Blessed Miguel Pro’s final, defiant challenge to his atheist persecutors

November 23, 2011 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

Blessed Miguel Pro is a prominent example of Christian heroism in the twentieth century. The indefatigable Jesuit priest was martyred by the Mexican government in 1927 for performing his priestly duties.

Born on January 13, 1891, Miguel Pro Juarez was the eldest son of Miguel Pro and Josefa Juarez. His birthplace, the humble central Mexican village of Guadalupe, was especially fitting in view of his intense, lifelong devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas.

Miguelito, as his doting family called him, was, from an early age, intensely spiritual and equally intense in his mischievousness. From the time he could speak he had the reputation of being a motor-mouth, frequently exasperating his family with his humor and practical jokes, a trait which remained with him into adult-hood.

As a child he had an unbridled precociousness that sometimes went too far, tossing him into near-death accidents and illnesses. On regaining consciousness after one of these episodes, young Miguel opened his eyes and blurted out to his frantic parents, “I want some cocol” (a colloquial term for his favorite sweet bread). Cocol became his nickname, which he would later adopt as a code name during his clandestine priestly ministry. . . . (continue reading)

Three words I never expected to see together in a news headline

November 23, 2011 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

“Amish Haircut Attacks.” One might assume it is the name selected by an imaginative garage band or perhaps it’s a lost-in-translation title of a Pennsylvania-German language B movie. But one would be mistaken. In fact, the “Amish Haircut Attacks” in question were a real and quite bizarre series of depredations involving “forcefully cutting the beards and hair of Amish men and women.”

Several members of the group carried out the attacks in September and October by forcefully cutting the beards and hair of Amish men and women, authorities have said. Cutting the hair is a highly offensive act to the Amish, who believe the Bible instructs women to let their hair grow long and men to grow beards and stop shaving once they marry.

The attacks struck at the core of the Amish identity and tested their principles. They strongly believe that they must be forgiving in order for God to forgive them, which often means handing out their own punishment and not reporting crimes to law enforcement. . . .

Aside from the Associated Press article’s clumsy and potentially misleading word order (Amish women don’t have beards), another weird element of this sad story is that the surname of one of the principle suspects is, get this, Mullet.

 

The plan isn’t foolproof. For it to work, certain things must happen.

November 7, 2011 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

—The door to the vault must have accidentally been left open by the cleaning woman.

—The guard must bend over to tie his shoes and somehow he gets all the shoelaces tied together. He can’t get them apart, so he takes out his gun and shoots all his bullets at the knot. But he misses. Then he just lies down on the floor and goes to sleep.

—Most of the customers in the bank must happen to be wearing Nixon masks, so when we come in wearing our Nixon masks it doesn’t alarm anyone.

—There must be an empty parking space right out in front. If it has a meter, there must be time left on it, because our outfits don’t have pockets for change.

—The monkeys must grab the bags of money and not just shriek and go running all over the place, like they did in the practice run.

—The security cameras must be the early, old-timey kind that don’t actually take pictures.

—When the big clock in the lobby strikes two, everyone must stop and stare at it for at least ten minutes.

—The bank alarm must have mistakenly been set to “Quiet.” Or “Ebb tide.”

—The gold bars must be made out of a lighter kind of gold that’s just as valuable but easier to carry. . . . (continue reading)

The ancient Christian origins of the feast day of All Saints

November 1, 2011 by  
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The Catholic Encyclopedia explains that All Saints Day is a “solemnity celebrated on the first of November.”

It is instituted to honor all the saints, known and unknown, and, according to Urban IV, to supply any deficiencies in the faithful’s celebration of saints’ feasts during the year.

In the early days the Christians were accustomed to solemnize the anniversary of a martyr’s death for Christ at the place of martyrdom. In the fourth century, neighboring dioceses began to interchange feasts, to transfer relics, to divide them, and to join in a common feast; as is shown by the invitation of St. Basil of Caesarea (397) to the bishops of the province of Pontus.

Frequently groups of martyrs suffered on the same day, which naturally led to a joint commemoration. In the persecution of Diocletian the number of martyrs became so great that a separate day could not be assigned to each. But the Church, feeling that every martyr should be venerated, appointed a common day for all.

The first trace of this we find in Antioch on the Sunday after Pentecost. We also find mention of a common day in a sermon of St. Ephrem the Syrian (373), and in the 74th homily of St. John Chrysostom (407).

At first only martyrs and St. John the Baptist were honored by a special day. Other saints were added gradually, and increased in number when a regular process of canonization was established; still, as early as 411 there is in the Chaldean Calendar a “Commemoratio Confessorum” for the Friday after Easter.

In the West Boniface IV, 13 May, 609, or 610, consecrated the Pantheon in Rome to the Blessed Virgin and all the martyrs, ordering an anniversary. Gregory III (731-741) consecrated a chapel in the Basilica of St. Peter to all the saints and fixed the anniversary for 1 November.

A basilica of the Apostles already existed in Rome, and its dedication was annually remembered on 1 May. Gregory IV (827-844) extended the celebration on 1 November to the entire Church. The vigil seems to have been held as early as the feast itself. The octave was added by Sixtus IV (1471-84). (source)

Is Everything Up For Grabs? A Catholic critique of moral relativism

October 31, 2011 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog


Here’s
the audio of the talk on moral relativism I gave awhile back for the Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin, before a Catholic audience of approximately 500. It was held at the diocesan center’s super-plush auditorium. It’s always a pleasure to speak in such a nice venue.

“Exorcist” author reflects on Halloween, demonic possession, and faith

October 28, 2011 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

I vividly recall my father warning me not to watch “The Exorcist” movie when it came out in 1973. Not that I was old enough, at just 13, to trundle down to the cinema and see it, but he wanted me to avoid it when I got old enough to go to movies on my own and without parental supervision.

My father hadn’t even seen the movie himself, but he had read the novel by the same title upon which the movie was based, and he told me that the book was truly frightening. He didn’t want my imagination to have to cope with the residue of  horrifying mental images he said the book had permanently lodged in his mind.

Roger that, Dad. I followed your advice to the letter. Thank you. Nearly 40 years later, I can report to you that I not only never saw the movie, I never read the book, and I’m glad of it.

I did, however, make the mistake of reading Malachi Martin’s Hostage to the Devil — or, at least, three quarters of it, before I had to put it down.

Martin’s true-story accounts of demonic possession were simply too disturbing for me to continue reading. This is in part due to the fact that, like many people, I just don’t want or need scenes from such accounts playing themselves out in my imagination at the wrong moments, such as when I am trying to get to sleep in an unfamiliar house or hotel when I am traveling.

Back to The Exorcist. Of course, I know the general plot line and am aware, unfortunately, of major shock scenes in the movie, mainly because of how talked-about it was when it first debuted. Kind of like how, years before I ever saw “The Godfather,” I knew all about the infamous “horse head” scene because everyone was talking about it.

Weird. As an adult, when I did finally see “The Godfather” and it came to that scene, it was as if I had already seen it because of how familiar it was in popular culture.  I figure that this is how I came to know a good deal about The Exorcist, not by reading the book or seeing the movie, but by osmosis.

When the movie came out, as I recall, the television evening news was awash in man-bites-dog reports about how freaked out people were by the movie. I saw plenty of interviews with folks coming out of the theaters, having just seen “The Exorcist,” who were truly  terrorized. That was enough, in itself, to dissuade me from wanting to go and do likewise.

A few years ago, I was chatting about this movie genre with my friend Héctor Molina, who had recently seen “The Exorcism of Emily Rose.” It didn’t really bother him. In fact, he mentioned how fascinated he was with the theme of God’s grace and redemption in that movie. But for me, there was no chance I’d see it because, as I explained to Héctor, given how advanced the movie industry has become in the science of special effects and CGI technology, I am quite confident that what I avoided seeing in “The Exorcist” would probably be there in chilling abundance in “Emily Rose.” He saw my point and added that a few others who were with him watching the movie were quite scared by it.

And all of that is my roundabout way of getting to the point of this post. I just read a brief news bit written by William Peter Blatty, author of The Exorcist, who, to my surprise, reveals that he hadn’t had the slightest intention of frightening anyone with his work. In fact, he had something altogether different in mind. I’ll let him explain to you what that was.

But for me, at least, I not only will continue to follow my father’s wise advice, I pass it along to you.

Saint Paul said it better:

“[W]hatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4:8).

That’s what I want for my mind. And for yours.

 

 

Suffer the little children

October 26, 2011 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

In Matthew 19:14, the Lord says to His meddlesome disciples, “Sufferthelittlechildren, and forbid them not to come to me: for the kingdom of heaven is for such.”


This verse came to mind as I read these interesting and insightful comments by a Catholic blogger named Amy, a “20-something” mother of two. Seems she was party to a spat in the back of a Catholic Church recently, in which an older woman was vehemently rebuking a younger woman for permitting the noisy distraction the latter’s young children caused the former during Mass. The young mom, God bless her, stuck up for herself and for her buckaroos, and Amy found herself drawn into the squabble, coming down on Young Mom’s side. I believe I would have done the same, had I been there.

Yes, I can relate to Young Mom and to Amy. But I have to admit that I can also see where Older Woman is coming from and can sympathize with her exasperated reaction to the commotion during Mass. People on each side of this hot-button issue need to be charitable and understanding toward each other.

As the father of a large family myself (picture taken in 2007), I know from experience how, at times, kids can be awfully irritating to those around them with their noise and fidgeting and such during Mass. And although all my children are now either adults or well on their way to being so, I have a great sympathy for young families who are just starting out and learning (hopefully, they are learning) how to control and shush their children when they need to.

A few times, though not very many, as I remember, Nancy and I have been on the receiving end of some cranky remarks and pinch-mouthed scowls from older pew-mates who were irked because one or more of our kids made noise during Mass. It happens. Comes with the territory. Get used to it.

But in truth, I must admit that I also have some sympathy for the cranky scowlmouths who are irked by unduly noisy kids at Mass. Even so, they are greatly in need of practicing patience and forbearance toward those noisy families who, whether through neglect or simply being overwhelmed do not do enough to keep the kiddos in line.

There’s room for improvement on both sides of the divide.

On a personal note, our family attends an absolutely wonderful, traditional, Dominican-run, parish — one of the very best parishes in the country, I’m convinced. After having cris-crossed the U.S. and Canada for about 25 years now, speaking at Catholic parishes by the hundreds, probably over a thousand of them by now, I have seen the best of the best and even a few of the worst of the worst, and everything in between. (Thankfully, the parishes that have me in to speak are heavily skewed toward the far end of the good side of the good/bad meter).

At our excellent parish, there are a lot of families who have a lot of kids. I’m talking counter-cultural-to-the-2nd-power lot of kids. Many of these fine and devout Catholics are adept at the art of swiftly rising from the pew and hustling a talkative, crying, screaming, or otherwise disruptive child out of Mass and out into a hallway.

This is good and pleasing in my sight.

But there are some parents, not many, who don’t seem to have learned a lesson of basic courtesy that I believe should be mandatory as part of all pre-Cana and Engaged Encounter preparations, and that is: 
“Thou Shalt Not Irritate Everyone in the Church to the Point of Distraction By Allowing Your Disruptive Child(ren) to Remain in the Pew and Make Everyone Else Miserable Simply Because YOU WILL NOT DO THE RIGHT THING ANDGET UP AND TAKE THE CHILD OUT OF CHURCH BEFORE PEOPLE’S HEADS START EXPLODING.”
(Ahem.)

Parents must understand that by allowing their child(ren) to make loud noise during Mass they commit a minor injustice against everyone else, who want to pay attention without easily avoidable, unnecessary distractions. Plus, it is very bad form. And it’s inconsiderate. How I do wish that our pastor would direct the lectors to make one additional announcement before Mass, right after they announce that everyone should immediately turn off his cell phone before Mass starts. Just add this: Parents, if your children get fussy and noisy, please, out of charity for those around you during Mass, take your children outside until they settle down.”

I think that’s reasonable, don’t you? And if this were routinely done in Catholic parishes, while never neglecting to welcome, embrace, encourage, and support large and rambunctious Catholic families (like mine) — they are an important part of the future of the Church, after all — the scowlers wouldn’t be so pinch-mouthed, the young parents of fidgety kids wouldn’t feel so put upon, and nice ladies like Amy would be able to pray their post-Mass thanksgiving prayers in peace without being drawn into squabbles like the one she described.

My Advice to Catholic Parents: Don’t Let Your Kids Date Non-Catholics

October 19, 2011 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

I know, this is hardly revolutionary or unique advice, but I was recently asked about this issue by a young Catholic man who called my “Open Line” radio show (heard every Thursday at 3:00 p.m. ET). He had been dating a devoutly Presbyterian girl, and her father didn’t like it one bit that the guy was Catholic.
I think my response to his “what do I do now?” question may have surprise him. (It apparently surprised and even dismayed a few of my listeners, judging from some of the e-mails that came in after that show.)
My basic premise, which I advert to in this audio segment is that, more often than not, mixed marriages (i.e., when a Catholic marries a non-Catholic) are a recipe for serious problems down the road in that marriage. My advice to Catholic parents is, teach your children well the importance of finding a devoutly Catholic spouse. Eventually, if you haven’t taught them this maxim and they, as a result, do not act on it, you will very likely see problems springing up in your extended family due to your sons and daughters being, in a certain sense, unequally yoked with non-Catholics. Word to the wise.
Take a listen . . . .

Here’s yet another reason why I am digging Herman Cain

October 18, 2011 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

All he is saying is give pizza chants.

The five most pathetic words: “I am a pro-choice Catholic”

October 18, 2011 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

How does a formerly pro-life Catholic college girl morph into a pro-abortion zealot who identifies the roots of her transformation as including attending the National March for Life?

You read that right.

As implausible as it might sound, Kate Childs Graham says that this happened to her, and the results are not pretty. In her recent (2009) article “I Am a Pro-choice Catholic,” which appears in that notorious bastion of contumacy, The National Catholic Reporter, Ms. Childs Graham reveals:

“I wasn’t always a pro-choice Catholic. During college I attended the annual March for Life on more than one occasion. The first time my friends and I traveled to the event from Indianapolis, Ind., was with a bus full of high school students — most, seemingly, only going for the trip to Washington, D.C., with their friends, sans parental supervision. Needless to say, it was a noisy bus ride. After I transferred to Catholic University, I volunteered for the Mass for Life two years in a row, helping to herd all of those high school students into every crevice of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.”

One must wonder if Ms. Childs Graham herself was one of those young people who made the journey to Washington, not to protest the evil of legalized abortion, but simply because she wanted the freedom of a little road trip, “sans parental supervision.”

She claims that, “Each time I attended the March for Life, I felt overwhelmingly conflicted. On one hand, it was moving to be among so many people, all energized by their faith . . .” (continue reading)

 

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