How to Reverse the Catholic Exodus

Saturday, June 12, AD 2010

Let us pray for all those change agents that are striving to bring back the authentic Catholic culture inside parishes, chanceries, and apostolates.

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For RealCatholicTV’s The Vortex click here.

For the RealCatholicTV YouTube Channel click here.

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5 Responses to How to Reverse the Catholic Exodus

An Exhibition for the Rebuilding of L’Aquila

Sunday, March 7, AD 2010

Here is a snippet: The age of these works of art, isn’t the reason they’re deteriorated. Even though they go back a couple centuries, until a year ago, they were still intact. But on April 6th 2009, the ground shook in the Italian city of L’Aquila.

This exhibition doesn’t aim to show the artistic value of the paintings or sculptures rather it’s a metaphor for the damaging consequences of the earthquake.

_._

Video courtesy of Rome Reports.

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The Church Loves The Homeless And Will Not Abandon Them

Thursday, February 18, AD 2010

Pope Benedict visits a local shelter in Rome and is moved to tears by woman who was once homeless and is now helping others with the same plight.

Here is the complete text of the above YouTube video:

Workers, volunteers and those who are served at  homeless shelter in Rome, were filled with joy by Pope Benedict XVI’s visit.

But it was the pope who was moved to tears while listening to what this woman had to say about over coming homelessness.

“When I got to the hostel I was desperate, but now I’m a changed person.”

She got help and after being rehabilitated she wanted to help others in her shoes and is now a volunteer at the shelter.

During the pope’s visit to Don Luigi di Liegro shelter he affirmed the Church’s commitment to helping the poor.

Papa Bene:

“The Church loves you deeply and will not abandon you.”

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2 Responses to The Church Loves The Homeless And Will Not Abandon Them

  • I hate to ask, but…who sets up the poverty line? I grew up well below the poverty line in the 80s and 90s, but we lived very comfortably and my folks didn’t go into debt.

    I’m all for helping out folks who really need help, I’d just rather not encourage envy from folks that just don’t have lots.

  • Probably some well meaning social worker who believes that not being able to afford a cafe latte and drive a prius is considered the poverty threshold.

4 Responses to One Million Expected To See Shroud of Turin

  • Dear friends,
    I thought you might be interested in a documentary on the Shroud of Turin 
    to premiere on the History Channel on March 30th.
    It is titled “The Real Face of Jesus?”.
    This documentary looks at the Shroud from a unusual angle. 
    Instead of getting bogged down in the authenticity debate, it analyzes some of the unique characteristics found in the Shroud. 
    It is a content-rich, intellectually stimulating blend of science, art, and religion. It focuses on the process of recreating the face of the man in the Shroud from the 3D information encoded in it, and explores the totally unique characteristics of this artifact.
    We co-produced this film and we hope to do our small part in raising the bar for TV productions, which are so sadly shallow these days. The success and future of this kind of production rests entirely in the hands of the audience who tunes in to watch it, so any help in spreading the word will be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you,

    Maria

  • The program was done with exceptional detail, logic and comprehensiveness. It covered all the bases — science, religion, computer graphic technology and appropriate skepticism. I’m a firm believer in the Shroud’s authenticity; but I can understand those who do not accept it. As they say, if you have the gift of faith, no artifact such as the Shroud is necessary; if you don’t have the gift of faith, no such artifact is convincing.

  • I am a dedicated catholic, I feel impelled to give my testimony because one needs to witness to the truth where and when necessary. In 1981 I was very privileged to have had a vision of our lord Jesus Christ in a historic church that was dedicated to St.Peter and St.Paul, I saw our Lords face, so sad.And the crown of thorns on his head so clear was this vision i could see the string of thorns encircled many times and the thorns so clear as if one would be pricked by them, I was totally awestruck and as you can imagine this vision took me from being a christian with many question marks to a fervent believer, after the vision i went to my mothers home when i went in to her living room i told my mother of my wonderful vision and was overwhelmed to discover that my mother had a copy of the shroud of Turin on her wall.I immediately said to my mother, this is Jesus Christ, this is who i saw actually as he is. It is him. The holy shroud image is that Of Jesus Christ, I can’t prove it but i would lay my life on this because it is true. I have since 1981 had many other experiences which have also confirmed to me the authenticity of the holy shroud and that it is of our Lord Jesus Christ. One day it will be recognised as true and venerated as the wonderful relic that it is, and i look forward to that day. Yours in Christ … Fred

  • Fred,

    I’m with you.

    I too believe that the Shroud is the real deal!

Cardinal Newman on Fasting

Wednesday, February 17, AD 2010

“And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He was afterward an hungered.” Matt. iv. 2.

{1} THE season of humiliation, which precedes Easter, lasts for forty days, in memory of our Lord’s long fast in the wilderness. Accordingly on this day, the first Sunday in Lent, we read the Gospel which gives an account of it; and in the Collect we pray Him, who for our sakes fasted forty days and forty nights, to bless our abstinence to the good of our souls and bodies.

We fast by way of penitence, and in order to subdue the flesh. Our Saviour had no need of fasting for either purpose. His fasting was unlike ours, as in its intensity, so in its object. And yet when we begin to fast, His pattern is set before us; and we continue the time of fasting till, in number of days, we have equalled His.

There is a reason for this;—in truth, we must do nothing except with Him in our eye. As He it is, through whom alone we have the power to do any good {2} thing, so unless we do it for Him it is not good. From Him our obedience comes, towards Him it must look. He says, “Without Me ye can do nothing.” [John xv. 5.] No work is good without grace and without love.

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Saint Valentines Day

Sunday, February 14, AD 2010

Here is a good explanation on the origins of Saint Valentine’s Day, which today has been truncated to Valentine’s Day.  It is written by Ronald J. Rychlak of InsideCatholic titled simply St. Valentine’s Day.

The Catholic Church actually recognizes several different saints named Valentine or Valentinus (including St. Valentin Faustino Berri Ochoa, St. Valentine of Genoa, and St. Valentine of Strasbourg). Most people, however, trace the story of St. Valentine back to a Roman priest in the year 270. He was arrested and imprisoned for performing marriage ceremonies for Christian couples at a time when such ceremonies were prohibited (as married men were exempt from the Roman army). Valentine also may have aided other Christians who were being persecuted during the reign of Emperor Claudius Gothicus (Claudius II).

Valentine was brought before the emperor and told to renounce his faith, but even under extreme torture he refused to do so. According to legend, couples whom he had married brought him flowers and gifts while he was in prison, which gave rise to the tradition of giving flowers and gifts in his honor.

Valentine tried to convert Emperor Claudius to Christianity, but his efforts were not well received: Claudius had Valentine executed outside Rome’s Flaminian Gate on February 14, 270. According to another legend, while still in captivity, Valentine restored the sight of his jailer’s blind daughter. On the day before his execution, he sent her a farewell message and signed it, “from your Valentine.” That, of course, is said to have established another tradition.

More than two centuries later, in 496, Pope Gelasius marked February 14 as a celebration in honor of Valentine’s martyrdom. According to some accounts, this date was chosen to preempt a pagan fertility festival known as Lupercalia, which took place at about that same time. Lupercalia involved a lottery by which young people would draw the name of a mate for a year. With the new holiday, Gelasius instead had participants draw the name of a saint to emulate for a year.

Unfortunately, the heroic story of Valentine’s piety has been almost completely eclipsed by the “flowers, candy, and cards” holiday that we know today. Gelasius’s efforts to Christianize mid-February seem to have come to naught, and we are left in the ironic position of celebrating romance on a day named after a celibate priest.

To read the complete article click here.

Happy Saint Valentine’s Day!

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3 Responses to Saint Valentines Day

Res et Explicatio for AD 2-4-2010

Thursday, February 4, AD 2010

[Update at the bottom of this post]

Salvete TAC readers!

Here are my Top Picks in the Internet from the world of the Catholic Church and secular culture:

1. The USCCB scandal continues as the U.S. bishops continue to issue denials of wrongdoings.

Mary Ann of Les Femmes blog asks why does the USCCB continue to cooperate with evil.

An interesting twist to this story is how the Boston Globe and New York Times covered the homosexual pedophile abuse scandal in the Church quite vigorously yet not one peep when the USCCB is caught red-handed with direct links to anti-Catholic organizations.

2. A great discussion about the origins of the phrase, “The Dunce Cap“, provided for a clarification by Friar Roderic.  He provided a video that explains the steady progression as a Protestant insult, ie, to call Catholic dunces for being aggressive in their Catholic beliefs, to the more secularized version which has turned it into a catch phrase for idiocy.

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Res et Explicatio for AD 11-9-2009

Monday, November 9, AD 2009

Salvete TAC readers!

Here are today’s Top Picks in the world of Catholicism:

reagan pope john paul ii

1. Today is the twenty year anniversary of the fall of the Berlin WallPope John Paul II, Ronald Reagan, and Margaret Thatcher all played pivotal roles in bringing down Communism and discredited all socialistic and atheistic systems the world over.  Pope John Paul II played the most important role of the three, providing the moral backbone that is needed when confronting these manifestations of evil.

Newt Gingrich, Callista Gingrich, and Vince Haley wrote a timely article concerning this important anniversary titled The Victory of the Cross: How spiritual renewal helped bring down the Berlin Wall.  For this article click here.

2. Dave Hartline has already posted three articles here with us.  His latest is titled, Following the 2009 Election Results which Way is the Tide Turning toward Truth or Relativism?

For the article click here.

For all of Dave Hartline’s articles on The American Catholic click here.

3. Catholic Culture has changed their look again.  Unlike the last time I mentioned their new look, I have to say it is a major improvement.  It’s much easier to find Diogenes of Off the Record (under Commentary).  Blue has replaced what I think was the color pink as it’s primary color and the fonts are much stronger.

For the Catholic Culture link click here.

For Diogenes, which is under Commentary, click here.

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2 Responses to Res et Explicatio for AD 11-9-2009

Movie About Saint Josemaria Escriva

Sunday, November 1, AD 2009

There Be Dragons

A new movie about Saint Josemaria Escriva’s early years placed during the Spanish Civil War has been produced and will be released in 2010 A.D. titled, There Be Dragons.

Saint Josemaria Escriva was born in 1902 A.D. in Barbastro, Spain.  Later at the age of 26 in Madrid Saint Josemaria started the apostolate that would eventually be called the Work of God, or simply Opus Dei, in pre-Civil War Spain in October of 1928 A.D.  Opus Dei would experience delays in progress with the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 A.D.  This is the period that the setting of the movie is placed in.

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4 Responses to Movie About Saint Josemaria Escriva

  • Josemaria Escriva

    self proclaimed saint, by an opus dei pope.

    he is the guy responsible for the murder of pope Jean Paul I.

    i cant even believe this is on a religious website..
    tho im not surprised, catholic religion was infiltrated by opus dei or he same pagan opus dai.. do research ppl dont watch this.

  • Alik,

    You’re not familiar with the Church God established on earth.

    Once it is bound on earth, it is bound in Heaven.

  • are you a priest? im wondering if your associated with church in a way that i am not. i believe in Allah.

    i researched : Once it is bound on earth, it is bound in Heaven.

    i do not understand how that is relevant. are you referring to the church?

    The concept of “binding and loosing” is taught in Matthew 16:19 and 18:18, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” In this verse, Jesus is speaking directly to the Apostle Peter, and indirectly to the other apostles. Jesus’ words meant that Peter would have the right to enter the kingdom himself, would have general authority therein symbolized by the possession of the keys, and preaching the gospel would be the means of opening the kingdom of heaven to all believers and shutting it against unbelievers. The book of Acts shows us this process at work. By his sermon on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:14-40), Peter opened the door of the kingdom for the first time. The expressions “bind” and “loose” were common to Jewish legal phraseology meaning to declare forbidden or to declare allowed.

    i was wondering if you could explain more about church that God established.

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Day 2: Reaction To The Passing Away Of Ted Kennedy Around The Catholic World

Thursday, August 27, AD 2009

Ted Kennedy young

Day II of what Catholics are saying on the passing away of Edward Moore Kennedy around the web (will be continuously updated until tonight at 7:00 pm CST):

A Catholic Funeral for Ted Kennedy by Dr. Edward Peters of Canon Law

A Catholic Funeral for Ted? It’s a Lie, a Sham, a Scandal, a Pretense, an Insult to faithful Catholics by Robert Kumpel of St. John’s Valdosta Blog

Dissident Catholic America magazine doesn’t want to talk about Ted Kennedy’s stance on abortion and trashes Patrick Madrid by Father John Zuhlsdorf of What Does The Prayer Really Say?

Who can have a Catholic Funeral & more by Elizabeth Scalia of The Anchoress via First Thoughts

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One Response to Day 2: Reaction To The Passing Away Of Ted Kennedy Around The Catholic World

Ted Kennedy, A Devoted Father

Thursday, August 27, AD 2009
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy and his estranged wife Joan pose with their son Patrick who graduated from Fessenden School in West Newton on June 2, 1983. Joining in are son Edward Kennedy Jr. (L) and daughter Kara (R). Patrick is the youngest son and graduated Magna Cum laude from the 47-member ninth grade class at the exclusive all boys school. (UPI Photo/Jim Bourg/Files)

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy and his estranged wife Joan pose with their son Patrick who graduated from Fessenden School in West Newton on June 2, 1983. Joining in are son Edward Kennedy Jr. (L) and daughter Kara (R). Patrick is the youngest son and graduated Magna Cum laude from the 47-member ninth grade class at the exclusive all boys school. (UPI Photo/Jim Bourg/Files)

Ted Kennedy was a devoted father.

Many years ago, before my complete embrace of our Catholic faith, I used to read a lot on Ted Kennedy due to my fascination of his political career and of his father, Joseph P. Kennedy Sr.  There were many good and bad things I encountered, though what stood out above all was his devotion to his children.

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32 Responses to Ted Kennedy, A Devoted Father

  • Tito, here I have to draw the line. Ted Kennedy was a terrible parent for his kids. His constant womanizing and alcohol abuse demonstrated a complete lack of concern for the figure he cut before the world and before his kids. I join you in prayers for the man’s soul, but I differ with you strongly that Kennedy has anything to teach anyone about being a parent except as a strongly negative example.

  • From the Curt Jester blog site:

    http://www.splendoroftruth.com/curtjester/archives/2009/08/for-sen-kennedy.php

    “Sen. Kennedy who was once pro-life became quite a vigorous proponent of legal abortion. This much at least most of the Catholic articles reference kind of a caveat so they could also praise him. No mention that he also supported contraception, cloning, ESCR, homosexual acts, homosexual marriage, and opposed the Defense of Marriage Act. When a Senate bill was put forth to attempt to save Terri Schiavo, Sen. Kennedy was the leader of the opposition. So when it came to five non-negotiable teachings of the Catholic Church, Mr. Kennedy was 0 for 5.”… Read More

    Social justice and the common good begin with submission to the teaching of the Body of Christ, His Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Ted Kennedy consistently defied Holy Mother Church when it came to the most important thing: the innocent lives of the unborn.

  • All of the dramatic coverage of the death of Ted Kennedy is so unbelievably pathetic. The “Lion” of the senate; how silly and melodramatic. Look, the guy is dead so he will be judged by God and God alone. The eternal decision is unknown to us as we are merely humans. One thing is certain, judgement will occur. That said, I will speak of worldly matters.

    I think Kennedy was a pompous, drunken zealot who benefited from inherited wealth and soaked the federal payroll for 47 years as a US Senator. Once again, the founders never imagined “career politicians.” My biggest issue with Kennedy is personal. As a Catholic, he was an embarassment. He divorced and remarried, which is an issue but not the most alarming by any stretch. Much more emphatic, he took opposite and public positions on the five “non-negotiable” issues of the Catholic faith. These are Abortion, Euthanasia, Embryonic stem cell research, Human cloning and Deviate homosexual marriage. Deviate is my word.

    I would not deny him a Catholic funeral but I would not allow one of those showbiz events as though he lived his Catholic faith, which of course, he did not.

    Please understand, repentance is a hallmark of the Christian faith. All of us can make grave errors of judgement here on our earthly journey. Failure to recognize these, repent for them and seek forgiveness risks eternal separation from God. There is no other alternative.

    Certainly, Kennedy was not a great man. He did, however, have the great benefit of being born into wealth, never having to work for a living and then putting on this absurd dog and pony show of being the champion of the common man.

    What a joke.

  • The Onion couldn’t have said it better.

  • One the obituaries includes a little vignette that pretty much sums up his parenting skills:

    In 1991, Kennedy roused his nephew William Kennedy Smith and his son Patrick from bed to go out for drinks while staying at the family’s Palm Beach, Fla., estate. Later that night, a woman Smith met at a bar accused him of raping her at the home.

    Smith was acquitted, but the senator’s carousing — and testimony about him wandering about the house in his shirttails and no pants — further damaged his reputation.

  • This reminds me in many ways how Ted Kennedy exhibited some of the traits of Saint Joseph.

    Tito, like the others above have said, I’m all for offering prayers for the repose of his soul. But really, this is stretching things mightily too far.

  • I am aware of his faults (terrible faults).

    I just wanted to highlight something good about the man. Not all his actions as a father are commendable, but he is human (which doesn’t excuse them, just saying).

  • I don’t think anyone has forgotten his faults (the media is not going to show someone’s good side, the faults get a lot more views!) But to say that he has no positive traits is a little cold hearted.

    I was raised by my father and he was by no means perfect, but he was still a staple for me. I’m sure his kids would appreciate some positive aspects of their father being posted and not all the horrible mistakes he made in the past.

    There is one part I may think is overboard, but I do not know that man’s heart……truly the only one who does wouldn’t posting on this board.

  • Tito, I think YOU are the commendable one. My heart doesn’t feel kindness toward Senator Kennedy, but it is folks like you that perhaps can pray him into the House of the Lord, if he isn’t there already. I personally think he owes an apology to fifty million souls and not deserving to be languishing in a place of refreshment, light and peace.

  • The body is not even in the ground, and the vultures are out in full force.

  • True Mr. Defrancisis. Even I was surprised when the Lying Worthless Political Hack, a\k\a Nancy Pelosi, used the occasion of Kennedy’s death to push for ObamaCare.

    http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/278298

  • Back from sabbatical. Too rich to not comment. Yea yea Teddy was good father. But not good uncle- on the scene the night that nephew Willie Smith got a little too close and personal with young lady resisting his Kennedyesque charms. Will give you that he was surrogate Dad to the offspring of Jack and Bobby. Great job- numerous of Bobby’s kids have led horrorshow lives. Briefly saw piece with Matt, son of Joe, son of Bobby last night. Whose Mom was Philly Main Line debutante who fell for Bobby’s eldest son. Gave birth to Matt and twin bro Joe Jr. Pitched a huge fit when hubbo dumped her for staff cutie. Nice try, Tito. I get you want to say kind words for deceased and will not guess how God ruled when he arrived at St. Peter’s Gate. But the 2-on-2 sessions with Chris Dodd in D.C. bistros…..Triggering the corsening political debate with the Robert Bork Land of Back Alley Abortions Speech…..turning on pro-life sentiments in early 70s to become big time abort advocate…..and oh yeah 40 years since he swam out of the Chappaquidick River. Leaving Mary Jo to suffocate in the back of the Olds. Hope he found peace in the other life. But kinda lame to praise his (limited) parental skills.

  • Good to see you back Gerard! I was wondering where you were.

  • Hi, Don. Dealing with issues like passing of dear mother this summer. Forgot to mention real reason why Jacqueline Kennedy sought the hand of Ari Onassis- to pick up enough scratch so that Caroline and John Jr. wouldn’t have to rely on Uncle Teddy. Cannot imagine much delight for Jackie particularly when Mr. O. was in frisky mood. But both youngsters turned out well- even with Caroline’s brief and unsuccessful dip into political pool.

  • My condolences Gerard and may she now be enjoying the Beatific Vision. I hadn’t heard that about Jackie, but it doesn’t surprise me. No one in his immediate family expected much of Ted. I think Joe Kennedy viewed Ted as a spare in case anything happened to the older boys. Little did he know.

  • “I am aware of his faults (terrible faults). I just wanted to highlight something good about the man.”

    So promoting the murder of hundreds, if not, thousands of babies are nothing more than terrible human faults.

    That seems like saying that although Hitler was responsible for murdering hundreds of Jews; but, hey, the guy is human! Give him a break!

    Besides, he happened to resurrect what once was a devestated Germany!

    Genocide as that shouldn’t be a biggee; so shouldn’t the killing of hundreds of babies, too!

  • I don’t mean any offense to anyone on here, but even if he did do more than just “terrible faults”, it wouldn’t be mine, yours, or anyone else’s in this physical world to judge that. To merely point out a good characteristic is the same as pointing out a bad one, but to condemn a person isn’t any of our responsibilities.

  • What we may not judge is the state of someone’s soul. We most certainly may and SHOULD judge the intrinsic rightness or wrongness of someone’s actions.

    I remain puzzled that people don’t (or won’t) get that distinction.

  • “…but to condemn a person isn’t any of our responsiblities.”

    Sure… I’ll be sure to have amended several of our history books that paint historical figures such as Hitler from the evil men they actually were and, instead, substitute a “Kumbaya” ecumenical version more pleasing to all.

    Heil, Hitler — You Poor Misunderstood Wreck!

  • I didn’t say to agree with them, the point of history is to learn what went wrong and right so that we do not repeat mistakes. So by not doing what the people who did heinous things did, it is my way of not agreeing with their choices. I don’t agree with Kennedy’s political career or a lot of other people’s for that matter, but just because you might say something nice about someone that has NOTHING to do with the bad they did, that doesn’t mean you are advocating their faults or following their example. It is okay to say that he loved his kids. Not to mention you have no idea his relationship with God, so to say something like he is “not deserving to be languishing in a place of refreshment, light, and peace” is truly NONE of our responsibility. To say that he is a horrible father may not be the opinion of his children, or maybe it is, but it isn’t ours to judge those things.

  • Latasha:

    “So by not doing what the people who did heinous things did…”

    How, exactly, do you suppose we teach people that what these figures did was actually heinous when you would dare paint them in such a way so as to actually legitimize their actions by making them appear as if without stain?

    Sorry — but I shall teach my own children the evil figure that was Hitler so that they know, for a fact, that he was evil exactly because of the heinous things he did.

    You would make it appear the a person, regardless of such heinous things such as promoting genocide, are nevertheless inculpable and, even more, stainless!

    You are given to such a mindset that would make relativists rejoice and sheer tyranny applaud!

  • E.,

    I never said not to condemn actions, I’m guilty of that EVERY day. I never said to paint people as a stainless figure, I also do that probably close to every day. What I was saying that is that it is okay to say something good about someone without agreeing to every horrible thing they did. Also, I am outright disagreeing to at least one comment about how someone personally didn’t think that he deserved eternal peace. We are human, we do not walk on water, we all sin so based on that, none of us know that man’s relationship with his maker, so to say he doesn’t deserve those things is taking God’s role into our own and that is what I disagree with.

    Also, as a parental figure, I said below that there were parts of this article that went overboard and I do not agree with, but if this was my father (faults of his included) I wouldn’t want him to be remembered for only the bad things. That is all I was trying to say, I wasn’t condoning him or Hitler (obviously, but since he was brought up I figured I needed to clarify that.)

  • Latasha,
    You are right in that God wills that we not judge. I suppose I’ve been snared by the devil again! It was my intent to applaud Tito for his graciousness and to point out my lack of same. It might be appropriate for you to pray to God for me that I receive the grace to forgive Senator Kennedy for his complicity in the murder of fifty million defenseless souls — and that I might be able to forgive him and pray for his salvation.

  • Latasha:

    “To say that he is a horrible father may not be the opinion of his children, or maybe it is, but it isn’t ours to judge those things.”

    So, when a father is found to have kept his own daughters locked up in the cellar for several decades as mere prisoners and, moreover, molested and even raped them, converting his very children to little more than sex slaves; is it still not ours to judge the father as actually being wicked, even more — given these remarkably heinous circumstances, exceptionally evil?

    In other words, there are such times when we should call good “good” and evil “evil”.

  • There are probably very few, if any, sinful, evil or corrupt people who have NO redeeming qualities whatsoever. After all, no one can be effectively evil or corrupt without having SOME good qualities (intelligence, charm, attractiveness, artistic or academic talent, etc.) that were originally given to them by God.

    To admit that Ted Kennedy indulged in or was complicit in some very objectively morally evil things (adultery, drunkeness, a reckless homicide, legalized abortion, etc.) is not to deny that he did some good things along the way, or that he was, apparently, personally generous, witty and charming, or that he provided emotional support and guidance to his fatherless nephews and nieces.

    The notion that saints do no wrong and sinners do no right, I think, blinds us to the way in which we are ALL capable of committing or taking part in great evils and also (with God’s grace) capable of heroic virtue.

  • Elaine Krewer:

    Yours is perhaps the most balanced and arguably most enlightening comment.

    Most villains often possess, in spite of the utter corruption of their souls, even small hints of redeeming qualities.

    That is not to say, however, that exponents for such things as the explicit murdering of entire peoplese (in this immediate case, mere babies) are not, on the whole, villains; indeed, it only proves, all the more, just how villainous these actually are.

  • Of course I hope he made it into Heaven. But….

    I can’t think of any man less like St. Joseph than Senator Edward Kennedy. St. Joseph was a just man, poor and worked for a living. There’s a quick strikeout for you baseball fans. But let’s give him another time at bat. Can you imagine a greater contrast than one between a man who lived a celibate life alongside the most perfect and beautiful woman created by almighty God and a twice-married drunken slob who couldn’t seem to stop donating semen to bar-sluts like an irresponsible, rich frat boy?

    Every time I hear his accomplishments touted I can’t help hearing the phrase “What profiteth it a man…” Yes, profiteth; I can’t help it if I was raised with the King James Bible. Less Catholics in the world like Ted Kennedy will mean more conversions to the faith. Rest in peace… good riddance.

  • Latasha, Jay, and Elaine,

    Thank you for driving making my point.

    E.,

    Take a chill pill.

    S.B.,

    Right on.

    Pauli,

    I said some of the traits.

    I also didn’t imply that “some” of those traits he did well “all” of the time.

    Ted Kennedy did many good things as a father. Not all, not most, many. And I appreciate and like that about the man.

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  • Ohhhh…. some of the traits, OK. I see. Being that those are likely traits that every non-filicidal father in the world shares with St. Joseph, I’m not sure why it was included other than to add to the volume of spaghetti thrown against the wall to see if at least some of it sticks. By definition, a saint is a person who achieves a heroic degree of virtue and sanctity. It is not defined as someone who practices a modicum of decency. (Matt 7:11 may apply)I’ve already spoken to that, so I’ll merely suggest that your concept of what defines heroism is quite different than mine.

    The narrative of Teddy Kennedy as exemplary father is primarily a strain on the imagination and belittles the efforts of many good fathers who don’t have professional photographers following them to capture their best moments for posterity.

Reaction To The Passing Away Of Ted Kennedy Around The Catholic World

Wednesday, August 26, AD 2009

Ted Kennedy and Pope John Paul II

Here are what Catholics are saying on the passing away of Edward Moore Kennedy around the web (updates from around the web have ended as of 8-26-2009 AD at 6:32 pm CST):

It’s Already Started: The Party of Wellstone Uses Kennedy’s Death for Political Opportunism by Jay Anderson of Pro Ecclessia

Mixed Record?! my hind end by Rich Leonardi of Ten Reasons

I had been praying for his spiritual health by Jean M. Heimann of Catholic Fire

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14 Responses to Reaction To The Passing Away Of Ted Kennedy Around The Catholic World

"50 Best Catholic films of all time"

Monday, August 17, AD 2009

William Park (InsideCatholic.com) lists, in his judgement, “the fifty best Catholic movies of all time”.

Some readers, myself included, were very surprised by the absence of The Mission. A magnificent cast (including Robert DeNiro, Jeremy Irons and Liam Neeson); a play by Robert Bolt (A Man for All Seasons) — it has, in my estimation, one of the most powerful illustrations of penance and forgiveness in cinema.

The Mission deservedly won seven Academy Awards, and made the top 15 films under ‘Religion’ selected by the Vatican, commemorating 100 years of cinema.

So why didn’t it make the list? — the author doesn’t offer much of an explanation, save that “Bolt’s screenplay for The Mission looks at the Church from the point of view of Dostoevsky’s “Grand Inquisitor.” Steven D. Greydanus, however, explores the complexities and ambiguities of The Mission for DecentFilms.com.

Question for our readers: do you agree with the list? — Do you agree with Warren’s list? Any notable omissions? What would you have selected?

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34 Responses to "50 Best Catholic films of all time"

  • Many of the films on the list, while excellent, don’t really seem to fit into the “Catholic film” category.

    In terms of films that aren’t on the list that do have more of a Catholic focus, I would add Catholics (duh!), The Third Miracle, and Return to Me.

  • To be honest, it seems like a really weird list to me. A lot of the movies on there are at best made by Catholics or deal with themes that Catholics may find compelling, but it seems like a strange list when it comes to “Catholic films”. Even some of the ones on there I really like (Blue, for example) I’d be hesitant to put down as being “Catholic films”.

    If I were to go adding films, I would consider in addition to The Mission:

    The Godfather (the original movie being pretty clearly laid out as a story of damnation set against a Catholic background)

    The Addiction & The Funeral (these two indie flicks have their problems, including convoluted plot and massive amounts of “content”, but both have very interesting explicitly Catholic themes layered in as well.)

    And while it’s not a movie, how about the magnificently done BBC adaptation of Brideshead Revisited from 1980?

  • I suppose a lot of it depends upon what they mean by “Catholic” film. I think the definition was predicated upon a film dealing with Catholic themes (salvation, sin, redemption, divine love, etc.) in a Catholic way – bringing out the Catholic view of these things. Movies that would support Catholic doctrine, although not necessarily mentioning it expressly. Surprised no LOTR mentioned. Regardless of the director’s/writers’/actors’ own subjective understanding of what they wanted the film to get across, by maintaining at least a significant adherence to Tolkien’s work, many of the Catholic themes are present.

    Another film many might find odd for this category, although I think it does an amazing job of exploring themes of sin, penance, salvation, purgatory and redemption (with some objectionable scenes) is High Plains Drifter.

    Can’t comment on The Mission since I have not seen it (will have to do that sometime).

  • Notable omissions:
    The Passion of the Christ
    The Robe
    King of Kings (very Catholic portrayal of Mary)
    The Mission
    Black Robe
    Jesus of Nazareth
    AD

  • I read the comment by Steven D. Greydanus in the link you post.

    http://www.decentfilms.com/sections/reviews/mission.html

    He seems to know a lot about movies but I don’t think he’s been following up Church politics. Liberation Theology is alive and well in Latin America and elsewhere. Unfortunately.

  • I’d also add Hitchcock’s I Confess.

  • The BBC production of Brideshead has to be in the top 10, if not the top 5.

    And the Passion of the Christ, after I paid attention to this, was teeming with “Catholic imagination.” Gibson’s problems aside, the film really comes across as a deeply spiritual enterprise.

  • I happen to second DarwinCatholic’s sentiments; to me, the list strikes me as more secular than it is “Catholic”, with perhaps a very few exceptions.

  • Just to avoid any potential confusion the ‘John Henry’ above is not me. While I agree that the linked review is well done, I am not informed enough to comment on the state of liberation theology in South America.

  • One reason why many films did not get put on the list is that it was an old list, made over 15 years ago. Also, Park defined what he meant by Catholic, and that also should be kept in mind –“The best religious films, and therefore the best Catholic films, convey the great truths of Christianity implicitly rather than explicitly, not unlike the mystery of incarnation itself, in which the Word became flesh in the person of an obscure carpenter from a hick town in a minor province. In addition, this list consists primarily of films that deal with Catholic characters, Catholic society, and the Bible in ways that are not hostile to the Church.”

    Now, would I have a different list? Certainly. I agree with The Mission as being one. I also agree with the Lord of the Rings (I will put it as one, because it is one long epic). But I would also add movies like “Grave of the Fireflies” (based upon his explanation) and “The Matrix,” despite its flaws.

  • …I am not informed enough to comment…

    You don’t have to be informed to make comments on the Internet. In fact, it seems informed comments are usually disregarded in favor of those that are fallacious, condescending, insulting, or emotionally provocative. Nevertheless, I find your approach more appealing.

  • “In fact, it seems informed comments are usually disregarded…”

    If by “informed” you mean those of the Pro-aborts who claim that their opinions are remarkably corroborated by a whole corpus of substantial data and other such compelling evidence for their particular views; then, clearly, it is better to yield to the inferior & even ignorant.

  • Henry K.,

    Something you and I agree on!

    Matrix and Lord of the Rings I thought had direct and indirect references to Christianity.

  • Actually, Matrix had more to do with Putnam’s “Brain in a Vat” than it did either directly or indirectly with Christianity; of course, what do I know?

    I’m not a well-informed Pro-abort.

  • Ummm, e., are you for some reason under the impression that I am a pro-abort or running interference for their abominable positions like some Catholics do? If so, you’re terribly mistaken.

  • The best religious films, and therefore the best Catholic films, convey the great truths of Christianity implicitly rather than explicitly, not unlike the mystery of incarnation itself, in which the Word became flesh in the person of an obscure carpenter from a hick town in a minor province.

    I’m highly sympathetic to that kind of approach to what’s a Catholic film or novel, but at the same time, it strikes me as a fairly fuzzy and personal definition. Being Catholic, I think that Catholicism describes how the world is. Generally, good art is true as well, describing the world in the way it is through a fictional medium. (Some exceptions here, I suppose. I think Apocalypse Now is an incredibly good film, despite bearing little resemblance at all to the real world.) But does that mean every movie I think provides a deep reflection of reality is therefore Catholic?

    At a certain level, perhaps, since there is just one reality. But going by that kind of definition makes it very hard to come together on a film list — especially since often one person will see a film as strongly evoking some truth despite other contradictory elements, while another person will only see the problems.

  • e., implying that Rick Lugari is a pro-abort would be as odd as someone implying that I am an Obama supporter. They don’t come more pro-life than Rick.

    As to the list of films it strikes me as more catholic than Catholic. Half the films on there have not even a tenuous connection with the Faith. Further suggestions for additions to a list of Catholic Films: The Scarlet and the Black, the Agony and the Ecstacy, the Prisoner with Alec Guinness in a Cardinal Mindszenty like role, and I Confess.

  • The passion of the Christ?

    God Bless,

  • How could I forget:

    Joyeux Noel

  • I’m perplexed as to how he came to that conclusion about The Mission, too. The film is far too complex for that reading, even for an amateur like me.

    Agreed as to “Return To Me”–very underrated, old school romantic comedy and a love note to Catholic Chicago. I’m happy to say I saw it in the theatre, too.

    My adds: Barabbas, and the surprising omission: Jesus of Nazareth. I know the latter isn’t a complete success, but the best parts are brilliant and at worst it’s slow and dry.

  • One of my personal favorite “Catholic” movies, in the sense that it portrays Catholic faith and devotion as a normal part of everyday life rather than as a surefire indicator of fanaticism or mental illness, is “The Rookie” with Dennis Quaid. The main character is encouraged to pray to St. Rita — who like St. Jude is regarded as a patron saint of hopeless causes — for the success of his impossible dream of pitching in the major leagues at his “advanced” age (late 30s).

    I also can’t believe that “The Mission” was left off the list; it was a really magnificient movie.

    One of the commenters on the original list disses “Song of Bernadette” — and I happen to agree with him about Jennifer Jones’ voice — but there is a part of the plot that made a lifelong impression on me. (I used to watch this at least once a year on WGN’s “Family Classics” Sunday afternoon movie show.)

    When Bernadette enters the convent, she encounters an extremely strict Mother Superior who boasts of all the penances she performs and openly wonders why the Virgin Mary didn’t choose to appear to her instead. She also insists that Bernadette receive no “special” treatment, and when Bernadette shows signs of illness, suspects her of pretending to be sick to get attention. However, when the doctor informs her that Bernadette is dying and that the pain of her illness — which Bernadette had never once complained about — is too horrible to describe, the Mother Superior is overwhelmed with contrition, rushes to the chapel and begs God’s forgiveness.

    To me, that storyline sums up the difference between practicing self-imposed penance in a prideful or Pharasaical sort of way (NOT to imply that all self-imposed penance is done this way, just that it CAN be) and embracing involuntary penance in a spirit of humility and submission to God’s will.

    Of course, BOTH forms of penance and devotion should be a part of our lives and complement one another. But what I took away from that movie is that being patient with others and one’s own limitations is of greater value in the eyes of God than, say, how often you fast or how late you stay up every night praying.

  • Dale Price:

    Thank-you, dear Sir!

    Any list which would include such films in the category of “Barrabas” and “Jesus of Nazerth” would indeed be within the realm of “Catholic”.

    I would add to that same list, if it were even more comprehensive and not limited to simply movies, such series like “A.D.”, which was amazingly Catholic (at least, in its more complete version which featured St. Paul unambiguously preaching about the Eucharist and not some symbolic Protestant manifestation thereof).

  • Although the production qualities of “AD” were not the greatest (not bad, but not what could be done with a bigger budget), I was pleasantly surprised by the very Catholic approach taken in many of the scenes. In particular, the strong leadership role portrayed in St. Peter.

  • c matt:

    I’d have to agree with you concerning A.D.’s seemingly subpar production qualities; but, more importantly — yes! — the Peter as magnificently portrayed in the series simply seemed to scream, for me, “Catholic”.

    What’s more interesting is the fact that A.D. came from the very same who brought us “Jesus of Nazareth”.

    They don’t make mini-series like these anymore, unfortunately. Gone are the days when they made the likes of “A.D.” and “Peter & Paul”; now, it’s purely more of the Dirty Housewives & American Idol variety.

  • If CASABLANCA (1942) made the list I think SHANE shoud be on there too. After all, Shane really straightened out the evil in the end!!!

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  • Shane, now there was a magnificent film! My father’s favorite Western. Alan Ladd and Jack Palance made wonderful archetypes for Western good and evil.

  • Boy, it’s been a while…

    It seems like when my Dad sat me down to educate me in the The Western, the first one he showed me was Shane, followed by The Searchers. To be honest, I don’t remember either one all that well at this point. I should re-watch it.

    Currently I’d put my favorite western as The Big Country, though that’s a non-standard one in many ways.

  • The Searchers, my favorite western. There was a good DVD released in 2006 with lots of commentaries and extras.

    http://www.amazon.com/Searchers-Ultimate-Collectors-John-Wayne/dp/B000F0V0LI/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&s=dvd&qid=1250645532&sr=8-5

    John Wayne’s finest performance and the culmination of his great creative partnership with director John Ford. One for the ages.

  • While I admit Shane was a great movie (at least, when I first saw it as a kid), if you will actually admit it into such a catalog, might as well allow entrance of such films as A Fistful of Dollars or even The Good, The Bad & The Ugly; if anything could ever merely touch on elements purportedly “Catholic”, it is these.

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Feast of the Transfiguration of Christ

Thursday, August 6, AD 2009

The Transfiguration of the Lord can sound embarrassingly magical. Jesus goes up onto a mountain and his clothes become dazzlingly white. Prophets appear and talk to him. And then it is all over and Jesus tells his disciples to say nothing.

We should hold on to the absurdity of the incident. There is simply no reason for all this to have happened. In particular, there is no reason to put it into a gospel – the evangelist makes no capital out of it, it is simply there.

And this is the strength of the Transfiguration as an historical incident. There is no reason for anyone to have invented it. It is not central to the Christian case. It is not used to win arguments. There is only one reason to put it into the Gospel, and that is because it happened. It is one of those cases of the evangelists writing things down without knowing why they were important, and their very puzzlement is what makes the story so convincing.

Why, then, did it happen? Surely so that we could see and understand that Jesus is at once one of the prophets and the one that was prophesied by them; and that he is God, and lives for all eternity in a blaze of dazzling and unapproachable light.

The true miracle of the Transfiguration is not the shining face or the white garments, but the fact that for the rest of the time Jesus hid his glory so well.

[Reflection courtesy of Universalis.com]

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5 Responses to Feast of the Transfiguration of Christ

  • Interesting analysis.

    I certainly agree as to the lack of reason why the Transfiguration was written down.

    I am uncertain as to the reason why. This is somewhat of a good explanation, but I think I may have to ask a Theology professor for a better answer.

  • The transfiguration was a story that I’ve marveled at from the time my father read it to me as a little kid. The experience of Peter, James and John — as believing Jews — to see their rabbi with none other than Moses and Elijah. The Law and the Prophets. And God himself reiterating his confirmation of Jesus’ identity — how’s that for a validation?

    And yet, it’s the kind of story that — well, you can just imagine the incredulous reactions they’d receive if they actually attempted to convey to their fellow disciples what they had experienced on that mountain. (Imagine if your co-worker turned to you and started relating this experience).

    Little wonder, then, Jesus told them to keep quiet?

    As the commentator notes, it’s the eyewitnesses’ “very puzzlement is what makes the story so convincing.” And likewise, it is in the historical event of the Resurrection that the theological meaning emerges and comes into focus. You can imagine, again, how Peter, James and John might have reflected back on this experience — perceiving it with new eyes.

    From the Catechism:

    555 For a moment Jesus discloses his divine glory, confirming Peter’s confession. He also reveals that he will have to go by the way of the cross at Jerusalem in order to “enter into his glory”. (Lk 24:26) Moses and Elijah had seen God’s glory on the Mountain; the Law and the Prophets had announced the Messiah’s sufferings. (Cf. Lk 24:27) Christ’s Passion is the will of the Father: the Son acts as God’s servant; (Cf. Isa 42:1) the cloud indicates the presence of the Holy Spirit. “The whole Trinity appeared: the Father in the voice; the Son in the man; the Spirit in the shining cloud.” [ St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III, 45, 4, ad 2.]

    You were transfigured on the mountain, and your disciples, as much as they were capable of it, beheld your glory, O Christ our God, so that when they should see you crucified they would understand that your Passion was voluntary, and proclaim to the world that you truly are the splendor of the Father. [Byzantine Liturgy, Feast of the Transfiguration, Kontakion.]

    568 Christ’s Transfiguration aims at strengthening the apostles’ faith in anticipation of his Passion: the ascent on to the “high mountain” prepares for the ascent to Calvary. Christ, Head of the Church, manifests what his Body contains and radiates in the sacraments: “the hope of glory” (Col 1:27; cf.: St. Leo the Great, Sermo 51, 3: PL 54, 310C).

    It is a wonderous story. And to consider that it is true

  • I’m in agreement with you to the truth of the story.

    It’s an incredible story.

    Somewhat akin to St. Joseph harboring the incredible secret of the child Jesus without so much of a simple miracle, yet he kept his silence in quiet dignity with barely a mention.

    Both of these stories are part of the many mysteries that brings me to my knees in complete humility and wonderment.

  • The Transfiguration is our glimpse of Jesus as He will appear in Heaven, and, like the Apostles, I think here on Earth we can only understand a small portion of what occurred.

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Saint John Vianney Play To Debut In Houston

Monday, August 3, AD 2009

Saint John Vianney is being staged as a one-man production titled “VIANNEY” and will be debuting in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston on August 4, 2009 AD.  This is in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the death of this patron saint of parish priests.  The play will continue in other dioceses across America.

Leonardo Defilippis plays the role of Saint John Vianney as he performs at various churches across the archdiocese.  Mr. Defilippis’s one-man stage production opens amidst the chaos of the French Revolution, a time which mirrors the secularization, materialism and anti-religious sentiment of today. Against this dramatic backdrop, a simple ignorant peasant priest enters the backwater town of Ars, a place where no one cares much about their faith, or sees the Church as particularly relevant. They don’t expect much out of John Vianney.

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8 Responses to Saint John Vianney Play To Debut In Houston

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  • Saint John Vianney, the Cure of Ars, was the epitome of humility. When priests in his diocese, jealous of his acclaim, sent a circular letter around asking the bishop to replace him because of his lack of learning, it was accidentally sent to him. He unhesitatingly signed it and sent it on. The priest who originated the letter came and begged his forgiveness. Saint John told him that there was no need to apologize and that he knew that he was an ignorant man and that he should be replaced.

  • We’ll be seeing this when he comes to St. Theresa’s in Sugar Land next Sunday evening. Looking forward to it…

  • I’m planning on watching this also, maybe down by your parts Alan?!

  • Donald R. McClarey Says Monday, August 3, 2009 A.D. at 12:14 pm
    “Saint John Vianney, the Cure of Ars, was the epitome of humility. When priests in his diocese, jealous of his acclaim, sent a circular letter around asking the bishop to replace him because of his lack of learning, it was accidentally sent to him. He unhesitatingly signed it and sent it on. The priest who originated the letter came and begged his forgiveness. Saint John told him that there was no need to apologize and that he knew that he was an ignorant man and that he should be replaced”.

    Never, ever, fight a saint!

    It will be curious to hear who his sermons are presented. Towards the end of his life, they were reputed to be unintelligible. But his parishioners were quite happy. They had heard it all before and knew what he was saying.

  • “To the end of his life the poor Curé could never understand the reason for his own fame. And to begin with, many of his colleagues couldn’t understand it either. An abbé Borjon wrote to him: “Monsieur le Curé, a man with as little theology as yourself ought never to enter a confessional.” The Curé of Ars replied:

    “My very dear and respected colleague, how right I am to love you. You alone really know me. As you are good and charitable enough to deign to take an interest in my poor soul, help me to obtain the favour for which I have been asking for so long, so that I may be moved from a post I am unworthy to fill because of my ignorance and retire into obscurity to atone for my wretched life.”

    This long and awkward sentence was written without irony, but with humility, and its recipient was touched. Fortunately, M. Vianney had his bishop behind him. One day when a priest said to Msgr. Devie: “The Curé of Ars is looked upon as being rather uneducated”, the Bishop answered: “I don’t know whether he is educated or not, but what I do know is the Holy Spirit makes a point of enlightening him.”

  • “Never, ever, fight a saint!”

    You should tell that to Morning Minion who takes almost every opportunity to condemn St. Thomas More as a minion of Satan — and Iafrate had the gall to call Tito Taco “anti-Catholic”; if anything, Morning Minion is the epitome of anti-Catholicism as well as common sense!

  • Note: The latter remark concerning MM’s being the epitome of “common sense” was meant in rhetorical irony; I mean, if magistrates who apply the death penalty to those who commit capital offenses and, therefore, deserve it, are to be condemned by God as evil men; then may God send all judges who rightfully apply the death penalty to criminals who commit capital offenses to Hell, extending all the way back to those in the Old Testament who themselves followed the prescriptions of Mosaic Law that also applied such penalty to criminals who committed capital offense!

Res et Explicatio for A.D. 7-30-2009

Thursday, July 30, AD 2009

Salvete AC readers!

Buckle Up! Because here are today’s Top Picks in the Catholic world:

1. Newspapers outlets and news agencies are reporting that Pope Benedict XVI has signed off on the laicization of Father Tomislav Vlasic.  Tomislav Vlasic is one of the leading priests alleging that apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary have been appearing continuously to six Croat seers since June 24, 1981 in the Bosnian town of Medjugorje.  These apparitions are continuing to this day and has been visited by an estimated 30 million pilgrims.  An estimated 40,000 messages have been conveyed to the seers by the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Officially the Vatican has not decided on the matter of these alleged apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  The Vatican has recently taken over the case of reviewing these allegations from the local Bosnian diocese.

There are skeptics and proponents debating the facts and implications of the latest scandal over Medjugorjie.  But what is clear is that Medjugorgie has lost more of its tarnish these last few years.

I won’t argue with the genuine conversions and sincerity of many believers that have occurred at Medjugorie.  Though I have a couple doubts concerning these apparitions which I will write to in a separate posting for a later date.

2. Quote of the Day:

“We do know that at the end of time, when the great conflict between the forces of good and evil takes place, Satan will appear without the Cross, as the Great Philanthropist and Social Reformer to become the final temptation of mankind.”

Archbishop Fulton Sheen (Life of Christ, p. 10)

Kind of sucks the wind out of your sails doesn’t it if you believe in the redistribution of wealth and all.

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12 Responses to Res et Explicatio for A.D. 7-30-2009

  • “I already love this man!”

    Oh great, Tito Taco has gone all bender on us; what’s next? Same-sex marriage?

  • e.,

    That’s Double-T to you.

  • Sorry, mate; I go for Double D’s! *wink*

  • My “Too Much Information” meter just exploded…

  • I’ve long believed the sheer duration of the Medjugorje apparitions was reason enough to suspect something fishy. Most genuine/approved Marian apparitions happen only once, or a few times, and span a few months at most, like Lourdes and Fatima. Genuine seers may have apparitions occasionally over the course of their lives (like Fatima seer Sister Lucy did) but not “on command” or on a regular basis, and if they do, they don’t publicize them. I could never believe the Virgin Mary was THAT much of a chatterbox that she would talk to these kids (who, of course, aren’t kids anymore) every single day for (as of now) more than 28 years.

    I know lots of people argue that Medjugorje produced all kinds of “good fruit” in the form of conversions, healings, etc.; but the same argument can be made about a lot of other non-approved apparitions, and about organizations such as the Legionaires of Christ and Regnum Christi which are now proven to have been founded on fraud. The “good fruits” are, perhaps, just God bringing good out of a bad situation.

    However, why does article linked above mention Ivan Dragevic’s marriage to a “former beauty queen” — not that there’s anything wrong with that, eh guys?

  • Elaine,

    Good point on that marriage.

    Yeah, nothing is wrong with that, but in a future posting I will touch on this, but briefly say it here.

    The Blessed Virgin Mary asked him to enter the priesthood and he decided not to.

    How many of us struggle for direction from God and here is Ivan telling the Holy Mother “no”.

    That was the back breaker for me.

  • “The Blessed Virgin Mary asked him to enter the priesthood and he decided not to… here is Ivan telling the Holy Mother ‘no’.”

    Ah, but what if the Holy Mother didn’t really speak to him in the first place? Church authorities have ruled more than once that there is no evidence to prove that she did.

    Of course that makes Ivan’s situation even worse, because it means either 1) that he has been duped or deceived into thinking the apparitions are genuine when they are not, or 2) he knows the apparitions are fake and willingly participated in fraud by pretending they were.

  • The Vatican approved apparitions the children didn’t even hesitate to join the convents. Yet Ivan, and a couple others, chose to live a more materialistic lifestyle.

    That is what disturbs me.

    They have broken many of the guidelines that are normally followed to be approved.

    Hence my skepticism on the matter.

  • I see what you mean, in that genuine visionaries normally don’t try to make a living off their visions or messages, and often hesitate to tell anyone about them at first, because they can’t believe Jesus or Mary would choose to speak directly to someone as unworthy as them.

    Although there were no such people as “jet setters” in Bernadette’s time or in the era of the Fatima visions, I can’t picture any of them becoming jet setters and running all over the world, speaking to conferences and giving interviews and such. However, while the majority of genuine visionaries do enter religious life, is it really a “rule” that they HAVE to or else the vision wasn’t genuine?

  • Elaine,

    It’s not a rule, but it certainly lends credibility.

    If Ivan chose to live simply then it would certainly have not put any doubts in my mind, but since he lives like a rock star, it begs the question.

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Fantasy Fundamentalism

Tuesday, April 14, AD 2009

Over Holy Week some strange force caused the Harry Potter controversy to suddenly break out (like the story of the villagers of Eyam, subjected to a delayed-action outbreak of the Plague when a bolt of cloth carrying the fleas was brought out of storage) on our local Catholic homeschooler email list.

These discussions always seem to have two parts, first an explanation of how reading stories in which characters perform magic tempts children to occult practices, than an apologia for Tolkien and Lewis in which it is explained how these authors were Good Christians and their books are deeply Christian because: Aslan is God, good characters never do magic (unless they’re not human characters, at which point it doesn’t count), Galadrial is really Mary, the elves’ lembas is the Eucharist, etc.

Two things annoy me about this whole set of arguments.

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53 Responses to Fantasy Fundamentalism

  • Just want to subscribe to follow comments. ^.^

  • DarwinCatholic,

    There’s a big difference between Christian Allegory, where one can see such the correlation between elements of the Christian Faith (in fact, that is why allegory was quite useful in teaching children the faith in certain cultures) as opposed to something that may actually foster a curiosity for and even a devotion to the occult.

    And, on another note, to those who would actually deny the Catholic Allegorical Theme of The Lord of the Rings (contra even Tolkien himself):

    “…But, at the end of the day, we may, with Tolkien’s approval, speak of the saga as a Catholic masterpiece. A postscript to this might be the observation that no Protestant could conceivably have written this saga, since it is profoundly “sacramental”. That is, redemption is achieved wholly via physical means — cf The Incarnation, Golgotha, the Resurrection, and the Ascension — and the tale is sprinkled with “sacramentals” such as lembas, athelas, Galadriel’s phial of light, mithril, etc.”

    Link:
    Does it make sense to speak of The Lord of the Rings as a “Catholic Masterpiece”?

  • Thing is, Harry Potter’s world does have a lot of Christian symbols in it– enough that there’s a Catholic priest making a podcast on the subject:
    http://www.talkshoe.com/talkshoe/web/talkCast.jsp?masterId=10516&cmd=tc

    Sad to say, Middle Earth has been used to foster occult devotion; often by folks who would deny the symbols if you did point them out.
    http://mepagans.proboards.com/index.cgi?
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Middle-Earth_Pagans/summary
    https://www.penelopebokhandel.no/vare.php?ean=9780738715360
    All they see is elves, magic and dragons.

    It’s sad, because what I think they’re hungry for is what the Church offers, at her best– but they never see it, never taste the rich stories, never feel the symbols twine around their minds and emotions or smell the incense while a candle warms their hand at midnight Mass.

  • Foxfier,

    Now that’s weird — although I can’t say I’m surprised.

    Such erratic devotion concerning things as that such as even Dungeons & Dragons was actually the subject of an earlier film of Tom Hanks that attempted to wrestle with an issue as serious (not to mention, psychologically disturbing) as that.

    It’s sadly tragic.

  • The movie was “Rona Jaffe’s Mazes and Monsters”. The title was chosen to avoid lawsuits by TSR, the owner of Dungeon and Dragons. It was a poor movie and demonstrated a lack of understanding of the hobby. It has become a cult classic at gaming conventions. I have been involved in boardgames and roleplaying games for over 30 years, although my wife is the true roleplaying expert. Roleplaying games are basically harmless although like most hobbies there are nut fringe elements. A good lighthearted look at the hobby is contained in every issue of Knights of the Dinner Table:

    http://www.kenzerco.com/

  • …You’re not talking about Mazes and Monsters?!

    Looking to Mazes and Monsters for a look at the “issue” of D&D or even RPGs is like looking at a Dan Brown novel for insight to the Catholic Church’s history.

    That movie was written like someone had done research by sending letters to the Jack Chick subscriber’s list… besides the fact that D&D isn’t LARP (live action role-play).

    That piece of garbage caused several folks I know to turn away from the folks’ faith, because the flat-out lies it offered caused well meaning relatives to go utterly psychotic about kids playing a role playing game.
    I am not kidding about “psychotic”– a chaplain on the Essex also tried to get one of the guys assigned to do her paperwork kicked out of the Navy, entirely, because he played D&D.
    The Captain said no.
    (odd how she didn’t mind committing adultery with the XO, openly… guess a world with strict moral alignments where actions at odds with your morality can have quick, huge effects just didn’t sit well with her)

    The poor kid the movie is based on– James Dallas Egbert III– was royally screwed up. Here’s his story, minus Hollywood:
    http://members.pcug.org.au/~davidjw/tavspecs/maint/d_master.htm
    He was 15, on college, decided he was gay and tried to commit suicide. When that didn’t work, he when and hid with boyfriends.
    News saw paintings done by the SCA and decided it was D&D based.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zng5kRle4FA is a classic, funny but kinda accurate D&D game….minus that the guy did it with funky character models.

  • There’s a big difference between Christian Allegory, where one can see such the correlation between elements of the Christian Faith (in fact, that is why allegory was quite useful in teaching children the faith in certain cultures) as opposed to something that may actually foster a curiosity for and even a devotion to the occult.

    I’d certainly agree that there’s a big difference between those two things. It’s just that I wouldn’t necessarily agree either that Tolkien wrote Christian allegory (Lewis clearly was, but Tolkien insisted that he hated allegory and didn’t mean LotR to be an allegory) or that HP particularly fosters devotion to the occult (any more so than any other children’s novel set in an imaginary world.)

    There is, I think, a certain danger present in any clearly imaginary world that people may decide they like the idea of trying to live in that world better than trying to live a good life in the real one. Escapism is one of the ways that the devil tempts us to channel our energies into something other than cultivating real virtue.

    Now, there are fantasy authors that I’d keep my kids away from until their mid teens, both because I don’t think they’re very good and because I think they have problematic worldviews (Marion Zimmer Bradley and Anne McCaffery spring to mind), but overall I would not see fantasy as a genre as being overly a temptation to the occult.

    I confess to curiosity as to what some of those who worry about Harry Potter would make of novels such as The Greater Trumps by Charles Williams (a good friend of Lewis and Tolkien) or Last Call by Tim Powers, a devoutly Catholic fantasy author, but perhaps it’s better not to go there.

  • (Guest comment from Don’s wife Cathy): I GM role-playing games for 2 of our 3 kids; however, we are very selective about which published modules we play — fall of Constaninople YES, secret Satanic cult at a monastery in Glastonbury NO, f. ex.. In modules with less historical settings, we tend to downplay the polytheism — but keep almost everything else. The kids prefer fighting monsters in dungeons and the wilderness, while I prefer mystery-themed urban adventures requiring talking to NPCs most of the time (but I’m usually the GM, so I get to pick!). With those provisos (and no evil-aligned PCs, by mutual consent), we manage to have lots of enthralling fun without getting obsessed (we aren’t generally able to make enough time to game to have time to get obsessed about it!).

  • Oh my gosh, what a blast from the past — Tom Hanks in “Mazes and Monsters”! I remember when this movie came out. I was just out of high school and dating a guy who was a big D & D player (and a practicing Catholic; we met through Teens Encounter Christ). I watched it and found it actually pretty laughable. His mom belonged to a charismatic prayer group at the time, and took some flak from some of her friends for letting her son play such an “evil” game. Didn’t seem to hurt him any though. The last I heard he was married, had a couple of kids and a nice job in the computer industry. I guess “Mazes and Monsters” has become the “Reefer Madness” of role playing games 🙂

    I also read “The Dungeonmaster” book some years ago. I thought it was a very good book that did NOT in any way sensationalize role playing games. It provided a very intriguing look into the life of a private detective, as well as the troubled life of Dallas Egbert — who did, tragically, commit suicide within a year after his disappearance. Dallas had an extremely high, genius level IQ (he was attending Michigan State full-time at age 16) and had trouble relating to others his age; he may very well have had Asperger Syndrome (a high-functioning form of autism, often associated with high IQs and “geeky” personalities) on top of his other problems.

    Gaming addiction has been around for years, probably generations, and takes various forms. In the 70s and 80s the big thing was D & D; today it’s Second Life and World of Warcraft. I participate in Second Life occasionally and could write quite a bit about that topic, but I’ll save it for another day.

  • I’m a Final Fantasy man myself.

    I like Warhammer too.

    And the Elder Scrolls universe is also interesting in that it actually has an organized Church that isn’t supposed to be evil, but good. Only they have nine “divines” instead of one.

    Fantasy is a good way to present perennial human issues as archetypes and symbols. It is a little silly to think that fictional “magic” is anything like the ritual magic practiced by actual pagans.

    I suppose it could be in some stories, some get quite deeply into the magic, but most of the time we’re dealing with fire balls and lighting bolts, or turning a man into a duck. Most stories have good magic and bad magic, magic associated with virtues that are practically Christian and magic associated with Satanic values.

    Fantasy is a world of imagination, and having magical powers is often a way to have a wider range of imagination. That’s all. It pushes things along, makes certain implausible things more plausible, gives you more options. None of it is meant to pay homage to Satan. Most real Satanists don’t value ritual magic as much as they do the sort of anti-morals promulgated by people such as Anton LeVey. Or Ayn Rand.

  • It goes back to Flannery O’Connor who pointed out how untrained most Catholics are in reading books, and how they will judge a book filled with Christian themes (like Potter) as unChristian.

  • Unless a story offers small, simple and easily digestible prepackaged slices of catechesis, I want nothing to do with it. Now excuse me while I go fight Sephiroth.

  • It goes back to Flannery O’Connor who pointed out how untrained most Catholics are in reading books, and how they will judge a book filled with Christian themes (like Potter) as unChristian.

    And this, as we know, is the spirit of Vox Nova. 😉 More seriously, I meant to apologize to you Henry for not being more circumspect in approaching that post of yours. I still think your wording was very ambiguous, but I should have asked for clarification before criticizing it.

  • John Henry

    I admit I was annoyed by your response, because I find your responses in general tend to be top-notch (even when we disagree). I originally wrote the post to basically highlight quotes I found from Flannery which I liked, but then put them around in a quick exposition to make it so it is more than just random quotes. I think the point I was making still was put up in the first paragraph, but it’s easy to forget the over-arching context in many an argument (just read Balthasar if you want to see that happen in a bad way from time to time). Nonetheless, I was surprised — but it’s in the past, no? As my Easter post quotes from Resurrection Matins– forgive everything, it’s Pascha.

  • It goes back to Flannery O’Connor who pointed out how untrained most Catholics are in reading books, and how they will judge a book filled with Christian themes (like Potter) as unChristian.

    Though I’m not sure that this is Catholics in particular more than people in general. If Catholics have some tendency towards this, Protestants currently have much more so. And frankly, most people aren’t readers.

    I think O’Connor found the criticism of other Catholics particularly frustrating because she was Catholic, but to a great extent she was criticizing average Catholics simply for being rather average.

  • What I find particular troubling is that I’m learning that so many of my Catholic blogging friends are geeks.

    😉

  • What *I* find troubling is that this post didn’t stir up any anti-HP lurkers… it’s no fun when there’s broad agreement! 🙂

  • I’ve earned my right to be a geek, and I’m proud of it!!!

  • This post is hilarious!

    While I enjoyed reading much of the comments in the thread, it just struck me as spectacularly funny that instead of any substantive discussion dealing with the actual topic of the post concerning Potter or even going so far as provoking the inflamed ire of the HP or even anti-HP camp, we thoroughly went the other direction and indulged ourselves in an enlightening discussion concerning role-playing games, of all things and, for some of us, went to reminisce about former days!

    For those of you still caught up in those role-playing games, didn’t y’all learn something from St. Paul in the scriptural passage that went:

    “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child. But, when I became a man, I put away the things of a child.”
    (1 Cor 13:11)

    ;^)

  • I think that the whole “occult” worry is really overplayed. Even if a story with dragons and such isn’t a particularly good Christian allegory, I don’t really see it as a serious threat to Christianity. I think much of the worries about the occult come from days when sorcery and such were a viable competitor to Christianity. Nowadays I don’t really think that threat exists.

  • What *I* find troubling is that this post didn’t stir up any anti-HP lurkers…

    I know, poor Foxfier thought he’d get to see some sparks fly when he subsribed above; instead it’s an anti-anti-fantasy echo chamber.

  • e., my guess is that even Saint Paul took some time for recreation. If life is all grind stone and no mirth, it is a poor life indeed.

  • She, actually, although with a ‘nim like mine it’s not always clear.

    I wouldn’t consider bloody smiting of horrific evil all that childish…. *shrug*

    Some folks go bowling; I roll dice.

    I was less interested in sparks than in stopping the stuff I’ve seen hurt my friends. Some folks I dearly love are still estranged from the Church because of the actions of well meaning but wrong folks.

  • Well, if any anti-Potter forces want to swarm the post, we appear to have plenty of people with high hit-points ready to stand to the defense…

    E., [what is the preferred punctuation and capitalization for addressing you?]

    Myself, I could never see the point of video or role playing games (though I do enjoy strategy board games and occasionally play Go and chess on the internet) but I’m not sure one can really sort out the rhyme or reason of what people consider a fun way to spend their leisure hours.

    I can never understand how some people manage to spend hours watching sports, and I’m sure that many would question the maturity of my spending an hour or two each day blogging and commenting.

    So long as people don’t let their avocations overwhelm their vocations, I don’t see any harm in it.

  • She, actually,

    Whoops. Sorry!

  • Call me a geek again and I’ll bash ya with my +5 battle-axe!

  • Here, Kyle, use this.
    *tosses a +5 vorpal sword of reason*

    It works nicely!

    JH– no offense taken– and it puts my mind at ease, actually. I spent a lot of time cropping the icon I’m using to make sure it wouldn’t upset folks. ^.^

  • Foxfier (and others),

    My last comments were made only in jest.

    (On the name though, perhaps ‘Sailorette’ (?) might have been a better name to go by ;^) since Foxfier seems to evoke more of a male persona.)

    I really did like going over the comments and found the ongoing discussion about role-playing games rather enjoyable and, in some cases, even interesting, thanks to the sincere participation of folks here & elsewhere.

    I did have classmates in school though who actually participated in a number of these role-playing modules.

    In fact, they not only had D&D but also (and folks can correct me here if I should happen to refer to any of these in error) included other versions such as Marvel World as well as even Star Trek (complete with schematics as well as the popular alien languages, I believe!)!

    At any rate, I think the comments from Darwin Catholic as well as Mr. McClarey remain the more relevant even insofar as the Potter matter (as well as role-playing games) is concerned — less we descend into some deleterious Walter Mittian condition from which there may be no escape.

  • Jeez,

    I just play Civ III. Haven’t even gotten into Civ IV. Guess I’m getting old.

  • Phillip, get it with all the expansions. There is no finer computer strategy game on the market, with the possible exception of Europa Universalis III (There, I’m sure I have raised the blog’s geek quotient by at least 2% with this comment!)

  • Donald, I’m glad to hear that you and your wife are gamers. My wife and I are, too.

    I’m still playing D&D 20 years after I started, and I get to introduce my kids to it, too.

    As I said on a gaming board (Knights & Knaves Alehouse) some months back: trad gamer, trad Catholic…looks like I’m just a trad.

    LOL!

  • Flambeaux we grognards have to stick together!

  • Haven’t even heard of Europa Universalis I or II let alone III. I think you’ve just pegged the geek meter.

  • Phillip I cannot leave you in the dark on such a vital subject:

    http://pc.ign.com/articles/881/881636p1.html

  • Let’s ask an exorcist.

    A quote from Fr. Thomas Euteneuer, president of Human Life International and an exorcist:

    “I’m very set against Harry Potter,” he said. “It’s pumping into our children’s minds the language and imagery of the occult. It’s extremely spiritually dangerous.”

    http://thebulletin.us/articles/2009/02/03/news/local_state/doc4988101b9f018743172734.txt

    Let’s be prudent and take his advice.

  • If that quotation is accurate, Euteneuer is wrong. End of story.

    I know witchcraft. I practiced witchcraft. And neither Harry Potter nor D&D has anything on real witchcraft.

    Avoid it if you feel you must, but don’t slander it out of ignorance.

  • Thank goodness “set” of an exorcist isn’t binding!

    I rather doubt he’s read the books, or even has any idea about what’s inside of them– since he lumps them with Wicca and New Age practices.

    From the sound of the other select quotes– which can be very easily edited to give a false impression, so who knows what the facts are– he’s of the “It has witches? Bad. It has vampires? Bad. It has dragons? Bad.” school.

  • Donald,

    Looks good. Of course I lived too many years in New England and became quite a Yankee (the cheap kind.) That’s why I’m still on Civ III. So it might take a while before I feel comfortable parting with the cash for Europa. 🙂

  • Donald,

    I’m honored to be considered a grognard. 😀

    If you get a chance, drop by the Alehouse. I use the same handle there as here.

  • A long while back, I got a bit annoyed and went into a D&D spellbook to show folks what the “magic” is like– I think it was some idiot “magik” or “magick” or whatever user claiming that D&D was accurate to reality-based magic.

    http://sailorette.blogspot.com/2006/02/oh-irony.html

    I looked into the augment spell “Bear’s Endurance” and the possibly inflammatory “Augury.”

    I also did a long-winded overview of alignments.

  • Being an exorcist does not in itself make one competent to speak on literature or even on the symbolism of evil in literature.

  • Phillip, imagine the library fine! I hope that I would have been honest enough to return the book, but volume I of Napier’s Peninsular War would have been very tempting to retain!

  • Flambeaux, I’ll drop by the Alehouse sometime. It sounds like fun.

  • Connie

    There’s a worse book for people to study. Here, I have a post all about it: http://vox-nova.com/2007/11/01/beware-the-danger-of-wheelocks-latin-grammar/

    As I point out at the beginning, “Wheelock’s Latin Grammar: just the mere mention of this book should send shivers down the spines of good Catholics everywhere. It’s a deceptive little book, trying to convince good, faithful Catholics into reading pagan literature which glorifies the evil pagan gods of Rome.

    Good Christians died so they didn’t have to praise Jupiter or Pluto. Such worship, they believed, would jeopardize their very souls. And what do we have here? A book which an unsuspecting Catholic might use to teach themselves Latin. It convinces its adherents to write out long, detailed praises to the those gods which we all know were in reality bloodthirsty demons. Christians, the martyrs died so we could abandon the ways of pagan Rome, so why do you go back and fall for this blatant piece of pagan propaganda? If you question the seriousness of this, just look at what kinds of books are put next to it: Virgil’s Aeneid, Cicero’s On the Nature of the Gods, or Apuleius’ Golden Ass. Can any good come from a book associated with such evil? Of course not!”

  • I’ve used the Wheelock book to study Latin. It doesn’t strike me as a form of idolatry to translate such texts, but rather the use of what we call classical Latin.

    I’m curious as to what text of quality Latin one would have us translate. The majority of Romans at the time happened to be pagan, therefore, it should show up in their work. I’m not sure that a ‘good Christian’ would be afraid to read the words of a pagan, if the ‘good Christian’ is educated enough in their faith to follow the errors of paganism.

  • Eric

    I suggest you read the post.

  • *big grin* Not quite analogous, but nice.

    It does bring up another point– almost everyone does “world mythology” by fourth grade. For that matter, Stargate: SG1 has a lot of “gods” and powers. (Heck, I even named one of my cats after the worst bad guy!)

    SG1 is also in a similar situation as Harry Potter– it’s a hidden project. Additionally, there’s a lot of rejection of authorty, generally without much of a result.

  • FF, while I’ve seen episodes of SG1 here and there, I just watched the first season in order on Hulu… it’s an enjoyable show (I’m waiting for additional seasons to be posted), but it definitely earns an occasional eyeroll for the various manifestations of the superficial materialism and faith in progress which informs its worldview.

  • Just wait until you get to the Ascended.

  • Darwin:
    “Yes, Tolkien’s work is deeply Christian, but not because he has direct correlaries for the Virgin Mary and the Eucharist in his story, but rather because Middle Earth works in the way the way that Catholics see the real world as working in certain key ways.”

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! Oh, and I’ll cheerfully take up my husband’s epee (hey, those things can leave some welts!) and help man the barricades against anti-Potterian prejudice.

    e:
    Ditto what Darwin said above: Tolkein denied that his work was Christian allegory. I prefer to think of it as implicitly rather than explicitly Christian.

    Donald:
    Why am I not surprised to learn you’re an ex-RP gamer?

  • Anyone watch the trailer for HBP last night? I’ve been generally happy with the film adaptations, and this one looks to be of the same quality.