A “Voice” in the Wilderness

Today is the Feast of St. John the Baptist, the precursor of the Lord. A meditation on what John the Baptist might do if he lived today, and an invitation to our readers

By Robert Moynihan

“A Voice Crying in the Wilderness”

Thursday, June 24, Feast of St. John the Baptist

Dear Friend,


June is one of my favorite months. The weather is beautiful and signs of summer are everywhere.

The Church also has a great calendar of saints including martyrs like St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More, and we close out June with the Solemnity of the two giants of the Faith, St. Peter and St. Paul (June 29).

I am writing to you because you have been reading these letters for some time, and haven’t yet unsubscribed — which you are free to do at any time!

I am writing to ask for your help as I try to take my work and writing to the “next level.”

I would like to invite you to join me in defending the great and beautiful things of our tradition, and handing them on to future generations.

As I write, we just celebrated the Feast of St. John the Baptist’s birth on June 24th.

Once there was a “voice in the wilderness,” who was St. John the Baptist. We are told in the Gospel of John (1:23) that John the Baptist said of himself: “I am a voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘make straight the way of the Lord,’ as Isaiah the prophet said.”

As I meditate on this great saint, I cannot help but think how important he and his example are to us at this moment in our history. What he did in his time, we need to do in our own time: to speak the truth without fear or favor.

The times of St. John the Baptist were similar to ours.

Many of the lay faithful of that era, the devout Jews of the Old Covenant, were searching for a deeper meaning of their faith. The religious leaders of the time, the Pharisees and Sadducees, appeared to many to have lost their way, more intent on maintaining their power than on serving the religious needs of the people.

The political institutions of the time were also self-serving and tyrannical – the greatest threat being the pagan Roman Empire, which had turned the Chosen People of God into their subjects.

It was to this world that St. John the Baptist was called by God to be God’s herald, the precursor of the Messiah, the Lamb of God, Jesus of Nazareth.

Did God provide John with great good looks, a golden tongue, a position of power, a “bully pulpit,” a celebrity status to attract people? No, just the opposite.

John lived alone in the desert, ate locusts and honey, and wore animal skins.

When he met someone, he wasn’t all warm and fuzzy. He loudly proclaimed that people needed to “repent” and prepare for the Kingdom of God.

Then why did so many leave their homes and go out into the desert to be baptized by this man? Because he spoke the truth.

However it’s delivered, whoever is the messenger, people are innately attracted to truth. It’s a longing that is etched in our hearts, and it’s only satisfied when we recognize it, and, more importantly, its Source, Jesus Christ Himself.

What would John the Baptist encounter today? A secular world, through its powerful media, spewing half-truths and downright lies. Governments that have lost their moral compasses and no longer serve the people they oversee, and an economic system that has not only destroyed much it has touched but one that teeters on the verge of total collapse. Plus he’d find many great institutions of higher learning completely paralyzed by “political correctness” and moral relativism, and many citizens who can name the last ten “American Idol” song contest winners, but not the Ten Commandments.

What about the Church herself? Unfortunately, he would discover her compromised and shaken to her very core due to the greatest and most unforgivable scandal of the past 2,000 years. And, he’d encounter great confusion over basic liturgical and theological doctrine.

What would St. John the Baptist do when confronted with today’s mess? I think he would do exactly what he did 2000 years ago. He would set up shop near the Jordan — or the Potomac, or the Hudson, or the Thames, or the Tiber, wherever people would listen, and preach the Truth, and He who is Truth Himself, Jesus Christ.

Would he, as a humble man of God, seek help from natural allies? I think he would.

In our work at Urbi et Orbi Communications, through Inside the Vatican magazine, we wish to imitate John the Baptist, to speak out in the “wilderness” of our day.

Specifically, our mission is to employ the written and spoken word in order to defend the Christian faith, and to spread the message of a Culture of Life to a fallen world desperately in need of the saving truth of the Gospel of Christ.

The battle of ideas is intensifying and we are taking steps to meet this challenge head on. Our revamped website, after much labor, is due to be launched later this year, where we’ll be able to stream video, offer podcasts, and take advantage of other tools offered by the Internet. We continue to get great responses to our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Inside-the-Vatican)and Twitter presence (https://twitter.com/insidevatican). Our magazine, Inside the Vatican, is reaching thousands with the news from Rome. We just completed a very successful pilgrimage at Easter to Rome, and will go on two more pilgrimages to the “Eternal City” this fall and next Easter (2011). We also have a rigorous schedule of conferences and speaking engagements. And, the closer union of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, a primary focus of Pope Benedict XVI, is a top priority for us as well, and we are doing whatever we can to prepare the way for this through cultural exchanges, concerts, and other avenues.

But we do not wish to do all this alone. And that is why I am writing to ask for your help.

First and foremost, we need a circle of friends who will stand with us and pray for us. Can you support us in this way? If so, we would like to enroll you as a “Advocate for Inside the Vatican.” (You may sign up by sending an email back to me. Please consider doing so, even if you send no donation whatsoever.)

Second, we want you to join with us by supporting and sponsoring our work. If you wish to join with us in this way, even at the most modest level – we would appreciate gifts, for example, of $13.57, the amount of the average gift we received in our last print mailing! — then please go ahead and make a gift or pledge today. To make a donation, simply go to the following link, scroll down, and enter the amount you wish to contribute, whatever you feel is appropriate: https://insidethevatican.com/donations.htm.

The times are tough, and unpredictable, and you may need to watch every penny, as we do. But some of you may be in a position, at least for the moment, to support this work, and we thank you if that is the case.

Then, for those willing to make a large pledge of $1,200 or more (or $100 a month commitment), we will enroll you as a “Friend of Inside the Vatican.” This is a small group of close supporters who will receive a personal invitation to our annual dinner when we announce and honor our “Top Ten” People of the Year each January in Washington DC. (Save the date: January 25, 2011.)

These are certainly challenging times, but we trust God will see us through. Christ assured us that the gates of Hell shall not prevail against our Church. He has also provided us with a great saint like John the Baptist as a shining example for our efforts and an intercessor we can turn to help us proclaim Jesus Christ, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world,” to a world in desperate need of such a message.

Please consider joining with me in this work.

May God bless you and your family.

In Christ,

Robert Moynihan
Editor, Inside the Vatican Magazine
tel. 1-800-789-9494

“He that takes truth for his guide, and duty for his end, may safely trust to God’s providence to lead him aright.” —Blaise Pascal (French mathematician, philosopher, physicist and writer, 1623-1662)

Note: Pilgrimage with special meetings inside the Vatican. We are now beginning to take preliminary requests for our Fall 2010 and Spring 2011 pilgrimages, which will include visits to Assisi, Norcia, Rome and the Vatican. If you would like information about these trips, please email us at: https://insidethevatican.com/contact-us.htm.
Best-Seller: A Talk by Dr. Robert Moynihan about the “Old Mass” on CD

Unexpectedly, this little talk has become a minor “best-seller.”

We have now produced more than 2,000 of these CDs, and they are still running out every few days. Why?
Evidently, people really like this talk!
It is called: “The Motu Proprio: Why the Latin Mass? Why Now?”

In this talk, Dr. Moynihan gives a 2,000-year history of the Mass in 60 minutes which is clear and easy to understand. The talk covers questions like:

— Does the motu proprio overcome some of the liturgical confusion since Vatican II?
— Who was Annibale Bugnini?

— The mind of Pope Benedict: How can the Church restore the sense of the presence of God in the liturgy?

Special note: Three years ago, we participated in a concert in Rome (on March 29, 2007) in which a Russian choir and orchestra, flying in from Moscow, performed a new version of The Passion According to St. Matthew composed a few months before by the young Russian Orthodox bishop (now Metropolitan and “foreign minister” of the Russian Orthodox Church, Hilarion Alfeyev).
That moving concert, in which one or two of the exhausted women singers fainted on stage and had to be carried off, was broadcast live worldwide via a Vatican Television Center feed by EWTN.
No DVD or CD was ever made of that concert — until a few days ago. After nearly three years, we have finally produced the DVD and CD of that historic concert, and they are now available for sale.
I believe the sound of this music, and the sight of the performance, especially during Holy Week, when we recall Christ’s Passion, will bring tears to your eyes.
The DVD and CD of this historic concert are now available on at website at the following link: https://www.insidethevatican.com/products/concerts-dvd-cd.htm
Other Gift Ideas:

Christmas Oratorio (Russian Concert) on DVD 

On December 17, 2007, a leading Russian orchestra performed an exceptional “world premiere” concert of Russian Christmas music at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC. Now you can order your copy of the concert on DVD, which includes English sub-titles.

The music is a completely new composition by a young Russian Orthodox Archbishop, Hilarion Alfeyev, 43. At the time, he was the Russian Orthodox bishop for all of central Europe, based in Vienna, Austria. He is now a Metropolitan and the head of the External Relations Department of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Makes a wonderful gift. Order one for yourself, one for a loved one and one for a friend… at three copies, the price is less! Click here to order
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Inside the Vatican is a magazine I read cover to cover. I find it balanced and informative. I especially appreciate its coverage of art and architecture. It is not only an important magazine, it is also a beautiful one.” —Prof. Mary Ann Glendon, Harvard University Law School, former United States Ambassador to the Holy See

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