Prayer Request

Friday, June 23, AD 2017

 

LarryD at Acts of the Apostasy has the dreadful news that his nineteen year old nephew took his life.  I would regard it as a personal favor for prayers to be offered for LarryD, the young man’s family and the repose of the soul of the young man.  I have long believed that before we reach our end, God throws a rope to us.  Let us hope that the young man grasped it before his soul left his body.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.  Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.  Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.  Amen.

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Murder and Redemption

Sunday, May 3, AD 2015

Trafton

 

 

When I was a kid I watched way too much TV.  How little of those hours I can recall now!  However there is one television show that I watched that has always stayed with me.  On October 25, 1971, when I was a freshman in high school, a Gunsmoke episode aired entitled Trafton.  The guest star of the episode was character actor Victor French, who would make twenty-three appearances on Gunsmoke, usually portraying a villain.  The Trafton episode was no exception.  He portrayed a gunman known simply as Trafton.  A murderer, Trafton had learned the gunman’s trade while riding with Confederate raider “Bloody Bill” Anderson during the War.  The episode opens with Trafton and his gang shooting up a town in New Mexico.  They attempt to rob the bank, only to find that the vault contains no money.  Frustrated, on his way out of town Trafton sees a Catholic Church.  He enters the Church and goes up to the altar, and takes a gold cross, a gold communion chalice and a gold paten.  The priest appears and tries to stop him,  Trafton unhesitatingly gunning down the priest.  Seeing a gold cross about the neck of the dying priest, Trafton stoops down to remove the cross.  As he does so the priest with his last strength, to the utter astonishment of Trafton, says, “I forgive you.” and with his bloody right hand traces a cross on the forehead of Trafton just before he dies.  Trafton uneasily touches his forehead, and then leaves the Church and rides off.

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Saint Thomas Becket, Sin and Contrition

Sunday, December 29, AD 2013

(I originally posted this on December 29th last year.  I think it is worth a repost on December 29th this year.)

Today is the feast day of my confirmation saint, Saint Thomas Becket, the holy, blessed martyr.  His story tells us how foreign to our time the Middle Ages are.  Becket was a worldly cleric who had risen to be chancellor of England for Henry II.  Henry seized the opportunity to place his man, Becket, on the throne of Canterbury as Primate of England.  Becket had a sudden and complete religious conversion and fought Henry for the liberty of the Church for which Becket suffered exile and, ultimately, murder.  In penance for Becket’s murder Henry had himself beaten by the monks at Canterbury before the tomb of his former friend who, two years after his death, was canonized by the Pope.  For over three centuries his tomb became one of the major pilgrimage sites in Europe and inspired the immortal Canterbury Tales.

The Middle Ages were fully as immersed in sin as our own time, although with different mixtures of evil, but the sins of the Middle Ages were often followed by great penances and acts of contrition that brightened and inspired countless lives down through the centuries.  This we have lost and this we must regain.  G.K. Chesterton put what we lack in high relief when he wrote about Saint Thomas:

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12 Responses to Saint Thomas Becket, Sin and Contrition

  • It is amazing how moderns often treat death. It is no longer feared. It is seen as the end of our lives, but nothing is believed to follow, neither good nor bad. So it worries no one. To be extinguished, I guess, is no worry for the average unbeliever. Perhaps telling oneself that we’re all headed that way makes it seem OK.

  • “It is no longer feared.”

    Completely disagree Jon. I believe that atheists and agnostics fear death most of all. There is a great deal of truth to the old adage that there are no atheists in foxholes. What we do have among many non-religious people is a denial of death.

  • Thank you for this, Donald. As it happens, Thomas is my confirmation saint, too. He and I have a long history, stretching way back into my Anglican days, and I credit him with a large role in praying me into the Catholic Church.

  • In our prayer, our act of Contrition, we promise to do penance. .. Maybe I’d be better about the “amend my life part” if I did a little more serious penance!

  • Thank you Donald for this wonderful article. Thomas Becket is one of my favorite saints (his is one of the medals I wear along with my scapular). You made several good points. I would like to add that some accounts have, that after Henry II performed his penance at Canterbury, his forces won a major victory against a rebellion to his rule, with the capture of the rebel leader.

    This is part of a letter from Thomas Becket as todays second Office Reading (if today was not Sunday and therefore higher priority):

    “Yet the Roman Church remains the head of all the churches and the source of Catholic teaching. Of this there can be no doubt. Everyone knows that the keys of the kingdom of heaven were given to Peter. Upon his faith and teaching the whole fabric of the Church will continue to be built until we all reach full maturity in Christ and attain to unity in faith and knowledge of the Son of God…Nevertheless, no matter who plants or waters, God gives no harvest unless what he plants is the faith of Peter, and unless he himself assents to Peter’s teaching. All important questions that arise among God’s people are referred to the judgment of Peter in the person of the Roman Pontiff. Under him the ministers of Mother Church exercise the powers committed to them, each in his own sphere of responsibility.”

    You hit the nail right on the head about Henry VIII. Becket’s stand against Henry II made it necessary for Henry VIII to destroy Becket’s his image, for if an archbishop could stand against a king, then how could the king rule the church. Part of destroying that image was destroying Becket’s tomb, a source of pilgrimage from all over Christendom. It was also rumored to be wealthy and therefore a prime target for a cash hungry Henry (having already dissolved the religious houses) who, despite all the wealth he seem to acquire, it was never enough to keep up with his ambition.

    I would also like to add that the movie Becket, which you have posted a clip from above, is excellent (even if it takes some historical liberties) and would recommend to all catholics interested in Saint Thomas Becket. I think it is Richard Burton’s finest role.

    Samuel Edwards, welcome home. It is good to know that St. Thomas was helpful in your return. It brings me great joy (and I’m sure many other catholics as well) to hear of our Anglican brethren being re-united with us.

  • If we weren’t afraid of death, why would we hide it away in such a cold, sterile place as a hospital?

    If one were curious to know, read the first chapter of George Duby’s William Marshall, to see what a good death in the High Middle Ages looked like.

  • Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, the distinguished Boston physician and father of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., Justice of the United States Supreme Court wrote:
    “So far as I have observed persons nearing the end of life, the Roman Catholics understand the business of dying better than Protestants. They have an expert by them, armed with spiritual specifics, in which they both, patient and priestly ministrant, place implicit trust. Confession, the Eucharist, Extreme Unction, these all inspire a confidence, which, without this symbolism, is too apt to be wanting in over sensitive natures… I have seen a good many Roman Catholics on their dying beds; and it has always appeared to me that they accept the inevitable with a composure which showed that their belief, whether or not the best to live by, was a better one to die by” (Over the Teacups [1891]).
    We will go to Christ, the Giver of Life, and ask Him for the life that never ends, life everlasting. Pray for a happy death; pray for those who have already died. We will accept death from God wherever, whenever, and however He decides. That is one of the best prayers and penances we can offer to the Almighty.
    Above all we will occasionally bring home to ourselves the vital, sobering, balancing thought that we must die, but that we will rise again, with Christ whom we have tried to love and serve. Let the dance of death go on. We, the followers of Christ are ready.

  • That is wonderful Victor! I learn so much participating on The Amereican Catholic. Thanks Domald, Tito and everyone.

  • “Confession, the Eucharist, Extreme Unction, these all inspire a confidence, which, without this symbolism, is too apt to be wanting in over sensitive natures”
    and “without this symbolism” The Person of Jesus Christ in the Sacrament of The Holy Eucharist is a real Person; Jesus Christ is a Real Presence, and not a symbol. How empty must be the soul without Holy Viaticum.
    Flannery O’Connor said that if the Eucharist is a symbol, it can go to hell.

  • Donald, perhaps it is a denial of death. Or perhaps people push it so far into the distant future that it seems unreal. When people are confronted with its prospect, fear may very well surface. And it’s a problem today that death is all too easily hidden from our sight.

  • Thomas a` Becket is my birthday saint and that of my identically named sister-in-law. Becket and A Man For All Seasons need to be viewed by the younger generations. I wish that we had a Becket or a More in the present. Would we have Obamacare and other onslaughts against freedom of religion if the US bishops and cardinals had chained themselves in protest to the White House fence?

  • A bit off topic but on the 29th I viewed the website of St. Thomas a Becket Church on 5th Ave. in Manhattan. I had slipped in the church once for a quick prayer before the BVM shrine, and only when I looked at the bulletin did I realize it was not R. Catholic but Episcopal/Anglican. Re the website: High church or now Anglican they have their version of the 7 sacraments. Very interesting their instructions on the proper way to receive the Holy Eucharist in both species (Our parishes’ websites should have a paragraph on the proper reception. Rarely is there a reminder on it from the pulpit.) There also appears to be an altar rail, which has been removed in most Roman Catholic churches.

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
    http://www.sewanee.edu/faculty/willis/Civil_War/documents/Grant.html

    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.

Saint Thomas Becket, Sin and Contrition

Saturday, December 29, AD 2012

Today is the feast day of my confirmation saint, Saint Thomas Becket, the holy, blessed martyr.  His story tells us how foreign to our time the Middle Ages are.  Becket was a worldly cleric who had risen to be chancellor of England for Henry II.  Henry seized the opportunity to place his man, Becket, on the throne of Canterbury as Primate of England.  Becket had a sudden and complete religious conversion and fought Henry for the liberty of the Church for which Becket suffered exile and, ultimately, murder.  In penance for Becket’s murder Henry had himself beaten by the monks at Canterbury before the tomb of his former friend who, two years after his death, was canonized by the Pope.  For over three centuries his tomb became one of the major pilgrimage sites in Europe and inspired the immortal Canterbury Tales.

The Middle Ages were fully as immersed in sin as our own time, although with different mixtures of evil, but the sins of the Middle Ages were often followed by great penances and acts of contrition that brightened and inspired countless lives down through the centuries.  This we have lost and this we must regain.  G.K. Chesterton put what we lack in high relief when he wrote about Saint Thomas:

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  • St Thomas’s cultus was by no means confined to England.

    There are churches dedicated to him in Normandy (as one would expect) and in the Pas de Calais, but also in Sicily, where there was a strong Norman presence. The Duomo of Masala, where the wine comes from, is dedicated to him. The present Baroque church replaces a 12th century Norman one. I never eat zabaglione or tiramisu, which I do rather often, but I think of it.

  • The thing to do was owning up… ? Not pointing fingers?
    Yes, very different to our 21 century minds.

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  • Once a person, a Community, Country or a Nation has lost the sense of sin and, therefore, sees no need for repentance, convesion and reparation they then deliberately chose the road to Eternal Damnation. Let us never cease to pray for the sinners, especially the hardened sinners for whom Jesus dictated to Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska the Divine Mercy Chaplet. He also stated that this Chaplet should be prayed at the bedside of the dying so that they can be touched by His Grace and repent at that very, very final moment of their lives.

    How I wish in this Year of Faith the children of the Church would adopt this Prayer for the sinful Civil Leaders – and those who embrace their actions and who do not even accept they have done any wrong with their anti-God policies, Laws and disordered lifestyles.

    “For the sake of His Sorrowful Passion, have Mercy on us and on the whole world”

Abby Johnson and the Still Small Voice of God

Friday, April 15, AD 2011

As faithful readers of this blog know, I am an attorney, for my sins no doubt.  It supplies me with bread and butter for my family and myself as well as an opportunity to observe the frailty, follies, crimes and, occasionally, the nobility, of the sons of Adam and the daughters of Eve.  However, that is just my day job.  For over a decade now I have also been chairman of the board of directors of the Caring Pregnancy Center located in Pontiac, Illinois in Livingston County, the county in which I live.  There, dedicated pro-life volunteers, almost all of them evangelical women, labor ceaselessly to help women in crisis  pregnancies.  In the movie the Agony and the Ecstasy Pope Julius II is depicted as saying that when he comes before God he will throw into the balance the ceiling painting of Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel against the weight of his sins and he hoped it would shorten his time in purgatory.  If such an opportunity exists for me, it will be due to my association with the Caring Pregnancy Center and their truly awe-inspiring and selfless female volunteers.

On April 14th, we held our 25th anniversary banquet which was a grand affair, with our supporters and well-wishers turning out in en masse.  I opened with a few introductory remarks where I talked about the Center and its 25 years of service to the women of Livingston County and their babies.  I also asked why we did this.  First and foremost to protect innocent human life, and, second, because we remember with Thomas Jefferson, “Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever.”  It will come as a vast shock, no doubt, to faithful readers of this blog that I somehow worked into my remarks the surrender of Fort Sumter 150 years before on April 14, 1861 and Mr. Lincoln’s remarks in his Second Inaugural Address that the terrible war the nation had been through was God’s punishment on both the North and the South for the sin of slavery.  I ended by stating that it was still possible for America to turn around and repent for the great sin of abortion and that the great words of the prophet Isaiah, as always, give us hope:  “Though your sins be as scarlet, they will be made white as snow.”

Abby Johnson was our speaker, and she gave the most effective pro-life speech I have ever heard and I have heard many over the decades.

She was funny and moving at the same time.  Her delivery was as natural as if she was talking to a next door neighbor, but every word she said was riveting.

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