Tag: Ralph Martin

A Severe Mercy: Our Time of Visitation

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I’m writing to share with you a few thoughts as a follow up to Ralph Martin’s excellent and courageous letter Dear Troubled Catholics, regarding the current crisis in the Church.

Ralph wrote that this current crisis, precipitated by the revelation of Cardinal McCarrick’s moral failures and the failure of leadership in the Church to prevent his rise to prominence, could be a “tipping point” for the Church. He sees in it a possibility for genuine repentance and change for the Church.

I perceive in this crisis—both here in the United States and around the world—an opportunity, given us by our Lord. I believe we are experiencing the discipline of the Lord; it is a severe mercy, a judgment upon the Church that is meant to lead to deep, thorough repentance, healing, and reformation. It’s an opportunity that demands a response from all of us, beginning with the leadership of the Church. If we cooperate with Jesus, with obedient and repentant hearts and total honesty and transparency in the fear of the Lord, Jesus will lead us out of this terrible crisis. If we fail to respond to this time of purification, I believe the Church in America will be severely weakened, the decline we’re witnessing in the Church will escalate, and the flock will scatter.

While on mission in Uganda in 2016, the Lord spoke to me about what we are now living through. Our team from Renewal Ministries was leading a week-long retreat for about 350 priests and bishops from five east-African countries. One morning during daily Mass, right after Communion, I sensed the Lord telling me to get out my journal and to write down the following: “The days ahead will be marked by growing chaos and confusion. I am coming to purify my Church. I am about to bring down the idols that hold my people in bondage; I will expose the hypocrisy of the mighty and the strong, both in the Church and in the world.”

Watching the mighty fall in the past few years—Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, Bill O’Reilly, Matt Lauer, Al Franken, and now former Cardinal McCarrick (now Archbishop McCarrick) and other cardinals and bishops—has been sobering. These revelations are meant to lead all of us to repentance and to instill in us a healthy fear of the Lord. The Captain of the Armies of Heaven, Jesus, the Lord, is purifying His Church and exposing the emptiness and hypocrisy of the world. Scripture tells us that the Lord disciplines those whom He loves.

It’s important for us to understand Jesus’ intent. He doesn’t come to humiliate or destroy; He comes to save. St. Peter tells us that judgment begins with the house of God. Jesus is purifying His Church for the sake of the salvation of the world. The Church is the hope of the world, the sacrament of salvation, the light of the world. When the Church is trapped in sin, her light goes dim and her salt goes flat.

Today, the Church is infected with deep strongholds of sin that are crippling her life and witness. In the period leading up to the Dallas Charter in 2002, Jesus began to expose the horrific corruption of homosexual sins of pedophilia and ephebophilia (sexual attraction to pubescent boys) among the clergy, and the cover up by some of the hierarchy of these crimes. Eighty-one percent of the victims were adolescent males.

Steps were taken at the time to respond to the crisis with the Dallas Charter and the “zero tolerance” policy instituted throughout the Church in the United States. The Charter was a start, but lacked complete honesty and transparency. The efforts by the bishops left the dishonest impression that the primary problem the Church was facing in this crisis was pedophilia and not ephebophilia. This allowed them to deflect attention from the fact that active homosexuality among the clergy was the primary source of the problem.

What’s clear from the revelations about Archbishop McCarrick is that the repentance in 2002 did not go deep enough. There was a cover up, a strategic decision to hide the bigger problem of active homosexuality among the clergy, including some of the hierarchy.

What we are seeing is the means to which Jesus will go to purify His Church. The wound of sin in this area is deeper than most of our brothers in the hierarchy are willing to acknowledge or to confront. But the Lord will not relent.

In the letter to the Church in Ephesus in the Book of Revelation, Jesus tells the leaders of the Church the following:

“I have this against you, that you abandoned the love you had at first. Remember then from what you have fallen, repent and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent” (Rv 2:4-5).

Jesus warned the leaders of the Church that even though they had done many things right, they had lost their first love. He then gave them a three-step process to make things right: remember, repent, and act. They were to remember the place from which they had fallen, to repent, and then do the works they had done at first. In this crisis, this is a good guide for all of us, especially our leaders.

Jesus is calling our leaders to remember the purity and holiness to which they have been called, and to make a thorough examination of their lives before Him. They must then act decisively, with zeal and determination, to bring to light all that is hidden in darkness. They must remember that this severe mercy is an act of love that calls for total obedience to the Lord, knowing, “those whom I love I reprove and chasten; so be zealous and repent” (Rv 3:19).

Just as in Ephesus, so it will be with the Church in America, if we don’t respond wholeheartedly, with complete honesty. If the Church refuses to expose the truth, and in the fear of the Lord to cooperate with Him in this hour of purification, He will “come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.”

That is what I believe is at stake at this time for the Church in America. To “remove your lampstand” means, in the words of Victorinus of Petovium, to “disperse the congregation.”[i] The Church in many parts of the United States is already in decline. If we as a Church do not cooperate fully with the Lord at this time of visitation, the decline will escalate dramatically.

Cooperation means that policies, good public relations, the advice of lawyers, and the like are not enough. Just looking to the future is not enough. Positive platitudes are not enough. What is needed is action to root out systemic habit patterns of sin, to expose strongholds of sin to the full light of day.

This kind of stronghold of sin will not go away. It will keep producing like a deadly virus in the body or like a festering wound that has only been tended to on the surface. The infection will keep spreading. To date, the words of Jeremiah are a fitting description of the response of the bishops to this serious problem: “They have treated the wound of my people carelessly” (Jer 6:14).

The bishops can no longer continue to treat this wound carelessly; it has to be cut out, to the root. That means having to confront the fear that holds them back. To address this problem head on and to take appropriate action will likely cause serious disruption in the Church for a time, and serious pushback from forces in and outside the Church. There is no easy way forward; it will require great courage.

There is a way out of this: follow Jesus, obey Him. He will give all of us what we need. It’s time to awaken the graces of our confirmation, fortitude that is “prepared to suffer injury and, if need be, death for the truth and for the realization of justice.”[ii] And a healthy fear of the Lord to overcome the fear of men that so often leads to inaction and weak, foolish responses in the face of serious sin. “The man who fears the Lord will not be fainthearted” (Sir 34:14).

We have nothing to fear if we put all our hope in Him. It’s not our job to secure all the potential consequences that may transpire from a radical response to Jesus at this time. Our job is to obey and to entrust everything to His mercy and love, and to the protection and intercession of Our Lady.

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world, he who follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life” (Jn 8:12). Even in the greatest darkness, we can walk in the Light.

[i] Peter Williamson, Revelation: Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2015), 62.

[ii] Josef Pieper, A Brief Reader on the Virtues of the Human Heart, (San Fransisco: Ignatius Press, 1991), 11.

Proclaiming the New Evangelization in Amsterdam

Dr. Ralph Martin with a group of Dominican seminarians in Ireland.



Traveling to Ireland to speak at a large Divine Mercy Conference, Dr. Ralph Martin was also invited by a seminary in the Netherlands to lecture about the New Evangelization. After presenting to five hundred young adults and a group of Dominican seminarians in Ireland, on February 19, he was welcomed to Amsterdam by Rector Dr. Jeroen de Wit, a student from Dr. Martin’s STL summer program at Sacred Heart Major Seminary.

Dr. Martin conducted a study day at the seminary connected to the Marian Shrine, Onze Lieve Vrouw, Heiloo, Netherlands. More than one hundred people attended, including the two bishops from the Diocese of Haarlem-Amsterdam. The four talks he gave throughout the day on the mission of the laity ranged from presenting the New Evangelization and what is new about it to the call to holiness and the power of the Holy Spirit.

The audience drew insights and inspiration through Dr. Martin’s presentation from quotes made by Popes and other ecclesiastical documents, as well as stories from Martin’s own life and those of the saints. Although the message was challenging, it was aided by Dr. Martin’s sense of humor. Read more…

The Importance of Sacrifice at Any Age

Ralph at SSA 11

Ralph Martin has been speaking at local area Catholic grade schools about Fatima and the importance of making sacrifices, not matter one’s age. We came across this article written by Sr. Mary Martha Becnel, OP who mentions the impact one of these talks had on some of her students.



This weekend, Fr. Solanus Casey will be beatified, a great grace for the entire Church, but in a particular way for the Archdiocese of Detroit. As I was recently reflecting on the life of Fr. Solanus, I remembered one of the extraordinary penances he used to perform for love of God and of souls: in the mornings, Fr. Solanus would put everything — cereal, orange juice, and coffee — into one bowl for his breakfast.  Such a unique penance could cause us today to scratch our heads in confusion, if not even disapproval.

Yet I was reminded of this penitential sacrifice of Fr. Solanus recently after my fifth-grade students heard a talk about the sacrifices that St. Jacinta and St. Francisco of Fatima had made. Later in the day, one of my students chose, voluntarily and discreetly, to sacrifice a special treat for the salvation of souls. And, I learned the next day, he also led his teammates in making a sacrifice during their basketball practice that afternoon. Read more…

Symposium Honors Fr. Solanus Casey’s Legacy

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In preparation for Fr. Solanus Beatification, Sacred Heart Major Seminary hosted presentations by faculty and guest speakers.

This post was originally written by Maggie Doyle for the Sacred Heart Major Seminary Mosaic blog on November 20, 2017.

Sacred Heart Major Seminary celebrated the November 18 beatification of Wisconsin-born Fr. Solanus Casey of the Capuchin Franciscan Order of Saint Joseph, by hosting a one-day symposium on October 28, 2017. Open to the public, the symposium honored Father Solanus’ legacy, featuring curated presentations by the seminary’s internationally renowned faculty and guest speakers.

Fellow Capuchin Franciscans, authors, scholars, and theologians shared moving keynotes, testimonies, and stories that brought to life the soon-to-be Blessed’s humble, inspiring path to sainthood.

Evangelization was a featured through-line of the symposium, with topics including “Holiness and Evangelization” by Dr. Ralph Martin, Sacred Heart Professor of Theology and Director of Graduate Programs in the New Evangelization, and “How Father Solanus Unleashed the Gospel” by Fr. Stephen Pullis, Archdiocese of Detroit Director of Evangelization, Catechesis, and Schools. Monsignor Todd J. Lajiness, Sacred Heart Major Seminary president and rector, celebrated Mass, after which guests enjoyed lunch together.

The afternoon’s presentations by Dr. Edward Peters, Chair of Faculty Development, and Fr. Peter Ryan, Instructor of Theology illustrated in-depth examples of Father Solanus’ service to the poor, personal encounters, and his unique role as a “Simplex” priest. A vibrant question and answer session between participants and speakers brought the symposium to a close.

In addition to Sacred Heart faculty, two members of the Capuchin Order presented on the life of Fr. Solanus. Br. Richard Merling, O.F.M., Cap. and Fr. Martin Pable, O.F.M., Cap. shared stories of Father Solanus and the impact he had on the local community.

“I think this is a great moment where the Church in Detroit can evangelize by revealing the inner heart of Father Solanus, not just raising him up as a hero out of our reach, but as somebody who is really relevant for us,” said Dr. Ralph Martin.

As showcased by more than 250 attendees, Father Solanus’ exemplary dedication to faith and service has left an indelible mark on the community and continues to inspire the lives of many in the Archdiocese of Detroit and beyond. In 1995 Saint Pope John Paul II declared him venerable. Father Solanus was elevated from a venerable to a blessed by Pope Francis on May 4, 2017. At 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 18, the Beatification Mass at Detroit’s Ford Field elevated Father Solanus as the second American-born male to be beatified.

. . .

Photo of Ralph Martin at the Symposium courtesy of Sacred Heart Major Seminary.

 

The Fatima Children’s Wholehearted ‘Yes’

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Today, on the one-hundredth anniversary of the final Fatima apparition, I want to share with you about my recent time in Fatima, where I spoke to a capacity audience of 2,300 people. Thankfully, Anne was able to join me, as the organizers invited her and paid her way, which is quite rare. I think Mary wanted us both there and inspired them to do so. It was good to share this special grace together. The conference celebrated fifty years of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal and the one-hundredth anniversary of Mary’s messages there.

Like many of you, I have been familiar with the events and message of Fatima for many years. I was even there, many years ago. I wasn’t expecting anything special to happen during this visit, but something did. Once again, a surprise of the Holy Spirit! Before I share that story, let me recount what happened at Fatima a century ago, for the sake of those who haven’t heard or have forgotten.

In 1917, an angel appeared three different times to three small children—ages seven, nine, and ten—who lived in a small rural village. There was a brother and sister, Francisco and Jacinta, and their slightly older cousin, Lucia. The angel, which identified itself as the Angel of Portugal and the Angel of Peace, taught the children two prayers. The angel prayed with his forehead touching the ground and taught the children the profound reverence owed to God. They forever after often prayed like that themselves.

Mary then appeared to the children once a month for six consecutive months. She revealed to them three secrets, which they could only reveal at a later time. During her last appearance in October of 1917, she manifested the “miracle of the sun,” which was viewed by perhaps 70,000 people and reported on in Portugal’s secular newspapers. A very important part of what she communicated to them was the reality and horror of hell, where “many sinners go.” She very briefly gave them a vision of hell, where they saw the suffering of the lost souls and the horror of the demons. Mary told them that many souls go there, because there is no one to pray and offer sacrifices for them, and she asked the children to do so. She also asked them to pray the rosary every day for peace.

This vision and Mary’s words both deeply impacted their souls, and they fervently responded to her request. Little Jacinta would often ask her brother and cousin: “Have you sacrificed for the conversion of sinners today?” They would often give their lunches to poor children, go without drinking water for long periods of time, and do other sacrifices. Mary also asked the children to offer the suffering that would come their way, as well as their voluntary prayers and sacrifices, for reparation for the sins that are so offending God and Mary. She told them that the present war, World War I, would end soon, but unless there was repentance from sin, there would come a greater and worse war, and that war was a punishment for sin.

Mary said a sign would be given before the beginning of the next war, if there was not sufficient repentance. Indeed, that sign was given in 1938—one month before Hitler annexed Austria—and was seen throughout Europe as an aurora borealis. She also warned that if there wasn’t repentance, Russia would spread its errors throughout the world, whole nations would be annihilated, and the Church would suffer much.

Mary also told the children that she would take Jacinta and Francisco to heaven soon, but that Lucia would need to learn to read and write, as she needed to stay on earth longer, in order to witness to this message. Lucia died in 2005, at the age of 97, in a Carmelite monastery. Francisco died in 1919, not yet ten, of the flu epidemic that swept the world at that time, and Jacinta in 1920, at the age of ten. Mary told Jacinta that if she was willing, she would suffer much and die alone in a hospital, but Mary would be with her. In a brutal operation, the doctors removed two of her ribs. Jacinta was so weak, she couldn’t have general anesthesia, the local anesthesia was ineffective, and she died alone in a Lisbon hospital.

Jacinta and Francisco were officially proclaimed saints this year, by Pope Francis at Fatima, and the cause for Lucia has begun.

So what struck me so deeply? The children—their totally fervent, wholehearted focus on the salvation of souls, and how they focused their whole way of life and each and every day on prayer and sacrifice for the conversion of sinners. It would take me more space than we have to tell you all about this, but suffice it to say I was deeply inspired and challenged to do more myself. As I visited each of their graves in the Basilica of Fatima, as as I read Lucia’s Memoirs, I felt like I was being given new friends, new models, by the Lord, to help me in my own spiritual journey and our work for souls.

Pray, fast, and offer sacrifices for the conversion of sinners, for peace in the world, and for mercy. As Jesus said as He began preaching: Repent! For the kingdom of God is at hand.

……

These prayers were taught by the angel to the children:

“Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I offer You the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifference with which He Himself is offended. And, through the infinite merits of His most Sacred Heart, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of You the conversion of poor sinners.”

“My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love You! I ask pardon of You for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love You.”

These prayers were taught by Mary to the children:

“O my Jesus! Forgive us, save us from the fire of hell. Lead all souls to heaven, especially those who are most in need.”

“Oh my Jesus, I offer this for love of Thee, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”

The children were moved by an interior impulse to pray this prayer:

“Most Holy Trinity, I adore Thee! My God, my God, I love Thee in the Most Blessed Sacrament.”