tim Moyle, the author of Where the Rubber Hits the Road blog, who on the day of our convalidation said his own mass for us.

Other priests have ministered to me or us over the recent years, our former pastor Father Jim Mockler, and Father Clement Agamba, of Tucson, by way of Ghana. 

One priest has stood out in my mind for many, many years, Father Michael Prieur, of St. Peter's Seminary, a priest faithful to his vocation of teaching young priest aspirants in the ways of our beautiful Church, and who has so often shared his smile, and wisdom with me, even if I was not listening, or if he thought I was not listening with my heart.

Over the years, I have met priests at St. Peter's Seminary who have become bishops,  Bishop Fred Henry of Calgary, and Archbishop Thomas Collins of Toronto.  I also have had the opportunity to meet and speak with the retired Bishop of London, Ontario, John Michael Sherlock, both prior to his retirement and subsequently.  These men do not really know who I am, as my encountering them was brief, but they touched me with their faith and faithfulness, and their humanity.

I have encountered some priests by their faithful writing in defense of Holy Mother the Church on the Internet, including Monsignor Charles Pope of the Archdiocese of Washington, Father James Farfaglia of Corpus Christi, Texas, and the afore mentioned Father Tim Moyle of the Diocese of Pembroke Ontario.

Some have left the priesthood, Father Chris Beausoleil, who was a close friend, and who taught me much will remain in my heart as a priest, for the priestly way that he loved and encouraged me for many years.

And there are two priests for whom I have an ache in my heart.  They are Father Gordon MacRae, and Father Mark Gruber. 

Those who have read this blog and the These Stone Walls blog Father Gordon writes, will know of the case of this faithful priest, who now ministers in the New Hampshire state prison, where he is an inmate, having been falsely charged and convicted of phantom child molestation, during a money grab by litigants, and failure to protect him by his own diocesan administration over 16 years ago. 

You may also have read the strange and frustrating case of Father Mark Gruber, whose archabbot has removed his priestly faculties, in essence because someone used his computer (and subsequently confessed) to view homosexual pornography.  There, of course, is more to the story than meets the eye, and you can google it and find out more of the truth, or you can use my search box to find what I have written and linked here at Freedom Through Truth.

These two men are living the Crucifixion daily, and joining their sufferings with Our Dear Saviour in a way that most of us do not have to, and maybe could not even.

But, all the above priests in their station in life, are "Alter Christus", and bring Jesus to us in the Eucharist, and in the other sacraments instituted by Christ to bring grace to His people.

Deacon Greg Kandra came across a posting of this rendition of the Litany of the Saints, and I offer it up for you, along with my daily prayers of the Rosary, Divine Mercy Chaplet, and Liturgy of the Hours, along with the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as I attend.

You, Dear Fathers in the Lord, are loved.  May God Bless you all, and all other priests who have touched my life, and indeed all priests throughout the world, both living and those who have gone before, in your ministries to the people of God.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, I trust in your love for all these men, and all men who have taken Holy Orders.  Mother Mary, you our mother, who love all the priests who are Alter Christus for your Divine Son here on earth, surround them with your mantle of protection and frustrate the powers of Satan in their lives and in the lives of their loved ones. 

St. Michael and their guardian angels, come defend them in battle against the wickedness and snares of the devil.  May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou Oh prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God,  cast into hell Satan and all the evil ones who roam through the earth seeking the ruin of their souls.

Toying with the English Language

From My Friend Dr. Gerry McKeon Ph.D. - retired with too much time on his hands

My long time friend, the smartest man that I know sent me this in email this morning.  Clearly in retirement he needs a hobby.  They are witticisms and half witticisms, with the odd nit witticism for good measure.  Enjoy:

Those who jump off a bridge in Paris, are in Seine.

A man's home is his castle, in a manor of speaking.

Dijon vu - the same mustard as before.


Shotgun wedding.  A case of wife or death.


A man needs a mistress just to break the monogamy.


A hangover is the wrath of grapes.


Dancing cheek-to-cheek is really a form of floor play.


Reading while sunbathing makes you well red.


When two egotists meet, it's an I for an I.


A bicycle can't stand on its own because it is two tired.


What's the definition of a will?  It's a dead give away.


Time flies like an arrow.  Fruit flies like a banana.


In democracy your vote counts.  In feudalism your count votes.


She was engaged to a boyfriend with a wooden leg but broke it off.


A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion.


If you don't pay your exorcist, you get repossessed.

With her marriage, she got a new name and a dress.


The man who fell into an upholstery machine is fully recovered.


Local Area Network in Australia - the LAN down under.


Every calendar's days are numbered.


A lot of money is tainted - Taint yours and taint mine.


A boiled egg in the morning is hard to beat.


He had a photographic memory that was never developed.


A midget fortune-teller who escapes from prison is a small medium at large.


Once you've seen one shopping center, you've seen a mall.


Bakers trade bread recipes on a knead-to-know basis.


Santa's helpers are subordinate clauses.


Acupuncture is a jab well done.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Transformational Canadians, ObamaCare and Abortion

I Am Disgusted

In Canada, we have a newspaper, the Globe and Mail, that pretends to speak for all Canadians.  As newspapers go, it probably is up there.  But, remember that it is a newspaper, and print mainstream media is dying a natural death, or so we can hope.  When I saw one particular article recently, I realised why many Canadians call it the Grope and Flail.

The Globe, with its partners in this endeavour, is seeking nominations for 25 Transformational Canadians.  They are defining them as:
...25 living citizens who have made a difference by immeasurably improving the lives of others. Readers were invited to nominate Canadians who fit this description. Over several weeks, a panel of six judges will select 25 Transformational Canadians from among the nominees.
One of the nominees is Dr. Henry Morgentaler, the 87 year old abortionist and figurehead of the death to the unborn crowd.  Dr. M. is alleged to have improved the lives of others.  They say he fought tirelessly to decriminalize abortion, like it's a good thing.  Since the unborn don't have a say, and since those thousands of women who have lost their dignity by disposing of their unborn children are too traumatized to speak out, or have consumed the Kool Aid, there is a distinct possibility that Dr. Morgentaler will be left standing at the end of the process.

We can remain hopeful that there will be a hue and cry about this nomination, though the award he is nominated for is meaningless, and I would not have been aware of it had not an American Internet friend brought it to my attention.  There are a few real transformers in the list of nominees though such as Craig and Marc Keilburger of Me to We, and so we might also hold out hope that this meaningless award will at least be given to people who have done good with the gifts they have been given.

The Globe wrote him up the other day like he was a conquering hero, not the mass murderer and conspirator in the mass murder of our unborn children and grandchildren that he is.  Yes, he himself is a holocaust survivor, though he survived to champion a holocaust that makes the one he survived pale by comparison. 

Here is the introduction to the laudatory article:
In Canada, a woman can have an abortion without fear of prosecution or imprisonment – for the simple reason that there is no abortion law. For more than 20 years, that state of affairs has set us apart from the rest of the developed world. Canadian women enjoy the right to safe and legal abortions largely because Henry Morgentaler fought a long battle on their behalf.
Yes, Canada has no laws against abortion, and so it is a free for all, where we the taxpayer get to pay for this "procedure".  Dr. Morgentaler is responsible in some way for this.  It was the case against him that in 1984 was used by the Supreme Court of Canada to strike down protection for the unborn.  So, Canadian women ENJOY the right to safe and legal government funded abortions, while their unborn children do not enjoy anything here on earth, and do not have similar rights, or any rights for that matter. 

We, of course, hope that the aborted unborn enjoy the Beatific Vision, and that their parents, and those involved in this heinous business, and those who stand by idly will be drawn to conversion of hearts and minds, and one day enjoy it too.

Warning to our American friends.  Don't think for a moment that Obama Care will not produce similar results.  In fact, this video might give you pause, as to how soon federally funded abortion will be happening in your land of the free and home of the brave, but not of the unborn.



So, what are we to do?  Here in Canada, we can ignore the meaningless award should Dr. Morgentaler be one of its recipients, and cluck our way to indignation.  Really, this potential award pales when compared to him having received already the Order of Canada, Canada's highest civilian honour in 2008.  A few Canadians displayed outrage at the OofC award for Dr. M., and another 10 previous recipients of the award returned their OofC's in protest.

Here is my greatest concern as voiced by Mother Theresa many  years ago:
Mother Teresa said, "What is taking place in America is a war against the child. And if we accept that the mother can kill her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?"

This dear reader is a spiritual battle, more than it is a physical battle, and as long as we have breath, we must pray for the unborn, and for those involved in the destruction of their lives, for it not only destroys their lives, but the lives of us all.

Dear Lord, we trust in Your Love for all of your children, including the unborn and their parents, and those who would do them harm, or stand idly by while harm is done.  We beg of you to cause this travesty to Your Sacred Heart to be brought to an end, and that we would all seek Your Face, and Your Mercy.

Stop Fetal Abuse

Seize the Day with Gus Lloyd

Gus Lloyd is a radio announcer, among other things Catholic, on XM Radio's Catholic Channel on Channel 117 of that Service.  It is also available on Sirius Radio at Channel 159.  

I have lived all my life without satellite radio, and never figured to need it, want it, or to listen to it if I could.  My stepson put a receiver in his car a few years ago, and raved about it.  That did not convince me.  But, about two months ago, we purchased a new Honda Accord, and there, built in, was XM Radio.  My initial thought was that I would never listen to it, but then My Dear Wife discovered the 60's channel, which played 24 hours a day of 60's music.  That started to reel me in.

Soon I discovered the Catholic Channel, and while I was alone in Tucson for a few weeks, I played only Channel 117.  I love satellite radio, and I love the Catholic Channel.  It is good from beginning to end, but my favourite radio personality is Gus Lloyd, and his take on that faith that sustains those of us who profess to be Catholic Christians.

Yesterday, he was speaking about a conference call that was led by the Assistant Secretary of Education about bullying in American schools.  During the call, the AS (for Republican supporters, that one S is not a typo) spoke of the intention of the Department of Education to take a firmer stand on bullying in the schools, and stated that his Department would look to pull funding of boards and schools that appeared to tolerate bullying in any form.

This led the Spirit filled Mr. Lloyd to ponder on the issue of bullying, and he came to a revelation that there is an instance of bullying that has gone unchecked in America, and sadly in Canada, and many other nations as well.  That bullying is of the unborn child, who can be torn from his/her mother's womb at any time, with no recourse to the Department of Education, Department of Health, or to anybody but Our Saviour, who I assure you is not amused.

So, he came up with a slogan "Stop Fetal Bullying."  I fully support this and intend to flesh it out myself in the future.  For the moment, I leave it for you to ponder as Gus is doing, and as am I.  But let me leave you also with a modified version of an old saying we knew in grade school:
Sticks and stones may break my bones,
But, saline and suction will kill me.

Monday, October 25, 2010

On the Road

I will be on the road back to London, Ontario from Tucson Arizona for the next several days.  All prayers gratefully accepted.

God Bless all who pass by here.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Commonweal - Further Adrift

The American Church's Crisis of Attrition

Father Tim Moyle, over at "Where the Rubber Hits the Road" linked this insightful article from Commonweal by Peter Steinfels, a Roman Catholic. Mr. Steinfels is co-director of the Fordham Center on Religion and Culture, and so he has the wherewithal to write this article.  He is also the author not surprisingly of the book for which this article was titled, Further Adrift: The American Church's Crisis of Attrition, and has written others or contributed to their writing, including The Neoconservatives.  He's been around the block.

He writes about the US Catholic Church, which is a lot like writing about the Canadian Catholic Church, just bigger.  There are pretty much the same issues facing the Catholic Church in both of our countries.

He points to the losses of Catholics raised in the Church. noting that one in three have left the Church.  Though many have found a home in another Christian denomination that suits their fancy, all too many have joined the ranks of the unchurched.  At the two Christmas celebrations that we had last year, one with My Dear Wife's family and one with my own, there were 7 practicing Catholics present, out of a total of probably 20, all of whom have been baptised into the Church, and all of whom were raised attending Church regularly.

The simplest answer to this complex article, which begets much thought is found in the Parable of the Sower.
Luke 8:4-15 [4] While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: [5] "A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. [6] Some fell on rock, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. [7] Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. [8] Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown." When he said this, he called out, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear." [9] His disciples asked him what this parable meant. [10] He said, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, " `though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.' [11] "This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. [12] Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. [13] Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. [14] The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life's worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. [15] But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.
The reality that we are seeing is mirroring the parable that Jesus spoke.  Pretty smart guy Our Lord and Saviour.

It is true that seed that is along the pathway (the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts) will be devoured by passing birds or trampled into the ground,  The seed that falls on rocks (the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root) will die because there is no soil to sustain them.  Seed among thorns or weeds (those who hear, but as they go on their way ... are choked by life's worries, riches and pleasures, and ... do not mature) will die also, because their life is choked out of them.



But, what if we go looking around the paths near the garden and pick up the seed that has fallen on the path and carry it over and lovingly plant it in the garden?  What if we look at the rocks near the garden and pick up the seed we find there and carry it over and lovingly plant it in the garden, and what if we weed the garden so that the weeds will not steal the nutrients meant for the seeds nor choke the precious seedlings?
 
Kenneth Copeland, an Evangelical preacher that I listened to often, said: "The failure of any Christian endeavour is a prayer failure.  The success of any Christian endeavour is a prayer success."
 
We owe everyone on this planet with us only love, and the first way to love others is to love God, and receive the grace from Him to do as He wills, and to entrust to Him the overall care and feeding of all of His seeds.  This can only be accomplished by coming into His will, which can only be achieved by devoting ourselves to prayer.
 
So, let us not worry about this article.  Even though it is true, it is a snapshot.  Life is a motion picture.
 
Listen to Deitrick Haddon as he sings "Prayer Changes Things."
 

 
If you find that a little too wild for your taste, then listen to that wonderful Gospel Singer, Mahalia Jackson as she tells you the same thing with different words.
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-rMYYkz86h8
 
 
Do not be discouraged Brothers and Sisters, but pray always.
 
Got it.  GET ON IT!!
 
Sacred Heart of Jesus, we trust in your love for all who have been baptised into your Holy Church.  Sacred Heart of Jesus fill them all with Your Precious Blood, that was shed for us all on Calvary to free us from sin and death.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Gloria

Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

Gloria as a Praise song in both English and Spanish.  God inhabits the praises of His People.

Fantastico.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Let Me Live

David Parkes

On Father Tommy Lane's web site, came a link to this song, which he gave with permission from Jim and Margaret Byrne of Navan, in County Meath, Ireland, who wrote the lyrics and music and own the copyright.  It is in the middle of the page linked above.

It is sung by David Parkes, and is a pro-life song sung by a baby who is about to be aborted, asking us to PLEASE LET ME LIVE.  I have reproduced the lyrics below, but have linked to a video of Mr. Parkes singing it, and explaining what it means to him.


 
 
There will be no dawn or sunset for this child to see,
For today his short existence will have ceasd to be.
Unborn, unknown, and undefended,
For it has been decided that his life should be ended.

But, in my dreams I can hear him say:
Please let me live. Please let me stay.

Maybe I'll have eyes of blue and hair of gold so softly curled.
Maybe I could look like you. Please let me see this great big world.
Maybe I'm a little boy, with laughing eyes and tears of joy,
Someone who'll be there to smile, when you can say: "Twas all worthwhile."

Please let me live to share with you
Be there with you when sorrow comes.
Please let me live to cry with you,
For all of us tomorrow comes.

Maybe I could be a king,
To save the world from greater sin.
Do you think I'm just a friend?
To die for you, is this the end?
Lonely beats this heart of mine.
but sure we'll meet somewhere, sometime.

Thought perhaps you'd say hello
I know you'll never let me go.

Please let me live to share with you.
Be there with you when sorrow comes.
Please let me live to laugh with you,
For all of us tomorrow comes.

Please let me live to share with you.

Be there with you when sorrow comes.
Please let me live to laugh with you,
For all of us tomorrow comes.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Mary Our Mother Touches One of Her Sons Profoundly

Regnum Christi


From Regnum Christ, via my friend Norm Sutherland comes a story of Catholic Faith in action.  It contains personal revelation to the central figure, Michael Lambert during the Vietnam War,and subsequently.  As such, we are not required to believe it.  However, unless you think him to be a deluded man, incapable of rational thought, which I do not, there is reason to take what he says seriously, or at least to appreciate the important of the story to his own life.

In light of some of the dialogue that has been going on between myself, Father Tim Moyle and Small Town Guy (Wayne), as well as Lady Janus over at Father Tim's blog, "Where the Rubber Hits the Road" in the comments to various posts, this may provide insight into the Catholic mind and faith.

Faith is caught, not taught.  From Father Tommy Lane, who is a priest, and Associate Professor of Sacred Scripture at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Maryland, USA, which is on the campus of Mount St. Mary’s University is the following from his web site:
As Pope Paul VI wrote in Evangelii Nuntiandi 46 “In the long run, is there any other way of handing on the Gospel than by transmitting to another person one’s personal experience of faith?” Evangelii Nuntiandi 41 states, “Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.” (Fr. John ) Burke (OP) says on page 59 (of his book Gospel Power: Toward the Revitalizing of Preaching ), “Faith leads to faith, or as scripture says: ‘the upright man finds life through faith.’ (Rom 1:17)”.
It is in the living of our faith, and in making it self evident that we invite our brothers and sisters in to a share in it.  As I stated on WTRHTR this afternoon in response to a meaningful comment from Lady Janus "As St. Francis said, "Preach the Gospel, and if necessary use words." "

This story gives an example of Catholic devotion to Our Blessed Mother, and also devotion to the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Here is Mr. Lambert's story:
October 13, 2010. Atlanta, Georgia. It was after Michael Lambert’s two-week tourist trip to Vietnam in 1994 that all the memories came flooding back. Walking over the old battlefields had resurrected vivid images of the hell he had lived, reminding him of a chapter in his life that he had left behind like a distant nightmare.

It was only later, while in the quiet of the confessional, that he remembered something else: while walking through the valley of the shadow of death, Our Lady had been right at his side, and it had been her gentle touch that kept him from committing a terrible deed.

From the seminary to the battlefield

There are not many men who go from two and a half years in the quiet, prayerful life of a Catholic seminary to the chaos and violence of battle. Just three and a half years after his time in the Marist Seminary, Lambert was a young lieutenant in the Marines, deployed on active duty as a platoon commander in Company H, Second Battalion, Fifth Marines.

The faith and prayer life he had built up during his years in the seminary served him well.

“When fatigue began to confuse my mind, the prayers that I had learned as a child were a source of refreshment and vigor for my spirit,” he said. “I credit my Catholic faith for keeping me on an even keel during the chaos and violence of battle.”

Catholic priest chaplains did not come around all that often, but when they did, he seized every opportunity to attend Mass, receive the Eucharist, and go to confession. And he prayed. Intensely.

“During the hours before dawn, I continually said the Rosary to Our Blessed Mother, asking for her intercession for me and my Marines,” he recalled.

From the start, he looked upon his new duties as a responsibility given to him by God.

“I regarded my commission as a Marine officer as a sacred trust, much the same as my time with the Marists,” he said. “As a combat officer, your priorities are: 1) accomplishing the mission, 2) taking care of your men, and lastly, taking care of yourself.”

Urban combat

It was with this sense of responsibility that he set out with his men to recapture the sacred city of Hue, which had been seized by North Vietnamese forces in a surprise offensive during the Tet holiday truce in February 1968.

The Vietnam War was at its climax. Lambert and his men were walking into a city that the North Vietnamese forces had almost completely decimated, with no mercy shown to civilians. After the war, mass graves with up to 1,200 civilian bodies were found around the city. The North Vietnamese had massacred up to 6,000 innocent people, many of them women and children, in the middle of the night.

The mission of recapturing Hue required the young Marines to place themselves on the line of fire again and again.

“There were several occasions during the 29-day battle of Hue that I was ordered to hold my position at all costs. An order like that means you are not given the option to retreat in the face of overwhelming odds. On two occasions, we were outnumbered five to one,” he recalled.

This was not a battle in a field or a forest. It was urban warfare, waged in narrow city streets, with snipers perched on church steeples and enemy forces squirreled away in the back rooms of houses.

Lambert and his men fell into the same efficient routine as they swept through the city: first, the men would storm a building, following up their assault with heavy automatic weapons fire. Then a “fire team” of three Marines would enter the building, throwing fragmentation grenades into the rooms and sweeping every corner with bullets from their M-16 rifles. Once the house or building was secure, they would mark it off on their map and continue to the next one.

Deadened by constant violence, exhaustion, and fear, the men were almost on autopilot, doing what they had to do. Meanwhile, the number of men in Lambert’s platoon dwindled down from 65 to 20. The battle was taking its toll.

Sweeping the church
On the seventh day of continuous combat, Lambert and his men received the order to clear out a Catholic church near the Phu Cam canal that was suspected of being a strategic point for North Vietnamese forces.

While his men cleared the church yard and checked the interior of the church, Lambert went around to the bell tower. On the first day of battle, when the American convoy had entered the city, enemy fire had come from within this tower.

On his way there, he saw a staircase descending from a low door at the back of the church. Accustomed to the routine, he tiptoed his way down the stairs, easing the pin halfway out of the M-26 hand grenade and preparing to throw it into the darkness beyond the bottom of the stairs. He didn’t know what he would find there.

“I was operating solely on training, experience, and nerves,” he said.

Just as he was about to pull the pin the rest of the way out and launch the grenade, he felt a gentle hand touch his, a woman’s hand.

There was no one standing next to him. But he sensed a familiar presence.

He pushed the pin back into the grenade.

As he entered the basement, he was met with the soft glow of dozens of vigil lights. The basement was full of parishioners who had spent the past days hiding and praying to Our Lady for protection.

It was no coincidence that the name of the church was Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

Revisiting the moment

Lambert sent the civilians to a refugee center where they would be safe and continued his mission. In fact, after weeks more of intense combat, the incident fell dormant in his memory. He was wounded, taken out of battle, treated, and then sent back. Layer upon layer of battles obscured the memory of that day. And then the years of civilian life after the war made those memories fall even deeper into the distant past.

It was the trip to Vietnam in 1994 that brought it all back. Like a soldier suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, he found himself reliving experiences of hellish combat, witnessing all the violence and tragedy again in his mind.

When his son Michael told him about a priest in Slidell, Louisiana who could read souls in confession, he decided it was time to pay him a visit.

“I loaded the van with our children and went to Fr Joe Benson’s church for Saturday confession,” he said. “I was in the confessional for 45 minutes, according to my kids.

“Before absolution, he asked if anything was troubling me. I said that I was experiencing memories of Vietnam. He said, ‘About the church in Hue?’ That’s when he told me that the hand of Mary had stopped me from tossing the grenade into the crypt of the church,” he said.

Looking back, he recalled that there was a kind of interior touch that accompanied the tangible feeling of her hand on his.

“My defenses were down and the Blessed Mother touched my spirit before she touched my hand,” he said. “I didn’t react. I just obeyed her. It seemed entirely natural, as though your mother had asked a favor of you.”

With that one touch, she not only saved a room full of innocent civilians; she also saved him from unwittingly inflicting a lasting wound on his own soul.

“If I had carried out the brutal act, I would have been haunted for the rest of my life,” Lambert acknowledged.

That loving hand

Instead, he has been blessed. Lambert sees Our Lady’s hand not only in that one moment during the war, but also in the day-to-day life of his family. All of his children are practicing Catholics with a devotion to Mary.

“She is with us constantly,” he said. “I can see the deep love that my children have for her as well. There are times when she is so present that I can actually smell her… like herbs and roses on a warm summer day. The holy Rosary is a big part of our lives.”

Lambert himself had been dedicated to Our Lady at the moment of his birth. Now, as a grandfather, he sees signs of her predilection in his little grandchildren.

“My little grandson Thomas Anthony has a special devotion to her. When I pick him up, he reaches for my miraculous medal, kisses it, and says, ‘May, May!’ with a big smile.”

When he found himself walking through the valley of the shadow of death, his mother walked at his side. That gentle but powerful hand reached out when he needed it most, perhaps drawn closer by years of faithfully praying the Rosary.

Living under Mary’s protection is not just for the privileged few. It is a gift that Mary is willing to give to anyone who turns to her with trust and love, both in the hour of need and in the hour of plenty. There are times when she allows that hand to be seen, and many other times when she remains hidden in the background. But for Lambert, and for his family, there is no doubt that she is always there.

This article is part of a series about God’s action in the lives of Regnum Christi members who turned to him in prayer. If you have a story to share, please contact us at this link.
Sacred Heart of Jesus I trust in your love for Michael Lambert and his family, and also for the members of  Regnum Christi.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Latest From "These Stone Walls"

Father Gordon MacRae

For those who have been following my postings, I have written often about our faithful Catholic priests, men who I respect greatly for their love of Holy Mother Church. 

One such priest of whom I have written is Father Gordon MacRae.  We don't hear about Father Gordon in "polite circles", because Father Gordon was convicted of being a pedophile, although there was no evidence against him, even though incredible fictitious evidence was manufactured.  He was caught up in the sexual abuse scandal at its peak, when squeamish bishops rushed to pay off those who would "bring scandal to the Church" on the mere receipt of a letter from some contingency lawyer, claiming his client was a victim of abuse. 

With the rush to dole out cash to assuage the guilt from hiding the real abuses of the past, which of itself was a precipitous action, our bishops left priests accused of abuse on their own, in a "Where there is smoke there is fire" type of response.  Often, all too often, there was a fire burning, though it had smoldered with the stench of burning flesh for many years right under their noses, and they somehow had chosen to ignore it for fear of bringing scandal to the Church.

Today's scandal in the Church is not the abuse of children, though it may always exist.  No, it is the refusal of bishops and law enforcement agencies, to give priests accused of wrong doing, the rights that we all have before the law, to confront our accusers, to defend ourselves when charges are brought against us

Father Gordon is writing a three part series currently from his current home in the state prison in New Hampshire, about "When Priests are Falsely Accused".  This is the second part and links to the first part are embedded in the article linked above.

As I have defended his cause, I have been able to have some contact with Father Gordon.  I have written about him, and his blog master has read either my posting or my email to him, because you see, as a prisoner, he is not allowed the types of contact with the outside world that we take for granted.  He has no Internet or even a device that would support it.  He uses an old electric typewriter with some memory in it to write his poignant articles.  Father Gordon has then responded to me by telling his blog master what he wants her to convey in an email to me.

16 years he has been incarcerated.  The chilling thing is that he has refused ever to admit guilt for the charges that were brought against him, and had he pled guilty, he would be outside in the free world today, and would have been for many years.  Only a very foolish person would pass up an opportunity to plead guilty to charges he committed, thereby reducing his time in prison.  But, a man of courage and high moral fibre would never submit to a lie merely to save his butt.

Father Gordon is a man of courage and high moral fibre, and so he sits.  On Tuesdays, the same day as this latest posting by Father Gordon, we pray the Sorrowful Mysteries, when we say our daily rosary.  On my iPod, I have an application with the rosary on it, and with the mysteries with the scripture verse that forms the basis of the particular mystery and with the "Fruit of the Mystery" for which we are to pray.

The fruit of the 3rd Sorrowful Mystery, the Crowning with Thorns, is Courage.  The fruit of the 4th Mystery, the Carrying of the Cross is Patience, and the fruit of the 5th Sorrowful Mystery is Perseverance.

We are called to see each other as Christ with skin on, and so as I ponder these mysteries, I call to mind Father Gordon and all our faithful priests, who embody in an earthly sense these mysteries.  Father Gordon's embodiment of these mysteries just happens to be a bit more hard hitting.

Each morning when I pray the liturgy of the hours, I offer an additional prayer somewhat as follows: "Father, I pray for priests, deacons and religious, those in formation and those discerning a vocation to religious life, that you would guide them and guard them from all evil, that you would send our Holy Mother to surround them with her mantle of protection and frustrate the powers of Satan, that you would send Michael and their guardian angels to defend them in battles against Satan and the powers and forces of darkness, and to minister to their needs, and intercede for them at your right hand."

I particularly pray for Father Gordon MacRae and Father Mark Gruber whose earthly sufferings are joined to those of Our Dear Saviour on the Cross in a redemptive way, uniting them to Him.

Worthy Is The Lamb

Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

Join into their worship of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  This beautiful rendition of this powerful worship song is anointed of God.  Let God's anointing flow over you.  Feel it deep into your heart, your soul.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Holy Is His Name

The Magnificat - John Michael Talbot

This morning I was driving around Tucson, and listening to XM satellite radio, Channel 117, The Catholic Channel, and I heard JMT interviewed.  He was asked about his signature piece, "Holy is His Name", the Magnificat piece.

He told the interviewer that he had been sitting in the kitchen of a Catholic family, having breakfast.  The mother was cooking and serving pancakes to her 7 children, as JMT sat at table with them.  He said that the inspiration for the song came while at table, in the midst of the busyness and love of a large family having breakfast.

After the meal, he sat down and wrote the song.

I just got a call this minute from my prayer partner in London, Ontario, Wayne Zimmer, and he told me another detail of the story.  He knew the man, whose house in California this occurred in, and confirmed it.  The man, who JMT was visiting was John Clowder, and he told this story to Wayne a number of years ago when he visited with some other prayer friends of ours there.

Small world isn't it?


Why Are Christians Separated from Each Other?

Metaphors

Some time ago, I wrote about the Catholic perspective on sola scriptura here.  As I was praying this morning, and contemplating on the divisions among Christians, a couple of concepts formed in my mind, two visual images, as it were.

The first thought I had was of algebraic equations.  My head did not explode, so I assure you that what I had in mind was very simple, not like the equations that I saw on my father in law's desk many years ago, that were the work of an aerospace engineer who was one of many who were involved in getting a man to the moon - and back.  Those equations would make my head explode.  I did not understand any part of them.

No, I am thinking of the simplest of algrebaic equations x=y.  In algebraic equations the left side must equal the right side of an equation; hence the use of the "=" - equals sign.  In the Church that Jesus Christ founded on his follower Peter, and the apostles, He provided for such an equation, which the Catholic Church adheres to, and that equation is Scripture = Tradition.  It seems a simple equation, but it has meat and a purpose.  If interpretation of scripture is not supported by tradition, then the interpretation of scripture is wrong.  If in the evolution of traditions, those traditions are not supported by scripture, then the tradition is wrong.

Our protesting brothers and sisters claim that many of our Catholic teachings are not biblical.  However, they are in error about that.  You must search the official teachings of the Magisterium of the Church, the keepers of the keys, as it were, to find that in fact all authentic Church teaching is biblically based, and also incorporates the tradition of the times.

However, I find it easier to accept that our separated brethren are diligently searching scripture in an attempt to discern the truth.  On the other hand, so many of our own Catholic men, women and children are relying solely on a loose understanding of tradition for their faith life.

A life of Catholic faith requires prayer as its foundation, the sacraments for the grace to live out our Baptismal promises, and must go back to the roots of our faith in order to understand and live out joyfully a prayer life.

The equation must be balanced.  Scripture = Tradition.  We Catholics must learn a love of the bible, such as our separated brethren have.  They, in turn must learn a love of the traditions of Holy Mother the Church to find the fullness of faith.

Otherwise, we have an unbalanced equation, and we are both wrong.  And we remain separated, which is not what Christ called us to.

Also, this morning I was looking at something that was a distance away from me.  As I did not have my glasses on, it was blurry.  When I tried to look at it with my left eye, I could see most of it (blurry still), but about 30 degrees of the right side was missing.  When I closed my left eye, and looked only with my right eye, I was missing 30 degrees of it on the left side.

I concluded that we must use both eyes to see the whole of something, and must also use lenses (since we are all nearsighted) to focus that view.  The two lenses are the lens of the Bible, and the lens of Tradition.  If we only use one eye, even with a lens to help us see, we miss 30 degrees, or about 1/6th.  Same if we only use the other.

This speaks metaphorically to the overlap of the Bible and Tradition, but also to what is missed if you leave one eye closed.

Battle Hymn of the Republic

An American Patriotic Gem

I thought that this would be an appropriate song for this time and space we find ourselves in.  Our dear brothers and sisters in America are preparing to vote in the most important mid term elections of their history.

The winds of change are calling them to select candidates who uphold the values of America, those espoused in the Declaration of Independence, "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," not greed and power.  That is life for all Americans including those in the womb, of which about 1,400,000 have been slaughtered annually in the past decade alone.  That includes liberty for all people in America, the liberty to pursue their faith unimpeded by government, the freedom to speak the truth as they understand it, and to self determination, not government domination.

It is time once again for our brothers and sisters to heed the call of Abraham Lincoln in the Gettysburg Address, when he said "that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

As our brothers and sisters stake this claim once again in America, may we in Canada and other nations of the world, where governments have grown unresponsive to our needs be buoyed up by their efforts, and follow their lead.

Above all, I urge people of good will around the world to pray that our brothers and sisters will be of stout heart, courage and informed conviction as they approach these elections, and that they will elect leaders who share their values.


God Bless America.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Every Problem Involving a Christian is a Prayer Problem

God is Using the Poverty of Two Young Men to Open My Eyes

Something disturbed me greatly this week, and I have been unable to get it from my mind.  When I drove to a store about a mile from here to get something the other day, I had an encounter with a young man there.  His name is Steve, and he is 23 years of age, the same age as my middle daughter Melinda.  He has a younger brother named Tim, who is 17, and he is trying his best to look after him.  Steve has spent 2 years in prison for a violent fight that he was involved in back in Beaumont Texas.  He did not offer me any details.

As I was about to enter the store, having not really noticed him standing about 30 feet away, he called to me.  Thank God, I did not ignore him and walk away.  He told me that he was homeless, and he sure looked and smelled that way, and that he could use some help.  We only spoke for about 30 seconds.  I took out my wallet, and gave him half of the money that I had taken out of the bank earlier in the day.  As I started to walk away, I felt compelled to go back and talk to him further.

As we spoke, he told me about his younger brother who was minding their small amount of stuff under a bridge where they were sleeping.  I looked at him.  I mean I really looked at him.  He had on broken glasses, as one arm was gone, and so his head was cocked a bit to the side to keep them on his head.  He was a handsome young black man, and he really cared about his brother, and was trying to protect him.

Unlike my daughter, who has a university degree, a college diploma in her field of work, and a good job with a Canadian bank, Steve does not have his GED even, and with a prison record, cannot easily find work.

After we spoke for a few more minutes, I have him all but $10 of the rest of the money I had left in my wallet, and we both went our ways.

This incident left me bothered for the rest of the week.  I took it to prayer, more about that in a bit, and he and Tim remained in my thoughts as well.  But, as I am a foreigner here, and also unaware of how to properly deal with such a situation, I really did not know what to do.  How could I help these young men in a way that would honour them and feed and clothe them?  Just giving him cash did not seem to cut it.

I passed by the corner a few times this week, and looked for him, but he was not there.  Then yesterday afternoon, I suddenly felt the urge to go and run a particular errand.  As I passed that corner again, I saw him, and I was elated.  I drove up to him, and got out of my car.

I asked him about his week, and he told me that he and Tim had gone to a hotel for one night to clean themselves up, and had also purchased some clean clothes.  As well, he had been able to go downtown and get some proper identification for himself.  Usually, Tim stays behind while Steve is panhandling and guards whatever they have.  After they had bought the clothes, they felt secure that no one else knew where they were sleeping under the bridge, and so they both went out one day.  While they were gone, someone took their new clothes, which they had left under the bridge so they would be able to use them as they needed, rather than get them dirty while they foraged or panhandled.

As I had been to the bank that morning, I gave him once again the money that I had in my wallet, and only kept $5 for myself this time.  I then told him that I would contact a priest friend of mine down here to see what help we could find for them.  My friend, Father Clement had been away on retreat all week, and so I could not get to see him earlier.

I contacted Father Clement by email last evening, and he pointed me back to another friend that I had not thought about in this instance, who I now hope to see later this morning at Mass.

I have prayed about this situation all week, and in my anxiety for these two young fellows, have been caught up in my failings to do more for them, rather than trust God for their needs, with me being a willing participant in His resolution of their challenges, if he so desires, rather than the prime mover.

This morning I read Monsignor Charles Pope's blog posting at the Archdiocese of Washington about today's Mass readings, which were really about prayer.

As always, the good Monsignor wrote eloquently and thoughtfully about the topic.  He highlights 6 practices for prayer and some thoughts about each.  The 6 practices are:
1) The Problem for Prayer
2) The Priority of Prayer
3) The Power of Prayer
4) The Partnership of Prayer
5) The Persistence of Prayer, and
6) The Product of Prayer.
In this particular case, I have the Problem.  I have given it SOME Priority (need to work on that one), had completely forgotten about the Power of my prayers for these young men, was feeling lonely in the situation because I had not gone to a Partner (though now I have Father Clement praying with me, and will get my other friend involved today), have been Persisting, and will continue, and will await the Product of Prayer.

Monsignor Charles ended his homily about prayer with two wonderful black Gospel songs that spoke to my heart as I hope they speak to yours.

The first one is from the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir and is called "I Can Go to God in Prayer".



If that don't set you on fire, your woods wet.

The second song is by the Georgia Mass Choir, with Dorothy Norwood as lead singer, and is called "Somebody Prayed for Me."



Sacred Heart of Jesus, I trust in your love for Steve and Tim.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Bible and Cognitive Dissonance

Trying To Make Sense of It All

Recently, at Father Tim Moyle's blog, "Where the Rubber Hits the Road", he and I have gotten into a discussion with our friend Wayne (Small Town Guy) about Genesis.  We have also discussed the Eucharist and lately got on to the sacrament of Confession.  Though the discussions are interesting, there seems to be no reconciling of Catholic teaching (darn Papists - whore of Babylon!!) with Protestant teaching (which version of the over 30,000 are we talking today?).  But, we soldier on.

As I read an interesting article over at the Archdiocese of Washington (Who says nothing good comes out of Washington?) blog site this morning by Monsignor Charles Pope, I was reminded of the Genesis discussion we had with Wayne a while back.

Wayne kind of warned us to tread lightly regarding Genesis, as he took the creation narrative literally.  I forgot to ask him which one he was taking literally since they seem to have some conflict with each other.  Father Tim presented a diagram of how the earth of the first story of creation looked to the people of the time - you may know the dome over the earth concept.  Wayne countered that THAT was not in the Bible, and so didn't count.  Pretty much ground the discussion to a halt with that one.

Cognitive dissonance occurs when you hold two conflicting thoughts or views in your mind, which are not readily reconcilable and therefor create a tension, possibly until your head explodes, or you pop a blood vessel.  The two stories of creation in Genesis are an example of a possible cognitive dissonance, if they are to be taken literally.

Monsignor Pope brings perspective to the creation story, and in fact to the bible. 

Before digging in to the creation story/stories, he sets the stage with some thoughts from Father Robert Barron, from Word on Fire Catholic Ministries, about the bible as a whole.  Here is what he had to say:
Fr. Robert Barron has well noted that the Bible is not a book, it is a library. Contained within its pages are works of history, poetry, prayer, prose, theology, liturgical instructions, cosmology, philosophy, parables, moral tales, genealogy and so forth. How exactly to read its pages and understand them is often a matter of understanding the genre.



The word Genre is from French, genre, meaning “kind” or “sort.” It also stems from Latin: genus and the Greek: genos, γένος). Genre is the term for any category of literature, as well as various other forms of art or culture e.g. music, based on a set of stylistic criteria.


Now some one may ask you, “Do you read the Bible literally?.” Fr. Barron points out, that’s like someone asking you, “Do you interpret the library literally?” Of course you would say, it depends on what section I’m in. If I’m in the science or history section I may read the book there literally. But if I am in the poetry or novel section, or in the children’s storybook section, I would not likely read the books there literally. I would understand that they are using stories and images to make a point, but not like science or history does.


So we know how to exercise some sophistication when it comes to the library. But many loose this sophistication when it comes to the Bible. Often we can fail to distinguish literary forms and thus force a book or passage to be what it is not.
The good Monsignor then goes on to examine the two accounts of creation in Genesis from this perspective:
The Book of Genesis, especially the early chapters suffer a lot of this sort of failure to appreciate the literary forms. Many want the creation stories to be science or exact history when in fact they are more poetic and theological, than scientific. They advance the real and true point that God alone created everything there is out of nothing and did so in an intentional and systematic way in which he is involved at every stage. This is the sacred and theological truth set forth by the Genesis accounts.



But this does not mean the text proposes to be in the form of a science textbook. Take, for example, the accounting of the “days” of creation. Although light is created on the first day, the Sun and moon are not created until the fourth day. So what does it mean to speak of a “day” when the very sun by which we measure a day is not even existence for the first three “days?” Further, the notion of light apart from the Sun, is somewhat an abstract concept.


If some one asks me if I read the account of creation literally I ask them, “Which one?” This usually leads to a puzzled look. But but the fact is that Genesis sets forth two accounts of creation that are very different.
1. In the first account (Gen 1:1-2:4) we see a period of seven days which begins with the creation of light, then the sky and the ocean, then vegetation, then the sun and the moon, then, fishes and birds, then the animals and finally Adam and Eve.


2. The second account of creation (Gen 2:4-25) does not mention days or a time frame. It begins with the creation of Adam, then the planting of a garden, then the animals, then the creation of Eve.
Hence, we have two very distinct versions of the creation. In no way can they be harmonized yet, neither are they in absolute conflict. They both describe the same event from a different angle and with a different focus on detail. Neither account alone contains all the details. But, together they contain all God wants us to know about the creation of the cosmos. If asked to describe my recent visit to the Holy Land I could start at the beginning and give a day by day account. Or I could choose to start at the end or culmination and work backward. Or, I could just give highlights. Or I could sort out the trip along themes such as Old Testament sites and New Testament sites etc. I might also select the data for a given audience and present different aspects to different audiences. And so, the options are quite many. Now all of what I say is true, but it is selective and thematic based on the audience and my purpose.


So here again, a little sophistication is required in dealing with the accounts of creation. If we have a literalistic and wooden notion of history we can err by trying to make Genesis what it is not. It does not conform to the modern genre of historical writing which tends to be strictly chronological and comprehensive. These Genesis accounts are quite willing to speak to us poetically and selectively of creation and even to reverse the timeline. This is because their purpose is not to give us a blow by blow account of exactly how God did everything. Exact times and dates are not the point. God as purposeful sole and sovereign creator is the point. God who is present and active at every stage is the point. The dignity of the Human person are also the point. The first account accomplishes this by making man the culmination of the creation story. The second account makes this point by beginning with man and having every formed around him and for him.


The catechism of the Catholic Church says of these accounts:


Among all the Scriptural texts about creation, the first three chapters of Genesis occupy a unique place. From a literary standpoint these texts may have had diverse sources. The inspired authors have placed them at the beginning of Scripture to express in their solemn language the truths of creation – its origin and its end in God, its order and goodness, the vocation of man, and finally the drama of sin and the hope of salvation. Read in the light of Christ, within the unity of Sacred Scripture and in the living Tradition of the Church, these texts remain the principal source for catechesis on the mysteries of the “beginning”: creation, fall, and promise of salvation. (CCC # 289)
You will need to read the article in full if you have not, because there is a very interesting twist towards the end about how Cain and Abel had kids if they were the only biblically reported children of Adam and Eve.

But, it all makes for an interesting take on our Protestant brothers and sisters.  Many, not all take the creation story literally, 7 days and done, even though there are conflicting versions in the bible. 

That brings me to the second instance of cognitive dissonance I have in mind.  If you take Genesis literally, why not what follows here?

However, when Jesus was about to die and had a meal with his 12 followers (and only them) the night before he died, our Protestant brothers and sisters believe that what He said was not to be taken literally.  Jesus said: "This IS my body."  The aramaic word for "is" was used very specifically in the writing, and cannot be interpreted as "just kidding" or "woulda, coulda, maybe".  It means very specifically "IS". Nothing else.  Nothing less.  This was Jesus, Our Saviour, preparing to meet a most awful death the next day.  He knew it was coming, and he specifically arranged to have a dinner with his closest followers. 

Put yourself in his shoes.  You are going to die tomorrow.  These followers of yours are going to have to carry on your work.  So, what do you say to them?  Tell them a few jokes to lighten the mood? - not.  How about you give them a little allegory to remember you by? - not.   Later Jesus wept tears of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Do you think he was taking this lightly?  No, he gave them HIMSELF that night, as only He could do and did.

He joined them to His Mystical Body, with His own Body and Blood, in the form of bread and wine.  Yes, we are to always do this in memory of Him, to remember what He did for us the very next day; He died in our place for our sins.

How dare any of us blithely and ignorantly take the creation story literally and then denounce the story of the creation of the Eucharist as an allegory or JUST a memorial?

My head may be about to explode but not from cognitive dissonance, but from the displays of cognitive ignorance it takes to take Genesis literally and institution of the Eucharist figuratively.

Friday, October 15, 2010

St. Theresa of Avila

Today is Her Feast Day

Father Tim Moyle has posted some thoughts on this great Doctor of the Church.  Please have a read here.

Is the Sacrament of Confession Biblical?

And, What Did the Early Church Fathers Teach About It?

Over at Father Tim Moyle's blog, we have been having this dialogue with Small Town Guy about the sacrament of Reconciliation/Confession/Penance.

Hence, I wrote an article yesterday about the reading from Galations that was part of the mass readings for the day here.

But, it is a worthy question whether the sacrament of Reconciliation is in fact biblical.  However, once again, we have to muddle through the Reformers point of view (pick one) from interpretations of scripture that began in the 16th century.  It is tiresome to have to battle against scriptural interpretations that are new (ie. 500 years old), instead of the beliefs from the beginning of Christianity.

So, let me present to you a perspective that describes that we Catholic Christians believe the sacrament of reconciliation to have been created by Christ and to be supported by the bible.

Bella Online has a writer, Melissa Knoblett-Aman who has admirably brought together some of the Church teaching on the topic.  I say some, since this is no picayune matter, and there are reams of Catholic data available (none of which was written by that fundamentalist apologist Loraine Boettner - may he rest in peace).

No need to rewrite it, here are her words:

Some ask why Catholics confess to a priest rather than just going straight to God. Some claim that confessing to a priest is not biblical. But that is not true.

We confess to a priest because that is the way Jesus instigated the sacrament. It is at his command that we confess to one another. When we sin against the Father our sins also affect our Christian family. Confessing sins to a priest is something that was a universal practice and never debated in the Early Church. (See the supplement Early Church Fathers - On Confession for some quotes.)

Jesus himself was able to heal not only the physically sick, but the spiritually sick as well. Christ had the power to forgive sins (see Matthew 9:1-8; Mark 2:5-12).

He passed on that power to forgive sins in his name to his Apostles.

"Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again, I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father." (Matthew 18:18-19)

"Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I sent you." And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained." (John 20:21-23)

Jesus entrusted his Church with the power of forgiving sins through this most wonderful sacrament. The priest is simply the one who acts in persona Christi (in the person of Christ) in the confessional, but it is our Lord who forgives our sins. The priest grants absolution (sets us free from our sins) using the power Jesus entrusted to his Church. It is through Christ, however, that our sins are forgiven.

St. Paul tells us, "And all this is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and given us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting their trespasses against them and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us." (2 Corinthians 5: 18-20)

Does this mean that we shouldn’t speak and pray directly to God and express sorrow for our sins? Not at all! In fact for daily faults that is exactly what we should be doing. But for more serious offenses, for grave and mortal sins, we must repent and confess through the Sacrament of Reconciliation because that is what Christ commands us to do.
STG, when presented with links to the above, initially ignored them and went on to say: "Loraine Boettner mentions in his book that not a word is found in the writings of early church fathers about confessing sins to a priest or anyone except God alone. Confessing to priests or men is not mentioned in the writings of Augustine, Origen, Nestorius, Tertullian, Jerome, Chrysostom, or Athanasius. All of these men apparently spent their lives without ever thinking of going to confession." 

But, he was wrong with his list, not by a little bit, but sufficiently enough to call anything that Loraine Boettner had to say about the Catholic Church into question.  It was not difficult to find what the men who Boettner said did not speak about Confession, did actually say about the sacrament.  Unlike Boettner, I have a lap top computer and access to Google.  Several of the quotes that follow come from a well researched article here.

Here, for example is what Augustine said specifically about 400 AD:

  Wherefore God gives the sacrament of grace even through the hands of wicked men, but the grace itself only by Himself or through His saints. And therefore He gives remission of sins either of Himself, or through the members of that dove to whom He says, "Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained." NPNF1, vol. 4, p. 474.
In 416, Augustine wrote further on the topic in "On the Gospel of John":

  "As the Father hath sent me," He adds, "even so send I you." We know the Son to be equal to the Father; but here we recognize the words of the Mediator. For He exhibits Himself as occupying a middle position when He says, He me, and I you. "And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost." By breathing on them He signified that the Holy Spirit was the Spirit, not of the Father alone, but likewise His own. ""Whose so-ever sins," He continues, "ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever ye retain, they are retained."The Church's love, which is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, discharges the sins of all who are partakers with itself, but retains the sins of those who have no participation therein. Therefore it is, that after saying "Receive ye the Holy Ghost," He straightway added this regarding the remission and retention of sins. NPNF1, vol. 7, p. 438.
As for Origen, in his Homilies on Leviticus, in 244 AD, he wrote:

In addition to these there is also a seventh, albeit hard and laborious: the remission of sins through penance, when the sinner washes his pillow in tears, when his tears are day and night his nourishment, when he does not shrink from declaring his sin to a priest of the Lord and from seeking medicine, and after the manner of him who says, “I said, ‘To the Lord I will accuse myself of my iniquity, and you forgave the disloyalty of my heart.” In this way there is fulfilled that too, which the Apostle James says:   “If, then, there is anyone sick, let him call the presbyters of the Church, and let them impose hands upon him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and if he be in sins, they shall be forgiven him. Jurgens, Vol. 1, #493, p. 207.
Since most of what we know about Nestorius is due to a time of heresy in his life, what he really ended up believing and originally believed about Reconciliation is not as readily available, not that it matters.

Tertullian was in the end a heretic, and did not believe in the sacrament of Reconciliation for all sins, believing that murder, adultery and apostasy were too evil to be healed by Confession.  But, he did say some things that supported the sacrament of Reconciliation here.

And, Saint Jerome has things to say as well about Confession in 398 AD:

Just as in the Old Testament the priest makes the leper clean or unclean, so in the New Testament the bishop and presbyter binds or looses not those who are innocent or guilty, but by reason of their office, when they have heard various kinds of sins, they know who is to be bound and who loosed. Jurgens, vol. 2, p. 202
Boettner was once again wrong about St. John Chrystostum as we find here in his (St. John's, not Boettner's) book "On the Priesthood", written in 386 AD:

For if any one will consider how great a thing it is for one, being a man, and compassed with flesh and blood, to be enabled to draw nigh to that blessed and pure nature, he will then clearly see what great honor the grace of the Spirit has vouchsafed to priests; since by their agency these rites are celebrated, and others nowise inferior to these both in respect of our dignity and our salvation. For they who inhabit the earth and make their abode there are entrusted with the administration of things which are in Heaven, and have received an authority which God has not given to angels or archangels. For it has not been said to them, "Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven, and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven." They who rule on earth have indeed authority to bind, but only the body: whereas this binding lays hold of the soul and penetrates the heavens; and what priests do here below God ratifies above, and the Master confirms the sentence of his servants. NPNF1, vol. 9, p. 47.
The last of Boettner's list of Church leaders was Athanasius, and he had this to day about Confession which comes from a reference on the EWTN site here:
"As the man whom the priest baptizes is enlightened by the grace of the Holy Ghost, so does he who in penance confesses his sins, receive through the priest forgiveness in virtue of the grace of Christ."

Here is an additional smattering of writings from the early Church about the sacrament of Reconciliation, again quoting Melissa Knoblett-Aman:
Confessing sins to a priest is something that was a universal practice and never debated in the Early Church. Below are several quotes from the Early Church Fathers confirming that the basics of this most powerful sacrament have always been part of the Church.

The Didache
"Confess your sins in church, and do not go up to your prayer with an evil conscience. This is the way of life. . . On the Lord's Day gather together, break bread, and give thanks, after confessing your transgressions so that your sacrifice may be pure." (Didache 4:14,14:1 -- A.D.70)

The Letter of Barnabas
"You shall judge righteously. You shall not make a schism, but you shall pacify those that contend by bringing them together. You shall confess your sins. You shall not go to prayer with an evil conscience. This is the way of light." (Letter of Barnabas 19 -- A.D. 74)

Ignatius of Antioch
"For as many as are of God and of Jesus Christ are also with the bishop. And as many as shall, in the exercise of penance, return into the unity of the Church, these, too, shall belong to God, that they may live according to Jesus Christ." (Letter to the Philadelphians 3 -- A.D. 110)

"For where there is division and wrath, God does not dwell. To all them that repent, the Lord grants forgiveness, if they turn in penitence to the unity of God, and to communion with the bishop." (ibid. 8)

Origen
"[A filial method of forgiveness], albeit hard and laborious [is] the remission of sins through penance, when the sinner . . . does not shrink from declaring his sin to a priest of the Lord and from seeking medicine, after the manner of him who say, "I said, to the Lord, I will accuse myself of my iniquity." " (Homilies in Leviticus 2:4 -- A.D. 248)

Basil the Great
"It is necessary to confess our sins to those to whom the dispensation of God’s mysteries is entrusted. Those doing penance of old are found to have done it before the saints. It is written in the Gospel that they confessed their sins to John the Baptist [Matt. 3:6], but in Acts [19:18] they confessed to the apostles." (Rules Briefly Treated 288 -- A.D. 374)

John Chrysostom
"Priests have received a power which God has given neither to angels nor to archangels. It was said to them: "Whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever you shall loose, shall be loosed." Temporal rulers have indeed the power of binding: but they can only bind the body. Priests, in contrast, can bind with a bond which pertains to the soul itself and transcends the very heavens. Did [God] not give them all the powers of heaven? "Whose sins you shall forgive," he says, "they are forgiven them; whose sins you shall retain, they are retained." The Father has given all judgment to the Son. And now I see the Son placing all this power in the hands of men [Matt. 10:40; John 20:21-23]. They are raised to this dignity as if they were already gathered up to heaven." (The Priesthood 3:5 -- A.D. 387)

Ambrose of Milan
"For those to whom [the right of binding and loosing] has been given, it is plain that either both are allowed, or it is clear that neither is allowed. Both are allowed to the Church, neither is allowed to heresy. For this right has been granted to priests only." (Penance 1:1 -- A.D. 388)
It seems that Boettner as a resource on Catholic teaching should be ignored, particularly when the facts are available.  The truth, and the truth alone will set us free.