Sunday, January 31, 2010

Literary Giants, Literary Catholics

I know that everybody out there is dying to know what books that I read. My latest completed read is Literary Giants, Literary Catholics by Joseph Pearce. This is a collection of Pearce's essays on authors and literature. Once again, all the usual suspects are here: Chesterton, Belloc, Greene, Benson, Muggeridge, Waugh and Tolkien. There are also one or two surprises like an essay on Paul McCartney as a poet. One of Pearce's favorite subjects is the poet and convert Roy Campbell. There is also an excellent essay on the "war poet" Siegfried Sassoon. Pearce's essays on Oscar Wilde and the 19th century "decadents" is also enlightening. For those who are interested in Catholic literature and culture, like almost everything else written by Pearce, Literary Giants, Literary Catholics is a good read

Saturday, January 30, 2010

King Charles the Martyr

Today in 1649, King Charles I was executed by the Puritan Parliament led by Oliver Cromwell. The High Church party in the Church of England has long regarded King Charles as a Christian martyr.

O ALMIGHTY GOD, look down, we beseech thee, upon thy Holy Catholic Church in England, in defense of which Thy blessed martyr Charles shed his blood. Mercifully deliver us from such persecutions as our forefathers in his time endured, raise up unto us wise and holy prelates to fill chairs of those for whose hierarchy he suffered; root out from among us all heresy, schism, and sacrilege; forgive our iniquities, heal our dissensions, make wise our ignorance; that we being aided by his powerful intercession, the light of the true faith may shine throughout the land, and coldness and error may be chased from our midst; through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Ralph McInerny (1929-2010)

Professor Ralph McInerny, former professor of medieval philosophy at Notre Dame and prolific author, has died. There is more about Professor McInerny's life and work at First Thoughts.

Ralph McInerny, Requiescat In Pace.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Thanks Art & Janice!

Many thanks to Art & Janice who were there for me in my hour of need.

"Friends always show their love. What are brothers for if not to share troubles?"
(Good News Bible)

The Sign of Jonas

In case anybody is interested, my spiritual reading over the last few months has included Thomas Merton's journal, THE SIGN OF JONAS. Merton would keep his private journal and then edit portions for publication. THE SIGN OF JONAS is Merton's edited and polished journal which runs from Advent of 1946 just before Merton's solemn profession, through his ordination to the priesthood, and ends in July, 1952.

I was actually surprised at how much moaning and complaining that the Trappist censors allowed through to publication in 1953 when this book was first published. Merton starts off complaining about not enough solitude, complaining about writing, complaining about this and about that. There is also much beautiful writing here. There are many spiritual gems which provide much food for thought and deep prayer. The epilogue to this book, the famous "Fire Watch, July, 1952," is considered by many Merton aficionados to be some of Father Louis' best writing. (Merton's name in religion was "Father Louis").

Merton was wonderfully eccentric and wonderfully flawed. In other words, Merton is a "regular guy" that many of us can relate to. He is very approachable. Thomas Merton richly deserves the title of "Spiritual Master."

Monday, January 18, 2010

Martin Luther King, Jr.

When we let Freedom Ring,
when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet,
from every city and every state,
we will be able to speed up that day
when all God's children, Black men and White men,
Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics
will be able to join hands and sing that old spiritual,
Free at Last! Free at Last!
Thank God almighty, we are free at last!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Jesus Wept

"Jesus wept." John 11:35

For my friends Franklin and Angie Hayes whose daughter is missing in Haiti.


(Source: 1979 B.C.P., page 831).

Jury System in Danger in UK?

Apparently, a major criminal trial is going on in England in which the Courts have ruled that there is too great a danger of jury tampering for their to be a jury trial. Read the full story from the blog Gates of Vienna.

Homeland Security

This is Hilarious! Unfortunately, there is more than a grain of truth in it.

Iranian Nuclear Scientist May Have Been Murdered By His Own Government

According to an article in the Times of London, an Iranian nuclear scientist who was recently murdered may have been killed by Hezbollah assassins employed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. The Iranian government has blamed Israel and the United States for the murder, when in fact he may have been killed by his own government due to his anti-government political opinions.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Dead Zone

I confess. I freely admit my guilt. I think that Stephen King is a great novelist. Through the years, one of my guilty pleasures has been occasionally reading a Stephen King novel. I've really only read a handful of King's novels. I've read Pet Cemetary, Gerald's Game, The Long Walk, and Desperation. When I caught the chicken pocks as a mid-thirties adult and was bedridden for two weeks, I waded through all 1000 plus pages of The Stand.

I just finished The Dead Zone (1979). Even though this is a 30 year old book which was made into a popular Hollywood movie and a subsequent TV show, it's still new to me.

King makes no secret of the fact that he is not a Christian. However, I would say that King is an agnostic leaning towards belief. The Dead Zone is really a very spiritual novel. This is the story of Johnny Smith, an everyman who is thrust into an extraordinary situation. Smith is in a devastating car wreck and is in a coma for 5 years. King uses this device to review the cultural and political history of the 1970's and how much change occurred between 1970 when Johnny goes into a coma to 1975 - 76 when he wakes up. Besides the "Rip Van Winkle" effect of his fiance now being married with children and everything being changed, Johnny Smith is also able to see the future.

The curse of being able to know what will happen before it happens is explored. Smith shakes hands with a politician and has a vision where he sees that the candidate for Congress, Greg Stillson, will be elected President and start a nuclear war. If you could go back in time to 1932 or 1933 and you knew the future, would you kill Hitler? The Dead Zone is a great read which holds up well even 30 years later.

Do Catholics Worship Mary and the Saints?

Here's a good column by Jimmy Akin over at NATIONAL CATHOLIC REGISTER which explains why older Catholic literature says that we do "worship" Our Lady and the Saints.

The Last Judgment - A Nightmare

My wife and one of my employees are great fans of the show which I have come to call "AMERICAN IDOLATRY." Now that auditions for this paragon of post-modern American culture are on again, I have a recurring nightmare. It goes something like this:

RYAN SEACREST: "Hello, America. Here we are in Sheol, the place of the dead, for our judges to begin THE LAST JUDGMENT. Our judges will review the life of each contestant to determine where he or she will spend the afterlife. Will it be perfect peace in Heaven in the presence of the Beatific Vision, a period of cleansing in Purgatory, or everlasting damnation in Hell. Well, here comes our first contestant. Contestant number 666 who hails from the deep South and calls himself the Bad Catholic. How are you doing today, Bad."

BAD CATHOLIC: "I'm doing great Ryan."

RYAN SEACREST: "How do you think the judges will like the review of your life."

BAD CATHOLIC: "Well, Ryan I'm confident that I'm a shoo-in for Purgatory, and I'm sure that I was so faithful to Christ and His Church that I'm liable to get straight into Heaven on the first try. I'm shootin' for the Beatific Vision, Ryan."

RYAN SEACREST: "We'll see what our judges think of Contestant Number 666!"

Bad Catholic is ushered into the audition room:

SIMON: "Number 666, Bad Catholic. OK, justify your life."

BAD CATHOLIC: "Simon, I faithfully attended mass almost every Sunday, read lots of Christian literature, and was an awesome Catholic blogger on the internet."

SIMON: "That's it?"

BAD CATHOLIC: "Oh, no. I was a faithful believer and lived a good Christian life."

SIMON: "Oh, really? It appears from your record that you're quite the hypocrite, aren't you? You criticized others, you were downright nasty to a lot of people, you had a lot of hidden sins in your heart. You didn't go to confession regularly, and you totally denied the words of Our Lord that to think it is as bad as to do it."

BAD CATHOLIC: "Uh, well, uh, I intended to go to confession . . . but, but, . . . I really wasn't that bad was I?"

SIMON: "What about what Our Lord said, that if you look upon a woman to lust after her you've committed adultery in your heart. How many times have you done that?"

BAD CATHOLIC: "Well, maybe a couple, but . . . but . . ."

SIMON: "The truth is you're disgusting and pathetic. I'm going to have to say 'NO.'
What do you say Paula?

PAULA: "You know, Simon's really right about all that unconfessed sin and lack of true repentance thing. But I kinda like you. Can't we just let him through to Purgatory and give him another chance, Simon?"

SIMON: "Absolutely not. He's had his chance and he blew it. Randy?"

RANDY: "Yo, Dawg. You know you really were just doin' a put on act with all that church goin' and stuff. And you probably dishonored Our Lord by receiving the Eucharist when your heart wasn't right. That's a BIG SIN, Dawg. You didn't do hardly any works of mercy, like visiting the sick and helping the poor, and when you did you did it grudgingly. The truth is you been a hypocrite, Dawg, just like Simon says. Sorry, Dawg, I gotta say NO."

The floor then opens beneath me, flames shoot up and I fall into the lake of everlasting fire as I hear Randy, say, "WELCOME TO HELL, BABY . . .!"

"O Jesus, watch over me always, especially today, or I shall betray you like Judas."
Saint Philip Neri


Is Global Warming a Hoax By Big Brother?

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Earth is the Lord's and the Fullness Thereof

This is the Day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. Enjoy!

Will It Soon Be a Crime to Be Catholic or Baptist?

Criminal organizations which preach hate, like the Southern Baptist Convention and the Roman Catholic Church, can no longer be tolerated and those who adhere to them must be punished.

What In the World Is Pat Robertson Talking About?

Pat Robertson says that the leaders of Haiti made a deal with the Devil to free themselves from slavery in the late 18th century and that's why Haiti is a poor country and now God has punished them with a devastating earthquake. What in the world is Brother Pat talking about?

Here's a good article from a British newspaper explaining the history of Haiti. Apparently, Pat is talking about vodou ceremonies which took place before and after the Haitian Revolution. Vodou is a mixture of West African Tribal Religions and Catholicism. Who can fault an oppressed and enslaved people from praying to their gods before undertaking to overthrow their oppressors? If you were a slave on a sugar island where slaves were routinely worked literally to death, would you pray to the gods of your people or to the God of the oppressor?

Father Dwight Longnecker has done some SENSIBLE theological reflection on all of this on his blog. Brother Pat's comments about contracts with Satan are highly irresponsible.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

You Must Comply With Our Opinion Or Else!

Society can no longer tolerate the prejudicial and backward views of those who adhere to outmoded concepts like orthodox Christian belief. Those who continue to stubbornly hold to the teachings of hate groups like the Roman Catholic Church must either be re-educated or punished. No opinions disagreeing with the consensus of enlightened thinkers can be tolerated.

Pray for the People of Haiti

PRAYER IN TIME OF CALAMITY: O God, merciful and compassionate, who art ever ready to hear the prayers of those who put their trust in thee; Graciously hearken to us who call upon thee, and grant us thy help in this our need; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Source: 1929 BCP

Prosperity Gospel Part II

We were recently discussing the so-called "Prosperity Gospel." Read about the life of this girl whose cause for sainthood is now being advanced. Almost all of the saints were blessed but most of them weren't prosperous by the world's standards.

(That's TV preacher Joel Osteen in the picture above, whom Evanglical author Hank Hanegraaff, author of Christianity in Crisis: 21st Century, describes as "the preeminent prosperity preacher on the planet." I believe that the early Christian martyrs depicted above were blessed and that their best days were ahead of them, but not on this earth and not in the sense that Preacher Osteen means.)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


From the Rules for Monks by Saint Basil the Great:

"This is the definition of sin: the misuse of powers given us by God for doing good, a use contrary to God's commandments. On the other hand, the virtue that God asks of us is the use of the same powers based on a good conscience in accordance with God's command."

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Prosperity Gospel

Today I went with my wife to her doctor's appointment on how to proceed with her cancer treatment following the completion of chemotherapy. (They are going to run tests and if everything is clear, it's just a matter of monitoring).

Upon returning home and getting the mail from the box, I received a letter which had emblazoned on the front "DEAR JESUS, WE PRAY THAT YOU WILL BLESS SOMEONE IN THIS HOME SPIRITUALLY, PHYSICALLY AND FINANCIALLY." Upon opening the envelope, I was told "THIS LETTER BRINGS SOME GOOD NEWS AND HELP FOR YOU!" Good, after 6 months of cancer treatment and running a demanding law practice solo without my partner (my wife is also my law partner) I need all the good news and help I can get.

The letter goes on to tell me in huge print with large Jack Chick-esq cartoon graphics, "GOD HAS MADE THESE PROMISES TO YOU IN THE HOLY BIBLE . . . POWER TO GET WEALTH" and lists about half a dozen scripture verses in support. There then follows about ten testimonials. For instance, Mrs. R.W. of Pennsylvania relates that she needed a place to live and God answered her prayer by giving her an entire apartment building with paying tenants that she is now the owner of.

And all I have to do is send off in faith for THE BIBLE PRAYER CROSS which has been prayed over by the PRAYER FAMILY in Tulsa, Oklahoma and I will receive MORE HAPPINESS, LOVE, JOY, MONEY AND PEACE. And all of this is free to me. In a few days I will receive my FREE PRAYER CROSS. This letter does not ask for a donation but I am quite sure that when my FREE PRAYER CROSS arrives I will be prompted, since the Lord is getting ready to heal me and my family of all our illnesses and provide us with unlimited amounts of money, to send a donation in support of this ministry.

I told my former Episcopal priest the other day that one of the things that has helped my wife and I during our difficult time is that there is no prosperity gospel in Catholicism. (Although since coming into the Church and subscribing to certain periodicals, I have gotten mail from Catholic groups which is about like this except they are usually talking about Marian apparitions, the Secrets of Fatima, the miracles of Padre Pio and so forth.)

What's wrong with using God like a magic box? Jesus said "Ask and ye shall receive," so if I ask to be healthy and rich how come I can't expect to have my cancer cured and wait for the check to come in the mail?

The venerable old BALTIMORE CATECHISM says this:

"What is Prayer? Prayer is the lifting up of our minds and hearts to God."

"Why do we not always obtain what we pray for? We do not always obtain what we pray for, either because we have not prayed properly or because God sees that what we are asking would not be for our good."

I have BALTIMORE CATECHISM NUMBER 2 which was intended for children. The explanation of the above paragraph says "Asking in His name means asking for love of Him, since the name represents the person bearing it. We ask for what we need to love Him. Even if we do not use these words, what we really mean is this: "O Lord, please give me what I need to please You, and if what I am asking for does not really please You then do not give it to me. Give me instead what would really please You, even if it is a cross." Such a prayer, God has guaranteed to answer. . . . Many people do not pray in the name of Christ, as explained in the preceding answer, but pray in this way instead: 'O Lord, please give me what I want.' And they do not think whether or not it will help them to love God more, and sometimes they do not even care. God has never guaranteed to answer a prayer such as this, as it is not really a prayer but selfishness."

Here's the question, did God bless Saint Peter who was crucified upside down and Saint Paul who suffered many hardships and was then beheaded? Did God bless Saint Therese of the Lisieux who died of Tuberculosis in her early twenties? Did God bless Saint Bernadette whom Our Lady told that she could promise her no comfort in this world? How about Saint Francis who lived as a beggar and was blessed by being given the wounds of the stigmata?

Brothers and Sisters, we serve the CRUCIFIED GOD. Our Lord was a man of sorrows who had no place to lay his head. Why should we expect that we are entitled to more in life than Our Lord? Saint Paul said that he was determined to boast in nothing but Christ and Him crucified. The so-called "Prosperity Gospel" is a great heresy.

Thought for the Day

From THE SIGN OF JONAS by Thomas Merton, entry for Sunday,November 19, 1950:

"Silence not a virtue, noise not a sin. True. But the turmoil and confusion and constant noise of modern society are the expression of the ambiance of its greatest sins - it godlessness, its despair. A world of propaganda, of endless argument, vituperation, criticism, or simply of chatter, is a world without anything to live for."

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

Since I used to be a Southern Baptist, I made sure I found a picture showing a full immersion baptism.

Today, the Sunday after the Epiphany, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord.

From a sermon by Saint Gregory of Nazianzus:

"Today let us do honor to Christ's baptism and celebrate this feast in holiness. Be cleansed entirely and continue to be cleansed. Nothing gives such pleasure to God as the conversion and salvation of men, for whom his every word and revelation exist. He wants you to become a living force for all mankind, lights shining in the world. You are to be radiant lights as you stand beside Christ, the great light, bathed in the glory of him who is the light of heaven. You are to enjoy more and more the pure and dazzling light of the Trinity, as now you have received - though not in its fullness - a ray of its splendor, proceeding from the one God, in Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen."

PRAYER: Father in heaven, who at the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan proclaimed him your beloved Son and annointed him with the Holy Spirit: Grant that all who are baptized into his Name may keep the covenant they have made, and boldly confess him as Lord and Savior; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Professor Roland Bainton on Martin Luther and the Reformation

The following documentary film contains footage of Dr. Roland Bainton discussing Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation. Enjoy!

The Church of Our Fathers

Between Christmas and New Years the BAD CATHOLIC and SHE WHO MUST BE OBEYED managed to get away for a few days to a cabin at scenic PINE MOUNTAIN, GEORGIA. Although I brought a stack of books with me, I wound up reading an old children's book I picked up at an antique store.

The book is THE CHURCH OF OUR FATHERS by Roland Bainton. Professor Bainton was for many years the professor of church history at Yale Divinity School (back when they actually believed in something at Yale Divinity School) and was an ordained Congregational minister. Professor Bainton's most famous book is his biography of Martin Luther which is still in print.

THE CHURCH OF OUR FATHERS was first published in 1941 (the copy I have is dated 1950) and is written at about a sixth grade level. Sadly, what was a 6th grade level in 1950 is just about above the reading level of many adults I know. THE CHURCH OF OUR FATHERS is a beautiful book which, like much of Professor Bainton's works, is illustrated with Medieval and Renaissance works of art.

Professor Bainton was a great popular historian who had a lively and interesting writing style. THE CHURCH OF OUR FATHERS conveys a tremendous amount of information in a simple and direct style aimed at middle grade children. I admit that I learned things about Church history that I did not know.

Although I would say that Professor Bainton had a definite Protestant bent to his writing and writes from a Protestant prospective, he is extremely fair to both sides in the Reformation controversy and writes with sympathy of the Catholic Church both before and after the great schism of the sixteenth century.

Here is an excerpt from Chapter 1: "The Church is our spiritual home. In every village and town the sky line is marked by the slender spire or the square tower of the church. In Europe and America the Church has been the greatest force in shaping the world in which we live. Universities, schools and colleges, hospitals and asylums, better prisons, kinder laws, the ending of slavery and dueling, and the attempt to end war and bring in the brotherhood of man, all these have been in large measure the work of the Church."

From the last Chapter: "The end of this book is not the end of this story. What the years to come hold for men upon this earth no man can tell. If the spirit of Christ does not win, there may be in a short time but few men left upon this earth. But if men go on, then the Church we hope will carry forward her work of healing for mankind. Often in the past she has been sorely tried, and all too often she has sadly failed, but the voice of Jesus has never ceased to recall her to his service, and so it shall be until the end. But if the folly and the crime of men bring the end soon, then will the Church uphold her children through faith in that life which conquers death."

Cowboy Church

Howdy Partners! Why don't we saddle up and bust a wild Bronco for Jesus?

Here in the Empire State of the South, new Protestant Evangelical Churches seem to sprout up like weeds. Each of them have a different flavor or a different twist to attract people to them. In other words, if you don't like worshiping with the old folks down at First Methodist then come on over here to Spirit Filled Inter-Denominational Life Center and listen to electric guitars and wear your blue jeans and T-shirt and get a mocha latte at the Church coffee shop on the way out.

Apparently, one of the new things in the Evangelical world is the "COWBOY CHURCH." On my way to Court in a nearby city, I pass by a sign on the highway leading the way to a "Cowboy Church." The sign has the silhouette of a cowboy kneeling before the cross with his horse standing by and points the way down a rural road. I wondered what this was and asked a friend of mine, who is a former Southern Baptist Seminarian, what this was all about and he explained it to me.

I think that an argument can be made that the original "Cowboy Churches" were all those Spanish Franciscan missions in the Southwest. After all, the Spanish vaqueros were the first "cowboys." Look at a map of the Southwestern United States and what do you see. Towns called "Santa Fe" (Holy Faith), "Los Angeles" (The Angels), "Sacramento" (Sacrament), not to mention San Diego, San Francisco and others. A good argument can be made that the original "Cowboy Church" is the Catholic faith brought by the Spanish to the American Southwest.

Of course, any movement that leads unchurched people to faith in Jesus Christ is a good thing. So let us pray for our separated brethren in the Cowboy Churches.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton

Today, the Church celebrates the Feast Day of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton. After being widowed, Saint Elizabeth converted to Catholicism and founded an order of nuns.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

Happy New Year! Today, January 1st, the Church celebrates the Feast of Mary the Mother of God.