Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Intertwining of Church Militant Souls and Church Triumphant Saints

We are bound to time, and can easily overlook the eternal. Deadlines rush upon us, schedules crowd our thoughts and months pass as we work towards a goal. It is good to try to look with supernatural eyes at the world and the signs God has placed here for us to see. Each day. Signs pointing us toward our heavenly home. I caught a glimpse of a few such signs today.

The Federal Tax deadline weighing on my mind I ran to the accountant's first thing this morning to pick up our returns, ready to file. Other errands were planned into the morning hours creating a heavy sense of time and deadlines. Once home, I spent a few minutes reading blogs online and discovered a chain of Saints reaching out through time to let me know I am loved by God. Today.

St. Gemma Galgani is listed in the Roman Martyrology for April 11. A beautiful young woman, she looked like someone I would have wanted to know and be around. She was a mystic and one whom God chose to receive the stigmata. I was interested and read more about her. I noticed in her quotes a special love of Our Lady of Sorrows, who is dear to me and my family. But then I hit an "aha" moment as I read that she had a special devotion to our patron St. Gabriel Possenti! She was even visited by St. Gabriel Possenti and he assisted in her miraculous healing. "Huh!" I thought, St. Gabriel Possenti reached out through time to connect to St. Gemma and bring her closer to God. He led me to a new Saint, a new friend!

A few of us were interested in seeing the Medal of Honor being awarded to Servant of God Fr. Emil Kapaun today, and again I sensed those reaching out through time to touch lives of us still striving for heaven. CSPAN3 covered the ceremony, and we were in an online chat together as it happened. I listened to the glorious story of Fr. Kapaun, his generosity, his self-sacrifice, his encouragement, his daily commitment to do everything possible to make his part of the world an offering to God. I then looked at his family and friends, who did not give up pushing for the proper recognition of Fr. Kapaun's heroic efforts. Their perseverance, their commitment to his cause, and the dedication needed to wait 60 years for this moment is inspiring.

I watched as the president, perhaps uncomfortable recognizing a heroic priest's life, used stilted language and awkward phrasing to outline all that Fr. Kapaun did. The president mentioned a cross "and body" the other prisoners had carved from scrounged wood to remember Fr. Kapaun after he had died. Intrigued, I searched online and found a photo of sturdy, beautiful crucifix held by some of the men as they were freed. What a tribute to the priest!

I sensed that this priest, who may one day be canonized a Saint in the Catholic Church, was placed as a sign for us, and for the president. As he spoke the words, I wondered if they might be touching his heart, his soul - showing him what virtue is, what a real man does, how a faithful Christian serves God? I am certain Fr. Kapaun is to be canonized; to hear his actions described by a man who has no respect for the Catholic Church, who is actively pressing for Her destruction, who has no moral compass as he pushes for abortion in all forms, same sex marriage and other objectively evil things, my heart was touched, my eyes misty. Even coming from the mouth of one so distant from Mother Church and all that She teaches, Fr. Kapaun's story was still glorious!

How God decides to place each of us in a specific time and place to do His will includes even those beyond time, to be our friends and encourage us to holiness! He is the most gifted gardener, placing people in each others lives as one might select plants which compliment each other and grow well together. But not just people here and now, Saints already in heaven. They are the ones who strike a chord and touch our hearts and they will aid us as we strive for sanctity. Our friends on earth may fail us at times, snub our assistance, or rudely rebuff our kindness, but those in heaven never will! Hang onto the eternal friends, forgive the struggling ones here, and, as Fr. Kapaun did so heroically, offer every aspect of your life everyday to do God's will.


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

St. Gabriel Possenti Feast Day

February 27 is the Feast Day of our Patron Saint, Gabriel Possenti. The Saint's story is related in this post. In addition to the events of the past, Gabriel Possenti continues to touch many of us today. Our local parish has a relic of Gabriel Possenti, under his other title, St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows. I will make a point of visiting with the Saint today.

In addition, the Virginia Concealed Handgun Permits of two contributors to this blog have an issue date of February 27. That certainly could be seen as divine providence! 

On this Feast Day, share the story of the Saint with another shooter, or pay a visit to the range and work on your own accuracy skills. I think it would be a great way to honor St. Gabriel Possenti.


Friday, February 1, 2013

A Legitimate Right to Self Defense

Self-defense and the Second Amendment; there has been a lot of talk about these subjects recently. After the horrific murder of the school children, politicians and media celebrities have aggressively dominated the world of communication with calls to curtail the individual's right to self defense, a God-given right, by taking away our liberty.

Rather than overreact with emotional "quick fixes" of more legislation stripping us of our freedom (which has not proven to be effective with the current slate of laws already covering gun ownership) a few orderly thoughts as to what is True and how to best proceed are in order. There are two parts to consider: the right to defend oneself and the importance of protecting our individual freedoms. They go hand in hand.

There are some valuable references in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, worth repeating here. The Catholic Church clearly recognizes an individual's right to defend his own life, and those in his care. Should the aggressor die by the actions of the victim, the Church recognizes that his defense, unless he uses more than necessary defense, is lawful. The act of moderate self-defense is not in conflict with achieving his eternal reward. Legitimate defense is a grave duty for those who are responsible for the lives of others.
"Love toward oneself remains a fundamental principle of morality. Therefore it is legitimate to insist on respect for one's own right to life. Someone who defends his life is not guilty of murder even if he is forced to deal his aggressor a lethal blow: If a man in self-defense uses more than necessary violence, it will be unlawful: whereas if he repels force with moderation, his defense will be lawful. . . . Nor is it necessary for salvation that a man omit the act of moderate self-defense to avoid killing the other man, since one is bound to take more care of one's own life than of another's." (CCC 2264)
"Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for one who is responsible for the lives of others. The defense of the common good requires that an unjust aggressor be rendered unable to cause harm. For this reason, those who legitimately hold authority also have the right to use arms to repel aggressors against the civil community entrusted to their responsibility." (CCC 2265)

Many people find it difficult to accept that the Church validates proper self-defense, often citing Our Lord's call to turn the other cheek. Certainly, the Church expects us to follow all that Jesus taught and did, and she acknowledges the important teaching of Our Lord to love one's enemies in the CCC. Peter, however, was not told to dispose of his sword, merely to sheath it. Loving our enemies, and turning the other cheek have more to do with our intentions, our internal attitude towards others than physically turning our cheek — do we approach all we meet in a manner recognizing them as children of God and and our call to assist them to reach Heaven? This doesn't mean allowing another to use us or to abuse or harm those in our care. Nor does it mean we have to be warm, close friends with our enemies. It does mean that we need to will the good for their souls and pray for their souls. But with a firm heart, we can and should correct in charity things they say and do that are immoral. Should their intention be to harm us, we must ably defend our life.
"In the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord recalls the commandment, "You shall not kill,"and adds to it the proscription of anger, hatred, and vengeance. Going further, Christ asks his disciples to turn the other cheek, to love their enemies. He did not defend himself and told Peter to leave his sword in its sheath."(CCC 2262)

Following section 2262 where Jesus speaks of turning the other cheek, the Catechism immediately explains legitimate defense. The CCC notes that the act of self-defense has an intended outcome (saving one's life) and a potential unintended outcome (the death of the aggressor.) This is not an exception to the prohibition of murder of innocents - it is not the intended outcome.
"The legitimate defense of persons and societies is not an exception to the prohibition against the murder of the innocent that constitutes intentional killing. "The act of self-defense can have a double effect: the preservation of one's own life; and the killing of the aggressor. . . . The one is intended, the other is not." (CCC 2263)

With regard to the importance of defending our freedom, President John F. Kennedy spoke of our country's founding citizens. He was a highly respected democrat, yet it is doubtful any democrats today would acknowledge these wise words. Fifty years ago he spoke of the urgent need for active individual effort to value and defend liberty as readily and firmly as our founding citizens. In an address on January 29, 1961, he said,
"In my own native state of Massachusetts, the battle for American freedom was begun by the thousands of farmers and tradesmen who made up the Minute Men -- citizens who were ready to defend their liberty at a moment's notice. Today we need a nation of minute men; citizens who are not only prepared to take up arms, but citizens who regard the preservation of freedom as a basic purpose of their daily life and who are willing to consciously work and sacrifice for that freedom. The cause of liberty, the cause of American, cannot succeed with any lesser effort. "

We must change the moral direction of our culture, which so disdains life that children are murdered in their mother's womb through actions sanctioned and paid for by our government. The viscous attack on school children is fruit of such a mentality. In this culture of death, personal self-defense is critical and our liberty must not be surrendered. We must be willing to preserve it; safe guarding it for our children and grandchildren.


Sunday, January 27, 2013

After An Assault

An aggressive assault. Even though I prepare for this possibility, I pray it never occurs. I really enjoy just shooting for fun with family and friends, but I learned this skill for self-protection. I realize that is its greatest value. I had an encounter with someone who intended to harm me many years ago. I was not injured because when I sensed I was in danger I acted quickly to get to safety. Before I began to learn to shoot, my soon-to-be teacher asked if I thought I would be able to shoot someone. I said yes, I knew I could. How did I know that? Because that evening long ago, I got to the best weapon I had available to me and was ready to use it - my car. I have a family and dear friends I hope to enjoy for many years. If my time is cut short, it will be by natural occurrences, not - if I can help it - by the immoral acts of an aggressor.

Let's say the unwanted self defense event has just begun and ended.  You’ve had to defend yourself from a threat of serious bodily harm or even death. The training and mental preparations kicked in so your actions resulted in the best outcome for your survival. You were alert to the threat before it escalated and you were made a firm decision to act to protect yourself. Now the assailant is down, and the very next thing you did was call 911.

Why? First and foremost for your own protection. YOU are the victim of a life-threatening assualt. Even though you have prevailed, you did NOT start this encounter. You stepped up to defend yourself (and perhaps someone under your care.) Even if you are not injured, or not to the extent of the criminal, do not forget you were the intended victim. You need to quickly relay your information to the authorities so that they can get to the scene and begin their investigation. You also need to protect yourself for the possible legal consequences of your act. You need a lawyer and you need to be mindful that everything you say and do can be used in court. You need any witnesses to relate what happened. Your actions and motivations - acting to protect yourself - must be expressed clearly. The United States Concealed Carry Association distributes a free card that describes what to do after a self-defense shooting and what to say to police. In the inevitable stress of the situation this could be very useful reminder to have on hand.

Do you step forward to aid the criminal? Some might say yes, but I say NO. Inform the 911 operator that the assailant needs medical aid. But you must maintain control of the situation until the authorities arrive. The potential for your injury still remains. An injured criminal can still act to harm you. There may be accomplices nearby or by-standers who step forward intending harm.

There can also be a perceived disconnect between shooting to defend yourself and then giving aid to the person. Some might wonder if you were really in danger Others may wonder if you did further harm with your attempt to render aid. There will be confusion when the authorities arrive. Until they can sort out who is who and what has happened, everyone is a suspect. Remain in a safe self-defense mode until you are able to turn the situation over to the authorities.

The reality of an attack may be rather slim, but taking time now to decide upon your plan of action will prevent confusion in the heat of the moment. Several self-defense writers cover this topic in detail, which may help you come to your decision as to what you will do. Once you have determined how you will proceed, you may find comfort in knowing you have strategy in place.