This is welcome and not entirely unexpected news, given Father Barron’s meteoric ascendancy in the Catholic media world, especially on the strength of his impressive tour-de-force video series “Catholicism” and accompanying book. With a doctorate in sacred theology from the Institut Catholique de Paris, a slew of scholarly yet accessible books on the Catholic Faith, and 20 years of experience as a professor of theology at Chicago’s Mundelein (University of Our Lady of the Lake) Seminary, he is well suited to take the helm at this prestigious school. One may forgiven for wondering if his star will continue to rise, transiting, perhaps, into the episcopal firmament. God knows we need many more effective, indefatigable, and doctrinally orthodox teachers of the Faith. As far as I am concerned, when it comes to Father Barron, ad astra!
Benjamin Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanac quotes it, and an English politician named Algernon Sydney (d. 1683) is said to have also proclaimed it in slightly different wording. But neither man was responsible for originating this idea. Actually, the ancient Greeks appear to have coined the phrase.
Interestingly, most people assume that the phrase, “God helps those who help themselves” is from the Bible. It’s not — though there is an early patristic example of its usage. St. John Chrysostom (A.D. 349-407), the renowned Archbishop of Constantinople, expresses this idea in his Homily on the Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans. He explains how this principle is true (though not in the sense that men can “earn” their salvation), insofar as God grants all human beings sufficient natural revelation to know He exists and to seek Him diligently. Speaking to the Catholics of his day, he warns:
Let us then watch our own conduct on all sides, and afford to no one ever so little handle. For this life present is a race-course and we ought to have thousands of eyes on every side, and not even to fancy that ignorance will be an adequate excuse.
For there is such a thing, there certainly is, as being punished for ignorance, when the ignorance is inexcusable. Since the Jews too were ignorant, yet not ignorant in an excusable way. And the Gentiles were ignorant, but they are without excuse. (Rom. i. 20.)
For when thou art ignorant of those things which it is not possible to know, thou wilt not be subject to any charge for it: but when of things easy and possible, thou wilt be punished with the utmost rigor.
Else if we be not excessively supine, but contribute our own share to its full amount, God will also reach forth His hand unto us in those things which we are ignorant of. And this is what Paul said to the Philippians likewise. “If in anything ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you” (Phil. 3:15).
But when we are not willing to do even what we are masters of, we shall not have the benefit of His assistance in this either. . . . For this reason then, when [Cornelius the Centurion] was doing the whole of his duty with sincerity, God added unto him that which was lacking also (c.f., Acts 10:1-4).
The American actor James Farentino died yesterday at the age of 73. He is perhaps best known for his deft portrayal of Saint Peter the Apostle in the landmark mini-series-movie “Jesus of Nazareth.” Personally, having re-watched that excellent, moving, and instructive film countless times since its release in 1978, I’ve always felt that he so thoroughly “became” Saint Peter in this role that, to this day, when I think of the Apostle himself, Farentino’s face and shaggy, craggy features are what I see in my mind’s eye. (British actor Robert Powell, similarly nailed the role of Jesus uncannily well.) Farentino’s portrayal (watch a video clip here) will forever remain the image of Saint Peter that inhabits my imagination — at least, that is, until I am able to meet the Galilean Fisherman himself, face to face.
I never knew much about Mr. Farentino’s personal life, though I did see him crop up in other movies, here and there. This morning, as I read through a few sparsely detailed online stories announcing his death, I was saddened to learn that he had a tumultuous personal life. I don’t know if he was Catholic, though I assume he was, even if just nominally, given his Italian surname and that he was born in 1938, an era when non-Catholic Italian American’s were relatively rare. In any case, I mourn his passing. He was a talented actor, and he enriched my own life through his work in “Jesus of Nazareth.”
I hope he went to heaven. Maybe, who knows, at the last minute he encountered the Lord and cried out to Him, “Domine, quo vadis?” (“Lord, where are you going?”). My prayer is that Jesus smiled at him and, forgiving him his sins, turned toward heaven and said, “Veni et vide” (“Come and see”).
Eternal rest, grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
And as you wish that men would do to you, do so to them.
If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.
And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.
And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again.
But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish.
Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back. (Luke 6:31-38)
January 22, 2023
Can you believe it is already the year 2023? I’m still writing ’22 on everything! It seems like only yesterday that I was sitting in the first grade and celebrating the change to a new century.
I know we really haven’t chatted since Christmas, Mom, and I’m sorry. Anyway, I have some difficult news to share with you and, to be honest, I really didn’t want to call or talk about this face to face.
But before I get to that, let me report that Ted just got a big promotion, and I should be up for a hefty raise this year if I keep putting in all those crazy hours. You know how I work at it. (Yes, we’re still struggling to pay the bills.)
Little Timmy’s been okay at kindergarten, although he complains about going. But then, he wasn’t happy about the day-care center either. So what can we do?
He’s been a real problem, Mom. He’s a good kid, but quite honestly, he’s an unfair burden on us at this time in our lives.Ted and I have talked this through, and we have finally made a choice. Plenty of other families have made the same choice and are really better off today.Our pastor is supportive of our choice. He pointed out the family is a system, and the demands of one member shouldn’t be allowed to ruin the whole. The pastor told us to be prayerful and to consider all the factors as to what is right to make our family work. He says that even though he probably wouldn’t do it himself, the choice really is ours. He was kind enough to refer us to a children’s clinic near here, so at least that part is easy.Don’t get me wrong, Mom. I’m not an uncaring mother. I do feel sorry for the little guy. I think he heard Ted and me talking about this the other night. I turned and saw him standing at the bottom of the stairs in his PJ’s with his little teddy bear that you gave him under his arm, and his eyes were sort of welled up with tears.
Mom, the way he looked at me just about broke my heart, but I honestly believe this is better for Timmy, too. It’s just not fair to force him to live in a family that can’t give him the time and attention he deserves.
And please, Mom, don’t give me the kind of grief that grandma gave you over your abortions. It’s the same thing, you know. There’s really no difference.
We’ve told Timmy he’s just going in for a “vaccination.” Anyway, they say the termination procedure is painless. I guess it’s just as well that you haven’t seen that much of little Timmy lately.
Please give my love to Dad.
I’m in the final phase of selecting the logo for my new radio show “Right Here, Right Now.” Please take a look at the logo options below and, in the comments section, tell me your 1st & 2nd choices by the designated number (below each version). I’ll be deciding very soon, so your help now will be much appreciated. Be sure to click the image to see it larger and less compressed.
Please pick the numbers you like best and also tell me your overall impression of the logo design as a whole (i.e., too feminine? too masculine? just right? etc.).
Here are the two finalists.
When this deeply misguided young man grows up to be a mature Christian, he will be embarrassed by his “Why I Hate Religion”video
Since a number of folks have asked my opinion of the new “Why I Hate Religion” video, here it is:
The video is a jumbled mish-mash of biblical error and fashionable non-denominational Protestant jargon. No substance. No coherence. Zero credibility. When I watched it, my heart went out to that zealous but woefully misguided young man, Jefferson Bethke. When he grows up and becomes a mature Christian (please God he will), his embarrassment for having mouthed such cant will be acute.
For those who want actual truth on the subject of “religion,” I’d suggest starting with Fr. Robert Barron’s “Catholicism” Project.
A new communique was released from the Bishop of the Diocese of Mostar-Duvno (the ecclesiastical territory within which the alleged apparitions at Medjugorje are allegedly taking place) helps clarify things by providing a meticulously-documented refutation of what it refers to as six “untruths” being peddled by some promoters of this phenomenon.
Share this with those who may be confused by the relentless barrage of promotion from those Medjugorje boosters who, for whatever reason, do not take into account all the facts surrounding this controversy.
Facts can be quite inconvenient, as this communique shows.
BISHOP ŽANIĆ IN “THE MYSTERY OF MEDJUGORJE”
Diocesan Chancery, 2011-12-31
In June 2011 the newspaper Večernji list published a book written by four journalists: Ž. Ivković, R. Bubalo, Z. Despot and S. Hančić, titled “The Mystery of Medjugorje: 30 years of the phenomenon. For the first time: the documents of the Yugoslav secret police”. On June 17, the day before the book’s release, one of the authors wrote an ad in the same newspaper. The book was also mentioned on the website of the Italian vaticanist Andrea Tornielli, on September 9 and 20, 2011. The Canadian psychologist Louis Bélanger responded to him on the internet, on September 19, 20, and 21 of this year.
Tornielli writes that, according to the 1987 UDBA (Ured državne bezbednosti: Office of State Security) document called “Crnica”, it turns out that the principal tool seems to have been “Bishop Žanić, who in the beginning showed himself to be open to the possibility that there was a supernatural event taking place, but later became its most committed enemy”, and that Bishop Žanić’s aversion toward Medjugorje “had been fed by a series of documents manufactured by the secret police.”
In sum, according to the UDBA report, Tornielli says, it turns out that “Bishop Žanić was ready to accept any document against the Franciscans and against the apparitions, even if it was of suspect origin.” Very grave accusations. The author concludes that the Commission of the Holy See on Medjugorje will need to discuss these documents too.
Louis Bélanger reacted on September 19, primarily because Tornielli was attacking the “intellectual, spiritual, and pastoral integrity of the former Ordinary of Mostar, Msgr. Pavao Žanić”. The Italian vaticanist, said Bélanger, “doesn’t ‘document’ anything, doesn’t verify anything: he copies/pastes very serious allegations without granting his readers any factual historical retrospective.”
Tornielli then mitigated his assertions and, on September 20, wrote to Bélanger that it “is a fact that the Communists were trying to control and influence the Medjugorje phenomenon, and that they were trying to influence Bishop Žanić.”
Bélanger replied on September 21, agreeing that the Communists had tried to manipulate both Medjugorje and Bishop Žanić. “My main point is that you convey the allegation that the Secret Service so heavily influenced Mgr. Žanić’s decision that he changed completely his position from January 1982 – does the choice of that date point to a specific historical document? – making him a tool of the communist regime, thus its marionette concerning Medjugorje. As if the Ordinary had no legitimate intimate intellectual, spiritual and pastoral motive for the change of his initial spontaneous and positive assessment of the supernatural quality of the Medjugorje events – completely independent of the regime’s political stratagems.”
Tornielli did not respond further.
Since the late bishop Pavao Žanić is mentioned in numerous pages of the book “The Mystery of Medjugorje” (MM), and not in a complimentary way, it is our duty, for the love of truth and out of respect for Bishop Pavao, who was a bishop in Herzegovina for 23 years, to respond to such arbitrary claims and insinuations. But, as an introduction, another topic:
The first untruth: The journalist Ivković writes: “The day the seers met with the Gospa for the first time, June 25…” (MM, p. 120).
Which Six? It is commonly known that the “seers” met for the first time on June 24, 1981. This also turns up in the same journalist’s writings on pages 9, 17, 29, 166, etc.
This is a big untruth that creates confusion if this whole thing has been elaborated throughout the journalist’s writing. But if the author is thinking of the stable Six, it is worth mentioning here that, in regard to the “seers”, the “mystery of Medjugorje” has not been resolved yet: who was present on the second day of the “apparition”? In fact, the first encounter was on June 24, and this Six was present: Ivanka, Mirjana, Milka, Vicka, Ivan Dragićević and Ivan Ivanković.
The second day, June 25, Milka was not present, nor the second Ivan; and Marija, the sister of Milka, and Jakov Čolo were added. And then: Vicka states that Ivan Dragićević “stood with us and saw everything like us” that second day, while the same Ivan categorically denied to Fr. Zrinko Čuvalo, on June 27, that he had been present at the “apparition” that second day, and he denied it three times.To which testimony should we give credence?
Why is the anniversary the 25th and not the 24th of June? The same author reports the news that the Gospa said “this to the seers a month before the first anniversary of the apparitions, and then they conveyed it to the parish priest so that he could make it known to the faithful” (p. 17).
This news was made public by Vicka in 1985. She added that it had happened in 1982, “about a month before the anniversary, or maybe more.”
It is strange that such a piece of news was not recorded in the Chronicle of the Apparitions, in which its scribe, and moreover the illicit head of the parish at the time, Fr. Tomislav Vlašić, was accustomed to writing all sorts of banalities; and yet he must have left out such an important message. Otherwise, this would be a case of some false recollections and memories.
It is much more probable that this choice was the fruit of a tacit understanding, as has since been recounted: Podmilačje at Jajce has been celebrating St. John the Baptist on the 24th of June for centuries, and it would not be opportune for the young Medjugorje to compete with that celebration. So it was all attributed to the Gospa who supposedly established, on the occasion of the first anniversary in 1982, that the anniversary be celebrated on the 25th of June, as was made public in the book A Thousand Encounters only in 1985. In any case, over time the group of the stable Six was formed.
Let it be said, incidentally: according to the Chronicle of the Apparitions at Medjugorje and in the vicinity about 120 people have affirmed that the Gospa appeared to them between 1981 and 1985, and that Jesus and angels from God also appeared to some of them. If necessary, we could call them all “seers”. Anyway, the Six were chosen.
In the article, “The secret dossier. How the UDBA suffocated Medjugorje” (MM, pp. 119-169), Ž. Ivković reports many untruths in regard to UDBA and he seems to accept them.
The main piece of news goes back to November 17, 1987, six years after the start of the Medjugorje phenomenon. UDBA’s informers in the province are said to have boasted to excess in front of their superiors in the metropolis about their “successes”. The rest is numerous untruths, one after another. It’s impossible to rebut all the untruths here, but we cannot neglect the occasion to do so in regard to the matters that seem truly grotesque.
Bishop Žanić – enemy. The municipal Party conference at Čitluk in August 1981 “also energetically condemned the behavior of part of the clergy,” and the following names were mentioned: “Bishop Pavao Žanić, Fr. Jozo Zovko and Fr. Ferdo Vlašić” (MM, p. 121). Bishop Žanić is included here among the enemies of the state along with the two Franciscans. Should we accept this too? It will be useful to make note of it, because later Ž. Ivković will brand Bishop Žanić as a “collaborator” of the UDBA!
The second untruth: The aforementioned UDBA document, reported by the journalist as a discovery, states: “So Žanić in the course of 1986 alone went to Rome 14 times…” (MM, p. 127).
— This is not true. According to . . . (continue reading)
(Courtesy of NewAdvent.org)
This is noteworthy: Father John Corapi’s Internet presence at sites such as the www.theblacksheepdog.us and http://theblacksheepdog.wordpress.com has vanished, ditto for his presence on YouTube and Facebook. No one I know has any clue what happened to him, but there are several possible scenarios that would explain this. The one I hope is correct is that he has reconciled with the S.O.L.T. order he once was a member of and, more importantly, that he has reconciled with the Catholic Church, from which it certainly seemed he was distancing himself in the wake of all the unpleasantness that erupted last year.
In any case, his abrupt disappearance from the Internet serves as good reminder that we should all continue praying for him, whatever path he may be on. May God bless Father Corapi and may He bless us all.
Now that the much-anticipated new English translation of the Roman Missal has finally been promulgated and is being learned by priests and faithful alike, certain Catholics continue to disparage it, some through mockery. A fatuous example of this recently appeared on the website of Commonweal Magazine.
What’s interesting is that some who denigrate the new translation, such as the ineffable Fr. Richard McBrien, make the similarly fatuous claim that it was rammed through by “traditionalists in the hierarchy and a minority of ultra-conservatives within the Catholic church (sic).” Father McBrien’s recent commentary on the new translation revolves around the notion that there is a war being waged for “control” of the Mass between so-called “right-wing” Catholics and those “for whom Pope John XXIII is a hero and Vatican II was a great event.”
Seeking no doubt to console panicky progressives who are outraged (outraged!) that the pope and the bishops would have the temerity to impose liturgical changes, Father M encourages his fellow travelers to keep a stiff upper lip, secure in the reassurance that . . .
To be sure, the advocates of the “reform of the reform” have won only a partial victory with this new translation (for example, “I believe …” rather than the more communal “We believe …” in the Credo). But the Mass is still in the vernacular; the altar is still turned around; the great majority of people receive Communion in the hand; and there are more likely to be altar girls in the sanctuary than boys.
Notice the irony here. He is thoroughly gung-ho for reform, as long as it’s his kind of reform. You know, the kind that involves jettisoning as much of the Catholic Church’s rich, 2000-year-old liturgical patrimony as possible and replacing it with altar girls and such. How ironic, then, that his heart bleeds for
“those priests who have been reciting these prayers for many years [who] will inevitably stumble over the new wording, and those priests whose eyesight has failed them and who have memorized unchangeable parts of the Mass will continue to recite the words with which they have been long familiar. At least, that is what I would advise them if they were silly enough to ask.”
And yet, in his books and newspaper column, Father McBrien routinely engages in casuistry by scorning those Catholics who’ve had difficulties with or who for whatever reason resisted the far more sweeping and significant changes to the Mass that were enacted by Vatican II.
Happily, Pope Paul VI, the pontiff who presided over Vatican II, offered some prescient advice to those who, like Father McBrien, have difficulty understanding (or accepting) Pope Benedict XVI’s reasons for implementing the new translation of the Roman Missal.
I doubt that Father M has ever even heard of my lowly blog, much less reads it, but if in God’s providence he should happen to do so, I hope he will ponder the following section of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Mysterium Fidei, given in September, 1965, shortly before the conclusion of Vatican II:
It is only logical, then, for us to follow the magisterium of the Church as a guiding star in carrying on our investigations into this mystery, for the Divine Redeemer has entrusted the safeguarding and the explanation of the written or transmitted word of God to her. And we are convinced that “whatever has been preached and believed throughout the whole Church with true Catholic faith since the days of antiquity is true, even if it not be subject to rational investigation, and even if it not be explained in words.”
Proper Wording of Great Importance
23. But this is not enough. Once the integrity of the faith has been safeguarded, then it is time to guard the proper way of expressing it, lest our careless use of words give rise, God forbid, to false opinions regarding faith in the most sublime things. St. Augustine gives a stern warning about this when he takes up the matter of the different ways of speaking that are employed by the philosophers on the one hand and that ought to be used by Christians on the other. “The philosophers,” he says, “use words freely, and they have no fear of offending religious listeners in dealing with subjects that are difficult to understand. But we have to speak in accordance with a fixed rule, so that a lack of restraint in speech on our part may not give rise to some irreverent opinion about the things represented by the words.”
24. And so the rule of language which the Church has established through the long labor of centuries, with the help of the Holy Spirit, and which she has confirmed with the authority of the Councils, and which has more than once been the watchword and banner of orthodox faith, is to be religiously preserved, and no one may presume to change it at his own pleasure or under the pretext of new knowledge.
Who would ever tolerate that the dogmatic formulas used by the ecumenical councils for the mysteries of the Holy Trinity and the Incarnation be judged as no longer appropriate for men of our times, and let others be rashly substituted for them? In the same way, it cannot be tolerated that any individual should on his own authority take something away from the formulas which were used by the Council of Trent to propose the Eucharistic Mystery for our belief. These formulas—like the others that the Church used to propose the dogmas of faith—express concepts that are not tied to a certain specific form of human culture, or to a certain level of scientific progress, or to one or another theological school.
Instead they set forth what the human mind grasps of reality through necessary and universal experience and what it expresses in apt and exact words, whether it be in ordinary or more refined language. For this reason, these formulas are adapted to all men of all times and all places.
Greater Clarity of Expression Always Possible
25. They can, it is true, be made clearer and more obvious; and doing this is of great benefit. But it must always be done in such a way that they retain the meaning in which they have been used, so that with the advance of an understanding of the faith, the truth of faith will remain unchanged. For it is the teaching of the First Vatican Council that “the meaning that Holy Mother the Church has once declared, is to be retained forever, and no pretext of deeper understanding ever justifies any deviation from that meaning.”
Over the 25+ years that I’ve been traveling a lot by airplane, I have checked my luggage at the airport literally about 1000 times. Maybe more. Once a bag has been tagged by the ticket agent, who then places it on the conveyor belt, it moves toward the rubber-flap draped entrance to the hidden world of airport luggage processing. This Delta Airlines video shows what your suitcase goes through from the time you check it in till you retrieve it again at the flight arrival baggage carousel.