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The Making of Saints

Notes from the Pastor [73]

(Please note this is an archival post that is decades old.  Msgr. Awalt passed away a number of years ago.)

George Weigel points out in his wonderful book, Witness of Hope, page 446, that Pope John Paul II beatified (last step until canonization) 805 men and women and canonized 205 during the first twenty years of his pontificate.  This is more than any other Pope in the history of the Church.  A great many of these declarations were made on his trips around the world to various countries.  The large numbers are partially because of his canonizations of groups of people, such as the martyrs of Vietnam.

The Church does not make saints.  The Pope does not make saints.  God makes saints.  Our recognition of God’s work is a long process in which the lives of potential saints are studied thoroughly and in detail.  Their writings are analyzed.  Their reputation for sanctity is scrutinized.  Miracles have to be attributed to their intercession alone and also submitted to medical and scientific study of the highest order.  God is wonderful with His graces among all ages, genders, nationalities, and occupations, among the married, single and religious.  Martyrdom has led to the declaration of large numbers of candidates as saints in many countries.

This is the message of Pope John Paul II– that we are all called to holiness, not just the religious and the clergy, monks and nuns.  Holiness is the vocation of every baptized Christian.

Pope John Paul II’s ideal of sanctity is the martyr — the witness — to self-sacrificing love.  But there are many other saints among us who will not be beatified or declared saints.  They are only known to God.  Nonetheless, they are still saints.

The twentieth century has just ended and according to Pope John Paul II, it was the greatest century for martyrs.  Mothers and fathers, priests and religious, bishops, popes and scholars have lived in such a heroic way that the Church wants them to be recognized as saints.

Msgr. William J. Awalt

The Use of the Word “Lord”

Notes from the Pastor [78]

(Please note this is an archival post that is decades old.  Msgr. Awalt passed away a number of years ago.)

Lord is not Jesus’ first name as in Lord Jesus Christ, although we may inadvertently assume it is.  “Lord” is not who Jesus is but what He is.  It helps to keep this in mind in our prayers, especially at Mass and in the Liturgy.  The Holy Spirit moves us to prayer.  We pray to the Father and we pray in, with and through Jesus Christ.  It is good to keep that direction in mind.

For instance, in the Offertory prayer of the bread, we say, “Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation.”  We are speaking to God, not to Jesus as such.  Usually when we invoke in our prayers, “the Lord,” we are referring to God.  Jesus is Lord, the Scripture tells us, meaning that Jesus who is man, in virtue of the Incarnation, is also God.  As a man, He prays for and with us and as the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, He receives our prayers of  petition, thanks and adoration, etc.  Does this mean it is incorrect to pray directly to Jesus?  Of course not!  It is the fine distinction that every time the word “Lord” occurs in our liturgical prayers, “Lord” does not apply to Jesus, but is a prayer directed to the Triune God.  Making it absolutely clear, “the Lord” does not refer to Jesus’ identity, but to what He is– “Lord.”

Keep this in the back of your mind and you will be surprised at your awareness of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the Liturgy.  Obviously, when we use “Father” as in the Our Father or “Holy Spirit” we are directing our prayers to a person.  When we use “Lord” it is usually to the Godhead, not to Jesus individually.

Msgr. William J. Awalt

Are All Churches the Same?

Notes from the Pastor [77]

(Please note this is an archival post that is decades old.  Msgr. Awalt passed away a number of years ago.)

Recently in speaking to theologians through the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Holy Father (Pope John Paul II), underscored the unique role of Christ and the Church in human salvation.  Given this age’s emphasis upon diversity, relativism and ecumenism, an old error may be creeping into our thinking that religious profession does not really make any difference  as we all worship the same God.  The Unitarians deny the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Others deny the divinity of Christ.  How can it make no difference?  Our supreme teacher, Pope John Paul II, said that Christ’s Church is the universal sacrament of salvation.  In saying this, he was only emphasizing what Vatican II taught, that the fullness of revelation is found in the Catholic Church.  Christ’s unique role in salvation is the Church’s own uniqueness.  “The Church is the sole means of salvation because it is Christ’s body, by means of which (Christ) himself works salvation throughout history.” Those in the Church have the fullness of salvific means.  The Second Vatican Council’s document on ecumenism explicitly spoke of unity “which we believe subsists in the Catholic Church as something she can never lose.

Does this mean as Catholics we are better than others?  That is for God to judge according to the grace He gives. Does it mean we are more correct than others?  Yes.  Does this mean we have to conscientiously look for the one true Church?  Yes.  Does the phrase “as long as you are happy” become an excuse for not following the teachings of Christ as prescribed by the Catholic Church?  Of course not!

Let us be grateful to God for the undeserved grace we have been given to be faithful members of our Church.  Let us pray that others may find the light of truth and work towards unity in the Church.

Msgr. William J. Awalt

Fr. Ken Roberts, REST IN PEACE

154549133261636553bFr. Kenneth Roberts died Thursday, December 20, 2018 around 4:50 ET in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Born and raised in England, he later became an American citizen.  He was 89 years of age.  A charismatic and articulate priest, he easily made his early reputation as a stark defender and teacher of Catholic teaching.  (Back in 1989, I got to meet him over a dinner in Birmingham, Alabama.)  At the time he was filming programs locally for Mother Angelica and EWTN.  His book PLAYBOY TO PRIEST was one of the works that influenced many young men to discern a vocation to the priesthood, myself included. Another notable book was NOBODY CALLS IT SIN ANYMORE.  He is well remembered for his books, tapes, television appearances, retreats and support for the Medjugorje apparitions and messages.

His defunct website noted the following:  “Throughout his life, Father Ken has been especially devoted to our Blessed Mother, realizing that the love and graces of her Immaculate Heart are the surest and most expedient way into the saving Sacred Heart of her son Jesus Christ. Father Roberts has dedicated his priesthood to the Blessed Virgin Mary.”

Although he traveled a great deal, he was a priest (ordained in 1966) from the Diocese of Dallas, Texas.  Given credible charges of misconduct with minors, he was suspended from ministry in 1998 (November 13) by Bishop Charles Grahmann and incurred serious restrictions (such as not being able to wear clerical garb and from presenting himself as a priest in good standing). Although ordered to do so, he was hesitant or slow to terminate his national online ministry.  He was especially popular with young people and his site got as many as 50,000 hits a day.  When the revelations of misconduct were made public, his supporters were in utter disbelief and rallied to his defense.  Unfortunately, accusations of improper behavior dated back to the 1970’s.  Since 1995 he had been directed to avoid ministerial contacts with youth and men thirty years of age or younger.  He disappeared into retirement, stripped of all the trappings of priesthood, even the title, FATHER.  An official monitum or Church warning went out in 2007 that he was allegedly celebrating home Masses and was associating with children and teenagers in violation of his suspension and earlier restrictions.  I recall one vocal critic who complained when she spotted the elderly Roberts praying quietly in the rear corner of a parish church.  It looked to her that he was wearing a clerical shirt, albeit not black and without the tell-tale Roman collar.  If I recall the correspondence correctly, someone may have even called him “father,” although I suspect that he was also called many other things of  a far more offensive nature.  My response was to remind the critic, who had every right to be upset and disappointed in the wayward priest, that we are all sinners and the Church will never close her doors to any soul seeking to make reparation for wrongs and to find healing in Christ.  Given that the charges were true, maybe he was bringing the many victims to prayer?  We leave ultimate judgment to God.

I was a big fan of his YOU BETTER BELIEVE IT program on EWTN. It was a wonderful show which he co-hosted with a Catholic and Protestant teenager.  It spoke to the youth in a non-threatening language that they could understand.  His small booklet in response to the anti-Catholicism of Jimmy Swaggert was also right on the mark.  Of course, the misconduct soured or ruined the positive impact of much of what he did. 

As with the many other scandals facing the Church, it is all so terrible and hard to believe.  How must we respond?  We must pray for victims and their perpetrators.  We must seek transparency in our discipleship and shed any duplicity.  We must seek justice and healing for those harmed.

His family and friends kept his passing quiet so as to avoid sensationalism.  That is as it should be.  The reason I posted this information was to urge all his past fans, friends and critics to pray for the repose of his soul.  He was buried from Holy Cross-Immaculata Parish in Cincinnati on December 27, 2018.  The Mass was celebrated by Fr. Timothy Reid.  He was buried at Gate of Heaven Cemetery (11000 Montgomery Road, Cincinnati, OH  45249).

He very much believed in the power of prayer and frequently urged that we remember the poor helpless souls in purgatory.  I suspect that he has now joined their company.

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Funeral Mass Program – Fr. Kenneth J. Roberts

Eternal rest, grant unto him/her O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon him.
May he rest in peace. Amen.

May his/her soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Remembering Father Ken… I hope and trust that he knew the graces that come with repentance.  REST IN PEACE.


http://www.ncregister.com/site/article/dallas_bishop_suspends_father_ken_roberts

https://www.poynter.org/reporting-editing/2003/former-student-pursues-charges/

https://www.crisismagazine.com/2018/gay-priests-open-letter-fr-james-martin

God Saves Us in Jesus Christ

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The question is sometimes asked, “Could God have saved us in some other way?”

The consensus of Church teachers is YES, but any deep speculation is probably a waste of time.  God does what God does.  Our focus should be on the actual intervention:  God loved us so much that he sent his only Son into the world as one of us to redeem humanity.  The manner chosen by God shows both the terrible price of sin and the intimacy that God wants with the stewards of creation.  The incarnation changes everything.  The human face of Christ is revelatory of almighty God.  Ours is no longer simply the invisible God.  The body of a man, particularly on the Cross or imaged with the sacred heart, is now a powerful icon for the Lord.  God directly saves us.  Accordingly, now all men and women (who were made in the image of God) with the powers of intellect and will, can be refashioned by grace into the likeness of God in Jesus Christ.  Jesus is the new and perfect Adam.  He heals the rift caused by Original Sin and makes it possible for us to be truly holy and righteous in the eyes of God.

Everything was created by the Father through his Word.  It is in the Word (the Second Person of the Trinity) made man that there shall be a re-creation and the restoration of that which was lost.  There is a mysterious but definite logic to the divine plan.  This Word is also regarded as the Light of the World.  We were blinded by sin but now the dark clouds are parting and we can truly know and love God as we should.  The incarnation of Christ also gives us a perpetual exemplar.  God beckons that we become transformed into Christ.  We must proclaim him to the world and in our lives.  Like our Lord, we must also become prophetic signs of contradiction to the world that shuns the face of God.

The parables proclaim both a new type of kingdom and a new type of king.  The miracles of Christ largely focus on broken bodies and hungry bellies; however, in truth these were signs pointing to a deeper healing and feeding.  The sins of the flesh immediately touch the soul and Jesus came to save souls.  We are reminded that ours is a jealous God and that he would not share us with either the devil or the world.  His values challenge us to think of things in a way that is foreign to the earthly man.  We and our values must be changed so as to reflect a new kingdom breaking into the world.  This kingdom emerges first through the person of Jesus Christ and now through his mystical body, the Church. His sovereignty as divine and suffering servant is absolute.  No one else can make this claim— no angel of any rank and no man of any stature.  The God-Man beckons to us as no one else ever could.

The Word become flesh is the one Son of God but his redemptive work and sacrifice makes possible our spiritual adoption as sons and daughters of the heavenly Father.  This is a crucial point that should never be glossed over.  Just as the promise was preserved in the Old Testament with a family becoming a tribe and a tribe becoming a nation; the New Testament returns to the notion of a family.  It is within this context that Jesus tells his friends that he goes ahead of us to prepare a place (a room) in his house.  Jesus is born into the family of man so that we might be reborn into the family of God.  This is the appreciation of faith and baptism.  The subjects of the kingdom are all members of the royal family of God.  The gift of grace gives us an affinity or likeness to Christ just as members of a natural family often physically resemble each other. Indeed, the theme of family explodes when he shares his relationship with his apostles in teaching them the Lord’s Prayer.  His Father becomes “our” Father.

Planned Parenthood’s Hitlerish Agenda

Notes from the Pastor [76]

(Please note this is an archival post that is decades old.  Msgr. Awalt passed away a number of years ago.)

Planned Parenthood sounds like a noble program and well-intentioned.  But look at what its founder, Margaret Sanger, states as the purpose in her founding this organization.

“More children from the fit, less from the unfit — that is the chief name of birth control.”

Birth control:  to create a race of thoroughbreds.  Sounds Hitlerish, doesn’t it? She sharply criticized philanthropists who provided free maternity care for poor mothers. She often referred to the poor as “human weeds,” targeting minorities such as blacks.  “We do not want the word to get out that we want to exterminate the Negro population.” Her compassion  “remember our motto: if we must have welfare, give it to the rich, not to the poor.” We are paying for and even submitting to the dictates of ever-increasing, unceasingly spawning class of human beings who never should have been born at all.”

Her goal is being reached in 61 countries worldwide where they are failing to replace their population.

Since Roe vs. Wade, yearly 1.5 million unborn babies have been aborted in the U.S. alone.

Why are we so worried about health care for children when we eliminate that need by killing a million and a half a year?

Why worry about social security running out of funds when we kill 1.5 million potential workers and taxpayers every year? Why teh multiplying “help wanted” signs in places of employment when we are reducing the workforce at the rate of 1.5 million a year?

Our tax dollars are supporting this organization both here and abroad. As individuals do we blindly give to this group called “Planned Parenthood?”

Information taken from Sanger “Pivot of Civilization and Father of Modern Science.”

PLEASE PRAY FOR VOCATIONS! Over the past four years, dioceses in the United States have ordained 1,569 priests (one in every 38,000 Catholics). There are 2,000 parishes in the United States without a resident priest.

Msgr. William J. Awalt

Pope John Paul II & Providence

Notes from the Pastor [74]

(Please note this is an archival post that is decades old.  Msgr. Awalt passed away a number of years ago.)

When Pope John Paul II arrived at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal in 1982, there was a phrase he used in his address that certainly seems to pertain to his life as far as we can judge.  He said “in the design of Providence there are no mere coincidences.” All creation obeys God without thought of hesitancy except us humans.  In the case of Pope John Paul II, we can certainly see God’s hand in bringing him to the papacy.  In his youth, he was subject as were his fellow Poles to the invading forces of Germany and Russia.  He took part in resistance movements.  If he were detected, he would have suffered the concentration camp and/or death.  Yet his work was not detected.  As a youth he was struck by a car and left lying in the street until a German soldier (sic) was instrumental in saving his life.  At Fatima, he came to give thanks for being spared when a knife-wielding assassin was apprehended in an attempted attack on his life.  All of us are aware of his being shot in St. Peter’s Square, greeting pilgrims.  Had the shot been a fraction of an inch closer to his vital organs, he would have died.  Had his would-be assassin shot again, he certainly would have died.  Then we see the hand of God in giving us such a leader. His traveling abroad at his age would have been prohibitive to the ordinary man. Yet his physique as a youth from long hours spent hiking and kayaking have given him the strength to bring God’s message to so many lands and peoples in spite of his physical ailments. While others are guessing who will succeed him as Pope, he is still planning at the age of 80, future trips to distant lands to bring the Gospel himself to the people.

Each morning before his Mass, he arrives at 5:30 and spends two hours in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. He often writes his addresses and letters on a small table in front of the Blessed Sacrament.

The secret of his success, the secret of his resiliency seems to be his oft-quoted phrase from his Master, “Be Not Afraid.”

Each time we attend Mass we pray for him in the Canon. May we be thankful to God for giving us such a successor to St. Peter, the Rock, and pray more earnestly for him as he leads us into the new millennium.

Msgr. William J. Awalt