Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!

Seventh Sunday after Pentecost—12 JuLY AD 2015

Arms of Pope Leo XIII

[ Ordinary of the Mass ]
Mass Text - Latin
Mass Text - English

“Beware of false prophets … by their fruits you shall know them.”[1]

    The saintly Leo XIII reigned as Pope from 1878 until his death in 1903.  He lived through the socialist revolutions that gripped Europe during the mid-1800s, and was the first Pope elected to preside over the Church without the considerable territory that had been the Papal States in central Europe.  Pope Leo is well respected as the theoretician who laid out the ground rules for the Church in the modern world.  It helps to put into perspective that he was the first Pope to appear on film and to have his voice recorded.[2]  His encyclical Sapientiae Christianae—On Christians as Citizens—articulates with the Gospel we just heard.  Pope Leo emphasized the absolute necessity of knowing the Catholic Faith, both for salvation and for good citizenship.  He wrote:

    Considering that … Jesus Christ laid upon His Apostles the injunction to “preach the Gospel to every creature,” He imposed … upon all men the duty of learning thoroughly and believing what they were taught….  “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not, shall be condemned.”[3]

    The very times in which we live are warning us to seek remedies …, by re-establishing in the family circle and throughout the whole range of society the doctrines and practices of the Christian religion. In this lies the sole means of freeing us from the ills now weighing us down, of forestalling the dangers now threatening the world.[4]

    If we are to “beware of false prophets” both in religion and in civil society, we must be able to contrast “what should be” with “what actually is.”  It is our Christian duty to know the Faith, and also to know the principles by which we are governed in civil society.  There is no excuse for purposefully remaining uninformed.

    Probably the biggest obstacle to being informed about the important issues of the day is the “sea of entertainment” in which most people live today.  The nightly news is tailored to what the ruling class wants us to know, and on most networks the one-half hour of news is followed by a full hour of gossip about celebrities.  Then we are treated to a number of “situation comedies” starring moronic and immoral people.  One might waste three or four hours like this every night.

    My suggestion is that you spend that time, or at least part of it becoming informed about the authentic teachings of the Church and the way in which the state is supposed to operate.  The Internet is a great resource for this, but everything needed can be found in print.

    What to read depends on your current level of Catholic education.  Everyone should read the Bible—there is a suggested reading guide in each month’s Parish Bulletin.  If we all read the same chapters it will make group discussion a lot easier.

    It probably wouldn’t hurt anyone to re-read the Baltimore Catechism—and there are some adult versions available (the #3 or #4 editions, or Canon Ripley’s This is The faith).  The Catechism of the Council of Trent was written for parish priests, but is certainly understandable by lay people.  The writings of the Saints—like Augustine, Aquinas, Bellarmine, and the Venerable Bede—are out there (you might want to be sure that the translation is comprehensible, for some of them are archaic).

    The Catholic Encyclopedia is a wonderful resource.  We have one here for reference (please don’t take it home), but it is at several locations on the Internet, and an inexpensive copy is available on CD‑Rom.  The CD has a lot of other good Catholic reading.[5]

    The modern writings of the Popes have been difficult to read and sometimes contain downright nonsense.  But the letters of men like Leo XIII, and Pius IX through Pius XII are generally rather lucid, and most of them deal with the problems of being a good Catholic in the modern world.

    Every American should be familiar with our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution—it is not enough to have read them back in the fifth grade.  The writings of men like Washington and Jefferson are useful—their farewell addresses should be mandatory.

    As Catholics and as citizens we should be familiar with our history.  And I consider economics to be essential to understanding history.  You have to be careful here, for most of the stuff read in public school is biased to make the government look good.  As a starter, I would suggest reading the histories written by Philip Hughes and Thomas Woods.

    It is not enough to know what should be.  As our Lord said: “by their fruits you shall know them.”  The informed Catholic American will want to know what the politicians and the clergy are up to.  For this, the Internet is extremely valuable—one can read and compare the positions of various political candidates, and see how those in office actually cast their votes on every issue.[6]  You can read the bills being considered by Congress, and who is supporting them.[7]  You can read about taxes and tax policy making, and what the government is spending money on.[8]

    Likewise, one can follow the workings of the Catholic Church.  The Vatican Website, Radio Vatican, and L’Osservatore Romano, and the American bishops all publish in English.[9]  And there are a number of traditional Catholic sites to visit.[10]

    In summary, Catholics and citizens have a duty to know what should be and then to determine what actually is.

“Beware of false prophets … by their fruits you shall know them.”
You have nothing to lose but a few hours of
mindless television every night.


[1]   Gospel: Matthew vii 15-21

[2]   Listen to Pope Leo chant the Ave Maria at

[4]   Sapientiae Christianae, #3   Emphasis supplied.





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