Fr. John B. Wang: A Wonderful Life

carrying the cross

(Most here know that our Beckita, Managing Editor of this site, cares for an aging Chinese Priest, Fr. Wang. Actually, Fr. Wang is an American Priest who was born in China. When the communists took over and started their reign of terror, Fr. Wang came to America where he has remained ever since. He writes Catholic Evangelical and Catechization Pamphlets which are distributed in China. 

A week or so ago, I watched this short video Beckita sent as a tribute to Father’s life. It is amazing – and profoundly inspirational.  It encapsulates the tragic history of China for much of the last century, while showing the impact one man who persists and endures can have. I particularly like it because, for those who will see, it shows a man who has already lived through a great and terrible storm. It illuminates the virtue and courage that are called for to endure such a storm – and be a sign of hope to those who endure it with you. I am proud that Fr. Wang is part of our community. A gentle, soft-spoken man, he epitomizes the exhortation to “Acknowledge God, take the next right step, and be a sign of hope,” because he has lived it all his life and continues to live it today. This story also gave me deeper insight as to why Beckita was such an inspired pick to manage this site.

It is written that, “He who endures to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 24:13). Fr. Wang’s picture does not appear next to that Scripture – but it could. This tale of heroic virtue, lived simply with fortitude and endurance, brought tears forth for me – tears of inspiration and resolve. May it do the same for you.-CJ)

By Beckita Hesse

I share, again, for those who may be relatively new here, that more than thirty years ago when I was on staff at a local parish, my family “adopted” an American priest of Chinese origin, Fr. John B. Wang. Our children grew up calling Father, “Grandpa,” and with the passing of my husband, I committed to providing care for Father as he continued to age. I have lived in residence with him since shortly after becoming a widow and, knowing that all of Father’s family remains in China, our bishop – who has since moved to another diocese – warmly thanked me for this willingness to assist. It is, also, a joy to collaborate with Father in all kinds of ministry activities. Neither he nor I would have dreamed or foreseen that our lives would evolve to be what they are at this juncture, yet, here we are. On pilgrimage to Europe in 2001, when some of our days were spent in Avila, providentially, we dedicated our friendship and ministry work to St. John of the Cross and St. Theresa of Avila.

Fr. Wang celebrated his 90th birthday in October and to honor him, his life and God’s wonders in him, I composed a song of simple melody expressing thanksgiving to God and blessings for Father, a tune easy to pick up so that our guests who came from near and far could readily join in the singing at the end of the Mass of Thanksgiving. I, also, put together a Power Point presentation, using that platform as a storyboard, which we viewed at the dinner. After the celebration, it was converted to movie format which I share with you, here, in the context of some of the themes and virtues we have been considering, pondering, discussing and developing in our lives over these years at TNRS and ASOH.

There are so many more inspirational stories within Fr. Wang’s big life story than what could be told in this presentation. He was literally saved from death, in more than a few circumstances, for he grew up during a dangerous time in China. God worked through some unusual circumstances, again and again, when there seemed to be no solution to the difficulties, such as the time when Father was completing his seminary studies. Each seminarian needs the written permission of his local bishop in order to be ordained. Back in China, his local ordinary, Bishop Pinger, an American missionary, was under house arrest. It was very difficult to make contact but, finally, word got to him that John Wang was seeking permission to be ordained. With no paper available, no books around, nothing to write on, and nothing with which to write, a pen was smuggled in and the Bishop used some kind of toilet paper on which he wrote a few lines in Latin: “Under these circumstances, I give my permission to ordain this young man.”

From listening to years of such stories and witnessing the kind of priestly life Fr. Wang lives, it is clear to me that he has spent a lifetime acknowledging God, discerning, and then taking next right steps while beaming faith, hope and love to anyone so blessed to be on the Journey with him. Faithful in myriad little things, just as the Scriptures exhort, Father has been entrusted with a major undertaking which continues to be mightily blessed by the Lord. This brings to mind how often we have read Charlie reechoing that amidst the sufferings in this Storm would emerge joy as we strive to remain faithful to the Lord via the core message promoted here.

Particularly amazing and hope-filled, amidst the troubling news reaching us from China, is that which God is doing through, with and in Fr. Wang as He works under the radar of China’s turmoil. Not in the least deterred by chaos and confusion, Emmanuel, seemingly born in obscurity on that Holy Night in Bethlehem, remains with us and in largely unknown, rather quiet ways, He is piercing the current darkness in China with His Light and His Infinite Redemption. Again, He chooses human instruments to be His tools of Mercy, to proclaim and build His Kingdom. As special as Fr. Wang’s life story is, he views himself as an ordinary man. And it is evident that this ordinary and holy man has spent a lifetime of listening to God and responding, repeatedly, with his fiat in ways small and large. God, then, used the many, varied and sometimes unusual pieces of Father’s life and merged them to become a foundation for his role in the evangelization work to which God has called us. In our “China Evangelization Project” as we have dubbed the work, my role, in human terms, is a sliver compared to Father’s, yet, I gratefully man my post, both in employing the gifts God has granted me so I may accomplish the tasks for which I am responsible and, also, in all the ways I help Father, when he needs it, to accomplish his work. Both of us are needed along with our colleagues on Chinese soil.

I imagine that all of us find ourselves in differing roles at times. That is, sometimes we must lead and, at other times, we are called to give assistance. When we are called to be helpers, I love to ponder the multi-faceted, essential role of the Parakletos, as described here: “Parakletos is translated in various ways: Counselor, Advocate, Helper. It means, literally, ‘one called alongside of’ to aid, exhort, and encourage. He is, remarked the Jesuit priest and poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins, one ‘who stirs up, urges forward, who calls on … what a trumpet is to a soldier, that a Paraclete is to the soul…’  (From: The Holy Spirit: Gift, Counselor, Advocate, Helper, at the Catholic World Report)  Such a worthy and beautiful post to man is that of being a helper! I mention it here as it hearkens back to a theme which Charlie addressed at TNRS blog. What a pity when people collide in trying to be “the one” in charge, especially since each role is needed and no part fulfilled with faith, faithfulness and good cheer will be too small should things fall apart at the seams in this world as we are purified. “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.” (1 Cor 12:4-6)

I am thoroughly delighted to present to our community at ASOH this tribute to Fr. Wang who is erudite in his knowledge, wise, humble and expresses an expansive love which burns to bring souls to Jesus. Like St. John the Baptist before him, Fr. John the Baptist Wang is, today, a mouthpiece of truth, a voice crying out in the wilderness of these times: “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near!” while Father’s very life proclaims: “He must increase and I must decrease.

 

A Few Photos

My daughter’s children, who spend some time during the week with Father and me, call him “Lo Ye Ye” (Chinese for Great Grandpa) while he affectionately calls the girls “The Three Graces.” In this photo, Father sits with my three granddaughters as they put on their rabbit face poses.

In 1995, on my first trip to China, Fr. Wang’s dream and prayer of fifty years was fulfilled: to baptize his people. I became Godmother to all 64 from the clan who were baptized that day. The pic below shows Father’s nephew, Paul, Fr. Wang and me as we were visiting Qingdao, a beautiful city in the eastern part of Shandong Province. Paul is our point man on Chinese soil for the evangelization work and we visit weekly via Skype.

The following photo shows some of the Wang Clan who came to say farewell on our last day in China during our Evangelization Journey in 2015. One of the most overwhelming moments of each of my visits to China has become a tradition in our parting. See, this family of Wangs used to worry about who would care for their uncle as he grew old. Fr. Wang had written them, including photos of him with my family, as he explained that God had answered his prayer to be given a family in America. The mutual Wang-Hesse adoption was sealed. From the very first visit, there has come a time in the bidding of good-byes when every single person in that beautiful clan kowtows, in unison, in gratitude to me for taking care of their dear one. They go down on their knees with foreheads firmly pressed to the floor and most of us have tears streaming as they rise from the ground. 

 

***For those who wish to contribute to the printing and distribution of the evagelization books which Fr. Wang has written, the donations are tax deductible. Simply make the check out to: Diocese of Helena PDF – China. But, please, don’t mail them directly to the Diocese. Instead, email me, Beckita, at : tnrs.answers@gmail.com and I’ll send you the snail mail address for getting your contributions to Father first. Fr. Wang, the glorious idustrious one, is keeping a personal record of contributions and after recording a contribution, he sends the checks on to the Diocese where records are kept for tax deduction purposes.

289 thoughts on “Fr. John B. Wang: A Wonderful Life

  1. Heading every piece of work at my old Jesuit school, St Aloysius, Glasgow, we had to write AMDG, Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam meaning “For the greater glory of God.”

    If ever there was a life led to give greater glory to God it was Fr Wang’s. I have enjoyed the wonderful gift of his wisdom on occasion but mostly I am just grateful to have known him. He has blessed me many times by video call and he prays for me everyday as I do for him.
    In John 13 Jesus says

    15 “I have given you an example so that you may copy what I have done to you” Fr John makes a great copy! And later in the same chapter Jesus says

    34 “I give you a new commandment: love one another, you must love one another just as I have loved you
    35 It is by your love for one another, that everyone will recognize you as my disciples.”

    In the presence of the love shown by Fr John to the people of America and China our tears cannot be stopped. Indeed by the love he has shown to people of All Nations. Such love has been his mission from day one and he has worked so hard that it may be accomplished.

    The love between Beckie and Fr John bears witness to the Gospel and I am thankful to have shared in that too as has everyone who has visited ASOH.

    The end of each piece of school work was tailed LDS, (Laus Deo Semper; Praise to God always). This comes from the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius who says that the ultimate purpose for which we are created is to “praise, reverence and serve God our Lord and, by so doing, to save our souls.” I wonder how many souls have been saved by the work of Fr John. I wonder how many will be saved.

    If ever a work deserved the top and tail of AMDG and LDS it is the life of Fr John Wang. And it is not over yet…….

    Liked by 13 people

  2. Beckita, of the Wang-Hesse Clan, Thank you!
    I viewed a portion of the video and love the symmetry and history lesson. I am delighted to see I was baptised on Fr. Wang’s date of birth; 40 years later. Further we share a common name, John. My Aunts tease me about my choice of confirmation name: John.

    John Francis John ‘one eye’ {Sullivan} as I failed to understand the Irish meaning of Sean, until later in life.

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  3. Beckita, it is actually awesome to think of you assisting a holy priest in everyday life. Jesus, Mary and Joseph must be smiling constantly. You are so blessed.

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    1. Truly blessed, Tuna. How often in different eras God has guided a man in tandem with a woman to build the Kingdom with their complementary gifts. One of my favorite pairs is St. Benedict and St. Scholastica.

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    1. Barbara, you can simply press the red button with the arrowhead on it that’s in the middle of the screen and the video will begin. If you wish to enlarge it on your monitor, You can go to You Tube and type the title in the search bar. God bless you.

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  4. Beckita,

    You and your family are greatly blessed to share in the life of this wonderous man and faithful servant of God. I am blessed to know of it through this site. Sending prayers up for both of you and this beautiful ministry.

    Liked by 6 people

  5. This is so inspirational! And it has a little extra meaning for me because Bishop Pinger was from a small Nebraska town that was just a few miles from my mother’s hometown. When I was a child, my mom would often mention Bishop Pinger and that he needed our prayers.

    Liked by 7 people

    1. Oh thank you for this information, Kathy. I’ve just done a little research and see that a nephew of Bishop Pinger is a priest in the Archdiocese of Omaha. After reading this priest’s account of tracing his uncle’s footsteps two years ago on a pilgrimage he made to Shandong, China, I think he’d enjoy a conversation with Fr. Wang. From the account by the Omaha priest is this accurate assessment of the people of China:

      “All along he instructed us about the grand people of China, encouraging us to keep them in prayer – not because they were seen as lost, but rather seeking a spiritual communion with a culturally-rich people who had faith in Christ.”

      Liked by 6 people

  6. What an amazing and self-less life he has given to the Lord’s directives! I would venture that of all the cultures he’s experienced, that our present society overall is pampered and woefully lacking in self-discipline and thirst for the Lord. No grass grew under his feet, and no soul was left untouched where he lived the gospel. His perseverance in prayer and tenacious faith through turbulent times is very inspiring. So happy his mother was able to see him as a priest before she passed. His father’s fate-oh my. A lovely video of a beautiful soul for Christ.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. p.s. I noticed in the video, you worked with Stella Davis; her book, Spiritual Warfare: Lessons on Deliverance from Spiritual Bondage to Freedom in Christ is a compelling read with true stories.

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      1. It’s a great book, Marie. Stella wrote it to help people realize how our choices in living the faith provide the best protection in spiritual warfare. Some of the stories are amazing, yet, in the end, we each have great power at our access via our Baptism and Confirmation and the very extraordinary power in the Eucharist and Confession are unleashed when we make these sacraments an ordinary part of our living. For me, the great value in the book is knowing that it is written by someone who has spent years in deliverance ministry, addressing an annual Catholic conference for exorcists and deliverance ministry people.

        When I first discovered her work, I wrote to Stella and, as God would inspire, I spearheaded the efforts to bring her to Missoula in 2013. She wanted to return the next year because she sensed great oppression and suffering in the people here. So we brought her back the next year and Father and I invited her to join us for a segment of our time in China. She’s amazing too. She’s also 90 and presses on in ministry with vigor and determination to use every gift she’s been given for the sake of setting God’s people free while inspiring them to live fully the faith. We are great friends and enjoy praying for each other in the works to which God has called us.

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      2. I just bought that Stella Davis book via Amazon Kindle at your (Marie’s) and Bekita’s mention and recommendation in this comment thread. Wow! The stories she tells are amazing — I would say both terrifying and inspiring at the same time. My wife and I (although incredibly blessed) have gone through a long list of health, injury, financial and home related trials over the past few years. It makes me wonder if we are in need of deliverance ministry.

        Anyone have any thoughts/insights on the subject?

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        1. Jayman, I think some of the trials we have all endured in flaming circumstances really have been part and parcel of the refiner’s fire and they have prepared us for the worst yet to come. In Charlie’s apropos words: “They have steeled us.” Nothing is wasted. Then, again, that’s not to say you wouldn’t benefit from deliverance prayer. In my work with Stella (she is one of my spiritual mothers and has mentored me in some on-the-job training which has been useful in ministry work with Father), she taught me, in her opinion, that in these times many are they who would benefit from a deliverance. The key is to consult someone well trained with expertise to help you discern. If you wish to email me, Jayman (tnrs.answers@gmail.com), I have a few ideas for further reflection. Also useful is the book, Deliverance Prayers: For Use by Laity. Fr. Chad Ripperger culled prayers that are perfectly suited for the laity to exert their level of authority over any evil spirits afflicting them. The GREAT balance that must be struck is to dwell so much more on Jesus Christ that the evil God allows. His very Holy Name, spoken with reverence and praise is an antidote to evil. God bless us all.

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          1. Thank you, Beckita. Though there was a time in which I would get angry with the difficulties that seemed to endlessly pop up, over the past few years I have just acknowledged them as God’s will and His divine plan for me.

            I still think that.

            However, in reading the book, it made me wonder if some of it is the result of evil infestation either brought in by myself or from someone from a previous generation. If it is the result of evil, I’d like to see about fixing the problem.

            I’ll shoot you an email for your ideas for reflection. Thank you.

            Liked by 2 people

            1. I love the book by John Eldredge. Moving Mountains on intercessory prayer. It talks about discerning when you are being attacked versus other scenarios. Anyway I found the book so helpfyl

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    2. Thank you, Marie. Truly a beautiful soul is Father. Actually, what we see in our own culture has afflicted cultures all over the world. The last time we were in Europe, we saw with our own eyes the very lack you have named and the weakness in faith that pervades there. Who would have thought Ireland would have down-spiraled as she has? At this time the reality that “God has a Plan” is sweet music to our ears.

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  7. I have prayed for years for the faithful in China. Now, I will add those, like Fr. Wang, living abroad to those petitions for an increase in faith and for peace for it to grow. Ecce Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi.May the holy Lamb be loved and adored by the merits and prayers of His holy priests who offer Him to the whole world.

    Liked by 7 people

  8. Thank you! Wonderful lesson in history, humility and patience in God’s will. Father Wang will give us strength by example as the storm tunes up around us this year. I am sending this link to two priest friends for inspiration. One is a retired army Chaplin serving in a parish, the other a fraternal cousin who is 88 and retired after faithful service in Christ.

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    1. Awesomeness, Doug. You have such an open heart, ever warmed by God’s Goodness, and if we can swing the possible visit from you and Lambzie in the spring, we’ll be like old friends, as if we’ve known one another for years and years (Our Lady connects her kids like this all the time.) as we sit down to visit about the wonders of God, His Mother and what They are doing in our lives and in these times. I know that if any of us from this site should ever have the opportunity to sit and visit, it would be like coming home to family. God bless us one and all. A reunion at Mt. Meeker continues to be an, “I hope we can someday,” dream.

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      1. Awesomeness right back! It will be our grand daughter’s first communion this May and Lambzie are back to thinking on taking the train cross country again to CA, but through the Northern route. It will be like a family reunion.

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  9. Dear Friends,

    I hope it is ok to post a Prayer Request:

    Kindly asking for prayers for my daughter – who will be leaving on Monday to study abroad in Ireland for the spring semester. She plans on traveling extensively throughout Europe as well. Please pray for her safety.

    Please kindly also pray for me – as I am so nervous and worried.

    Thank you for your prayers!

    Blessings to all for a wonderful New Year!

    Mary H.

    Liked by 7 people

    1. Mary H, I have offered a prayer for your dear daughter in her studies abroad and for your motherly heart to be calm and to trust. My own daughter traveled overseas to London and Paris shortly after 9/11 and my dear pastor reminded me to trust God in all things. My dear Veronica returned home safely and had a remarkable experience serving as a student ambassador as a pre-teen. ❤

      Liked by 3 people

    2. Mary H, I thought this song, The Sabbath Prayer, could be dually applicable for both your daughter abroad, and all of our ASOH families wherever they may be. ‘May the Lord protect and defend (us)”…

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    1. Crewdog, thank you for sharingt his message ..”This love also motivates us to stand with the Church on the important issues of life and marriage, precisely because the Church’s teaching reflects and is based on that love. We stand with our Church because we believe that what our faith teaches is consistent with reason, is timeless and transcends the changing sentiments of any particular time or place.

      We do not stand alone.

      In his first message to our international convention, Pope Francis asked “each Knight, and every Council, to bear witness to the authentic nature of marriage and the family, the sanctity and inviolable dignity of human life, and the beauty and truth of human sexuality.”

      …all signs of hope !

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  10. Bekita,
    Wow, you and Father have lived lives in Christ together in such unexpected ways and unexpected places. The rest of us live where planted and lead rather boring lives. Oy vey, must be in God’s plan. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I am chuckling at your closing lines, Patricia. Most of the time, we’re in the “living-where-we’re-planted” mode too. I’ve never said so, but I appreciate your comments and questions here. Just imagine how the fullness of the Storm will break any boredom for us all. 🙂

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      1. Bekita, thank you.
        Well, I did not say I was bored just that we live boring lives. The breakout is any day and then I guess we will not be living boring lives anymore. Maybe this is relevant to the old saw “be careful what you pray for”.

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      1. Hi B. It’s been a nice break, a short break, and an enlightening break. Already back to work, even though school doesn’t begin until next week. 8 months to go….although I hope I didn’t pick the worst possible year to graduate, 2019. Oh well, that is out of my hands.

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  11. Wow! Father Wang has lived such a full life and it is obvious that he is truly walking with Christ. I loved the documentary, it was very touching. Well done Beckita. We have been blessed to hear Mass by Father Wang a few times at St. Mary’s in Stevensville and we were always impressed with his homilies. May GOD bless him and keep him in HIS loving arms for many more years so Father Wang can continue on with his good works. He is an inspiration. Perhaps he will someday get his third wish and be recognized for his efforts to evangelize around the world not just in China.

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    1. Thank you, karmy. Our burial plots are in the St. Mary’s Cemetery on the historic mission grounds, where Ted’s body already rests, as we await the final resurrection at the very end of time. But then, if the Yellowstone Volcano actually blows in what’s to come, we’ll be looking like scattered ashes to the four winds. 🙂

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      1. I feel naughty but I’m chuckling at your last comment Beckita! Under any other circumstance the good Lord (according to Church Teaching) would be frowning but in that case His Creation would reign! I was outvoted when it came to the resting place of my own father and brother’s remains – but what joy when I discovered that there were remnant ashes that could be placed with our mother’s at her interment last year!

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        1. I’m chuckling that you’re chuckling, Karen. 😌 I understand the outvoted challenge and, while Church teaching is best based on sound theology, we can trust that God will, as ever, mercifully sort things out so that, in such scenarios as these, our bodies will still come together at the appointed time with everything intact and glorified. Imagine the joy at our TNRS-ASOH reunions then! 😊🙃🤗

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          1. Indeed. Even when something is consumed in a fire, every atom still exists somewhere. God can, at the appointed time, reconstitute those atoms into their prior arrangement. He lovingly knitted us together atom by atom, cell by cell inside our mothers. He knows every atom and molecule in each of us because He engineered and arranged them. Sit with THAT thought for a moment. 🙂

            How Great Thou Art!!!

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            1. Absolutely ChristopherJ (sorry I can’t shorten that to CJ ‘cos that is already taken by the boss ‘ere as his second tag!) .

              I once sat with a particular group of molecules (a drop of water) as I was doing the dishes. It was an a.m.a.z.i.n.g. journey! You know, from tap, around all the dishes, down sinkhole, drain, sea, sky, etc… One place that I reminisced those molecules might have been was in the hands of John the Baptist as he baptised Jesus; then they gathered as sweat on Jesus’ face in the Garden. But going w.a.y. back, I wondered if Adam had actually drank some of those molecules! Then the Great Flood! I know, I can be a dreamer!

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              1. I don’t mean to hijack this thread away from such a wonderful tribute to Fr. Wang so apologies to all for another off-topic comment.
                Karen, I had a similar contemplation one day. I thought about the possibility that one single carbon atom in my body could have been, at one time, part of a CO2 molecule that Jesus Christ exhaled during his Earthly life. The odds of that would be incalculable but it was an enjoyable thought experiment. Remote possibility but conceivable in theory.

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                1. Bing! Sorry, Jesus. I always try to capitalize pronouns when writing about You but alas…I missed one. Consider this my attempt at reparation. 🙂

                  Beckita the Educator; do I have to go to the board and write ‘His’ a hundred times? 😉

                  Liked by 2 people

  12. Speaking of China!! ugh.. all the recent news about China wanting to reunify Taiwan and Taiwan asking for international support against China… Scary stuff just like Charlie said would come..yikes! TNRS ASOH

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  13. WOW…..You will be hearing from me, Beckita. What a wonderful, beautiful and inspiring video you have shared with us. Interesting because I had been thinking more and more about the call to evangelize these days….and here you offer this great opportunity to help. May our God mightily bless you and Fr. Wang

    Liked by 3 people

    1. God bless you too, Kati. I’ll be watching for your email whenever you’re ready. You know, my prayers and pondering have been on evangelizing too… not only in China, but also in our very troubled city.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Beckita,

    This makes me think of the mystical body of Christ and the communion of saints. All of those Chinese saints out there, some kith and kin to Father Wang, some known to us, but many more known only to God. The more Chinese Catholics, the merrier. God bless China.

    All the abortions in China as a result of the satanic one child policy is heart breaking. My nephew’s wife, Shirley (her western name), was a second child, and his wife’s parents paid bribes to be able to have her. Now Shiey and my nephew have a wonderful son, Felix!

    Liked by 6 people

    1. So true, James… both abortions and infanticide. You probably noticed, in the video, the people who had been slain in the Spirit as Stella prayed over them. More times than not, the women were down a long while and arose weeping in a mourning fashion. Often, Stella would whisper: “A voice is heard in Ramah… Rachel weeping for her children.” But unlike the verse from Jeremiah which concludes with: “… and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more” it was obvious that the Lord was comforting and healing them in their encounter with Holy Spirit. God bless Felix and his parents!

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    1. And chalk up your doors!

      The chalking of the doors of a home encourages Christians to dedicate their life at home to God and to others. Seeing the symbols over our doors can help to remind us, while passing in and out on our daily routines, that our homes and all those who dwell there belong to Christ. It also serves as a reminder of welcoming the Magi gave to Jesus. We should strive to be as welcoming to all who come to our homes to visit us!

      Traditionally the blessing is done by either a priest or the father of the family. This blessing can be performed simply by just writing the inscription and offering a short prayer, or more elaborately, including songs, prayers, processions, the burning of incense, and the sprinkling of holy water.

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      1. Only Priests can use or burn incense. Incense is for GOD.If a lay person burns or use incense, , it attracts the devil.Seek the advice of an exorcist.Incense is for the church .Can only be used in a house when a Priest is officiating..Please use the references in the bible where incense is used or mentioned.

        Charles Ik.

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        1. Charles, certainly in public worship it is the priest who incenses with a thurible. However, there are no official rules or restrictions for use of incense in private prayer. In fact, in some parishes, the pastor gives both blessed chalk and blessed incense for families to use at home for the Epiphany house blessing.

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          1. Beckita,
            The pastors who give incense for families to use at home do not know about the spiritual consequence. ,There is no official promotion for incense to be used ,like the use of holy water..
            If you are present during an exorcism,you can ask the exorcist to ask the possessed about the use of incense.This is a D.I.Y the devil enjoys—-‘you will be like god ‘ the devil told Eve.Do you know of any message from heaven where incense use is advocated! Rather you hear about wearing the scapular, sprinkling holy water,surrounding yourself with religious objects,praying the rosary, The Jews will not even enter the alter of Incense (Zechariah).Exorcism needs to be promoted to understand the tricks and deception of the devil.
            Bye for now and God bless you. You are doing a good job. Keep it up !

            Charles IK

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            1. We’re going to have to disagree here, Charles. While there’s no official promotion, neither is there any official rule or regulation disallowing the use of incense for private prayer. Further, it is not the messages from heaven which dictate Church guidelines and norms. Peace be with you, Charles.

              Like

      2. Stella Davis has this prayer of protection for homes on her website, cwiaholyspirit(dot)org.

        Dear Lord Jesus, please surround us, our families, friends and our homes with a perimeter of Your love and protection throughout this day and night and every day – 100 yards in all directions. Lord Jesus, render any demons that are here or should try to come deaf, dumb, and blind. Strip them of all weapons, illusions, armor, powers and authorities. Disable them from communicating or interacting in any way. Bind, sever, and separate them, binding them directly to the foot of the cross, without manifestation or harm to us, or to anyone else, to be dealt with by You, Jesus, as You see it fit. May Your precious blood cover us. May the Holy Spirit fill us, and Blessed Mother, place your mantle of love and protection around us in our homes, from any event of fire, theft, vandalism, flood, storms, elements, and accidents of any sort, distress, hardship, curses, and all unwanted things. I ask all this in Your name, Jesus Christ, and through the intercession of our Blessed Mother Mary and in the power of the Holy Spirit. We call upon St. Michael, St. Joseph, St. Padre Pio, and St. John Paul II, and all the saints and angels, to pray for us. Amen.

        Liked by 3 people

  15. Becktia, I hope this is not a repeat of my first attempted comment (the internet went out just as I hit the “send comment” button). Just wanted to say how much this post and video warmed my heart. Father Wang is a beautiful soul, as are you. Please tell Father Wang I am praying for him and the people of China.

    Liked by 5 people

  16. God Bless You Beckita, and thank you for the wonderful video of dear Fr. Wang. Thank you for your care of him too. What a blessed companionship was born when the two of you met. God gave you both a great gift in the friendship of each other and how you both reach out to the world in your faith. Thank you so much.

    Liked by 4 people

  17. Another Good-One for the New Year:

    HeartLight Verse – 6 January

    1 Peter 1:13
    Prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.

    Thoughts on today’s verse:
    When Jesus came the first time, he came to reveal God (John 1:18). As wonderful, powerful, and gracious as he was in his earthly ministry, it did not fully reveal Jesus our Lord. Our hope is tied to his return. When he comes this time, he won’t come to reveal God, but to reveal himself — the conquering Lord, the Rider on the white horse. Every knee will bow. And we will see him as he really and fully is, Immanuel in power and grace. With this as our hope, we can be ready for active service to our king as people who live their lives under his leadership and control.

    Prayer:
    O Almighty God, I long for the day when I get to see Jesus face to face coming with the angels in power. Until that time, fasten my heart in hope to the glory Jesus will share with me on that day, and please empower me to live as one who knows that victory is mine in Jesus. Jesus, through your powerful name I pray. Amen.
    Visit heartlight.org for more

    & MILINET: Articles For Christians – 6 Jan
    ========================
    Ukraine Orthodox Church granted independence from Russian Church
    https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-46768270

    EGYPT: Al-Sisi to open Al Fattah Al Alim Mosque and ‘The Nativity of Christ’ cathedral on Sunday
    https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2019/01/05/al-sisi-to-open-al-fattah-al-alim-mosque-the-nativity-of-christ-cathedral-on-sunday

    & CTH:
    Epiphany of the Lord
    https://theconservativetreehouse.com/2019/01/06/epiphany-of-the-lord-2/

    GOD SAVE ALL HERE!! …… & Merry Three Kings Day 😉

    Liked by 9 people

    1. CrewDog: Love your links. Abdel el-Sisi, the president of Egypt is also the guy as Minister of Defense who helped overthrow the installation of the Muslim Brotherhood through the election of Mohamed Morsi as president. After the election of Morsi, supported on the ground by Obama operatives (yes, that’s correct, aka actual collusion), the people were dismayed at the harsh rule instituted by Morsi. The Muslim Brotherhood is Sunni and supporter of designated terrorist organization like Hamas. It acts much like Iran who is 90% Shia. Described in the MSM press as a coup in actuality it was a reclamation of the Egyptian government by its people. BTW, Christmas was also celebrated in Syria across the country.

      Liked by 3 people

  18. Beckita,
    Beautiful tribute of praise, honor and love to the Heroic Wonderful Life of Father Wang. I am deeply humbled and very blessed to be a member of ASOH with Father Wang, Beckita, Charlie, Brothers and Sisters, a “cloud of saints.”

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Fr. Wang’s an awesome model of how to live a LOT of virtues, Joseph. We’re surely a bunch of wanna’ bes in that cloud of witnesses, aren’t we? And that’s a great goal while we carry on with every next right step. God bless you, Joseph, and God bless us one and all.

      Liked by 4 people

  19. While the Feast of the Epiphany supersedes the Feast of St. André Bessette, still, let us invite good St. André’s intercession that he may help us to ever grow in what he modeled so well: humility, persistence and TRUST with love and care for all who came to his door as he shone a light on the wisdom of turning to the powerful intercession of St. Joseph.

    Liked by 9 people

    1. Brother Andre, is one of our Canadian saints, I was privileged to be at his canonization andhave visited St, Joseph’s Oratory several times…a place of miracles.
      I quote: “It took no fewer than seventy years for the cause of the canonization of Brother André, founder of Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal,(Montreal ,Quebec) to reach its successful conclusion. Brother André, born Alfred Bessette, was officially declared a saint by Pope Benedict XVI on October 17, 2010.” Pray for us Saint André Bessette ! Canada sure needs your intercession!

      Liked by 2 people

  20. Thank you so much for the article & video which I watched in fascination. Our family was very blessed several years ago to visit the last residence of Cardinal Joseph Ignatius Kung who lived with his nephew & wife in Stamford, CT. We had a priest in attendance who said Mass in the same chapel as the late Cardinal Kung. We’re praying for Cardinal Kung’s beatification along with the precious people of China. It is so hard to fathom what they have endured for so very long. Beckita, what a blessing it has been to have Fr. Wang as part of your life & the life of your family. I’m certain that he feels the same way! Thank you for sharing the treasure with all of us!

    Liked by 6 people

  21. Beckita, has Father completed his series of books? Have thousands been sent?
    Hey Father, have I ever told you my major unit in history was Chinese history. About the only non Chinese in the class. Most of my friends chose European. So I thought I would do something different! I have never directly used my history degree in teaching …….. After all the work! Ended up teaching English and music.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hi Anne. I’ll tell Father about your study of Chinese history. There really hasn’t been a pre-determined series for the small books. As the need arises and the Spirit touches Father’s heart, he responds. Yes, thousands and thousands of books have been distributed, however, with such a HUGE population, it is, relatively, a drop in the bucket thus far. No worries though. We press on, appreciating the prayers and contributions people make. Some lines from Robert Frost’s poetry comes to mind:

      But I have promises to keep,
      And miles to go before I sleep,
      And miles to go before I sleep.

      Liked by 3 people

    1. Bob, your link is about a year before the AB Vigano letter(s). The only person to get it was Doug who commented on 8/2/2017 at 10:45. The rot has been exposed and what a shock it is.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. BTW, our church was packed on Sunday, January 6, 2018 at the noon Mass and that was after 6 Masses already performed with 8 the usual total every Sunday. It is worth nothing that our pastor said the noon Mass and from the Gospel pulpit thanked the attendees very emotionally for not giving up on the church. And that’s the point exactly, Where else do I go? You have got to be willing to do the WORK to realign the church with the truth, the sacraments and with Christ. You can be disappointed with the church, you can fell your trust has been abused, but to fold your arms across your chest in anger solves nothing.

      Liked by 4 people

    1. You are right, Anne, people constantly ask for more copies. As we’ve discussed and dreamed about Father’s written materials, we concur that there is nothing but a bright future for continuing need and distribution. While we face judgement, I continue to come back to the truth that God’s Justice is inextricable from His Mercy. If He didn’t move in to exert His Justice, we’d destroy ourselves. He is always faithful; we’re the stiff-necked knuckleheads, calling out for Justice. In response, God metes out His Justice in ever increasing measures. If it was up to one of His creatures to decide, we’d probably have been obliterated from the face of the earth… well, and perhaps the planet too. Here, I think of the secrets of Medjugorje, the chastisements. I would not be surprised if each one, like the ten plagues in Egypt, becomes ever-increasingly more difficult. The other truth we keep in mind concerning the catechetical materials is the period of Peace promised by Our Lady of Fatima. Whether from earth or heaven, I think Fr. Wang will continue praising God with fervor and joy as Holy Spirit continues producing fruit from Father’s writing long after Our Lady’s Heart triumphs completely.

      Liked by 2 people

  22. Beckita: Thanks for the video on Fr. Wang’s life. Thank Father for his life long faithfulness and witness. Learning how God was working in Father’s life through all the years of strife and turmoil gives me hope for our future.

    Thanks also for the reference to St. Andre of Montreal. My wife is Quebecois. Her parents passed on to us their tremendous devotion to St. Andre.

    JT

    Liked by 4 people

          1. Beckita: Franglais is slang meaning half-French half-English mixed together. I have only ever heard it used by bi-lingual folks in New England. I will have to run it through Google to see what the computer tried to do with it.

            JT

            Liked by 1 person

        1. JT, that was funny (“Franglais”) and inspiring (“il et tout catholique et de donner la gloire au bon Dieu”).

          Quick question for you or your wife: I have always wondered, why do the French and the Quebecois usually say “le bon Dieu” rather than simply “Dieu”? I mean, I know that “Dieu” is “bon,” and I have always liked seeing it expressed that way; but we don’t use a similar construction in English, and I’ve never really seen it used in Spanish as a regular thing, either. So, what’s the story?

          Like

          1. Mick: It’s a good question. Being the Irish/Polish half of the partnership I don’t know why, but I know that I have heard the phrase many times. I think it is more of a Quebecois thing than a Parisian usage. It is used in a way similar to the American-English use of the term ‘the good Lord save us, or the good Lord bless us.”

            My French has many rough spots, even after years of study, living with my wife and moving in a Franco-American subculture where the older folks still weave a good deal of French phrases and words into everyday conversation. For many years we belonged to a French speaking parish. When our children were small, in order to let my wife go to Mass without the youngest children, I would often go to the early morning Sunday Mass which was conducted completely in French. While the basic meaning is the same, I love the subtle differences in sense and style. I find the French to be more poetic and almost musical compared to the English version of the Mass.

            Living in southern New England, where immigrant cultures are still very powerful undercurrents in everyday life, I have had the privilege of participating at Mass in English, French, Polish, Spanish, Portuguese, Latin and in Syrian and Lebanese Catholic rites. I love Latin and understand the desire (and I would say Holy need) to preserve the Extraordinary form of the Mass. I fully support those who are working very hard to preserve tradition, the old form, and the Latin language. At the same time, I am always humbled and in awe when I go to a Novus Ordo Mass in a different language. The Spirit often uses such times to give me a vision of all the peoples of Earth, praising, worshiping and offering the sacrifice of the Mass in all the languages and nations of the world, at every hour, every day, continuously, in unending prayer to Jesus and the Father. To me it is like a small vision of Heaven.

            JT

            Liked by 3 people

            1. Amen, JT. I love where I live, but it’s pretty small and not terribly diverse from a cultural perspective. We are blessed to have the Extraordinary Form of the Mass available on Sundays (we go maybe 3 or 4 times a year), and I have been to Mass in Spanish. One of the local parishes used to have a Polish Mass once a month; I should look into it and see if that’s still the case. But I’ve never been to a Mass in French. That would be cool.

              We homeschool, and all of our kids take a foreign language in high school. Kid #4, who is currently in 5th grade, has declared that he’d like to take French. That will be fun, as I haven’t taught that one yet (the three oldest kids took Spanish). Maybe in a few years, we can take a family road-trip to French Canada, attend Mass, and study some North American history.

              Liked by 1 person

              1. Mick: God Bless you for home schooling. My clan of five are all grown. They are old enough that home schooling was not really on the radar when they were young. (and the public school in our small conservative town was still decent educationally and socially) I am in awe thinking about the patience and discipline it takes to home school.

                I will keep you folks in my prayers. Carry on the good fight.

                JT

                Liked by 2 people

                1. JT, thank you very much for your prayers; we surely need them, so please keep ’em coming. 🙂

                  I am giggling at reading about the patience and discipline that home schooling requires. I laugh because God has such a sense of humor. You know that verse (1 Cor. 1:27) that says, “But the foolish things of the world hath God chosen, that he may confound the wise; and the weak things of the world hath God chosen, that he may confound the strong”? Well, that would be me. I’m not very patient (I may not have a ton of Irish blood, but I got enough to have an Irish temper), and I’m not all that disciplined (I’m more of an impulsive, fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants type; and my oldest-child, neat-freak husband will tell you that being married to a youngest-child, clutter-is-your-friend type is downright purgatorial). It is so true that His strength is made perfect in my weakness; and, by the grace of God, the kids are turning out OK. So… yay, God! 🙂

                  Liked by 3 people

      1. Beckita: Now in English. We are Irish, French and Polish. All Catholic, and all cultures that survived to the present due to the heroic efforts of Catholic priests and nuns who not only spent their lives transmitting the faith, the magisterium and the Gospel, but who also worked to preserve the cultures of their captive peoples. It grieves me profoundly to see Quebec and Ireland turn from the Church, without whose guidance, their cultures would no longer exist. Only Poland remains faithful and that is threatened by the onslaught of modern western culture.

        JT

        Liked by 5 people

  23. It seems Medjugorje is expanding the structures, particularily the outside mass pew area.

    http://www.sarajevotimes.com/archbishop-to-medjugorje-henryk-hoser-reveals-shrine-expansion/

    I have composed a few emails and sent to my local Bishop and two local parties and suggest you do the same. Medjugorje changed my life, and as depicted in the news article, I have tried to make my prayer life here similar to as in Medjugorje. For me, I am against closing in the outside prayer area and provided feedback describing my experience. Pray outside, under the stars, in the rain, cold, heat was wonderful.

    Please review the article, pray and perhaps coorespond your thoughts tot he local Medjugorje administration. I would not like to see an overbearing structure, like so many shrines, taking away natural beauty of the area.

    Liked by 4 people

  24. Beckita, Thank you: Xièxiè (Shieh-shieh) for sharing this beautiful video testimony of your holy friend, Fr John Wang’s life. I cried watching it. I have always loved the Chinese culture since studing abouit it in 3rd grade..nearly 60 yerars ago. I especially became more interested in this culture when our son Greg married a women of Chinese descent, our daughter in law who died suddenly, in Seattle, in Novemeber, Christina Yen Wright, for whom so many on TNRS offered prayers. She spoke Manderin and was originally from Taiwan. I googled ‘thank you” in Manderin 🙂 Her 24 year old daughter has spend two years in China studying their culture. I keep praying that she will meet Christians there who will speak the truth about the way of the anti- Christian government. Maybe she will even see one of Father’s books! I will be sending this video to priests and to our son in hopes that it will ignite his RC faith again. He placed his scapular on his wife as she neared death, as I have said before on TNRS.

    During this Christmas season my husband and I have been sick with a cold, so we have been cloistered so not to spread this. I have had a beautiful Christmas retreat with a book which reminds me of Fr. Wang’s life of accepting suffering. We have not experienced this type of sufferinging the west, as he has. This book is a fruit of Medjugorje. A woman from Florida received locutions after her pilgrimage, she has a priest spiritual director who helped write the book. This is an excerpt from the book which I have been reading, The Simple Path to Union With God. It can be read online in the link below or ordered from Amazon.
    ”A hardened heart is set in its ways. It reduces the work of God to make it fit in its natural logic and human experience. It is not open to see beyond what it controls. A pure heart, on the other hand, believes that for God nothing is impossible (Mary). It is docile and malleable, willing to be pierced, pruned and made new by God. The soul which receives the gift of self-knowledge and sees the hardness of its own heart arrives at a moment of decision: It either accepts the gift or remains in darkness. Receiving the gift of self knowledge hurts; it feels like a STING. The soul needs to have the courage to admit its sins and the wounds, and to go to the root of both. This is why most people pull back into the old self and do not enter the healing process. But, if the soul perseveres in love, it receives the balm of Jesus’ mercy; the planks fall away, and the light of Truth enters. The fruit of this process is joy and peace. ~Simple Path to Union with God”

    https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/45e8c9_b3b66a83b6074527b9e1ed769650cb03.pdf?fbclid=IwAR2QFYPWfmVhPDMDiHHVtUSuCsWrL3UuBrz_7s9FGXNGmSvRztPvl9LLte0

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Yes we have prayed for the repose of the soul of your daughter-in-law and for her family and all your family as you mourn the loss of your dear Christina, canada. I’m glad you’ll be sharing Father’s story with your priest friends and son. It is a beautiful book you’ve shared with us. Hope you all are feeling better!

      Liked by 3 people

  25. With this inspirational snapshot of Fr. Wang’s wonderful story, one can only wonder at how difficult it was to condense and arrange…. how inadequate the words, images and music must seem to one who has shared some of his journey.

    In gratitude, here’s a little something to share with Father Wang:

    Of all the 100’s of wild mustangs I’ve come across, only the very rare one approaches. This one did yesterday, separating from his lively little band to walk on over for a sniff. Heck, we were nose to nose. And just look at that kind face… oh, the eyes always get me.

    For now, I’ve named him “Xīwàng” in honor of Fr. Wang’s mission (going for “Hope” there, so feel free to correct me if I translated poorly). I considered “Padre W” and other similar names for this horse, but they all seemed to miss the mark.

    Whenever I come across Xīwàng in the future, I’ll remember the hope Fr. Wang has for his beloved people and homeland.

    Liked by 9 people

    1. Thanks for noticing that challenge, MP, O Artist of many beautiful, creative gems. I actually began the production by selecting the photographs and each one prompted memories of stories shared over the years. When my son was in high school he told Father one evening after dinner: “Grandpa, I think we should make a movie of your life.”

      Father was moved when I shared your words and the horse photo. Oh what a beauty! Charming story too, eye to eye and nose to nose as you were. There are a few stories Father has shared, from his early years, about the family’s horse. How they wept when their beloved equine friend died. You nailed Xīwàng just right! Great choice. Father is the one who pinned me with the Beckita moniker with -ita being the Spanish diminutive suffix. Of course, I shot right back with, “Papita.”

      Liked by 5 people

    2. MP, Oh how blessed you are to be able to see these beautiful animals and come nose to nose with this beauty! I am hoping to do that in Heaven. Beckita, I love your new name and your come back with Papita !

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Such, a blessing indeed C1NW. Would you believe that I found a couple of these beauties dead on the ground, senselessly riddled with bullets. If humanity continues on the current trajectory, there probably won’t be any large animals left in the wild 40 years from now.

        Not a day goes by that I’m not grateful for God’s handiwork. Here’s hoping with you that there are horses in Heaven.

        Liked by 4 people

      1. Horse: What’s that smell?
        Me: Oh-oh, where’s that granola bar?
        Horse: Hey, you come here to fight?
        Me: Nope. You know you’ve got a curled blade of grass stuck in your teeth?

        Horse just stood there and stared at me for awhile after that. Heck, it was really that silly, Mick.

        [Break.]

        Solo yesterday at Adoration and intent on listening. A grandma entered the Chapel with a curly-headed tot in a stroller. Oh, that child had a wonderful smile that lit up the Chapel.

        Grandma kneeled in front of Our Lord and gently spoke to the child in an Eastern European dialect. Gosh, the beauty of that scene was captivating. Next Grandma proceeded to wheel the stroller over to find a seat/kneeler, but the stroller did not want to cooperate. For a good few minutes, Grandma fiddled with the wheels on the stroller, trying to get them to move in the right direction. But to no avail. They were stubbornly turned sideways, keeping that stroller right in front of Our Lord.

        Really… how He must delight in innocence where He can find it.

        Later the mom entered and joined the pair, then the child began her dialog with God in earnest. Tot noises, coos, giggles and joyful laughter… but I distinctly heard her say “Dadda” on a few occasions, so I knew she was having a conversation with Our Lord.

        Well, I could tell that Mom and Grandma were struggling to reel the child in, embarrassed and a bit agitated that she wouldn’t quiet down.

        Not able to keep the grin in check, I finally let out with a big, joyful chuckle.

        I don’t know if they understood a lick of what I said on the way out, but they finally let out a big breath and grinned too.

        I don’t know much, but I do know that God often speaks in some of the most mysterious, unexpected ways to all of us.

        Liked by 4 people

  26. Let US Hope-n-Pray that this is the year that the decades long Church Scandal is exposed and terminated …. no matter how painful and unpleasant it may be. The damage done has already reached catastrophic proportions!

    THE TIES THAT DIVIDE
    https://www.churchmilitant.com/video/episode/vortex-the-ties-that-divide

    ‘We are witches’: Clerical abuse scandal divides parishes and politics in Poland
    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-poland-church-abuse-insight/we-are-witches-clerical-abuse-scandal-divides-parishes-and-politics-in-poland-idUSKCN1P1024

    Houston! We have a problem!!!

    Outrageous! Vatican City Cheered 60th Anniversary of Murderous Castro Communist Regime
    https://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2019/01/outrageous-vatican-city-cheered-60th-anniversary-of-murderous-castro-communist-regime/

    GOD SAVE ALL HERE!!

    Liked by 3 people

  27. Excellent review and analysis by Fr. Raymond J. de Souza. We’re in trouble if loyalty takes primacy over seeking truth. Oi.

    Friendly Fire by Fr. Raymond J. de Souza 1/7 /19

    A year that began with the Holy Father performing a quick wedding on a plane in Chile ended with the Bride of Christ making an honest man out of longtime Vaticanista Andrea Tornielli.

    Pope Francis appointed Tornielli “editorial director” for the Dicastery for Communication on December 18, from which post he will give editorial guidance to all of the Holy See’s media efforts. Under Francis’s pontificate, Tornielli has been less of a Vatican analyst and more of a spokesman. Greg Burke was the director of the Holy See Press Office, but Tornielli was the portavoce of the Casa Santa Marta. And what would the official spokesman do when the Holy Father’s confidant was charged with providing “editorial direction” to all Vatican communication?

    Head for the exit, that’s what. In dramatic fashion, on New Year’s Eve, both Burke and press office vice-director Paloma Garcia Ovejero announced their resignations, effective New Year’s Day. In a tweet, Burke said both of them had been praying about departing for months, but the sudden joint resignation clearly indicates something had become urgently untenable.

    When I was in Rome to cover the synod last October, I was surprised at how factional the thinking in the synod office—and in the Vatican communications offices—had become. They spoke openly not about critics on this or that issue, but about “enemies of the pope.” Entire networks and newspapers and news agencies, filled with professional, competent, and devoutly Catholic journalists, were denounced as lacking fidelity to the Church. That there will be tension between the principal figures of a pontificate and the media that covers it is to be expected; to encounter a mindset reminiscent of Nixon’s enemies list or the Trump administration was startling.

    Now Francis has installed a staunch loyalist to ensure that the official line is followed, well, religiously. The independent journalistic credentials of Burke and Garcia, praised when they were appointed in 2016, evidently were not a good fit. By their own account they were not pushed out, but the abrupt and dramatic departure was clearly intended to signal that things are headed in a troublesome direction.

    Tornielli’s views will now guide the entire Vatican media operation. No doubt it is thought that installing a reliable ally in a senior post will serve the Holy Father’s interests. Perhaps. But on the communications front, 2018 demonstrated amply that it is not the supposed “enemies” of the pope who cause the Holy Father the most problems. It is his most enthusiastic friends.

    In early 2017, Father Antonio Spadaro, the papal amanuensis and consigliere plenipotentiary, tweeted: “Theology is not mathematics. In theology 2 + 2 can equal 5. Because it has to do with God and real life of people….”

    His intent was to defend Amoris Laetitia. But it had the opposite effect, as the pope’s inner circle gave off a creepy authoritarian vibe. Ever since George Orwell’s 1984, insisting that 2+2 can equal 5, or whatever the party line is, has become shorthand for totalitarianism. Indeed, in 1980s Poland a frequent anti-communist slogan was that, “For Poland to be Poland, 2+2 must always equal 4.”

    While Spadaro’s tweet is likely the worst example of Francis being wounded by friendly fire, in 2018 the problem became more frequent. And if Tornielli’s appointment means doubling down on reliable “friends” in the face of supposed “enemies,” it is quite possible that 2019 will be worse still.

    Consider the following examples from 2018, which show that Pope Francis has less to worry about from “enemies” than he does from his “friends.”

    Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, chancellor of the pontifical academies. Bishop Sanchez just celebrated his fiftieth anniversary of priestly ordination, and it is unlikely that in all those years he has ever had the prominence he gained last year. As part of the Holy See efforts to prepare the way for the agreement with China, Sanchez went on his first trip there and returned gushing with praise: “Right now, those who are best implementing the social doctrine of the Church are the Chinese.”

    Bishop Sanchez’s obvious instructions were to talk up China so that Catholics would not reject the upcoming deal as capitulation to communist persecution. But he embraced his brief with too much zeal and too little sense, and instead made the Holy See appear easily duped. When the deal was actually made in September, followed by a ratcheting up of religious persecution, Sanchez’s friendly fire made it more difficult for other officials to offer any sustained defense of what strikes many as an utter capitulation, if not betrayal. Sanchez undermined one of the Holy Father’s signature diplomatic initiatives.

    Monsignor Dario Viganò, former prefect of the Dicastery for Communication. For the Holy Father’s fifth anniversary in March 2018, Msgr. Viganò brought out a series of booklets on the theology of Pope Francis. He asked Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI to write a page or two praising the series and, by extension, Francis’s theology. Benedict declined, and noted that he refused because some of those praising Francis were long-time dissenters from Catholic orthodoxy. It was all very embarrassing, but would have remained unknown if Msgr. Viganò had not thought to lie about it, telling journalists that Benedict had written an endorsement letter after all. Viganò produced an altered photograph of the letter, and only released the part of the letter which appeared to support his project.

    The whole matter quickly unraveled, and the chief of Vatican communications was revealed to have deliberately deceived the press and falsified documents from the pope emeritus. A project meant to flatter Francis revealed instead an entourage insecure about his theological sophistication. Justice was swift but not so terrible: Msgr. Viganò resigned as prefect, only to be restored the same day to something akin to deputy prefect. He will be supervising Tornielli in his new post.

    Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago sent a most unusual missive to all his parishes in September. In an interview with Chicago’s NBC station, Cardinal Cupich had said that the testimony of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò (no relation to Msgr. Viganò) was not really worthy of a papal response: “The pope has a bigger agenda. He’s got to get on with other things of talking about the environment and protecting migrants and carrying on the work of the Church. We’re not going to go down a rabbit hole on this.”

    Elsewhere in the “rabbit hole” interview Cupich said that “there is a small group of insurgents, who have not liked Pope Francis from the very beginning … And, quite frankly, they also don’t like him because he’s a Latino and that he is bringing Latino culture into the life of the Church.”

    The “rabbit hole” interview achieved the exact opposite of what was intended. It made Pope Francis’s inner circle look dismissive and out-of-touch. The accusation that the Holy Father’s critics don’t like Latinos—or at least Italians from Argentina—was race-baiting of the worst Chicago kind. So Cardinal Cupich put out a press release correcting his remarks and accusing NBC of false editing, and ordered all his priests to read a damage control letter from the pulpit on Sunday. The remedy for the friendly fire was more of the same, as the inner circle that was dismissive now also came off as thin-skinned and self-referential, commandeering Sunday Mass to correct the media mishaps of the cardinal.

    Papal biographer Austen Ivereigh was on the ground in Chile for the Holy Father’s disastrous visit there in January. Ivereigh was all-in on the plan to discredit those opposed to the appointment of Bishop Juan Barros, including the unsatisfied victims of Chile’s most notorious priest predator Father Fernando Karadima, Barros’s mentor. Ivereigh argued that the critics of the Holy Father were illustrating the “scapegoat mechanism of René Girard.” Support like that from friends might have explained why the Holy Father kept accusing his critics of being both stupid and guilty of the sin of calumny—until he did a complete reversal and agreed with them. He may have even found a scapegoat or two in having the entire Chilean episcopate resign.

    Father Thomas Rosica, former English-language attaché to the Holy See Press Office and founder of Salt and Light TV in Canada. His network does tremendous service in Catholic broadcasting, and Rosica is an enthusiastic evangelist. This enthusiasm got the better of him in a St. Ignatius day encomium to the Holy Father.

    “Pope Francis breaks Catholic traditions whenever he wants because he is ‘free from disordered attachments,’” wrote Father Rosica. “Our Church has indeed entered a new phase: with the advent of this first Jesuit pope, it is openly ruled by an individual rather than by the authority of Scripture alone or even its own dictates of tradition plus Scripture.”

    That appeared on the Salt and Light blog and was reposted on Zenit. When it was observed that no pope can put himself as an individual above the authority of Scripture and tradition, Zenit axed the offending paragraph. It’s still there at Salt and Light. To all those who had been defending the Holy Father against the charge that he was breaking with Scripture and tradition, Father Rosica aimed this friendly fire: It’s not a bug, it’s a feature.

    Catholics, including Catholics who have criticisms of this or that decision of Pope Francis, ought not delight in the Holy Father’s difficulties. But as his inner circle is tightened to include Tornielli and exclude Burke, it is likely that his problems will increase. “Enemies” do not do nearly as much damage as his friends do.

    Raymond J. de Souza is a priest in the archdiocese of Kingston, Ontario.

    Liked by 4 people

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