Susannah York of ‘A Man For All Seasons’, Requiescat In Pace

Sunday, January 16, AD 2011

Susannah York succumbed to cancer this past Friday at the age of 72.

She is best remembered for portraying Saint Thomas More‘s daughter, Margaret More, in what is arguably the greatest Catholic film of all time, A Man For All Seasons.

She was very beautiful and enchanting and her role as Margaret More captured the essences of an integrated Catholic life that is an excellent example for laypeople everywhere today.

The following clip is that of the King paying his Lord Chancellor, Saint Thomas More, a visit on his estate.  The King encounters More’s family and is introduced to More’s daughter, Margaret, at the :45 mark of the clip.  They engage in conversation at the 1:32 mark of the clip.  The entire 10 minutes should be viewed to really enjoy her performance and appreciate the film itself:

Here is the trailer to that magnificent Catholic film, A Man For All Seasons:

Post script:  I was unable to find out if Susannah York was a Catholic or not, but her portrayal of Margaret More is a fine example of living a Catholic life.

Cross-posted at Gulf Coast Catholic.

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8 Responses to Susannah York of ‘A Man For All Seasons’, Requiescat In Pace

Does It Matter How You Tithe?

Sunday, April 25, AD 2010

Our parish is deploying “e-giving”, and asking people to strongly consider setting up a weekly or monthly electronic donation rather than getting envelopes. (If you sign up for the e-giving, they stop mailing you envelopes.)

The benefits for the parish are pretty obvious: the expense of sending out envelopes to nearly a thousand families are pretty high, this regularizes their income and makes it smoother and more predictable, etc. In my case, there’s actually an additional incentive to give electronically — if I have the money deducted directly from my paycheck through my company’s charitable giving campaign, they’ll match my donations, doubling the amount.

I have a certain amount from each paycheck set up to be sent to the parish through the corporate matching program, but up till now I’ve been hesitant to do all our tithing that way. There are two reasons for this:

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15 Responses to Does It Matter How You Tithe?

  • I think your last paragraph analysis is pretty much right. I’d give little weight at all to the first concern. Payroll deduction actually means you are paying your tithe first, which demonstrates proper priorities. The second concern is legitimate, but can be easily addressed by family discussions. Indeed, not paying via basket teaches your children that they should not be motivated by what other parishioners might think, but only by actually fulfilling their obligation. This can be done as part of a family discussion about the importance of a child’s weekly contribution.

  • In many parish schools, one of the conditions for accepting children is that the parents must commit to practice of the faith, including regular Mass attendance. The argument is: Catholic instruction at school must be reinforced by a commitment at home. They are told that collection envelopes may be used to demonstrate this; if unable to contribute, drop an empty envelope in the basket.

    And, of course, every so often someone complains to a newspaper reporter that the school has told them they should withdraw their children because they don’t go to Mass.

  • I would think there’s some value in teaching kids about automatic deductions.

  • Well, DC, I agree with you and Mike P. above, as I seriously doubt that parish envelopes as such will even be used any longer by the time your kids are adults and ready to tithe. Technology may be a bane in many ways, but it leaves behind any and all who don’t adjust to its existence in the long run. I think one way to remind the children is to continue asking them to contribute to the collection basket with their own money, and reminding them each time that mom and dad do it electronically because they don’t get paid an allowance in cash each week like the kids do. Kids are bright, and the lesson won’t be lost on them! 🙂

  • I heard a priest say somewhere, “if you do not feel a slight pit in your stomach after the collection plate comes along, you probably aren’t giving enough.” I agree with this priest, and I think that parish-pay type schemes do make this self-giving almost without challenge. If it’s automatic, you’re not thinking about it. If you’re not thinking about it, it’s probably not that difficult for you.

  • My church now gets a monthly withdrawal from my checking account. I might not feel the pinch when the collection plate comes around, but I definitely feel it when I divvy up the money each month and there isn’t much for frills or entertainment.

    I think I might also start tithing my monthly surplus–the money I have left after all the expenses are paid, either because I spent less or earned more.

  • If your biggest giver gives five dollars in cash, you give five dollars in cash when the basket comes around.

    That balances the good of doubling the funds while still giving an example– make sure the kids know about the auto, too!

    You might even want to talk to them about this, when they’re old enough.

  • While the church I currently belong to does not offer direct withdrawal, the church I grew up in had the option. They still sent envelopes to everyone and you could just check a box that said “automatic withdrawal.” My parents explained it when I was old enough to understand it, and I never thought much of it.

    I wish our parish would get automatic withdrawal, though. We have a lot of parishioners who church-hop between neighboring parishes, and I think this would net us more in the collection overall.

  • “if you do not feel a slight pit in your stomach after the collection plate comes along, you probably aren’t giving enough.”

    I confess to a certain irritation hearing this type of remark from priests who normally have the basics of life provided for them, who do not have offspring to send to college and who do not compete in the market place. From some of the comments I have heard over the years I get the distinct impression that in the view of some priests money simply magically appears and that one can effortlessly contribute large sums from this mystical benefice to the Church. I personally believe that most people, including myself, do not contribute enough. However I also think that too many priests shortchange the effort necessary to produce the money that is contributed, and the sacrifices that such contributions entail for families that do make an effort to do their share.

  • The tithe (tenth) belongs to God and having it automatically withdrawn seems convenient and even beneficial when you have a corporate matching program. However, an additional offering is where the real show of love and sacrifice comes in. I very much believe in the value of showing children the importance of giving each week. Perhaps that can be done by giving an offering (above and beyond the tithe) through the standard envelope. The value is that it allows you to give as you feel led and demonstrate to your children the importance of giving. You can still explain that you tithe electronically.

  • I don’t know how old your kids are, or how much of a bad example it might be to them. But there are enough second collections, spaghetti dinners, poor boxes, rice bowls, and Christmas gift trees that they should be able to see you make contributions even if you’ve got direct payment.

  • THere is no more “first-fruits” than payroll deduction. IT avoids the temptation to “know better”, and you get accustomed to doing without that 10% (or whatever one tithes, though I guess the true definition of a tithe is 10% of gross). Just watching us dump bills into the collection plate doesn’t really teach our children the right thing, I don’t think. A kid has no conceptof the value of a check (or even what a check represents). And I am not sure that seeing your five dollar bill go in (I think it teaches them that $5.00 is a good amount to put into the basket, which is sadly wrong!).

    SO…for what it’s worth, I think Automatic Withdrawal is a great idea!

  • Wow…saw one of the follow-up comments (took too long to post this one!), and had to comment.

    PLee commented above that the contribution *above* the tenth was where the real sacrifice kicks in.

    How many people wouldn’t feel a sting when the Tenth was gone? Except for a few of the very rich in our church, I would submit that oe tenth of our gross income is a large sum to tithe, almost no matter how much one makes.

    Of course we cannopt outgive God… But why would we try to do so by tithing more than the first-fruits as commanded? God said one-tenth. Are we holier because we donate one eighth? Nope.

  • I like Darwin learned from my mom handing me the envelope to put in the collection. I don’t think family discussions are as powerful as the physical act/demonstration an I think it’s real important to if at all possible continue the physical act-not just for your children but also for others. While on the one hand you don’t want to be doing it for your pride (so others can see me), you want others to see that Catholics do give & tithe.

    I would see if you can do a little of both-e-give most of it, and have some left over to physically put in the collection. Of course, that assumes the your means allows you to do that but I think if you can do that balancing act it would be better.

  • GIRM 73:

    “It is well also that money or other gifts for the poor or for the Church, brought by the faithful or collected in the church, should be received. These are to be put in a suitable place but away from the eucharistic table.”

    Interesting that the second priorities are gifts for the Church and a collection and placed near the altar, which is usually how it is done.

    How many parishes offer the primary options here regularly? A collection for the poor, or an opportunity for people to bring these gifts (to that place away from the altar?

    I like the electronic format, but my daughter has participated in other collections our parishes have offered. And even though there’s direct deposit of charitable funds, that doesn’t prevent us from writing the occasional check for a special cause, or when a little extra income has come to us.

Neal McDonough: Bravo!

Thursday, April 1, AD 2010

An actor, a faithful Catholic, willing to lose a role in a TV series because he won’t do sex scenes?  Surely not in this day and age?  Guess again!

Neal McDonough is a marvelous actor who elevates every role he plays, whether it’s in Band of Brothers or Desperate Housewives. So when he was suddenly replaced with David James Elliott 3 days into the filming on ABC’s new series Scoundrels earlier this week, there had to be a story behind the story. The move was officially explained as a casting change. But, in fact, McDonough was sacked because of his refusal to do some heated love scenes with babelicious star (and Botox pitchwoman) Virginia Madsen. The reason? He’s a family man and a Catholic, and he’s always made it clear that he won’t do sex scenes. And ABC knew that. Because he also didn’t get into action with Nicolette Sheridan on the network’s Desperate Housewives when he played her psycho husband during Season 5. And he also didn’t do love scenes with his on-air girlfriend in his previous series, NBC’s Boomtown, or that network’s Medical Investigation.

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24 Responses to Neal McDonough: Bravo!

  • He was superb in Band of Brothers. I’m glad to see he’s a good fella in addition to a good acta’

  • I’ve been a fan of his for a while, but I didn’t realize that he was a faithful Catholic… awesome!

  • I tried to find some way to email or contact Neal McDonough for his ethical stance. I couldn’t find a way, so please if possible forward to him that I’m very impressed. It’s good to know there are still some real men in Hollywood.

    Kind regards,

    Mark Emma
    Parsippany, NJ

  • Good for him.
    This culture is so overly saturated with sexuality that I cannot understand how anyone does not get bored with it. Religious convictions aside, don’t people ever get tired of trying to outdo each other in depravity? These so-called sexual rebels are really just marching in lock step with the culture. They all seem convince that they are breaking new ground. A month ago I was on the UIC (U of Illinois, Chicago) campus and some cute girls were at a table promoting the Vagina Monologues. Nobody paid them a visit. They looked pathetic and they shamed themselves.

  • Mr. McDonough has a facebook page where you can leave a message

  • @daledog, well said!

    @Marie, I found him on Facebook and am now a fan. Thanks.

  • I fixed the link.

    Good story and even more interesting comments on their posting over at Deadline Hollywood.

  • I remember the character he played on Boomtown, an adulterer and black-out drunk. I guess it’s good that McDonough doesn’t want to portray anything sexual, but that doesn’t seem like a big difference to me. It depends on how “hot” the scenes were going to be.

  • The reason this is so shocking is because everyone was pretty sure there was no one of character left in Hollyweird. Then Neil looses his job to his values.

    What is amazing to me is how the Hollyweird minion are suggesting there is no difference between playing a murderer, and taking your clothes off, making physical sexual (at least sensual) contact with an actress (who is not your wife) are not different issues. One is pretend, while the other is far from it.

    Hats off Neal, stand your ground, do not back down, and never apologize for being the last one standing with a moral core.

  • I wouldn’t be surprised Randy if a fair amount of actors and actresses aren’t secretly cheering him on. The entertainment industry is pretty intolerant of dissenters, and most people who dissent from the dominant worldview of Hollywood learn pretty quickly to keep their mouths shut if they want to work.

  • Pinky,

    In the Catechism it specifically states that even acted out sex is prohibited.

  • get tiger to do his role

  • Awesome!!! Finally someone to stand for faith, values and morals, Hollywood could take this to heart. Cheers for Neal McDonough.

  • Tito, are you referring to paragraph 2354 in the Catechism? I don’t think that every depiction crosses the line into pornography. A lot depends on how “hot” the scene is, I’d think.

  • @ Mark Emma
    I was thrilled to hear about Neal McDonough!!! I am also looking for a way to send email to applaud his actions. It also reminds me of another soap star who did the same thing…. Roark Critchlow- he played Mike on Days. If you find a way to catact Neal, let me know! I think he will get more opportunities to work- I believe God honors you for standing up for what is right!!!!

  • How awesome is that! Someone who actually has morals.

  • I also wish to applaud Neal McDonough for standing up for his beliefs and remaining faithful to his Catholic faith. May God continue to bless him and his family.

  • Glad to see an actor with moral character to say no to the filth and trash on our movies and TV screens. I commend him for his decision and wish more actors and actresses had the courage to do what he did. God Bless him. May he be an example for hollywood.

  • Yes, indeed. Bravo, Mr. McDonough! I’ll be looking forward to your new series.

  • Bom, sou brasileiro e achei muito impressionante a posição deste católico. Sou católico também e parece que o mundo não tem mais jeito. Mas mesmo sendo católico, eu duvido sobre estas coisas, mas aí que vem o poder de Deus e age para acreditarmos sempre, sempre. Felicidades para vc Mr. McDonough! Jesus o abençoe e Maria sempre o proteja!!!

  • (Guest comment from Don’s wife Cathy:) Mr. de Melo’s comment is basically on-topic, so here’s a VERY rough translation from his Portuguese via my college Spanish:
    “Well, I’m Brazilian and [I like to look at things(?)] from a Catholic point of view. I’m Catholic, too, and it seems that the world now has more [skill?]. But this Catholic blog, you’re devoted to these things, so that one can see the power of God and have to praise him forever and ever. Congratulations to you Mr. McDonough! May Jesus lead you and Mary always protect you!”
    (As I said, this is a very rough translation of Waldney’s comments, so if anyone can refine it, that’d be great.)

  • Here’s Google’s translation:

    Well, I am Brazilian and found it very impressive that the Catholic position. I am a Catholic and seems also that the world is hopeless. But even being a Catholic, I doubt about these things, but then that is the power of God to believe and act whenever, wherever. Cheers to you Mr. McDonough ! Jesus and Mary bless you always protect him!

    /translation finished

    Pretty close to Mrs. Cathy “Civilization Guru” McClarey’s translation.

  • i just want to say…..I love this guy! why can’t i find a fan site??

Nancy Pelosi to Bishops on Abortion: I practically mourn this difference of opinion

Wednesday, December 30, AD 2009

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was interviewed in a recent edition of Newsweek, in which she had the opportunity to set the bishops straight on the participation of Catholics in public life.

I think you have had some brushes with [church] hierarchy.

I have some concerns about the church’s position respecting a woman’s right to choose. I have some concerns about the church’s position on gay rights. I am a practicing Catholic, although they’re probably not too happy about that. But it is my faith. I practically mourn this difference of opinion because I feel what I was raised to believe is consistent with what I profess, and that is that we are all endowed with a free will and a responsibility to answer for our actions. And that women should have that opportunity to exercise their free will.

Is it difficult for you to reconcile your faith with the role you have in public life?

You know, I had five children in six years. The day I brought my fifth baby home, that week my daughter turned 6. So I appreciate and value all that they want to talk about in terms of family and the rest. When I speak to my archbishop in San Francisco and his role is to try to change my mind on the subject, well then he is exercising his pastoral duty to me as one of his flock. When they call me on the phone here to talk about, or come to see me about an issue, that’s a different story. Then they are advocates, and I am a public official, and I have a different responsibility.

Fr. John Zuhlsdorf applies the necessary fisking and muses: “I cannot fathom why she hasn’t been told she must not receive Holy Communion. How much more public scandal does she have to give before the bishops of the places where she resides take concrete action?”

My thoughts exactly. Note that she has already received an admonishment from the Holy See and an invitation to “converse” from San Francisco Archbishop George H. Niederauer.

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11 Responses to Nancy Pelosi to Bishops on Abortion: I practically mourn this difference of opinion

  • Can a person rise to a political position so powerful that Bishops are unable to preform as they should in fear of retaliation? Not just the House Speaker but all so called Catholic politicians. Even after much discussion by the Bishops with these persons, nothing is done other than rarely. . If so, are they not therefore condoning the acts of this person by omission of action, and putting politics ahead of their beliefs.

  • The Lying Worthless Political Hack before breakfast is a bit hard on the digestion. Seeing the look on her face after she is no longer Speaker of the House is all the inducement I need for all of my political activities and donations in the coming year.

  • “When I speak to my archbishop in San Francisco and his role is to try to change my mind on the subject, well then he is exercising his pastoral duty to me as one of his flock.”

    At least she admits that much; which means that she would, logically, also have to admit that he would be within his bounds of “pastoral duty” to bar her from Communion. However this is not likely to happen since Abp. Niederauer seems not to be known for possessing an episcopal spine.

    Pelosi points out that she had five children in 6 years and “appreciates all that they (bishops) want to talk about in terms of family.” Does she bring this up in order to establish some kind of “pro-life” street cred — “Hey, I had lots of kids so I was really pro-life when it counted” — or as a subtle dig at the Church — “I kept myself barefoot and pregnant all those years because the Church demanded it and now look what they are doing to me.”

  • “I practically mourn”? What the heck is that? She does or she doesn’t. It means she doesn’t. What a wretched woman who has shipwrecked her faith.

  • St. Paul in 1st Timothy 1:19-20 shows our Bishops how to deal with this; why won’t they simply just do it?

    “Some, by rejecting conscience, have made a shipwreck of their faith, among them Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme.”

  • TDJ Says: “I practically mourn”? What the heck is that?

    It means she mourns… right up to the point where the campaign contributions from Planned Parenthood and the gay brigades come in. Then the sack cloth and ashes turn into singing and dancing. Put another way…

    “I voted against abortion before I voted for it”

  • I echo the comment on Fr. Zuhlsdorf’s post. It is creepy that a woman who has five children is so adamant in supporting abortion.

  • Mrs. Pelosi is quite correct to say that she has free will. It has been the Church’s position since the beginning. It has been only the Church which has defended the free will of women, which is part of their dignity.

    Mrs. Pelosi fails, however, to acknowledge that women may also choose badly. They may talk themselves into hell.

  • Spot on, Gabriel. Pelosi is rated 100% by NARAL. She also voted against the partial birth abortion ban act. How dare Pelosi be a catalyst for the heinous sacrifice of infants when her Savior hung from a scaffold for her sake! She is trampling on the blood of Jesus. I would think she would tremble mightily when she hears the sound of the trumpet. Along with Ben Nelson.

    On a slightly different note, I was glancing through Good Housekeeping Magazine today and happened upon an eye-appealing ad reflecting a pretty American girl named Nina, from Chicago, aged 22, who wasn’t sure which job offer to accept. Contrasted was Wanjiru, 22, from Nairobi, who isn’t sure she can handle her fifth pregnancy. The ad states, “If you lived in a place like Kenya, chances are you’d have little say about when and how many children you’ll have. For these women and girls, life isn’t about choices.” This ad immediately gave me the willies, especially in this particular magazine. Unfamiliar with EngenderHealth, I did a little checking and found out that it was awarded the United Nations Population Award for its contribution to reproductive health care in resource-poor third world countries. I also discovered that EngenderHealth group was formerly the Steirlization League for Human Betterment. The pro-choice movement under the Obama administration has become very audacious in its ad campaigns. “Pro Choice” is simply a fashionable catch-all for eugenics, but since the Nazi regime, it’s uncool to use that terminology. Ironically, our secular world, oblivious to sin, but intent upon Utopia, is creating the very antithesis of a perfect society. They plot evil and they will perish in it. To create a perfect society, we must strive to emulate the sanctity of the Holy Family, and Our Lady, the most perfect of all mothers, is the premier example of every virtue. Perhaps Nancy Pelosi’s five children will pray for her salvation.

  • Oh, I get it. So for the BotoxBiddy it’s “MY will be done.” Not, “THY will be done.”
    Mmmmm ka-ay.

  • Pingback: Archbishop Niederauer instructs Nancy Pelosi on “free will, conscience and moral choice” « The American Catholic

Anne de Gaulle

Wednesday, October 28, AD 2009

Anne De Gaulle

Charles de Gaulle could be a very frustrating man.  Churchill, in reference to de Gaulle, said that the heaviest cross he had to bear during the war was the Cross of Lorraine, the symbol of the Free French forces.  Arrogant, autocratic, often completely unreasonable, de Gaulle was all of these.  However, there is no denying that he was also a great man.  Rallying the Free French forces after the Nazi conquest of France, he boldly proclaimed, “France has lost a battle, France has not lost the war.”  For more than a few Frenchmen and women, de Gaulle became the embodiment of France.  It is also hard to dispute that De Gaulle is the greatest Frenchman since Clemenceau “The Tiger”, who led France to victory in World War I.  However, de Gaulle was something more than a great man,  he was also at bottom a good man, as demonstrated by his youngest daughter Anne de Gaulle.

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16 Responses to Anne de Gaulle

  • Lovely! Thanks for sharing, Don.

  • It is a remarkable story Rick. It had to be for me to write positively about de Gaulle, not my favorite historical figure.

  • Yeah, I guess that’s part of why the story is so good. That a total *Richard Cranium* like de Gaulle could be capable of loving someone other than himself deeply and sincerely is a welcomed thought. It was a great love story in its own right, but also one of those things that reminds us of the dignity of the person and demonstrates that God is at work in all hearts – whether or not the effects can be seen.

  • A lot of what made de Gaulle such a pita was that he simply *had* to be in order to pull France through the crises it faced. The wounded national psychology required a kingly figure–in fact, a king in all but name, imperious and proud. It was a role imposed by the times, a necessary facade. Anne provides a welcome glimpse behind it.

  • What we need in our own time is a figure – kingly or not – who can persuade the general public that you cannot consume 4% more than you produce for 27 years without a serious danger that your creditors will (rather abruptly) ask for some of the principal of that loan back.

  • Art Deco;

    I read your post and thought Carthago delenda est.

    Not that you are incorrect, but that this does not seem like the appropriate place to bring up defecit spending

  • Beautiful story. Ofttimes a little glimpse into the private history of famous (or infamous) characters can make or break the surface impression formed by public history.

  • First time an article about de Gaulle ever made me cry.

  • Not that you are incorrect, but that this does not seem like the appropriate place to bring up defecit spending

    It was in response to Mr. Price’s comment on Gen. de Gaulle’s qualities as a leader. Our contemporary problems (and I am not referring to the public sector) are intractible but less intense than those faced by France in 1940. If it bothers you, c’est dommage.

  • Yes, I remember deGaulle from the days of WW2. The US of A helped win his country France for him, handed it back to him, and then he kicked the Americans (SHAPE headquarters) out of France. We have been despised by the French ever since.

  • I never realized DeGaulle had a daughter with Down syndrome until I read “Cultural Amnesia” by the Australian critic and writer Clive James. “Cultural Amnesia” is a wonderful book, a compendium of essays about literary, cultural and political figures ranging from Mao and Trotsky to Chesterton, Gibbon – and Louis Armstrong! The villians of the book are the murderous tyrants of the 20th century and their apologists and enablers (Sartre gets a drubbing).

    Here’s what James said about DeGaulle:

    Had he (DeGaulle) been a megalomanic, he would have been less impressive. Napolean, owing allegiance to nothing beyond his own vision, was petty in the end, and the fate of France bothered him little. De Gaulle behaved as if the fate of France was his sole concern, but the secret of his incomparable capacity to act in that belief probably lay in a central humility.,…, the touchstone of his humanity was his daughter. Nothing is more likely to civilize a powerful man than the presence in his house of an injured loved one his power can’t help. Every night he comes home to a reminder that God is not mocked, a cure for invincibility.”

  • WW2 Marine Veteran: First of all, thank you for your service.

    Things have come to a pretty ironic pass these days, haven’t they? The pro-American Sarkozy, elected to replace the anti-American Chirac, has found the new American president is rather cool toward his countries’ allies. Sarkozy publicly chided Obama several weeks ago for being naive about the intentions of the Iranians. It came as a shock to me to realize I agreed with the French president and not the American one.

  • “Nothing is more likely to civilize a powerful man than the presence in his house of an injured loved one his power can’t help.”

    Amen Donna. Thanks also for the tip about Cultural Amnesia. I am going to pick it up.

  • That quote also made me think of Lincoln and the personal tragedies he had to deal with while acting as Commander in Chief.

    I heartily recommend Cultural Amnesia; it’s one of the most original and thought-provoking books I have read in years. If you are like me and enjoy books with a wide historical and cultural range, I’ll bet you’ll like it.

  • I can assure you that the majority of French people hold no grudges against Americans, on the contrary they are deeply grateful for their role in liberating occupied Europe from Nazi Germany. I am currently reading a biography of De Gaulle by his on Philippe (an admiral) who knew him well and am discovering a very different man who had to fight many private battles in his life. He was critized and misunderstood even by his own countrymen. His pride and determination was for his country, but he accepted humbly many personal defeats as a true Christian. He was also a daily communicant.

  • There is an enormous amount of biographical information on Charles de Gaulle. Reading the essential sources by writers from different point of (political) views could make one clear that:
    – De Gaulle had a very sincere conviction about his mission; when he fled to Great Britain in 1940, he had nothing but his beliefs and his family;
    – De Gaulle was a profound democrat; he was the first president not elected by the parliament, but by the people (one man one vote), on his own initiative;
    – De Gaulle gave the French women the right to vote;
    – He was asked to replace the government to save France from chaos as the fourth republic had 22 governments between 1945 and 1958 – the masses demonstrated in the streets at the end of the fifties to call him;
    – De Gaulle gave all French colonies the possibility to gain their independence by vote;
    – De Gaulle had to unite and cure a country that was torn apart by pre-war corruption, largescale wartime collaboration with the Nazis and postwar chaos; by no means he could just go by his own will; he had to be cunning and in many instances had to weigh the bad against the worst;
    – De Gaulle had to fight the permanent threat of mutiny by the highest ranks of France’s military officers in the years of the Algerian independence war – the last attack on his life was on August 15th (sic!) of 1964 by the French terrorist OAS;
    – De Gaulle never threw the US out of France; he did not want a nuclear war between the USA and the USSR being fought at the cost of the European population; for that reason he refused to handover the command in the Mediterranenan area to foreign (read: American, British etc.) powers; for that reason too he created France’s ‘force de frappe’, the necessary nuclear strike to deter any aggressor from threatening Europe’s and especially France’s safety (at that time, we were in the Cold War); moreover his distrust in especially the British government is very understandable as they initially handed over power to pro-Vichy and anti-semitic factions in French colonies in the Middle/Near East at the end of WWII;
    – De Gaulle held F.D. Roosevelt and J.F. Kennedy in a very high esteem;
    – by reading and listening to De Gaulle’s books and speeches and taking his strategic insights into account, much of the misery in Vietnam in the sixties and recently in Iraq would have been avoidable;
    – you cannot measure a statesman’s acts by the way you and your neighbor are supposed to act when discussing the fence that divides your gardens;
    – all sources affirm his immense strategic insights;
    – on humility: in the famous Panthéon in Paris where all great French are (re)buried, De Gaulle is absent; he insisted on being buried next to his daughter Anne; he insisted too that his funeral in his village Colombey-les-deux-églises in Northern France there was not meant to be attended by politicians, by statesmen or by any other celibrity whatsoever, but just by his fellow villagers and his companions of the WWII-resistance; actually, there were more than 30.000 people gathered there, while in Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral the powerful and famous attended the ‘official’ service while all over France church bells were ringing; De Gaulle served as a colonel when WWII started; he was made a brigadier-general by what developed as the Vichy-regime; when he was outvoted by referendum in 1969, he refused his pension as a brigadier-general; he also refused his pension as a president; the pension of a colonel was what he chose; De Gaulle did not wear any signs of honor or distinction other than his brigadier-general’s uniform after WWII (the lowest general in rank); he had not built prestigious personal projects by the time of his stepping down as his successors did; instead, in the sixties he started France’s freeway project, an impulse to France’s weak economy at that time; once he stated that the French were too attached to their belongings and affluence;
    – and so on.

Jesu, Jesu, Jesu, Have Mercy on Me

Sunday, October 25, AD 2009

Today is the feast day of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales, canonized by Pope Paul VI on October 25, 1970.  These very brave men and women were martyred for the True Faith in England and Wales between 1535 and 1679, and they are representative of hundreds of Catholics in these countries who went to their death rather than to renounce their Catholicism.

John Pridmore, a reformed gangster from England, talks elquently about Saint Margaret Clitherow in the above video, and her life is typical of these brave champions of Christ.

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2 Responses to Jesu, Jesu, Jesu, Have Mercy on Me

  • Thanks for this post.
    Interesting that you should post this about St.Margaret Clitherow, Don.
    An ancestor of mine through my mother’s family line, by name William Nicholson (1816 – 1888) wrote a book about her. Some of our Nicholson relatives, who live I think in Portland, Oregon, researched and wrote a Nicholson Family Anthology back in the 1960’s and 70’s.

    I quote sections from this anthology.

    “William Nicholson studied the law, probably at his father’s office, and for a time followed the profession of solicitor in Warrington. The main direction of his contemplations, however, seem to have centred about religious thought. Like other menbers of his family, he was a communicant of the Church of England until about 1848…….
    William Nicholson participated in the Tractarian or Oxford Movement in England, and in 1848 or 1849 converted to Roman Catholicism. Dedicating his well-directed energy to his new faith, he rapidly rose to prominence among English Catholics…….most of his descendants became communicants of the Roman Catholic Church.
    For a now unknown reason, William Nicholson became interested in the story of Margaret Clitherow, often referred to as “The Pearl of York”.In the twentieth century she was canonised a saint. Born about 1556, Margaret (Middleton) Clitherow converted to Catholicism after her marriage to John Clitherow, who was a protestant, but from a Catholic family. She soon became an outspoken Catholic in York, providing for Catholic educators for her children and giving shelter to priests. Disturbed by the persistence of Catholicism in Yorkshire, the English government attempted to eradicate the faith by taking strong measures against English Catholics. On 25th March 1586 Margaret Clitherow was martyred in this purge.
    Her confessor John Mush wrote a contemporary memoir. The York Bar Convent obtained a copy of a manuscript made by Robert Setgrave in 1654 of John Mush’s work. Using this manuscript William Nicholson edited the work and published for the first time from a manuscript “The Life and Death of Margaret Clitherow, the Martyr of York.” The 215 page work was printed by Richardson & Son in London in 1849. The work was dedicated to the Earl of Shrewsbury, a leading Catholic layman of the time, with a letter of approbation from Bishop William Bewrnard Ullathorne, who worked indefatigably to restor Roman Catholicism as a prominent Church in England.”

    Thus endeth the lesson 🙂

    My mother has had a devotion to St.Margaret Clitherow for as long as I can remember, and it is from this family line that we are Catholic.


  • It is truly a small world Don! Saint Margaret Clitherow is an example of Catholic courage and fortitude for us all.

Brideshead vs. RCIA

Friday, August 28, AD 2009

Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited is one of my favorite novels, and unquestionably my favorite Catholic novel. (Spoiler warning for those who haven’t read it — this post has to do with events which take place at the very end.) Not only does Brideshead give powerful and beautiful expression to Catholic themes, but having read it in my late teens, not long before leaving home, it represents one of those crystallizing experiences for me through which Catholicism became not merely something I was brought up in, but something deeply my own and at the root of my understanding of the world.

And yet, there’s a key element of the plot which clashes with the modern experience of joining the Church — as I was reminded tonight when attending the opening RCIA meeting as a member of this year’s team. Near the very end of the novel, Julia (a cradle, though intermittently lapsed, Catholic) tells the man she has been living with for several years (they’re in the process of divorcing their estranged spouses so they can marry):

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9 Responses to Brideshead vs. RCIA

  • As co-director of our RCIA and the so-called “marriage expert” for our parish, I came to the same conclusion as to why so many marriages are declared null – lack of catechesis with no understanding of what a Catholic marriage is. And, I know what it is to be married outside the Church without an annulment – my husband and I both went through the annulment process when he decided to convert after 23 years of “civil” marriage. In fact, nearly every member of our RCIA team has been through the process. It is, indeed, an incredibly rewarding process to walk the journey with the candidates and catechumens.

  • I had a similar thought when read The End of the Affair (not to give too many spoilers, but as in Brideshead, part of the plot turns on the fact that one of the characters was in a voidable marriage and thus was “trapped” according to the Church). My assumption was that whatever the official doctrine, remarriage in the Church in England at that time was just not done (the trouble C.S. Lewis had in marrying Joy Davidman despite her prior marriage being invalid and the fact they were Anglican tended to re-enforce this impression). But the biographical detail about Waugh throws me a bit (I had somehow got the impression that his first wife died after the divorce before he remarried).

  • But the biographical detail about Waugh throws me a bit (I had somehow got the impression that his first wife died after the divorce before he remarried).

    This sent me off into paniced googling, since I had basically assumed that the marriage had been annulled by the Church since I knew his second marriage was Catholic. As it turns out, though, she lived until 1994:

  • Yeah, I’m not quite sure how I got the idea that she had died. Weird.

  • I’ve been interested in a while now on how Brideshead is a lament for the losses of the First World War.

    Anyway, here is a good piece on his early life

  • “My assumption was that whatever the official doctrine, remarriage in the Church of England at the time was not possible.”

    How ironic, given that the Church of England was created more or less for the sole purpose of enabling King Henry VIII to divorce and remarry.

    It has also occurred to me that Jack and Joy Lewis’ dilemma regarding their marriage would have been easily resolved had they been Catholic, even though the Catholic Church at the time was regarded as much stricter about divorce. The Catholic Church would have regarded Joy’s first marriage as null and void on the grounds of “ligamen” or a prior bond on the part of Bill Gresham, who had been married and divorced before he met Joy.

  • Is it is possible that the author was presenting people who were under the mistaken impression of how the church dealt with matters and acted accordingly? (I’ve never read Brideshead)

    It is not uncommon though for authors, even sometimes catholic authors, to present the church in a more rigid or legalistic manner than it actually is… and in some ways it is a stereotype often employed in the popular culture.

    God Bless,

  • Interesting post, Darwin. The same thought had crossed my mind second time I read it. Perhaps Waugh was relying on the readers’ ignorance, his point being that Charles was an occasion of sin for Julia–that Julia’s change of heart has her wanting a purer state of life. I never liked Julia–and Charles always seems so wimpy. I never could believe in their love as a higher love. And yet I like the book. Best is the dying Signum Crucis, and Sebastian’s finally finding peace.

  • And yet something Waugh reveals to us, through Lady Julia, is that sometimes God gives us extravagant grace through which we can do what seems impossible and unbearable. When He speaks to us in such a way, the only possible answer is a resounding, if fright-filled, “Yes!”

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:

    “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.

  • 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.


    Take a chill pill.


    Right on.


    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.

Jesus is Not My Pal

Wednesday, August 26, AD 2009

One of the elements of modern (often Evangelical, but sometimes Catholic) spirituality that I find most foreign is when people talk about Christ as being “my best friend.” It seems an even more familiar form of the relationship suggested by hopeful missionaries, “Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?”

It’s possible to err in either direction on these things, and I make no representation that I am a perfect Christian, but I don’t think of myself having a “personal relationship” with Christ, certainly in a “best friends” kind of way. The ways in which I would normally envision Christ are not guy-next-door, my-buddy-the-savior kind of images. Christ the King, enthroned in eternal splendor into union with whom all Christians wish to enter for life everlasting. Christ Crucified, pouring out his blood for the sins of the whole world. Christ Risen, triumphing over the reign of death which had doomed humanity since the Fall. Christ in the Eucharist, kneeling before the glittering monstrance in which the Body of Christ forms the center of a sunburst of golden rays, with the crucifix above and the tabernacle behind.

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41 Responses to Jesus is Not My Pal

  • Henry Karlson:

    I don’t suppose you’ll also provide us a link showing an ancient desert father wearing a “What Would Jesus Do” bracelet, no?

  • I believe the correct title for that book is Buddy Jesus and the Early Church: A Historical Study. More seriously, while I find the image interesting, I’m curious about why Henry linked to it. I think there are a wide variety of plausible interpretations for what that image says about the Christian’s relationship to Jesus.

  • No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.

    John 15:15

    And that icon is an ancient one, btw.

  • John Henry

    I pointed to it because years ago, one of my Coptic friends pointed out how it was an icon of Jesus as our friend.

  • One is urged not to judge a book by its cover, but with a cover that bad, it’s sure tempting… Wow.

  • Henry Karlson,

    The icon may be an ancient one; however, the modernist interpretation you place on it to advance your liberal views concerning it, isn’t.

    Not only is it flawed; it is also anachronistic.

  • E.

    What’s anachronistic about what I said? The idea that Jesus can be our friend is anachronistic? Really? Seriously??! So I guess John 15:15 is a modernist scripture which was sent back in time?

    And as I pointed out, I was told the interpretation by a Coptic friend of mine, one who was I believe a deacon at the time (might have only been sub-deacon) and was, before moving to the Americas, active in Cairo at one of the churches (and this one a monastery-church) which is built upon a site the Holy Family hid at. I wouldn’t call him a “modernist” either.

  • Well, look, I see no reason to say that anyone is ‘wrong’ here. What we have here are different images to explain something that is basically indescribable: the soul’s relationship with God. Darwin thinks that some of this imagery – the “my pal Jesus” kind – is not to his taste because while it may convey familiarity (one aspect of the relationship between the individual soul and God), it is very misleading when considered as a description of the equality (or lack thereof) between the soul and God. Henry is pointing out that Jesus used the language of friendship to describe His relationship with His disciples, and so it is perhaps a richer analogy than the post acknowledges.
    This is not a serious disagreement, I don’t think.

  • To Jesus, Our Friend
    St. Claude de la Colombière

    O Jesus! Thou art my true Friend, my only Friend. Thou doth take a part in all my misfortunes; Thou doth take them on Thyself; thou doth know how to change them into blessings. Thou doth listen to me with the greatest kindness when I relate my troubles to Thee, and thou hast always balm to pour on my wounds. I find Thee at all times; I find Thee everywhere; Thou never goest away; if I have to change my dwelling, I find Thee wherever I go.

    Thou art never weary of listening to me; Thou art never tired of doing me good. I am certain of being beloved by Thee if I love Thee; my goods are nothing to Thee and by bestowing Thine on me, Thou never growest poor. However miserable I may be, no one more noble or learned or even holier can come between Thee and me, and deprive me of Thy friendship; and death which tears us away from all other friends, will unite me for ever to Thee.

    All the humiliations attached to old age or to the loss of honor, will never detach Thee from me. On the contrary, I shall never enjoy Thee more fully, and Thou will never be closer to me than when everything seems to conspire against me, to overwhelm me and to cast me down. Thou doth bear with all my faults with extreme patience.

    Even my want of fidelity and my ingratitude do not wound Thee to such a degree as to make Thee unwilling to receive me back when I return to Thee.

    O Jesus! Grant that I may die praising Thee, that I may die loving Thee, that I may die for the love of Thee. Amen.

  • John Henry

    Right, I am just wanting people to appreciate the great spiritual tradition which does look at Jesus as our friend, and realize it is not all sub-par, but that there is a richness to it that has inspired, and continues to inspire, saints.

  • The modern (perhaps, more precisely, the “Protestant”) interpretation of “personal relationship with Jesus” has often been, as even in our current day, the kind not unlike that which rappers and R&B singers notoriously demonstrate & subscribe to, which even large congregations of Protestant churches themselves as well as youth groups nurture even still; where one can be so buddy, buddy with our homey, Jesus, that a supposed Christian can even cuss the hell’outta him and talk to him as if he were some 21 JumpStreet gangsta.

    Apologies, but the kind of “friendship” that I subscribe to as concerning Christ is not unlike the original kind espoused in the ancient Fathers of the Church, where it acknowledges and pays due homage to one divine aspect of him that the notorious modern interpretation so often neglects and, worse, deplorably disrespects: that He happens to be not only Lord & Saviour but also God, deserving of such due homage and utmost respect.

    So, go tell yo homeys, “e.” don’t play dat.

  • (seeing Henry’s comment that it’s an actual ancient icon, and not an in-the-style-of as I’d taken it):

    1) It would be appropriate to at least ask whether the arm-on-shoulder posture shown in the icon merits the “icon of Christ and his friend” title which some people apparently now give it. (Googling around, it is a 5th century Egyptian icon of Christ and Abba Menas currently hanging in the Louvre.) Gestures do not always maintain continuity of meaning across time and cultures — as with the fru-fra over medieval lord/vassal ceremonies which involved the exchange of kisses being interpreted by modern people as “gay marriage” ceremonies.

    2) Just because a piece of art is old doesn’t mean that it’s good or expresses truth well. Perhaps I’m simply bringing my modern understandings of symbol and gesture to it, but this looks to me about as egregious as a lot of the 19th century devotional paintings of Jesus which make him look like a pale, European, emaciated and somewhat effeminate youth.

    That said, I’m not trying to argue here that Christ should never be seen as a friend. As Henry points out, Christ tells his disciples that they are not merely servants but friends. In another example of close relation, we are told that we are sons of God. Clearly, if God is our Father, he is not wholly other.

    What I wrote here is not meant to describe the only way of understanding one’s relationship with Christ, not to insist that mine is the best one. If you’re looking for someone with the deepest possible understanding of and relationship with God, I’m not the person you’re going to turn to. I’m an ordinary Catholic struggling as we all must to understand the eternal and perfect.

    But at the same time, I did write it not merely because it describes my personal experience, but also because I fear that in the laudable desire to bring Christ into their lives rather than leaving Him as some distant influence that does not impact their day-to-day actions, modern Americans are particularly tempted towards a view of Christ which is essentially humanistic and horizontal — losing the vertical sense of God’s power and majesty.

    In any given age, we often need most the images which are contrary to the spirit of the times. Through much of Christian history, it was perhaps important to remind people that Christ truly came for all, and loved the peasant at least as much as the lord. But in our day, I think we’re much more in danger of losing any sense of Christ’s divinity and kingship — living as we do in a society which celebrates egalitarianism. I think we need Christ as King now more than ever.

  • I think John Henry states the correct mean.

  • DarwinCatholic:

    I, for one, happen to laud your post, which your above comments even further explains with even greater clarity and deeper meaning.

    The fact that Henry Karlson imposes his conspicuously modern interpretation on the ancient icon, to make it appear as though the current modern interpretation of “friendship with Christ” in our day is actually not unlike that of those in the early church is as seriously flawed as it is anachronistic; not to mention, self-serving.

    Indeed, such a markedly familiar notion has exactly been what has led to a rather notorious lack of respect toward Our Lord in our modern times and the many egregious profound displays of irreverence not only in our several churches but, ultimately, in modern-day Christianity as a whole.

  • The above band will be playing at Mass in a church near your — look for it!

    Coming Up in Future Performances:

    “Down wid Christ! Hell ya, mutha******”

    by Rapper, Kenya Christian

    — end sarcasm.

  • S.B.

    Didn’t you know that was an ancient hymn written by one of the Desert Fathers?

  • In the last days of her life, St. Teresa was ordered by the Lord to go found yet another convent. Traveling through the winter weather and snows of the mountains, she fell into a freezing river.
    “That’s the way I treat all my friends” said the Lord.
    “No wonder you have so few” she replied.

    And for real friends it seems to me that “Sell all you have and come follow me” is the applicable text.

  • But in our day, I think we’re much more in danger of losing any sense of Christ’s divinity and kingship — living as we do in a society which celebrates egalitarianism.

    I agree, although every individual has their own struggles. For some, the break down of traditional family and community structures as well as the peculiar forms of isolation resulting from modern technology make it difficult to conceive a loving, caring God.

  • Not to mention, those who mistake a vulgar familiarity with Christ as actually a “personal relationship” with Him due to some sordid notion of amity, prevalently fostered by Protestant churches and unfortunately imported into our own Catholic churches by certain parishoners given to such, make it very difficult to ever conceive that Christ is, in fact, “God”; instead, one would think he’s simply some homey residing on 21st street.

  • DarwinCatholic:
    Icons are not pieces of art. For the Eastern Christians they are sacramentals. They are meant to induce prayer and meditation and avoid anything that is too much of this earth. That is why they may look strange to Western eyes brought up with a Renaissance view of art. Friendship is a noble virtue. There is a difference in degree between “friend” and “buddy”.
    Elise B.

  • Wow, very strong reactions here, mostly to that poor man posting that Icon.

    Anyhoo…wanted to add that I agree with the post and add that I think that most Catholics of a certain age have a bit of hurdle to overcome when contemplating Jesus as our “personal savior” and “best friend” and other such Evangelical and Born Again phrasing. I think it’s because the eternal view of the Church has consistently been that of “community” and “communal salvation.” Indeed, we come to Christ, not through a personal relationship with him, but through the Church, the Body of Christ, the Communion of Saints. All the mass emphasizes our fellowship duties to salvation for ourselves and each other.

    Just my thoughts. Peace.

  • Jesus in the most classical sense is more like a mob boss than a friend, or the local cacique in Mexico that everyone wants to their kid’s padrino (godfather). He has his tender moments, he can even seem like your friend at times, but don’t piss him off, and don’t mess with him. And he can hook you up with all sorts of goodies if you do what he says. That makes the saints akin to mob captains. If you want anything done in Heaven, you gotta know somebody who knows somebody.

    At least that’s how I understand it.

  • Re: John 15:15, I realize that Christ could be speaking to all of us through the scripture, and there are probably multiple layers of meaning there, but I read it as speaking to the disciples — men who really were his friends — his natural, human friends. You know, human beings he spent a lot of time with in the flesh.

    We can’t have precisely the same kind of natural, human relationship with Jesus that these men did, even if we can look to it as a model and sign for our own, supernatural relationship with Him.

  • 1. When the Lord Jesus had commended the love which He manifested toward us in dying for us, and had said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends,” He added, “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” What great condescension! when one cannot even be a good servant unless he do his lord’s commandments; the very means, which only prove men to be good servants, He wished to be those whereby His friends should be known. But the condescension, as I have termed it, is this, that the Lord condescends to call those His friends whom He knows to be His servants. For, to let us know that it is the duty of servants to yield obedience to their master’s commands, He actually in another place reproaches those who are servants, by saying, “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things that I say?”1 Accordingly, when ye say Lord, prove what you say by doing my commandments. Is it not to the obedient servant that He is yet one day to say, “Well done, thou good servant; because thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord”?2 One, therefore, who is a good servant, can be both servant and friend. (Augustin on John 85)

  • He both is abundantly and infinitely rich; and He desires and earnestly endeavors to obtain our friendship; we do not thus earnestly endeavor. What am I saying, ’do not earnestly endeavor’? We do not wish to obtain the good things as He wishes it. And what He has done shows that He wishes it more [than we]. For while, for our own sake, we with difficulty think lightly of a little gold: He, for our sake, gave even the Son who was His own. Let us make use of the love of God as we ought; let us reap the fruits of His friendship. For “ye are My friends” (he says) “if ye do what I say to you.” (Jn 15,14). How wonderful! His enemies, who were at an infinite distance from Him, whom in all respects He excels by an incomparable superiority, these He has made His friends and calls them friends. What then should not one choose to suffer for the sake of this friendship? For the friendship of men we often incur danger, but for that of God, we do not even give up money. Our [condition] does indeed call for mourning, for mourning and tears and wailings, and loud lamentation and beating of the breast. We have fallen from our hope, we are humbled from our high estate, we have shown ourselves unworthy of the honor of God even after His benefits we are become unfeeling, and ungrateful. The devil has stripped us of all our good things. We who were counted worthy to be sons; we His brethren and fellow-heirs are come to differ nothing from His enemies that insult Him. (Chrysostom He 2307)

  • I think part of the problem is that we have a rather cut-rate notion of what it means to be a “friend” today. I’m not a biblical scholar, but I have to think the term Jesus uses in the scene in John is a lot richer and more meaningful than what is usually meant by it in the Age of Facebook.

  • I appreciate the quotes from the Fathes, Henry, but I’m not entirely sure what you’re driving at — assuming that you’re driving at something rather than just sharing some good quotes with us all.

    I’m not trying to suggest that it’s wrong or never appropriate to refer to Christ as a friend — if that’s what’s concerning you. But I am trying to argue against a certain approach to spirituality or to talking about Christ which is highly egalitarian and familiar in it’s approach. I’m thinking, for instance, of Protestant or Catholic carismatic friends I’d had who tend to talk about prayer as, “I’ve gotta go talk this over with my best friend,” or “I’ve got to run that by my buddy upstairs.”

  • Henry is just upset that there remains genuine Catholics like DarwinCatholic who uphold the Traditions of the Church rooted in both Scripture & Oral Tradition, passed onto the Ages, from the Apostles themselves.

    The modernist enterprise of nihilistic emancipation is the very core of crusade Henry Karlson et al are prominently engaged in; to make it seem that the novel Protestant interpretations that only came about in the 16th century and, even worse, the subsequent modern versions that arose from these; are exactly the kinds of interpretations (wherein the very hermaneutics employed are believed to enjoy a certain legitimacy by the likes of these) that Catholics today should likewise adopt to the point of forming a “friendship” with our Lord in the hip-hop, faddish fashion that are of the “What Would Jesus Do?” and “Hoes Down Wid Jesus” variety.

    Is it then any wonder why even in the Masses celebrated today, these days, the Greatest Prayer of the Church has become little more than merely a liturgical performance replete with irreverence and vulgarity?

    I applaud DarwinCatholic and all those who in spite of these Pop fads that come & go, nevertheless continues to heed the High Call of the Ancient Church and cherish with right fondness the precious Treasures of Tradition contained therein and give due worship to our Master, who is both Lord & King.

  • DC

    Those were quoting explaining John 15:15 for bearing.

    Can someone explain to me where I am modernist? What has been the modernism in what I’ve shown and said?

  • Did Jesus really fully identify with us in our humanity, or, didn’t he?

    Does he have a courteous and humble familiarity with every aspect of our being, or, doesn’t he?

    He asks us to believe that he is one with us, and some seem unable to bear that thought…

  • were *quotes* sorry, typo there — I’m tired today

  • markdefrancisis:

    If you should actually believe that merely because your rather vulgar interpretation of the kind of “humanity” or “friendship” with Christ is somehow accomodated by Scripture or the Ancients themselves, then, by golly, go ahead and be “buddy, buddy” with your Homey, “J.C.”, enjoy conversations replete with profanity and utterly vile colloquialism, perhaps even have the Mass celebrated at a local strip bar — hey, why not?

    Didn’t Christ identify with us in our humanity and even entertained prostitutes?

    You might even take your peeps, Henry K., and all other homeys with you that are down wid dat.

    As for me, I prefer the pristine worship of Our Lord the way He should be worshipped and reverenced; giving due respect deserving of Lord & Creator and most especially Saviour & God!

  • e,

    Let him in…

  • Henry,

    I don’t think you’re being a modernist. I’m not sure where e. is getting that.


    Please throttle it back a bit. While “Jesus is my homeboy” talk can be egregious, no one is advocating it on this thread so far as I can tell. And while we’re personalities with history, we should try not to view things through that lens too much.

  • DC,

    Thank you.

  • Etienne Gilson [GOD AND PHILOSOPHY] notes that the God of the Deists was something like “my pal”, le dieu des bonnes gens, a supremely good fellow.

    Which is also to say, a gentleman “one who never offends”.

  • If there is anyone I found who qualifies as self serving it is ” trad catholics”. e. is a prime example. They will stop at nothing to shove their ” infallible ideas down everyone’s throat!

The Dangers of Hobby Catholicism

Thursday, July 2, AD 2009

More years ago than it would be legal for me to confess, I fell in love with beer brewing as a result of reading the charmingly entitled An Essay on Brewing, Vintage and Distillation, Together With Selected Remedies for Hangover Melancholia: Or, How to Make Boozeby John Festus Adams. Adams opens with an extended discussion of what sort of hobby book this will not be, recounting his experience with a book on growing mushrooms. Written by the Brit who Took Food Seriously, it eventually became clear to Adams while reading this book that the author did not actually expect him to be able to master this most occult of gardening hobbies. It took skill. It took patience. It took a ton of fresh horse manure which simply be be obtained fresh (preferably from a ladies’ riding academy) and in the quantity of about half a ton. And it must be composted for six months — no more and no less. It must be turned every four weeks — not three weeks and certainly not five. And if you weren’t prepared to do all these things Right, there was really no point in doing it at all, because your mushrooms, if they even grew, would be No Good At All.

This, Adams promised, was not the sort of book he was setting out to write. His book was a book about brewing for those who actually wanted to brew. And it was based on the theory that they would brew, and the resulting beer would be pretty good when they did.

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11 Responses to The Dangers of Hobby Catholicism

  • Thank you for the helpful reminder. It’s easy to fall into thinking our particular interpretation of Catholic doctrine is the One. True. Interpretation., but, of course, then we’ve generally established our own, much smaller, church in the process.

    I would only add that, even more than a belief, Catholicism is a relationship. I am frequently reminded of John 15, when Jesus says “I am the vine, you are the branches…apart from me you can do nothing.” Even belief and action, very good things in themselves, and very great gifts, are wasted without prayer.

  • 1 ¶ If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
    2 And if I should have prophecy and should know all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I should have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
    3 And if I should distribute all my goods to feed the poor, and if I should deliver my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
    4 ¶ Charity is patient, is kind: charity envieth not, dealeth not perversely, is not puffed up,
    5 Is not ambitious, seeketh not her own, is not provoked to anger, thinketh no evil:
    6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth with the truth:
    7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

    1 Cor 13: 1-7 (DRV)

    Forgive me if I missed the cryptic vulgarity that might have actually been present in the Greek; after all, I’m not an Iafratist scriptural scholar but rather a biblical illiterate, no less; which apparently in Christ’s Kingdom means I’m consigned to the lowest dregs of Heaven’s heirachy or, even worse, destined to the lower bowels of Hell.

  • Hey, did you here? Kmiec gets Malta!

  • Oops, that should be “hear”.

  • I agree with you, e., but let’s leave that one on the thread where it came from.

    While this seemed apropos, I’d actualy had the post on the back burner for some weeks, and I like to think the point is generally applicable. 🙂

  • Oh, and Philip, I hadn’t heard. That’s interesting. I’m trying to think if that’s a slap or a prize or both.

  • Everyone I know who’s been to Malta has liked it. But it certainly ain’t Rome.

  • I meant it as no disrespect to Malta, but as diplomatic posts go, I can’t imagine its what one could persuade onself is important.

  • DarwinCatholic:

    Actually, your post seems very apropos to such a circumstance as that.

    It kinda reminds me of why St. Francis himself was initially opposed to the study of theology for those of his order; he thought that such knowledge would puff them up.

    It wasn’t until the great Anthony of Padua convinced him otherwise that he came to change his mind on the matter.

  • There’s nothing wrong with pursing Catholic doctrine or history as a “hobby” or “special interest” in the same way one might pursue history, literature, art, gardening, fishing, sports, etc. as a hobby or for enjoyment. I do this to some extent myself. I actually enjoy learning about stuff like bishops’ coats of arms, the different types of Monsignors, the “call letters” of different religious orders (OSB, CSC, OFM, etc.)

    But… the thing one has to watch out for is mistaking one’s “geeky” interest in all things Catholic for genuine holiness, or assuming that it makes one a “better” or wiser Catholic than others not so inclined. Just because I can name the last 10 or so popes or can identify the 20-some different rites of the Catholic Church doesn’t mean I’m any closer to God or any more holy than someone who doesn’t know or couldn’t care less about these things.

  • I just stumbled upon this site and as a traditional Roman Catholic (I detest having to define it so pointedly, but these days…) I am impressed with what appears to be lots of wisdom here,(as opposed to expertese)

    I fully recognize the danger, having too much knowledge of faith, rubs elbows with. The Church has seen plenty of doctrinal and biblical experts who no longer seemed able to locate their knees for bending in humility and prayer.
    I had the wonderful experience of dealing with the lofty only to finally recognize true faith in my simple Mother-in-law.One day as she was ironing shirts for her poor tenent from Poland, I, concerned she was being used by him, spoke up, only to be told, “If I don’t iron his shirts for him, who will?”
    I hung my head -having been taught a valuable life lesson by a Catholic woman who spent much of her life on her knees praying.
    This finally taught me how the simple folks have just as much chance for attaining heaven as do the brilliant theologians. I have since learned – maybe even a better chance. Intellegence, like beauty, can be a cross and/or an obstacle.