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My personal spiritual journey had more hiccups than a newborn. While my family, with traditional ties to Catholicism, was influential in planting a Christian seed, growing up in the crazy ’60s, ’70s, ’80s made anything traditional not my bag. By the third grade, my dad bought me a little turntable that resembled a red suitcase and several Beatles albums (along with Alvin and the Chipmunks) – my first intro to rock and roll – and then as I got older, cough … all the rest…
I considered myself a “modern” Christian, i.e., more spiritual than religious, and fell down every spiritual rabbit hole there was. I read about Eastern religions, New Age, visited multiple denominational churches, but was never that committed. As I grew older, I realized I didn’t really have a spiritual foundation. In my case, it took a health crisis to realize I had nothing. The “Universe” wasn’t going to save me, nor the Buddha, or any other spiritual “wisdom” I gleaned from all those cool New Age bookstores, with the ear candles, patchouli and rose incense, and sections on whatever spiritual flavor of the day caught your attention.
I found myself in the hospital very sick, without a diagnosis. While I was hurling into a pan and they were wheeling me off for more x-rays, I started bargaining with Jesus, God, and Holy Mother Mary to get me out of there alive and I would change my ways. A priest came through during my 16+ day hospital stay and asked if I was Catholic. I lied and said yes. He prayed with me for my wellness several times and left me tracts that I clung onto for hope. That became the turning point.
I made it out ok. I got serious and started to watch EWTN Catholic News Network and found a world of knowledge and comfort that I never had before. Life became more difficult before it got better. I guess the devil wanted to derail me from my new direction and he hasn’t let up since. There were miracles – literally — and still are. For example, I still have, after decades of moves and countless belongings lost, the tiny bracelet that was placed on my newborn wrist, with pearls and medals of St. Michael the Archangel slaying the devil and Mary, the mother of Jesus.
While watching PBS, I stumbled on a documentary of Pope John Paul II. I didn’t know who it was about. They described a Polish boy who was sucked into the turmoil of WWII. He sought refuge in the local seminary and became a priest. He hid his Jewish classmates, lost his family, and was hit by a military tank and left for dead on a roadside. It was riveting, with actual footage from the war. He had to go underground to perform Mass, to preserve the Polish culture as it dissolved (on the surface) during WWII and then into Russia. He was instrumental in standing up to Russia and standing with Solidarity, the workers who brought down the communists in Poland.
My Polish family history on my mom’s side shows they escaped from Russia to America. Not one church survived in Poland. On my dad’s side, they fled Ukraine for America. And here I am by the grace of God. My Catholic dad fought against Imperial Japan, my Catholic Uncle Al against the Germans, and my Catholic Uncle Bo against Mussolini.
I did a story on a Pole named Kuklinski.
When he went to work for the CIA in the 1970s, he wondered if he had the right to do it. His heart said that the only things that mattered were Church, Country, and Family. Poland knows.
I realized, later in life, that Jesus gave us the ultimate gift through His sacrifice and made the Catholic Church the messenger. The apostles and followers were first-generation witnesses that carried that message. All other denominations are blood vessels from the Catholic Heart, holy blood pumping out life and breath from the Creator. That’s why I grew up saying The Apostles’ Creed, including the line, “I believe in one Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church,” whether I was in a Methodist, Presbyterian, or Episcopalian Church. I found the “encyclicals,” which are writings by the Popes throughout the generations and have been carefully preserved, available online — a wealth of wisdom on family and every subject imaginable, with no surprise as to how we have arrived at the confused society of today. They predicted it all.
Another story I wrote was about a man named Sir Nicholas Winton, a Christian; one person who recognized evil and tried to do something. Generations of Jews survived and are alive today because of him. Another witness to hope.
Reading the lives of the saints, I was shocked at the sacrifice, torture, and pain that they experienced for their faith, yet the persecution continues. I never knew. Saving the human soul, throughout history, and what it takes, it’s all there and it is “the mission.” It’s not saving the planet, the environment, or becoming more accommodating to trends and popular culture, or other faiths, it’s about saving souls.
The earthquake felt around the world regarding the sex abuse scandals this past week will not prevail. The filth and lies can’t hide under the light of truth. The Church, while made up of weak human beings, is also supernatural. She cannot be destroyed. Jesus said, “And I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.“ (Matthew 16: 17-19)
The gates of Hell shall not prevail, but they are pretty darn close. A quote from Archbishop Vigano, the writer of the 11-page account of the years of abuse says, “I am 78 years old, and I am at the end of my life. The judgment of men does not interest me. The one judgment that counts is that of the good God. He will ask me what I have done for the Church of Christ, and I want to be able to respond to him that I defended her and served her even to the end.”
Italian Catholic journalist Aldo Maria Valli, one of several reputable journalists who was given the 11-page letter about the sexual abuse and deviancy running rampant through the Church, asked the most naive question of all: “Why?”
The response of the archbishop, he said, froze my blood: “Because the cracks of which Paul VI spoke, from which he said the smoke of Satan would infiltrate the house of God, have become chasms. The devil is working overtime. And to not admit that, or to turn our face away from it, would be our greatest sin.”
Christianity, at its very roots, has always been under siege and is under attack at a time when the world has slipped into a false sense of security, engulfed in a secular, politically correct disease that is distorting right and wrong, even within the Church. Look at Ireland — once a Catholic nation and the recent ruling on abortion — the crackdowns in China, even in the Catholic Church, and the cleansing of Christians throughout the Middle East and across the world.
What faith stood up against communism, totalitarianism, Islam throughout the last 2,000 years? What is our country’s foundation, if not a Judeo-Christian Republic, unduplicated anywhere? Pray for the Christians and the Catholic Church. Freedom and Western Civilization depend on it.