Contagious Faith

The Alpha and the Omega and the Great Mandate

These times are unprecedented. Churches are closed in Australia and many other countries. Our priests are unable to minister the sacraments in public. There is massive pressure on us all, fuelled by the devil’s favourite tool, fear, to force us to take experimental injections which have been branded by governments and media world-wide as our saviour and ticket to freedom. I don’t judge those who have received the vaccines for whatever personal reason. I pray that they had full informed consent and no coercion in making their decision. Likewise, I don’t judge those who have decided to stay away from them for moral reasons or who are hesitant out of concerns regarding safety and efficacy. We are all created in the image and likeness of God.

The headlines constantly blare at us the news that this year’s dominant COVID strain is the Delta variant. They remind us daily just how highly contagious it is. They repeat to us the government’s mandate to vaccinate in order to regain our previous rights and freedoms: “Take the jab to get your health passport and we will let you have your freedom” is the government’s catch-cry. Governments are telling us that if we haven’t taken the jab, we won’t be able to attend places of worship, pubs, restaurants, movie theatres, shopping centres and the like, and that we won’t be able to work. Furthermore, whether one can see it now or not, the segregation of society has already begun. Those without the jab are branded as contagious, modern day lepers. But we need to ask ourselves deeper questions -what are the unvaccinated actually spreading if they are healthy, and why do they have to be separated from everyone? What am I, as a Christian, spreading? What is the fruit of what I am spreading? Am I really free if I decide to comply with these mandates? What makes one free?

Let me pause for a moment and briefly add to my previous post on Fear or Faith. Harking back to the days of my childhood, I smile as I remember how times were good in Australia. As the eldest of five children, I remember playing with my siblings in a carefree world and praying each day as a family. We misbehaved at times, but we were essentially free to go and do as we please. Sure, we had our ups and downs, as all siblings do, but overall life was great. It was a time when religious movies were played on mainstream television (how times have changed!) and the movie “King of Kings” was broadcast on Good Friday, Easter Sunday and sometimes even on Christmas Day. I remember us, as a family, watching the life of Christ as portrayed in that classic 1961 film starring Jeffrey Hunter as Jesus. I am particularly reminiscent of a scene in the movie when Jesus comes to visit John the Baptist in prison. Even though this meeting isn’t recorded in the Gospels, the conversation between Jesus and the prison guard, Lucius, has always resonated with me, even back then when I first saw the movie as a little boy. The words exchanged are as follows:

Lucius : [Jesus is trying to visit John the Baptist in prison] The prisoner John is not allowed visitors. If You wish to send him a message, leave it with the guard.
Jesus : I would see John.
Lucius : Why?
Jesus : I come to free John.
Lucius : [sarcastically] And just how do You propose to break him free from his cell?
Jesus : I come to free him within his cell.
Lucius : Freedom? Behind stone walls?
Jesus : You are free to come and go as you please, and yet you are still a prisoner because you place no faith in anything but your sword.

“I come to free him within his cell”. I remember going through the Gospels as a 10 year old trying to find these words but being unsuccessful. Irrespective of that, the words made a deep impression on me. They hold a wealth of meaning and I believe they resemble the spirit of the Gospel message of Christ. Those words which impacted me from long ago have finally made sense today, in this present situation. How can a person be free in the four walls of a prison cell? How can a person have freedom, when the four walls of pressure – mainstream media, governments, society at large, and the devil – are severing your freedoms and the ability to choose how to live your life?

Pondering on our current situation, one can’t help but draw parallels to the trials our Croatian forefathers experienced under the oppressive rule of communism. Our Blessed Cardinal Stepinac was placed under house arrest, effectively stripping him from the ability to act freely in performing his religious function as a Cardinal. He was offered freedom in exchange for complying to the mandates of men. All he had to do was to break the Croatian Catholic Church away from its union with Rome and he would be a free man. The communists even promised to allow him to be the face and head of this new break-away church. This was the man-made mandate the communists insisted on in order for Blessed Stepinac to have freedom. But Blessed Stepinac refused their mandates and instead chose to be free within his cell, first serving a term in prison, and then under house arrest. Yet the Cardinal cemented himself as a voice of hope and a witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the people of Croatia, as well as remaining a faithful son of the Catholic Church.

In the light of our current situation, we need to ask ourselves how or what makes us free within the cell of lock-down? What makes us free even in the absence of lock-down? We need to look deeper into the narrative of the COVID-19 crisis and the mandating of vaccines and health passports. As Christians, we need to examine our conscience on this issue. Did we succumb to a fear that is foreign to our faith in God, a fear that isn’t worthy of our dignity as children of a loving God? Did we help to re-balance the sentiment of the current climate by offering an alternative witness to the pervading sense of despair and fear in response to the pandemic by displaying hope and witnessing to others with a contagious faith?

Who or what shall we fear then? It is true that sometimes it is easy to get caught in a cycle of fear and worry about financial issues, sickness and disease, social isolation or cancellation, and family relationship issues. I know I have certainly felt the pressure of some of these fears in my life. They are all legitimate reasons to worry, but we can and often do, by the grace of God, overcome and recover from these setbacks and concerns.
Death is a fear common to many. With the numbers of COVID cases re-read repeatedly and daily by every media outlet, and the number of deaths attributed to COVID broadcasted on the evening news, it is no wonder fear is instilled in the majority of listeners as they are now encountering the reality of death for the first time. But for a Christian, death poses no fear and does not draw the final curtain. Jesus tells us of Himself: “This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that if anyone eat of it, he will not die. I am the living bread that has come down from heaven. If anyone eat of this bread he shall live forever” (John 6:50-51). So, for a Christian, death is not the final tragedy. It is eternal damnation that one should fear more than death of the body (Matthew 10:28) and it is the mission of the Church to proclaim the Good News, this message of hope and salvation in Jesus Christ, who is the Alpha and the Omega (Revelation 22:13).

Unfortunately, we live in a post-Christian, pagan, secular society which replaces messages of hope and faith with government mandates which seek to direct trust in government policies as the only saviours from disease and death (cf Matthew 15:9). Christ teaches us that we should give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God, what belongs to God (Mark 12:17). It is the mandates of Christ that we must fulfill, especially the ‘Great Mandate’ – the mandate to go make disciples of all nations, as commissioned in Matthew chapter 28, continuing the work of Christ with signs and wonders (Mark 16:15-18). In these troubled times, how have we carried out this ‘Great Mandate’ of Christ? Has our faith in the Alpha and Omega been a contagious faith, or have we been paralysed with fear? Have we spread the good fruit of hope, encouragement and a building up of the body of Christ?

To understand the great mandate of God, we need to go to the beginning of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, namely, the prologue:

“FATHER, . . . this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”1 “God our Saviour desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”2″There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved”3 – than the name of JESUS.

It is important to note that God the Father desires all men to be saved and the only way to be saved is through acknowledging the truth, that Jesus Christ died so that we may be saved. The prologue continues, outlining and mandating this call to mission not just for the apostles, but for us all:

2 So that this call should resound throughout the world, Christ sent forth the apostles He had chosen, commissioning them to proclaim the gospel: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”4 Strengthened by this mission, the apostles “went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that attended it.”5

3 Those who with God’s help have welcomed Christ’s call and freely responded to it are urged on by love of Christ to proclaim the Good News everywhere in the world. This treasure, received from the apostles, has been faithfully guarded by their successors. All Christ’s faithful are called to hand it on from generation to generation, by professing the faith, by living it in fraternal sharing, and by celebrating it in liturgy and prayer.6

This great mandate of proclaiming the Good News was not meant to be contained within the four walls of the Church, nor the four walls of a lock-down. Blessed Stepinac was able to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ even though he was under house arrest. It is our call to do the same and to fulfill the great mandate entrusted to us all by Christ and His Church. Using the current COVID catch-phrases as a starting point, let us examine our lives with a Spirit of power, love and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7) to see how we have carried out this mandate in our own circles of influence.

MASK WEARING

What are you hiding behind? What is the mask concealing in your life?

We all have masks at times. The mask of sin is the greatest hindrance to showing our love for Jesus and others. Although the COVID virus will not infect everyone, original sin (passed down from our first parents) and our own actual sins have infected one hundred percent of the population. Our sinful nature has masked us and separated us from relationship with God.

Blessed are we that God the Father sent His only Son Jesus into the world to die on the cross to save us from this sin. It is the spilling of his Most Precious Blood that has removed this mask of sinfulness in our lives by the grace of Baptism and given us the power to live as true children of God. Remove the mask of sin in your life by cleansing yourself in the Sacrament of Confession so you can grow in the love of Christ and His saving mission. Take off the mask and start to spread this contagious faith. Be a super spreader. Spread the Alpha and the Omega to all those you meet and infect them with your faith.

SOCIAL DISTANCING

Where are you hiding? Are you in the upper room, hiding from the authorities, as the apostles were after the crucifixion (John 20:19)?

The separation and isolation imposed by fear and lock-downs seems to discourage the free sharing of our contagious faith in the Alpha and Omega with others. But we mustn’t let distance stop us. We can still share our faith even if we are locked down and are restricted in our movements. We need to be super spreaders of the love and hope of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Talk to your neighbour. Have an encounter with the person on your street and show them the love of Christ. Call a friend or family member. Spread and infect them with a message of hope, encouragement and support. Distance yourself from the virus of sin rather than from the mandate of spreading the Good News and Gospel of Jesus.

PCR TESTING

We need to test ourselves daily by examining our consciences. St Paul tells us “test everything; hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil.” (1 Thess 5:21-22). We don’t need to line up in cars to get nose swabbed. We need to swab our soul. Practice the Examen of St Ignatius of Loyola daily. Carry out an examination of conscience in preparation for the Sacrament of Penance. If we have strayed and infected ourselves with a variant of sin, separating us from the Alpha and Omega, we need to call a priest and go to the Sacrament of Confession in humility to restore our relationship with God. This will give us the strength and resolve to get up from any isolation and spread a contagious faith to all we encounter.

VACCINATION

Vaccines have been developed over the last 100 years in an attempt to eradicate disease and stop the spreading of infection. And a lot of good may have come as a result of this. The current COVID 19 experimental injections are questionable though, not yet proven with long term studies, and are showing signs of not being as effective as initially promised. But what is true is that they have certainly caused a great division and segregation amongst people. This blog is not to judge those who have or haven’t taken it. For a Christian, it is the Blood of Christ that we want to flow through our veins. It is the Blood of Christ, spilled on the Cross for our redemption, that we receive in the Eucharist along with His Body that we desire to permeate us. This is the true and ultimate vaccine for the body and soul. For this reason, pray that our Churches be opened so the faithful can once again go and receive their dose of life-giving drink. The faithful are being denied Life.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. 54 He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has life everlasting and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. 56 He who eats My flesh, and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.” (John 6:53-58).

The faithful need to receive their dose of this vaccine on Sundays at the very least, if not every day. Woe to those who have denied the faithful the Eucharist – the ‘source and summit of the Christian life’ (CCC #1324). For those who cause scandal and block the receiving of the Eucharist in the Holy Mass to all people – vaccinated or not, I repeat the words of Christ: “If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:6).

HEALTH PASSPORT – DIGITAL CERTIFICATION

Governments have mandated that proof of vaccination be shown through the use of a passport or certificate. This will be needed to move around and function freely in society – to work, to shop and to attend public gatherings and venues. Entry will be denied without these credentials. Compare this situation to what Our Lord says in the parable of the wedding banquet. In this parable the king invited everyone but there was a person who entered without the appropriate clothing. “Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?” said the king (Matthew 22:12). The ‘wedding robe’ we need to enter the heavenly banquet is the robe washed clean by the Blood of the Lamb. We are healthy in both body and soul when living in a state of grace. Our passports are printed on our souls, not on a digital wallet. Heaven’s passport will only be for those who do the will of the Father (Matthew 7:21).

Having a passport system brands those who have chosen not to follow the mandates of men as an inferior class of people, fracturing society. It will mirror the situation of the lepers in the time of Christ’s sojourn on the earth, when they were forced to live away from the rest of the people and were not allowed into the cities according to the laws of that time. Ironically, the laws today want to treat the healthy as lepers and segregate them from society. This calls to mind the situation of the Jews in Nazi Germany who were forced to don a yellow star or badge to signify their exclusion from the mainstream and to carry papers identifying who they were. It is reminiscent of South Africa’s Black Apartheid, where countless black Africans were treated as lower class citizens, segregated from society by means of political and economic discrimination and forced to carry special written permits in order to enter otherwise restricted areas.

This health passport system being introduced today segregates society once again under a system of medical apartheid, essentially creating an inferior class of citizens. This is not part of the great mandate of God, but rather of man and ultimately Satan, who wants division and disharmony in society. Jesus died for ALL men, not just for a select group. Separating people who are healthy and not infectious, but who haven’t had a vaccine, is also illogical. You can’t spread something you do not have. The health passport system is not Christian. I am calling upon all Christians to stand up for freedom. Fight for unity and oppose those who want to impose laws that cause division and fracture society. Accepting this mandate will enslave us as prisoners, prisoners to an ideology that is flawed and oppressive. Regardless of vaccination status, we can never be free by following this evil mandate. Pray and desire unity as Christ prayed and desired unity (John 17:20-23).

 

So how does one become free, even within the four walls of a cell or within the walls of lock-down? Cast your mind back to the scene in “King of Kings” where Jesus wants to free John the Baptist within his cell. The answer, and the only answer, is Jesus. “So, if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). No matter where we find ourselves, be it in a lock-down, in a prison cell like John the Baptist or Cardinal Stepinac, at home, at work, or in society, only the Son of Man can set us free. Through Him, we are free to have a contagious faith that spreads the Alpha and the Omega; a faith to spread the gospel message of salvation and hope. We have that light in us (Matthew 5:16) and we need to let Christ shine in us and through us to light up the darkness of this world. This freedom will entail suffering; we may be called to suffer as a white martyr like Blessed Stepinac, or as a red martyr, spilling our blood, like St John the Baptist. Following the examples of holy men and women, have faith in God who is good and ask Him for a contagious faith. As stated in the prologue of the Catholic Church Catechism:

All Christ’s faithful are called to hand it on from generation to generation, by professing the faith, by living it in fraternal sharing, and by celebrating it in liturgy and prayer”

It is a call for us all, not just some. As Christ died so all may be saved, so all are called to this mandate of action. We are called to instruct others in the faith, to pray and to foster prayer in our families, to spread the message of hope, to share our faith and to celebrate the life-giving sacraments in the liturgy of the church. We all need to spend some time in prayerful conversation with God and ask ourselves the following questions:

How have I responded to the call of the ‘Great Mandate’?

Have I solidified my prayer life and made time for God – to thank Him, to present Him with my own and others’ petitions, and to make reparation for my sins and those of the world?

Have I isolated behind the mask of lock-down and not shared my faith due to fear?

We need to recognize that the important things in life are spiritual and we cannot grow spiritually if we are governed by fear. Fear comes when we forget that God is standing right beside us! Have faith in God that He will give us the grace to live our lives with the hope and love that God has always ordained for us. With this faith we will be able to handle any adversity and we will not despair, because we will realize that all that will happen – both good and bad – ultimately leads to the same end – God’s glory and our good. We live in the promised hope of returning to the heavenly home of our Father and Creator when our life on earth ends. Now is the time to grow in awareness that we are accountable to Him for the time that we have spent here on Earth (Romans 14:12).
How do you want to face the Father in Heaven when you are asked ‘What is it that you have done on Earth?’
If we do not respond to His call now, to this mandate of living and spreading the Good News and faith in Christ, it will be too late in the future to answer the questions that God will put to you. You need to know now – who you are, why you are here on earth, and what is it that your Lord and Saviour wants of you. Pray. Pray. Pray. Live out your prayer in action! I want to leave you with a quote from an early Church Father and Saint who echoes this mandated call:

“Scattered about the entire earth, your mother the Church is tormented by the assaults of error. She is also afflicted by the laziness and indifference of so many of the children she carries around in her bosom as well as by the sight of so many of her members growing cold, while she becomes less able to help her little ones. Who then will give her the necessary help she cries for if not her children and other members to whose number you belong?”
– Saint Augustine

Be super spreaders of the Alpha and Omega. Have a contagious faith!

Bog i Hrvati

Heaven’s Passport – The Pandemic of the Non-Believers

Fear or Faith? The choice for Freedom

HISTORY of the HOLY ROSARY – Part 3 – Battle of Lepanto

Battle of Lepanto

The beginning of the 16th century saw Europe experience the Renaissance. Not only a re-birth of culture and art, it saw the continued growth and revival of confraternities, such as the confraternity of the Rosary, which played a major role in reviving piety and devotion. Continuing on from the work of St Dominic, and the resurgence of the Rosary devotion by Blessed Alan de la Roche, men like Fr Jacob Sprenger of Colonge, Germany, continued the spread of the confraternity and had the honour of being the first to have it officially recognized by the Church on September 8, 1475, the Feast of the Birth of Mary. Remarkably, it was also the same day Blessed Alan died in Zwolle, Holland. It was also Fr Sprenger who is accredited as calling the Marian Psalter, the Rosary.

With the Church granting indulgences to the confraternities, they spread rapidly throughout Europe, as did booklets of images of the Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious Mysteries and instructions on prayer from the writings of Blessed Alan with the inventing of the printing press. With the explosion of Renaissance artwork, it is believed that the most famous masterpiece of Italian Baroque painter, Michelangelo da Carravaggio, was donated by Croatian Nikola Radulovic of Dubrovnik, a member of the confraternity for the Dominican Church in Dubrovnik.

Despite the flourishing of confraternities, the Rosary devotion and artwork depicting Our Lady and the Rosary, Europe and the Catholic faith was not without threat. The protestant rebellion by Martin Luther, and the turning on Catholics in England saw a war rage against Marian devotion such as the Rosary. Heresy was running rampant across Europe while the physical attacks of the Ottoman Turks continued to threaten on all fronts.

It is well known to Croatians, that a decisive battle that “saved western civilisation” was fought at Siget (Szigetvár) in 1566. The 36-day siege of the fort by the 100,000 strong Ottomans lead by Sultan Suleiman I, was defended by approximately 2300 Croatian / Hungarians led by Nikola Zrinski, a Croatian noble and seasoned general. For nearly a month, wave after wave of Ottoman attacks were thrown back from the walls of the fort. Suleiman I offered Zrinski rule of all Croatia if he would yield his city to him, but Zrinski answered,

“No one shall point his finger on my children in contempt.”

The heroism of these men and the inspiration of Nikola Zrinski is forever remembered in the battle that saved Western civilisation. Despite losing his life in leading his men in heroic battle, Zrinski led his diminishing army on one last charge after taking the life of Suleiman I, which the Ottomans tried to keep secret for fear of losing morale. The courageous example of Zrinski and his small army who valiantly defended the fort enforcing heavy losses of up to 20,000 Turks, sent shockwaves among the Ottoman circles stalling their advancement on land. While the Croatians were fighting and defending Europe from the Ottoman invasion from land attacks, earning them the name, the Antemurale Christiantantis (Bulwark of Christianity) by Pope Leo X in 1519, the Ottomans were waging their attacks on Christendom on a lot of fronts, especially from the sea.

Fierce battles took place, not only on land but on sea. The siege of Malta in 1565, saw the 6000 Knights of St John, under the command of Jean Parisot de Valette, defeat and expel 40,000 Muslims from the island. In preparation for the battle, de Valette had a sword commissioned with the Rosary engraved on the sword! Despite this defeat, the Ottomans regrouped to strike again. Knowing the real threat to Christendom, Dominican Pope, St Pius V, called for an assembly of an army, a Holy League, to defeat the Islamic threat with two kinds of swords – that of steel and the other, the spiritual sword of the Rosary.

Pope St. Pius V used all the influence he had to get the Christian states of Spain, Naples, Sicily, Venice, Genoa, Sardinia, Savoy, Urbino, Papal States, Germans, and Croatians to assemble into the Holy League. Eight galleys from the eastern Adriatic coast of Croatia took part in the battle: from Kopar, Cres, Krk, Rab, Šibenik, Trogir, Hvar and Kotor. The largest among them was the ‘Cristo Ressussitato’ (“Resurrected Christ”) trireme from Krk under the command of the sopracomito Ljudevit Čikut, whose grave is located in the Krk Cathedral as the only known grave of a Croatian galley commander.

The 24 year old, Don Juan of Austria, was chosen by Pope St. Pius V to lead the fleet. Not only had he proven himself in battle defending attacks from the Moors in southern Spain, he was chosen by the Dominican Pope due to his devout Catholic belief and chivalric love for Our Lady, Queen of Heaven. It is said of him that he was the last true knight of Europe. Quoting direct from Fr Don Calloway’s book, Champions of the Rosary we read of Don Juan:

“ Indeed, Don Juan had been sent from God. The young captain knew that he was about to engage in a holy war with Islam. Prior to sailing off to war, he gave orders that all blasphemy was forbidden on his ships and required that all of his men fast for three days. He forbade women from entering his vessels, lest any of his men fall into sin of lust and mar their souls before battle. He ensured that his vessels would have Jesuits, Dominicans, Franciscans, and other priests available to hear confessions and grant absolution. He also distributed a rosary to every man in his armada. Then, on the eve of battle, leading by example, he required that all his men take the spiritual sword of the rosary into their hands and pray it – and they did”

Fr Calloway continues to describe how the morning of the battle saw each vessel celebrate Mass after which Don Juan, knowing that his men had been granted a plenary indulgence by St Pope Pius V, raised the banner of the Cross on his flagship and addressed his men:

“You have come to fight the battle of the Cross – to conquer or to die. But whether you die or conquer, do your duty this day, and you will secure a glorious immortality!”

While Don Juan was giving words of encouragement to the men assembled for the physical battle, St Pope Pius V was assembling a spiritual army of pray warriors. He encouraged public devotion to Our Lady and her rosary and called upon all the confraternities to pray the rosary for the Pope’s intentions. On the evening of October 6, 1571, the night before the decisive battle, the Pope led the rosary at the Dominican convent of Santa Maria Sopra Minivera in Rome. With tears in his eyes and rosary in his hand, he entrusted the fate of Christendom to the Queen of Heaven.

On the morning of October 7, 1571, the Holy League of 285 vessels and 70,000 men set sail to engage the Muslim fleet head on. Don Juan had no idea he was going to encounter a Muslim fleet, led by Ali Pasha, of more than 300 vessels and over 100,000 men. The battle lines were now set and both sides had vision of each other near the town of Lepanto (now Naupaktos), Greece. The Christian fleet was in the shape of a cross and at the blast of a trumpet, the Christian men all dropped to their knees in prayer as the Crucifix was raised on each vessel. The battle was now on. The galley from Krk ‘Cristo Ressussitato’ was positioned in the left wing as the twenty-eighth ship in the first naval row, and the success of that wing was crucial for the victory. When galleys on the right Ottoman wing began to retreat, this enabled the left wing to help the Christian forces in the centre and in the right wing.

Holy League Flag
Holy League Flag

However, there was a problem for the Holy League. They were sailing into a thick headwind blowing against them and a thick fog engulfed them rendering them poor visibility and conditions for battle. This gave the Ottomans great comfort but little did they know that Heaven had another directive. At the same time, confraternities were praying the Rosary and storming Heaven with a petition for victory. Incredibly, Heaven heard their prays and the weather shifted. The wind changed and the fog lifted and the weather now favoured the Holy League who came at the Ottomans at full speed. The battle lasted for five fierce hours. Spotting the flagship boat Ali Pasha was on, Don Juan pressed forward to engage it in collision and hand-to-hand combat. Full of trust in Jesus and Our Lady, filled with the spirit of God, Don Juan danced with full abandon and trust on the deck of his ship. This act enraged Ali Pasha, but it was short lived. A musket ball hit him in the forehead and killed him. An armed prisoner on the Muslim ship freed himself and cut off what he could find of Ali Pasha’s head and hoisted it on a spike. The banner of Ali Pasha was captured and later taken to St Pope Pius who later displayed it at the Lateran Basilica. The Ottomans suffered a great loss, losing almost all their vessels. The Christians were able to free Christian galley slaves and the Holy League only lost 12 vessels. It was a complete victory for the Christians.

That evening, St Pope Pius V was in Rome in a meeting and suddenly got up and went to the window and as if in ecstasy, had a vision. He turned back to those in the room and jubilantly exclaimed, “Victory! Victory!”. The vision occurred more than 2 weeks before official word arrived in Rome from Venice. A decisive battle for Western civilisation by sea was won, just like the Croatian led army in Siget (Szigetvár) saved western civilisation on land.

The Battle of Lepanto victory was attributed by St Pope Pius V to our Lady of the Rosary. All knew this to be true. The Venetian senate had inscribed on a chapel dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary the inscription: “Neither valour, nor arms, nor armies, but Our Lady of the Rosary gave us victory!”. St Pope Pius was so convinced of Our Lady’s intercession that the Feast of Our Lady of Victory was instituted on October 7. One year later, the Dominicans requested the feast to be specifically titled “Our Lady of the Rosary”. Pope Gregory XIII granted their request in 1573 and the first Sunday in October is celebrated as the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary which was extended to the entire Church by Pope Clement XI in 1716.

The news of the victory spread throughout Europe and in that year alone, the confraternity of the Rosary grew by 30,000 members in Rome alone. Upon reading of the battle, one has to pause in wonder and admiration at the Rosary and the intercession of Our Lady. The Rosary which is the meditation on the life of Christ and His Mother, inspires us in our own battles. We all have a Siege of Siget (Szigetvár) or Battle of Lepanto in our life. Some have bigger battles than others, but nevertheless they are battles – whether physical or spiritual. Looking at the inspiration of men like Nikola Zrinski and Don Juan, we should all wield our rosary in prayer and daily storm heaven with reciting it in devout prayer and trust in God. Our Lady did not abandon her champions in that decisive battle of Lepanto and it is our call to be champions of the Rosary in our time. I am certain, like the devout men who put their trust in their Heavenly mother’s intercession, she will not fail us.

Our national history teaches us how difficult it is to be a Croat and a Catholic at all times, and what it is like to die “za krst časni i slobodu zlatnu” (for the cross of honour and the golden freedom). I want to leave you with the famous last words of Nikola Zrinski, when tired from battle, and having only 600 hungry and tired men with him, still full of faith in God, roused his men and led them into one last charge in the battle of Siget (Szigetvár). Against all odds, he drew his sword, held it high, and declared his intention to fight to the last:

“Let us go out from this burning place into the open and stand up to our enemies. Who dies, he will be with God. Who dies not, his name will be honored. I will go first, and what I do, you do as well. And God as my witness – I will never leave you, my brothers and knights!”

Bog i Hrvati

History of the Holy Rosary – Part 1

History of the Holy Rosary – Part 2 – Rosary Revival by Blessed Alan de la Roche

 

Fear or Faith? The choice for Freedom

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

 

“. . . so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:45)

 

“. . .pray that they will all be one, just as You and I are one—as You are in Me, Father, and I am in You. And may they be in Us so that the world will believe You sent me.” (John 17:21)

With so much current world-wide confusion and mis-information surrounding the so-called Covid pandemic, the mandating of Covid vaccines and draconian ‘public health’ measures at present, many people and Catholics have presently found themselves in the position of being forced to choose a position on the issue. It is a position which, in more recent times, is being touted by governments as a choice for freedom. Freedom, they say, will only happen when certain vaccination targets are met to allow you a health passport. This freedom will allow you to travel freely, to work, to attend school and to attend public gatherings and restaurants. For those who refuse the vaccine the opposite is true – they will not be allowed to share in the privileges afforded to the vaccinated. This division in society as a whole (and even amongst Catholics) has essentially formed a rift between the vaccinated and the un-vaccinated – essentially having the unvaccinated treated like lepers or outcasts.

For the individual, this decision to jab or not to jab has to be based on something. Similarly, the way we may judge or treat a person who is jabbed or not jabbed is also based on something. Is this decision one based on fear or, by the power of God’s Spirit, one based on love and a sound mind? This blog does not aim to judge or criticise a decision made by any person regarding vaccination, but rather it aims to offer a reflection on the decision-making process, specifically, to help the reader discern which spirit it is that inspires our decisions.

So what exactly is freedom? According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church,

“Freedom is the power, rooted in reason and will, to act or not to act, to do this or that, and so to perform deliberate actions on one’s own responsibility. By free will one shapes one’s own life. Human freedom is a force for growth and maturity in truth and goodness; it attains its perfection when directed toward God, our beatitude.” (CCC #1731)

So freedom is the ability to act or not to act using one’s reason (i.e. being informed), to make a free choice, which if directed toward God, attains perfection. Freedom is not the idea that I can do what I want and go where I will, as these actions can in themselves be good or evil, but rather, freedom is achieved by doing what you should do, being informed by reason, and has the glory of God as its final end. Following this logic, one can see that freedom is not achieved if a decision is made from a place of fear or coercion, as the following statement from the Catechism states:

“Imputability and responsibility for an action can be diminished or even nullified by ignorance, inadvertence, duress, fear, habit, inordinate attachments, and other psychological or social factors.” (CCC #1735)

Remembering stories my late father would tell me, I cannot help but reflect on our Croatian forefathers who had difficult choices to make for themselves and for their families. Under the Communist rule of former Yugoslavia, Croatians were offered the communist passport as a means of attaining certain privileges like better jobs, schooling, government housing, and a generally improved status and way of life. This passport, which was a physical manifestation of a choice for the Socialist Party of Yugoslavia, came at the expense of renouncing the Catholic faith and elements of the true Croatian national identity. Choosing to uphold the Catholic faith meant you were given less or no entitlements, little or no freedoms, the lowest jobs or positions and, in some circumstances, even death.

Countless Croatian Catholic religious, priests and faithful were suppressed or even imprisoned for their choices, as in the case of Blessed Alojzije Stepinac. The ruling communists offered Blessed Stepinac the choice to break away from Rome and head his own church, and in doing so, be granted the freedom and the privileges that came with that choice. As history relates, he chose to carry his cross in imitation of Christ and to be a faithful son of the Catholic Church. Other priests, who made similar choices to Blessed Stepinac, had to be hidden by the faithful, going house to house, hearing confessions, baptising, and celebrating Mass underground. It is clear to see that these heroic Croatians were not influenced by fear or the lure of false freedoms in making their choices, but chose bravely for true freedom, despite being treated as outcasts by the ruling socialists. They were certainly aware and informed of the consequences of not taking up the communist passport. They achieved freedom by maintaining their integrity, their faith, unity and in doing so, giving glory to God.

It is my observation, that there are two types of Christians, those who primarily act out of fear and those that primarily act in faith. Fear is to the devil what faith is to God. When we act out of fear, we’re giving permission to the devil to lead us because that is primarily how he acts upon us – through fear and deception. God, on the other hand, has given us His Holy Spirit in Baptism and Confirmation, which is, as St Paul tells us, a spirit of power, and of love and of a sound mind. We received this spirit of faith when our parents brought us forward for Baptism and when we were initiated and equipped as soldiers of Christ with the gifts of the Holy Spirit at our Confirmation. But how many of us act out of fear rather than in faith and with a sound mind?

Many years ago I came across the inspirational true story of the 40 Holy Martyrs of Sebaste. I could not help but see the parallels between what they went through and the experience of our Croatian forefathers, an experience we are encountering ourselves and seeing played out in this day and age.

The 40 Holy Martyrs are commemorated on March 10. In the year 320 AD the Holy Martyrs died at the hand of Emperor Licinius who persecuted Christians, particularly in the East. We first hear of the Martyrs in a eulogy-type sermon delivered by St Basil. He relates how these 40 men were faithful and trusted soldiers in Cappadocia under Governor Agricola. Agricola found out that he had 40 soldiers who were Christians, and following the edict of Licinius, tried to force them to worship idols. Refusing to sacrifice to the Roman idols, all the 40 soldiers were jailed for eight days, beaten with stones, but at the same time also lured with gifts to give up their minds. Sound familiar? Rather than giving in to achieve freedom, they stood their ground in faith and fidelity to Christ. As a result, they were sentenced to death by freezing in the Sebaste Lake in the province of Armenia. The martyrs were herded naked into the lake, at dusk, in the middle of winter. Some soldiers were stationed around the lake to guard the martyrs so they wouldn’t get out. To coerce and entice the future martyrs, Agricola’s soldiers made warm baths and fires near the lake’s edge in an attempt to tempt the martyrs to emerge from the water and to warm themselves up first, and then to subsequently change their minds and sacrifice to the Roman gods.

This situation, to choose the proposed freedom, is the decision facing all of us today. In Australia the vaccines are heavily promoted, marketed, and coerced upon the population. Sure, the Federal government has said vaccines are not mandatory, but they have given private employers and corporations the impetus to mandate vaccines. No jab, no job is the slogan of the rule. Another slogan is no jab, no entry. If you are not vaccinated you cannot travel, nor enjoy the freedoms of eating out at a restaurant, nor enter a shop or public event. This is what is proposed to the people. Have the experimental vaccine and the government and businesses will reward you with freedom.

You may be saying that this isn’t about religion, it is about health. That is not completely true. It is, in fact, also about religion. Our Churches are closed! We are not able to attend Mass, receive the Eucharist or the Sacrament of Confession, baptise our children nor bury our dead freely. And yet, our churches are and have been used as vaccination hubs! It isn’t safe in the eyes of some to worship with the faithful lining up in the pews, but it is safe to line up in Church for the jab!

But even the Pope and our bishops have encouraged the vaccines you may say. Yes, this is true however they are not doctors or experts in this field. The Pope is just giving his personal opinion as a bishop. It does not carry the infallible authority given on a matter of dogma or faith such as that when he speaks ex-cathedra (from the chair of St Peter). His opinion should be listened to and considered in the same manner as all opinions, but the individual must then base his or her decision not solely on the weight of opinions but on the basis of accurate information gleaned from a variety of credible, unbiased sources (with no conflict of interest). The governments and religious institutions have made it a pandemic of the unvaccinated and our bishops have left us with the pandemic of the unbaptised and the un-absolved; a pandemic of the un-evangelised; a pandemic of the starving, made up of those who are unable to receive the Eucharist, the source and summit of the Christian life.

I do not want to make this blog a ‘medical science’ blog. But for the person who wants to be informed (not by politicians but by peer reviewed medical journals and the silenced medical experts such as Dr Robert Malone the inventor of the mRNA vaccines) it is clear that the vaccines have not done what they were proposed to do. If jabbed, you can still contract the virus with breakthrough infections, pass on the virus just as much as the unvaccinated, and end up in hospital and die from the virus at a rate no lower than the unvaccinated. This is all evident in the northern hemisphere nations that have the highest vaccination rates, such as Israel, Malta, Iceland and the UK. If one searches properly for this information with the purpose of being accurately informed (click on hyperlinks in article), one will discover that this is the result being observed, questioning the efficacy of the vaccines.

One thing is certain – ‘no jab, no freedom’ is the cry of governments world-wide and it has caused division amongst families, work places, society and even amongst states, territories and countries. Through my extensive research into medical peer-reviewed published journals, I have not found evidence anywhere that the unvaccinated are a threat to anybody, especially to the vaccinated. Yet the governments continue to segregate society with their mandates and their threats to the unvaccinated of withheld freedoms and privileges via so-called ‘health’ or ‘green’ passports. Our good God makes it rain or shine on the good and the bad. It should be Heaven’s passport we are more concerned about.

Continuing the story of the martyrs, we learn that upon being forced to undress and enter the cold waters of the lake, one of the martyrs exclaimed:

“We don’t take off our clothes, but we take off the old man. Winter is harsh, but the Paradise is sweet; the cold is strong, but the delight is pleasant”.

This response has the power of the Holy Spirit as its author. It is power. It is love. It is of a sound mind. There is no fear in this statement. If the response was one made out of fear or coercion, they would have jumped out of the icy water at the thought of death and ran to their bodily freedom.

After a while of suffering the cold and being tempted to take the world’s concept of freedom, one of the original 40 soldiers gave up, deciding that he would comply and sacrifice to the Roman gods. He left the 39 in the lake, and hurrying toward the heated baths and fire on the lake’s edge, died on the spot, as his body could not handle the rapid temperature change.

But that night an unusual miracle occurred: the lake’s water warmed, the ice melted, and 39 shiny crowns came down from heaven upon the martyrs. This miracle was witnessed by only one guard, the only one who remained awake, called Aglaius, who counted only 39 crowns, and then realized that one of the 40 had run out of the water and had died. Aglaius then woke the other sleeping guards, stripped his clothes and jumped into the lake, shouting “I am a Christian too” and in doing so, taking the number of martyrs once again to 40. At dawn, the Saints were removed alive from the lake and executed and burnt so that the faithful would not have relics. Thus, the Holy Martyrs entered Heaven on the true and only passport, stamped with their love and fidelity to Christ.

So what are we to learn from this story of the 40 Martyrs of Sebaste and the actions of our Croatian forefathers? Certainly that fear and coercion are the vehicles of the devil. They do not provide true freedom.

What should the vaccinated do? They should pray. Pray, repent, confess their sins (and to a priest as soon as possible) and pray that the body of Christ (the Church) may be one. They should pray for the ending of this pandemic and not treat the unvaccinated as if they were lepers.

But those who are vaccinated should not be judged by the unvaccinated. What should the unvaccinated do? They, too, should pray. They should not judge those who, for whatever reason, chose to get the jab. But they should stand firm in their decision not to acquiesce to all the pressure. They will be offered prizes to become vaccinated. They will be offered the warmth of a secure job, travel, and the ability to move freely, thus sparing them the coldness of isolation, but they should stay strong and hold their line. Expect to see the vaccinated freely congregating in restaurants, public areas etc. Pray that those in government and our bishops do not force or coerce people to get vaccinated out of fear. They will use this emotion and coercion to make the ones holding out break – like the soldier who saw the warmth of the hot baths on the side of the lake. Do not break ranks. Hold your line!

What is coming? More of the same. If we look at the northern hemisphere and countries like France, the people are revolting. Vaccinated and unvaccinated alike are banding together – holding the line. They do not want to bow down to the idols of their governments who are just pushing for more lockdowns, more vaccines and more restrictions.

The fight is far from over. But take heart, for the Lord has already won the victory. Just as Christ suffered for us, so too will the body of Christ have to suffer. We are living in times that were long prophesied. We did not choose these times. Our good God chose us to live in these times, to be saints; to hold fast to the mercy and love of God and to live the Gospel value proclaimed by Jesus. If you find yourself combatting the spirit of fear, turn immediately to Jesus, remembering His words: “It is I. Do not be afraid” (John 6:20). Do not fear. Jesus is with you always. In humility cry out to the Lord. Stand firm. “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” (1 John 4:18). Like the 40 Holy Martyrs of Sebaste, hold your line. Do not listen to fear, but rather with the power of the Holy Spirit of God, have faith, love and have a sound mind. I urge you all – hold the line, whether you are vaccinated or unvaccinated. We are all children of God. Stand firm against mandates based on fear. Resist coercion for health passports. Instead, pray and repent. Confess your sins. Storm heaven with your prayers and sacrifices for the opening up of our churches. Stop the pandemic of the un-baptised the un-absolved and the famine of the Eucharist. Let nothing stop you seeking your daily food – the Eucharist.

I want to leave you with a psalm to meditate on – a soldier’s psalm.

Psalm 91
You who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,
will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust.’
For He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence;
He will cover you with His pinions,
and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear the terror of the night, or the arrow that flies by day,
or the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
or the destruction that wastes at noonday.
A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.
You will only look with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.
Because you have made the Lord your refuge, the Most High your dwelling-place,
no evil shall befall you,
no scourge come near your tent.
For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.
On their hands they will bear you up,
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the adder,
the young lion and the serpent you will trample under foot.
Those who love Me, I will deliver;
I will protect those who know My name.
When they call to Me, I will answer them; I will be with them in trouble,
I will rescue them and honour them.
With long life I will satisfy them, and show them My salvation.

Faithful Catholic soldier – Stand firm and do not fear!

Bog i Hrvati

 

 

 

Definition of Coercion

The broad definition of coercion is “the use of express or implied threats of violence or reprisal (as discharge from employment) or other intimidating behaviour that puts a person in immediate fear of the consequences in order to compel that person to act against his or her will.” Actual violence, threats of violence, or other acts of pressure may constitute coercion if they’re used to subvert an individual’s free will or consent.

In legal terms, it’s often said that someone who’s been coerced was acting under duress. In fact, “duress” and “coercion” are often interchanged. Black’s Law Dictionary defines duress as “any unlawful threat or coercion used… to induce another to act [or to refrain from acting] in a manner [they] otherwise would not [or would].”

Heaven’s Passport – The Pandemic of the Non-Believers

Contagious Faith

HISTORY of the HOLY ROSARY – Part 2

Rosary Revival by Blessed Alan de la Roche

During my teenage years, growing up in a Croatian household, we continued to pray the family Rosary on Wednesday’s and Friday’s. Like most teenagers of that era – as now – I became more interested in sports, playing football and computer games and sadly falling into sin. My fond memories and excitement of the Rosary devotions taught to me by my parents in my childhood, set my foundation in knowledge of Christ and his Blessed Mother. But, I started to lose fervour and zeal.

In researching the content for this blog, I wasn’t aware, that while St Dominic preached the Rosary and achieved success in battling the heresies of his time by converting sinners, its momentum and excitement eventually waned. Like as when any great movement or spiritual good starts, the devil, knowing the Rosary of the Virgin Mary will be both the instrument and weapon of his defeat, no doubt interferes and people neglect the Rosary. This initial zeal followed by a lack of inspiration or desire, is paralleled with some who journey in the spiritual life. While loving the Rosary as a child and looking forward to praying it, temptations, sin and distractions were prominent in my teenage years (and I continue to battle them) which led me away from my initial enthusiasm and fervour.

In his book, Fr Don Calloway, Champions of the Rosary, describes how the sword of the rosary was forged, unsheathed, and entrusted to St Dominic. During the early 13th century Europe experienced a rise of Medicant orders, St Dominic and St Francis appeared on the scene. The Franciscan orders were instrumental in reform of religious life as was St Dominic. This was followed by the golden age of scholasticism.

After the initial success by St Dominic and his preaching of the Rosary the Confraternity of Prayer was established. Europe found itself in tragic times in the 14th & 15th centuries. The Babylonian captivity of the popes (1309-1377), saw the removal of the Papal seat from Rome to Avignon on the borderland of France. For nearly 70 years, the popes, all Frenchmen, were under the influence of French kings. The Bubonic (Black) Plague struck in 1348 and saw countless people die. It is estimated that Europe lost a third to half of its population, to this plague. Then came the great schism of the west (1378-1417) during which time we had two popes claiming the papacy and even at one stage three.

At the same time the Ottoman threat was advancing from the south east. The Siege and conquest of Constantinople (1453) by the Ottomans and their march into southern Europe through Greece (Athens captured 1458) then the conquest of Serbia in 1459, Bosna fell into Ottoman hands in 1463. Fear seized Europe, once again, at the threat of Ottoman invasion.

This threat and scenario is not too dissimilar to today. In 2021, we see the Covid pandemic and its effects, resulting in loss of life, people living in fear of disease and death and the closing of Church’s and places of worship. There are disagreements and confusion in the Church amongst Bishop’s over issues such as abortion, contraception, illicit unions and the worthy reception of Holy Communion. The persecution of Christians in the Middle East by extremist Jihadists and the influx of Muslims into Europe poses a constant threat to Christian culture. People are living with a lack of hope and faith in God which is growing faster than any plague or infection. The closing of Church’s has caused a pandemic of the un-baptised and the un-absolved, as the faithful are denied access to the Sacraments.

Yet, God never abandon’s His people! Through these turbulent times He is always calling us back to Himself. He gave us some great saints – St Vincent Ferrer, St Joan of Arc, St John of Capistrano to name a few. The imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis was published around 1418 -1427. The printing press was invented by Johann Gutenberg in 1455, and the first book printed was the Holy Bible. With this invention, books could be produced in large quantities in a short period of time.

Even though we may wander and turn our back to God, he always remains faithful. While enduring the trials faced by the people in the 14th and 15th Century and looking for God’s Mercy, Our Lady appeared to the Dominican, Blessed Alan de la Roche (literally translated Alan of the Rock) during the 15th century. According to St Louis de Montfort in his great work “The Secret of the Rosary”, he recounts how Our Lady appeared on several occasions to Blessed Alan encouraging him to preach the Rosary of which devotion had been lost. St Louis de Montfort continues:

“Blessed Alan began this great work in 1460 after a special warning from Our Lord. This is how he received His urgent message, as he tells it himself:

One day when he was saying Holy Mass, Our Lord, who wished to spur him on to preach the Holy Rosary, spoke to him in the Sacred Host:

“How can you crucify Me again so soon?” Jesus said.

“What did You say, Lord?” asked Blessed Alan, horrified.

“You crucified Me once before by your sins,” answered Jesus, “and I would willingly be crucified again rather than have My Father offended by the sins you used to commit. You are crucifying Me again now because you have all the learning and understanding that you need to preach My Mother’s Rosary, and you are not doing so. If you only did this you could teach many souls the right path and lead them away from sin – but you are not doing it and so you yourself are guilty of the sins that they commit.”

This terrible reproach made Blessed Alan solemnly resolve to preach the Rosary unceasingly.

Our Lady too spoke to him one day to inspire him to preach the Holy Rosary more and more:

“You were a great sinner in your youth,” she said, “but I obtained the grace of your conversion from my Son. Had such a thing been possible I would have liked to have gone through all kinds of suffering to save you because converted sinners are a glory to me. And I would have done this also to make you worthy of preaching my Rosary far and wide”

St Dominic appeared to Blessed Alan, as well, and told him of the great results of his ministry: he had preached the Holy Rosary unceasingly, his sermons had borne great fruit and many people had been converted during his missions. He said to Blessed Alan:

“See the wonderful results I have had through preaching the Holy Rosary! You and all those who love Our Lady ought to do the same that, by means of this holy practice of the Rosary, you may draw all people to the real science of the virtues.”

Reflecting on this revival, I can’t help but feel that Our Lady obtained for me a grace to restore the passion for the Rosary in my life. At the age 17, I was given a little booklet on Our Lady Queen of Peace, a booklet with some of the messages from Our Lady at Medjugorije. Her message spoke to my heart, allowing me to see the horror of my sinful ways and once again I found myself a keen devotee of the Rosary and with the help of Our Lady and God’s grace continue to see the benefits in my life – both physical and spiritual. I have often felt Our Lady’s help in gently guiding me onto the right path each time I have strayed and the praying of the Rosary has been the key instrument. As St Louis de Monfort recorded, St Dominic speaking to Blessed Alan, the practice of the holy Rosary continues to draw people (including myself) into the real science of practicing virtues. I am sure that those who practice devotion to the Holy Rosary will, too, find the grace of conversion and the inspiration to learn and practice virtue.

I am also convinced now, more than ever, that Our Lady and her Rosary, are key to thee victory over the threats we see in Christian society today. To end the adverse consequences imposed by the Covid endemic, the threat to Christianity by Islam, and the errors of Modernism infiltrating the Church instilling so much confusion and uncertainty, fueling the mass exodus from the Church and the great apostasy. The Church needs, once again, faithful sons and daughters, like Blessed Alan, to revive the reciting of the Rosary. Personal Rosary, Family Rosary and Communal Rosary. When one reads the promises to those who faithfully recite the Rosary, given by Our Lady to St Dominic and Blessed Alan, it is clear, that it is a vital arsenal in Christian warfare, the ultimate and Heavenly tool, next to the Sacraments to fight sin and heresy. The 15 promises are listed here:

Imparted to Saint Dominic and Blessed Alan
1. Whoever shall faithfully serve me by the recitation of the Rosary, shall receive signal graces.

2. I promise my special protection and the greatest graces to all those who shall recite the Rosary.

3. The Rosary shall be a powerful armour against hell, it will destroy vice, decrease sin, and defeat heresies.

4. The Rosary will cause virtue and good works to flourish; it will obtain for souls the abundant mercy of God; it will withdraw the hearts of men from the love of the world and its vanities, and will lift them to the desire for eternal things. Oh, that souls would sanctify themselves by this means.

5. The soul which recommends itself to me by the recitation of the Rosary, shall not perish.

6. Whoever shall recite the Rosary devoutly, applying himself to the consideration of its sacred mysteries shall never be conquered by misfortune. God will not chastise him in His justice, he shall not perish by an unprovided death; if he be just he shall remain in the grace of God, and become worthy of eternal life.

7. Whoever shall have a true devotion for the Rosary shall not die without the sacraments of the Church.

8. Those who are faithful to recite the Rosary shall have during their life and at their death the light of God and the plenitude of His graces; at the moment of death they shall participate in the merits of the saints in paradise.

9. I shall deliver from Purgatory those who have been devoted to the Rosary.

10. The faithful children of the Rosary shall merit a high degree of glory in Heaven.

11. You shall obtain all you ask of me by the recitation of the Rosary.

12. All those who propagate the Holy Rosary shall be aided by me in their necessities.

13. I have obtained from my Divine Son that all the advocates of the Rosary shall have for intercessors the entire celestial court during their life and at the hour of death.

14. All who recite the Rosary are my sons and daughters, and brothers and sisters of my only Son Jesus Christ.

15. Devotion of my Rosary is a great sign of predestination.

I relayed earlier how the Rosary, as a weapon was forged and unsheathed when presented to St Dominic by Our Lady. The Rosary is a weapon. And as men, it is the greatest weapon we need, to wield in our mission as men, husbands, fathers and brothers. Blessed Alan certainly had this in mind when he preached. Fr Calloway tells how restoring the confraternity of the Rosary to almost 100,000, Blessed Alan, had the inspiration that the Rosary should be worn around the shoulder, like one wears a sling for a quiver, or from the belt, as a knight wears a sword. This style of wearing the Rosary helped reinforce the idea that the Rosary is a spiritual weapon.

Blessed Alan was a champion of the Rosary in a time the world most needed a guiding light and a return to prayer and conversion. This call is for you, Croatian men! Take up your weapon. Be a champion of Our Lady and Her Rosary. The world, in 2021, needs men to unsheathe this weapon, to faithfully recite the Rosary, destroy sin and heresy, and convert sinners. Men it is time to set your heart and world on fire!

 

 

“The Rosary is a powerful weapon to put the demons to flight and to keep oneself from sin…If you desire peace in your hearts, in your homes, and in your country, assemble each evening to recite the Rosary. Let not even one day pass without saying it, no matter how burdened you may be with many cares and labours.” – Pope Pius XI

Bog i Hravti

History of the Holy Rosary – Part 1

 

HISTORY of the HOLY ROSARY

HISTORY of the ROSARY – Part 1

My earliest memory of prayer and the Rosary go back to when I was a little boy. At 4 years of age, I remember my parents teaching me the prayers of the Rosary. I often remember finding my father in prayer with Rosary in hand and my mother in prayer with her Rosary. These memories extend to the family Rosary, with my siblings which we recited especially on Wednesday’s and Fridays, each passing around the Rosary and taking a turn leading a decade. Although, I consider it a part of my growing up and an important factor in my spiritual life, I did not know nor understand the importance or the history of the Rosary. I just knew, in our Croatian household – we pray the Rosary!

The Rosary has been a major form of prayer in traditional Catholic history and has been the prayer of choice for many a Saint and devout Catholic, while for others, it has been more of an ornament, a decoration, hanging on the rear vision mirror of a car, or a Hollywood celebrity wearing it around their neck as a fashion statement. Rosaries are not decorations. History has shown many battles won because people prayed the Rosary. There have been countless hearts converted, heresy vanquished and impossible intentions answered too!

The aim of this first blog in a 5-part series, is to explore the origins of the Rosary. Most people don’t know about the origins of the Rosary nor how it came into existence. Prayers with beads like the Rosary, were practiced by monks in early Christian monasticism while they prayed the Liturgy of the Hours, praying the 150 Psalms daily. As many of the laity, and even lay monastics could not read, they substituted 150 repetitions of the Psalms with the Our Father (Pater Noster in Latin), sometimes using a cord with knots to keep an accurate count. This form of prayer became known as “the poor man’s breviary”.

Fr Don Calloway, in his book titled “Champions of the Rosary” relates how these prayer beads became known as “Paternoster beads” and many saints and Christians, even Crusaders up until the 13th Century, wore the beads as part of their religious attire. Just prior to the 13th Century, Cistercian monks, particularly men like St Bernard of Clairvaux (1090 – 1153 AD) and Blessed Isaac of Stella (1100-1170 AD) began to interpret the Psalms with a Marian dimension and influence and very soon the monks turned the prayer beads into another version. Very soon the Marian Psalter was made up of 150 Hail Mary’s divided into groups of 10 – called decades – interspersed with 15, Our Fathers.

This development made me reflect on how my own knowledge of the Rosary developed, with my parents teaching me the prayers contained in the Rosary, prayer by prayer until I was able to completely say the entire Rosary. I was taught the Our Father, the Hail Mary, Glory be, Apostles Creed, etc. Very soon, I was able to meditate on the mysteries while reciting these prayers. As I grew in spirituality, so did my knowledge of the prayers of the Rosary as well as the life of Christ and the Virgin Mary and knowledge of Biblical events. This set my foundation in the life of Christ as well as developing a routine that made time for prayer and meditation.

Turning to the 13th Century, the Church was engaged in a great battle against a heresy called Albigensianism, which taught that only the spiritual is good and that everything material is bad. The body was seen as evil and that a person’s soul is imprisoned in that evil body. A Spanish priest, St Dominic Guzman, traveled into France to preach against that heresy. An article in the Catholic Encyclopedia relates the legend of how St Dominic received the Rosary. St Dominic preached against the heresy and performed many fasts and penances, but was not achieving much success. Legend has it, that after retreating to a house near Franjeaux in 1208, he prayed and fasted for 3 days and nights, after which Our Lady appeared to him accompanied by three angels.

Our Lady said, “Dear Dominic, do you know which weapon the Blessed Trinity wants to use to reform the world”? “Oh, my Lady,” answered St Dominic, “you know far better than I do, because next to your Son Jesus Christ you have always been the chief instrument of our salvation.” Then our Lady replied, “I want you to know that, in this kind of warfare, the principal weapon has always been the Angelic Psalter, which is the foundation-stone of the New Testament. Therefore, if you want to reach these hardened souls and win them over to God, preach my Psalter.”

With this spiritual weapon, St Dominic rose and went quickly to the Cathedral and preached with zeal and passion, teaching and preaching the Rosary and with its power converting sinners and heretics. As Fr Don Calloway relates, this “was the moment the sword was unsheathed”.

In 1213, only five years after St Dominic was given the Rosary, Catholic forces under the command of Count Simon de Montfort were set to fight the Albigensians in Muret, a small town near Toulouse, France. The Albigensian heresy, determined to take over France, further spreading their heretical beliefs. The 1500 strong Catholics decided to make a stance and fight their foe of 30,000. The odds were against the Catholics, but little did the Albigensians know about heaven’s weapon! Confident of their upcoming success, the Albigensians spent the night before the battle celebrating in drunkenness and debauchery. The Catholics, on the other hand, spent their night, praying the Rosary with Holy Mass and the Sacrament of Confession. Finally, St Dominic went to the Church of Saint-Jacques in Muret to pray the Rosary for victory, while the Count went into battle. The Catholics were able to rush upon the hung-over Albigensians, routing the enemy army and declaring a victory for Christ and Our Lady. After the battle, every Catholic in the area attributed the victory to the Rosary.

This victory was a major setback for the Albigensian heresy and the power of the Rosary and the preaching of St Dominic achieved great success in defeating this heresy and error. As we continue to fight against heretics of one sort or another in our current day and age, this year we celebrate 800 years since the death of St Dominic and we remember him as a champion of the most Holy Rosary. The Rosary, a gift given by Our Lady all those years ago to St Dominic, remains a vital tool to winning the battle of good versus evil, and Truth versus falsehood.

Our next blog will explore further development of the Rosary and its revival by Blessed Alan de la Roche.

Bog i Hravti

HOLY ROSARY CRUSADE OF REPARATION – WAKE UP AUSTRALIA AND TURN BACK TO GOD!

“Yet even now,” says the LORD, “return to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the LORD, your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from sending calamity.” Joel 2:12-13

The goal of this “Holy Rosary Crusade” is to make reparation and to witness to the larger community, calling all to repent and to turn back to God. Things will only get better if we all repent and turn back to God.

For those that want to join us the following is recommended;

HOLY MASS AND ROSARY

  • DAILY online Holy Mass, Spiritual Communion and praying the Rosary.

PILGRIMAGE ON THE FEAST OF THE ASSUMPTION – SUNDAY 15 AUGUST 2021

  • On Sunday 15 August (the Feast of the Assumption), make a personal pilgrimage to your local Catholic Church (either before or after online Holy Mass), as part of your daily outdoor exercise.
  • Pray the rosary on the way and wear something religious or carry a statue, crucifix or banner to witness to the wider community. Once outside the Church, kneel and pray the rosary in reparation.

54 DAY ROSARY NOVENA & ACTS OF PENANCE – 15 AUGUST TO 7 OCTOBER 2021

  • From 15 August, we will continue this initiative by praying the 54-day rosary novena (see resources section below) and acts of penance in reparation until 7 October, the Feast Day of Our Lady of the Rosary– with weekly personal pilgrimages to our local Catholic Churches (or daily for those that can).
  • Acts of penance – fasting on Wednesday’s and Friday’s (bread and water for those that can).

FEAST OF OUR LADY OF THE ROSARY – THURSDAY 7 OCTOBER 2021

  • On Thursday 7 October (the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary), make a personal pilgrimage to your local Catholic Church (either before or after online Holy Mass), as part of your daily outdoor exercise.
  • Renew and/or perform act of consecration to Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary. (see resources section below)

Continue above until our Churches are re-opened without restrictions.

Join us and share with others!

Stand Firm in the Lord – Fear Not!

JESUS SAID: “Do not fear! Only Believe!” Mark 5:36

RESOURCES

Devetnica Gospi od Svete Krunice

54 Day Rosary Novena

Consecration to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

Act of Reparation to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

Act of Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Holy Rosary Crusade of Reparation Flyer

Holy Rosary Crusade Poster A4

Holy Rosary Crusade Poster A3

Heaven’s Passport – The Pandemic of the Non-Believers

The Pandemic of the Non-Believers

“Government mandates for COVID – mask wearing, lockdowns, social distancing, sanitising, vaccines, and now vaccine or health passports.” These are words which are continuously bombarding us through the television, newspapers, social media and even in our personal conversations. Their subject, COVID, has so gripped the whole world with fear that it has become the predominating focus and attention of almost every person on this planet. But at what cost?

I am a father of 4 children. My youngest, who is 7 years old, made a statement recently that stopped me in my tracks. She said, “Dad, I can’t remember what life was like before COVID”. For a second, completely taken aback, I had no words with which to reply to her. My daughter’s comment forced me to hold back the tears that were welling inside of me for her, and not only for her, but for all who were feeling like her. The sadness in her voice impelled me to turn to deep contemplation, reflection and prayer.

Whether COVID is man-made or naturally occurring, whether people are dying with COVID or from COVID, whether vaccines work or don’t work, the heart of the matter is that our churches are closed. The faithful are denied access to rightful worship of God and the sacraments. The great apostasy has, and is, occurring – there has already been a great exodus of Catholics leaving the Church, and a great many of those who remain are denying the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, denying the power of the sacraments, and accepting abortion and illicit unions. The errors and heresy of Modernism are running rampant. Church closures, sanctioned by the majority of our bishops, have only added fuel to this great departure from the faith. The confusion and lack of direction from our bishops is clearly apparent. This great apostasy is the real pandemic!

People are being conditioned to invest their trust into science and the government for their protection and livelihood. They have abandoned or forgotten God in their greatest time of need. One has only to look at human and Church history throughout the Scriptures and throughout past ages to see that we have been here before. How quick we are to forget!

The Old Testament records various outbreaks of endemic disease, perhaps not too dissimilar to coronavirus, which prompts one to ask why God permits endemic diseases. In the Bible God expressly tells us that the reason He sends plagues and diseases on His people and on His enemies is “to make you see My power” (Exodus 9:14, 16). God sent plagues on Egypt to force Pharaoh to free the Israelite’s from bondage, while sparing His people from their effects thus indicating His sovereign control over diseases and other afflictions (Exodus 12:13; 15:26). God also warned His people of the consequences of persisting in sin, one of which is being afflicted by plague (Leviticus 26:21, 25). Two such occasions are recorded in the Scriptures – one where 14,700 people died (Numbers 16:49) and another where 24,000 people died (Numbers 25:9) in a plague sent by God. After giving the Mosaic Law, God commanded the people to obey it or else suffer many evils, including disease and plague (Deuteronomy 28:22). These are just a few examples highlighting the plagues and diseases sent by God in response to sin.

It can be hard to imagine a loving and merciful God displaying such anger and wrath toward His people. But God’s punishments always have the goal of repentance and restoration. We read in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

“The fact that God permits physical and even moral evil is a mystery that God illuminates by his Son Jesus Christ who died and rose to vanquish evil. Faith gives us the certainty that God would not permit an evil if he did not cause a good to come from that very evil, by ways that we shall fully know only in eternal life”. (#324)

This is echoed in the book of Chronicles in the Bible, when God says to Solomon:

“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:13-14).

There is no doubt that the disease called coronavirus and the effects of this so-called pandemic have adversely affected humanity. Rather than moving closer to God and seeking His forgiveness in a spirit of humility, humanity is moving further away from God, a God who can heal both body and soul (Matthew 10:28). I am not discrediting or belittling the benefits of modern medical science that is used to serve bodily health, but this unwavering faith in modern science has come at the price of trust in God, Lord of both the body and soul.

In Biblical times of plague, kings and priests had no trouble humbling themselves through fasting and prayer and the putting on of ashes and sackcloth as public manifestations of their interior repentance (cf. 2 Kings 19:1; Joel 1:13). Where is this manifestation of repentance today? Where is the call for public repentance through prayer and fasting to the laity and the clergy from our bishops and priests? Where are the public processions and Masses offered specifically for an end to this pandemic?

In the year 590 AD, Pope Gregory I called on the entire Church in Rome to process from their seven regions to Santa Maria Maggiore in solemn prayer asking God for pardon to end the plague which besieged the city for 50 years at that time. Legend has it that St. Michael the Archangel ended the plague by standing on the Mausoleum of Hadrian and sheathing his sword to show that the people’s prayers had been answered.

One of the worst pandemics in history – the Black Death Plague (or the Bubonic Plague) – was also the setting for a prime example of the Church and her bishops leading the people in prayer and repentance. During the Black Death Plague, in 1348, Pope Clement VI, in consultation with the Bishops, had the Votive Mass in Times of Pestilence said. The people repented and fasted and attended the Votive Mass for the Deliverance from Death in Time of Pestilence. Why is this not happening today? Why are our Church leaders not calling for this Mass and not calling for repentance, prayer and fasting? Instead, churches are closed and the faithful are advised to stay home, obey government orders and follow medical advice given by politicians.

It is time for the faithful once again to make a public stance by witnessing to the importance of repentance, prayer and fasting. It is time to put on sackcloth and ashes like the people of the Old Testament. If the bishops and priests do not once again say the Mass to end the plague and lead the people into repentance, then it could very well be that the laity will have to lead by example. My daughter does not remember what life was like before COVID. I do not want this to be the ‘new normal’, a life where churches are closed and deemed non-essential. I do not want my daughter to live through a life with no memory to recollect of her father, her mother and the faithful fighting for the Truth, fighting for the preservation of their faith, setting an example for future generations. And if this was to happen, and upon reaching the gates of Heaven, we would be able to show our Lord our credentials, that we were of the generation who fought for their faith, trusting in the Lord.

It is time for people to repent. It is time for bishops to open our churches and to say the Votive Mass to end this pandemic. It is time to social distance from sin, to stop infecting other people with talk that does not inspire or lead them to God. It is time for people to sanitise their souls in the Sacrament of Confession and to receive the only medicine that can sustain us, the Divine Physician Himself, the Bread of Life. It is time to take off the mask of vanity and lies, and allow faces of humility to shine through and seek God’s forgiveness.

What credentials will you show on your passport when you stand at Heaven’s door? What have you, Catholic man and father, done to protect your home from this pandemic, from the infection of sin entering your home, from taking and isolating your family members away from the One True Faith?

If you haven’t done so already, call a Catholic priest to bless your home and your family. Place a blessed crucifix in a prominent place in the home. Consecrate the house to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Enthrone the Sacred Heart as King of your home and family. Use blessed water and exorcised salt to keep the infection of sin away. Lockdown some time for praying with the Scriptures and spiritual reading. Arm yourselves with prayer, fasting and the family Rosary to increase your immunity. Our Blessed and Immaculate Mother will never abandon her children. Recall the story of St John Bosco in Turin during the cholera epidemic of 1854. He asked the young men he commissioned to visit the sick to carry an image (or medal) of the Virgin Mary with them and to pray regularly. None of them got infected. Men, you are being commissioned to do the same.

I want to leave you with the words of Saint Gregory the Great who said this during the pandemic in 590 AD:

“It is fitting, beloved brethren, that the punishment of God, the coming of which we should have feared, as we fear now when we bear this punishment. May this suffering, as a means of supplication, open the door to God, and the very suffering we endure would crush the stiffness of our hearts … So, let each of us seek protection in repentant lament, while there is time to cry.”

Will you do your part to end this pandemic? What credentials are on your Heaven’s passport?

Bog i Hrvati

Fear or Faith? The choice for Freedom

Contagious Faith

Miles Christi 2021 – “Call to Battle” – 3rd Annual Croatian Men’s Conference

Miles Christi 2021

Over the weekend of the 5-7th of March, 2021, the third annual Croatian Catholic Men’s conference – Miles Christi 2021, was held at St Benedict’s retreat Centre, Gross Vale. The conference saw 70 men, some with their sons, come together in Bratovstina, prayer, worship and hearing talks centred around the theme for this year – “Call to Battle”. The theme was inspired by the glorious event from our nation’s past back in 1900, when a staggering number of 160,000 young Croatians chose to engage in the battle, consecrating themselves to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Last year marked the 120th Anniversary of this amazing and unique event. In the introduction to the book marking this amazing event “Hrvatska Omladina” the then Archbishop of Zagreb Dr. Juraj Posilović wrote these words to the Croatian youth of the time.

“All of humanity is divided into two massive camps, two mighty armies, which engage in unceasing battle with each other. The one army is headed by Lucifer, the prince of this world; the other is headed by Jesus, the Living Son of God, our Divine Saviour.

 

Each person battles under the banner of one of these leaders because life on earth is a battle. Who is not with Christ, is against Christ. Dearest youth of Croatia! Under whose banner do you battle? To this question I hear……
“Isukrste, srcu Tvom s nama naš se kune dom:
dušom, tijelom vijek sam Tvoj, Za krst časni bijuć boj.”

 

Under the banner of the Sacred Heart of Jesus you battle, o blessed Croatian youth!”

Inspired by the example of our Croatian forefathers, the Holy Spirit and the love of God and their fellow man, the Croatian Australian men stood up to the Call to Battle. This battle which we see raging all around us, manifesting in ourselves, our families, our Church and our Homeland. For some it was their first time at the conference, while for others it was their second or third time.

Friday evening started with a talk by Jakov Periša, outlining the battle terrain. He spoke of the history of the spiritual battle and how with God, we can be victorious in Christ. Calling upon the memory of battles gone by, particularly the Croatian Alamo at the Siege of Gvozdansko, the Croatian man is called to be a witness to the Truth in this battle, living a life with a higher calling either as a white or red martyr. He reminded the men that the Croatian warrior has the highest calling to witness to Christ and it is engraved in our hearts and in our beloved grb. The witness of our Croatian forefathers is the seed on which our faith and nation was built on – rooted deeply in our Catholic faith. The brave Croatians, with fortitude and zeal, armed with the armour of God and their faith in Christ battled for centuries to defend their lands and Christianity from aggressors. The following video compiled for the conference recalls the heroic Croatian men.

Saturday, followed with more presentations, Mijo Tićinović talked about healing in both body and soul, a talk with his testimony, that touched a lot of the men. Ivica Kovac talked about brotherhood and that love that binds us Croatian men together as we battle for Christ under the Sacred Heart banner. Special guest, Danny Abdallah, spoke about fatherhood in the midst of tragedy as he shared his testimony and story of losing his 3 children and niece in a horrific accident just over a year ago. His story brought tears to the men’s eyes but strengthened their resolve to do battle as better men and fathers.

Fra Davor Filko was, as always, was forever present, serving the men saying Holy Mass and hearing Confessions assisted by TLM priest Fr Sypher on Saturday night. Men came forward to give their testimonies which greatly edified those present with their witness and conversion.

The Conference concluded on Sunday with a thanksgiving Mass, where all the men present, knelt and consecrated themselves to the Sacred Heart of Jesus reciting the consecration prayer written by Pope Leo XIII, the same prayer used by the 160,000 Croatian Youth 120 years ago. After the consecration the men in unison with voices lifted to the heavens and full of heart, sealed their consecration by singing a song that was specifically written for the consecration 120 years ago “Do Nebesa Nek Se Ori” (all six verse’s). I firmly believe we had 160,000 Croatians in heaven rejoicing with us, as we repeated the consecration and answered the call to battle, first offered by our youth at the turn of the 19th Century at the call of Pope Leo XIII.

This occasion 120 years ago, is a monumental occasion for the Croatian people and nation, and one that should never be forgotten, but remembered annually, with a renewal of consecration to the Sacred Heart. This year also reminds us of many important dates in our Croatian nation’s past. Dates of important people, events and battles which forged the way for the independent and free country of Croatia which we see today. The following video outlines some of these important dates.

The Lord blessed us greatly over the weekend. The following are short written testimonies of men who attended Miles Christi 2021 conference. The first two, are from men who had already been to previous conferences.

“This was my 2nd Croatian Catholic Men’s conference. Last years was incredibly beneficial to my spiritual growth and needs. I wasn’t sure I could attend this year due to other commitments. But ultimately, I decided to attend. And how glad am I that I did! The testimonials and talks were just what I needed. It’s easy to fall back into old, not-so-holy ways. Everything I heard and learnt at this conference was exactly what my mind, heart and soul needed. The weapons for spiritual warfare that were handed out to all attendees are not for mass destruction; they’re for mass healing, forgiving and loving! Looking forward to the 2022 conference! Bog i Hrvati” – Vic (Vjekoslav) Ambrozije Livaja

 

“After attending the last 2 conferences, I was worried that there wouldn’t be a lot of topics that I would be interested in, and that it would just be “more of the same” …. Boy was I wrong, it just keeps getting better and better every year.… I was grateful when I learnt that everything was recorded in some format including presentations and I am now eager to get back home and listen again to some of the talks that inspired me most. I now have more tools to grow in my faith and to protect my family.” – Paul Luketic

The testimony by Steve is a great summary of every aspect of the conference:

“Thanks again for organising an awesome weekend! Being able to separate yourself from daily life and devote quality time to the Lord was an amazing experience! Here are some of my thoughts on the weekend:

 

The presenters did a fantastic job, giving us men some practical advice on how to become a better man of Christ. The talks on love and healing were spot on – we’re all carrying some baggage with us, and hearing someone talk about steps to help let go of that baggage was something positive I took away and can hopefully implement.

 

The testimonies are one of the highlights of the weekend. The honest, raw outpouring of emotion is truly beautiful, and their stories are so inspiring. Tomislav’s journey is an inspiration, and seeing someone overcome their demons and come out stronger on the other side is a wonderful example of God’s love and mercy.

 

Small groups and brotherhood are such an important part of us men growing in our faith and becoming stronger disciples in the world. The weekend has reinforced in me the need to make that a more regular part of my life to strengthen my devotion to the Lord and help me battle the demons that try to turn us away from God. I also met some great guys over the weekend and had an opportunity to reunite with some old friends. 2 days well spent. “– Steve Furjanić

One man, a first-time attendee, commented on how he was deeply moved and humbled by the event.

“To say I was touched by the Holy Spirit and humbled by the entire experience is an understatement.
What immediately took me by surprise was the warm and friendly welcome I had received by such Godly men. Every one of them personally made an effort with introductions which confirmed the fact that this was going to be a great weekend, and indeed it was.

 

So how do you get the attention of strong minded, stubborn, 1st generation Croatian-Australian men? Through a shot of Rakija, a great Croatian joke and presentations about Croatian history and our battles for the Catholic faith, that’s how. That definitely pulled at the heart strings for all of us patriotic men present. Learning in depth about the many battles fought and won against the Ottoman Empire, re-ignited my Croatian pride and made me feel blessed to be a Catholic.

 

Furthermore, the various guest speakers and group leaders where nothing short of inspiring, forcing us to examine and connect with our own lives intentionally, more deeply.

 

Fra Davor is a legend. A true man of God but also a great bloke who loved a good joke and laugh with us lay people. The masses he conducted were emotional, beautiful and meaningful. Took me right back to my childhood. That left me with a deeper connection to my Catholic faith. Praying, going to mass and receiving the Eucharist has a new meaning for me now.

 

This weekend humbled me in knowing that going to a Catholic school (thinking you know it all), going to church on Sundays, and being a ‘perceived’ good Christian man was enough. Far from it. Upon self-reflection, I needed and yearned for a deeper relationship with Christ and a mature spiritual prayer life. This weekend has reiterated that, whilst being surrounded by a group of great likeminded ‘Croatian Catholic brothers’ made all the difference. To end with mass and the Croatian National Anthem topped it off.” — Steve Pavlesic

Another first-time attendee, Marijan, reflected on his first conference:

“In the Presence of the Holy Spirit.
For a couple of years, my friend Mile, has asked me come to the Croatian Men’s Conference that is held each year. “Hvala Dragom Bogu” I listened to him this time around.

 

Last week, as we arrived on the Friday afternoon you could see in the Croatian men’s faces that there is something special here. Everyone was happy and pleased to meet you. That evening we all went to Holy Mass. 70 Croatian men praying and singing, led by the amazing voice of Darko Zorić. After Mass, you could feel and sense in the faces of the Croatian brothers, that the Holy Trinity reigned down inside the Chapel.

 

I have no doubt in my mind and am 100% convinced that the Holy Spirit was with the Croatian brothers all weekend. How could Our Lord Jesus refuse 70 Croatian men, sincerely praying from their hearts? I’m so proud to be a part of the Knights of the Precious Blood Brotherhood.

 

This weekend was truly amazing to be in the Presence of the Holy Spirit. Now, I understand why the Croatian brothers keep coming back each year very Spirit lifted and I will definitely be back next year – “ako Bog da”.

 

I would recommend to my fellow Croatian men to join us for the “Men’s Breakfast” held monthly on the last Sunday of the month at the Croatian Church Blacktown and/or “Summer Hill Men’s Group” held monthly on the first Wednesday of the month at the Croatian Church Summer Hill. I guarantee you won’t regret it. God Bless you all.” – Marijan Abramović

 

Likewise, Tomislav and Ivan, first time attendees share how the weekend helped them:

“It has been my first attendance at the Cro Men’s Conference. I have had a great time socialising with fellow men, learning about the spiritual growth and making plans for changes in my life. As a husband and father, I got many ideas how to enhance my family life. I cannot wait for the next one.” – Tomislav Miletić

 

“What a great way to escape from the everyday noise. I found the retreat was all about FRIENDSHIP. Friendship between our fellow Croatian men…as we bond together not only to serve but to grow our divine friendship between ourselves and GOD” – Ivan Babić

The Croatian brotherhood and the support for our fellow man and family in this battle was clearly visible over the weekend. All the men left as different men. Equipped with the weapons needed to enter into the battle as soldiers of Christ, the men understood the importance of engaging in the fight. The need for men to stop sitting on the sidelines and watch our lives, manhood, our families, our Church and Society, get attacked and suppressed was made evident. We praise the Lord who has given us life in His Son Jesus Christ and has given us the victory in His name as we join the battle for souls. We pray that the Lord continue to bless us, those who attended the conference and those who the men touch, their families, friends and society, with their testimony and witness to Jesus Christ. Certainly, the witness of the 160,000 youth who consecrated themselves to battle under the banner of the Sacred Heart, inspired the Croatian men of Australia to continue living up to the name “Antemurale Christianitatis” – The Bulwark of Christianity, given to the Croatian people by Pope Leo X in 1519 honouring the courageous Croatians who defended Christendom against the enemies of Christ.

Bog i Hrvati

Below is a short highlights video from the conference.

REPRINT EDITION OF THE MEMORIAL BOOK PUBLISHED ON THE CONSECRATION OF CROATIAN YOUTH TO THE SACRED HEART OF JESUS 1900

A reprint of the Memorial book on the Consecration of Croatian Youth to the Sacred Heart of Jesus from 1900 was published in Zagreb, Croatia, Christmas 2020. This reprint edition of the Memorial was published on the occasion of the 120th anniversary, of this unique event in the history of the Catholic Church in Croatia.

At the beginning of the 20th century, responding to the call of Pope Leo XIII, 160.000 Croatian youth from all over Croatia and Bosna and Herzegovina consecrated themselves to the Sacred Heart of Jesus on June 22, 1900. when the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was celebrated that year. This Memorial book brings abundant documentation on this event, both written and with illustrations. The title of the Memorial reads: Croatian youth under the flag of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Memorial and Vigil.

The consecration of Croatian youth in 1900, was a unique manifestation of faith not only in the history of the Church among Croats, but also in the entire Catholic Church, because no country of Catholic tradition recorded a similar religious event at the beginning of the 20th century. The Memorial was prepared and supplemented with texts by Jesuit, Anton Puntigam, who was the originator of the idea of the whole enterprise. He was then in the service of the Archbishop’s Seminary and High School in Travnik, in Bosna, run by the Jesuit Fathers.

This reprint edition of the Memorial is in three parts. After the preface and introduction, part one, is a 32-page preparatory brochure entitled Celebrating Croatian Youth at the Dawn of the New Century. The brochure was published in the early 1900’s as a preparation for the Consecration itself – which took place on the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, June 22, 1900. As many as 50,000 copies were printed and distributed throughout Croatia, Bosna and Herzegovina. Then follows the second and main part – the 238-page Memorial book itself, which was originally published in the following year, 1901. In it are reports and descriptions of how the Consecration was made in all Croatian dioceses. The third part, is an added appendix, which provides an overview of how the Consecration was renewed in later decades, specifically 1910, 2000, 2001, 2010, 2015 and 2020.


A reprint of this Memorial book on the Consecration of Croatian Youth to the Sacred Heart of Jesus was published jointly by the Basilica of the Heart of Jesus in Zagreb, and the Postulator of Blessed Ivan Merz. The foreword to this reprint edition, was written by the Archbishop and Metropolitan of Vrhbosna, Cardinal Vinko Puljić, as this idea was initiated from the Vrhbosna Archdiocese. Specifically from Travnik, where the Consecration hymn, “Do nebesa nek ori ” which was sung for the occasion of this Consecration was written by Petar Perica, a high school student at the time, who later became a Jesuit and ended his life by martyrdom in 1944 on the island of Daksi, near Dubrovnik shot by communists. This hymn has remained with the Croatian people to this day, as a lasting monument in the hearts of Croatian believers, for this magnificent event.

In his preface, Cardinal Vinko Puljić writes, among other things: “I look forward to this reprint edition of the Memorial in order to preserve the memory of this unique religious event in our nation, and in these times when hopelessness and collapse of values, both young and adults, solidifies hope and gains inspiration for a better future. It is necessary for young people to re-open the door of the Sacred Heart to be strengthened in faith and find the source of love and through that find the right path for their self-realisation. “

To this day, the Croatian people have three memories of this Consecration of the youth do Sacred Heart: the hymn Do Nebesa, the book Spomenica-Memorial, now re-issued as a reprint edition, and a large ceremonial flag, made in 1910 for the renewal of the Consecration.

It is the desire of the publisher that today’s generation of Croatian youth, as well as all the faithful Croatian Catholic people, encouraged by the example of our ancestors, continue to worship the Sacred Heart of Jesus and live the Consecration as expressed in the verses of the Consecration hymn: With my soul and body forevermore I am yours, fighting an honourable battle for the Cross. (“Dušom tijelom vjek sam tvoj za krst časni bijuć boj.”)

Bog i Hrvati

Translated from original article in Croatian ivanmerz.hr author p. Božidar Nagy. SJ

More articles on this momentous event from our nations past:

Pod Barjakom Presvetog Srca Isusova Series

Part 1 (120th Anniversary)

 Part 2 (Consecration of Croatian Youth to the Sacred Heart of Jesus AD1900)

 Part 3 (1910 – Year of renewal of the Consecration)

 Part 4 (The 100th anniversary of the consecration)

For more information on this event in Croatian see links below.

Consecration of Croatian Youth to the Sacred Heart of Jesus AD1900

Posveta hrvatske mladeži Srcu Isusovu 1900. god.

120 Godina Pjesme “Don Nebesa “

Treaty of Pope Agathon and the Croats – AD679

As Pope at the head of the Church, he occupied the chair of Peter from 678 to 681, in truth a brief period of time, but for us Croats it was of the utmost importance.

Although we know relatively little about Pope Agathon’s life, his name and memorial day should evoke a joyous memory in the heart of every Croatian believer. He stands as a bright figure at the dawn of our history that begins with the baptism of our people (who were the first of the Slavic people to become Christian). As Pope at the head of the Church, he occupied the chair of Peter from 678 to 681, in truth a brief period of time, but for us Croats it was of the utmost importance.

Pope Agathon was born in Palermo, Sicily. After 20 years of marriage, he became a widower and entered the community of Benedictines. After being appointed cardinal, he was elected Pope in 678. He occupied St. Peter’s chair for less than three years, but he conquered everything with his gentle and cheerful disposition. He convened a church council in Rome around Easter 680AD, from which he sent an epistle to Emperor Constantine IV in Constantinople. Along with the Pope, the epistle was signed by all 125 bishops present, including the bishop from Istria, while there were no signatories from the rest of the Croatian territory. The Pope’s letter reads, among other things: “Among the barbarian peoples, both the Lombards and the Slavs, also in the midst of the Franks and Gauls, are many of my servants (ie bishops), who, in view of the apostolic faith, do not cease to labour zealously . . .”

Our historians Marković, Sakač and especially Mandić, confirm the fact that from this Pope’s letter it can be seen that in the year 680, bishops worked in the midst of some Slavic peoples and that this people had already accepted Christianity prior to that year. This people can only be Croatian, because other Slavic peoples were baptized only at the end of the 8th and the beginning of the 9th century, and according to Agathon’s epistle, as early as 680 there were several bishops already ministering among Croats, and Croats were Christians at that time.

In addition to that historical data, for us is even more important what the Byzantine emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus, as a contemporary of the first Croatian King Tomislav (who reigned from 912 to 959) writes in his work “De administrando imperio”. He writes: “After their baptism, the Croats set up a treaty with their own hands and swore with a firm and unwavering faith to St. Peter that they would never invade other people’s lands or go to war there, but that they would rather live in peace with anyone who wanted to. And in return, they received from the Pope a prayer (a promise) that he would fight for them and that the God of the Croats would be at their aid whenever other nations invade the Croatian land and disturb them with war, and St. Peter, a disciple of Christ, will endow them with victory.”
In 1931, Jesuit Father Stjepan Krizin Sakač (1890-1973) wrote a notable and important treatise titled “Ugovor pape Agatona i Hrvata proti navalnom ratu (oko g. 679.)” (The non-aggression contract between Pope Agathon and the Croats circa 679AD), our first international peace treaty, which was once translated into Spanish and convincingly proves that this treaty would correspond to the truth, and the Pope, whom the Emperor does not name, would be none other than Pope Agathon.
This text, we would dare to say, enters into the sacred pages of our history and it would be worthwhile for us as Croats and as believers, to delve deeper into it more often. It speaks, as a matter of first priority, of a very significant event which stands at the beginning of all Christian nations, and that is our baptism. With this event, we entered the circle of “cultured” European nations with all the ensuing consequences, because as a nation we began to experience the Christian mystery, which dedicated its wealth to so many of our sons and daughters, and then built so many churches that became the most enduring and eloquent witnesses of our spiritual culture.

This text also speaks of our national connection with God and with Peter, a disciple of Christ. The Croats swore to St. Peter that they would not wage invading wars and would rather live in peace. History testifies to the extent they fulfilled that oath. As history is often biased, it is difficult to make an accurate judgement on the basis of all the written documents. They certainly closed the door to conquests with this oath, set it as an ideal, and we believe that they largely achieved it. Think of the beatitude that Jesus included in His sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God!” (Mt 5:9). That is why the Croats received the special protection of God, and through their truly difficult history, battered and suppressed from all sides in this windstorm, they still managed to survive as a nation until today.

The connection to St. Peter, the first pope, already at the beginning of our history, and the treaty with Pope Agathon, are probably the reasons that the Croats throughout their history remained faithful to the papacy and Rome, always resolutely rejecting temptation, whether schism, or heresy. And that, surely, was a great grace to our people and should be a sacred obligation for the future as well.

Pope Agathon also used his business skills when the English bishops turned to Rome for advice. It was when St. Wilfrid of York and St. Theodore of Canterbury addressed Rome to demarcate the dioceses. He returned the deposed Bishop Wilfrid to English York, and sent the Benedictine abbot, Archbishop John, to the British Isles, to teach the English Gregorian chant and thus expand the Roman liturgy.

The most important event of Agathon’s pontificate is the Sixth Ecumenical Council (also known as the Third Council of Constantinople), called the Council of Trullo. The Council was held from 680 to 681, but unfortunately the Pope did not see it through to the end. At that Council, a monotheistic heresy was condemned that claimed that there were two natures in Jesus, but only one will. Two of Agathon’s letters addressed to the Council were instrumental in the delivery of the outcome.

Pope Agathon died on January 10, 681, and his body rests in the church of St. Peter in Rome. Above his grave is a Latin inscription of a poem of 12 verses.

The name “Agathon” is of Greek origin and means “good”.

The original article in Croatian can be found here: Sveti Agaton, papa