The last weekend of October was supposed to be another routine National Conference for the American TFP, similar to the many conferences hosted in years past. However, several factors coincided to make this year’s conference an event far from the ordinary.
The approach of Hurricane Sandy, along with news of snowstorms to the west, gave a powerful backdrop for this year’s events, providing many parallels which the different speakers alluded to throughout the conference. In a sure sign of Divine Providence, the threatening weather did not begin until well after most guests had departed at the conference’s conclusion.
Over 200 supporters, members, and friends of the American TFP gathered October 26-28 at the TFP’s national headquarters in Spring Grove, Penn. As guests arrived Friday evening, lively discussions soon filled the medieval-style tent as the wonderful aromas of wood-fired brick oven pizza enhanced the ambience. Students from St. Louis de Montfort Academy were on hand to serve meals, and helped assure things ran smoothly throughout the conference.
The conversations lasted long into the night as the guests continued to arrive, from Pennsylvania locals to visitors from as far away as Brazil and Hawaii.Persecution of the Church — Why Our Lady Weeps The theme of the conference coincided poignantly with an important anniversary: “40 Years after Our Lady’s Miraculous Weeping in New Orleans: Reflection, Reparation, and Action.”
In his opening remarks Saturday morning, Mr. Michael Drake related to participants the different storms threatening our culture, the approaching Hurricane Sandy serving as a chilling reminder.
Mr. Mario Navarro da Costa, director of the TFP’s Washington Bureau, continued the morning with “Reflections on Why Our Lady Weeps,” giving the comments of Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira in 1972 after Our Lady wept in New Orleans, then covering a series of recent news stories accentuating reasons Our Lady has reason to weep today. His talk was followed by Mr. Luis Solimeo explaining the history of liberation theology and the crisis within the Church, with Mr. Gustavo Solimeo offering the solution to the Church’s crisis: always looking to the perennial teaching of the Church, and having absolute confidence in the Queen of Heaven.
Following a break for lunch, Mr. Rex Teodosio presented “The Islamist Persecution of the Church Around the World,” highlighting the plight of Catholics around the world in the midst of persecution by Muslims, along with clearing many misconceptions regarding Islam in general. Mr. James Bascom next spoke regarding “Communist and Secularist Persecution Against the Church,” detailing the plans of radical environmentalists for the destruction of society. The afternoon concluded with Mr. Michael Chad Shibler speaking of “The Imposition of a Civilization Contrary to the Catholic Ideal,” explaining the dangers in modern technologies and media, which are being used to destroy man’s capacity for contemplation and deep thought, as well as being a barrier to the spiritual life.
Our Lady’s Graces and Blessings
Breaks between the various talks provided opportunities for refreshments and the renewal of old friendships, while simultaneously giving time for making new friends amid discussions of the topics covered by the different speakers. Though these moments seemed all too brief, Our Lady’s blessing on the gathering could be felt during the lively convivium, as participants savored the chance to talk with like-minded Catholics from around the country.
After many more conversations during a festive dinner, Saturday concluded with the traditional candlelight rosary procession. TFP members in ceremonial habit marched in procession before the American TFP’s life-sized statue of Our Lady of Hope, Macarena, carried on the strong shoulders of supporters. When the procession reached its destination, the melodious chants of the Salve Regina, Litany of Loreto, and Ave Maris Stella resounded in the cool autumn air, enchanting all present and giving fitting honor to the Queen of Angels.
The evening concluded with an inspiring video presentation on the life of Blessed Jose Sanchez del Rio, a fourteen year old boy who bravely suffered martyrdom for Christ the King during Mexico’s Cristero War. Conversations afterward continued long into the night as the gentle light of the full moon illuminated the fall landscape, clearly a sign of Our Lady’s maternal protection.
A Return to Order
Sunday’s talks and events centered on introducing the TFP’s new book titled: Return to Order: From a Frenzied Economy to an Organic Christian Society — Where We’ve Been, How We Got Here, and Where We Need to Go.
Mr. Norman Fulkerson began the day with an inspiring talk titled “Signs of Hope, Grace, and Reaction,” telling of the importance of the action of angels in the life of grace, and how myth forms a powerful means for shaping public opinion and individual perceptions. In a unique fashion, Mr. Fulkerson concluded his talk by emphatically thanking the angels present, which received an enthusiastic standing ovation from the audience.
The author of Return to Order, American TFP Vice-President Mr. John Horvat II, gave a detailed introduction to the book’s scope and contents, garnering much enthusiasm and anticipation in his audience concerning the book’s imminent release in 2013, after some 20 years of work on the project. This was followed by Mr. Michael Whitcraft giving a preview of a portion of the book regarding organic solutions to today’s problems, both
moral and economic.
On Sunday afternoon, the final talk introducing the book was offered by Mr. Robert Ritchie, delving into practical ways in which supporters can help the campaign to promote Return to Order, and the importance of the ideas contained in the book as a Catholic solution to our nation’s problems. Throughout the presentation, Mr. Ritchie was certain to emphasize how the campaign for promotion of Return to Order can be considered the American TFP’s most important campaign.
Christ the King and the Reign of Mary
The afternoon concluded with Holy Mass in the nearby city of York, with music provided by a choir of TFP members accompanied by Mr. Philip Calder on organ. Fittingly, the celebration began with a magnificent chant popular since the days of Charlemagne, “Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat!” (Christ conquers, Christ reigns, Christ commands!) Mass for the Feast of Christ the King underscored the recurring theme of the need for Our Lord to reign over temporal society.
Upon return to TFP Headquarters, many marveled at the transformation which had taken place in their absence. The tent for meals had been taken down entirely, and the indoor meeting room had been transformed into a medieval banquet hall. Amid great mirth, the highlight of the evening, and, as many would remark later, of the conference as a whole, was the keynote address given by Prince Bertrand of Orleans-Braganza, who spoke on “Return to Order and the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.” So important was the speech to him, that for the first time in his many years of attending the American TFP’s conferences, his remarks were given entirely in English.
Summing up what those before him had alluded to, Prince Bertrand encouraged all to have confidence in the Mother of God, who said at Fatima, “Finally, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.”Refreshed physically and spiritually after a very busy weekend, conference participants returned home, fully aware of the different types of storms on the horizon, but trusting in the solution to both: absolute confidence in the Mother of God. Through the many graces given, may Our Lady use all those who attended to implant the reign of her wise and Immaculate Heart in America and throughout the world.
Refreshed physically and spiritually after a very busy weekend, conference participants returned home, fully aware of the different types of storms on the horizon, but trusting in the solution to both: absolute confidence in the Mother of God. Through the many graces given, may Our Lady use all those who attended to implant the reign of her wise and Immaculate Heart in America and throughout the world.