God, Death and Faith

Sunday, June 15, AD 2014


Grief and Hope

Kyle Cupp has a heartrending piece up at The Daily Beast in which he discusses the death of his daughter and his subsequent loss of faith:


In the months following the death of our newborn daughter, I had remained steadfast in my faith, devout and prayerful. I had not for years imagined God primarily as a figure of power, like some cosmic orchestrator of all that is, so I did not feel inclined to blame God for our loss and our sorrow. I didn’t have an answer for it, but I didn’t look to God for an answer. I didn’t expect such a response. I let God be.

As time passed, however, my faith weakened. I lost the feeling of God’s presence and the impetus to pray, and perhaps as a consequence, the ideas I had of God began to make less and less sense to me. I lost clarity of what I believed, finally confessing to my wife late one evening that I couldn’t honestly say whether or not I still believed in God. This was not a confession that brought us peace. A cloud of unknowing separated me from the words of the creed I recited at Mass, and on that evening, sitting close to the love of my life, staring into her misty eyes, I feared that it would separate me from her as well. 

To make matters worse, I had no answers to give her. I couldn’t explain my lapse. I couldn’t point to any decisive event, something that had pushed me off the precipice. Instead, as we reflected back on the previous months and years, I felt as though once solid ground had changed into the wisps of a cloud without my having noticed, and only now did I realize that I was falling. If my broken heart was to blame, it has taken its bitter time, acting stealthily.

I hadn’t fallen into unbelief or atheism, exactly, but more of an agnosticism or skepticism about what I believed and whether I believed. I could no longer say what my faith, such as it was, meant in my life. I no longer had a sure sense of how the Christian story was true. I couldn’t answer where its myths ended and reality began. Occasionally I shot a few words of prayer in what I hoped was the direction of an unseen God, but I struggled and doubted even these simple practices of my faith. Neither Paul nor Kierkegaard were kidding when they wrote of fear and trembling.

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6 Responses to God, Death and Faith

  • It is easy to point to Job 38:1 through 40:2 when I have not (yet) lost a dear loved one. It is hard when the tears obscure the vision and the weight of the Cross bears heavily on the back.

    I have not (yet) lost; however, my 12 step sponsor used to point out to me, “Paul, ‘yet’ means ‘You’re Eligible Too.'”

    Maybe all we can do is hope that God in spite of our unworthiness will be merciful enough to reunite us with our dearly beloved ones who have passed on before us.

  • My own experience with the death of a child is somewhat different. My wife has miscarried three times. Each was early in pregnancy. Only the last miscarriage provided us the opportunity to bury our baby.

    Did not Mother Teresa write in her memoirs how she did not feel the presence of God in her daily life and how it hurt her? Did not St. Teresa of Avila not write much the same thing?

    The idea/notion/fact that God can and does withhold his presence is highlighted in The Screwtape Letters.

    Perseverance is part of the Christian life. Only Jesus was perfect. Only Mary was protected from sin by the grace of the Holy Spirit. The rest of us who reach an age of reason do sin. Often, repeatedly.

    We all lose things and people that are dear to us throughout life. I was nine when my best friend, a girl my own age who lived across the street from me from the time I was two, moved away. I saw her one more time and then never again. I lost my beloved German Shepherd when I was 11 – a dog I had from the time I was six months old.

    From 1990 to 1995, I lost a grandfather, an uncle, my dad, and a grandmother. also, good friends of ours lost a daughter in a car accident in 1995. Most young adults – 20s to early 30s – do not realize that death is going to kick you in the rear end, over and over, before it is your time to go. I knew this when I was 31.

    I never blamed God for any of it. We are all born to die. The only thing remotely fair in life is death, and when it comes is something we do not get to decide.

  • “Silently and sacredly, Vivian lives in our love.”

    ………….and in the perfect Love and Presence of our God.

    My heart goes out to Kyle and his wife.
    I lost a little sister aged two years, when I was ten years old, in 1953. It was a very sad occasion as I recall, but at that age I was too young to fully comprehend, and we used to comfort our selves in that youthful simplicity that she is now a little angel. Mum appeared to get over it after a while, and mum and dad increased our family with another brother and two sisters. But she told me , many years later, that for many years she would weep silently at night grieving for her lost daughter. About 1975 she went to a Catholic Women’s Convention, and there met this priest Fr. Tom Williams – who was later to become Cardinal . He told her that he could “see”- or sense – a type of darkness clouding her spirit – I think they are the words she told me. She told him of her continuing grief for her daughter, and he prayed over her. I recall mum becoming very emotional as she told me how she felt this dark cloud lift away from her, and she felt a totally serene peace and joy come over her. From that day on, she was always a cheerful, positive and happy woman, till the time of her death four years ago at 91.

    My older brother had a serous accident in his truck when working in Saudi Arabia back in 1979. The truck had rolled in some soft sand, and was carrying a large crane. the crane fell on the cab and crushed it, and partly crushed Bruce’s hand and pinned him in the truck for many hours till help came. He said our little sister Lynda came to help him and keep him awake and positive during his ordeal. From that day on, he had a particular devotion to out own little saint.
    I pray that Kyle and his wife will look on their little girl as their own saint, given to them by God for only such a brief time before He called her back to Him. They have their own little saint there in the complete joy and peace of the presence of God and His angels and saints, and interceding for them.

    “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.”

  • My brother Gregory died after only one day after his birth. I know he cares for our mom, more than I know how.

  • I haven’t read much of Kyle’s writings, but this is the first time I recall him considering the current state of his faith as troublesome. He’s been writing for years about doubt as if it’s, if not a virtue, then at least a viable expression of Catholic faith. Reading this article, I think he may be coming to the idea that he was deluding himself. I’ve been critical of his writings as misrepresenting orthodox thought.

    I will continue to pray for him, and for his family as well.

  • In 2006, I received a phone call that my daughter, then 17, had been critically injured in a vehicle accident as a passenger with a group of students visiting Los Angeles. She actually was ejected from the van she was riding in, and yet, miraculously, on the Ventura Freeway at Lankershim, during a weekday, all the traffic managed to screech to a stop and she was protected, sheltered and removed to Cedar Sinai emergency care.
    For days, she hovered between life and death, with several disheartening setbacks. At one point she appeared to have recovered and was discharged into my step-daughter’s care: when suddenly without any warning, her spleen ruptured. She collapsed on the bathroom floor with a clunk. Fortunately Nicole, my step-daughter, being an RN, diagnosed it immediately, took emergency action, phoned the nearby hospital where she worked and got her on the operating table, somehow within 15-30 min; at that point, appeared to have saved her life again, but it was still ‘beyond critical’, were that possible to be so.
    During this latter phase, I finally came to an understanding with God and also the Blessed Virgin, of whom I have had a childhood devotion to Our Lady of Mt Carmel: “I understand, God Our Lord, and Our Lady, that many parents I see on the night news, disconsolately weeping, having lost their child prayed that this cup would pass. Who am I to ‘demand’ that my daughter should not be one of these?So be it: ‘Sweet Mother, I place this cause in your hands..” (excerpt, from OL Carmel traditional prayer). I made the best resolve of my intention that I accepted this outcome, as that appeared to God’s permitted outcome, for His mysterious reasons. Of course, I continued night and day praying the St Louis de Monfort prayer (“Little Crown of the BV”), but I had accepted she was going to pass, that I had had 17 wonderful years with her, and now I needed to pray for her soul before her meeting with Christ.
    Mysteriously, the next day, a certainty I can say I have never experienced before or since came into my mind that she would in fact recover and live. I had no doubt at all. She did in fact, by inches each day, recover. Also in fact, the ER doc who saved her the second time was amazed too: when she had recovered, he gave the credit to Nicole and her alacritous action, “You know,” he told my daughter, “another 15 minutes and I wouldnt have been able to help you.
    She has however, since, made a “full” recovery (although living without her spleen involves certain precautions) and has had her first child, now living with her husband in Belgium. I also knew that Our Lady told me this was a singular favor granted to me and to her: “Now DO SOMETHING WITH IT.”
    As we all know, I can only observe also that the loss of a child is a parent’s worst experience; I DO feel pain that I cannot express for those, like Don McC., who had to drink the full cup. I do think that I know what Kyle Cupp has gone through and is going through: “how can a good God, etc.” For some of us, the bitterness is seemingly with a depth beyond measure. But this bitterness cannot “end in death” but has to be for the ineffable glory of God (Jn 11:4). and as for us, we two were very “graced”: now I pray we can make something of it.

My Type of Brainwashed Morons

Friday, January 3, AD 2014

8 Responses to My Type of Brainwashed Morons

  • My type as well!

  • Definitely the bottom of the bell-curve. Science has debunked the whole “love your neighbor” myth. “Charity” is simply a complex primate grooming ritual. Even babies share their Cheerios, and so it’s not something that demonstrates superiority like getting a PhD in Gender Studies.

  • “Science has debunked the whole “love your neighbor” myth. “Charity” is simply a complex primate grooming ritual. Even babies share their Cheerios, and so it’s not something that demonstrates superiority like getting a PhD in Gender Studies.”
    The practice of the virtue of charity and of loving one’s neighbor is following one’s vocation. Getting a PhD in Gender studies, may not be following one’s vocation. It is all about saving one’s rational, immortal soul.

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  • I agree, Donald, they are my ” type of brainwashed morons” as well! The story however forced me to take a closer look. It was so blatant in its disdain for the Christians that I thought it to be another spoof etc. But it is not!

    The forces of the dictatorship of relativism now Arne. Showing their teeth. Christians are not being criticized or even demonized for their failures ( sins), or for what they believe( considered a real threat to the established elite) but now they are criticized/reviled for the real good that they-we do!

    Hold on folks, things are going to get even rougher.

  • It is a spoof Botolph, as that is the stock in trade of The Onion. The target are the atheists, at least those who despise Christianity, who probably make up a not inconsiderable fraction of the readership of The Onion.

  • It’s definitely a spoof. It’s too over the top. @Mary, my response was tongue in cheek.

  • The best satire always racks up a 50-50 “get it” ratio . . .

The Alamo, John Wayne and Faith

Friday, September 27, AD 2013

The tumult and the shouting dies—
The Captains and the Kings depart—
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
An humble and a contrite heart.

Rudyard Kipling, from Recessional

Interesting that John Wayne, who directed the film The Alamo, would have a religious debate just before the final battle scene.  However, as I have written in a post which may be read here, John Wayne, death bed Catholic convert, had a strong faith in God, even as he realized that in many ways he was not living properly.  The film The Alamo was first and foremost Wayne’s love note to America, but I think Wayne was also making a statement about faith in God.

Wayne’s personal relationship with God is represented well in this clip, beginning at 9:26, that did not make it into the film.


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17 Responses to The Alamo, John Wayne and Faith

  • Beautiful piece of work Donald.
    So true about “time.” In a moment,.or after five decades of humble labor, it’s never ours to decide or judge. He IS who IS, and we the dust on HIS feet.
    I believe that is what makes us his children, an undenibe realization that nothing in this life is ours, except our short comings. He is the King of Kings, the true DUKE, the real HERO.

  • A hunger for God exists in us all Philip. Much of the chaos of our time is because of efforts to deny this hunger or to channel it to new false gods. Wayne was wise enough to understand this hunger and satisfy his before his final curtain call.

  • Donald. In a humble disposition I ask if you could allow me to help in feeding this thirst.

    On Oct. 12th, over 10,950 cities will be united in the Holy Rosary around the world. The following day, the 96th anniversary of Our Ladys Oct. Miracle of the Sun in Fatima. Pope Francis will be consecrating the world to Her Immaculate Heart. Please consider this topic, conversions and helping to give living waters to the thirsty. The site to find a city near you is; ANF.org

    Thank you for your consideration.

    12 Noon on Oct. 12th.

  • Like Columbo……oh one thing.
    If folks do not find a city or town near them, then by all means they can host the rally. This is my third one. It’s very easy. Please go to; ANF.org to find out more.
    “In the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph.”
    Our Lady in Fatima.

  • The funny thing is that Wayne gives much more credit to Santa Ana and his Mexicans than they deserve. Honour to fallen foes was the last thing on their mind, and I would rather not think what they would have done to a woman and a girl-child who had fallen alive in their hands. They would certainly not have let them go alive and untouched, let alone with the honour of arms. It is know from Mexican documents that about half of the defenders, including Crockett, fell into Mexican hands still alive and were butchered while helpless. (That is not a slur on their courage, simply that it is impossible for any garrison to die fighting to the last man. As you know, American troops took many prisoners even at Iwo Jima and Okinawa.) That is the same that the Mexicans did at Goliad. Wayne wanted, for his own artistic and moral reasons, a clash of heroes, honourable and brave and respectful of each other’s honour and courage. That is probably not very historical, but makes for a marvellous movie, which, having originally been butchered by the critics for political reasons, is now being recognized as one of the great Westerns. (I heard the name of Akira Kurosawa being tossed around as a term of comparison.)

  • The woman depicted Fabio is Susanna Dickinson, the widow of Captain Dickinson in charge of the Texan artillery at the Alamo. She and her small daughter were treated with chivalry by Santa Ana after the fall of the Alamo, according to her account, with the self proclaimed “Napoleon of the West” even offering to adopt her daughter and educate her at his expense, an offer declined by Mrs. Dickinson. Santa Anna was a bundle of contradictions and was quite capable of ordering an atrocity one moment and making a generous gesture the next.

    Like most of Wayne’s work, The Alamo has more than stood the test of time, the true test of any work of art.

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  • ‘Looking up at him I thought, this is no actor but the hero of all mythology miraculously brought to life.’

    Louise Brooks on John Wayne

    Regarding his portrayal of Santa Ana , I recall reading years ago that he very much wanted to avoid providing any sort of encouragement to anti Hispanic prejudice.

  • Wayne always had a deep respect for Hispanic culture and spent a large amount of time south of the border, particularly in Panama. He chose as his epitaph: “Feo, Fuerte y Formal”, and it is a shame that has not yet been put on his grave site.

  • I think John Wayne spent his life perfecting a certain range of characters. He tried to step out of them – once as a centurion, once as Gengis Khan – without great success, which shows that his tremendous manhood was not just manly, but specifically American, and nineteenth-early twentieth American at that. Some actors reach their best when stepping outside their usual roles. Helen Mirren, the everlasting Sexy Older Woman, won the Oscar virtually by acclamation for her splendid portrayal of Queen Elizabeth – a woman she did not resemble physically and who could not possibly be played sexy. Ben Kingsley, the positive hero of Gandhi, positively stole Satan’s role in Sexy Beast. Wayne could not have done that. But in what he did, he was supreme. Many great actors, including the best – Bogart, Tracy, Gary Cooper, Gregory Peck – have done cowboys or cowboy-type heroes, but nobody has so filled the screen in them as Wayne has, nobody has ever projected that depth of experience and living, that stoical, enduring humanity. Katharine Hepburn, a woman in whose presence other actors trembled (it is said that if you look carefully, you can actually see Judy Hollyday shaking in Adam’s Rib), dedicated one chapter of her autobiography to unstinted, fluent and delighted praise of him as man and actor, ending with: “….Wayne has a wonderful gift of natural speed. Of arrested motion. Of going suddenly off on a new tack. Try something totally unrehearsed with him. He takes the ball and runs and throws with a freedom and wit and gaiety which is great fun. As powerful as is his personality, so too is his acting capacity powerful. He is a very very good actor in the most highbrow sense of the word. You don’t catch him at it.”

  • AT the time of the Alamo, Texas was a Mexican territory. Catholic Mexico had recently abolished slavrey in mexico. Mexico went to the Alamo to enforce the abolition laws. American settlers, protestans and evangelicals in the Texas territory of Mexico warned Mexico not to enforce the anti slavery laws. You want to remember the Alamo? Then remember it was a battle to protect the rights of Americans to hold men in bondage. I have a book that has just been released that tells this whole story

  • Rubbish Steve. Santa Anna was a brutal dictator who had no respect for any form of human liberty. Both Texans and Tejanos opposed his rule. The flag that flew over the Alamo had 1824 on it, in reference to the democratic constitution of Mexico that Santa Anna had suppressed. Texas was only one of seven states that rebelled against Santa Anna, the others being brutally suppressed. Santa Anna was no friend of either liberty or the Catholic Church as this statement by him indicates:

    Say to Mr. Poinsett that it is very true that I threw up my cap for liberty with great ardor, and perfect sincerity, but very soon found the folly of it. A hundred years to come my people will not be fit for liberty. They do not know what it is, unenlightened as they are, and under the influence of a Catholic clergy, a despotism is the proper government for them, but there is no reason why it should not be a wise and virtuous one.

  • I would go futher. Santa Ana became a tyrant BECAUSE he was an enemy of the Church. Starting as an anti-clerical liberal, and frustrated by the Catholic culture of his country, he threw democracy overboard, as many left-wing caudillos have done since. True, some of the issues the Texans had with him had to with slavery – even though very few Texans then or since actually held slaves; they just came from parts where the holding of slaves was seen as natural. But the bigger issue was the loss of representative government and the constitution of 1824, and, as you say, many more federal states revolted against Santa Ana’s usurpation. The Texans were the only ones who succeeded, and, being cut off not only from Santa Ana’s tyranny but also from any liberal or democratic prospects in other parts of Mexico, drifted ever closer to the much closer and more populous Anglo giant to the east. But none of that was fated.

  • Rubbish? your deep held belief in the “Black Legend” is rubbish…
    Did you know the second president of mexico was a black man – his father was of african decent. read this

    Why is it EVERY foreign leader who does not fit the American narrative is a “brutal dictator” The fact is evangelical and prostestants were responsible for all the racial horrors that best this great country .. The Indian Relocation Act of 1831, the trail of tears, slavery, 600,000 dead in a chastisement that General Grant called “God’s punishment’ for the Mexican American war.

  • You are a very silly man. Who was the second president of Mexico has nothing to do with whether Santa Ana was a brute or not. Nor does the Trail of Tears. You simply don’t know how to make a point – nobody has ever taught you that you have to stick to the point, and that irrelevant material is irrelevant. Now go home and sue your old schoolteachers, they deserve it.

  • “your deep held belief in the “Black Legend” is rubbish…”

    Oh yes, I spend my time on this blog perpetrating anti-Catholic bad history, as anyone who has read my many posts on historical subjects on this blog can attest! 🙂

    Your reaction and resort to ridiculous allegations was caused by the simple fact that you were called on your obvious ignorance of the Alamo and the Mexican history surrounding it, and you had no response other than to flail about.

  • Maister B.

    The quote from Katherine Hepburn is new to me. I will make a point of getting hold of the autobiography for my collection. Many thanks.

The Pope, The Clown and The Cross

Sunday, June 16, AD 2013



(I originally posted this on September 28, 2009 and it has always been one of my favorites.  I am reposting it now since I assume many current readers of the blog have not read it, and, with the recent death of my son, Larry, it now has a special meaning for me.)




In 1957 comedian Red Skelton was on top of the world.  His weekly comedy show on CBS was doing well.  He had  curtailed the drinking which had almost derailed his career.  Not too shabby for a man who had started out as a circus and rodeo clown and who was now often called the clown prince of American comedy.  He and his wife Georgia had two beautiful kids:  Richard and Valentina Maria.  Then the worst thing in the world for any parent entered into the lives of Red and Georgia Skelton:  Richard was diagnosed with leukemia.  Unlike today, a diagnosis of leukemia in a child in 1957 was tantamount to saying that Richard was going to die soon.  Red immediately took a leave of absence from his show.  CBS was very understanding and a series of guest hosts, including a very young Johnny Carson, filled in for Skelton during the 1957-1958 season.

Red and his wife made two decisions.  First, they decided not to reveal to their son how ill he was;  if  worse came to worst they wanted him to enjoy the time he had left.  The boy’s leukemia was temporarily in remission and outwardly he appeared healthy.    When the boy saw “The Last Days of Pompeii” on TV and was fascinated by it, his mom and dad made their second decision.  They were going to take him and his sister to Europe so the boy could see Pompeii and other parts of Europe and the world, and to allow the parents to consult with foreign physicians and also to conduct a pilgrimage for their son.  The Skeltons were Protestants, indeed, Red was an active Mason, but they had chosen to educate their kids at a Catholic school and Richard was very religious, his room filled with religious pictures and statues.  Like many Christians of whatever denomination, in their hour of utmost need the Skeltons decided to seek aid of the Catholic Church.

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11 Responses to The Pope, The Clown and The Cross

Find God In 60 Days!

Friday, February 25, AD 2011


I agree with you Klavan on the Culture, prayer over time tends to build belief.  I have had several people tell me that the force of habit of prayer has gotten them through rough spots in their religious life.  One fellow I know promised his mom that every night he would say a Hail Mary before he went to sleep.  He spent several years as a stone cold atheist, but every night he would heed his promise to his mom and say the Hail Mary, even though he thought it ridiculous.  Faith returned ultimately,  and he thinks he might have been lost forever without that nightly prayer for the intercession of the Blessed Mother. 

CS Lewis understood this well, judging from this passage of The Screwtape Letters:

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5 Responses to Find God In 60 Days!

  • Don, did you get this off the Onion Network? I remember an old TV commercial featuring a guy by the name of Fast Eddie who used to shill electronics and power tools in NYC. Is this really the way to peddle Christianity? If so, no sale here. I don’t think this is what Jesus had in mind when he told his disciplines to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

  • Jesus had a heck of a sense of humor– as a great priest I once heard pointed out, he had TONS of stuff that wouldn’t be out of line in a stand-up comedy club, or CGI assisted slap-stick.

    Swallowing a camel while complaining about a little gnat? Walking around with a bloody LOG in your eye, talking about a little splinter in someone else’s?

    Klavan’s made me laugh. ^.^

  • “Is this really the way to peddle Christianity?:

    Over the past 2000 years Joe there have been an infinite number of ways to spread the Good News. I tend to like a lot of humor. I agree with Saint Francis of Assisi: “Let gloom and despair be for the Devil and his Disciples.”

    Blessed Miguel Pro, God’s Jester, please ask God to grant us good humor to lighten our way.

    Foxfier, you are absolutely correct. The Gospels are suffused with the humor of God, much of which we simply do not get because translation from the original spoken Aramaic to Greek to Latin to English conceals some of it, and most of the rest because the historical background eludes most readers.

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  • The video affirms two ideas that don’t get much play, even from the pulpit: that standing fast through the down periods is essential to long term well-being and, relatedly, faith is part of the social fabric.

    Marriage has been, for me, a true blessing. It is wonderful… Except for those times when it isn’t, when things are out of sinc and connecting requires work… The thing is that working through those trials requires remaining engaged. The reward has been to have a marriage that grows and changes. Is it stronger? Better? More beautiful? For the perseverance? I don’t know. I harbor an affection for the time when we lived in an apartment, went away on unplanned vacations, and ate out with friends two or three nights a week. (Plus, I was a whole lot thinner and had hair.).

    The thing is, the marriage that we had couldn’t have handled a sick child, no money to fix a washing machine, or ill health. It was the subtle change over time that turned me into a different person, one able to handle what was thrown at us. That subtle change was the result of perseverance through times where everything wasn’t “great”.

    I don’t think we hear enough about perseverance in prayer or relationships these days. Thus, I applaud the messages of the video.

Advent and Anti-Christ, Part IV

Sunday, December 20, AD 2009

The fourth and final part of my presentation of the four sermons on the Anti-Christ delivered by John Henry Cardinal Newman before his conversion during Advent in 1835.  Part I is here, part II is here and Part III is here.

In this last sermon Newman speaks of the persecution that will attend the reign of the anti-Christ.  In Newman’s day, living memory could recall the savage persecution that the Church endured dring the initial years of the French Revolution.  In our time, we have the blood-stained last century when millions of Christians were martyred for their faith.  It is all too easy to suspect that those terrible persecutions were trial runs for the persecution of the Anti-Christ.  The last century brought to reality these words of Newman:  “Let us then apprehend and realize the idea, thus clearly brought before us, that, sheltered as the Church has been from persecution for 1500 years, yet a persecution awaits it, before the end, fierce and more perilous than any which occurred at its first rise.” Certainly all prior persecutions pale before what Christians experienced in the Terrible Twentieth.

This is an interesting passage from Newman’s sermon:  “Again, another anxious sign at the present time is what appears in the approaching destruction of the Mahometan power. This too may outlive our day; still it tends visibly to annihilation, and as it crumbles, perchance the sands of the world’s life are running out.” I assume that Newman was thinking of the decline of the Ottoman Empire of his day, the sick man of Europe.  Freed from this adversary, perhaps Europe would unite behind one man, reform or revive the Roman Empire, and bring about the conditions for the Anti-Christ.  Small wonder that Hitler was frequently deemed the Anti-Christ during his lifetime.  Of course Hitler was not the Anti-Christ, but perhaps merely one of myriads of anti-Christs who have arisen and fallen in the centuries since the coming of Christ, or perhaps he is a precursor of the Anti-Christ.

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3 Responses to Advent and Anti-Christ, Part IV

  • Actually (if I’m not mistaken), the sermons as they exist now were published as #83 in Tracts For The Times in 1838, but they are a development of a series of sermons preached in 1835.

    Are you familiar with the short postscript Newman wrote for their publication? It’s rather interesting.

  • Thank you for the info DB. I have corrected my posts to indicate 1835 as the year of delivery. I was unfamiliar with the postscript. Bishop Horsley’s letter quoted in the postscript is stunningly prophetic.

  • The passage of the letter of Bishop Horsley quoted by Newman:

    ‘The Church of God on earth will be greatly reduced, as we may well imagine, in its apparent numbers, in the times of Antichrist, by the open desertion of the powers of the world. This desertion will begin in a professed indifference to any particular form of Christianity, under the pretence of universal toleration; which toleration will proceed from no true spirit of charity and forbearance, but from a design to undermine Christianity, by multiplying and encouraging sectaries. The pretended toleration will go far beyond a just toleration, even as it regards the different sects of Christians. For governments will pretend an indifference to all, and will give a protection in preference to none. All establishments will be laid aside. From the toleration of the most pestilent heresies, they will proceed to the toleration of Mahometanism, Atheism, and at last to a positive persecution of the truth of Christianity. In these times the Temple of God will be reduced almost to the Holy Place, that is, to the small number of real Christians who worship the Father in spirit and in truth, and regulate their doctrine and their worship, and their whole conduct, strictly by the word of God. The merely nominal {108} Christians will all desert the profession of the truth, when the powers of the world desert it. And this tragical event I take to be typified by the order to St. John to measure the Temple and the Altar, and leave the outer court (national Churches) to be trodden under foot by the Gentiles. The property of the clergy will be pillaged, the public worship insulted and vilified by these deserters of the faith they once professed, who are not called apostates because they never were in earnest in their profession. Their profession was nothing more than a compliance with fashion and public authority. In principle they were always, what they now appear to be, Gentiles. When this general desertion of the faith takes place, then will commence the sackcloth ministry of the witnesses … There will be nothing of splendour in the external appearance of their churches; they will have no support from governments, no honours, no emoluments, no immunities, no authority, but that which no earthly power can take away, which they derived from Him, who commissioned them to be His witnesses.’

The Claremont Reviews Advent Interview with Fr. James V. Schall

Tuesday, December 15, AD 2009

Since 2002 Ken Masugi, a senior fellow of the Claremont Institute and lecturer in Government at Johns Hopkins University, Washington DC, has conducted Advent interviews with James V. Schall, S.J., author of over thirty books on political theory and theology. Fr. Schall teaches in the Government Department of Georgetown University.

The interviews themselves are a delight to read and span a variety of topics from current events to the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI to issues in philosophy, theology and ethics — and sometimes, in addition, what books Fr. Schall himself is reading at that particular moment in time.

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4 Responses to The Claremont Reviews Advent Interview with Fr. James V. Schall

The Pope, The Clown and The Cross

Monday, September 28, AD 2009


In 1957 comedian Red Skelton was on top of the world.  His weekly comedy show on CBS was doing well.  He had  curtailed the drinking which had almost derailed his career.  Not too shabby for a man who had started out as a circus and rodeo clown and who was now often called the clown prince of American comedy.  He and his wife Georgia had two beautiful kids:  Richard and Valentina Maria.  Then the worst thing in the world for any parent entered into the lives of Red and Georgia Skelton:  Richard was diagnosed with leukemia.  Unlike today, a diagnosis of leukemia in a child in 1957 was tantamount to saying that Richard was going to die soon.  Red immediately took a leave of absence from his show.  CBS was very understanding and a series of guest hosts, including a very young Johnny Carson, filled in for Skelton during the 1957-1958 season.

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37 Responses to The Pope, The Clown and The Cross

  • Beautiful story, Don. Thanks for posting it.

  • Thank you John Henry. I was vaguely aware of the death of Skelton’s son, but until I began researching Skelton last week I was unaware of the connection to Pius XII. Courage and grace in the face of death always moves me, and Richard Skelton had those qualities to the full.

  • Good story. I see Red’s own father died shortly after Red was born. He must have been grounded well in his beliefs. I’m sure there are DVDs of his shows, I think I’ve seen them advertized on TV.

  • Wikipedia has interesting information, I wonder if they reference his Catholicism.

    I see it says he was a FreeMason and more on the story above,

    “As if the loss of his show was not enough, his ex-wife Georgia committed suicide in 1976, five years after their divorce and on the tenth anniversary of their son’s death years before. That was her second attempt at suicide. Georgia left a note that said, “The reason I chose this day, is so you wouldn’t feel bad twice in one year.” [8]”

    So nix to that about being grounded in Catholicism. If Red were a midwesterner from Indiana, Dean Martin was born in Steubbenville, Ohio of all places, if Ohio is considered Midwestern. Interesting to track down where some of these people hailed from.

  • An anecdote about Skelton:

    “Funny how you can go to a doctor’s offices and find magazines that are years old in the lobby. I had to go to a dentist two week ago and found a Golf magazine from the 80’s. I also found a magazine that told me the following story:

    Decades ago, a young American was flying across the mountain ranges of Europe on his way to London. Accompanying his friend, a Catholic priest, the two were scheduled to have a meeting with the Pope in England. As the priest talked, the plane suddenly rocked. Then rocked again. Something told the priest the plane was not destined to ever touch
    land again.

    The passengers, busy in their individual conversations, failed to notice, the priest observed, until a flight attendant made an announcement of impending doom. The plane was over a mountain range and losing altitude.

    As expected, panic set in.

    The priest loosened his seat belt, realizing he had but minutes to offer last rites to any who might desire them. His young friend, Richard, sat motionless, staring at the seat before him. The priest went about his duties. Then, all at once, reality hit Richard in the face and he noticed that behind his seat and to the right was a child, two children, several children. If indeed this was to be the last moments of their short lives, Richard determined, he would make sure the children never knew it.

    The young American rose to his feet and started to make faces at the kids. Horrible faces, ugly faces. Most of the youngsters laughed, but one did not. This boy, about the age of 5, became Richard’s focus. Richard stuck his tongue out. So did the boy. Richard did it again, making an awful face. The boy imitated him. As the priest delivered last rites, Richard kept the children amused. None of them knew the earth was rushing up to meet their craft in spikes of ancient stone.

    Meanwhile, the pilot had been amazed that the plane had cleared most of the rough crags that reached for the skies. One lone mountaintop was left to clear; their fate waited on its other side. By inches, the plane cleared that last mountain. What lay on the other side was a large cow pasture with soft, rolling grasses. The craft slid in on a cushion provided by Mother Nature – rough, but not the landing the pilot and most of the passengers had imagined.
    Certainly not what either the priest or Richard had expected.

    Those young children never knew how close they had approached Heaven’s gates, nor did many of them ever know the young, auburn-haired performer who kept that knowledge from them miles above the earth.

    His name was Richard but we knew him as Red Skelton.”

    I can believe the anecdote. Throughout his life Skelton’s motto appears to have been “Kids First”.


  • Great story. Thanks Donald.

  • Thanks for this story, Donald.

  • Thank you gentlemen.

  • British journalists revel in being mean.

  • I see a family resemblance in his son. Bless Them.

  • Main thing I remember about Red Skelton:
    “Good night, and God bless.”

  • wow, that was very touching.

  • Great story! Thank you.

  • i recall Richard’s passing well. Such a tragic loss. Red was never ever the same. what parent is. He was a great clown ,lover of mankind and beautiful human being. thsnks Brad. I know this story for 50 years. may both their gentle souls rest eternally in peace. bless them and you for reminding us how gentle but strng love is between parent and child.

  • Thank you gentlemen. Tom, your last sentence says it all. I think in the love between parent and child we get a tiny taste of the love God has for each of us.

  • I have deleted the comments of Crusader. They were off topic and frankly a little strange. I have also placed him on moderation for the time being. I have also deleted my response to Crusader as well as the responses of foxfier and cminor, no offense to either of them intended, especially since they are two of my favorite commenters.

  • No offense taken, Donald; I understand completely. The whole situation had me wondering if there was a full moon out.

  • Keeping the peace without harm– sounds like a good plan to me.

  • Crusader, I’ve deleted your latest comments. They were bizarre and had nothing to do with this topic. You are banned from this blog.

  • From the little I know about families, it is extremely difficult for a marriage to succeed when a child dies before their parents, especially when they’re still in adolescence.

    I am sure there are marriages that have been able to stay together, though I have yet to hear or see of one.

    Just a side note.

    On the posting…

    Wonderful story, touching and moving.

  • Tito-
    I know of one, personally, where the child was killed in a farm accident while his mother and brother were near– keeping themselves intact was not easy. I think other children being very young and how sudden the loss is might have a big effect on it.

  • From the little I know about families, it is extremely difficult for a marriage to succeed when a child dies before their parents, especially when they’re still in adolescence.

    I am sure there are marriages that have been able to stay together, though I have yet to hear or see of one.

    My parents. My dad’s parents. My mom’s parents.

    I’m very much hoping not to have to follow in their footsteps, obviously — but a lot of people do deal with it and stay together.

  • That is great to hear Darwin. I knew there were those out there that persevered. That explains a lot of the deepness of your Catholic faith now.

    I hope the same for me if I’m blessed with a family.

  • I think it’s one of those things, like extreme financial difficulties, which can break a marriage that wasn’t strong to begin with. And sadly, a lot aren’t.

  • Also my uncle and aunt, grandparents, and great-grandparents. The latter two couples lived in a different time, of course: losing a child was unfortunately more common and divorce almost unthinkable. Likely that element of unthinkability makes a difference.

  • In the 1800s, killer diseases of children filled the graveyards. One story in my family that was told by my great-grandmother was the rapid succession of death of her three, beautiful, younger sisters from diphtheria. Her mother dreamed, or had a vision, of an angel who shed three tears, and said, “Bea, Flora, and Ada.” Her three, beautiful daughters soon thereafter contracted this childhood killer disease. From that point on, no one in the family was allowed to relate any mystical experiences or dreams. One can imagine the heartbreak of so many families in this time period and speculate that their wardrobe must have consisted of many black garments. No matter how much a family suffered grief and heartbreak, divorce was a rarity. Families were much, much larger then and perhaps were better able to absorb the loss.

  • Lack of three generations that have been taught “when the going gets tough, leave”– and a lack of unilateral decision making for said divorces.

    My mom’s dad’s folks were separated– never divorced, just decided they couldn’t stand each other and lived in totally different areas of the country thereafter.

  • It’s interesting how in the earlier generations families were larger, and by secular standards “to hard” to handle, and were more prone to infant deaths yet they remained in tact and even flourished though today many families divorce after the death of a child.

    Can we say “secularization” or “modernism” has had a net negative effect on the nuclear family?

  • Oops, forgot another aspect: most folks don’t have a support structure.

    When my mom was a kid her mother lost two children, and suffered from what we’d call post-partum depression; the older boys looked after my mom, neighbors watched the boys and made sure that Granny was functioning, siblings and in-laws picked up the slack, and it was a worry that the grandparents were in another state.

    Now? It’s unusual if you have one sister and one brother, it’s unusual if your parents are near to help, hardly any neighbors would be comfortable laying down the law for someone else’s kids and the only two examples I can think of where kids stayed at a cousin’s house, there were rather dire results because of such different parenting styles. (In English: folks with stressed marriages seem to always have utter _BRATS_ and defend their every misdeed to the death.)

    Random extra thought: those earthquakes that hit China and took down several schools, killing many children, also triggered suicides in the parents of the children– suspected to be a result of the one child policy, which means that many families were absolutely gutted.

  • Foxfier,

    Excellent point!

    Especially in rural parts of the country, you would have cousins, nephews, and nieces assisting in raising newborns, infants, and children.

    This was their baby-training for when they had families of their own.

    Now, especially secularized couples, have one or no children and they look around and have no cousins or aunts and uncles as well.

  • Speaking of having a family support structure reminded me of a true story. It’s the story of Charlie.

    Charlie was a momma’s boy. He simply adored his mother. He looked up to his older brother and loved his father but his mother was everything to him.
    When Charlie as 8 yrs. old he came home from school one day only to learn that his mother had taken ill and died while he was in class. He was devastated but took solace in prayer to the Blessed Mother the only other women in his young life.
    In less then 3 years Charlie suffered another loss, that of his big brother he so much looked up to. That left just Charlie to be with his father.
    Charlie grew in the love of his father but in Charlie’s 20th year he was alone in life as his father also died. Even before his 21st birthday Charlie had lost all those he loved in life, his entire family. To make matters worse Charlie got on the wrong side of the authorities in charge. He had to go into hiding after a while and was taken in by the towns man of the cloth for safekeeping.
    Charlie also decided to pursue the religious life and soon the man that had once lost his entire family took the entire world to be his family. He went to those that could not come to him. He traveled his whole life to be with that adopted world family. But Charlie grew old and the travel tired him greatly. Charlie left this life in his old age and know one will ever remember Charlie. Yes that’s right! Charlie will not be remembered at all. At least by that name. For you see Charlie is what his name would be in English. But his given first name in his native language was Karol. Karol Wojtyla…Pope John Paul II

    The man without a family left this world with his entire world family in tears at his passing…John Paul the Great…..

  • Great comment Robert!

  • I just happened upon this story. Sincere thanks to the gentleman who posted it.
    I was blessed to meet and become friends with Red Skelton during the last 18 years of his life. As the girl in the article pointed out, Red was just as wonderful a man when out of character as when he was in character. I saw Red in all kinds of situations through the years, but his faith and quiet strength never waivered. Once, he showed me that first Crucifix given him by Pope Pius, and I’ve never forgotten it. Red’s faith and strength of character had a profound effect on my life. I miss him very much; but, as he promised me years ago, “we’ll meet up there someday.” May God rest him, truly one of the finest men I’ve ever known.

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  • I was so moved by this article. I’d like to post it on my blog, attributing it to you of course, this Christmas eve. Please let me know if I can.

    There are people who face this Christmas without someone they love very much. I believe that Red Skelton’s experience with the pope and his son’s illness affirms the power of Christian love over death and despair. Let me know.

  • Please feel free Suzanne; the more people who know about this wonderful story of faith and love in the face of death, the better.