Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Some Catholic Writers

I have an addiction. I admit it. I am a bibliophile. I love books. I love to buy them, feel them, stack them, hoard them, and occasionally read them.

For my holiday reading, I just finished a book about other books. Of course, one danger of reading books about books is that it makes one want to go out and acquire more books.

The book is SOME CATHOLIC WRITERS by Notre Dame's Professor RALPH MCINERNY. McInerny is himself a Catholic Writer being the author of many novels as well as scholarly works. Professor McInerny is perhaps best known for the FATHER DOWLING series of mystery novels.

In SOME CATHOLIC WRITERS, Professor McInerny profiles 35 writers all of which were at least nominally Catholic, fallen away Catholic, or in the case of one non-Catholic, had what McInerny considers a Catholic sensibility.

All the usual suspects are here: FLANNERY O'CONNOR, WALKER PERCY, G.K. CHESTERTON, HILLAIRE BELLOC, ROBERT HUGH BENSON, GEORGES BERNANOS, ETIENNE GILSON, GRAHAM GREENE, JACQUES & RAISSA MARITAIN, THOMAS MERTON, J.F. POWERS, EVELYN WAUGH and others. There are also some surprises. Professor McInerny has included JAMES JOYCE, F. SCOTT FITZGERALD and ANTHONY BURGESS among his Catholic writers. Although Joyce and Burgess, the author of A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, were fallen away Catholics who had renounced their faith, McInerny says that their Catholic upbringing informed their writing and haunted their lives. Professor McInerny also thinks that a Catholic sensibility informs the work of F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Also surprising is the inclusion of a non-Catholic, WILLA CATHER. McInerny believes that Cather's novels DEATH COMES FOR THE ARCHBISHOP and SHADOWS ON THE ROCK are two of the best American "Catholic novels." Professor McInerny also debunks the post-modern revisionist view of Cather as a lesbian. In the same vein, Professor McInerny criticizes the view of KATE CHOPIN's controversial novel THE AWAKENING as a proto radical feminist tract. THE AWAKENING ruined CHOPIN'S career as a novelist when it was published in the late 19th century because of its frank descriptions of female sexuality. McInerny says that CHOPIN was an orthodox Catholic and that her novel is really about the effects of the sin of adultery.

SOME CATHOLIC WRITERS packs a tremendous amount of information into only 154 short pages. This is a great read for anyone looking for insight into Catholic literature and Catholic culture.

The Feast of Saint Thomas A' Becket

Today, December 29th, the Church honors Saint Thomas A'Becket, Chaucer's "Holy, Blissful Martyr," who was murdered before the altar in Canterbury cathedral for defying the political authority of King Henry II.

Danish Newspaper Says Obama is Greater than Jesus!

Yes, indeed, the world has totally lost it. The "WORLD" as we Christians know, was always lost in sin and death, but now it is worse than ever. Apparently, a Danish newspaper editorial has proclaimed that Barack Obama is greater than Jesus Christ. When is Obama going to raise the dead?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Chairman Mao Honored on White House Christmas Tree

The White House Christmas Tree has an ornament honoring Chairman Mao. We can have a "Holiday Tree" honoring a Communist Dictator but cannot have anything on the "Holiday Tree" to honor God incarnate in the man Jesus of Nazareth. Incredible.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Feast of Stephen

Today, December 26th, is the Feast of Saint Stephen the Martyr.

The Priest

I just finished reading THE PRIEST by Ralph McInerny. Although this novel is 37 years old (being published in 1973) and is set 41 years ago (in 1968), the book was new to me and I enjoyed it immensely.

Ralph McInerny was for many years the professor of Medieval Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. Over the years, he has also written many novels the most famous of which are the Father Dowling mysteries. Early in his career as a novelist, McInerny set out to write "serious" fiction. THE PRIEST is one of his efforts at a "serious" novel. This book was also a best seller when it was first published in the early seventies.

THE PRIEST is set in 1968 in the fictional diocese of Fort Elbow, Ohio. The priest of the title is Father Frank Ascue, an up and coming young priest and scholar who, after being the best and brightest at the local seminary, has just completed his Doctorate of Sacred Theology in Rome. Father Ascue returns to Fort Elbow expecting to be appointed to the seminary faculty. Instead he is assigned by the Bishop to be the second assistant at an inner city parish. THE PRIEST is full of plots and subplots. McInerny writes from multiple points of view and introduces us to many characters all of whom have some connection with Father Ascue.

The novel concerns the crises and turmoil in the church and in American society at large in the late 1960s. As George Orwell famously said of Graham Greene, "there is a tendency for people to go to bed together almost at sight and with no apparent pleasure to either party." Sex is uppermost in everyone's mind, as it seems that it still is in real life. A large subplot involves Father Frank's sister Charlotte, who is organizing protests against Pope Paul VI's encyclical Humanae Vitae, which reaffirmed the Church's traditional stand against birth control. Despite the teachings of the Church, which everyone expects to be changed, Charlotte has started using the pill. Now Charlotte and her husband, Howard, can make love every night without worrying about pregnancy. Sex has been totally divorced from reproduction. Remember the old saying "familarity breeds contempt." Howard becomes bored with Charlotte and begins having an affair with a young client who is not much older than Charlotte and Howard's 19 year old daughter.

Clerical celibacy is very much an issue in this book. A hippie priest, Phil Bullard, seduces and then marries a nun, Sister Eloise. All this after Father Phil has already had an affair with another woman and asked to be laicized. Father Phil is depicted as the crusading liberal who blocks the entrance to the draft board, a la Daniel Berrigan. Phil and Eloise are married by another radical left wing priest who teaches at the seminary and after being suspended from the priesthood, hooks up with the flaming homosexual philosophy professor from the local college. In the meantime, Father Frank's niece, Barbara, has gotten herself pregnant by a seminarian from the local seminary who is struggling with his vocation. Frank and Charlotte decide that the best thing to do is to procure their daughter an abortion. When Father Frank fails to oppose his sister and brother in law's plans to abort their grandchild, Frank has a crisis of faith.

There are other subplots. There is an entire subplot involving the auxilary Bishop of the Diocese who is a political opportunist and will be a radical liberal when it gets him power and will become a total conformist when that advances his career.

In other words, THE PRIEST, although it is about serious issues, is a giant soap opera. I had great fun reading it. This book has been out of print for years, however, a search on the internet looks like copies are readily available.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Even More Scary Stuff - Britiish Parliament Attacks Churches

Here's even more scary BIG BROTHER uber left totalitarian news out of Great Britain. Under a new law, Churches may be required to hire persons as priests and ministers who do not agree with or abide by the moral teachings of the Church.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


This is an awesome video - looks like it should be a good book its advertising.

Anglican Morality?

More craziness.

A priest in the Church of England has advised his poor parishioners to shoplift to make ends meet. So, an immoral act (theft) is moral if you need what you're stealing real bad?

Even More Scary Stuff

I am a proud member of a soon to be illegal hate group: THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH! How long will it be until we here in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave face active persecution for our beliefs?


More Scary Stuff

Here's what's going on in Canada. Can the U.S.S.S.A. (United Soviet Socialist States of America) be far behind?

Here's an article about what may be brewing right here at home.


Is this the U.S. Senate or the Supreme Soviet?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Standing at the Foot of the Cross

I have been away from this blog for quite some time now. But I have been very busy. I can hardly remember what life was like B.C. ("Before Cancer"). I heard a priest last week on Father Benedict Groeschel's program on EWTN say that standing in support of someone who is sick is like St. John standing at the foot of the cross. In some mystical way, those who suffer represent Christ on the cross and suffer with him.

Today at Eucharistic Adoration I read this from Thomas Merton's The Sign of Jonas: "The source of all sorrow is the illusion that of ourselves we are anything but dust. God is all our joy and in Him our dust can become splendor. The great sorrow of mankind is turned to joy by the love of Christ, and the secret of happiness is no longer to see sorrow except in the light of Christ's victory over sorrow. And then all sorrow contributes somehow to our happiness."

Saint Paul says "For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ." 2 Corinthians 1:5. "For I consider the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." Romans 8:18.

We will always suffer to greater or lesser degree. When we suffer directly we suffer with Christ on the cross. When we stand by those who suffer directly we stand at the foot of the cross with Saint John and Our Lady.