Denver, Colo., Mar 3, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - March 10 is the liturgical memorial of Saint John Ogilvie, a 16th- and 17th-century Scotsman who converted from Presbyterianism to Catholicism, served as a Jesuit priest, and died as a martyr at the hands of state officials.
St. John was executed for treason, refusing to accept King James I’s claim of supremacy over the Church. Pope Paul VI canonized him in 1976, making him Scotland’s first canonized saint for several hundred years.
In February 2010, during a visit to Rome by the Scottish bishops’ conference, Benedict XVI asked the bishops to promote devotion to St. John Ogilvie among priests – since the Jesuit martyr had been “truly outstanding in his dedication to a difficult and dangerous pastoral ministry, to the point of laying down his life.” Later that year, during the Scottish segment of his U.K. visit, the Pope again encouraged priests to look to the saint’s “dedicated, selfless and brave” example.
John Ogilvie was born in 1579, a member of a noble family. Some of his relatives had kept the Catholic faith, while others adhered to John Calvin’s interpretation of Protestantism as Presbyterians. Though raised as a Calvinist, John had doubts about the compatibility of this system with Scripture. In particular, he could not reconcile Calvin’s theology of predestination with Biblical passages teaching that God loves all people and wills each of them to be saved.
This difficulty, coupled with the contrast between Catholic unity and the multiple Protestant sects and denominations, influenced John’s decision to enter the Catholic Church. He made the decision at age 17 while studying in Belgium, and in 1599 he became a novice in the Society of Jesus. After extensive study and training he was ordained a Jesuit priest in Paris during 1610.
John greatly desired to go back to his native country and encourage its return to the Catholic Church. He served for a time as a priest in France, while requesting to be sent back to Scotland. Others within his order made it clear to him that such a mission would be dangerous and unlikely to produce much fruit. In 1613, however, John obtained the assignment he desired.
He soon discovered the truth of the warnings he had received from other Jesuits, about the difficulty of Catholic evangelization in Scotland. Many members of the upper classes were not interested in returning to the Church, though he did carry out pastoral work among a largely poor population of Scots who had kept the faith. After a period in England he returned to France, seeking directions on how to proceed in light of his lack of success.
The French Jesuits ordered John back to Scotland, however, where he resumed his ministry to the underground Church as well as the smaller number of people interested in converting. His arrest came about when one potential “convert” turned out to be an informer, who had John arrested and interrogated.
The first criminal accusation St. John Ogilvie faced was that of celebrating Mass within the King’s realm. Unwilling to incriminate himself, he suffered two months of imprisonment. An iron bar was attached to his feet to prevent him from moving in his cell. Despite this ordeal, he strongly resisted pressure to give evidence against other Scottish Catholics.
Severe torture was then inflicted on John. His hair and fingernails were pulled out, and for a period of nine days he was prevented from sleeping by continual stabbing with sharp stakes. His jailers beat him, flung him to the floor of his cell, and shouted in his ears. Nothing, however, could make him renounce his faith or betray his Catholic countrymen to the authorities.
John’s tormentors were impressed by his fortitude, and by the surprising sense of humor that he showed in the face of the brutal punishments. But they could not spare his life, unless the Jesuit priest gave an acceptable response to a series of questions provided by King James I. Johndeclared his loyalty to the king, but steadfastly rejected James’ claim to supremacy over the Church in religious matters. The priest was eventually convicted on a charge of high treason.
Attempts to ply John with bribery – in exchange for his return to Protestantism, and his betrayal of fellow Catholics – continued even as he was being led to his execution. His own defiant words are recorded: for the Catholic faith, he said, he would "willingly and joyfully pour forth even a hundred lives. Snatch away that one which I have from me, and make no delay about it, but my religion you will never snatch away from me!"
Asked whether he was afraid to die, the priest replied: “I fear death as much as you do your dinner.” St. John Ogilvie was executed by hanging on March 10, 1615.
As a last gesture before his hanging, St. John had tossed his Rosary beads into the crowd where they were caught by a Calvinist nobleman. The man, Baron John ab Eckersdorff, later became a Catholic, tracing his conversion to the incident and the martyr’s beads.
Denver, Colo., Mar 3, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Unprecedented rates of human trafficking can be traced to the rise of abortion, contraception and pornography in modern culture, says a Catholic priest who has researched the topic for nearly a decade.
“There are more people trafficked now in the 21st century than in the transatlantic slave trade in the 17th, the 18th, or the 19th century,” Denver priest Fr. David Nix said at a local Theology on Tap address on Feb. 18.
Today an estimated 27 million people are enslaved, 800,000 of whom are trafficked across international borders for the purpose of sexual exploitation and 2 million of whom are children.
When he first began researching the issue, Fr. Nix said he thought that abortion and contraception “facilitated” modern-day slavery. However, after researching the FBI’s resources on sex-slavery, he realized that “trafficking is founded upon contraception.”
The account he read cited a 2004 story from The New York Times which detailed a police raid on a suburban home in Plainfield, N.J. Acting on a tip, the city police raided the home expecting to find an underground brothel.
Instead, they found girls ages 14 to 17 who were Mexican nationals with no documentation living in what was described as a “squalid, land-based equivalent of a 19th century slave ship, with rancid, doorless bathrooms; bare, putrid mattresses; and a stash of penicillin, 'morning after' pills and misoprostol, an antiulcer medication that can induce abortion.”
“Honestly, whose life do you think is made easier by the morning after pill: the 14 year-old girl who is taken ten or twenty times a night, or her 40 year-old trafficker?” Fr. Nix asked the crowd.
“Contraception and abortion,” he told CNA in a later interview, “are the new slave ships upon which children are trafficked.”
Along with contraception and abortion, Fr. Nix said pornography is the one of the other “rails” of modern-day slavery. Although, “porn is the demand” he said, “children are the supply, even if you’re looking at adults.”
While not everyone who looks at pornography will be lead to the child sex trade, Fr. Nix says the industry is so interconnected that no aspect of it is isolated from the other. If a consumer supports one part, he or she is contributing to the entire issue at large.
“Every time you look at pornography,” Fr. Nix stated, “you’re making sure children stay in slavery.”
As disturbing as this issue is, Fr. Nix said he fears that Catholics will “miss the boat” in working to abolish this slave trade as he says they did in the 19th century.
“Who ended the slave trade?” he asked. “We think of people like William Wilburforce,” the English politician who helped lead the abolitionist movement.
Evangelical and Protestant groups, Fr. Nix pointed out, have had more success in freeing victims from slavery than any government organizations, as the award-winning 2011 documentary, “Nefarious,” details.
This is not because Christian groups are “better at what they do,” but rather because “only the Cross of Christ can go as deep as those wounds.”
This is because “the shame of a girl who has been raped tens of thousands of times by the time she is 15 years-old is nothing money or education can fix.”
However, Fr. Nix said, without the Catholic Church, they will not be able to end trafficking.
Although Catholics “have so much to learn from evangelicals on this topic,” he said, “they won’t be able to beat trafficking until we bring them the Mass and Our Lady.”
The Mass is essential, the priest said, because it “makes un-bloody reparation for this bloody child-sacrifice that is demon-based.”
The intercession of the Virgin Mary is needed, he explained, because “whatever she asks – God gives!”
During the time of Lent, Catholics should devote their sacrifices to the end of human trafficking and abortion, especially while meditating on Christ’s Passion since he was also “trafficked.”
“He was handed over by a friend, put in a basement, had his body abused in a different way, and finally left for dead outside the city limit like so many kids in Asia,” Fr. Nix said.
Fr. Nix said along with prayer, people can get involved by being aware of and reporting any suspicious behavior, even in their own home towns, to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-3737-888.
Vatican City, Mar 3, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - An American cardinal said Sunday that the Catholic Church is undergoing a lot of changes.
“The Church is in the business of change big time,” Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan said at St. Peter’s Basilica during a Mass he celebrated for U.S. journalists at 10:30 a.m. local time.
He said that many journalists had been asking him if he believed the new pontiff would make changes within the Church.
“Jesus calls us first and foremost not to change structures, but to let God change us inside,” he said at the Basilica’s catacombs in the Hungarian Chapel.
The 63-year-old cardinal said he himself needs the changes of “conversion, repentance and spiritual renewal” to better reflect “the heart of the Gospel.”
“What we’re doing right now is what makes the Church live and it’s more important than electing a Pope,” said Cardinal Dolan during his homily. “It’s a lot more important for the lives of the hundreds of millions of Catholics who went to Sunday Mass this morning.”
Cardinal Dolan said it is Mass that helps Catholics understand “the very nature of the papacy.”
“Saint Paul says ‘I hand down to you what I myself have received’,” he said. “That is the very nature of the papacy, to hand on faithfully what God told Jesus, what Jesus told his apostles and what his apostles hand on to us traditionally.”
Turning to the day's Gospel reading, the cardinal explained that the people of the time were trying to understand what God was telling them when they had tragedies.
“They were trying to figure it out just like we try to figure out tragedies, sickness and suffering in our life,” said the prince of the Church.
Jesus, he said, “brings us back to the basics" by stressing the need for repentance and the need to hear everyone.
“Don’t always try to figure out God’s will all the time, but try to figure out what God is asking you to do inside,” he advised.
“It is a call to renew your life, to repentance of heart and to conversion of soul.”