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  • Writer's pictureFr. Vili Lehtoranta

Catholic Action for Liberty and Faith

Dear faithful,

On Tuesday, September 12, the feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary, our two Oblate Sisters of the Holy Face will, God willing and Our Lady interceding, make their final Oblation. Up until now they have been novices and, under the guidance of the priests of St. Gertrude the Great, have learned how to help them in the parish duties. At the taking of the final oblation, they’ll become full members of the Oblate group.

The plan is now set to start to expand the rectory where the priests and seminarians live, and to give our other house to the Sisters. The building plans have been delayed, first because of the preparations for Bishop Nkamuke’s consecration, and then because of the repairs done in the church cloister, which are now underway. The profits of our ongoing fundraiser contribute to the rectory expansion, so that we can house all the priests under the same roof and give our Sisters a permanent home on the parish grounds.

On the Sacred Heart weekend of June 16-18, the Sisters will have a retreat to prepare for their final Oblation. One of the themes of the retreat is the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which they are encouraged to recite, and which joins them in the official prayer of the Church, the Divine Office. This retreat is also open to girls who are thinking about becoming an Oblate Sister, and wish to know more about their work and spiritual life.

May has been filled with joyous events, the most solemn of which was the consecration of Bishop Bede Nkamuke on May 1. He celebrated his first pontifical Mass on Ascension Thursday, May 18, which was also Bishop McGuire’s first consecration anniversary. Getting ready for their full membership in the parish community, our two Sisters have certainly had a novitiate year filled with parish work. Preparing for full pontifical ceremonies, including an episcopal consecration, on a regular basis, and taking care of the sacristy and working in the school on daily basis, is something even the religious rarely get to do. And as we should remember, the Oblates are laywomen who support the Church with their work in the spirit of Catholic Action. It’s a big sacrifice, but that’s exactly what the word “oblation” means.

The Sisters are also preparing with some of the girls of the parish the annual Girls Camp, which will take place on June 27-29. During the camp the attendants will enjoy an outing to a local park to play and take hikes in the woods. Other activities include square-dancing and many outdoor games and crafts, such as a collage board, tote bags, melt-o-bead charms, and lip-balm.

Sister Eulalia and Sister Ulrica both had their patronal feasts recently. Sister Eulalia had hers on April 30, Holy Child Jesus Doctor of the Sick, and Sister Ulrica on May 8, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart. Our Oblate Cat, Penny, has started to trust more and more the visitors and helpers at the church, and is very friendly and playful with them. She now resembles less the Looney Tunes’ Penny, and more of Inspector Gadget’s Penny, who was the witty and joyous backbone of the whole show. Our Penny also has – so far – managed to stay away from the skunk family which has found its home on the SGG premises. (One of Bishop Dolan’s cats once had an unfortunate skunk encounter, and the sacristans at that time had to be called to do the unpleasant cat-bathing duty). Skunks are very pretty animals, though, and their colors are black and white, too. You can see a little glimpse of one them on my GTok channel.

In May the YouTube channel Catholic Family Podcast, which recently interviewed the Oblate Sisters, got a one-week ban from streaming and uploading. This was caused by a community guideline strike due to the interview, though the strike was overruled later.

The reason for the strike was because one of them referred to the government Covid-19 mandates of masks and vaccines as “fake.” (She also talked about modern society’s “pride” and “woke” propaganda as disgusting and awful).

The spirit of Catholic Action demands that Catholics resist every interference against the liberty of the Church, notwithstanding where it comes from. In 2020-2021, St. Gertrude the Great Church in Ohio and St. Hugh of Lincoln in Wisconsin had to fight to preserve their constitutional freedom to practice the Catholic religion. This is the duty of every Catholic, according to both the divine and human law.

The spirit of the world, on the other hand, demands that people believe everything which is said on TV is true, and that the job of the government is to “take care” of them, instead of to procure their liberty and freedom.

Sometimes Traditional Catholics like to argue that the Catholic Church condemns religious liberty, and Catholics shouldn’t support the Constitution, or the constitutional rights, which allow religious liberty, especially since the American founding fathers were Freemasons. These Catholics fail to see that what makes the American constitutional republic “great” is not that it granted freedom to false religions, but because it gave freedom to the true religion. Pope Leo XIII called this nation’s first President “the great Washington” and “that illustrious citizen,” not because of his personal beliefs or disbeliefs, but because under his leadership the Catholic Church was given full freedom to function in the then new constitutional Republic. (Encyclical Longinqua, January 6, 1895)

The Covid crisis, which the Sisters mentioned, was a direct attack against this liberty of the Catholic Church. After the revolutionary war, when the states and their people were debating about the ratification of the Constitution, the Antifederalists, like Patrick Henry, were against its ratification. It was not because they were opposing the Constitution, but because they wanted it to include the Bill of Rights, which guaranteed, among other things, the freedom of speech and of religion. It was only after the Bill of Rights was inserted into the Constitution that the states agreed to ratify it. The Antifederalists demanded the insertion of the Bill of Rights precisely so that the governors could not do the things they did during 2020 Covid crisis. They didn’t want to exchange a foreign tyrant for a domestic one.

So this is one type of Catholic Action in America in our times: to defend our divine and legal rights to practice the true religion against the spirit of the world. This was what Bishop Dolan preached from the pulpit on a weekly basis during the fake crisis, and it was also what drew so many visitors and new members to our parish.

Those times of crisis taught us the lesson that the times when we could trust that the government would guarantee our liberty to practice our religion are over. And this is what should be told to every American, Catholics and non-Catholics alike. In his farewell address in January 1981, President Jimmy Carter also spoke of the importance of challenging the wisdom of the politicians:

Within our system of government every American has a right and duty to help shape the future course of the United States. Thoughtful criticism and close scrutiny of all government officials by the press and the public are an important part of our democratic society. Now as in our past, only the understanding and involvement of the people through full and open debate can help to avoid serious mistakes and assure the continued dignity and safety of the nation. Today we are asking our political system to do things of which the founding fathers never dreamed. The government they designed for a few hundred thousand people now serves a nation of almost 230 million people. Their small coastal republic now spans beyond a continent, and we now have the responsibility to help lead much of the world through difficult times to a secure and prosperous future. Today, as people have become ever more doubtful of the ability of the government to deal with our problems, we are increasingly drawn to single-issue groups and special interest organizations to ensure that whatever else happens our own personal views and our own private interests are protected. This is a disturbing factor in American political life. It tends to distort our purposes because the national interest is not always the sum of all our single or special interests. We are all Americans together – and we must not forget that the common good is our common interest and our individual responsibility.

Now more than ever we need “close scrutiny” of the government, and shouldn’t just calmly believe everything the TV says. Even more than 40 years ago, we are now living in a society which seeks its own interests instead that of the whole nation and of individuals. And the Covid crisis was a foreshadowing how far the government is ready to go to suppress the liberty of the nation and liberty of an individual. The attitude of modern society is dictatorial. When in the early 1900s Russia was trying to submit Finland under its dictatorship and control the life and liberty of the Finns, it faced strong opposition from them. This opposition prompted one of the extremist members of the Russian State Duma (Parliament), Nikolai Markov, to exclaim: “If we can’t shut the whole nation in a madhouse, we will at least dress it in the straitjacket!”

Another lesson learned in May is that we must keep our attention on essentials, not in vain things. The coronation of the new king in Great Britain launched yet another useless and vain debate in the social media among Traditional Catholics. The issue was should Catholics celebrate this event, and the most scrupulous ones were even nervous when it was pointed out to them that that St. Pius X’s domestic prelate, Monsignor Eugenio Pacelli, future Pope Pius XII, represented the Holy See at the coronation of King George V in 1911.

This kind of attention to things which don’t matter is truly a big problem today, and it is something we need to get rid of and mortify our curiosity. It is understandable if this conversation about the coronation happens among Catholics in England. There is no reason why the Traditionalists in America, or in the rest of the world, should be concerned about the coronation of a British monarch, or to suffer anxiety over what Pius XII did in London in 1911. St. John tells us plainly: “Fear is not in charity: but perfect charity casteth out fear, because fear hath pain. And he that feareth, is not perfected in charity. Let us therefore love God, because God first hath loved us.” (1 John 4:18-19)

A good resolution for every Traditional Catholic to make is always to stay strong and faithful when Catholic Faith and morals are under attack. And if something is not a big deal, never to make it a big deal. If you take a look at your St. Benedict medal, you’ll see that around its margin are inscribed these letters: VRSNSMV SMQLIVB. They stand for the following verses:

Vade retro Satana!

Numquam suade mihi vana.

Sunt mala quæ libas:

Ipse venena bibas.

Which can be translated:

Get behind me Satan!

Never suggest me vain things.

What you offer me is evil,

Drink the poison yourself.

Yours in the Charity of Christ and Our Lady of the Sacred Heart,

Fr. Vili Lehtoranta


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