29 April 2008

Haitian Food Crisis (Updated)

A friend who linked to this post found more information on this story.

I was hungry and you gave me to eat…”

I received this letter today and if you are able I hope that you can help.

We send you an urgent plea for help. The people of Haiti are suffering starvation and a food crisis on a daily basis. Food prices continue to spiral out of reach, spiking as much as forty-five percent since 2006, and turning Haitian staples like beans, corn, and rice into closely guarded treasures.

A Dame of Malta, who leads Hope for Haiti, tells us:

“You may have read in numerous publications that Haitians are eating dirt. Yes, they mix dirt with oil and salt and shape them into circles and dry them in the sun. They sell for 5 cents; with the outrageous price of rice, this is what our brothers and sisters are left to eat.”

The American Association of the Order of Malta supports four major missions in Haiti. Each of the missions is in desperate need of funds to buy food for starving children, mothers and fathers, and elderly Haitians. These people depend upon us for a daily meal.

The four missions in Haiti associated with The American Association include:

Haitian Health Foundation
Hopital Sacre Coeur - Crudem
Hope for Haiti
Project Pierre Toussaint

Each of our missions will guarantee that 100% of the monies will go toward food to those in need. Please help this cause and send whatever you can; we will let you know how our Order has come to the aid of the Haitian families who depend upon us for survival from day-to-day during these very bad times.

Please send your donation to:
Order of Malta – American Association
P.O. Box 3420
Long Island City, NY 11103-0418

You can also go to the American Association website and donate online.

10 April 2008

False Pacifists

I am posting this essay by Fr. McNabb entitled "On False Pacifism" as a rebuttal to many who claim a moral superiority over others and who with unjust harshness criticize our men and women serving us in the military. H/T to The ChesterBelloc Mandate

On False Pacifism
by Fr. Vincent McNabb, O.P.

Two errors, garbed as virtues, are at present threatening the course of European justice. One of these is false pity; the other, false pacifism. Now whereas we wish to speak at length of the latter, a word may dismiss the former.

False pity makes an appeal after this manner: "Be merciful even to your enemy. Overcome him if you will; but be not overcome by what is worst in him. Conquer, but do not copy him. In the hour of victory forget your enemy's frightfulness. Forget even that he is your enemy, and remember only that he is your brother.

"The errors latent in this appeal to the quality of mercy need hardly be dwelt upon, whilst one fatal quality swallows up the rest. The truth is that this gentle-toned pity is almost a superlative pride. It is so supremely self-conscious that in spite of the soil of Germany being still practically inviolate, it calmly foretells victory.

The false pacifism, which we other pacifists nowise confound with true pacifism, makes a brave show on platforms and on paper. It lends itself readily to the more moving kinds of address. It appeals to the noble-hearted. It unnerves heroes. It deceives even the elect. Seldom does it preach its evangel of peace without direct mention of Him around whose cradle angels sang of "Peace on earth to men. "It almost disarms criticism by beseeching Christian men to remember the Rock whence they were hewn and the Captain whose victory on the mount was won: Non occidendo sed moriendo, by dying, not by putting to death.

But the noble blunder into which these pacifists have fallen can be seen only by those who have the power of grasping, as the Scholastics would say, certain simple distinctions. Their first duty is to see the distinction between common virtue and heroic virtue. It was the Greek thinkers and heroes who first detected and proclaimed this simple distinction. Plato and Aristotle, who knew Greeks, divided them into normal Greeks and hero Greeks. The average man, whether Greek or barbarian, can risk his life in order to save his life ; in other words, he can be brave in self-defence. Only a hero will risk his own life to save another's ; that is, only a hero can meet death bravely that others may live.

This distinction between common virtue and heroic virtue passes into the classical Christian distinction between the commandments and the counsels. Until a man under-stands these two, and the difference between them, he has not understood Christianity; and until a man understands Christianity, how can he judge of Europe in this year of our Lord nineteen hundred and fifteen?

This, then, is the distinction between commandments and counsels. A command is something that all must do. A counsel is something that none need do, but some will do. Thus unto everyone it is commanded: "Thou shalt not steal." All are forbidden to take what is not their own ; and are commanded to give back what is not their own if they have taken it. But the Master has given a counsel : " Sell all thou hast." This is more than a command ; not, indeed, more in obligation, but more in hardship and nobility. It suggests that the higher way, the way, not over the earth, but through the air, is to those rare souls who have grasped the principle that "a man's riches consists less in the multitude of his possessions than in the fewness of his wants.

"Thus everyone is under the command : "Thou shalt not kill." By virtue of this a man may not take human life. Yet if another attempts his life he may defend himself by slaying the other. The average man, if attacked by another, could not be bound to forgo all self-defence by force. Yet if a man for some noble motive did allow himself to be slain instead of slaying his foe, he would be giving an example of heroic virtue. But too much stress cannot be laid upon the sound ethical principle that " No one is bound to heroic virtue." The attitude of the Society of Friends towards war is undeniably a noble one ; or it would be noble were it wise. But since it insists that everyone shall exercise the heroic virtue of non-resistance by force it lacks that touch of mercy which would make it kindred to mankind.

A last and most necessary distinction is between "meum" and "tuum" that is, between our power over our own rights and our power over the rights of others. A man may quite lawfully give his purse up to the first stranger who asks it of him. But a postman who would give up a purse he was bound to deliver would be condemned for neglect of duty.

In the same way an individual on the banks of the Meuse might resign his rights against trespass by allowing German troops to pass through his garden. But if that individual is a Belgian soldier, whose duty it is to defend the rights of his fellow-countrymen, then to allow German soldiers to pass through the garden would be a traitorous neglect of duty. Far from being heroic virtue, it would be the cowardice of treachery.

It is not a little strange that the men who so persistently preach heroic virtue in the matter of the commandment : "Thou shalt not kill" do not preach it in the far easier commandment : "Thou shalt not steal."As we know, the commandment : "Thou shalt not kill" is the chief safeguard in a civilization that is dominantly military, whereas the commandment : "Thou shalt not steal" is the chief safeguard in a civilization that is dominantly commercial.

Now, the counsel to defend no rights even the rights of others, or our own transcendent right to live by an appeal to physical force is the absolute or heroic in the commandment against killing. But the absolute or heroic in the commandment against stealing is : "Sell all thou hast and give to the poor."How few there are to urge this absolute amongst the men who look on war as a crime ! Peace has its frightfulness no less than war. Mammon is a more sanguinary god than Mars. When men plead that Mars is red-handed and should not be adored, it may be well to remind them, amidst their financial operations, that their counsels of perfection would be more effective if they themselves followed them in the lesser sphere of self-emptied riches.

09 April 2008

Navy SEAL Michael Monsoor's Supreme Act of Chivalry

My previous post was on a talk by Fr. Chavez called Summoning Men to Lay Down Their Lives. For most of us this will be more on a spiritual level, making daily sacrifices and placing the needs of our neighbor before our own. While the history of our Order is filled with examples of knights sacrificing their lives for their brethern few of us will have to make this decision today. But there will always be occasions where people make this ultimate sacrifice and yesterday President Bush awarded Navy SEAL Michael Monsoor the Medal of Honor for his heroic act of giving his life for that of his neighbor.
The details that earned him the award are below but I think one point is worth highlighting. He was a Catholic, attended Mass and was named after St. Michael the Archangel and it was on St. Michael's feast day, September 29th, that he lay down his life for two of his comrades.

This is the President's speech and Medal of Honor citation:

The Medal of Honor is America's highest decoration for military valor. Over the years, many who have received the medal have given their lives in the action that earned it. The name of Petty Officer Michael Anthony Monsoor will now be among them. In September 2006, Michael laid down his life for his brothers in arms. Today, we remember the life of this faithful Navy SEAL. And on behalf of a grateful nation, we will present Michael Monsoor's family with the Medal of Honor that he earned.....Previous Medal of Honor recipients, thank you for joining us.I appreciate Chaplain Burt; Navy SEALS -- the finest warriors on the face of the Earth; the Monsoor family, and everybody else.The Medal of Honor is awarded for an act of such courage that no one could rightly be expected to undertake it. Yet those who knew Michael Monsoor were not surprised when he did. This son of Orange County, California, grew up in a family where helping others was a way of life. Mike's father was a Marine; his mother a social worker. Together, they raised their four children to understand the meaning of service and sacrifice.From a very early age, Mike showed the strength of his own convictions. Apparently going to kindergarten wasn't one of them. Mike had no complaints after the first week of school -- until someone broke the news to him that he had to go back the next week. (Laughter.) Many mornings, Mike refused to put on the nice clothes for school. Instead, he insisted on wearing mismatched outfits. Mike's mother soon discovered there was no stopping the determined young boy from mixing plaids and stripes. And years later, there would be no stopping an even more determined young man from donning a uniform of Navy Blue.In some ways, Mike was an unlikely candidate for the Navy. He suffered from terrible asthma as a child. On some nights, his coughing fits would land him in the hospital. But Mike would not lie low for long. He strengthened his lungs by racing his siblings in the swimming pool. He worked to wean himself off his inhaler. He built himself into a superb athlete -- excelling from sports like football to snowboarding.After enlisting in the Navy, he began preparing for the ultimate test of physical endurance: SEAL training. Less than a third of those who begin this training become SEALs. But Mike would not be denied a spot. In September 2004, he earned the right to wear the Navy SEAL trident.The newly minted frogman became a beloved member of the SEAL team community. His teammates liked to laugh about the way his shiny Corvette would leave everybody in the dust. But deep down, they always knew Mike would never leave anybody behind when it counted. He earned their confidence with his attention to detail and quiet work ethic. One of Mike's officers remembers an instructor once asking after an intense training session, "What's the deal with the Monsoor guy? He just says, 'Roger that,' to everything."When Mike deployed with his team to Ramadi in the spring of 2006, he brought that attitude with him. Because he served as both a heavy machine gunner and a communications operator, he often had a double load of equipment -- sometimes more than a hundred pounds worth. But under the glare of the hot desert sun, he never lost his cool.At the time, Ramadi was in the clutches of al Qaeda terrorists and insurgents. Together, the SEALs and the Army 1st Battalion of the 506 Infantry Regiment took the offense against the enemy. The SEALs carried out a broad range of special operations -- including providing sniper cover in tough urban conditions, and conducting raids against terrorists and insurgents. Overall, Mike's platoon came under enemy attack during 75 percent of their missions. And in most of these engagements, Mike was out front defending his brothers. In May 2006, Mike and another SEAL ran into the line of fire to save a wounded teammate. With bullets flying all around them, Mike returned fire with one hand while helping pull the injured man to safety with the other. In a dream about the incident months later, the wounded SEAL envisioned Mike coming to the rescue with wings on his shoulders.On Saint Michael's Day -- September 29, 2006 -- Michael Monsoor would make the ultimate sacrifice. Mike and two teammates had taken position on the outcropping of a rooftop when an insurgent grenade bounced off Mike's chest and landed on the roof. Mike had a clear chance to escape, but he realized that the other two SEALs did not. In that terrible moment, he had two options -- to save himself, or to save his friends. For Mike, this was no choice at all. He threw himself onto the grenade, and absorbed the blast with his body. One of the survivors puts it this way: "Mikey looked death in the face that day and said, 'You cannot take my brothers. I will go in their stead.'"Perhaps the greatest tribute to Mike's life is the way different service members all across the world responded to his death. Army soldiers in Ramadi hosted a memorial service for the valiant man who had fought beside them. Iraqi Army scouts -- whom Mike helped train -- lowered their flag, and sent it to his parents. Nearly every SEAL on the West Coast turned out for Mike's funeral in California. As the SEALs filed past the casket, they removed their golden tridents from their uniforms, pressed them onto the walls of the coffin. The procession went on nearly half an hour. And when it was all over, the simple wooden coffin had become a gold-plated memorial to a hero who will never be forgotten.For his valor, Michael Monsoor becomes the fourth Medal of Honor recipient in the war on terror. Like the three men who came before him, Mike left us far too early. But time will not diminish his legacy. We see his legacy in the SEALs whose lives he saved. We see his legacy in the city of Ramadi, which has gone from one of the most dangerous places in Iraq to one of the most safest. We see his legacy in the family that stands before us filled with grief, but also with everlasting pride.Mr. and Mrs. Monsoor: America owes you a debt that can never be repaid. This nation will always cherish the memory of your son. We will not let his life go in vain. And this nation will always honor the sacrifice he made. May God comfort you. May God bless America.Come on up. And now George and Sally Monsoor will be here -- a Military Aide will read the citation.The citation is read:The President of the United States, in the name of the Congress, takes pride in presenting the Medal of Honor, posthumously, to Master At Arms Second Class, Sea, Air and Land, Michael A. Monsoor, United States Navy. For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as Automatic Weapons Gunner for Naval Special Warfare Task Group Arabian Peninsula, in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM on 29 September 2006.As a member of a combined SEAL and Iraqi Army sniper overwatch element, tasked with providing early warning and stand-off protection from a rooftop in an insurgent-held sector of Ar Ramadi, Iraq, Petty Officer Monsoor distinguished himself by his exceptional bravery in the face of grave danger. In the early morning, insurgents prepared to execute a coordinated attack by reconnoitering the area around the element's position. Element snipers thwarted the enemy's initial attempt by eliminating two insurgents. The enemy continued to assault the element, engaging them with a rocket-propelled grenade and small arms fire. As enemy activity increased, Petty Officer Monsoor took position with his machine gun between two teammates on an outcropping of the roof. While the SEALs vigilantly watched for enemy activity, an insurgent threw a hand grenade from an unseen location, which bounced off Petty Officer Monsoor's chest and landed in front of him. Although only he could have escaped the blast, Petty Officer Monsoor chose instead to protect his teammates. Instantly and without regard for his own safety, he threw himself onto the grenade to absorb the force of the explosion with his body, saving the lives of his two teammates. By his undaunted courage, fighting spirit, and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of certain death, Petty Officer Monsoor gallantly gave his life for his country, thereby reflecting great credit upon himself and upholding the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

05 April 2008

The Quest for Masculine Identity

I saw a Fr. Philip Chavez interviewed the other night and was impressed by what he had to say. He is a young priest of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (SOLT) which is also the Society that Fr. Corapi belongs to. You can listen to an excellent talk of his titled Summoning Men to Lay Down Their Lives. at his website. Here is a little bio of his mission,

After several years of study and pastoral work, assiduously addressing family issues, my superiors have encouraged me to establish an outreach to men in order to address the complex challenges and difficulties they often face in growing humanly and spiritually in the present age.

The degree of disillusionment I've encountered in men who are striving to reach simple human happiness and spiritual peace is great. Sustaining a healthy life's balance is frequently challenging for males given the far-reaching effects of developmental conflicts, lack of male mentoring, emasculating formative experiences, and cultural influences that beset them. Men often find themselves isolated, profoundly dissatisfied, unfulfilled, and desperately seeking answers.

At the present, I am embarking on a more intense outreach to men -- particularly by way of seminars and parish missions -- toward their advancement in genuine masculine identity and character integration. Among the many objectives, I strive to call men toward their natural duty to mentor younger men and adolescents, inspire then to sacrificially honor their commitments, coach them to assemble and work in small teams, and summon them to defend their family, Church and society. All my work finds its basis upon sound theological and human principles, so that men may experience the longing of the Psalmist: "Strengthen me with a perfect spirit" (Ps 50:14).

Paschal Vigil At St. John's in London

Even though it is already a few weeks ago I found photos of the Paschal vigil held at St. John's Church of the Order of Malta in London at the website of Traditional Catholic. Click here to view the pictures.

01 April 2008

Bl. Nonius Alvares Pereira

Today is the feast of Bl. Nonius Alvares Pereira a cousin of the founder of the Braganza family, born in Santares (Portugal) on 24 July 1360. He was Constable of the kingdom of Portugal, a famous Knight and Prior in the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. Afterwards he left everything and became a lay-brother in the Carmelite order, where he was remarkable for his devotion to Our Lady and humbly undertook the meanest duties in the friary. He had no hesitations about begging alms from door to door and was outstandingly generous and charitable towards the poor. He died on 1 April 1431, which was Easter Sunday.

O God, who called blessed Nonius to lay down the weapons of this world and follow Christ under the protection of the Blessed Virgin, grant through the intercession of this former member of our order that we too may deny ourselves and cling to you with all our hearts. Through the same Jesus Christ your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The text of this page is quoted from: The Missal with readings of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes, & of Malta, London 1997

I found this biography at the web site of the Blessed Nuno Society in Duluth, MN. It is a Catholic prayer apostolate and mission society made up of laity, clergy, and religious who have joined together to form a union of prayer. The primary purpose of the Society is the individual sanctification of its members. The special object of the Society's work is to aid the educational, medical, spiritual, and general welfare needs of orphaned and homeless children.

Blessed Nuno of St. Mary (Nuno Alvares Pereira) died as a simple Carmelite brother on April 1, 1431 and was beatified on January 23, 1918. Before entering the monastery as a widower, Nuno lived as a great knight, husband and father, and patriotic hero of his native Portugal. He was the Third Count of Ourem and Founder of the Royal House of Braganca. After the marriage of his daughter, he renounced his many titles and gave away all his possessions. One third of his wealth was given to the poor and orphans. He built several churches including the beautiful Carmelite monastery in Lisbon, which he later entered as a humble brother. He did much to spread the devotions of the rosary and the scapular in Portugal and is known as the "Precursor of Fatima", "The Holy Constable", and the "Peacemaker". His memorial Mass is celebrated on April 1.
Blessed Nuno was selected as our Patron because of his devotion to Our Lady, his great awareness of the need for prayer, his love of poor children, and his spiritually heroic victory over self and the world. The life of Blessed Nuno reflected a balance between spiritual and corporal acts of mercy which continues to inspire the members of this charitable prayer apostolate.

Blessed Nuno is remembered in secular history for his military victory at Aljubarrota in 1385, yet he hated war and is often referred to as "the Peacemaker". Although he died in 1431 (the same year as Joan of Arc), the great knight known as the "Precursor of Fatima" was not beatified until January 23, 1918, just 102 days after the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima. At Aljubarrota, Nuno led a group of 6,500 volunteers against a Castilian force of 30,000 soldiers. By human estimation, he could not win. Indeed, his death in that battle seemed certain. At stake was very independence of Portugal and the determination of whether Portugal would reject the legitimate pope.Miraculously, by the end of the day, Nuno had secured victory for Portugal and the Castilian army was in retreat. Had Nuno died at Aljubarrota during that battle on August 14, 1385, history, as we know it, would be impossible to recognize. His direct descendants included Isabella the Catholic, supporter of Christopher Columbus, Emperor Charles V, who ruled over more territory that any other European monarch (including most of the Americas), and Archduke Ferdinand, whose death triggered the World War which was tearing Europe apart at the time of Our Lady's Fatima apparitions. Also descended from Blessed Nuno were the members of the Royal House of Braganca, monarchs of Portugal and Brazil, including England's Queen Catherine, for whom the Borough of Queens, New York was named. Nuno himself was born out of wedlock, an unlikely candidate to become the founder of Royal Houses. But it happened because of a victory at Aljubarrota ....a victory he attributed to the Blessed Virgin, whose name was inscribed on his sword.What sort of man was Nun' Alvares Pereira? He would kneel in the heat of battle to pray. In time of war, he fed the hungry populations of his Castilian opposition at his own expense. He customarily refused to share in the spoils of battle. Once, he was so hungry that he traded his horse for six loaves of bread, then gave every loaf to a group of English knights who were looking for food. He allowed squires from the enemy forces to meet him in peace, just because they wanted to see "the Great Nuno" about whom they had heard so many stories. He grew up wanting to be a pure and perfect knight like Sir Galahad of legend and became, perhaps, the only knight in history to ever truly achieve that dream. He supported the ideas of his close friend, Prince Henry the Navigator, and traveled with him to Ceuta, thus beginning the "Age of Explorations". He remained a faithful and loving husband to the daughter of King John until her death, then entered the very monastery he had paid to construct. He helped to spread the devotions of the Rosary and the Scapular throughout Portugal. Blessed Nuno gave away his wealth to assist the poor, including countless orphaned children, and even agreed to become godfather to many of them. He died in poverty as a Carmelite brother on April 1, 1431 just as the priest, who was reading the Passion of Christ to him pronounced Our Lord's Words from the Cross: "Behold thy Mother"


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