How To Hear God: Story of the Indian, the Cricket and the Coin

21 12 2014

Apache-IndianOne day, an American Red Indian left the reservation where he lived and went to visit a white friend who lived in a city. All the noise of the traffic and the helter skelter of people running to and fro was very distracting for the Indian.
The two of them were walking down the street and suddenly the Indian stopped, tapped his friend on the shoulder and whispered, “Stand still for a moment. Do you hear what I hear?”
The White turned to his Indian friend and smiled and said, “All I can hear are cars and horns and busses and traffic and the footsteps of many people. What do you hear?”
“There is a cricket somewhere nearby and I hear it chirping.” The white stopped and listened very carefully and then shook his
head and said, “I think you are kidding yourself. There are no crickets here. And even if there were, how could you possibly hear them with all the noise on this street? So you still think you can hear a cricket?”
“Yes, I do,” said the Indian. “There is one chirping near us right now.”
The Indian walked ahead a few steps and then stood beside the brick wall of a house. An ivy vine was climbing up the side of the dwelling. The Indian shoved aside a few of its leaves and surely enough there sat a cricket which was chirping loudly.
And now that the White saw the cricket, he also became aware of the sounds it was making. As he walked along, the White said
to his Indian friend, “Naturally you were better able to hear the cricket. You Indians can hear better than we can.”
The Indian smiled and then shook his head and said, “I don’t agree with you. Indians can’t hear any better than Whites can. Now watch and I’ll show you.”
So he reached into his pocket and took out a 50 cent piece and tossed it onto the pavement. The metallic sound of the coin on the asphalt caused many a head to turn in the direction it came from. Then the Indian picked up the coin and put it back into his pocket, and the two men kept walking along.
Did you realise, my friend,” said the Indian, “that the ring of that 50 cent piece was no louder than the chirp of the cricket? And still many White people heard it and turned around. On the other hand I was the only one who heard the cricket. The reason for that is not that an Indian can hear better than the White man. No. The reason is that we always hear very well the things we are accustomed to pay attention to.”

Some people say there is no God because they cannot see or hear Him. Perhaps it is they who are blind and deaf. We know that those in love are preocuppied with thoughts of each other. Those who love God hear him and see him in prayer. Each moment of our life should be prayer. Begin with aspiration and then contemplation will come. Don’t just speak, listen as well. Spend time with our Lord . Keep your prayer simple, talk with God like a lover talks with his beloved. Be familiar with God.The Holy Spirit gives us wisdom. Put self first in the Presence of God for prayer and Give God time. Make sure your prayer is from the inside. Know not just the words but the person. Listen to God





A Nobel Prize Winner Turns Back to Christ

7 12 2014

curie Marie and Pierre Curie (cue-REE) were two of the most brilliant scientific minds in the world during in the early modern period. In 1903, they received the Nobel Prize in physics for their groundbreaking work on radioactivity. In 1906, Pierre died tragically in a street accident. Marie was wild with grief. Every day she wrote in her diary a message to her departed husband. One day she wrote:

Your coffin was closed and I could see you no more. They came to get you, a sad company.We saw you go down into the deep hole. Then the dreadful procession of people that wanted to take us away. Jack and I resisted. We wanted to see everything to the end.

They filled the grace and put flowers on it. Everything is over. Pierre is sleeping in his last sleep beneath the earth. It is the end of everything, everything, everything!

No, science, as such, does not have the answer. The answer must come from the other side, God’s side. It comes from the life and lips of the Man of Galilee. Into the darkness of death He brings light. Into the midst of our doubts He comes with His voice of promise: “I am the resurrection and the life, he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.

We have greater wisdom than the science of this world can give. Christ has revealed it to us. Only Christians know for sure what comes after death.





The Book I Read in Prison

3 11 2014

the book I read in prisonI was 29 and had been in prison in Spain for two years after committing a crime. At that time I saw God as being very far from my life. I thought he was in heaven and I was on earth. The only thing I was clear about was that he did exist.

I had never heard of Saint Josemaria Escriva, until a nun, one of the Sisters of Charity, brought me a book called Friends of God . After reading it I can say that I was quite sure that God was not only in heaven but also on earth and within me.

As a child I received a good Catholic education, but when I was a teenager my friends would say, “God doesn’t exist, don’t be stupid, go for progress, get up to date…” And I let myself be led. Sometimes you need someone to come and speak plainly, and that’s what Saint Josemaria did for me through that book.

I realized how far I had cut God out of my life and how I had cheated on him. I began to understand that God is not a just a number to call in emergencies, I discovered that I need to love him in good times and in bad, and keep him always by my side, because I can’t do anything without him.

Thanks to that book, I set out along a path that I have never regretted. I began reading all Saint Josemaria’s books and lent them to other people in prison – and they didn’t give them back!

The World Youth Day Cross was carried through the prison. My heart was shaken to its depths, and there and then a dream was born, a fantastic plan to bring my sister, who was still living back in my country, to the World Youth Day in Madrid so we could both take part in it together. I was working in the prison laundry and earning very little money, but I saved it all up and began to plan seriously.

At that point my sister was 20 and at university. She wouldn’t be able to afford to come. My family broke up six years ago: my father deserted my mother and left her and my sister practically destitute. It is true that he paid for my sister’s studies, but only after a lot of pressure.

With that goal, I put all my hope in the Lord, and after going without absolutely anything for a year, I managed to get the money together and sent it to her. She booked a place to come to the WYD in Madrid with the official delegation of the Bishops’ Conference of our country.

When my dream seemed about to come true, I was refused permission to attend the WYD. I had done 4 years of my 6-year sentence, and had 3 months left before I was eligible for parole, when inexplicably the prison authorities, knowing that my sister was coming and that I’d saved up the money at the cost of great sacrifice, refused permission for no reason.

Two months before the WYD I was tearing my hair out. I’d written letters to the prison governor, the judge, the probation service… I explained my situation and how much I wanted to experience the WYD with my sister, after 4 years without seeing her or any of my family, since none of them are in Spain. I got no reply and was losing hope. The WYD was just around the corner and I was in despair. At that point my sister began a novena to Saint Josemaria: 9 days of mortification, prayer and recollection, praying that I would get the permission I so desperately needed.

I was getting used to the idea that only my sister would be in Madrid in August; for me that was what mattered. But I couldn’t help feeling frustrated inside that after so much effort and self-denial I wouldn’t be able to be there with her and would have to content myself with seeing her for two hours through a window. Such a long journey just for that.

Then the miracle happened. The day after my sister finished the novena, the tenth day, I was told that the probation service had decided to authorize me to go out on parole for the six days of the WYD so that I could go to Madrid and meet my sister there.

I just couldn’t believe it, but at last the date of the WYD arrived and I saw my sister again. The high point of that week was the youth encounter with the Pope at Cuatro Vientos. That night, I decided not to keep God waiting any longer; I decided to give my life to him, to live for him alone. To live in holiness, to sanctify my work, and my studies, which I took up again; and to sanctify my life and other people’s.

Saint Josemaria has taught me how to live: that man made me react and I owe him much of what I am. He formed me spiritually and taught me to cleanse myself interiorly, to forgive, to say sorry, to forgive myself, and he taught me that Jesus Christ is really our friend, our Father, and that he loves us more than anyone. Before I met Jesus I had nothing and was nothing. Now I am happy, and thanks to him my life at last makes sense.

Now I have finished my sentence and come back to my country, a different person from what I was when I first went to prison. All of it is thanks to God, who took my life to rebuild it again. Now that I have given my life to him I am preparing to enter the seminary if that is God’s Will.

J. A.





24 and Dying, an Atheist Finds God: A story that will make you cry

23 05 2014

What's it like to be only 24 and dying? Story of God finding a young Athiest

Some twelve years ago, I stood watching my university students’ file into the classroom for our first session in the Theology of Faith. That was the first day I first saw Tommy. My eyes and my mind both blinked. He was combing his long flaxen hair, which hung six inches below his shoulders. It was the first time I had ever seen a boy with hair that long. I guess it was just coming into fashion then. I know in my mind that it isn’t what’s on your head but what’s in it that counts; but on that day I was unprepared and my emotions flipped. I immediately filed Tommy under “S” for strange …very strange. Tommy turned out to be the “atheist in residence” in my Theology of Faith course. He constantly objected to, smirked at, or whined about the possibility of an unconditionally loving Father-God. We lived with each other in relative peace for one semester, although I admit he was for me at times a serious pain in the back pew.
When he came up at the end of the course to turn in his final exam, he asked in a slightly cynical tone: “Do you think I’ll ever find God?” I decided instantly on a little shock therapy.
“No!” I said very emphatically.
“Oh,” he responded, “I thought that was the product you were pushing.” I let him get five steps from the classroom door and then called out: “Tommy! I don’t think you’ll ever find him, but I am absolutely certain that He will find you!” He shrugged a little and left my class and my life. I felt slightly disappointed at the thought that he had missed my clever line: “He will find you!” At least I thought it was clever.
Later I heard that Tommy had graduated and I was duly grateful. Then a sad report , I heard that Tommy had terminal cancer. Before I could search him out, he came to see me. When he walked into my office, his body was very badly wasted, and the long hair had all fallen out as a result of chemotherapy. But his eyes were bright and his voice was firm, for the first time, I believe. “Tommy, I’ve thought about you so often. I hear you are sick !” I blurted out.
“Oh, yes, very sick. I have cancer in both lungs. It’s a matter of weeks.”
“Can you talk about it, Tom?”
“Sure, what would you like to know?”
“What’s it like to be only twenty-four and dying?”
“Well, it could be worse.”
“Like what?”
“Well, like being fifty and having no values or ideals. Like being fifty and thinking that booze, seducing women, and making money are the real ‘biggies’ in life.”
I began to look through my mental file cabinet under “S” where I had filed Tommy as strange. (It seems as though everybody I try to reject by classification, God sends back into my life to educate me.) “But what I really came to see you about,” Tom said, ” is something you said to me on the last day of class.” (He remembered!) He continued, “I asked you if you thought I would ever find God, and you said, ‘No!’ which surprised me. Then you said, ‘But he will find you.’ I thought about that a lot, even though my search for God was hardly intense at that time. (My “clever” line. He thought about that a lot!) “But when the doctors removed a lump from my groin and told me that it was malignant, then I got serious about locating God. And when the malignancy spread into my vital organs, I really began banging bloody fists against the bronze doors of heaven. But God did not come out. In fact, nothing happened.
Did you ever try anything for a long time with great effort and with no success? You get psychologically gutted, fed up with trying. And then you quit.”
“Well, one day I woke up, and instead of throwing a few more futile appeals over that high brick wall to a God who may be or may not be there, I just quit. I decided that I didn’t really care . . .about God, about an afterlife, or anything like that. I decided to spend what time I had left doing something more profitable. I thought about you and your class and I remembered something else you had said: ‘The essential sadness is to go through life without loving. But it would be almost equally sad to go through life and leave this world without ever telling those you loved that you had loved them.”
“So I began with the hardest one: my Dad. He was reading the newspaper when I approached him.”
“Dad. . .”
“Yes, what?” he asked without lowering the newspaper.
“Dad, I would like to talk with you.”
“Well, talk.”
“I mean… It’s really important.”
The newspaper came down three slow inches. “What is it?”
“Dad, I love you. I just wanted you to know that.”
Tom smiled at me and said with obvious satisfaction, as though he felt a warm and secret joy flowing inside of him: “The newspaper fluttered to the floor. Then my father did two things I could never remember him ever doing before. He cried and he hugged me. And we talked all night, even though he had to go to work the next morning. It felt so good to be close to my father, to see his tears, to feel his hug, to hear him say that he loved me.”
“It was easier with my mother and little brother. They cried with me, too, and we hugged each other, and started saying real nice things to each other. We shared the things we had been keeping secret for so many years. I was only sorry about one thing: that I had waited so long. Here I was just beginning to open up to all the people I had actually been close to.”
“Then, one day I turned around and God was there. He didn’t come to me when I pleaded with him. I guess I was like an animal trainer holding out a hoop, ‘C’mon, jump through. ‘C’mon, I’ll give you three days . . . three weeks.’ Apparently God does things in his own way and at his own hour.”
“But the important thing is that he was there. He found me. You were right.
He found me even after I stopped looking for him.”
“Tommy,” I practically gasped, “I think you are saying something very important and much more universal than you realize. To me, at least, you are saying that the surest way to find God is not to make him a private possession, a problem solver, or an instant consolation in time of need, but rather by opening to love. You know, the Apostle John said that. He said, “God is love, and anyone who lives in love is living with God, and God is living in him.”
“Tom, could I ask you a favor? You know, when I had you in class you were a real pain. But (laughingly) you can make it all up to me now. Would you come into my present Theology of Faith course and tell them what you have just told me? If I told them the same thing it wouldn’t be half as effective as if you were to tell them.”
“Oooh . . . I was ready for you, but I don’t know if I’m ready for your class.”
“Tom, think about it. If and when you are ready, give me a call.”
In a few days Tommy called, said he was ready for the class, that he wanted to do that for God and for me. So we scheduled a date. However, he never made it. He had another appointment, far more important than the one with me and my class. Of course, his life was not really ended by his death, only changed. He made the great step from faith into vision. He found a life far more beautiful than the eye of man has ever seen or the ear of man has ever heard or the mind of man has ever imagined. Before he died, we talked one last time. “I’m not going to make it to your
class,” he said.
“I know, Tom.”
“Will you tell them for me? Will you . . . tell the whole world for me?”
“I will, Tom. I’ll tell them. I’ll do my best.”
So, to all of you who have been kind enough to hear this simple statement about love, thank you for listening. And to you, Tommy, somewhere in the sunlit, verdant hills of Heaven: “I told them, Tommy. . . as best I could.”





The Story Of A Stupid Dog

26 02 2014

The Story Of A Stupid Dog

A butcher watching over his shop is really surprised when he sees a dog coming inside the shop. He shoots him away. But later, the dog is back again.
So, he goes over to the dog and notices’ it has a note in its mouth. He takes the note and it reads, “Can I have 12 sausages and a leg of lamb, please?”
The dog has money in its mouth, as well. The butcher looks inside and, lo and behold, there is a $10 note there. So he takes the money, puts the sausages and leg of lamb in a bag, placing it in the dog’s mouth. The butcher is so impressed, and since it’s about closing time, he decides to shut the shop and follow the dog. So off he goes.
The dog is walking down the street, when it comes to a level crossing the dog puts down the bag, jumps up and presses the button.
Then it waits patiently, bag in mouth, for the lights to turn. They do, and it walks across the road, with the butcher following him all the way.
The dog then comes to a bus stop, and starts looking at the timetable. The butcher is in awe as the dog stops a bus by pulling its left leg up and gets in it. The butcher follows the dog into the bus.
The dog then shows a ticket, which is tied to its belt to the bus conductor. The butcher is nearly fainting at this sight, so are the other passengers in the bus.
The dog then sits near the driver’s seat looking outside waiting for the bus stop to come. As soon as the stop is in sight, the dog stands and wags its tail to inform the conductor.
Then, without waiting for the bus to stop completely, it jumps out of the bus and runs to a house very close to the stop. It opens the big iron gate and rushes inside towards the door.
As it approaches the wooden door, the dog suddenly changes its mind and heads towards the garden. It goes to the window, and beats its head against it several times, walks back, jumps off, and waits at the door.
The butcher watches as a big guy opens the door, and starts abusing the dog, kicking him and punching him, and swearing at him.
The butcher surprised at this, runs up, and stops the guy. “What in heaven’s name are you doing? The dog is a genius. He could be on TV, for the life of me!” to which the guy responds: “You call this clever? This is the second time this week that this stupid dog’s forgotten his key.”
Moral of the story…
You may continue to exceed onlookers’ expectations but fall short of the boss’s expectations (as far as the boss is concerned).





Dismantling The Da Vinci Code by Sandra Miesel

19 01 2014

Dismantling The Da Vinci Code by Sandra Miesel

“The Grail,” Langdon said, “is symbolic of the lost goddess. When Christianity came along, the old pagan religions did not die easily. Legends of chivalric quests for the Holy Grail were in fact stories of forbidden quests to find the lost sacred feminine. Knights who claimed to be “searching for the chalice” were speaking in code as a way to protect themselves from a Church that had subjugated women, banished the Goddess, burned non-believers, and forbidden the pagan reverence for the sacred feminine.”
—The Da Vinci Code, pages 238-239

The Holy Grail is a favorite metaphor for a desirable but difficult-to-attain goal, from the map of the human genome to Lord Stanley’s Cup. While the original Grail—the cup Jesus allegedly used at the Last Supper—normally inhabits the pages of Arthurian romance, Dan Brown’s recent mega–best-seller, The Da Vinci Code, rips it away to the realm of esoteric history.

But his book is more than just the story of a quest for the Grail—he wholly reinterprets the Grail legend. In doing so, Brown inverts the insight that a woman’s body is symbolically a container and makes a container symbolically a woman’s body. And that container has a name every Christian will recognize, for Brown claims that the Holy Grail was actually Mary Magdalene. She was the vessel that held the blood of Jesus Christ in her womb while bearing his children.

Over the centuries, the Grail-keepers have been guarding the true (and continuing) bloodline of Christ and the relics of the Magdalen, not a material vessel. Therefore Brown claims that “the quest for the Holy Grail is the quest to kneel before the bones of Mary Magdalene,” a conclusion that would surely have surprised Sir Galahad and the other Grail knights who thought they were searching for the Chalice of the Last Supper.

The Da Vinci Code opens with the grisly murder of the Louvre’s curator inside the museum. The crime enmeshes hero Robert Langdon, a tweedy professor of symbolism from Harvard, and the victim’s granddaughter, burgundy-haired cryptologist Sophie Nevue. Together with crippled millionaire historian Leigh Teabing, they flee Paris for London one step ahead of the police and a mad albino Opus Dei “monk” named Silas who will stop at nothing to prevent them from finding the “Grail.”

But despite the frenetic pacing, at no point is action allowed to interfere with a good lecture. Before the story comes full circle back to the Louvre, readers face a barrage of codes, puzzles, mysteries, and conspiracies.

With his twice-stated principle, “Everybody loves a conspiracy,” Brown is reminiscent of the famous author who crafted her product by studying the features of ten earlier best-sellers. It would be too easy to criticize him for characters thin as plastic wrap, undistinguished prose, and improbable action. But Brown isn’t so much writing badly as writing in a particular way best calculated to attract a female audience. (Women, after all, buy most of the nation’s books.) He has married a thriller plot to a romance-novel technique. Notice how each character is an extreme type . . . effortlessly brilliant, smarmy, sinister, or psychotic as needed, moving against luxurious but curiously flat backdrops. Avoiding gore and bedroom gymnastics, he shows only one brief kiss and a sexual ritual performed by a married couple. The risqué allusions are fleeting although the text lingers over some bloody Opus Dei mortifications. In short, Brown has fabricated a novel perfect for a ladies’ book club.

Brown’s lack of seriousness shows in the games he plays with his character names—Robert Langdon, “bright fame long don” (distinguished and virile); Sophie Nevue, “wisdom New Eve”; the irascible taurine detective Bezu Fache, “zebu anger.” The servant who leads the police to them is Legaludec, “legal duce.” The murdered curator takes his surname, Saunière, from a real Catholic priest whose occult antics sparked interest in the Grail secret. As an inside joke, Brown even writes in his real-life editor (Faukman is Kaufman).

While his extensive use of fictional formulas may be the secret to Brown’s stardom, his anti-Christian message can’t have hurt him in publishing circles: The Da Vinci Code debuted atop the New York Times best-seller list. By manipulating his audience through the conventions of romance-writing, Brown invites readers to identify with his smart, glamorous characters who’ve seen through the impostures of the clerics who hide the “truth” about Jesus and his wife. Blasphemy is delivered in a soft voice with a knowing chuckle: “[E]very faith in the world is based on fabrication.”

But even Brown has his limits. To dodge charges of outright bigotry, he includes a climactic twist in the story that absolves the Church of assassination. And although he presents Christianity as a false root and branch, he’s willing to tolerate it for its charitable works.

(Of course, Catholic Christianity will become even more tolerable once the new liberal pope elected in Brown’s previous Langdon novel, Angels & Demons, abandons outmoded teachings. “Third-century laws cannot be applied to the modern followers of Christ,” says one of the book’s progressive cardinals.)

Where Is He Getting All of This?

Brown actually cites his principal sources within the text of his novel. One is a specimen of academic feminist scholarship: The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels. The others are popular esoteric histories: The Templar Revelation: Secret Guardians of the True Identity of Christ by Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince; Holy Blood, Holy Grail by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln; The Goddess in the Gospels: Reclaiming the Sacred Feminine and The Woman with the Alabaster Jar: Mary Magdalen and the Holy Grail, both by Margaret Starbird. (Starbird, a self-identified Catholic, has her books published by Matthew Fox’s outfit, Bear & Co.) Another influence, at least at second remove, is The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets by Barbara G. Walker.

The use of such unreliable sources belies Brown’s pretensions to intellectuality. But the act has apparently fooled at least some of his readers—the New York Daily News book reviewer trumpeted, “His research is impeccable.”

But despite Brown’s scholarly airs, a writer who thinks the Merovingians founded Paris and forgets that the popes once lived in Avignon is hardly a model researcher. And for him to state that the Church burned five million women as witches shows a willful—and malicious—ignorance of the historical record. The latest figures for deaths during the European witch craze are between 30,000 to 50,000 victims. Not all were executed by the Church, not all were women, and not all were burned. Brown’s claim that educated women, priestesses, and midwives were singled out by witch-hunters is not only false, it betrays his goddess-friendly sources.

A Multitude of Errors

So error-laden is The Da Vinci Code that the educated reader actually applauds those rare occasions where Brown stumbles (despite himself) into the truth. A few examples of his “impeccable” research: He claims that the motions of the planet Venus trace a pentacle (the so-called Ishtar pentagram) symbolizing the goddess. But it isn’t a perfect figure and has nothing to do with the length of the Olympiad. The ancient Olympic games were celebrated in honor of Zeus Olympias, not Aphrodite, and occurred every four years.

Brown’s contention that the five linked rings of the modern Olympic Games are a secret tribute to the goddess is also wrong—each set of games was supposed to add a ring to the design but the organizers stopped at five. And his efforts to read goddess propaganda into art, literature, and even Disney cartoons are simply ridiculous.

No datum is too dubious for inclusion, and reality falls quickly by the wayside. For instance, the Opus Dei bishop encourages his albino assassin by telling him that Noah was also an albino (a notion drawn from the non-canonical 1 Enoch 106:2). Yet albinism somehow fails to interfere with the man’s eyesight as it physiologically would.

But a far more important example is Brown’s treatment of Gothic architecture as a style full of goddess-worshipping symbols and coded messages to confound the uninitiated. Building on Barbara Walker’s claim that “like a pagan temple, the Gothic cathedral represented the body of the Goddess,” The Templar Revelation asserts: “Sexual symbolism is found in the great Gothic cathedrals which were masterminded by the Knights Templar . . . both of which represent intimate female anatomy: the arch, which draws the worshipper into the body of Mother Church, evokes the vulva.” In The Da Vinci Code, these sentiments are transformed into a character’s description of “a cathedral’s long hollow nave as a secret tribute to a woman’s womb…complete with receding labial ridges and a nice little cinquefoil clitoris above the doorway.”

These remarks cannot be brushed aside as opinions of the villain; Langdon, the book’s hero, refers to his own lectures about goddess-symbolism at Chartres.

These bizarre interpretations betray no acquaintance with the actual development or construction of Gothic architecture, and correcting the countless errors becomes a tiresome exercise: The Templars had nothing to do with the cathedrals of their time, which were commissioned by bishops and their canons throughout Europe. They were unlettered men with no arcane knowledge of “sacred geometry” passed down from the pyramid builders. They did not wield tools themselves on their own projects, nor did they found masons’ guilds to build for others. Not all their churches were round, nor was roundness a defiant insult to the Church. Rather than being a tribute to the divine feminine, their round churches honored the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Actually looking at Gothic churches and their predecessors deflates the idea of female symbolism. Large medieval churches typically had three front doors on the west plus triple entrances to their transepts on the north and south. (What part of a woman’s anatomy does a transept represent? Or the kink in Chartres’s main aisle?) Romanesque churches—including ones that predate the founding of the Templars—have similar bands of decoration arching over their entrances. Both Gothic and Romanesque churches have the long, rectangular nave inherited from Late Antique basilicas, ultimately derived from Roman public buildings. Neither Brown nor his sources consider what symbolism medieval churchmen such as Suger of St.-Denis or William Durandus read in church design. It certainly wasn’t goddess-worship.

False Claims

If the above seems like a pile driver applied to a gnat, the blows are necessary to demonstrate the utter falseness of Brown’s material. His willful distortions of documented history are more than matched by his outlandish claims about controversial subjects. But to a postmodernist, one construct of reality is as good as any other.

Brown’s approach seems to consist of grabbing large chunks of his stated sources and tossing them together in a salad of a story. From Holy Blood, Holy Grail, Brown lifts the concept of the Grail as a metaphor for a sacred lineage by arbitrarily breaking a medieval French term, Sangraal (Holy Grail), into sang (blood) and raal (royal). This holy blood, according to Brown, descended from Jesus and his wife, Mary Magdalene, to the Merovingian dynasty in Dark Ages France, surviving its fall to persist in several modern French families, including that of Pierre Plantard, a leader of the mysterious Priory of Sion. The Priory—an actual organization officially registered with the French government in 1956—makes extraordinary claims of antiquity as the “real” power behind the Knights Templar. It most likely originated after World War II and was first brought to public notice in 1962. With the exception of filmmaker Jean Cocteau, its illustrious list of Grand Masters—which include Leonardo da Vinci, Issac Newton, and Victor Hugo—is not credible, although it’s presented as true by Brown.

Brown doesn’t accept a political motivation for the Priory’s activities. Instead he picks up The Templar Revelation’s view of the organization as a cult of secret goddess-worshippers who have preserved ancient Gnostic wisdom and records of Christ’s true mission, which would completely overturn Christianity if released. Significantly, Brown omits the rest of the book’s thesis that makes Christ and Mary Magdalene unmarried sex partners performing the erotic mysteries of Isis. Perhaps even a gullible mass-market audience has its limits.

From both Holy Blood, Holy Grail and The Templar Revelation, Brown takes a negative view of the Bible and a grossly distorted image of Jesus. He’s neither the Messiah nor a humble carpenter but a wealthy, trained religious teacher bent on regaining the throne of David. His credentials are amplified by his relationship with the rich Magdalen who carries the royal blood of Benjamin: “Almost everything our fathers taught us about Christ is false,” laments one of Brown’s characters.

Yet it’s Brown’s Christology that’s false—and blindingly so. He requires the present New Testament to be a post-Constantinian fabrication that displaced true accounts now represented only by surviving Gnostic texts. He claims that Christ wasn’t considered divine until the Council of Nicea voted him so in 325 at the behest of the emperor. Then Constantine—a lifelong sun worshipper—ordered all older scriptural texts destroyed, which is why no complete set of Gospels predates the fourth century. Christians somehow failed to notice the sudden and drastic change in their doctrine.

But by Brown’s specious reasoning, the Old Testament can’t be authentic either because complete Hebrew Scriptures are no more than a thousand years old. And yet the texts were transmitted so accurately that they do match well with the Dead Sea Scrolls from a thousand years earlier. Analysis of textual families, comparison with fragments and quotations, plus historical correlations securely date the orthodox Gospels to the first century and indicate that they’re earlier than the Gnostic forgeries. (The Epistles of St. Paul are, of course, even earlier than the Gospels.)

Primitive Church documents and the testimony of the ante-Nicean Fathers confirm that Christians have always believed Jesus to be Lord, God, and Savior—even when that faith meant death. The earliest partial canon of Scripture dates from the late second century and already rejected Gnostic writings. For Brown, it isn’t enough to credit Constantine with the divinization of Jesus. The emperor’s old adherence to the cult of the Invincible Sun also meant repackaging sun worship as the new faith. Brown drags out old (and long-discredited) charges by virulent anti-Catholics like Alexander Hislop who accused the Church of perpetuating Babylonian mysteries, as well as 19th-century rationalists who regarded Christ as just another dying savior-god.

Unsurprisingly, Brown misses no opportunity to criticize Christianity and its pitiable adherents. (The church in question is always the Catholic Church, though his villain does sneer once at Anglicans—for their grimness, of all things.) He routinely and anachronistically refers to the Church as “the Vatican,” even when popes weren’t in residence there. He systematically portrays it throughout history as deceitful, power-crazed, crafty, and murderous: “The Church may no longer employ crusades to slaughter, but their influence is no less persuasive. No less insidious.”

Goddess Worship and the Magdalen

Worst of all, in Brown’s eyes, is the fact that the pleasure-hating, sex-hating, woman-hating Church suppressed goddess worship and eliminated the divine feminine. He claims that goddess worship universally dominated pre-Christian paganism with the hieros gamos (sacred marriage) as its central rite. His enthusiasm for fertility rites is enthusiasm for sexuality, not procreation. What else would one expect of a Cathar sympathizer?

Astonishingly, Brown claims that Jews in Solomon’s Temple adored Yahweh and his feminine counterpart, the Shekinah, via the services of sacred prostitutes—possibly a twisted version of the Temple’s corruption after Solomon (1 Kings 14:24 and 2 Kings 23:4-15). Moreover, he says that the tetragrammaton YHWH derives from “Jehovah, an androgynous physical union between the masculine Jah and the pre-Hebraic name for Eve, Havah.”

But as any first-year Scripture student could tell you, Jehovah is actually a 16th-century rendering of Yahweh using the vowels of Adonai (“Lord”). In fact, goddesses did not dominate the pre-Christian world—not in the religions of Rome, her barbarian subjects, Egypt, or even Semitic lands where the hieros gamos was an ancient practice. Nor did the Hellenized cult of Isis appear to have included sex in its secret rites.

Contrary to yet another of Brown’s claims, Tarot cards do not teach goddess doctrine. They were invented for innocent gaming purposes in the 15th century and didn’t acquire occult associations until the late 18th. Playing-card suites carry no Grail symbolism. The notion of diamonds symbolizing pentacles is a deliberate misrepresentation by British occultist A. E. Waite. And the number five—so crucial to Brown’s puzzles—has some connections with the protective goddess but myriad others besides, including human life, the five senses, and the Five Wounds of Christ.

Brown’s treatment of Mary Magdalene is sheer delusion. In The Da Vinci Code, she’s no penitent whore but Christ’s royal consort and the intended head of His Church, supplanted by Peter and defamed by churchmen. She fled west with her offspring to Provence, where medieval Cathars would keep the original teachings of Jesus alive. The Priory of Sion still guards her relics and records, excavated by the Templars from the subterranean Holy of Holies. It also protects her descendants—including Brown’s heroine.

Although many people still picture the Magdalen as a sinful woman who anointed Jesus and equate her with Mary of Bethany, that conflation is actually the later work of Pope St. Gregory the Great. The East has always kept them separate and said that the Magdalen, “apostle to the apostles,” died in Ephesus. The legend of her voyage to Provence is no earlier than the ninth century, and her relics weren’t reported there until the 13th. Catholic critics, including the Bollandists, have been debunking the legend and distinguishing the three ladies since the 17th century.

Brown uses two Gnostic documents, the Gospel of Philip and the Gospel of Mary, to prove that the Magdalen was Christ’s “companion,” meaning sexual partner. The apostles were jealous that Jesus used to “kiss her on the mouth” and favored her over them. He cites exactly the same passages quoted in Holy Blood, Holy Grail and The Templar Revelation and even picks up the latter’s reference to The Last Temptation of Christ. What these books neglect to mention is the infamous final verse of the Gospel of Thomas. When Peter sneers that “women are not worthy of Life,” Jesus responds, “I myself shall lead her in order to make her male . . . . For every woman who will make herself male will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”

That’s certainly an odd way to “honor” one’s spouse or exalt the status of women.

The Knights Templar

Brown likewise misrepresents the history of the Knights Templar. The oldest of the military-religious orders, the Knights were founded in 1118 to protect pilgrims in the Holy Land. Their rule, attributed to St. Bernard of Clairvaux, was approved in 1128 and generous donors granted them numerous properties in Europe for support. Rendered redundant after the last Crusader stronghold fell in 1291, the Templars’ pride and wealth—they were also bankers—earned them keen hostility.

Brown maliciously ascribes the suppression of the Templars to “Machiavellian” Pope Clement V, whom they were blackmailing with the Grail secret. His “ingeniously planned sting operation” had his soldiers suddenly arrest all Templars. Charged with Satanism, sodomy, and blasphemy, they were tortured into confessing and burned as heretics, their ashes “tossed unceremoniously into the Tiber.”

But in reality, the initiative for crushing the Templars came from King Philip the Fair of France, whose royal officials did the arresting in 1307. About 120 Templars were burned by local Inquisitorial courts in France for not confessing or retracting a confession, as happened with Grand Master Jacques de Molay. Few Templars suffered death elsewhere although their order was abolished in 1312. Clement, a weak, sickly Frenchman manipulated by his king, burned no one in Rome inasmuch as he was the first pope to reign from Avignon (so much for the ashes in the Tiber).

Moreover, the mysterious stone idol that the Templars were accused of worshiping is associated with fertility in only one of more than a hundred confessions. Sodomy was the scandalous—and possibly true—charge against the order, not ritual fornication. The Templars have been darlings of occultism since their myth as masters of secret wisdom and fabulous treasure began to coalesce in the late 18th century. Freemasons and even Nazis have hailed them as brothers. Now it’s the turn of neo-Gnostics.

Twisting da Vinci

Brown’s revisionist interpretations of da Vinci are as distorted as the rest of his information. He claims to have first run across these views “while I was studying art history in Seville,” but they correspond point for point to material in The Templar Revelation. A writer who sees a pointed finger as a throat-cutting gesture, who says the Madonna of the Rocks was painted for nuns instead of a lay confraternity of men, who claims that da Vinci received “hundreds of lucrative Vatican commissions” (actually, it was just one…and it was never executed) is simply unreliable.

Brown’s analysis of da Vinci’s work is just as ridiculous. He presents the Mona Lisa as an androgynous self-portrait when it’s widely known to portray a real woman, Madonna Lisa, wife of Francesco di Bartolomeo del Giocondo. The name is certainly not—as Brown claims—a mocking anagram of two Egyptian fertility deities Amon and L’Isa (Italian for Isis). How did he miss the theory, propounded by the authors of The Templar Revelation, that the Shroud of Turin is a photographed self-portrait of da Vinci?

Much of Brown’s argument centers around da Vinci’s Last Supper, a painting the author considers a coded message that reveals the truth about Jesus and the Grail. Brown points to the lack of a central chalice on the table as proof that the Grail isn’t a material vessel. But da Vinci’s painting specifically dramatizes the moment when Jesus warns, “One of you will betray me” (John 13:21). There is no Institution Narrative in St. John’s Gospel. The Eucharist is not shown there. And the person sitting next to Jesus is not Mary Magdalene (as Brown claims) but St. John, portrayed as the usual effeminate da Vinci youth, comparable to his St. John the Baptist. Jesus is in the exact center of the painting, with two pyramidal groups of three apostles on each side. Although da Vinci was a spiritually troubled homosexual, Brown’s contention that he coded his paintings with anti-Christian messages simply can’t be sustained.

Brown’s Mess

In the end, Dan Brown has penned a poorly written, atrociously researched mess. So, why bother with such a close reading of a worthless novel? The answer is simple: The Da Vinci Code takes esoterica mainstream. It may well do for Gnosticism what The Mists of Avalon did for paganism—gain it popular acceptance. After all, how many lay readers will see the blazing inaccuracies put forward as buried truths?

What’s more, in making phony claims of scholarship, Brown’s book infects readers with a virulent hostility toward Catholicism. Dozens of occult history books, conveniently cross-linked by Amazon.com, are following in its wake. And booksellers’ shelves now bulge with falsehoods few would be buying without The Da Vinci Code connection. While Brown’s assault on the Catholic Church may be a backhanded compliment, it’s one we would have happily done without.

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First Amendment has been turned on its head By Michael Schuttloffel

22 10 2013

 The End of America—As America By Michael Schuttloffel

America remains the home of the brave—if you doubt that, google the name Michael Monsoor—but is it still the land of the free? This question is ever more on the minds of religious Americans, who are very much on the defensive these days.

The first line of the First Amendment is dedicated to the protection of religious freedom, and religious freedom was widely understood at the time of the Founding to be one of the very pillars of the American project. But times have changed. The culture is now openly hostile towards religion and religious people. The First Amendment has been turned on its head, being widely misunderstood now as protecting the public square from unwanted religious influences.

In the contemporary mind, religious freedom is nothing more than the freedom of private worship. This line of thinking holds that as long as you are not dragged off to jail in handcuffs for going to Sunday Mass, your religious freedom has been respected. However, the freedom to live one’s faith in daily life as a full participant in society—in other words, the freedom to *exercise *one’s religion (see the First Amendment)—has gone the way of the rotary phone.

Catholic adoption agencies in Boston, Washington DC, and Illinois have been shut down by the government for insisting on placing kids in families with a married mother and father. Catholic business owners nationwide are now required to provide their employees with health plans that cover contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs. Across the country, Christian florists, bakers, and photographers have been investigated and even fined by government agencies for declining to serve same-sex weddings on the basis of their religious beliefs.

If Americans are no longer free to operate a private business without being forced by the government to provide services that violate their sincerely held religious beliefs, the question is not whether America respects religious freedom anymore. The question is whether America is America anymore. After all, this was the first nation on earth to be founded not upon an ethnicity but upon a set of ideas. If those ideas are now defunct, then this is, in some fundamental sense, another country.

While First Amendment rights long held to be sacrosanct are trumped by novelties like same-sex marriage and free birth control, Americans are still free to obtain late-term abortions, which are only legal in three other countries in the world: North Korea, China, and Canada. Unlike religious freedom, this right is apparently inviolable. Twenty-three years ago, Pope John Paul II wrote, “A democracy without values easily turns into open or thinly disguised totalitarianism.” What was at the time dismissed by many as alarmism now has the ring of prophecy.

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Michael Schuttloffel is the executive director of the Kansas C. Conference.





Letter To My Atheist Friend by Benedict XVI

29 09 2013

Letter To My Atheist Friend by Benedict XVI

While the world was still digesting a wide-ranging interview with Pope Francis on Monday the Italian daily La Repubblica published excerpts from a letter Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI sent to a well-known atheist, the mathematician Piergiorgio Odifreddi – the Richard Dawkins of Italy. Benedict was responding to a book Odifreddi wrote in 2011 titled, “Dear Pope, I’m Writing to You”, says Rome correspondent Edward Pentin. The book is a critique of certain arguments and lines of thought found in Benedict’s theological writings, beginning with his 1967 volume Introduction to Christianity and including the book Jesus of Nazareth, which he wrote as Pope. The extracts show Benedict as his usual gentlemanly, though frank, self, calmly weighing the popular writer’s claims and countering his exaggerations and omissions. It was Odifreddi himself who decided to publish Benedict’s letter. Writing in La Repubblica on Monday he said that few people “can understand the surprise and excitement” you feel on receiving “an unexpected letter from a pope.” He said the letter was delivered on September 3, and he waited to publish it to make sure he had Benedict XVI’s permission. The depth of his answer was “beyond reasonable hopes,” Odifreddi said, and he was particularly surprised that Benedict read his book from cover to cover and wanted to discuss it, as it had been billed as a “luciferian introduction to atheism.” Odifreddi said the entire 11-page letter will be included in a new edition of his book. He said that he and Benedict may disagree on almost everything, but they have “united in at least one common goal: the search for the Truth, with a capital ‘T.’” The published experts follow. * * * * * Dear Professor Odifreddi, (…) I would like to thank you for your very detailed critique of my books, and similarly aspects of my faith. Such an endeavour is largely what I meant by my address to the Roman Curia on the occasion of Christmas 2009. I have to thank you very much for the way you faithfully followed my text, seeking earnestly to do it justice. My opinion about your book as a whole, however, is itself rather mixed. I read some parts with enjoyment and profit. In other parts, however, I was taken aback by the aggressiveness and rash nature of your argument.(…) Several times you pointed out to me that theology must be science fiction. In this respect, I’m surprised that you still feel my book worthy of discussion. Let me make four points in relation to this issue: 1. Is it fair to say that “science” in the strictest sense of the word is just math? I learned from you that, even here, the distinction should be made between arithmetic and geometry. In all the specific scientific subjects each one has its own form, according to the particularity of its object. It is essential that you apply a verifiable method, which excludes arbitrariness and ensures rationality in their different ways. 2. You should at least recognize that, in history and in philosophical thought, theology has produced lasting results. 3. An important function of theology is to keep religion tied to reason and reason to religion. Both functions are of paramount importance for humanity. In my dialogue with [sociologist Jurgen] Habermas I have shown that there are pathologies of religion and — no less dangerous — pathologies of reason. Religion and reason need each other, and to keep them constantly connected is an important task of theology. 4. Science fiction exists, moreover, in the context of many sciences. What it offers are theories about the beginning and the end of the world as found in Heisenberg, Schrödinger and others. I would designate such works as science fiction in the best sense: they are visions which anticipate true knowledge, although they are, in fact, only imaginative attempts to get closer to reality. There is, however, science fiction on a grand scale even within the theory of evolution. The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins is a classic example of science fiction. The great [molecular biologist] Jacques Monod wrote some sentences which he has inserted in his works which could only be science fiction. I quote: “The emergence of tetrapod vertebrates … originates from the fact that a primitive fish ‘chose’ to go and explore the land, on which, however, it was unable to move except by jumping clumsily and thus creating, as a result of a modification of behaviour, the selective pressure leading to the development of the sturdy limbs of tetrapods. Among the descendants of this bold explorer, of this Magellan of evolution, some can run at a speed of 70 miles per hour … ” (Quoted from the Italian edition of Chance and Necessity, Milan 2001, p. 117ff.). On the issues discussed so far this is a serious dialogue, for which – as I have said repeatedly – I am grateful . The situation is different in the chapter [of your book] on the priest and Catholic morality, and again in different parts of the chapters on Jesus. As for what you say about moral abuse of minors by priests, I can – as you know – only take note with deep concern. I have never tried to hide these things. That the power of evil penetrates to such an extent in the inner world of faith is for us a source of suffering which, on the one hand, we have to endure, while, on the other, we must at the same time do everything possible to ensure that such cases are not repeated. Nor is it reassuring to know that, according to the research of sociologists, the percentage of priests who are guilty of these crimes is not higher than that found in other similar professions. In any case, one must not present this deviance ostentatiously, as if it were a nastiness specific to Catholicism. On the other hand, if we may not remain silent about evil in the Church, neither can we keep silent about the great shining path of goodness and purity which Christian faith has traced through the centuries. You must remember the great and pure figures that faith has produced: Benedict of Nursia and his sister Scholastica, Francis and Clare of Assisi, Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross, the great saints of charity like Vincent de Paul and Camillo de Lellis, Mother Teresa of Calcutta and the great and noble figures of nineteenth century Turin. It is also true today that faith leads many people to selfless love, in service to others, sincerity and justice.(…) What you say about Jesus is not worthy of your scientific rank. You question whether, after all, we can know anything about Jesus, suggesting that we can know nothing about him as a historical figure, and so I can only invite you to become a bit more competent from a historical point of view. In this regard I recommend especially the four volumes that Martin Hengel (an exegete from the Protestant Theological Faculty of Tübingen) published together with Mary Schwemer: this work is an excellent example of historical accuracy and very broad historical information. In the face of this, what you say about Jesus is reckless talk that should not be repeated. That there has been too much exegesis written that lacks seriousness is, unfortunately, an indisputable fact. The American Jesus Seminar you have cited on pages 105 ff only confirms again what Albert Schweitzer noted in his Geschichte Leben-Jesu-Forschung (The Quest of the Historical Jesus) — that is, that the so-called “historical Jesus” mostly reflects ideas of the authors. These flawed historical works, however, do not compromise the importance of serious historical research, which has led us to true knowledge about the figure of Jesus and confidence in proclaiming him.(…) I also forcefully reject your statement (p. 126) that I presented the historical-critical method of exegesis as a tool of the Antichrist. In treating the story of Jesus’ temptations, I have merely presented Soloviev’s thesis, according to which historical-critical exegesis can also be used by the antichrist – which is an indisputable fact. At the same time, however, always — and in particular in the preface to the first volume of my book on Jesus of Nazareth — I explained clearly that historical-critical exegesis is necessary for a faith that does not propose myths with historical images, but calls for a genuine historicity and therefore must present the historical reality of its claims in a scientific manner. You are not even correct when you tell me that I would be interested only in meta-history; quite the contrary, all my efforts are aimed to show that the Jesus described in the Gospels is also the real historical Jesus, that it is a story that really happened. (…) By the 19th chapter of your book we return to the positive aspects of your dialogue with my thinking. (…) Even if your interpretation of John 1:1 is very far from what the evangelist meant, there is a convergence that is important. If, however, you want to replace God with “Nature”, it begs the question: Who or what is this nature? Nowhere do you define it, and thus it appears as an irrational deity which explains nothing. But I want especially to note that in your religion of mathematics three themes fundamental to human existence are not considered: freedom, love and evil. I’m astonished that you just give a nod to freedom, which has been and is the core value of modern times. Love, in his book, does not appear, and it says nothing about evil. Whatever neurobiology says or does not say about freedom, in the real drama of our history it is a present reality and must be taken into account. But your religion of mathematics doesn’t recognise any knowledge of evil. A religion that ignores these fundamental questions is empty. Dear professor, my criticism of your book is in part harsh. Frankness, however, is part of dialogue: Only in this way can understanding grow. You were quite frank, and so you will accept that I should be also. In any case, I very much appreciate that you, through your confrontation with my Introduction to Christianity, have sought to open a dialogue with the faith of the Catholic Church and that, notwithstanding all the contrasts in the central area, points of convergence are nevertheless not lacking.” (Translation by MercatorNet assisted by Google. For the Italian original see La Repubblica.) – See more at: http://www.mercatornet.com/articles/view/dear_pope_dear_professor#sthash.cqEt8eiK.dpuf

 





The little boy who was killed by a mob

15 07 2013

The story of a boy killed in the street by a mob

In the year 200, Romans persecuted Christians throughout the land. They arrested some, imprisoned and even killed many. Thus Christians hid themselves in the catacombs out of fear. From the catacombs, they usually sent someone to covertly visit the prisons and bring Christian nourishment to those condemned to die. At one point, there was no one to send, so they sent a 12 year old child whose name was Tarcisius.

The child passed swiftly through the city square; gentle, serene and thoughtful. His arms folded closely on his breast, guarding the Holy Eucharist which he was bringing to the condemned prisoner. Christians believe that the Holy Eucharist is the body of Christ”

On the way, Tarcisius met some pagan boys who knew him. They were playing.

“Hi there, Tarcisius! Where are you going? “A big boy asked.
“I am on an errand,” the child replied.

“How quick you go, and how mysterious you seem! Come here and play,” added another rough looking boy.

“Oh no! I have a task I must fulfill.” said the child.

“Indeed! And may we ask what you are holding there? “
“You can not see.” the poor child said, backing away
“Why?” asked the big boy
‘”Is it a secret.” asked another.
“Ah! A mystery? Cried another, excitedly, crowding in.
“Nothing is more amusing. Tell us, then!” said the big boy, eyes gleaming, and his big arm reaching out.

“O! Leave me, please,” pleaded the child again.

But the rough pagan boys blocked his path and said, “Give us your treasures!”
The child shook his head.

The crowd began to surge like a mob.

“What’s here – .’ A treasure. Oh! Where was it found?” cried one
Another shrill voice answered, “It is a Christian boy, who hides upon his breast some foolish toy.”

Like furious lions, the boys roared, “Open your arms!”

Twenty arms stretched forth, threateningly to the frail child, who answered steadfastly, “Never! oh, never!”

They leaped upon him, seized him. Yet they could not unclose his slender arms, clasped firmly on his heart enfolding the Eucharist.

The mob grew, strong and cowardly, struck the child’s head with their fists and felled him to the ground. He lay before them, trampled beneath their feet. He went down under the blows until a soldier came and drove off the mob and rescued the young child.

The child looked up at him, and knew him, for the soldier was a Christian, and the boy smiled. On the red pavement where he lay, his arms still crossed guarding the Eucharist, a trace of blood upon the brow and down the cheek. With his dying voice, in a soft and meek accent, the child said to the Christian these words, “Friend I bear our Lord for the Martyrs in prison.” and died.

His mangled body was carried back to the catacombs. He died yet still his cold hands lay clasped his breast with the Holy Eucharist guarded by a most faithful child. Only the Priest’s hand could avail, at last, to open those boyish hands shut fast in death and take from them the Lord for Whom he died! Tarcisius has long since been crowned and glorified, Boy-martyr.





Even if you Kill Me, I will Not Curse God: The story of Santiago Mosquera

11 07 2013

Never, even if you kill me, I will not offend God.

In 1936, a cruel religious persecution broke out in Spain. A group of militant Atheist began killing Christians indiscriminately. They arrested a 16 year adolescent boy whose name was Santiago Mosquera, beat him savagely and threw him in jail. The next day, they brought him out, tied him to a stake and ordered, “Curse God and we will let you go.”
“Never, even if you kill me,” the boy replied.
They struck him, shouting, “Curse God!”
“You can hit me again. I won’t,” the boy cried.
Another slap opened the wound already made on his head and more blood flowed.

They then left him tied to the stake for two days, without food or drink. The boy moaned in pain.
When they returned, they continued tormenting him, “If you curse God as we do… you can eat and we’ll spare your life.”
“The boy closed his eyes and did not respond.”
“Open your eyes or I’ll shoot you.” One of the criminals howled at him, shoving a pistol into his stomach.
“I don’t want to see you,” the boy said in a weak voice.
“What? You don’t want to see us? Well, now you’ll see…stars,” the man screamed, and repeatedly lashed the boy’s face with a whip.
Finally, on the night of August 24,  they took him and other Christian prisoners to the cemetery to be shot.

They  lined them up against the wall and shot them. But the boy did not die, he was badly wounded from the gunshots. When the militants left, he tried to get up but was unable. Thus he spent the entire night among the corpses of his friends. In the morning,  he heard footsteps of someone approaching. It was the gravedigger.

Confidence grew in the boy’s heart and his heart beat with anxiety. He spoke in a weak voice, ‘Have mercy, good man and help me.” But the gravedigger, who was also an Atheist, when he heard the boy, knew he was there because he was a Christian and responded with a vile and merciless yell, “Curse God now and I will help you!” Once again the boy refused.

The gravedigger’s wrath kindled and he threatened to kill him if he does not blaspheme.
“I would rather die than offend God,” the boy said, his tears mingling with the blood flowing from his head. The gravedigger then violently took a pick axe and with a single blow killed the boy.

According to various witnesses, after the war, the whereabouts of the boy’s body was unknown. Then it was discovered miraculously… his face reflected the serenity and peace, peace of his having remained faithful to Christ to the end and received the everlasting crown.








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