Benjamin Franklin on Dissent

By | January 2, 2018

It’s rather unusual for me to be quoting Ben Franklin, but I happen to be watching a TV special John Wayne put together called Swing Out, Sweet Land, and it had this quote from Franklin… a quote that is found barely anywhere on the Internet. This is the attitude we who are old enough to remember still remember.

“Let us be aware in these infant years of our beloved Republic. . . There are those who wait to celebrate our failure. Be not disheartened, this will always be so, for we have lighted our candle of liberty in a dark world and each of us is in charge of keeping it lighted. And though the winds of dissent may threaten our flame, despair not, remembering that a nation which allows dissent is stronger from with-in and brighter from with-out. For when dissent becomes a crime, hope becomes despair. …

“Dissent, but dissent honorably. Dissent with faith in your hearts, not despair. Dissent to rebuild not to destroy. Dissent from with-in for dissent from with-out becomes attack. Speak out for what you believe in at least as loudly as you speak against the system, for gentlemen, if ours is a generation to say democracy will not administer to the people, let it be a conscious decision arrived at only after every opportunity for man to rule himself has failed.” … Benjamin Franklin

Best Films?

By | January 1, 2018

It’s not unusual to see a “best films list” these days. So, why not do one myself?

I’m thinking here of films that have a message that is worth paying attention to.

Although some of these are fairly big movies, they are not Casablanca or Lawrence of Arabia. I am trying to look at movies that may not be on the radar of the average viewer.

1. Sergeant York

A pacifist sharpshooter during World War I? It’s a true story that could not have been made up, and full of Christian themes. The 100th anniversary of the events depicted occurs in 2018.

2. Call Northside 777

Another true story (with a few Catholic themes) that is quite gripping, and of course, has Jimmy Stewart.

3. Captains Courageous (1937)
I have decided not to include the trailer, because this movie is best seen without knowing anything about the story. Once again, Catholic themes come up, especially in the end.

4. The Human Comedy (1943)

The modern movie Little Boy has some similar themes, but this great old film is such a testament to a time when war was raging and uncertainty was still in the air, but eternal truths were also in the air.

5. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
I decided against posting the trailer here, because once again, I think it’s a great movie to go into without a clue as to what is going to happen. But here, with John Wayne calling Jimmy Stewart a “pilgrim,” is a movie that is quite funny and quite serious, as only John Ford could make.

It so happens that every one of these films is in black and white, but that is not intentional. There are plenty of great movies down through the years. These are some I think might be a bit neglected.

The Return of the Blog

By | February 2, 2017

It was down for a while there, but it’s back. At this time, I would just like to quote from an Angelus address of St. John Paul II:

Mary, in fact, when considered in the fullness of the Church’s mystery and mission, not only expresses its independent personality, at the apex and at the beginning of the Church, but, in the dynamics of the history of salvation, she is also so intimately united with the Church that she seems to be an embodiment and a living image of the mystical personality of the Church herself, the Bride of Christ, signifying from the first moment of her existence all the wealth of grace that animates the Church.

Angelus Address, December 11, 1983

Catholic Documentaries

By | June 21, 2016

I’ve decided to highlight a few Catholic documentaries I’ve seen recently. Some can be watched completely online, and some must be purchased. One that is quite touching is La Mama: An American Nun’s Life in a Mexican Prison. Here a clip from the beginning of the documentary:

The story is quite amazing. Antonia Brenner (1926-2013) shows such a particular charism–something that this one woman achieved, and that was her unique response to a difficult situation.

Another person with a particular and unique charism is Fr. Greg Boyle, the founder of Homeboy Industries. If you watch the documentary, expect a bit of strong language here and there. I can’t say I support the incorporation of Yoga and “alternative spiritualities,” but overall, Fr. Greg is a priest that has shown the love of Christ in seemingly impossible situations and transformed many lives for the better. This documentary covers a portion of the history of the organization in 2010 and 2011.

Yet another person who has made a huge difference, yet never really intended to is Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, who’s Mary’s Meals literally feeds over a million children. Learn the story, if you never have, by watching the complete documentary online: Child 31.

Each of these gives hope. One person can make a big difference. Cooperating with the will of God is not just transformative for the individual, but it can touch many, many lives.

St. Anselm of Canterbury and His Profound Marian Spirituality

By | May 5, 2016

Years ago I did a paper (somewhat legendary in the length of time it took for me to finish) on St. Anselm’s Mariology. Now that I’m teaching a Mariology class, I’ve dug out the old paper. It’s not bad! Well, it did take years to write.

Fr. Johann G. Roten, S.M. wrote some thoughts on St. Anselms’s Marian Spirituality, conveniently including the three famous prayers to Mary written by him.

Here’s a little from Prayer 3:

Palace of universal propitiation,
cause of general reconciliation,
vase and temple of life and universal salvation:
I have made too little of your praises,
and in a little man like me it is especially vile
to belittle your merits.
For the world rejoices in your love
and so proclaims what you have done for it.
O Lady, to be wondered at for your unparalleled virginity;
to be venerated for a holiness beyond all reckoning—
you showed to the world its Lord and its God
whom it had not known.
You showed to the sight of all the world
its Creator whom it had not seen.
You gave birth to the restorer of the world
for whom the lost world longed.
You brought forth the world’s reconciliation,
which, in its guilt, it did not have before.

St. Anselm recognizes the profound role Mary has played in being the Theotokos, the one who gave birth to God incarnate.

Charles Untz

By | November 26, 2015

It doesn’t hurt to ask…

Well, here’s the prayer to ask for the intercession of Charles Untz, a teenager who died in 2000 and some consider to have been a rather holy young man. A very simple website testifies to him: My Lady’s Knight.

A prayer asking his intercession:

Oh, Jesus, in these most difficult times for teenagers You gave the grace of purity, prayers, obedience, and fidelity to Your servant Charles. It was his desire to always do Your will and to become a saint. He fostered a great love for You in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar and a deep devotion to Your Most Holy Mother Mary whom Charles simply called, “My Lady”. We now ask You to glorify Your servant Charles on earth by granting the petition we now make through his intercession: (mention your request here). Amen.

Max and Me

By | August 27, 2015

If you’ve seen the CGI movie The Greatest Miracle, then you know Dos Corazones films. The CGI in that movie was somewhat primative, but they have boosted their efforts for their next movie: Max and Me. This will interweave a modern story with the story of St. Maximillian Kolbe.

Although there is not a trailer at present, there is a news story online with some clips.

Let’s pray it turns out well. The movie is scheduled for release in 2016.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Marian Commentaries on Scripture

By | August 25, 2015

I found a rather useful doctoral dissertation concerning the commentary of Cornelius a Lapide and Mariology.

The dissertation is entitled Cornelius a Lapide’s biblical methodology used in Marian texts and its comparison with a contemporary approach. It was written by the Very Rev. James Presta. It contains a number of translations into English from the commentary that you won’t find anywhere else.

The thesis is available for free online download at this link. Scroll to the bottom and select “download.”

Alessandra di Rudinì (1876-1932)

By | June 26, 2015

Her story is filled with intensity. I don’t think it would make a good movie. It would have to be a miniseries.

A radio drama was made about her, but it only gives a small taste of her life, and alters some of the facts. It can be found as an episode of the Ave Maria Hour.

But here’s a little summary:

Born of noble lineage, she grows up a rich spoiled brat. Her mother puts her in a Catholic boarding school in Rome at the age of 10, but she is, essentially, kicked out after a year because of the terrible tricks she plays on other students. If you’ve seen The Trouble with Angels, she would have made the pranks of those girls look rather tame in comparison.

Her father had no love for the Church. The mother grew ill and was in a nursing home. Alessandra grew up on the estate. She had a crisis of faith, and eventually lost her faith.

She married an Italian nobleman at the age of 18 and lived on his family estate. She had two sons.

Her husband died young. She moved about in the “high life” circles. She ended up living with a famous Italian poet named Gabriele d’Annunzio, who was famous for his womanizing. He tired of her, and she was back on her own again.

She was in communication with a priest, but had very little faith. He told her to go to Lourdes. She happened to be there when the most miraculous cure of the year happened, and the office of medical investigations was working on the case. She regained her faith. Her sons, unfortunately, died of tuberculosis.

Eventually, she entered the Carmel of Paray-le-Monial in France, and years later became the mother superior.

A longer summary is at this site.

Religious Liberty

By | May 2, 2015

This is a time when religious liberty is clearly under attack in the United States. Let’s pray for the triumph of God’s will. Holy Hours, novenas, and Mass intentions are in order. May freedom of religion be maintained in our land.

Ven. Fulton J. Sheen — keep asking his intercession

By | March 18, 2015

With the passing of St. Patrick’s day, I am reminded of a famous Irish-American who just might be called “Saint” one day.

Yes, the cause for Ven. Fulton J. Sheen is basically on hold, but that doesn’t mean we should forget about him. A biographer of his wrote a final chapter concerning the sanctity of his life that is now available free online.

Now is the time to read more of Sheen’s works, listen to his talks, or watch videos of him (there are a number of them on YouTube).

Remember, he needs the support of the faithful at this time, and I suspect he will help those who ask his intercession in a particularly strong way.

Dangers of Chemical Contraception Finally Getting Attention

By | March 4, 2015

Vicki Thorn has an article at Catholic Pulse that explains that, after all these years, the dangers and problems of chemical contraception (which is supposed to be, of course, very safe) are finally coming out in books and even a planned documentary. I quote from her article below:

It seems to me that there is a tidal wave of awareness surfacing among women that birth control is not good for our bodies. In 2013 the book Sweetening the Pill: or How We Got Hooked on Hormonal Birth Control by Holly Grigg-Spall was published by Zero Books. Ricki Lake is working on a documentary based on Holly’s book. It is interesting to see there is a new term being used in the media by supporters of contraception to describe those who warn of its dangers: “Birth Control Truthers.” It seems to ring true in truth and title, though it is supposed to be derogatory!

It seems that women and men have not been really informed as to the side effects of chemical contraceptives. Many are quick to say of these potential side effects, “But the chances are so low!” but if it happens to you or a loved one, it becomes 100 percent.

And, of course, there are times, more commonly for younger women, that the pill does not prevent pregnancy.

Full Article: The Real War on Women

St. Gregory of Narek, New Doctor of the Church

By | February 26, 2015

We are now up to 36 Doctors of the Latin Church, and this doctor is an Armenian monk who lived from about A.D. 950 to 1003. Pope Francis declared him a Doctor on February 23.

His famous book of Lamentations, also called “Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart,” contains 95 prayers. They are really quite impressive. The style is somewhat similar to St. Anselm of Canterbury, who was born 30 years after St. Gregory died.

The prayers are available in English in an online edition. Here’s an example from prayer 5:

You made me in your glorious image,
favoring a weak being like me
with your sublime likeness,
adorning me with speech,
and burnishing me with your breath,
enriching me with thought,
cultivating me with wisdom,
establishing me with ingenuity,
setting me apart from the animals,
endowing my character with a thinking soul,
embellishing me with a sovereign individuality,
giving birth as a father, nurturing as a nurse,
caring for me as a guardian,
You sowed a wayward being in your courtyard,
irrigated me with the water of life,
cleansed me with the dew of the baptismal fount,
nourished me with heavenly bread,
quenched my thirst with your blood,
acquainted me with the impalpable and
emboldened my earthly eyes to seek you,
embraced me in your glorious light,
permitted my unclean earthly hands to
make offerings to you,
honored my base, mortal ashes,
like a flicker of light,
imprinted upon a worthless wretch like me
your father’s image, awesome and blessed,
out of your love for mankind.


This is a small taste of the profound humility and thought contained in these prayers. It’s good to get a new Doctor once in a while, so we can appreciate writings that we haven’t heard of.