August 9, 2015, Sunday — At All Costs

Below is the text of the Editorial for the Special Commemorative August-September 2015 issue of Inside the Vatican welcoming Pope Francis to America. The Pope will visit Washington, New York and Philadelphia from September 22 to 27, after a visit to Cuba from September 19 to 22.

This issue contains a number of “open letters” from both Catholic and non-Catholic Americans, including two Jewish rabbis, on what they hope Pope Francis may say to the American people during his visit in September. The issue is now being printed and will reach subscribers in a few days. If you are not a subscriber and would be willing to pay a postage and handling cost of $5 ($10 outside of the US), we will mail you a copy of this splendid “keepsake” double issue for free.

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Opening Note

The editorial is a reflection on the extent to which the understandable desire of human beings to have life, to live longer and more healthily, can sometimes lead us into evil, if that desire leads us to act in cruel and immoral ways.

The editorial was written in light especially of the recent shocking revelations about the sale of fetal body parts — tissue and organs — by Planned Parenthood officials.

The editorial is also an affirmation of the belief — though space does not allow development of the thought — that the true life of human beings, if we were to understand our dignity, transcends this physical life, and that this “life-filled” dignity has been revealed in moments when human bodies were “transfigured” and made “radiant,” as is said to have occurred after Moses came down from Mt. Sinai, and when Jesus was “transfigured” on Mt. Tabor. This “radiance” also characterized the bodies of many saints, especially their faces, including St. Anthony of Egypt, for example.

These “moments of radiance,” reported by eyewitnesses, seem to reflect actual, if as yet unexplained, historical events, and for this reason it seems that they should be regarded as data points for serious medical investigators.

This raises the question: are there biochemical processes which can occur in our human bodies, which make up a “preview,” as it were, of that state of being which St. Paul refers to as being in a “glorified” body?

St. Paul says the bodies of human beings, after the resurrection, will be “shining” (radiant) and “incorruptible” (that is, no longer subject to corruption, no longer subject to death, so, eternal).

Daniel 12:2-3 reads: “Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.”

Matthew 13:43 reads: “Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.”

The editorial concludes that, given that this “incorruptibility” is conferred, not by the ingestion or injection of fetal (embryonic) stem cells or organs, which eventually also must die, but rather by communion with the incorruptible body of the risen Christ — which is why Christians wish to receive communion worthily (to participate in the life of that body) — not only is the “harvesting” of aborted fetal body parts, since it requires the death of growing human beings who have a right to live, repugnant and immoral, it is also, in pragmatic terms, a scientific “dead-end,” since the only truly viable path for scientific research interested in definitively overcoming sickness, disease and death is along the line of discovering where this “radiance” which is “incorruptible” comes from, and how it may be acquired by mortal (dying) human bodies.

Editorial, Inside the Vatican, Special Commemorative Issue, August-September 2015

Glowing Faces Signal True Life

A tremendous effort is being made to overcome aging and death — even through the harvesting and use of aborted embryoni­c body parts. But the Christian faith holds that true life comes from God and reflects His glory

By Robert Moynihan

“Once the human being is untethered from God, he becomes, in very short order, an object among objects, and hence susceptible to the grossest manipulation by the powerful and self-interested… If there is no God, then human beings are dispensable — so why not trade the organs of infants for a nice Lamborghini?” —Father Robert Barron, July 28, 2015 (recently chosen by Pope Francis to be made a bishop), commenting on videos recently made public in which Planned Parenthood officials admit selling “uncrunched” (i.e., intact) body organs of aborted babies for scientific research, one suggesting she might buy “a Lamborghini” with the money

“For it was for this end that the Word of God was made man, and He who was the Son of God became the Son of man, that man, having been taken into the Word, and receiving the adoption, might become the son of God. For by no other means could we have attained to incorruptibility and immortality, unless we had been united to incorruptibility and immortality.” —St. Iren­aeus of Lyons, France, Against Heresies, Book V, c. 180 A.D., explaining that human beings can only overcome death through union with and transformation by the very life of Christ, accessible in the Eucharist

“The Shekinah is the Divine Presence, the numinous immanence of God in the world… a revelation of the holy in the midst of the profane… One of the more prominent images associated with the Shekinah is that of light. Thus on the verse, ‘…the earth did shine with His glory’ (Ezekiel 43:2), the rabbis remark, ‘This is the face of the Shekinah’ (Avot diRabbi Natan [18b-19a]; see also Chullin 59b-60a). Both the angels in heaven and the righteous in olam ha-ba (‘the world to come’) are sustained by the radiance of the Shekinah (Exodus Rabbah 32:4, B’rakhot 17a; cf. Exodus 34:29-35). —Encyclopedia Judaica, Volume 14, pp. 1349-1351, defining the Shekinah as that holy presence of God which, in its shining glory, brings life to mankind

“Look to him, and be radiant; so your faces shall never be ashamed.” —Psalm 34:5

America now awaits Pope Francis with great hope. But what hope? The hope that his preaching may touch hearts and give guidance. As America prepares to welcome Pope Francis on his first visit to the United States from September 22 to 27, many are praying that he will speak quiet but firm words of wisdom and truth to counteract an enormous flood of shameful folly and falsehood being transmitted daily, seemingly 24/7, throughout the US. Many are hoping that all who hear Pope Francis, both Catholics and non-Catholics alike, may receive clarity from the Vicar of Christ and deeper hope for their future and the future of the country.

The Pope comes at a time when the technological prowess of modern science seems able to provide almost magical power to human beings, from new, instantaneous communications to hopes for cures for diseases, and much else besides. At the same time, the country seems to have lost its moral compass.

The Christian principles which once guided the leaders and the people of America seem increasingly forgotten. This has had dram­atic effects, especially in the increasing difficulty in forming and maintaining families, so often broken up by abandonment and divorce, but also in the increasing “loneliness” of daily life for very many, especially the elderly, and in the increasing sense that human life has little worth, so little that it can be thrown away, particularly in the case of abortion, which has now taken nearly 60 million lives since it was made legal in 1973. The June 26 decision of the US Supreme Court to permit homosexual marriage is a further example of this moral confusion. Francis in the past has spoken passionately on each child’s “right” to have a father and mother. Many hope he will defend this right again in America.

In recent days, the country has been deeply shaken by the revelation that officials of Planned Parenthood, which actively supports legal abortion, have admitted that the “intact organs” (kidneys, lungs, etc.) of aborted infants have been “harvested” for sale to laboratories for scientific and medical research.

On July 14, 2015, the Center for Medical Progress, headed by David Daleiden, 26, a Catholic, released a shocking undercover video showing Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s Senior Director of Medical Services, Dr. Deborah Nucatola, describing how Planned Parenthood sells the body parts of aborted unborn children (like livers) and has its physicians do unlawful partial-birth abortions to supply intact body parts. Days later, a second sting video was released, showing another Planned Parenthood senior official, Dr. Mary Gatter, haggling over how much she would charge for the aborted baby body parts. The country has been horrified by the revelations.

The videos came, in part, because of a devotion to Pope Francis and a respect for his teaching about “going out to the peripheries.”

“Pope Francis’s emphasis on not being closed in on yourself but being willing to go out towards the margins of human experience — in order to bring the Gospel to those margins — was a huge inspiration to me during this project, Daleiden said in a recent interview. “I don’t think there’s any place more on the existential margins of society than an abortion clinic. I think that when you have a place like an abortion clinic — which is a place where children are killed on an industrial scale — there is almost a sacramental value in bringing a presence to those places. We were there for good, out of love, and to welcome those children for the brief time that they will be in existence before they die. And to be in contact with and pray for all the abortion workers, the abortion doctors who are there. As a Christian, you are part of the body of Christ. So your presence, even in those darkest of places, can bring the presence of Jesus.”

Father Robert Barron wrote on July 28: “I am sure by now that many of you have seen the appalling hidden-camera videos of two Planned Parenthood physicians bantering cheerfully with interlocutors posing as prospective buyers of the body parts of aborted infants. While they slurp wine in elegant restaurants, the good doctors — both women — blandly talk about what price they would expect for providing valuable inner organs…”

So here we are. In the hope of extending our lives, of making medical breakthroughs, we are chopping up and selling the organs of aborted babies.

How low we have fallen! And for what? To extend life by a year, or by 10, or by 100, or even by 1,000 or more years? And then? There will still be death. Even if life were to become endless, it would still not be eternal. It is God alone who can grant us eternal life, by conforming us to His Son, Jesus Christ, and in so doing, causing our faces to become “radiant” with His life.

Note: For those who would like to travel with us on pilgrimage:

(1) In mid-July 2015, we held our annual “Urbi et Orbi” pilgrimage to Russia, Turkey and the Vatican;

(2) On December 8, 2015, and again on November 20, 2016, we will be in Rome when Pope Francis opens the Holy Door to begin the Special Jubilee Year of Mercy, and when he closes the door to end the Jubilee Year. If you would like to join us on one or more of these pilgrimages, email now for more information…

We also often travel to Norcia, in central Italy, where there is a flourishing Benedictine monastery we visit.

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What is the glory of God?

“The glory of God is man alive; but the life of man is the vision of God.” —St. Irenaeus of Lyons, in the territory of France, in his great work Against All Heresies, written c. 180 A.D.

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