California Dreamin’

November 30, 2008 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

Who wants to be a millionaire parish?

A few years ago, a Catholic parish in the Diocese of Orange (Southern California) received a $10 million contribution from an anonymous benefactor. And that got me to thinking: How would I spend the $10 million if I were the pastor?

Here’s my own wish list, in no particular order of importance. I’d like to know what you think of this list and how you’d spend the money differently, if you were the pastor.

What a grand thing it would be if the parish used the $10 million to . . .

1) Open a large, well-equipped soup kitchen located in the inner city areas of Santa Ana or Anaheim (cost $500,000);

2) Open a free medical and dental clinic for the local community that would cater especially to illegal alien and migrant farmworkers, the homeless, and low-income families. Organize local physicians, dentists, and nurses from the community, Catholic and non-Catholic, to donate their time (say, one day a month) to staff and operate the facility (cost: $2,000,000);

3) Establish two low-power 24-hour local Catholic radio stations, broadcasting from the parish itself and possibly retransmitting the great programming at WEWN shortwave. One would broadcast in Spanish, the other in English. Add Vietnamese programming, too, if you can find some dynamic and orthodox Vietnamese priests and lay people who have the skills for radio. This kind of station would have a small footprint, say a 10-mile “bubble” around the parish and it would be an excellent, low-cost evangelization outreach to the local community (cost: $500,000);

4) Buy or build a spacious and comfortable building as a home for indigent or low-income unmarried pregnant women. Provide free room, board and medical care, the sacraments (for Catholic women, of course) catechism instruction, home-ec classes. This would be a proven brick-and-mortar pro-life solution for local women who are tempted by the blandishments of the vile abortion industry. (cost: $1,000,000)

5) Buy or build a modest convent for the Missionaries of Charity sisters (Mother Teresa’s order) and for the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Alhambra; invite them to send sisters; also buy or build a modest monastery for the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal; invite them to send priests and brothers to work among the poor and evangelize (cost: $1,000,00). 

6) Open a large, parish-run MEGA Catholic bookstore. Make it BIG, well-stocked, reasonably priced, and loaded with excellent and orthodox Catholic books, CDs, DVDs, statuary, rosaries, candles, etc. (cost: $500,000);

7) Open a large, warehouse-style parish-run food and clothing bank for the poor and disadvantaged (cost: $1,000,000).

8) Buy or build a center that will house a school for Catholic lay-missionaries and trained apologists. Aim for graduating a well-trained cadre of 25 Catholic lay-missionaries and apologists each year who will go out into the wider community, visiting homes door-to-door in small groups, to spread the Good News and bring people home to the Church and the sacraments (cost: $1,000,000).

9) Adorn the interior of the parish with beautiful statues, votive candles, stained-glass windows, and traditional fixtures of all kinds. Do everything possible to enhance the sense of the sacred inside the church itself. Erect a large crucifix outside the parish buildings, close to the road. The bigger the better— 30′ high would be awesome (cost: $500,000);

10) Provide each family in the parish with a free “Catholic Family Kit,” including a sturdy copy of a Catholic Bible, 5 rosaries, one crucifix, one 12″ statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a copy of the Catechism, a prayerbook, a bottle of holy water, five apologetics books and five apologetics CDs & DVDs on the basics of the Faith, and, of course, a one-year subscription to Envoy Magazine (cost: $100,000);

11) Build a large shrine to our Blessed Lady on the parish grounds. Make it big and beautiful. Encourage all the faithful to make a pilgrimage there at least once a year as a family (cost: $200,000);

12) Put $700,000 in the bank for a rainy day and so that the food bank, medical clinic, and home for unwed mothers can be maintained and replenished with supplies annually.

13) Send $100,000 to the diocese as a gift.

14) Send $400,000 to the Holy Father as a gift for his Peter’s Pence collection and for the missions.

15) Give the remaining $500,000 to the poor, dividing it among area Catholic and Protestant soup kitchens and homeless shelters.

California Dreamin'

November 30, 2008 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

Who wants to be a millionaire parish?

A few years ago, a Catholic parish in the Diocese of Orange (Southern California) received a $10 million contribution from an anonymous benefactor. And that got me to thinking: How would I spend the $10 million if I were the pastor?

Here’s my own wish list, in no particular order of importance. I’d like to know what you think of this list and how you’d spend the money differently, if you were the pastor.

What a grand thing it would be if the parish used the $10 million to . . .

1) Open a large, well-equipped soup kitchen located in the inner city areas of Santa Ana or Anaheim (cost $500,000);

2) Open a free medical and dental clinic for the local community that would cater especially to illegal alien and migrant farmworkers, the homeless, and low-income families. Organize local physicians, dentists, and nurses from the community, Catholic and non-Catholic, to donate their time (say, one day a month) to staff and operate the facility (cost: $2,000,000);

3) Establish two low-power 24-hour local Catholic radio stations, broadcasting from the parish itself and possibly retransmitting the great programming at WEWN shortwave. One would broadcast in Spanish, the other in English. Add Vietnamese programming, too, if you can find some dynamic and orthodox Vietnamese priests and lay people who have the skills for radio. This kind of station would have a small footprint, say a 10-mile “bubble” around the parish and it would be an excellent, low-cost evangelization outreach to the local community (cost: $500,000);

4) Buy or build a spacious and comfortable building as a home for indigent or low-income unmarried pregnant women. Provide free room, board and medical care, the sacraments (for Catholic women, of course) catechism instruction, home-ec classes. This would be a proven brick-and-mortar pro-life solution for local women who are tempted by the blandishments of the vile abortion industry. (cost: $1,000,000)

5) Buy or build a modest convent for the Missionaries of Charity sisters (Mother Teresa’s order) and for the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Alhambra; invite them to send sisters; also buy or build a modest monastery for the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal; invite them to send priests and brothers to work among the poor and evangelize (cost: $1,000,00). 

6) Open a large, parish-run MEGA Catholic bookstore. Make it BIG, well-stocked, reasonably priced, and loaded with excellent and orthodox Catholic books, CDs, DVDs, statuary, rosaries, candles, etc. (cost: $500,000);

7) Open a large, warehouse-style parish-run food and clothing bank for the poor and disadvantaged (cost: $1,000,000).

8) Buy or build a center that will house a school for Catholic lay-missionaries and trained apologists. Aim for graduating a well-trained cadre of 25 Catholic lay-missionaries and apologists each year who will go out into the wider community, visiting homes door-to-door in small groups, to spread the Good News and bring people home to the Church and the sacraments (cost: $1,000,000).

9) Adorn the interior of the parish with beautiful statues, votive candles, stained-glass windows, and traditional fixtures of all kinds. Do everything possible to enhance the sense of the sacred inside the church itself. Erect a large crucifix outside the parish buildings, close to the road. The bigger the better— 30′ high would be awesome (cost: $500,000);

10) Provide each family in the parish with a free “Catholic Family Kit,” including a sturdy copy of a Catholic Bible, 5 rosaries, one crucifix, one 12″ statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a copy of the Catechism, a prayerbook, a bottle of holy water, five apologetics books and five apologetics CDs & DVDs on the basics of the Faith, and, of course, a one-year subscription to Envoy Magazine (cost: $100,000);

11) Build a large shrine to our Blessed Lady on the parish grounds. Make it big and beautiful. Encourage all the faithful to make a pilgrimage there at least once a year as a family (cost: $200,000);

12) Put $700,000 in the bank for a rainy day and so that the food bank, medical clinic, and home for unwed mothers can be maintained and replenished with supplies annually.

13) Send $100,000 to the diocese as a gift.

14) Send $400,000 to the Holy Father as a gift for his Peter’s Pence collection and for the missions.

15) Give the remaining $500,000 to the poor, dividing it among area Catholic and Protestant soup kitchens and homeless shelters.

The Perpetual Duel Between Good and Evil

November 30, 2008 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog


Nancy shared this with me me awhile back (the story, not the burger). True, it is a non-canonical, apocryphal account, but it does contain some useful insights:

God populated the earth with vegetables of all kinds, so that Man would live a long and healthy life.

And Satan created the 99-cent double cheeseburger. And Satan said to Man, “Want fries with that?”

And Man said, “Supersize them!” And Man gained pounds.

And God created healthful yogurt. And Satan froze the yogurt and brought forth refined sugar, chocolate, nuts, and brightly colored candy to put on top. And Man gained more pounds.

And behold, God brought forth running shoes. And Man, seeing what the Lord had wrought, repented of his folly and resolved to lose those extra pounds.

And lo, Satan then brought forth cable TV, remote control, and potato chips. And Man clutched his remote control and ate his chips. Satan saw this and said, “It is good.”

And verily it came to pass that Man went into cardiac arrest. And God sighed and created quadruple bypass surgery.

And Satan created HMOs . . .

Wanna Caption This?

November 30, 2008 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog



The Prophecies and Dreams of St. John Bosco

November 29, 2008 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

The great Italian priest, St. John Bosco (founder of the great Salesian order of priests an brothers), experienced many prophetic dreams and visions, some relating to his own era, others involving future events.

I recommend reading two in particular: his chilling dream of souls entering hell and his famous dream about the two pillars, the persecution of the Church, and the apparent assasination of a future pope. The former dream is perennially beneficial, I think, and the latter dream is a glimpse of dramatic future events.

Sometimes, I am inclined to wonder if are entering into or . . . gulp . . . already are in the dire times he foresaw. 

For All Your Papal Encyclical Needs

November 29, 2008 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

Just when you thought you couldn’t get enough of your favorite papal encyclicals . . . uh . . . this nifty site has catalogued them all, for easy access online.

N.B.: My American friends who read this blog might want to read Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae, regarding the dangers of Americanism, which he addressed to Cardinal Gibbons of Baltimore in 1899. Some very interesting and pertinent stuff there, I’ll tell you.

Listen to What the Man Said

November 29, 2008 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog


Some years ago, I mentioned the following item in the pages of Envoy Magazine. I ran across it again and thought I’d post it here, as it’s an interesting slant on the discussions about the role of the Holy Father that have been swirling around among Catholics, Anglicans, and others:

And for some related encouraging news from Great Britain. Under the headline “Churches agree Pope has overall authority,” Oliver Poole wrote in the London Telegraph a few years ago:

“The Pope was recognized as the overall authority in the Christian world by an Anglican and Roman Catholic commission yesterday which described him as a ‘gift to be received by all the Churches.’

“Disagreement about the extent of the Pope’s authority was one of the main causes of the English Reformation in the 16th century, and has been a constant stumbling block to the two Churches reuniting. However, yesterday’s statement, released at Lambeth Palace — which is not binding — accepted that if a new united Church was created it would be the Bishop of Rome who would exercise a universal primacy. Dr. George Carey, the Archbishop of Canterbury . . . said: ‘In a world torn apart by violence and division, Christians need urgently to be able to speak with a common voice, confident of the authority of the gospel of peace.’

“The 43-page document, The Gift of Authority, has been produced by the 18-member Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, after five years of debate. The commission concluded that the Bishop of Rome had a ‘specific ministry concerning the discernment of truth’ and accepted that only the Pope had the moral authority to unite the various Christian denominations. However, it did not go as far as to confirm the Pope’s infallibility. Instead, it said: ‘This form of authoritative teaching has no stronger guarantee from the Holy Spirit than have the solemn definition of ecumenical councils.’ The document does not specifically address the issues that divide the two Churches, such as the place of the Virgin Mary and women’s ministry . . .

“The proposals are expected to shock many Anglicans, particularly on the evangelical wing of the Church, which remains wary of an extension of the bishop of Rome’s authority. Mark Birchall, a member of the Church of England Evangelical council, said: ‘It speaks as if the Bishop of Rome has always been on the side of the angels while it is well known that for several centuries past the Bishop of Rome was certainly not.’ . . . The Rt. Rev. Mark Santer, the bishop of Birmingham and co-chairman of the body, said: ‘This is a serious piece of theological work and to understand our conclusions you have to follow how we got there. One faith was given by Christ and his apostles and what we are trying to do is rediscover that one common faith.’ The Rt. Rev. Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Bishop of Arundel and Brighton and the other co-chairman, added: ‘The primacy of the Pope is a gift to be shared.’”

Well, although some individual popes definitely were not on the side of the angels, as I explain in my book Pope Fiction, those bad popes notwithstanding, the good angels have always been on the side of the papacy and the Catholic Church. And now, even Anglican clergymen are saying it publicly.

The wonder of it all, baby.


Listen to What the Man Said

November 29, 2008 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog


Some years ago, I mentioned the following item in the pages of Envoy Magazine. I ran across it again and thought I’d post it here, as it’s an interesting slant on the discussions about the role of the Holy Father that have been swirling around among Catholics, Anglicans, and others:

And for some related encouraging news from Great Britain. Under the headline “Churches agree Pope has overall authority,” Oliver Poole wrote in the London Telegraph a few years ago:

“The Pope was recognized as the overall authority in the Christian world by an Anglican and Roman Catholic commission yesterday which described him as a ‘gift to be received by all the Churches.’

“Disagreement about the extent of the Pope’s authority was one of the main causes of the English Reformation in the 16th century, and has been a constant stumbling block to the two Churches reuniting. However, yesterday’s statement, released at Lambeth Palace — which is not binding — accepted that if a new united Church was created it would be the Bishop of Rome who would exercise a universal primacy. Dr. George Carey, the Archbishop of Canterbury . . . said: ‘In a world torn apart by violence and division, Christians need urgently to be able to speak with a common voice, confident of the authority of the gospel of peace.’

“The 43-page document, The Gift of Authority, has been produced by the 18-member Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, after five years of debate. The commission concluded that the Bishop of Rome had a ‘specific ministry concerning the discernment of truth’ and accepted that only the Pope had the moral authority to unite the various Christian denominations. However, it did not go as far as to confirm the Pope’s infallibility. Instead, it said: ‘This form of authoritative teaching has no stronger guarantee from the Holy Spirit than have the solemn definition of ecumenical councils.’ The document does not specifically address the issues that divide the two Churches, such as the place of the Virgin Mary and women’s ministry . . .

“The proposals are expected to shock many Anglicans, particularly on the evangelical wing of the Church, which remains wary of an extension of the bishop of Rome’s authority. Mark Birchall, a member of the Church of England Evangelical council, said: ‘It speaks as if the Bishop of Rome has always been on the side of the angels while it is well known that for several centuries past the Bishop of Rome was certainly not.’ . . . The Rt. Rev. Mark Santer, the bishop of Birmingham and co-chairman of the body, said: ‘This is a serious piece of theological work and to understand our conclusions you have to follow how we got there. One faith was given by Christ and his apostles and what we are trying to do is rediscover that one common faith.’ The Rt. Rev. Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Bishop of Arundel and Brighton and the other co-chairman, added: ‘The primacy of the Pope is a gift to be shared.’”

Well, although some individual popes definitely were not on the side of the angels, as I explain in my book Pope Fiction, those bad popes no
twithstanding, the good angels have always been on the side of the papacy and the Catholic Church. And now, even Anglican clergymen are saying it publicly.

The wonder of it all, baby.


Frank Sheed: A Giant Among Catholic Apologists

November 29, 2008 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

Here’s is an article I wrote a few years ago for Crisis Magazine (which has since morphed into the excellent website: InsideCatholic) about the renowned Catholic author, publisher, andmajor 20th-century Catholic apologist Frank Sheed. He is truly a luminary in the company of modern defenders of the Faith.

Although he died in 1981, I never met him in person (how I wish I had!). But I’ve learned an immense amount from him through his many books and even some audio tapes of his lectures I managed to get hold of. I did once have one long phone conversation with his son, Wilfred Sheed, which was very illuminating and helped me gain some insights into what Frank was like, up close and personal. Oh, if you’re interested in Frank Sheed, be sure to read Wilfrid’s book Frank and Maisie: A Memoir With Parents (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1985).

Frank was an excellent example of a intellectually formidable, well-trained, emotionally balanced, charitable, and effective Catholic apologist. I pray that God will send us more men like him. We surely do need them.

(If you’re not yet familiar with Sheed’s work, a good place to start would be Theology for Beginners.)

A Modest Proposal for Rebuilding People’s Lost Faith in The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist

November 29, 2008 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

Prayer Before Holy Communion


(From the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom)

“O Lord, I believe and profess that You are truly Christ, the Son of the living God, Who came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the first. Accept me as a partaker of Your mystical supper, O Son of God; for I will not reveal Your mystery to Your enemies, nor will I give You a kiss as did Judas, but like the thief I confess to You: Remember me, O Lord when You shall come into Your kingdom. Remember me O Master, when You shall come into Your kingdom. Remember me O Holy One, when you shall come into Your kingdom. May the partaking of Your Holy Mysteries, O Lord, be not for my judgment or condemnation, but for the healing of soul and body. O Lord, I believe and profess that this, which I am about to receive, is truly Your most precious Body and Your life- giving Blood, which, I pray, make me worthy to receive for the remission of all my sins and for life everlasting. Amen. O God, be merciful to me, a sinner. O God, cleanse me of my sins and have mercy on me. O Lord, forgive me, for I have sinned without number.”

This beautiful expression of love for Christ in the Holy Eucharist contains a wealth of important theological truths. If more Catholics were taught to pray this prayer and others like it before receiving Holy Communion, I believe the widespread tepidity and ignorance about the truth of Christ’s Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist would gradually diminish. Of course, an increase in praying prayers like this wouldn’t in itself fix the problem, but it would go far in that direction.

My proposal here is that priests who read this post would consider printing out this prayer (or another like it) and having the congregation recite it just before receiving Holy Communion. I’d also suggest that laypeople reading this might begin privately praying this prayer and even, if the circumstances in their parishes would permit it, approach their pastor with the request that he include this prayer as part of the congregation’s preparation for receiving the Eucharist.

As the Latin maxim “lex orandi, lex credendi” (the law of prayer [affects] the law of belief) implies: how we pray directly affects what we believe.


So many Catholics these days have lost any real belief in (much less ferver for) the Catholic doctrine of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. If people started praying prayers like this one, it could only serve to help rebuild that lost faith. Don’t you think?

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