Monday, May 27, 2013

Some Much-Needed Inspiration for Tough Times

Every now and then, we need to have our American heart-strings tugged.  This is especially true in hard times when, seeing the country going to hell in a bucket, we are apt to sink into discouragement.  Little emotional boosts are sometimes necessary in order to stir up our love for our country -- we are obliged to love our country -- and remind us that what we have is worth fighting for.  

Some of these little videos are a bit on the corny side, but so what?  Being one of the cool kids is not a top priority of love.  All those who are too sophisticated for patriotism can just move on.

John Wayne tells the story of "Taps." Did you know there are words to "Taps"?

A tear-jerker (at least, I think it is): Ray Charles sings "America the Beautiful."  

A brass band plays four marches from the Civil War, both North and South.  While I cannot condone the sentiments expressed in the lyrics to "The Bonny Blue Flag," I must admit that the tune is a stirring one.

Neil Diamond: "Coming to America."

Confederate veterans give us the Rebel Yell.

John Philip Sousa's The Stars and Stripes Forever, probably the greatest march ever composed.

The U.S. Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon.  These Marines do the most intricate maneuvers, all without verbal commands.  A performance like this does not happen overnight.  And it is far from pointless.  This is a training ground for hard work, fortitude, discipline, good order, and striving for perfection.

And last but not least, Kate Smith sings "God Bless America," by Irving Berlin.  This is not the greatest quality audio, but it is the first time this song was ever performed on radio.  And nobody does "God Bless America" like Kate Smith.

God bless America, and deliver her from all her enemies.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Charity Runs Cold

Fifteen years ago, Sylvia Moore (no relation to your humble correspondent) bought an old, historic apartment building in Jerome, Idaho as an investment property and a source of income for retirement.  She had an antique store in the building, and also lived there.  

On April 30, a tenant left a hot glue gun on a plastic chair and forgot about it.  This started a fire that destroyed the building, displaced 12 families, and sent Sylvia Moore's retirement income up in smoke.  It was the biggest fire in the history of Jerome.

And would lead to a huge financial hit for Sylvia Moore, over and above the loss of her property.  She not only lost everything; the other day, the city of Jerome billed her for the cost of putting out the fire, to the tune of almost $100,000.00.  Due June 21st.  "The city of Jerome taxpayers put forth a lot of the efforts to extinguish this fire," says Jerome Fire Chief Jack Krill, "and we want to try and recover that taxpayer money the best we can."

Well, presumably, Sylvia Moore is also a taxpayer, and has contributed at least her fair share over the fifteen years she owned the now-destroyed apartment building.  One had thought the idea of a city running a fire department paid for by taxpayer dollars was precisely as a sort of risk pool, so that firefighting services would be available to all members of the community at need, and with no one member bearing the crushing expense of such a service entirely on his own, on top of his other losses.

Of course, in an age when a woman who has lost everything and who has not been accused of wrongdoing gets a $100,000.00 bill for firefighting services, maybe I am using that word "community" a little loosely.  When did ruthlessness become the default setting in our relations with our neighbors?   Has kicking people when they're down always been an American tradition?  Of course it would be nice for the taxpayers to be able to recoup their costs, but would that be right if it requires the taxpayers to harden their hearts against an innocent property owner, and bring about her utter ruination?  Would it be right, in a word, if it requires a further tearing of the already shredded fabric of brotherliness and neighborliness and community?  Is this in line with the Christian principles upon which this nation was founded?

Charity runs ever colder in our society, and once again, we see that this is brought about at least as much by those of us who flatter ourselves as being upright, responsible, and virtuous as by the flagrantly irresponsible, lazy and dissolute.

UPDATE: The city attorney for the city of Jerome has called Sylvia Moore and told her she should not have been billed for firefighting services.  The story describes city officials as having said the bill was a "mistake."  It is not clear that that is the exact term city officials used, but it is certainly a curious description for (a) a three-page itemized statement that someone had to have spent a lot of time putting together, that (b) was quite deliberately and publicly rationalized by the city fire chief to the media.  At any rate, it appears the bill is off.  Sylvia Moore is awaiting written confirmation.

SECOND UPDATE: It seems the city did not call the bill a "mistake."  They called it an "error."  Right down to the $347.00 for food, the $57.00 for erosion damage repair, and the $700.00 for the busted fire nozzle.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

NOT the Dawning of the Age of Aquarius

By Fczarnowski (Own work).
Okay, so Pope Francis is not Pope Benedict.  That much is obvious.  He didn't take a traditional name.  He doesn't do the Traditional Latin Mass.  He wouldn't wear the mozetta on the day of his election, and he doesn't wear red shoes.  For his first Mass as Pope, he would not bend to the norms for papal Masses.  He celebrated Holy Thursday at a prison and washed the feet of women, thereby hanging priests and laymen who have fought and suffered to get rid of liturgical abuses out to dry.  He refuses to live in the papal apartments, thereby probably making life rather harder for his underlings than it needs to be.  He has revived the use of the modernist ferula of Pope Paul VI, and insists on keeping his pre-pontifical really ugly iron pectoral cross.  To the great joy of standard-issue, '70s-style liberals, Pope Francis gave the appearance of being one of them.

But then the Holy Father started saying things.  And doing things.  Things that suggest that maybe, after all, this is not the pontificate under which the Church will change her hard teachings in order to salve the conscience of a guilty world.  Witness:

March 15th: In his first sermon as Pope, Francis touches on a theme he continues to emphasize over and over, namely, the reality of the devil; and he points out the stark choice that lies before us: God or the devil.
We can walk as much as we want, we can build many things, but if we do not profess Jesus Christ, things go wrong. We may become a charitable NGO, but not the Church, the Bride of the Lord. When we are not walking, we stop moving. When we are not building on the stones, what happens? The same thing that happens to children on the beach when they build sandcastles: everything is swept away, there is no solidity. When we do not profess Jesus Christ, the saying of Léon Bloy comes to mind: "Anyone who does not pray to the Lord prays to the devil." When we do not profess Jesus Christ, we profess the worldliness of the devil, a demonic worldliness.
April 1st: Pope Francis urges priests to provide generous access to the Sacrament of Penance:
Open the doors of the Church, and then the people will come in…if you keep the light on in the confessional and are available, then you will see what kind of line there is for confession.
April 6th: Pope Francis preaches on the non-negotiability of any part of the Faith:
How's our faith?  Is it strong? Or is it sometimes a bit superficial?...the Faith isn’t negotiable....There has been, throughout history of the people, this temptation: to chop a piece off the Faith...not to be so very rigid.  But when we start to cut down the Faith, to negotiate Faith, a little like selling it to the highest bidder, we take the path of apostasy, of disloyalty to the Lord.
April 15th: The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith smacks down the liberal wingnut Leadership Conference of Women Religious -- with the approval of Pope Francis.

And so the Church was a Mother, the Mother of more children, of many children. It became more and more of a Mother. A Mother who gives us the faith, a Mother who gives us an identity. But the Christian identity is not an identity card: Christian identity is belonging to the Church, because all of these belonged to the Church, the Mother Church. Because it is not possible to find Jesus outside the Church. The great Paul VI said: "Wanting to live with Jesus without the Church, following Jesus outside of the Church, loving Jesus without the Church is an absurd dichotomy." And the Mother Church that gives us Jesus gives us our identity that is not only a seal, it is a belonging. Identity means belonging. This belonging to the Church is beautiful.
...Jesus in the confessional is not a dry cleaner: it is an encounter with Jesus, but with this Jesus who waits for us, who waits for us just as we are. "But, Lord, look...this is how I am."  We are often ashamed to tell the truth: "I did this, I thought this."  But shame is a true Christian virtue, and even human...the ability to be ashamed: I do not know if there is a similar saying in Italian, but in our country to those who are never ashamed are called sin vergüenza: this means "the unashamed," because they are people who do not have the ability to be ashamed and to be ashamed is a virtue of the humble, of the man and the woman who are humble.
May 8th: In an address to the International Union of Superiors General, Pope Francis emphasized the obligation of persons in the religious life to obey their human superiors; the authority of the Church; the need to think with the mind of the Church; and the falsity of the dichotomy between Christ and His Church.

May 12th: Pope Francis canonizes the 813 Martyrs of Otranto, put to the sword by Islamic jihadists for refusing to renounce the Catholic faith, then joins the Marchers for Life in Rome.

May 13th: Pope Francis has his pontificate consecrated to Our Lady of Fatima.  The Holy Father has repeatedly expressed his deep devotion to the Blessed Virgin, a devotion not shared by the modernist crowd.

So, no, on balance, I would say this is not the dawning of the Age of Aquarius.  The liberal wing's hopes that Pope Francis will change the Church's teachings to suit them are as ill-founded as the über-trad wing's fears that he will do just that.  Both the hopes and the fears are rooted in a lack of faith.  However many things Pope Francis may do that I find disconcerting, he is still the Pope; thanks to the graces of office, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Pope has always been, and will always be, a Catholic.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Random Thoughts

-- Bl. Pope John Paul II was often criticized for having cranked out more canonizations than all his predecessors combined.  Yet this week, Pope Francis outdid them all in a single stroke by canonizing the 813 Martyrs of Otranto, who died on August 14, 1480.  Let the standard-issue, '70's-style liberal Catholics with the "COEXIST" bumper stickers spelled out in religious symbols take note of the fact that Pope Francis, who they hope will usher in the Age of Aquarius, has raised to the altar 813 men who were put to the sword because they refused to convert to Islam.

-- And the canonization of the Martyrs of Otranto is indeed timely in an age when the world is increasingly hostile to persons with religious, and especially Catholic, convictions.  Not even children are safe: a tsunami of sewage bears down on them from all directions during all their waking hours, from the media, from the culture at large, from schools, both secular and religious.  The primary aim of many schools is apparently not to educate children, but to stamp out the faith that their parents try to instill and crank out docile little sexualized atheist footsoldiers.  That is why the Church should consider lowering the age at which the Sacrament of Confirmation is administered.  This Sacrament confers precisely the grace that children need to resist the unholy pressures exerted on them even by persons in authority over them.  Perhaps infant Confirmation should be universally adopted in the Latin Rite, even as it is done in the Eastern rites.

-- Arch-abortionist Kermit Gosnell has been convicted, among other things of three counts of murder and one count of involuntary manslaughter.  In order to avoid the death penalty, he waived his appeals in exchange for a recommendation of fixed life (without parole).  Unable any longer to ignore the story, and in an extraordinary display of chutzpah, the abortion lobby spins it into a cautionary tale against the abrogation of Roe v. Wade.  We are solemnly warned (e.g., by Harry Reid, the creepy Senate Majority Leader from Nevada) that Gosnell provides an example of the sort of back-alley butchery we would get if we again made abortion illegal.  Yet we had been equally solemnly promised that if we legalized abortion, that would be the end of coat-hanger abortionists like Gosnell, whose house of horrors emerged at a time when abortion on demand has been enshrined as a constitutional right for decades.

-- As I have previously made the case in this space, we should seriously think about restricting the franchise to persons who own property.  This is not unprecedented, nor is it on a par with conditioning the right to vote on some arbitrary factor like race.  There is a logic to giving the vote to property owners, because they are the ones who pay for government.  A great evil would be removed from society if those who do not pay taxes were prevented from voting themselves largess out of the pockets of those who do pay taxes.  And, by the way, if owning property were required to be able to vote, I myself would be disenfranchised.

-- For the 37th time tonight, the House of Representatives voted to "repeal" Obamacare.  This has no chance of surviving in the Democrat-controlled Senate, and everybody knows it.  Yet the House, with its power of the purse-strings, really could kill Obamacare, by the simple expedient of de-funding it.  That it does not do this proves it is not serious about getting rid of Obamacare.

-- The Obama administration's line on its burgeoning scandals is, in essence, that the scandals are the work of rogue operatives and Obama is too out-of-touch and too ignorant to have known what has been going on on his watch.  The idea was considered laughable that Ronald Reagan did not know about the Iran-Contra affair, yet we are being propped up to believe that Barack Obama did not know about the massive corruption of his own administration until he read about it in the papers.

-- The IRS scandal proves, not that the IRS has rogue employees, but that the entire agency itself is rogue, and needs to be abolished.  

-- And speaking of the IRS, it is the IRS, with its famous bedside manner, that is slated to administer Obamacare.  That should keep anybody with a brain awake at night.

-- At any rate, there is still pistachio almond ice cream from Baskin Robbins, topped with hot fudge.  Even better than booze.  At least until the Obama administration gets around to abolishing ice cream, on Obamacare grounds.  But then, maybe the abolition of ice cream is what it would take to get people to wake up to the fact that the Obama administration is the thing that really needs abolishing.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Thou Art a Priest Forever

Fr. Scott Carroll, probably as a seminarian.  Source.

The Holy Mass and the Sacrifice of Calvary are one and the same.  At Mass, we are really at the foot of the Cross.  What the priest does at Mass is really done by Christ; and what Christ does is also really done by the priest.  Christ offers Himself; the priest offers himself.  The priest and the victim are one.  This identity of the priest and victim is shown in the traditional Mass, where each article of the priest's vestments is a symbol of the Passion, and the chalice is also clothed in vestments to match those of the priest.  The priesthood is about self-sacrifice.

Sometimes God is pleased physically to accept this sacrifice.

Deacon Scott Carroll, aged 45, was a seminarian for the Diocese of Toledo and was to have been ordained to the priesthood on June 22nd.  But the deacon had been battling cancer for some time, and during the week of May 6th, it became clear that the disease had taken a grave turn.  Confronted with these circumstances, Bishop Leonard Blair rose to the occasion.  To fulfill the desire of this son of his, and to ensure that he would not die without the indelible character of Holy Orders on his soul, Bishop Blair ordained Scott Carroll to the priesthood at his parents' home on Wednesday, May 8th, and assigned him as associate pastor of his home parish of St. Joseph in Maumee, Ohio.  

Now Father Carroll, failing in body, could unite his sufferings to Christ's on the cross in a new and greater way.  On Friday, May 10th, the new priest, alter Christus, offered Mass -- Christ offering Himself, Father Carroll offering himself.  He fell asleep after it was over, and opened his eyes on eternity.

How great is the goodness of God, to implant in this man the desire to be His priest; to sustain him in his sufferings; to bring him through cancer to the end of his priestly studies -- and then, in the last hours of his life, to lavish him with graces to strengthen him at the moment of death and increase his glory in heaven!  If He wills, God can give us everything in an instant.  Nor should we be surprised if it should turn out that Father Carroll was a man of constant and fervent prayer.  That his last acts on earth should be the reception of Holy Orders and the offering of Holy Mass was surely a reward for perseverance in prayer not only for himself but also for the consolation of his family and friends, who were privileged to be shown such evident proofs of God's love and mercy.

We should pray for the family and friends of Father Carroll, newly bereaved, and also for his soul, in case he still has some Purgatory time to serve -- it is a very bad habit we have fallen into of instantly canonizing the dear departed, and leaving them without the assistance of our intercession.  

Yet it seems more likely that it is Father Carroll, a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek, who is busy doing from heaven the work he intended to do on earth, interceding for his family and friends, and for us.


Sunday, May 05, 2013

Four Conversions

Raising of Lazarus, 15th century Russian icon.  The raising of Lazarus, dead four days, stinking and bound up in burial bands, symbolizes the raising of a soul dead in sin to the life of grace.
"...I will have mercy on whom I will, and I will be merciful to whom it shall please me."  Exodus 33:19

Some miracles of mercy that have not quite passed out of living memory:

For Mary's Inheritance, A Parricide and a Blasphemer

On December 19, 1942, 19-year-old Claude Newman of Bovina, Mississippi lay in wait for his grandmother's estranged, abusive husband, Sid Cook at Cook's home.  When Cook entered, Claude shot him to death, took his money and fled.  He was eventually caught, tried and convicted, and sentenced to die in Mississippi's electric chair.  

One night, while awaiting execution, Claude noticed what he thought was a trinket hanging around the neck of another prisoner in his cell block.  When Claude asked him what it was, the other prisoner became angry and embarrassed and threw it on the ground at Claude's feet.  Claude picked it up and looked it over.  It was a Miraculous Medal.  Unable to read or write, and almost totally ignorant about the Christian faith, he did not understand what the medal was or know whose image it bore.  Nevertheless, he felt attracted by it, and decided to put it on.   

It would not be long before Claude's ignorance would begin to be cured.  He was startled out of his sleep by a touch on his wrist, and saw a woman of surpassing beauty standing there.  He was frightened and confused, but she said to him: "If you would like me to be your Mother, and you would like to be my child, send for a priest of the Catholic Church."  Then she vanished, and Claude screamed for a Catholic priest.

The next morning, Fr. Robert O'Leary was called to visit Claude.  Claude told him his incredible story, and then, along with the four other men in his cell block, asked for instruction in the Catholic faith.  The other prisoners helped Claude with his studies, because he was illiterate; his story attracted some religious sisters to the jail, and led to religious instruction for more prisoners.  Soon it became clear that among Claude's instructors in the Faith was Our Lady herself, who continued to visit him and teach him, in advance of his catechism lessons, doctrines that he could not have learned on his own.  Fr. O'Leary became convinced that Our Lady was indeed visiting Claude when she reminded him, through Claude, of a secret vow he had made to her while he was lying in a ditch in Holland in 1940, and which she was still waiting for him to keep.  

One particular prisoner at the jail was not among those who joined Claude in taking religious instructions.  His name was James Hughs, and he was also a convicted murderer awaiting execution.  "This man was the filthiest, most immoral person I had ever come across," said Fr. O'Leary.  "His hatred for God and for everything spiritual defied description."  He had been brought up Catholic, but now absolutely refused the ministrations of a priest.  And he hated Claude with a fierce intensity.  But God had not yet given up on James Hughs.

Finally, the catechism lessons were complete, and Claude Newman received the Sacrament of Baptism on January 16, 1944.  He was scheduled to be executed at five minutes past midnight on January 20, 1944.  Fifteen minutes before he was scheduled to die, he was granted a two-week reprieve by the governor.  Claude was completely heartbroken.  "What have I done wrong these past weeks," he cried, "that God would refuse me my going home?"  Fr. O'Leary suggested to Claude that he offer up every moment of his separation from his heavenly Mother for the conversion of James Hughs.  Claude agreed to this and made the offering with the priest's assistance.  

Claude's separation from his heavenly Mother finally ended on February 4, 1944, when Mississippi's executioner sent a fatal current of electricity through his body.  To the wonder of those present, he had gone to his death like a bridegroom to his wedding, and took his seat on the electric chair as though it were a throne of gladness.

This scene of rejoicing seemed unlikely to be repeated when, three months later, James Hughs was scheduled to meet his end.  He persisted in his hatred of God up until the date set for his execution, and could not be persuaded to so much as kneel down and say an Our Father.  Fr. O'Leary was present at this execution as he had been at Claude Newman's, since state law required a clergyman to witness executions; but he had hidden himself from sight, because Hughs had threatened to blaspheme God if he caught sight of a clergyman.  When he was strapped into the chair and asked if he had any last words, Hughs began to blaspheme anyway.  Then suddenly, he stopped.  He fixed his gaze on a corner of the room, his face the picture of horror, and screamed in terror.  He begged for a priest.  Fr. O'Leary emerged from his hiding place, the room was cleared, and Hughs made his last confession.

When the witnesses were readmitted into the execution chamber, the sheriff asked Hughs what had made him change his mind about seeing a priest.  Hughs said that Claude, the black man whom he had hated so much, was, at that moment, standing over in the corner with the Blessed Mother standing behind him, a hand on each of his shoulders.  "And Claude said to me, 'I offered my death in union with Christ on the Cross for your salvation. She has obtained for you this gift of seeing your place in Hell if you do not repent.' I have been shown my place in Hell, and that's why I screamed."  Hughs then went peacefully to his execution, freed from sin and fortified by the Last Sacraments.

Out of the Blue: Public Enemy No. 1

"Dutch" Schultz, notorious mobster, bootlegger, extortionist and racketeer, was born Arthur Flegenheim in 1901 to German Jewish immigrants.  His mother tried to raise him up in the Jewish faith, but before the age of 20 he was already seriously involved in organized crime.  During the Prohibition era, he made a fortune from the sale and distribution of illegal liquor; after prohibition, he continued to prosper in the numbers racket and extortion.  

The Dutchman was known for his brutality and his ruthlessness; nor was he above turning his own hand to murder.  On one occasion, at a meeting with another gangster and with his lawyer, who was then defending him on tax evasion charges, Schultz accused the other gangster of skimming $70,000 off their extortion racket.  An alcohol-fueled argument ensued, during which the other man admitted to skimming $20,000, to which he considered himself entitled.  Schultz pulled out his pistol, stuck it in the man's mouth, and pulled the trigger.  "It was as simple and undramatic as that," said the lawyer, Dixie Davis -- "just one quick motion of the hand. Dutch Schultz did that murder just as casually as if he were picking his teeth."  Schultz then apologized to the lawyer for having killed someone in front of him.

Dutch Schultz finally went too far even for the other mobsters when he tried to order the assassination of Thomas Dewey, the U.S. Attorney who was prosecuting him for tax evasion.  He had gone to the Mafia Commission for permission to take out Dewey, who was hurting his criminal enterprises; but, fearing the law enforcement backlash that would result from such a hit, the Commission turned him down.  When Schultz failed to accept this decision gracefully, the Commission put out a contract on him in order to prevent a hit on Dewey.  

And so it was that on October 23, 1935, the Dutchman, along with three other mobsters, was gunned down at the Palace Chop House in Newark, New Jersey.  Schultz did not die immediately, but dragged himself back to his table and asked for an ambulance.  He was transported to the hospital and underwent emergency surgery.  

Schultz is said to have previously investigated the claims of the Catholic faith during one of his tax evasion trials.  He is said to have decided to convert, motivated by the belief that Jesus Christ had kept him out of prison, and also by a desire to ingratiate himself to Italian mobster Charles "Lucky" Luciano.  Whatever the case may have been, Schultz, who only hours earlier had been engaged in planning crimes -- perhaps even the murder of a U.S. Attorney -- summoned a Catholic priest, apparently out of the blue, and expressed his desire to die a Catholic.  He received the Sacrament of Baptism and the last rites from Fr. Cornelius McInerney and died in the bosom of the Church on the evening of October 24, 1935 at the age of 34.  He is buried at Gate of Heaven Catholic cemetery in Hawthorne, New York.

The Commandant of Auschwitz

Without a doubt, this is the most offensive of all these conversion stories, from a human point of view.  Human pusillanimity tempts us to think that here, God's Mercy clashes with His Justice.  All of these stories are about men who were destroyers of life; but this story is about a destroyer of peoples, a man with the blood of millions on his conscience, who murdered on an industrial scale.  And it begins with the kindness of jailers and the ringing of monastery bells.

Rudolf Höss was born in 1900 in Baden-Baden to parents who gave him a strict -- perhaps even straitjacketed -- Catholic upbringing.  When he was a teenager, he became convinced that his priest had violated the Sacramental seal by repeating to his father something he had accused himself of in confession; he soon stopped going to confession altogether and ultimately fell away from the Faith.  After serving with distinction in World War I, he became involved in political extremism and found his way into the Nazi party in 1922.  He joined the ranks of the SS at the invitation of Heinrich Himmler and was assigned, first to Dachau, then to Sachsenhausen, and finally was appointed commandant at Auschwitz in April of 1940.  There he lived in a villa with his wife and children and presided over the implementation of the Final Solution, of which Auschwitz was chosen as the locus.  Through study and experimentation, and sustained by his fanatical devotion to the Nazi ideology, Höss turned his camp into a powerhouse of genocide, dealing out death at the rate of thousands of human beings per hour.  By the time he was replaced as commandant in December of 1943, he had presided over the deaths of about 3 million people.  Between May and July of 1944, Höss returned to the camp and added to this grim total by supervising the liquidation of nearly half a million Hungarian Jews.

Höss evaded capture for nearly a year after Germany's defeat, until he was finally taken by British troops.  He testified at the Nuremberg trials, and was turned over to the Polish government to be tried by its Supreme National Tribunal.  On April 2, 1947, he was found guilty and sentenced to death.  He waived his right to appeal for clemency.

While in the custody of the Poles, Höss had been treated with kindness and decency, expressions of living faith that filled him with deep shame.  Then, while he waited in solitary confinement for the carrying out of his sentence, the finger of God on Höss' forehead: the sound of bells ringing from the local Carmelite monastery.  There is power in the ringing of bells, blessed and baptized and consecrated to the service of Catholic worship; it is no wonder the world in our day has declared war on church bells.  How hell is despoiled by the ringing of Church bells.  Rudolf Höss, the Monster of Auschwitz, the Commandant of Death, guilty of the blood of millions, awaiting his own death, heard Church bells, and called for a Catholic priest.

At first Höss' request was not heeded, so he repeated it in writing.  A priest was finally found who could speak German: Fr. Wladislaw Lohn, S.J., the Jesuit Provincial of Cracow.  Twenty-seven of his priests had suffered in Auschwitz; twelve had died.  Fr. Lohn is said to have approached the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy at the very convent in which St. Faustina lived to ask them for their prayers before undertaking his delicate and difficult mission to the great tormentor of Poland and of his own Jesuit brethren.  

Fr. Lohn met with Rudolf Höss on April 10, 1947 and spent several hours with him.  At the end of this lengthy interview, Höss repented of his apostasy, made a formal profession of faith, made his confession and received absolution.  The next day, Fr. Lohn returned and gave Höss Holy Communion, which he received on his knees, weeping.  On April 12th, Höss sent the following statement to the state prosecutor:
My conscience compels me to make the following declaration. In the solitude of my prison cell I have come to the bitter recognition that I have sinned gravely against humanity. As Commandant of Auschwitz I was responsible for carrying out part of the cruel plans of the 'Third Reich' for human destruction. In so doing I have inflicted terrible wounds on humanity. I caused unspeakable suffering for the Polish people in particular. I am to pay for this with my life. May the Lord God forgive one day what I have done.
On April 16, 1947, Rudolf Höss was taken to Auschwitz and hanged by the neck from a gallows specially erected there for the purpose.  He died for his unspeakable crimes, having been first snatched from the jaws of hell, all because of the kindness of his jailers and the ringing of church bells.  

How great and unfathomable are the mercies of God.