Angel On My Shoulder

Monday, November 7, AD 2016


One of my favorite actors from the Golden Age of Hollywood is Claude Rains.  Throughout his career he brought vibrant intelligence and a world weary cynicism to his roles.  From his screen personae, it might be assumed that Rains was an English aristocrat educated at elite English “public” schools.  Actually he was London Cockney, and had a very pronounced Cockney accent and a speech impediment as he was growing up.  He served gallantly in World War I in the British Army in the London Scottish Regiment, rising from private to captain, and being blinded in one eye as a result of a gas attack.

He quickly achieved post war success in England as an actor.  He began acting in American films and became an American citizen in  1939.  His first big hit was the title role in The Invisible Man in 1933.  He went on to achieve stardom with unforgettable roles, such as Prince John in Robin Hood (1938), Senator Joseph Paine in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) and, doubtless the role he is most known for, Captain Renault in Casablanca (1942):

In 1946 Rains appeared in probably the most unusual role in his career as Satan in Angel On My Shoulder.  The plot involves Satan’s attempt to use a deceased gangster, Eddie Kagle, played by Paul Muni, to discredit a living judge the gangster resembles.  The film is filled with bon mots by Rains, including him asking “What in my domain is that?” in reference to a ruckus caused by Eddie Kagle after he arrives in Hell.  The film has a rather profound sequence where Satan, or “Nick” as he is referred to in the film, expresses his exasperation with God for taking such concern over mortals.  He cannot understand why he loves them.  I suspect that is the case with the real Devil, and that the love of God is a complete mystery to him.  As CS Lewis noted in his The Screwtape Letters:

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3 Responses to Angel On My Shoulder

  • Love your blog! I have been lurking here for some time and enjoy the intelligent discussion it engenders. However, having seen a minor error repeated, I thought I might offer a clarification.
    The UK does not have a “Royal Army,” though it has royal regiments and other institutions attached to it. The British Army is a Parliamentary establishment, a consequence of the English Civil War, and that body has never acknowledged that the Army is the monarch’s; it is theirs…well, Commons’ anyway!
    Thanks again for this great forum you provide, not only for us Papists but for all reasonable people!

  • Thank you for your kind comments Jim. I should have known that since my great uncle Bill Barry served in the British Army 1939-1945. I have made the correction.

  • Thanks Don! If you’ll forgive my own patronizing story….As a frustrated historian and first generation American of Geordy English/Scottish descent on me late Da’s side, who received his citizenship upon discharge from the US Army Engineers by the way, while his older brother served with Monty’s 8th Army in the Royal Signals, I have a great interest in the history of the British Army, though my former study and reading concerned the 19th century German states and that last bastion of catholic culture, Austria-Hungary, inspired in my college days by my late first wife of Hungarian descent. Anyway, a great uncle served in the Great War in eastern Europe with the Royal Scots/No.British Fusiliers (the old 21st Foot), and his brother in the Royal Navy, who lost a leg in the sinking of one of those mine-sweepers in the Dardanelles campaign. The naval service for him was fitting, since my great uncles and their brother-in-law, my grandfather, were all ship wrights in the New Castle area, where, in Hartlepool, they survived the bombardment by the Kaiserliche Marine. The fact that I’m a Papist is due to me Irish American Mum, my father having converted in the late 40’s though he made his confirmation after me; I’m a pre-Vatican II catholic, well just, while he was post.
    My own life has not compared to those of my forbears…bitterness in not getting that ROTC sholarship? St.Crispin’s Day sadly comes to mind….Did I say too much? Ah, what the hell…

    I should add, let’s all pray the right person gets elected today!!!

    Thanks again for a great blog!!!

November 22, 1963: CS Lewis Dies

Friday, November 22, AD 2013

Did you mark how naturally – as if he’d been born for it – the earthborn vermin entered the new life? How all his doubts became, in the twinkling of an eye, ridiculous? I know what the creature was saying to itself! “Yes. Of course. It always was like this. All horrors have followed the same course, getting worse and worse and forcing you into a kind of bottle-neck till, at the very moment when you thought you must be crushed, behold! you were out of the narrows and all was suddenly well. The extraction hurt more and more and then the tooth was out. The dream became a nightmare and then you woke. You die and die and then you are beyond death. How could I ever have doubted it?

As he saw you, he also saw Them. I know how it was. You reeled back dizzy and blinded, more hurt by them than he had ever been by bombs. The degradation of it! – that this thing of earth and slime could stand upright and converse with spirits before whom you, a spirit, could only cower. Perhaps you had hoped that the awe and strangeness of it would dash his joy. But that is the cursed thing; the gods are strange to mortal eyes, and yet they are not strange. He had no faintest conception till that very hour of how they would look, and even doubted their existence. But when he saw them he knew that he had always known them and realised what part each one of them had played at many an hour in his life when he had supposed himself alone, so that now he could say to them, one by one, not “Who are you?” but “So it was you all the time”. All that they were and said at this meeting woke memories. The dim consciousness of friends about him which had haunted his solitudes from infancy was now at last explained; that central music in every pure experience which had always just evaded memory was now at last recovered. Recognition made him free of their company almost before the limbs of his corpse became quiet. Only you were left outside.

He saw not only Them; he saw Him. This animal, this thing begotten in a bed, could look on Him. What is blinding, suffocating fire to you, is now cool light to him, is clarity itself, and wears the form of a Man. You would like, if you could, to interpret the patient’s prostration in the Presence, his self-abhorrence and utter knowledge of his sins (yes, Wormwood, a clearer knowledge even than yours) on the analogy of your own choking and paralysing sensations when you encounter the deadly air that breathes from the heart of Heaven. But it’s all nonsense. Pains he may still have to encounter, but they embrace those pains. They would not barter them for any earthly pleasure.

CS Lewis, The Screwtape Letters


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9 Responses to November 22, 1963: CS Lewis Dies

11 Responses to Quotes Suitable for Framing: H. Richard Niebuhr

  • Who was it said that the preaching of the Harvard Divinity School was limited to the fatherhood of God, the brotherhood of man and the neighbourhood of Boston?

  • “A God without wrath…”
    Thank you. Yes, I’m Crawling out from under a rock. H. Richard Neibuhr hits a world class homerun. Thanks agian for this introduction.

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  • Folks at my old parish were well into the stage of valuing their faith “because it may produce social justice.” Or, immanence. The certainty that when you die you are no more. You only transcend while you live and work for “social justice” as a member of the Body of Christ.

    I keep hoping Pope Francis will come out in favor of Heaven.

  • Every person has a vocation, a call from God, to be who he must be. Every man who is called to be a priest by God ought to respond by becoming a priest. No woman has come forth claiming a vocation, a call from God, to the priesthood. Therefore, the demands of the LCWR for a vocation, a call from God, to the priesthood is not being obeyed by the bishops. Sadly, only belief in the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady, the Blessed Virgin Mary, will bring understanding of our own conception as innocent sovereign persons in the womb of our mothers. If these women weren’t so mean, I would be embarrassed for them. The fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse, unbridled ignorance, rides again.

  • I wonder if they have read, or believe, the messages from La Salette, Fatima, Garabandal, and Akita?
    My guess is that they would say they’re from the devil – if they believe in him.

  • Mgr Ronald Knox has a rather good description of the kind of religion Niebuhr pilloried and which he was expected to teach, as an Anglican schoolmaster.

    “I think, then, it should be said at the outset that public [i.e. English private boarding-schools] schools are trying to teach the sons of gentlemen a religion in which their mothers believe, and their fathers would like to: a religion without ” enthusiasm ” in the old sense, reserved in its self-expression, calculated to reinforce morality, chivalry, and the sense of truth, providing comfort in times of distress and a glow of contentment in declining years; supernatural in its nominal doctrines, yet, on the whole, rationalistic in its mode of approaching God: tolerant of other people’s tenets, yet sincere about its own, regular in church-going, generous to charities, ready to put up with the defects of the local clergyman.”

  • Archbishop Fulton Sheen; “If God wanted women in His priesthood then He would of made Mary the Blessed Virgin to have been the first.”

  • “If God wanted a person to become a priest, God would have created that person a man” Mother Angelica

  • If Man wanted to become God, he (man) would call himself liberal.

PopeWatch: Pope Francis and Satan

Tuesday, October 15, AD 2013




Well, I must say this will probably disconcert some of the erstwhile newfound friends of Pope Francis among the secular media and reassure orthodox Catholics:

In his Oct. 11 daily Mass homily, the Holy Father warned of the discreet presence of the devil, exhorting those gathered to be astute in their spiritual lives.

“We must always be on guard,” exhorted the Pope to those who attended Mass in the Vatican’s Santa Marta guesthouse, “on guard against deceit, against the seduction of evil.”

Referencing the day’s gospel reading, in which Jesus has just healed a possessed man and is accused of casting out demons by the power of the devil, the Pope noted that often in history there have been those who wish to “diminish the power of the Lord” by offering different explanations for his works, urging that his is a temptation which has “reached our present day.”

“There are some priests who, when they read this Gospel passage, this and others, say: ‘But, Jesus healed a person with a mental illness.’”

“It is true,” he affirmed, “that at that time, they could confuse epilepsy with demonic possession; but it is also true that there was the devil! And we do not have the right to simplify the matter. No!”

“The presence of the devil is on the first page of the Bible, and the Bible ends as well with the presence of the devil, with the victory of God over the devil.”

Observing that the Lord has given many criteria in order to “discern” the presence of evil in our lives, the Pope stressed that “we should not be naïve,” and that one of the criteria which has been given is “not to follow the victory of Jesus” just “halfway.”

“Either you are with me, says the Lord, or you are against me” he said, noting that Jesus came to conquer the devil and “to give us the freedom” from “the enslavement the devil has over us,” which he cautioned, is not “exaggerating.”

“On this point, there are no nuances. There is a battle and a battle where salvation is at play, eternal salvation; eternal salvation.”

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4 Responses to PopeWatch: Pope Francis and Satan

  • For info, a few days before the pope’s homily Fr. James Martin S.J. took notice of Anton Scalia’s mention of Satan in a blog for Fr. Martin agreed with the justice and defended Catholic doctrine. Deacon Scott Dodge added his own thoughts to Fr. Martin’s remarks and the pope’s homily in his own blog here:

  • Any attempt to remove the devil from the NT renders the gospel narrative incoherent.

    Satan, the devil, evil spirits and unclean spirits, along with other names, such as “adversary,” “tempter,” “ruler of this world,” are mentioned over 150 times in the NT The synoptic gospels, in particular, treat both Our Lord’s healings and exorcisms as demonstrations of His power over the forces of evil. This is obvious on the most cursory reading and it is summed up by St Peter in Acts, “…how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how He went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil [τους καταδυναστευομενους υπο του διαβολου], because God was with Him.” (Acts 10:38)

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  • This Pontiff confuses me. One minute he is reported to be telling an atheist something that amounts to liberal nonsense and heterodoxy, and the next he is reported to have given a homily apparently rock-solid in its orthodoxy. The liberal news media is all over the first like stink on manure, and completely ignores the second. The liberal news media hate B XVI for his orthodoxy, and love Francis for his apparent lack of orthodoxy. Yet thinks don’t seem quite that simple.

John Wayne Catholics Throughout History

Saturday, September 7, AD 2013

This, indeed, is probably one of the Enemy’s motives for creating a dangerous world – a world in which moral issues really come to the point. He sees as well as you do that courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means, at the point of highest reality. A chastity or honesty, or mercy, which yields to danger will be chaste or honest or merciful only on conditions. Pilate was merciful till it became risky.

CS Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

Paul has mentioned here the wonderful post by Pat Archbold in which he longs for John Wayne, a death bed Catholic convert, Catholicism as opposed to what he calls the Woody Allen Catholicism adopted by too many Catholics in the past half century:

Oh how I long for a religion with enough boldness to loudly, proudly, and  incessantly proclaim uncomfortable truths, even to its own supposed adherents,  until they all understand what it means to be Catholic.

How I long for a religion with that quiet and gentle resoluteness. A  religion that can acknowledge the mistakes of its members while loudly  proclaiming the Church One, Holy, Apostolic, and Infallible.

I desire John Wayne Catholicism in a Woody Allen world.

But the thing about John Wayne characters, without fanfare, gratitude,  understanding, or appreciation, they just did what needed doing for no other  reason than it was the right thing.

So I guess I will just try to do that.

I agree.  The Catholicism that Pat longs for is the Catholicism that has existed throughout almost all the history of the Church.  Some reminders:




1.  John Sobieski- After defeating the Turks at Vienna in 1683 he sent the green flag of Islam to the Pope with this message:  “Venimus, Vidimus, Deus vincit”!  (We came, we saw, God conquered!)

2.  The Martyrs of Otranto-Twelve years before Christopher Columbus discovered a New World, 800 men and boys of Otranto laid down their lives for Christ.  The city of Otranto, at the heel of the boot of Italy, was seized by the Turks under Gedik Ahmed Pasha, grand vizier of the Ottoman Empire.  Archbishop Stefano Argercolo de Pendinellis was murdered in his cathedral by the Turks and the garrison commander was sawn in half.  Following a massacre of most of the population the Turks offered some 800 men and boys the choice between conversion to Islam or death.  Led by an elderly tailor, Antonio Pezzulla, the men and boys chose death rather than apostacy, and were beheaded on the hill of Minvera outside the town on August 14, 1480, their families forced by the Turks to help in the executions.

The witness of the martyrs of Otranto was truly remarkable.  Not priests or soldiers, they were just plain, ordinary folk.  They had every earthly reason to attempt to save their lives, but with supernatural courage they went to their deaths for a love that passes understanding.  The old tailor spoke for them all when he addressed them after the Turks had given them their grim choice:

My brothers, until today we have fought in defense of our country, to save our lives, and for our lords; now it is time that we fight to save our souls for our Lord, so that having died on the cross for us, it is good that we should die for him, standing firm and constant in the faith, and with this earthly death we shall win eternal life and the glory of martyrs.

The martyrs in response cried out that they were willing to die a thousand times for Christ.

3.  Archbishop John Hughes-After the anti-Catholic riots in Philadelphia in 1844 he called on the mayor of New York, an anti-Catholic bigot, and informed him that if a single Catholic church were touched in New York, New York would be a second Moscow.  (The reference was to the burning of Moscow in 1812 during Napoleon’s occupation of the city.) Not a Catholic church was touched.  On another occasion when a threat was made to burn Saint Patrick’s cathedral the Archbishop had it guarded within hours by 4,000 armed Catholics.  No wonder his enemies and friends nicknamed him “Dagger John”!

4.  Father Joe Lacy-On June 6, 1944 at 7:30 AM,  LCA 1377 landed the Rangers on Omaha Dog Green Beach, the first landing craft to land on that section of Omaha Beach.  Father Lacy was the last man out just before an artillery shell hit the fantail.  Everything was chaos with the beach being swept by German artillery and small arms fire.  Wounded men were everywhere, both on the beach and in the water feebly trying to get to the beach.  Father Lacy did not hesistate.  With no thought for his own safety he waded into the water to pull men out of the ocean and onto the beach.  He began treating the wounded on the beach and administering the Last Rites to those beyond human assistance.  On a day when courage was not in short supply men took notice of this small fat priest who was doing his best under fire to save as many lives as he could.  While his battalion led the way off Omaha Beach, Father Lacy continued to tend their  wounded and the wounded of other units.  For his actions that day Father Lacy was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the second highest decoration for valor, after the Medal of Honor, in the United States Army.

5.  Don John of Austria and his Men-Before the battle of Lepanto Don John of Austria went about the ships of his fleet and said this to his crews:  ‘My children, we are here to conquer or die. In death or in victory, you will win immortality.’  The chaplains of the fleet preached sermons on the theme:  “No Heaven For Cowards”.    Many of the men were clutching rosaries just before the battle.  Admiral Andrea Doria went into the fight with an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe aboard his ship.  Back in Europe countless Catholics were praying rosaries at the request of Saint Pope Pius V for the success of the Christian fleet.

At the hour of the battle, and this fact is very well attested, the Pope was talking to some cardinals in Rome.  He abruptly ceased the conversation, opened a window and looked heavenward.  He then turned to the cardinals and said:   “It is not now a time to talk any more upon business; but to give thanks to God for the victory he has granted to the arms of the Christians.”  So that Catholics would never forget Lepanto and the intercession of Mary, he instituted the feast of Our Lady of Victory.  To aid in this remembrance G. K. Chesterton in 1911 wrote his epic poem Lepanto:

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35 Responses to John Wayne Catholics Throughout History

  • You’ve got reality messed up with hollywood romanticism.
    John Wayne was a deathbed conversion to Catholicism much the same as Constantine. Although the Wayne family was Catholic, …John Wayne always married Hispanic Catholic wives. He had 3 marriages and 2 divorces. One of John Waynes grandsons is a Catholic priest and has received some press as a ‘Surfing Priest’.

    So one is not really a John Wayne Catholic in any way, anymore than one is an Errol Flynn Catholic or an Alec Baldwin Catholic or a Anthony Quinn Catholic.
    Anthony Quinn by the way was born Catholic , buried a Baptist had several wives and divorces and several children out of wedlock. Although he played a Pope in the movies.

    Orange County, California

  • I guess you didn’t bother to read the original post by Pat Archbold RB or my post that I linked to about the deathbed conversion of John Wayne that fully covered his marital misadventures. Reading: it saves so much wasted effort in commenting. I did like the comparison of Wayne to Constantine, completely erroneous but colorful.

  • I’m just tired of *you guys* (writers) passing off undeserving actors as examples to Catholics. I grew up in a studio town of LA, roamed the sets, these are actors not examples of christian virtue or icons of Christianity. I’ve had quotes read to me from Anthony Quinn during a homily at mass once. Now you and others are promoting John Wayne to us.

    Roman Martyrology has more examples of heroism than celluloid figures. Take St. George who did the right thing speaking boldly to Diocletian and then promptly losing his life. All the myths aside.

    As to me not reading Archbolds article, yes I didnt read it first before replying.
    But I didnt need to, you see I’ve heard and read it all before, I live next to John Wayne Airport in Orange County California.
    He’s was a native here! Him and his grandson(Munoz) gets press here both in the newspapers and the Catholic media. I note that you or Archbolds article contained an error claiming that John Wayne lost his scholarship to USC because of a football incident. Thats erroneous as to the cause of the injury.

    As to the similarity between Constantine and John Wayne, delaying their entrance into the faith, you claim it erroneous?

    Tell me how I am wrong?

  • “I’m just tired of *you guys* (writers) passing off undeserving actors as examples to Catholics.”

    Once again you completely missed the point. No one was attempting to pass John Wayne off as an exemplar for Catholics and it is obtuse of you to pretend otherwise.

    “Take St. George who did the right thing speaking boldly to Diocletian and then promptly losing his life.”

    The whole point of Archbold’s post is that Catholicism in our day does not boldly and fearlessly proclaim the truth. That is his Woody Allen Catholicism which he contrasts with John Wayne Catholicism. Sheesh, his post was not hard to understand.

    “As to me not reading Archbolds article, yes I didnt read it first before replying.”

    That was obvious and now you are flailing about to justify your original erroneous comment.

    “Tell me how I am wrong?”

    Constantine had been a Catholic in belief for decades before his death. He delayed baptism until death approached, not uncommon for his time, due to rigorist concerns about the efficacy of the forgiveness of sins following baptism. John Wayne had no such concerns and did not delay entry into the Church for that reason.

    A deathbed conversion is the adoption of a particular religious faith shortly before dying.

    Perhaps the most momentous conversion in Western history was that of Constantine I, Roman Emperor and later proclaimed a Christian Saint. While his belief in Christianity occurred long before his death, it was only on his deathbed that he was baptised, in 337.

    Sickness and death
    The Baptism of Constantine, as imagined by students of Raphael

    Constantine had known death would soon come. Within the Church of the Holy Apostles, Constantine had secretly prepared a final resting-place for himself.[245] It came sooner than he had expected. Soon after the Feast of Easter 337, Constantine fell seriously ill.[246] He left Constantinople for the hot baths near his mother’s city of Helenopolis (Altinova), on the southern shores of the Gulf of İzmit. There, in a church his mother built in honor of Lucian the Apostle, he prayed, and there he realized that he was dying. Seeking purification, he became a catechumen, and attempted a return to Constantinople, making it only as far as a suburb of Nicomedia.[247] He summoned the bishops, and told them of his hope to be baptized in the River Jordan, where Christ was written to have been baptized. He requested the baptism right away, promising to live a more Christian life should he live through his illness.

  • Your right.
    I commented on this, your title: “John Wayne Catholics Throughout History”

    Its your bait and I criticized it!
    I criticize using the lure of sinful actors, most of whom have not lived their lives in any kind of accordance with the gospel, being presented as a lure to Catholicism.

  • Thankfully John Travolta didnt pick his parts anywhere near as well as John Wayne.
    Even though Travolta’s mortal sexual sins(gay vs. divorce/multiple marriages) are of a different nature than John Waynes, they are still mortal sin.
    Somehow, I dont think you’d be calling for us to be ‘John Travolta Catholics’.

  • Priests and those in the religious life will relate how they dont watch much TV because it can lead them astray. Being constantly exposed to the culture through TV and movies can warp our perceptions and values. Good faithful Catholic I knw who I presume would, or maybe not, suffer through a bad marriage because of their Catholic convictions. They relate to me how this or that public figure should divorce their wife or husband and get someone else because of this or that humiliating offense(cheating,etc. ). I never mention that people should do divorce/remarriage even lightly.

    Do they mean it? But the culture affects them, and me and you to.
    Now you wouldnt’ mention ‘John Travolta Catholic’ , but in another 20+ years,
    with even a baser more pagan culture, your successor might.

  • If John Travolta were to repent on his deathbed, receive Confession, and die a good death, he’d be a model Catholic in that moment.

    Not all his life. But in that moment, the moment of the last chance, he would become one.

    The mystery of God’s mercy and our salvation is that we are encouraged to live well, but that even great sinners can often die well in Christ. Some of us are more like Mary and John and Mary Magdalene; but those of us who are more like the Good Thief can also be, this very day, with Jesus in Paradise, if we will call on Him. He calls us even at the eleventh hour, and He pays the last workers as generously as the first.

  • RB, it’s very clear from the post that the reference is to the sort of characters whom John Wayne played as an actor. Those characters did the right thing because it needed to be done, and without fanfare.

    It would be nice to have more of those Catholics. I know quite a few. They volunteer in the pregnancy centers and homes for unwed mothers. They step up for fundraisers for the pro life movement, and teach in RCIA and children’s religious ed. They don’t expect anything for it. They don’t trumpet what they’ve done. They just do it, and move on to the next task. Furthermore, they do it boldly. They don’t shrink from their Catholicism. They embrace it, and take courage from it. When adversity strikes, they overcome it.

  • Thank you for this post. Today, as I prayed for peace as Pope Francis requested, I thought about Don John and Sobieski and Charles Martel. Pacifism never brings peace. Strength of faith and willingness to defend that faith are what is needed today.

  • “John Wayne” is an archetype– as is made very obvious by the post itself.

    Though she didn’t decide to share it– I had the image of this fellow dancing in my head since I read SuburbanBanshee’s post on him.

    I just adore the mental image of someone smiting his attempted murderers with a stone cross….

  • Re: Omaha beach. Some died in the surf due to their heavily loaded water soaked backpacks.

  • As the valiant King John Sobieski has been mentioned already, may I throw in a few others?

    Pelayo, who escaped from a Muslim slave caravan in eight century Spain, went to Asturias and began La Reconquista. Queen Isabel the Catholic, who completed La Reconquista. Blessed Junipero Serra, who built the missions in California. Demetirus Gallitzin, who forfeited his place in Russian royalty and became the Missionary to the Alleghenies of west central Pennsylvania.

    Let us not forget the significance of today – September 8 – the birth of Mary, as well as September 12, the Most Holy Name of Mary.

  • “John Wayne Catholics” refers to the strong and good hero he played in the movies, as opposed to the uninspiring characters Although John Wayne’s choices of heroic roles may have had something to do with his inner life and “heliotropic” later years.

    And thanks Penguins Fan – great list. I add Miguel Pro.

  • well if on their death beds the most horrible of people make a good confession I was under the impression they could be saved just as the person who has led an exemplary life of holiness. Was Sister Gabriel wrong? I have always had problems with the likes of Hitler etc. So John Wayne wherever you are and whatever you’ve done there was always hope. Our Lord wanted ALL of His little lost sheep saved. Better late than never. Even if our silly minds can’t understand it. Oh and Don I get it. LOL

  • This is the problem with society in general, everything is taken out of context and distorted from its original intent to fit the liberal agenda, which is to destroy God’s plan and instill Satan’s. RB, get a life! John Wayne is being used as a metaphor meaning he always did the right thing in his movies and regardless of what type of things one does in their life they can and will be forgiven if they truly have truth in their heart.

  • i’ve got to be more careful- I had a pretty wordy comment and deleted part out of the middle– In my previous post I deleted more than I meant to! I should have said:

    “John Wayne Catholics” refers to the strong and good hero he played in the movies, as opposed to the uninspiring characters played by Woody Allen. The reference is to the roles they played in the movies, not necessarily their personal lives. Although John Wayne’s choices of heroic roles may have had something to do with his inner life and “heliotropic” later years.

  • Archbishop Hughes was hardly the hero that airbrushed biographies would suggest. While a champion of the Irish immigrants, he notoriously cold-shouldered the first influx of Italians. He also had approved the slave system when he visited plantations in the South and Cuba, and he preached on the benefits of slavery in Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral in 1854. When the Irish leaders Daniel O’Connell and Father Theobald Mathew started an anti-slavery petition, Hughes accused them of interfering. Only reluctantly, and at the last moment, did he appeal for calm during the Draft Riots against blacks in Manhattan, largely the work of Irish Catholic immigrants, when 126 were killed and 2,000 injured and the Colored Orphans Asylum was burned to the ground in twenty minutes. In his rambling speech he did not mention slavery and instead attacked abolitionist Horace Greeley as a fanatical demagogue. The riots were stopped, not by him but by the arrival of state militiamen from Albany. His friendship with Secretary of State William Seward somewhat cooled over Hughes’ disapproval of the Emancipation Proclamation – Hughes thinking there should be a national referendum. The Civil War diarist, George Templeton Strong, was angry that Hughes was so tepid about emancipation. At the time of the archbishop’s funeral in January, 1864, he wrote: “Archbishop Hughes is dead. Pity he survived last June and committed the imbecility of his address to the rioters last July.”

  • 1. You left out that Archbishop Hughes worked with all his heart for the Union and that he helped keep foreign powers from intervening on the side of the Confederacy by undertaking a diplomatic mission to the Union. He opposed slavery, at least in the abstract, but thought that many of the abolitionists were dangerous fanatics as some of them, that is your cue John Brown, were. It did not help that some of the Northern abolitionists were also anti-Catholics and often butted heads with the Church. That was certainly the case with Horace Greeley who bashed the Church and the Irish on July 9, just prior to the draft riots. That is what Archbishop Hughes was referring to in his speech.

    2. George Templeton Strong was a Yankee blue blood bigot who despised both Catholics and Irish immigrants. Quoting him on Archbishop Hughes is akin to quoting Hitler on Churchill.

    3. Hughes was dying at the time he addressed the rioters; it is a miracle that he had the strength to make the address at all, and contrary to your statement it did have a calming effect on the rioters.

    4. Lincoln wrote on the death of Hughes:

    “[H]aving formed the Archbishop’s acquaintance in the earliest days of our country’s present troubles, his counsel and advice were gladly sought and continually received by the Government on those points which his position enabled him better than others to consider. At a conjuncture of deep interest to the country, the Archbishop, associated with others, went abroad, and did the nation a service there with all the loyalty, fidelity and practical wisdom which on so many other occasions illustrated his great ability for administration.”

  • “John Wayne Catholics” were by no means all men. One thinks of La Pucelle – On 29 April 1429, she arrived at the city of Orléans, which the English had been besieging since 12 October 1428. She took Les Augustins on 5 May, took the bridgehead of “les Tourelles” on the 6th when she was wounded and raised the siege on the 7th. The English abandoned their remaining positions on the 8th.

    Rejoining the army on 9th June, with no support from the Dauphin, who, as usual, had no money, in a lightening campaign, she took Jargeau on the 12th June, the bridge at Meung-sur-Loire and Meung itself on the 15th, Beaugency on the 17th and on the 18th completely routed the English relief force under Talbot, one of the greatest commanders of the day, at the battle of Patay.

    On 29th June, she set out for Rheims. Auxerre surrendered to her on 4th July, Troyes on the 5th, she entered Rheims on 16th July and on the following day, the Dauphin was anointed with the same holy oil with which Clovis had been anointed a thousand years earlier and crowned as Charles VII, Roi très-chrétien. No wonder the French call him Charles le Bien-Servi – Charles the well-served.

    All this, without considering her greatest victory, her glorious confession in the market-place of Rouen.

    Her statue at Orléans bears the words from the Book of Judith, “Fecísti viríliter, et confortátum est cor tuum” – For thou hast done manfully, and thy heart has been strengthened.

  • Shorter RB:

    “I don’t want these filthy, disgusting sinners in my church.”

  • Another point that doesn’t get emphasized enough about Don John is his humility: he was a man in his early twenties, appointed because Philip II insisted that a Spaniard be fleet commander, and he had minimal military experience.

    He sought out the advice and counsel of the savvy, experienced leader of the Venetians, Sebastiano Venier, and utilized it to perfection. A less sensible man would have been more insecure.

  • Also, an Arkansas SWAT team was justified in killing a 107 year-old geezer.

    “The riots were stopped, not by him but by the arrival of state militiamen from Albany.”

    Above, I quoted only one of the numerous misleading items in your comment, B. R.

    In fact,10,000 federal troops, fresh off the lines at Gettysburg, were deployed to massacre American cirtizens in New York City.

    ” . . . colonel of the 11th New York, Henry F. O’Brien, who was of Irish ancestry, after he used a howitzer to clear Second Avenue, killing a female bystander and her child.

    ” . . . troops of the 74th New York reached the city, followed by a Buffalo regiment and, at 4am on Thursday, July 16, the famous 7th New York. The 8th and 152nd New York infantry arrived later that morning. Ellis wrote, “All told, 10,000 veterans of the Battle of Gettysburg poured into the city, [which] was divided into four military districts.

    “Troops assaulted ‘infected’ districts, using howitzers loaded with grapeshot and canister…to mow down rioters, and engaged in fierce building-by-building firefights. Rioters defended their barricaded domains with mad desperation. Faced with tenement snipers and brick hurlers, soldiers broke down doors, bayoneted all who interfered, and drove occupants to the roof, from which many jumped to certain death below.”

  • Herein we remove the airbrush from the story of the Irish in America:

    “The Irish were the most despised ethnicity in the United States during much of the 19th century.

    “‘No Irish need Apply’ isn’t the half of it.

    “Ships full of sick immigrants fleeing the famine were turned away from New York and Boston, with entire shiploads dying in the St. Lawrence (there are mass graves for tens of thousands on islands below Montreal, unmarked to this day).

    “Police in major cities cordoned off Irish neighborhoods and watched as the gang members murdered each other.

    “According to Thomas Sowell, the Irish were shipped south for work too dangerous for the slaves. Slaves were worth money, while Irishmen were worth nothing.

    “And what was the Irish response in later years? Did they seek revenge against the WASP elites that had treated them so badly? Did they tear down the culture that had preceded them?

    “They did nothing of the sort. They became one with America, and today comprise one of the most admired ethnic strains in this country.”

  • Bl. Franz Jäggerstätter should be included

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  • Emperor Constantine I had definitely not “been a Catholic in belief for decades before his death” as claimed above. Although his mother St Helena was a devout Catholic, for most of his life he was a pagan. During the earlier part of his 25 year reign he was a sun-worshipper, as evidenced by thye “Sol Invictus” depicted on coins of that era. Later he became a sort of universalists believer in all religions including Christianuity, but he firmly rejected Catholicism. He much preferred Arianism which denies Christ’s divinity and sees Him as merely the greatest of men. Coinstantine used all of the military and political power available to him to try to force Catholics to convert to Arianism, even trying to make the bishops gathered for the Council of Nicea embrace Arianism, by a mixture of bullying, cajoling and largesse (the bishops’ travel expenses were paid with government money). The vast majority rejected his advances and he continued to promote Arianism until the day he died. He was baptised on his deathbed, but he was baptised by a notorious Arian priest into the Arian heresy. Some Eastern Christians regard him as a “saint” (mainly because they see it as enhancing the prestige of Constantinople) but the Catholic Church does not. The fact that he repealed (when he was a pagan) the laws authorising violent persecution of Christians does not make him a Catholic or even a Christian, much less a saint.

  • Wrong. Constantine was a professing Catholic from at least the age of 42 and probably a good deal before. For eight years after his accession he still had pagan images on his coins, but probably as no more than a sop to his many followers who were still pagan. He convened the Council of Nicaea that condemned Arianism. Eusebius, the bishop who baptized him was a favorite of his niece. He definitely had Arian leanings, but at Nicaea he was forced to sign the orthodox confession.

  • Thanks Donald.
    Reading all these comments make me smile and wonder how our own historical record as a Christian stands up to scrutiny ?

  • Depends if we get a supposition of innocence by the person doing the scrutinizing….

  • “He much preferred Arianism which denies Christ’s divinity and sees Him as merely the greatest of men.”

    Well, no. Arianism denied that Christ is theos in the same way God the Father is theos, but did not claim that he was a mere mortal. The Christ of Arianism was a divine being, but less than the Father.

  • T. Shaw. I agree completely. No whining on and on for decades. Just sought to improve themselves and assimilate. Great reminder. Thank you.

  • “Being constantly exposed to the culture through TV and movies can warp our perceptions and values.”

    It can, but it doesn’t have to, if we’re smart about how we interact with it. People are not always at the mercy of forces outside their control, to be battered about like a ship with no anchor. Some individuals may absorb everything passively and uncritically; others do not.

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Prayer in Time of Grief

Wednesday, June 19, AD 2013


O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.




Hattip to A Catholic Mom in Hawaii.  Since the death of my son Larry I have found this prayer by Father Robert Fox to be of comfort:

God of life and death, You have taken a beloved one from me.  My heart is very heavy.  I recall that Your Son, Jesus Christ, became man in all things except sin and that He groaned in sorrow at the death of His friend, Lazarus.  I unite my grief with Yours dear Jesus, as You stood at the tomb of Lazarus.

O Virgin Mother, you know what it was like losing your husband Joseph, and then your child.  dying suspended between earth and heaven, with a sword piercing your sweet soul.  To you do I come in sorrow, begging strength from your intercession, from you who fully understand what it is like to lose one so dear and close.

Share with me, dear Mother of God, the courage, the strong faith that you had in the future resurrection.  Even after Jesus came back to life and ascended into heaven, you knew you were to be left alone for many years before your own assumption into heaven. You comforted the Apostles as their Queen and Mother during those years. Grant comfort to me now as I sorrow in pain at the loss by the separation that has come as a result of the sin of our first parents and my own sins. Wipe away my tears with the merciful love of your Immaculate Heart as you unite me with my loved one through the grace of the Sacred Heart of your Son Jesus Christ.  Amen.

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16 Responses to Prayer in Time of Grief

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  • Thank you for being so raw and real, instead of chirping, “Trust God; He has good plans.” It is a hard path. Heaven, heaven, heaven.

  • Thank you for sharing this prayer. We lost a dear friend in a sudden, unexpected accident yesterday, and the only thing that makes it bearable is the thought of him in a better world, where the pain of this one is forgotten, but the joy of baseball–which he loved–goes on and on without an end to the season.

  • May God’s graces, and the comfort of the Blessed Mother, accompany you and your family as you endure this agony. May graces abound. Blessed be the name of the Lord… His mercy endures forever. My prayers are with you.

  • I was a single parent and my only son died at the age of 33. It was quite challenging as I had to really deal with a very a reality I never saw coming. It is almost 4 years later and I have to say even though my faith was sorely tested, I have grown in my understanding of what Mary went through and what many other people have endured throughout the centuries. I thank God, I do have faith or else I might not have been able to endure the terribleness of that reality. I have hope and belief and this has grown and not diminished although I came close to many doubts. But that is what faith is.

  • “I was a single parent and my only son died at the age of 33.”

    The same age as Jesus. My prayers for you Angela. One of the greatest gifts I think God granted us was our inability to see the future in this vale of tears.

  • “His mercy endures forever.”

    Thank you D.H. I completely agree.

  • “We lost a dear friend in a sudden, unexpected accident yesterday, and the only thing that makes it bearable is the thought of him in a better world, where the pain of this one is forgotten, but the joy of baseball–which he loved–goes on and on without an end to the season.”

    My prayers for the repose of his soul Marilyn. I can just imagine the baseball teams fielded above!

  • “It is a hard path.”

    Too often we wish to soften the hard edges of life that the Faith has always said are part of life. I have been painfully reminded that suffering is part of our lot here below.

  • The Church’s teachings on redemptive suffering saved my life and my marriage.

  • God bless you for posting this. My beloved younger brother was killed in a car accident and his death has changed my life forever, as well as the lives of the rest of my family. Having the self knowledge to see that God has led you down an easier path until this point (and recognizing that now He has a harder path for you) is incredibly important in the healing process. I am so grateful for my Catholic faith and our teachings on the meaning of suffering. I will pray for you as you grieve for your beloved son. Know that he prays for you also. God does beckon us down this harder path and what joy awaits us at the end! From experience, I can assure you that your faith will be strengthened because of this hard path you’ll be walking. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us and also for this beautiful prayer.

  • Only just heard. I am so sorry. May he rest with his Savior.

  • Donald, I believe you and I have interacted a few times in various comboxes (possibly at Rich Leonardi’s “Ten Reasons”). I remember us sharing stories of our autistic sons and what blessings they brought to our lives. I can’t image the grief you and your wife face at this time, but please know that I will hug my son a little tighter and give thanks to God more loudly for this presence in my life. I will also remember your son in our prayers. Mother Mary, pray for us. May God comfort and console you all.

  • “May God comfort and console you all.”

    Thank you Nerina. I am learning through this terrible experience that God is our only true consolation.

  • “May he rest with his Savior.”

    That thought has got me through the last month Cminor.

  • “I will pray for you as you grieve for your beloved son. Know that he prays for you also.”

    I have asked Larry for his prayers and intercession and that is a great comfort to me. My prayers for your younger brother.

Good Friday and Me

Friday, April 6, AD 2012

When the creation of man was first mooted and when, even at that stage, the Enemy freely confessed that he foresaw a certain episode about a cross, Our Father very naturally sought an interview and asked for an explanation. The Enemy gave no reply except to produce the cock-and-bull story about disinterested love which He has been circulating ever since. This Our Father naturally could not accept. He implored the Enemy to lay His cards on the table, and gave Him every opportunity. He admitted that he felt a real anxiety to know the secret; the Enemy replied “I wish with all my heart that you did”.

Screwtape Letters, CS Lewis

Christ died for me.  The death of Christ on Calvary has immense theological significance:   the salvation of all mankind, the redemption from sin and the opening of the gates of Heaven.  I understand all of that on an intellectual level.  However, on Good Friday the fact that the Creator of All died for me, one of His creations, always hits me like an emotional freight train.  All of my life I have been fascinated by courage, especially sacrificial courage where men die to protect others.  We are such a flawed species, but capable of the heights of nobility when love and courage combine.  Then we put aside the great fear of death, and truly understand why we are here:  to love.

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What Did Christ Look Like?

Tuesday, January 3, AD 2012


Go here for the full version of the above video.  This was originally broadcast  on December 24, 1968 on the CBS show Sixty Minutes.  An artifact demonstrating how greatly our culture has changed for the worse in four decades.  I believe that Harry Reasoner who narrates the video was not a Christian, but the power of the image and reality of Christ shines through the video nonetheless.

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10 Responses to What Did Christ Look Like?

  • I think we might need to rely on a poet here. “There met in Jesus Christ all things that can make man lovely and loveable. In his body he was most beautiful. This is known first by the tradition in the Church that it was so and by holy writers agreeing to suit those words to him – Thou art beautiful in mould above the sons of men – we have even accounts of him written in early times. They tell us that he was moderately tall, well built and tender in frame, his features straight and beautiful, his hair inclining to auburn, parted in the midst, curling and clustering about the ears and neck as the leaves of the filbert, so they speak, upon the nut.”

    [Gerard Manley Hopkins, sermon at Bedford Leigh, 23 November 1879]

  • I rather like the way it was handled John in the movie Ben Hur (1959) where we do not see the face of Christ but rather the expressions on the faces of the people who react to Him, including this immortal sequence:

  • Isaiah 53:2:

    For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or comeliness that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.


    And yet He is beautiful, and we do desire Him. I always find that fascinating.

  • I have to make a point to Watch Ben Hur again!… I am going to see the Rembrandt “faces of Jesus”exhibit here in Detroit this week. This a anice reminder for to reflect on prior to that visit… thanks

  • He was deliberately non descript as Isaiah which Paul quoted says… so that people would not follow him with good looks as an ancillary motive….but would follow Him because of character only and charisms by which He healed and exorcized. Millions of votes went to John F. Kennedy based on his looks and wealth. Christ did not want that contamination of motivation in His followers just as He did not want power as an ancillary motive in His followers. Had He been as good looking as artists pretended (a thousand+ years after He was here), then He also would have had a few groupies among the women. By coming non descript, He avoided all that. Isaiah trumps Jebbies.

  • I picture Him somewhat the way John Nolan describes, but I picture His eyes. He probably had the most beautiful and expressive eyes.

  • When they shaved Jeffrey Hunter’s armpits to be crucified in King of Kings, perhaps they were relying on their team of vaunted ‘biblical consultants’ but I doubt it. The emasculation of Jesus Christ in a nutshell.

  • The Face of Jesus as He appeared to St. Faustina Kowalska in 1931 – “The Divine Mercy Image” with the signature “Jesus I Trust in You” is a replica of Jesus’ Face on the Shroud of Turin. My dear people of goodwill, We Walk by Faith, not by Sight.

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Vacations and Reality

Sunday, August 7, AD 2011


I divide the causes of human laughter into Joy, Fun, the Joke Proper, and Flippancy. You will see the first among friends and lovers reunited on the eve of a holiday. Among adults some pretext in the way of Jokes is usually provided, but the facility with which the smallest witticisms produce laughter at such a time shows that they are not the real cause. What that real cause is we do not know. Something like it is expressed in much of that detestable art which the humans call Music, and something like it occurs in Heaven—a meaningless acceleration in the rhythm of celestial experience, quite opaque to us. Laughter of this kind does us no good and should always be discouraged. Besides, the phenomenon is of itself disgusting and a direct insult to the realism, dignity, and austerity of Hell.

Fun is closely related to Joy—a sort of emotional froth arising from the play instinct. It is very little use to us. It can sometimes be used, of course, to divert humans from something else which the Enemy would like them to be feeling or doing: but in itself it has wholly undesirable tendencies; it promotes charity, courage, contentment, and many other evils.

                                                                 CS Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

My family and I had a great time on our vacation.  Gen Con was grand as it always is, and, as the picture at the top of the post indicates, I made a new friend!  (I am the one who is not green.)

During vacations I attempt to studiously ignore the news, forget about the Law, and focus in on my family and fun.  I find that a bit difficult to do, as I always take a great deal of interest in the noteworthy events of the day, and my legal practice tends to be fairly consuming of my time during non-vacation periods.  Fortunately my family I also find fascinating, and after a day or two I am in full vacation mode and everything but my family fades into the distance for a time.

Alas, vacations always end.  When I go back to my office on Monday, I know that I will have many messages to return, and a full schedule of appointments and court appearances to deal with.  Back home with the internet, I will spend at least an hour each day getting up to speed with current events, and writing my blog posts, and my life proceeds in its familiar non-vacation manner.

It would be easy for me to think that the vacation was a temporary illusion and the way I normally spend my life the reality, but this is incorrect.  God gives us this life as an entirety and it is not for us to divide it.  Our different activities each year and each day are merely facets of the time on this planet we have as a free-will gift from our Creator.  What we do with the time, good and bad, is up to us, but no portion is less our reality than any other portion.  It is our task to enfuse everything we do with love of God and love of our neighbor.

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15 Responses to Vacations and Reality

  • Oooh, lucky bum! Hope you saw some awesome costumes.

  • Indeed we did Foxfier. A ten foot Abraham Lincoln, the obligatory hordes of Star Wars Storm Troopers, a group of drow, endless Medieval knights and ladies, a hillbilly orc, etc. One could have a fine time at Gen Con just observing the passing parade of humanity in ingenious disguises!

  • Great pic, Don! Nice to finally put a face with the name.

    “It would be easy for me to think that the vacation was a temporary illusion and the way I normally spend my life the reality, but this is incorrect. God gives us this life as an entirety and it is not for us to divide it. Our different activities each year and each day are merely facets of the time on this planet we have as a free-will gift from our Creator. What we do with the time, good and bad, is up to us, but no portion is less our reality than any other portion. It is our task to enfuse everything we do with love of God and love of our neighbor.”

    Well said, Don.

  • Thank you Jay. I was concerned whether posting a picture of myself might violate the cruel and unusual section of the Constitution, but I decided to risk it!

  • Oooh, Gen Con, I’m jealous!! My husband and I went twice when it was still in Milwaukee (pre-kids) and had an absolute blast. He’s gone once to Indy (as a judge) but I’ve never been since it moved, and we’re hoping to go again someday when the kids are older.

  • Joanna, my wife and I began attending Gen Con in 1986 in Milwaukee and have attended each year since. (Actually my wife missed 1991, as she was heavily pregnant with our twin boys at the time and did not feel up to it.) It really is a great event for kids.

  • Wait, that can’t be you! Where’s the beard and the uniform coat?

  • I loaned them to General Rosecrans! 🙂

  • My husband thought about taking my son this year until he found out how much it was to go for just a day.. is it worth the expense for someone who has never been? Or is it worth the expense because it is a tradition for your family?

  • My family and I have always been intensively interested in games: boardgames, role playing games, computer games, so Gen Con is a natural fit for us. If someone is not so interested in games, it might not be worth the expense. My advice would be to read up about it on the internet and to look at some of the many videos about Gen Con on youtube. Our trip to Gen Con is our main vacation each year, so we allot the money for it in our annual budget.

    Here is a link to the badge costs this year for attendance at the convention:

    There was a special family of four admission for Sunday, today, of $40.00, and I would recommend that first time attendees take advantage of this to see if it is something they would be interested in.

  • When I think of vacations, I’m reminded of the Sabbath rest. In resting, we recognize our creaturehood with all of the limitations that implies. We look to God in reliance and thank him for his goodness. We renew ourselves as we seek to go forward operating on the Creator’s resources.

  • I find that short weekend getaways that involve traveling about 50-100 miles from home work best for us, and I find them most refreshing. This weekend, at the insistence of my daughter, we spent 1 1/2 days and 1 night in the Peoria area, where we used to live, revisiting some haunts we hadn’t seen in a while. It doesn’t bust the budget, and the amount of travel involved is just far enough to be a break from home without being so long as to be exhausting.

  • Thanks for the explanation on who is who in the photo, Don. 😉
    I’m sure you deserved (and needed) your time away from the office with family.

    I agree with your article WRT reality, with this proviso. Even though this world is a reality, it is not the ultimate reality. This world is to pass away – so it is partial reality. Our true reality is that for which we were created – this reality is a passage and a test for the true reality.
    Enough (too much maybe) philosophising for today 🙂 God bless.

  • True Don, our ultimate home is in the next world. However, as you point out, what we do in this world establishes where our destination ultimately lies in the next world.

  • Vacations are definitely needed for any working man (or woman). Welcome back Don!

Parish Shopping

Monday, June 21, AD 2010

As my wife and I are expecting in November, we’ve started to consider where we’re going to baptize the baby. Most churches that we’ve seen want you to be a parishioner before they baptize you. This has brought up the question of what parish we really belong to. We’ve found that that’s not an easy question.

Over the weekend, Tito had a post that inquired about the existence of good parishes in Las Vegas for his family. Some of the things he looks for are an orthodox priest faithful to the Magisterium, a beautiful Church, and a liturgy that aspires to beauty and lacks some of the folksy elements of post-Vatican II as well as the more scandalous aspects of the “spirit of Vatican II” like liturgical dancers.

None of those desires are unreasonable. In fact, those things are the rights of the faithful.

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24 Responses to Parish Shopping

  • I wonder if obedience is the least popular of all virtues. Sure, some other virtues get beaten up in our society, but obedience is equally resented by the nonreligious, the casually religious, and the devout.

    For quite a few years, a sleep disorder prevented me from attending early Mass. I got in the habit of attending 5 p.m. Mass at the next parish up the road. Now that I could make it to my local parish at noon, I still go up the road, because my local parish is really ugly and everyone talks through Mass.

    Before the sleep problems, I attended the Latin Mass at another parish, and it’s there that I’m registered.

    Anyway, I guess my excuse is that I’m not shopping around, and I’ve settled at a parish that’s not 100% to my liking. But it’s still not the one I actually reside in.

  • I think you have to find a good, solid church, recognize its faults, and get involved in valid ways to make it strong in those areas. We chose our parish 10 miles from home (when there are parishes 1 mile and 3 miles away) because we liked the setting, the physical church, and we interviewed, and liked the priest. But the parish is weak in spirituality, so when there was an opening for musical director, we helped find qualified people to interview. We have worked to bring in good evangelist-type preachers (we’re having Fr. Wade Menezes of the Fathers of Mercy in a few months). My point is, select a place you can live with, then do what the Holy Spirit asks you to do to make the parish better.

  • Very good article Michael.

    I feel if I were to stay active in my geographical correct parish, I would have been driven out due to my orthodoxy.

    Fortunately, I do not have that problem (Deo gratis).

    I’m all for being change agents. The question is to ask God for the courage to stay in an unCatholic parish.

  • I believe that there are many ways of living our faith as Catholics. While I am fairly conservative, I also know that is not the only path. There is always going to be some cognitive dissonence. The question is how much you can stand.

    My parish has had three different pastors in the last nine years, each with a different personal style and a different management style, as well as three deacons and I can’t even count how many assistant pastors/priest in residence. But the parishioners are the church. I feel comfortable and welcome with them, in contrast to my previous parish, where, after 25 years, I still hardly knew anyone’s name. Involvement really wasn’t welcome at my previous parish. It was the same group of people who “did things.” Quite the contrary where I am now. Ours is a very large parish. We need 18 people, per Mass, to distribute Communion. That involvement is good for the parishioners and it is also good for the community of the parish. I really think that you need to go where you feel part of the community, even if you have to drive past some other parishes to get there.

  • Tito Edwards says: I feel if I were to stay active in my geographical correct parish, I would have been driven out due to my orthodoxy.

    That happened to me. I’ll give the Reader’s Digest version. I was out of the Church for 25 years (the Prodigal Son). When I returned I was SHOCKED at all the “changes” that had taken place and I totally felt like a fish out of water.

    I was having marital problems and approached my pastor for counseling. I told him that I would like to go to confession and he replied “what makes you think you have to go to confession?”

    My wife went through the RCIA program and since I was her sponsor I was subjected to a whole years of “The best of Fr. McBrien” by the “Church Lady” that ran the program. It was a watered down mess. I sponsored another individual the following year and got into battles with the Church Lady over the lack of content in “her” program.

    I approached the parish council once to try to start a Family Rosary program using the materials from the Apostolate of Family Consecration. I mentioned at the meeting that it had the blessing of Pope John Paul II and the Associate Pastor rolled his eyes and sighed out loud.

    I was ostracized by the priests, and criticized by them to my wife for teaching then such heretical things as communion on the tongue. My wife & I eventually ended up divorcing and she left the Church and moved in with her BF. I went “parish shopping” where I found a marvelous orthodox parish that had five priests, DAILY confession, Divine Mercy & 40 hrs devotions etc.

    IMHO it’s WELL beyond “judging” – in some locations it’s become a matter of survival.

  • I think at times it is prudent to go to another parish. The parish I belonged to geographically in one city was quite unusual in its practices. Went to Mass there only once. The priest and nun processed down the aisle together with the nun wearing a dress with the exact same color of the priest’s vestments. They alternated saying the Introductory prayers of the Mass and sat in a pew together leaving the altar area empty. There were several same-sex “couples” in the congregation all beaming proudly at the homily that spoke of the equality of all “life choices.”

    Left at that point as I thought the Mass ultimately could be invalid. Never returned.

  • If there is a Latin Mass parish in your area perhaps you and your wife should consider there?

    If you raise your child in a novus ordo parish you will constantly have to explain to the child how inapprppriare the plethora of liturgical abuses are, and how the liturgy is theologically deficient, that Holy Mass is not the time where we celebrate ourselves but is the representation of Christ on the Cross in an unbloodied way. The mass is a sacrificial offering, not a fiesta.

    Since his/her very soul hangs in the balance, consider, should s/he go to a parish offering the Mass of the Great Saints of the last 400 years, or the mass where bishops of very questionable orientation give Holy Communion to the Sisters Of Perpetual Indulgence dressed in drag, the mass loved by those seeking to destroy Christ’s Church?

    When one considers the tremendous cost of choosing wrong, I think the only right choice readily becomes clear. Extraordinary Form from Baptism onward. The child will truly be blessed to be spared all the tremendous abuses, false teaching, sacrileges, and all the confusion that comes from such things.

    If you wish for the child to grow into a practicing catholic as an adult, the novus ordo must be fled from before it can corrupt the child and destroy his/her faith as it has done to millions over the last 40 years.

  • It’s not about ‘novus ordo’ versus TLM, but the concept of obedience to the Church Christ founded vs. disobedience. ‘Novus ordo’ done correctly is obedient to the Magisterium. That said, there are lots of incorrect novus ordo masses. Any mass using a Gather Hymnal could make the mass incorrect. But If you can teach your children to obey, to respect, and to be humble, they will be horrified in what they see, and be good humans and good Catholics. I would start with a daily reading of the Beatitudes, and homilies by Fr. Corapi and Fr. Pablo Straub, and Fr. Wade Menezes, or any Fathers of Mercy.

  • So if one raises a child correctly one will be subjecting them every Sunday to an experience that horrifies them?

    That is surely the way to build a love for the Mass, by weekly subjecting them to the horrific novus ordo.

    Thank you for bolstering my point concerning TLM. It seems that even a surface analysis reveals that it is an issue of content and which missal is used, since the novus ordo is fundamentally different from TLM in it’s theology. One is about the sacrifice, the other is about fiesta time and the “church of aren’t we fabulous.”

    The novus ordo is a lot like socialism. Lefties keep declaring “we just haven’t done it the right way yet! It will work this time! Really!”. But when clear thinking prevails it becomes clear that the problem is the novus ordo itself, and no variation of Catholicism-watered-down-with-Protestantism-liturgy is going to work.

    Taking such radical risks with the soul of a child is unfathomable to me. For the child’s own sake, an EF parish is objectively the optimal choice. Since a parent always wants what is best for their child, and an EF parish would be best for the child, the conclusion is inescapable.

  • Jim:

    That’s horrible. I think your story really brings out something I mentioned: your own spiritual condition. If you’re just trying to come back into the Church and fix your marriage, I would find the best possible parish with the best priest. You would have been right to ditch that parish, I think.


    I think you have a clear case of leaving. That Mass probably wasn’t valid.


    Well, by the time my child is old enough to understand the Mass we’ll have moved (hopefully) out of Baton Rouge to either New Orleans or Lafayette.

    That said, I don’t think an EF parish is necessary. The novus ordo is a valid mass, and there are many parishes that provide the ordinary form in a way that it is still beautiful and faithful to the church (which is true in part b/c the church has said the novus ordo is acceptable, and being faithful entails acceptance of the validity of the novus ordo, even if the EF is personally preferred).

    That does get me thinking on another point: how much should one consider the local parish when buying a house? I tend to know Lafayette & New Orleans fairly well, and I think I would consider the orthodoxy of the local parish when making my decision. I don’t think that’s bad, though it may encourage parishes to become more like factions. I’ll have to think about that. Anyone else have thoughts on that angle?

  • Maybe I’ve just been fortunate, but I really don’t see what is so “horrific” about the Novus Ordo Mass as long as it is done reverently. I have been “subjected” to it from my earliest memory, as has my daughter, and we’re still completely faithful, practicing Catholics.

    Yes, I have been to TLM Masses and I’m all for keeping that tradition alive; yes, I like to hear Latin and real Gregorian chant (there is a parish in my area that does that), and yes, I think the new translation coming next year (hopefully) will go a long way toward restoring a sense of mystery and sacredness. However, I have seen many NO Masses done beautifully and reverently so it is not impossible.

    Of course this may be because I have had the good fortune to live in parishes that never went off some of the deeper ends of liturgical experimentation, and have never been subjected to any of the grosser liturgical abuses apparently common in some dioceses (e.g. liturgical dance, lay persons giving homilies, invalid Eucharistic matter, etc.) The worst liturgical “abuse” I have seen in the last 10 years or so is the use of some theologically questionable hymns (like “Ashes” and “City of God”), but other than that, I really can’t complain.

  • As far as your C.S. Lewis analogy.

    He was referring to the denominations of his day where people went to where they felt “comfortable”.

    Plus C.S. Lewis was a Protestant, not a Catholic.

    We aren’t “judging”, but asking for the faith Christ left us, not some invention from a 60s leftover.

  • As a matter of clarity to my previous posts; I fully agree and believe that the novus ordo (with proper form and matter as required, that is a valid priest, valid bread/wine, etc) is a valid mass.

    If my posted suggested otherwise, such an error is entirely my own and I regret any confusion.

    It is my assertation that the EF is not simply superior as a matter of personal preference, but
    is an objectively superior form of worship.

  • Also, as per the matter of church shopping, the law clearly does not require one to be enrolled at one’s geographic parish. Parishes are erected to ensure the faithful have access to what is their right, not to bind the faithful to access what is their right only in a particular place.

  • Tito:

    No, Lewis was not talking about different denominations, but different presentations of the liturgy within the Anglican Church (High and Low Church). Yes, he was Anglican but Anglicans have parishes too. While one clearly has to make an analogy between Lewis’s situation and what we as Catholics face today, I think the analogy is helpful.

    And as I said, the laity do have a right to the faith. I just want people to be careful before they bolt their parish.


    The canon law I quoted suggests that it is at least preferable for all the people to enroll in their local parish (unless there are differences of rite, nationality, etc.). Whether or not i is just merely preferable or actually binding in law is something a canon lawyer would have to interpret.

    I tend to agree with you about the superiority of the EF, though I have seen EFs done poorly such that the best NOs are superior to them. I have a feeling if Novus Ordo Masses were done right, people wouldn’t be having this discussion nearly as much.

  • Ezekiel says: Also, as per the matter of church shopping, the law clearly does not require one to be enrolled at one’s geographic parish.

    Actually, I don’t think you’ve read that right. As a Catholic, you are *automatically* a member of the parish you reside in. You no longer have to register though.

    See here:

    Note that:

    On a regular basis, when it comes to weekly Mass attendance and routine reception of the sacraments, we are not obliged to attend any one church in particular. Canon 1247 asserts that on Sundays and holydays, the faithful are obliged to participate in the Mass, but does not specify that we must attend Mass in any specific place. Similarly, we may receive the sacrament of confession from any priest who is lawfuly able to administer it (c. 991), without regard to the location where this takes place.

    Therefore, there is no legal reason why one cannot routinely attend Mass and receive the sacraments at a parish church other than the one to which we technically belong — although this is hardly an ideal situation. But on major occasions, such a child’s first reception of the sacraments, we have seen here that it is the norm that these be celebrated in one’s own parish church. And when it comes to marriage, as discussed above, the law is even more serious, for the validity of a marriage depends in part on whether it is celebrated in the parish of one of the spouses.

    I believe that many churches that have the EF are set up as personal parishes, and you may join those although your “mother” parish will still be the one you reside in.

  • Just remember that you are always the exception, and you will do well in life. 😉

    As a former parish shopper, I recognized that my need to be an exception was a poor reflection on me. In retrospect, I was quite silly in those days. For most folks, their involvement in a parish is one hour per week. If you are looking for more than that – and there is nothing wrong with desiring more – there are para-church organizations that are better equipped to help you.

  • I think there are certainly spiritual dangers to parish shopping — some of which we’re seeing on display. However, there are also times when it is important to move out of an environment where you family is not being spiritually nourished.

    Also, it seems to me it’s fairly important to be withing reasonable distance of your parish, since if you’re to be active there you’ll be going down there frequently.

    If you’re just entering an area or just coming back to the Church, I see no problem with looking around at the parishes within reasonable striking distance of your house before deciding which one to register in. However, once you’re settled on a parish it seems to me that the motivation for leaving would have to be something fairly major.

  • I agree with those who don’t believe the NO Mass, done correctly, is horrific. It’s simply not. I’d much rather have a priest enunciating the prayer in English reverently and properly than to have him stumbling over the Latin, butchering it so it’s undecipherable. Either mass, done properly, is beautiful. Remember, there is only one Mass. No, I don’t want tamborines, guitars, drums and piano, clapping during the Gloria, etc. But the lectionary for the NO mass is definitely superior, and gives a greater sense of the entire Bible. Well done Latin in the TLM is superior to the vernacular in the NO. But I’ve been to Hanceville and seen a NO mass using Latin, and it was truly amazing. I’ve been to TLMs that have also been amazing. I’ve been to both where I felt the content was lacking, even though Jesus was present (thereby providing a valid mass).

  • Hard to believe, when I was a pre Vatican 2 kid, all the Masses at all the churches around my very Catholic town were essentially interchangeable. Therefore people simply belonged to the closest church’s parish.

  • What an interesting perspective on “Parish Shopping.” I really liked the point that you made that if all of the orthodox parishoners leave, then the parish has little hope of changing, even if they do get a good orthodox priest. When I was still attending the parish I grew up in, I did try to respectfully approach our priest with certain problems I was having in our parish. One being that I felt that other parishoners were not respecting the presence of the Blessed Sacrament by talking and visiting after Mass instead of observing sacred silence. The priest basically blew me off. After several incidents with this priest, I left the parish and joined a more traditional parish downtown, St. Agnes. I hope that you find a good parish to belong to, and bring your baby into the Church!

  • I agree with the general tenor here. It’s a balancing act, making sure that you receive necessary spiritual support without becoming what Lewis called a “connoisseur of churches”. Smart thread.

  • Yep, sometimes times I think this “spirit of Vatican II” is really one spirit with dual personalties. I’ll call it the “spirit of the world I”…

    I say this because among many of the same spirits that had collected upon my once sick soul, (in which the true Spirit was cleansing me by fire), were to be found also hanging about the philosophies of the parish our entire family converted within.

    For over a year I didn’t realize that every wednesday evening I was (as a convert in waiting for baptism)involved with a Call To Action prayer group.. But, Our Lady gave me a strong heart for unity with the Chair of Peter during this time… On a terrestrial level, I’m sure she realized how much I had offended God previously in life, and would not bring before the Heart of the Most Holy Trinity any triump of Her Immaculate Heart that would not now or in the future remain obedient to Christ speaking through His Church.

    And that’s the whole crux of the problem, as I see it.
    These same dual spirits want desperately to confuse us all on the reality and required doctrines of Love, including the obedience Christ exemplifies in doing the will and works of the Father–still today through His Church.

    I’m on board with the notion of the orthodox remaining…

    I think that in a hidden way Our Lady uses us to destroy all manner of errors. I now look back on that time whimsically reflecting on my overly zealous self insisting to that same Call To Action group that they sit patiently through my readings of the Marian Movement of Priests book, followed by the Holy Rosary. Now I understand their discomfort a bit better. Facts are facts though:

    That group has now disbanded.

    God bless you all…


  • I agree that a well done N.O. can be very reverent. I have been fortunate in that I have not experienced too many cringe-inducing Masses, except for the occasional folksy or otherwise less than inspiring hymns (seem to get at least one each Mass).

    But, I do think a solid case can be made that the TLM, in its structure, is an objectively superior form of Catholic worship. Cardinal Ottaviani (sp?) pointed out the main differences, and over time, it seems the NO form has somewhat deteriorated – that is, it has allowed for more innovation (kind of hard to ad lib in Latin, after all, even though, ironically, “ad lib” is Latin. Go figure). Of course YMMV with individual priests, but the TLM form itself has more Catholic elements, and it is hard to argue against the claim that the NO is more Protestantized. The NO is still valid of course, and can be reverent, but the form itself seems to have purposefully changed certain elements that are not just trivial, and not necessarily for the better.

Comedy Central Cowers Before Jihadists While Mocking Christians

Thursday, May 6, AD 2010

The cowards at Comedy Central who censored South Park after receiving death threats from Jihadists, as I detailed here and here, now show their “courage” by announcing a new show mocking Christ.  My friend Jay Anderson at Pro Ecclesia gives us the details:

Fresh off of heavily editing a depiction of Mohammad in “South Park” following threats from practitioners of the “Religion of Peace”, the “edgy” comedy network, Comedy Central, shows its artistic “courage” in announcing a new series blaspheming Jesus Christ:

Comedy Central might censor every image of the Prophet Muhammad on “South Park,” yet the network is developing a whole animated series around Jesus Christ.

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5 Responses to Comedy Central Cowers Before Jihadists While Mocking Christians

  • “Comedy Central is run by a pack of cowardly contemptible bullies, and it is beyond me why any Christian, or any man or woman with a spine, would waste a moment watching anything they broadcast.”

    You’re right. As of today I boycott Comedy Central.

  • Catholic Renaissance

    It is a well based argument that the various miseries that the Jewish people suffered over the centuries made them stronger and I think it is true that the various unfairness that the Catholic Church and its congregation is being subjected to in recent times, is making the Church stronger and creating something of a renaissance of Catholic thinking and action. The Catholic Church has been portrayed as an enemy of secular liberal society and to an extent that in the past has been a charge which has had more than some legitimacy but excepting the very narrow and restricted area of Papal infallibility, my understanding is that the Catholic Church would not accept it is of necessity less fallible than any other other organization in a World of imperfection, and that whilst the message of Christ as the Saviour to the World remains both perfect and complete, the Church will always face real difficult in properly understanding and giving practical effect to that message. With the rise of Islamism at the end of the twentieth century and at the beginning of the twenty-first century, much of the secular establishment and indeed many supposedly Christian Churches have shown respect for neither christian nor secular principles by refusing to stand up for legitimate secular and christian principles when they would come in to conflict with Islamism, except I would say in important exception the Catholic Church, Gloria in Excelsis Deo.

  • I can’t stand those cowards at Comedy Central I don’t find anything they have on funny or entertaining!
    They are truly Cowards, pick on Good Christians but OH don’t bother the poor filthy terrorist and their SO CALLED God! I am offended and I think we should all get together and SUE them for offending us!

  • An open letter to Comedy Central:
    I have decided to start an email letter campaign to Comedy Central on this issue;
    I hope others will find this link helpful in composing your own letter to that company.

    Let’s show Comedy Central what peaceful people do, in the love of Christ!

  • You’re welcome Comedy Central

    Clearly, Comedy Central has complimented Christianity as they know that the worse they can expect out of Christians for besmirching Jesus is that we will say, “Well, I just won’t watch it,” or, “I will pray for them.”

    As Richard Dawkins stated it (during a rare moment of clarity):
    “There are no Christians, as far as I know, blowing up buildings. I am not aware of any Christian suicide bombers. I am not aware of any major Christian denomination that believes the penalty for apostasy is death. I have mixed feelings about the decline of Christianity, in so far as Christianity might be a bulwark against something worse”

    Find details here

Sex, Lies and Planned Parenthood

Monday, April 12, AD 2010

Hattip to Patterico’s PontificationsWorse Than Murder, Inc, aka Planned Parenthood, has written a guide entitled Healthy, Happy and Hot.  It is subtitled a Young Persons Guide to Their Rights, Sexuality and Living With HIV.

This pamphlet is truly based upon irony in that if there is one organization more dedicated to promoting sexual promiscuity other than Worse Than Murder, Inc, I am unaware of it.  From passing out contraceptives to kids without parental consent, to promoting the idea that sex is the be all and end all of life, to killing the inevitable offspring that result from sexual activity between men and women, Planned Parenthood has done everything possible to promote a cultural atmosphere in which sexually transmitted diseases can run rampant.

So a teenager who has followed the advice of Worse Than Murder Inc and has HIV now is supposed to look to them for guidance?  I honestly sometimes think that Satan has a deep streak of the dark comedian about him.

Well, what sort of advice does Planned Parenthood dispense to their victims who have a fatal illness?    On page one the pamphlet stresses that people with HIV have a right to express and enjoy their sexuality.  But of course!  For Worse Than Murder, Inc, life boils down to:  “I fornicate therefore I am.”

In regard to disclosing the fact that a person has HIV to someone they are having sex with, the pamphlet states:

Some countries have laws that say people
living with HIV must tell their sexual
partner(s) about their status before having
sex, even if they use condoms or only
engage in sexual activity with a low risk
of giving HIV to someone else. These laws
violate the rights of people living with HIV
by forcing them to disclose or face the
possibility of criminal charges.

What about the well-being of those people who might be infected by you or have been infected by you?  Page 3 indicates that those people really have to take second place behind number one:

You know best if and when it is safe
for you to disclose your status.
There are many reasons that people
do not share their HIV status. They
may not want people to know they
are living with HIV because of
stigma and discrimination within
their community. They may worry
that people will find out something
else they have kept secret, like they
are using injecting drugs, having
sex outside of a marriage or having
sex with people of the same gender.
People in long-term relationships
who find out they are living with HIV
sometimes fear that their partner
will react violently or end the

Sharing your HIV status is called
disclosure. Your decision about whether to
disclose may change with different people
and situations. You have the right to
decide if, when, and how to disclose your
HIV status.

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5 Responses to Sex, Lies and Planned Parenthood

  • Thanks Don. This bring up a lot of emotions for me. Among my sibling I am the only active Catholic and one has left the Church all together. They each have three children. Each child has been brought up in an atmosphere of “moral relativism.” In that each can find there own conception of God. If they choose to say there is no God – so be it because we all have “rights.”

    So I try to be the God-father figure to all of them and learned my lesson that I can’t play God. The most effective action for me is located in the Divine Mercy Chaplet and I continue to let them all know I love them and that I pray for them.

    I am in love with the truth and cutting through the lies of our enemy. This site has been a great tool for me to see honestly through the lies of Murder-inc. Which when the children are left to find a god on there own, may choose the a god that has sex, drugs and rock and roll as the result.

  • Incidentally, the Girl Scouts allowed PP to distribute this pamphlet last month at a Girl Scout event at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.

  • Thank you Robert. It is hard when relatives abandon the Faith. Often all we can do is pray, and talk about the Faith if they are willing to listen, which often, unfortunately, is not the case.

    Christina, I think most parents would be shocked if they realized how radicalized the Girl Scouts have become beyond the local level.

  • Pingback: Planned Parenthood and the Girl Scouts « A Voice into the Void
  • “You know best if and when it is safe
    for you to disclose your status.”

    I’m sorry, but isn’t this piece of advice, intended for teens about to undertake a sexual escapade, just ludicrously irresponsible *even* from the perspective of PP? It is clear, in any case, that they care more about their business than they do about the health of the teens they service.