Hero Award - Bishop Robert Vasa
Hero Award - Archbishop John Vlazny" Kennedy
Millstone Award - Cardinal Roger M. Mahoney

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The following was written by Joscelyn Voight , a 17 year old girl entering a cloistered monastery for discernment. She has been home-schooled and lives in a rural environment in Pennsylvania, participates as a prayer warrior at a Maryland abortion center and has gone with a church group to Peru for charitable purposes. She also has a website with many articles and poems, www.seekingavocation.blogspot.com. The following was extracted from one of her articles. Her website name is Sadie.

Only Through Suffering Can We in Our Sinful Human Nature Come to Know Love

     “The thought of heavenly happiness not only doesn't cause me one bit of joy, I even wonder sometimes how it will be possible to be happy without suffering. No doubt Jesus will change my nature, otherwise I will regret leaving suffering and this valley of tears behind me.”
(St. Therese--'The Story of Love')

     Not too long ago, while thinking of heaven, I realized I could not imagine perfect happiness in a heaven where suffering is not a part of love. It is not because I enjoy suffering, quite the opposite; it is because suffering is the strongest declaration of love we know on earth. A Poor Clare abbess told me once that only through suffering can we in our sinful human nature come to know love... but in heaven we will no longer be sinful, and suffering will not be necessary. Although this answer to my problem may make sense to most, it did not satisfy me. Then I came across the above quote. It surprised and comforted me to see that dear St. Therese found the same problem with heaven as I did.
     Therese, slowly being consumed by tuberculosis and in terrible agony, deeply loving our Savior, says she did not find joy in thinking of eternal happiness with Him. At this time in her life she was beset by terrible doubts and an overwhelming darkness. She even felt there was no eternity. Her entire being relied on the purest faith in God, without support or consolation. I read somewhere that Therese once said she would prefer blind faith to visions and mystical experience as long as she could believe without seeing. Why, if her spiritual and bodily suffering were so intense, would she prefer the suffering of earth to the supreme joy in heaven?
     The answer to this question is found in Jesus Himself. The all-perfect God, the wellspring of love, made His greatest declaration of love to His people through the greatest suffering. Jesus suffered an agony of soul and body greater than we could ever imagine and He died utterly alone in His sufferings. He did this for people who hated and scorned Him, He did it for those who would never repay His love, He did it for the very people who put Him to death. Jesus set an example of perfect, unconditional love through suffering. For this, He has made Himself infinitely lovable. We, modeled after God's own nature, love those who give to us, especially those who sacrifice their own comfort or riches for our sake. We love those who prove their love for us by submitting to our wishes at the expense of their pride or well being. Jesus rightly said there is no greater love than for a man to give his life for a friend, for that is all he has. But by friend, Jesus did not only mean those who returned his love or appreciated His gifts...
     Later in her letter Therese insists her desire is not to receive personal happiness or consolation but only to give pleasure to Jesus. The more it cost her to give to Him the better, for she desired to give everything. What do we give if we give of what we own, what we already are? Is it not far better to make a new gift through some action, some energy, and some new exertion? Those who are not worldly-minded appreciate the labor and time of a friend more than all the empty gifts of money he can give.
     Suffering is defined as the bearing of pain or distress. If we bear it and we welcome it for Christ's sake what better declaration of love could there be? I could call this the “secret” of suffering. This love of which I speak is Divine and perfect. It is deeper than we can fathom, it is consuming, and it drives us to perfect and mutual surrender. It is a love for which all of us were created, therefore every one of us experiences it in some measure and form, but it is never truly understood until heaven. I say the "secret" of suffering, for what I have just described is how suffering brings such intense love. To those who have never experienced this love, or who do not understand this secret, I am a crazy fool who desires pain, but, in truth, I'm in the habit of describing heaven as "love greater than happiness," for I cannot describe love apart from suffering. I have often said that I would willingly spend eternity suffering for Christ, and I do not understand why Jesus would not desire this act of love. I solve this thing that baffles me in a few words "in heaven, happiness is love," but my heart will not feel this is the true answer until Jesus Himself has explained it to me.
     "My vocation is love. To be the heart of the Church until the end of history. My work in Heaven begins with my death, for my mission is to make others love Jesus, as I love Him." (St. Therese)

Editor's Note: Redemptive suffering is the belief that human suffering, when accepted and offered up in union with Christ's sufferings, can remit the just punishment for one's sins or the sins of another. Redemptive suffering does not gain the individual forgiveness for their sin; forgiveness results from God's grace, freely given through Christ, which cannot be earned. After one's sins are forgiven, the individual's suffering can reduce the penalty due for sin.
     We can formally offer up our suffering such as by making a Morning Offering to give to Our Lord that day's efforts, works, joys, sufferings, intentions, etc. Or we can informally offer it up by asking God in our own words to use a suffering as it occurs. In Romans 8:13-14 St Paul says "For if you live according to the flesh, you shall die: but if by the Spirit you mortify the deeds of the flesh, you shall live. For whosoever are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." Mortification, the act of dying to oneself by killing off the sinful desires of the flesh, is practiced by doing what all Christians must -- fulfilling our duties, no matter how unpleasant; avoiding near occasions of sin (those situations that tempt us to sin); denying ourselves that which is evil, etc.
     It can also mean voluntarily taking on unpleasant things that aren't a matter of duty or of directly fighting off evil habits, but which simply subject the flesh in order to increase humility, express contrition, and build up the Body of Christ (In an inscrutable way, our sufferings benefit one another. We actually help Jesus in His redemption of the world by giving to Him our sufferings to build up the Body of Christ.) These acts of mortification can include offering to God small acts, such as fasting or practicing abstinence when not bound to, or denying oneself an ordinary pleasure simply for the sake of God. They can also include offering to God acts that appear (to worldly eyes) more extreme and apparently bizarre -- the wearing of hairshirts, sleeping on a hard mattress or the floor, self-flagellation, etc. (These more extreme forms of mortifications should only be practiced with the guidance of a good spiritual director.)
     A person specially chosen by God to suffer more than most people during life, and who generously accepts the suffering in union with the Savior and after the example of Christ's own Passion and Death, is known as a victim soul. The motive of a victim soul is a great love of God and the desire to make reparation for the sins of mankind.

Hero Award - Bishop Robert Vasa

Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer, President, Human Life International wrote an excellent article in Spirit & Life® and on their website www.hli.org, giving Bishop Robert Vasa of Baker, Oregon, a ‘Hero Award’ for yanking the title "Catholic" from a hospital in his diocese that actually refuses to be Catholic.

St. Charles Hospital in Bend, Oregon, routinely practiced surgical sterilization against the Church's clear prohibition of this practice. The bishop could not convince the hospital administration to change practices; so simply yanked the Catholic name and insignia from the building, leaving the cross on top to remind them of their failure to live up to the challenge of the Cross.

The president of the healthcare chain, James Diegel, said the hospital had "an obligation to provide comprehensive health care services to our patients while remaining true to our values of compassion and caring for all." As Fr. Euteneuer said, “This sounds like slimy Planned Parenthood language if you ask me. Outside of the fact that sterilization is the direct mutilation of an organ of the body and is not true health-care, the Church condemns the act in no uncertain terms as immoral. Well, the bishop was right not to tolerate that kind of nonsense -- and the Church is stronger for it! One hates to think how many other nominally Catholic hospitals are getting away with the same thing due to lack of honest Church investigations into their practices.“

Fr. Euteneuer goes on to say, “What a refreshing development in episcopal leadership! In fact, Lent is probably the perfect time for such an act to take place because it is an exercise of discipline and courage, which we love to see in our prelates. Bishops who are true shepherds, and not politicians, strengthen us and enliven our faith -- thank you, Bishop Vasa!”

Hero Award - Archbishop John Vlazny

On the last day of March, Archbishop John Vlazny published a letter for the faithful, encouraging them to give serious consideration to canceling their subscriptions to The Oregonian newspaper. His words come in response to inflammatory and egregiously ignorant editorials, articles, and cartoons about the Church published in The Oregonian. His complaints are directed toward the secular media and The Oregonian in particular. In addition, he complains about the lack of taste the publication has shown during our holiest season and the hostility it has supported in its editorials.

Congratulations to Archbishop John Vlazny for ‘Defending the Faith’ against the biased, sleazy journalism so pervasive in today’s media.

Millstone Award - Cardinal Roger M. Mahoney
for encouraging Catholics to flout legal immigration laws.

On Ash Wednesday, Cardinal Roger M. Mahoney of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles gave a homily concerning illegal aliens. The cardinal said he wants Catholics to help "immigrants," and the Church will continue to serve them even if doing so is illegal. He called the law which states anyone who aids an illegal faces penalties "blameful" and "vicious." He said the Church will not "be immigration officers," and even if Congress says it must be done, ‘his’ church will refuse.

The Cardinal called them "immigrants, but an immigrant is someone who is in the country legally. A person who crosses the border by stealth, without passport, visa or green card is here illegally and is correctly called an illegal alien. Not only was what he said erroneous, but he encouraged Catholics to support the lawbreakers.

It appears Cardinal Mahoney is teaching his flock to pick and choose the laws they prefer to follow. This is anarchy!

Quoting an article by Barbara Simpson, “Mahoney used the authority of his position as a priest and cardinal to distort the reality of illegal aliens, to involve other Catholics in his blatant declaration to flout the law and, to not-so-subtly intimidate Catholics into believing that what he says carries the authority [of] a Church mandate.”

Cardinal Mahoney is actually condemning law-abiding Americans for sinning against ‘his’ church. He appears to be a typical American-hating leftist who finds no fault with the Mexican government and the people who run it. Mexico is a nation ruled by a coalition of upper-class, wealthy families and is economically structured in such a way that a Mexican middle class will never emerge, and the poor will remain poor and seeking escape into America.

Mahoney says nothing about the way the Mexican government exploits its citizens. Mahoney, and the other leftist clergy in the United States are cowards and demoralizing to the Catholics they are responsible for shepherding. No wonder seventy percent of the Catholics in this country no longer attend Mass.

To argue that the law is immoral is asinine. We not only have the right to control our borders, but the obligation to do so. If Mahoney believes our laws are "blameful" and "vicious" he should look at the way Mexico controls its borders.

Please pray Cardinal Mahoney returns to the true Church as he prepares to retire from his position as the Archbishop of the Diocese of Los Angeles.

Jim Fritz

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