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Growing Faith in 2017: Two Hopeful Stories in a Troubled Year

It’s been a rough year for the Catholic Church, with traditional Catholic teaching under constant attack, so I want to share some positive things I experienced in 2017. I traveled to two different places outside the United States that have been working to restore the traditional Latin Mass.

In April of 2017, I was privileged to go to Mexico for the Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP) spring mission trip. It is an up and coming mission based in Guadalajara, run by Fr. Daniel Heenan and a couple of the local families. The mission was twelve days long, and I think it changed a lot of people’s lives for the better. It definitely did mine.

The people of Mexico are open to the traditional Latin Mass, although for the most part, they aren’t even aware of it. This was the mission’s goal: to let people know about the Mass and bring people over to it.

We went door to door in a small town called Juchipila. We invited people, Catholics and non-Catholics alike, to experience the allure and beauty of the Latin Mass. Every night, we had a Solemn High Mass, and it felt so good to see the angry anti-Catholics with whom we just argued for hours sitting in the front pew with tears in their eyes. Most of these people were at one point or another Catholic, and many had left the church because of Vatican II.

Many Catholics in Mexico no longer go to Mass, yet they still pray the daily rosary and walk in the Good Friday processions. We would knock on their doors, and they would see that we were the “misioneros.” They would gladly invite us into their homes, whether they were rich or poor, and we would talk to each other. One particular man I remember told me he lived through the Cristero War, and he recalled always wanting to be a Cristero even at his young age. This man also told me he remembers the old rite of the Mass, but in this town and in this day and age, they hadn’t had a priest who would say it in a long time. I personally invited him to attend that night’s Solemn High Mass, and he was there, praying the responses in Latin and everything!

Another example of our work was when we knocked on a door and were greeted by people who called themselves Satanists. Our group spent hours arguing and debating with them, but the stubbornness of these individuals was beginning to wear on us. They wouldn’t go to church. However, when we challenged them one last time to go to Mass that night, just to prove that what we were saying was wrong, they eventually consented. We saw them at Mass.

It was beautiful to see all these people, who just hours before were denying Jesus and the Eucharist, coming again and again to these Masses. The day I arrived, we missionaries attended the first Mass. However, by the end of our stay, the church was full to capacity, and I had to stand outside.

It was amazing how most of the Mexican people had never actually lost their belief in the One True Church. If I brought back anything from this experience, it’s that the Catholic Church is a flame in your heart that you cannot extinguish. You may be able to hide or cover the flame, but you will never ever extinguish it.

* * *

Another interesting experience I had in 2017 was to travel to Italy and help the Monks of Norcia rebuild their Monastery. In August 2016, a earthquake hit central Italy, in the region of Umbria. One of the towns hit was Norcia, the ancient birthplace of the twin saints Benedict and Scholastica. A 6.6-magnitude tremor hit shortly thereafter, causing massive damage to the town and the Benedictine monastery within the walls. The Basilica of St. Benedict was completely destroyed and the town rendered unsafe to inhabit. The traditional order living there was left homeless.

With no place to live, the Benedictine monks decided to move over a mile away in the mountains surrounding Norcia. They lived in tents for a while, going back and forth from the encampment and the town to brew beer. The brewery was not touched by the earthquake and remains intact. I worked in the brewery while I was there, which was a great experience.

The Monks’ life is rooted in the traditional praying of the Divine Office eight times a day. They chant the entire office in Latin and offer the traditional Latin Mass daily. During the day, everyone in the community works on building a new dwelling and chapel. They are truly living up to the order’s motto, “Ora et Labora” (pray and work).

I went and lived with these amazing men for a month and helped them work on their new monastery. My friend and I did some roofing and tiling and worked in the kitchen and the brewery. It was inspiring to be around those holy men. They set an example for the rest of the world and their community, always cheerful in the midst of what our world would call a tragedy. Those young men are the future of the church, always working and praying, rebuilding their community. They have proven that faith can carry you through challenges.

While it’s easy to become despondent from the daily news from Rome, in 2017, I was able to witness firsthand hope for traditional Catholicism in troubled places. I learned that when people are exposed to beauty through the liturgy, they can realize that in darkness there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.

68 thoughts on “Growing Faith in 2017: Two Hopeful Stories in a Troubled Year”

  1. How appropriate that this was posted on December 6th, the Feast of St. Nicholas of Myra. For St. Nicholas:

    In Tone 2

    O holy Father Nicholas,
    Christ has shown you to be the model of faith.
    Your humility inspired all in your flock.
    From Myra, your piety shines throughout the world.
    You are known as the protector of widows and orphans.
    Now we ask your unceasing prayer for the salvation of our souls.

    O holy Father Nicholas,
    your relics poured out myrrh and protected Myra.
    While you lived, you appeared in a dream to the king;
    by this appearance you freed from lashes, prison, and death,
    those who were condemned unjustly;
    now manifest yourself as you did then.
    Implore Christ in behalf of our souls.

    Even if the city of Myra were silenced, O holy Nicholas,
    hymns of praise would be sung to you:
    by the entire world which has been enlightened by your brightness;
    by the multitude of your magnificent miracles;
    and by the condemned who were saved by you.
    We also join the inhabitants of your city and cry to you:
    Intercede for the salvation of our souls.


  2. What a great story. Thanks for sharing that. In these times something positive is like a drink of cool water in the desert.

  3. Here is another great thing for 2017 — THIS Saturday, December 9th, “thousands upon thousands of Catholics together with Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, Bishop Robert Vasa of Santa Rosa, as well as many Catholic organizations will be consecrating the state of California to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, according to the Consecrate California website.”

    Check it out here:

    We all keep saying, “What can we do?” Well….here’s something we can ALL do, even from the comfort of our own homes!

      • I was in awe….CALIFORNIA is going to be Consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary? Now THAT’s a miracle and gives me hope!

    • For all of those who weren’t able to participate in the Consecration out in California, you can still participate by sharing in the prayers that were offered today. (That’s what I did and they made me cry. Beautiful prayers for the country and a really uplifting sign that we DO have holy prelates willing to step out and be counted before God and country!)

      Here are the prayers: (Pray the rosary, too, if you can!) They will only take about 5 minutes of your time but are of inestimable value to Mary and Her precious Son. (Again, we all say we want to DO something…..let’s put some energy into helping California! As they say, “Where California goes, so goes the rest of the nation.” This would be a fabulous 1st Step!)


      “Most Holy Trinity: Our Father in heaven, who chose Mary as the fairest of your daughters; Holy Spirit who chose Mary as your spouse; God the Son, who chose Mary as your mother; in union with Mary, we adore your majesty and acknowledge your supreme, eternal dominion and authority.

      “Most Holy Trinity, we put the United States of America, and particularly, the State of California, into the hands of Mary Immaculate in order that she may present the country and our State to You. Through her we wish to thank you for the great resources of this land and for the freedom which has been its heritage. Through the intercession of Mary, have mercy on the Catholic Church in America. Grant us peace. Have mercy on our president and on all the officers of our government. Grant us a fruitful economy born of justice and charity. Have mercy on the capital and on industry and labor. Protect the family life of the nation. Guard the innocence of our children. Grant the precious gift of many religious vocations. Through the intercession of our Mother, have mercy on the sick, the poor, the tempted, sinners — on all who are in need.

      “Mary, Immaculate Virgin, our Mother, Patroness of our land, we praise you and honor you and give our country and ourselves to your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. O Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, pierced by the sword of sorrows prophesied by Simeon, save us from degeneration, disaster and war. Protect us from all harm. O Advocate pray for us, that acting always according to your will and the Will of Your Divine Son, we may live and die pleasing to God. Amen.”


      “Mary, Mother of the Redeemer, your Beloved Son, Jesus, redeemed mankind. He died on the Cross so that we might live with Him and for Him. As Mother of Sorrows, you shared uniquely in His work of redemption. Please, Blessed Mother, accept our spiritual offering of Rosaries and fasts and present them to your Divine Son for us to plead our cause before our Heavenly Father. In this way, we hope to be spared the just punishment for our souls that our State deserves from killing our unborn, sick, elderly, unwanted and for the violence, sex, abuse, drugs, alcoholism, and sex trafficking we commit to others.

      “Please, Blessed Mother, protect our State from natural disasters and war. Intercede to defeat and claim victory over the whole Culture of Death, worldliness, and help us to bring back God and the concept of family in our life, so we learn to live God’s Commandments and to love our Neighbor in our everyday life.

      “We believe that your Divine Son sheds the graces of His redemptive sacrifice upon the world. But as you shared most fully in His sufferings, as Our Mother of Sorrows, so now we believe that Your Divine Son chooses to distribute the graces He has won for us through you, as our Advocate. Therefore, we bring our needs before you in confident prayer.

      “Please touch the hearts that need to defend life but choose not to. Please touch the minds and hearts of those on the Supreme Court, as well as all the people of this land; that all may see what horror has been done to our young. Please, Advocate of God’s Children, intercede that our message may spread far and wide, so that all may work for the protection of the unborn, elderly, sick and unwanted. Please petition your Divine Son on our behalf to protect our nation from all harm and to move us to reform those ways which are contrary to His Law so that His glory may be greatly manifested here on earth. Amen.”

      And AMEN!!

  4. The first half of this piece is beautiful, but also ironic in its way. Were not these missionaries reaching out to the peripheries (e.g. the poor, the lapsed Catholics, even the satanists!) as Pope Francis has asked us to do. And yet, they were bringing them to the traditional Latin Mass . . .upon which he would frown. Ironic, but as far as reaching out to the peripheries, the Pope certainly has a point. And . . .it paid off in a big way. So, let us give him that at any rate, the necessity and wisdom of reaching out to the marginalized.

    • It also highlights the differences in the TLM vs the NO; People know the TLM puts them in the presence of the sacred. The NO may be just as valid, but it doesn’t have the visceral effects of the TLM.

      • It also highlights the evil of those who want to suppress the TLM and margianalize so called traditional Catholics (i.e. those that are just Catholic).

      • Well, we may think he is very mistaken about many things, but why should we doubt his sincerity when he encourages us to reach out to the peripheries?

        • I’m afraid I do doubt his sincerity, not just in this matter but generally. From that first Wednesday night on the loggia the man in white has spoken with forked tongue.

          • I wholly agree with Simon Platt. Sincerity can indeed be doubted when words and actions indicate duplicity, malice, and intentional contradiction. Pope Francis has copiously all of these, so to doubt his sincerity is quite natural and within the bounds of reason. His record speaks very loudly—as do his duplicitous words.

    • These real missionaries were proselytizers and brought these people to Tradition, that rigid old stuff, rather than to immigration, dialogue without conversion and climate change and accompaniment to sin. BIG difference.

      • I once read that while the Catholic Church in Latin America was feeding the physical needs of the people, the Evangelical missionaries were feeding their spiritual needs. And guess who was winning.

      • “rather than to immigration, dialogue without conversion and climate change and accompaniment to sin.”

        I agree with you about dialogue without conversion and about accompaniment to sin, but since when have immigration and especially climate change been contrary to Faith or tradition?

        • Unlimited immigration as pushed now is not just. Saying that we have to believe climate change global warming is ridiculous. Science doesn’t clearly support that nor do we have to accept Francis’ opinion on it.

          • Immigration is a very complex issue. Due to collusion between U.S and Mexican elites, the Mexican (and U.S.) economies have been severely damaged. Many Mexican farmers have been displaced from the land they worked. Some or many of these have come or tried to come to the U.S. I am sorry that they have or think they have this need to leave their country, but I can’t condemn them too much for simply trying to survive. In any case, they are not guilty of any theological error.

            As to climate change, it’s not a matter of faith, to be sure. So a Catholic is free to hold any opinion on it that he thinks is reasonable. Thus I objected to your placing it in a list of theological errors.

          • I would add that burdening the Faithful with non-doctrines which are debatable at best (a good case is made about “climate change” being used to advance a global socialist agenda of tyrannical control that contradicts Catholic social teaching) not only distract Catholics from what is essential in the Faith but gives support to the agenda of globalists who, again and again, have proven they bear us no good will. Pope Francis will have to answer—and soon, given his age—for this foul betrayal of the petrine mission to the Just Judge who is the Author of both climate and individual cultures and nations.

        • It’s more of a matter of emphasis. Those things are not contrary to Faith or tradition but are not nearly as important as calling sinners to conversion and teaching them the realities of sin an Hell

          • It’s not a matter of one of the other. Leo XIII, Pius XI, Pius XII devoted significant portions of their teaching to matters of the social order. Such matters are important parts of the moral teaching of the Faith. Our Catholic ancestors of the Middle Ages thought that committing usury was one of the surest ways of going to Hell! This was a moral, not a political stance, part of the reality of “calling sinners to conversion and teaching them the realities of sin and Hell.”

            It’s true that not all matters of social morality are clear-cut. But the basic postulates of Catholic social teaching are integral to the Faith, as much as any other part of Catholic moral teaching.

  5. Another message of much-needed hope in these times! You mentioned that most Mexicans pray the daily Rosary even though they no longer go to Mass. Later, you state that it was amazing to see that they never actually lost their faith. I have been seeing, first hand, that the two are most definitely connected. Those who pray the daily Rosary are the ones who hold fast to the faith, while those who do not pray it seem to have no clue as to what’s happening in the Church. That Our Lady repeatedly requested it is enough for me, but I love to see and hear of the beautiful results.

  6. the nice bishops of the nice Canada (notoriously not known to be the most courageous and viril…) consecrated the country to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. A pleasant surprise which will produce fruits, I hope. We see some good things in Montreal (for example, a big procession on Corpus Christi:

    a personal good news: my wife and I entered officially in the Church on Pentecost 2017 (we were evangelicals), and we attend a growing latin mass church (FSSP) (probably the only growing parish in the area…)

    • WELCOME!!!

      Praise God!

      I and my wife and children (adults} were received into the Church since 2013.

      And like you, my wife and I have found a wonderful FSSP parish. What a blessing!

    • God bless you, Tommy, and your dear family upon entering the One, True Church of Jesus Christ—now much embattled by heretics and traitors. I am myself a convert from Anglicanism and can assure you that I did not bargain for all the heartache of these past decades since Vatican Council II. But, although in dark moments I have wondered, not being blessed with a vocation to dry martyrdom, why I chose all the angst we have been through (particularly in our ultimately successful efforts to preserve the traditional Latin Mass first in Florida and later in Pennsylvania), I can assure you the joys and consolations to a sinner like me have far outweighed the contretemps and suffering. We now have a thriving congregation of about 120 traditional Catholics in a beautiful old church (the original German parish of this little city), with a fine choir, and solid priest. I never thought this would happen in largely Protestant Lancaster. The Barque of Peter is sailing through perhaps the roughest waters since founded by Our Blessed Lord, but one thing is clear: outside It there is neither peace nor salvation. May the holy martyrs persecuted, tortured and killed during the Protestant Revolt in England and Wales intercede for you and your family. RC

    • God bless you both! Welcome home sorry its a mess right now, but it will get cleaned out one way or another.
      God bless, Mary intercede for you always!

  7. I have just spent three weeks in a Hospital in the UK for a broken hip. From speaking to those who brought me communion the number of patients requesting communion could be counted upon one hand. This is not surprising in a country where the number of practising Catholics is perhaps one or two percent of the population. However I made a point of leaving my rosary visible beside my bedside and was surprised by how many of the nursing staff came up with remarks such as “You Catholic? Me too. I pray every day” and show me their rosaries hidden under their uniform. A priest informed me that perhaps 30% of the nursing staff are Catholics. They come from the Philippines, Mauritius, India, Poland, Botswana etc with very few English white. The standard of nursing and their kindness and patience at all times was exceptional in very difficult circumstances where norovirus was rife and many patients suffering from dementia.

    And yet up in Sheffield a Mr Ngole who was training to be a social worker but expressed the orthodox view of homosexual acts on the internet was dismissed from his course as being therefore unsuitable to be a social worker. I wonder how long before the liberal idiots apply the same idea to the nursing profession.

    If you attend any of the weekly ‘Days with Mary’ around the country in the UK the majority of attendees are from ethnic majorities who love the Latin etc. I wonder which will win out in the long run – their faith or the progressive views of so many our clergy starting at the top.

    • The BIG Faith of the LITTLE ones!
      “At that time Jesus answered and said: I confess to thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them to the little ones.” (Matthew 7,25)

    • A great opportunity exists in Europe and parts of the USA to reach out to Catholic immigrants and foreign workers.

      Would it not be a wonderful act of charity and mission to invite such folks to worship our Blessed Lord in the TLM, to encourage them the learn what the TLM has for them as well, and then when they interact with their friends and family and/or go back to their countries of origin, bring this Good News to those who have not heard?

      • Right but the only problem is that most of them seem to be familiar with the TLM already and love it. After all in a multilingual group Latin can be understood by all. I remember congratulating a Nigerian lady on how well she sung a Latin hymn. She replied rather scornfully that she had learned Latin at School back in Nigeria and therefore had no problems with singing in Latin. At these Days with Mary perhaps 50% of the liturgy and hymns are in Latin. English Catholics are notable by their absence.

        • This reminds me . . . Often I make use of the library of a major seminary on the West Coast. Since I am interested in Biblical studies, once at the checkout desk of the library I asked the Nigerian seminarian who was manning the desk if the seminary offered Hebrew. He shook his head no, and said that this would never go back in Nigeria. Perhaps we in the West need to wake up to the possibility that our African brethren are receiving a better education than we. I have to say I have been very impressed with the priests I have encountered from Africa, from which continent also emerged Cdl Sarah.

          • To say something on this, about Biblical studies in the western world, aka languages that we in the western world speaks, understand and use. It is, in my opinion very important to stick with the translations/editions of the Holy Scripture and all other important religious text, which are done before the 50’s. And if we can find it, even before.
            Just to mention a few examples as one Bible Edition which is translated from the ORIGINAL LATIN VULGATE, and other(s) after the 50’s, which are translations/editions from the NEO-VULGATE.
            One very good, but more important to say, correct, Bible DRA edition from the original Latin Vulgate, which is released 1899 for example have not only (as extra) the original Latin text of all 73 books in its completeness, but it represents the only official Bible of the Catholic Church (Vulgate) in its fullness, while for example, many other editions like New American Bible (NABRE) and similar, are (re)written according teh neo-vulgate which is NOT complete.
            Use for comparing book of Judith 31 Chapter, and book of Tobit chapter 6,16-17;22 and 8,4-6;8-9, and you’ll see a such difference which by the using the latter ones and learning from them makes a Catholic less believer, if not worse than that.
            Regarding highly important messages from the Tobit book, then you should take a look into the Code of Canon Law from 1917 (Can. 1013 § 1), which goes about the purpose of marriage, which, again, based right on that important messages from the book of Tobit. It stated:
            “The first purpose of marriage is procreation and raising children; second, the mutual help of a spouses, and a cure against the lust.”

            Try to find THIS in so-called ‘new and better modern translations’, and you’ll be surprised.

      • Great idea! We should, each of us set for ourselves a personal goal, for example; doing our best to bring each month a new person to the TLM and the Catholic groups who attend the TLM. (Most probably that would be someone who is Catholic already, but nevertheless, that’s right now, in our times the first, if not the most pressing job in the term of ‘new evangelizing’)

    • In 2011, in total there were roughly 5.7 million Catholics
      in the United Kingdom; 4,155,100 in England and Wales (7.4%), 841,053
      in Scotland (15.9%), and 738,033 in Northern Ireland (40.76%). In large
      parts of Northern Ireland, Catholicism is the dominant religion.

  8. In all the nations where so-called refugees are flocking and Christians live, God has brought a mission field to our doorsteps.

    As much as there are injustices and problems associated with the influx of Muslims, there are also opportunities for evangelistic outreach.

  9. Wow. What a great way to spread the beauty, truth, and goodness of Catholic Tradition and bring people back to the sacraments. I can also share good news that a group of students (including me) at my university are carpooling an hour and a half every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation to attend the Traditional Latin Mass at an FSSP parish. Our group has grown to over 30 students who at some point or another throughout the semester carpool with us. On campus, we are spreading traditional Catholicism by lending copies of Dominus Est to students, handing out fliers about the Latin Mass, and inviting people to join. If more people did things like this, Catholic truth would spread very quickly.

  10. I also believe the beauty of a church can move people too. A church where the tabernacle is front and center. A church with stained glass. A church with a choir loft. A traditional Catholic church! Yet, almost every church in my area is either built like a warehouse with empty walls or it is a converted home that used cheap trim from Lowe’s.

    It is time that we demand from our local bishops, the USCCB and our Priest that our places of worship show respect and reverence for our Lord Jesus Christ and each other.

  11. That’s a beautiful story about the man who lived through the Cristero War. He would be about the age of my grandfather, God rest his soul. My maternal grandmother’s family not only lived through the Cristero War but hid priests and had Mass in their home.

  12. God bless the Mexican people. They were gifted with a pious charism of the woman of Revelation Ch. 2, whom is not actually Our Lady, but rather a woman who gives birth in labor pains. This is the church of the parusia. Just as Our Lord chose a people for his first coming (the encarnation), Our Lady has chosen, for herself and her triumph, a people for His second coming. (Parusia)

    When Fr. Gobbi visited the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, he told the Mexicans that Mexico was the apple of God’s eye. He said that Mexico would preserve the faith like Portugal and other nations, even though they’ve been tested with so much evil in these last centuries.

    St. John Paull II repeated a phrase to the Mexicans on multiple occasions and visits:

    “Mexico…always faithful”.


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