Film Critic Roger Ebert waxes fondly about his Catholic roots

…In my childhood the Church arched high above everything. I was awed by its ceremonies. Years later I agreed completely with Pauline Kael when she said that the three greatest American directors of the 1970s–Scorsese, Altman and Coppola–had derived much of their artistic richness from having grown up in the pre-Vatican Two era of Latin, incense, mortal sins, indulgences, dire sufferings in hell, Gregorian chant, and so on. Protestants and even Jews were victims, I suppose, of sensory deprivation.

The parish priest was the greatest man in the town. Our priest was Fr. J. W. McGinn, who was a good and kind man and not given to issuing fiery declarations from the pulpit. Of course in Catholic grade school I took the classes for altar boys. We learned by heart all the Latin of the Mass, and I believe I could serve Mass to this day. There was something satisfying about the sound of Latin.

Introibo ad altare Dei.
Ad Deum qui laitificat juventutem meum.

“I will go to the altar of God. The God who gives joy to my youth.” There was a “thunk” to the syllables, measured and confident, said aloud the way they looked. We learned in those classes when you stood. When you knelt. When you sat during the reading of scripture and the sermon. When you rang the bell, when you brought the water and wine. How to carefully hold the paten under the chins of communicants so a fragment of Holy Eucharist would not go astray. Later, there were dress rehearsals on the St. Pat’s altar.

For years I served early Mass one morning a week, riding my bike to church and then onward to St. Mary’s for the start of the school day. On First Fridays, the Altar and Rosary Society supplied coffee, hot chocolate and sweet rolls in the basement of the rectory. When you served at a wedding, the best man was expected to tip you fifty cents. When you served at a funeral you kept a very straight face. During Lent there were the Stations of the Cross, the priest and servers moving around the church to pause in front of artworks depicting Christ’s progress toward Calvary. Walking from one station to the next, we intoned the verses of a dirge.

At the cross, her station keeping,
Stood the mournful mother weeping,
Close to Jesus to the last.

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Archbishop Chaput: Professional Liturgical Establishment Shaped Liturgy According to World (Big Mistake!)

by Shawn Tribe

By way of Catholic News Agency (and in turn first noticed by way of Luke Coppen) we read of a lecture delivered by Archbishop Charles Chaput at the Liturgical Institute of Mundelein. Here is a taste:

The archbishop said Chicago priest Fr. Robert Barron is one of the few to have wrestled with such issues. For him, the liturgy is not to be shaped according to modern suppositions; rather, the liturgy should “question and shape the suppositions of any age.” While modern man is probably incapable of the liturgical act, this is no grounds for despair. Instead, we should “let the liturgy be itself,” the priest has said.

Archbishop Chaput agreed with Fr. Barron that in recent decades the “professional liturgical establishment” chose to shape the liturgy according to the world, which has proven to be “a dead end.” Seeking relevance through “a kind of relentless cult of novelty” has only resulted in confusion and division between the faithful and the true spirit of the liturgy, continued the archbishop.


To this end, the Archbishop of Denver offered several suggestions: the need to recover the “intrinsic and inseparable connection” between liturgy and evangelization; the need to see the liturgy as a participation in the “liturgy of heaven” where Christians worship “in Spirit and truth” with the Church and the communion of the saints; and the need to recover and live the early Christians’ “vibrant liturgical and evangelical spirituality.”

“Liturgy is both the source of the Church’s mission and its goal,” explained the prelate. “The reason we evangelize is in order to bring people into communion with the living God in the Eucharistic liturgy. And this experience of communion with God, in turn, impels us to evangelize.”

Source: Catholic News Agency (CNA)

HLI Mission Report for June 2010

VIDEO: Lifelines #1: Population Control: In this first episode of HLI LifeLines, HLI’s Raymond de Souza makes the case against this ongoing crime against humanity. YouTube users, be sure to subscribe for future episodes of LifeLines! See the LifeLines video…
HLI REPORTS: Joseph Meaney in Rome: The Church must adapt to defend the faithful as the world faces a crisis in marriage. Not only are fewer people getting and staying married today, but there is a huge amount of confusion concerning the very definition of marriage. Read More…
HLI REPORTS: Dr. Ligaya Acosta in Korea: In his message after my talk, Ambassador Shin admitted that he always avoided talks on abortion but was so glad he came this time. He said he learned a lot and was so touched by what he heard and saw during my presentation that he vowed to start a campaign to stop abortion in Korea, saying that he will discuss this with the government. Read More…
PHOTO ESSAY: Joseph Meaney in Ethiopia: HLI’s director of International Coordination recently returned from a fruitful trip to Ethiopia. See images from his missionary trip where he and HLI’s Emil Hagamu had great success in spreading the Gospel of Life! See the Photo Essay on Flickr…
COMMENTARY: Stephen Phelan: “Toward the Next Great Divorce”: In this essay, HLI’s Communications Manager, Stephen Phelan, identifies authentic Catholicism as the only answer to a government that is now openly seeking to divide and conquer the Church. Read More…
NEW RELEASE: Rev. Euteneuer’s book on Exorcism and its companion book are finally here! HLI President Fr. Thomas Euteneuer’s first book, Exorcism and the Church Militant, is now available for purchase. It’s companion book, Demonic Abortion, is available for pre-order. Click on the link below to go to the books’ web site and receive a discount when you purchase both together! Go to…

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Good advice . . .

. . . from an Angel?

An Angel says, ‘Never borrow from the future. If you worry about what may happen tomorrow and it doesn’t happen, you have worried in vain.. Even if it does happen, you have to worry twice..’

1. Pray

2. Go to bed on time.

3. Get up on time so you can start the day un rushed.

4. Say No to projects that won’t fit into your time schedule, or that will compromise your mental health.

5. Delegate tasks to capable others.

6. Simplify and unclutter your life.

7. Less is more. (Although one is often not enough, two are often too many.)

8. Allow extra time to do things and to get to places.

9. Pace yourself. Spread out big changes and difficult projects over time; don’t lump the hard things all together.

10. Take one day at a time.

11. Separate worries from concerns . If a situation is a concern, find out what God would have you do and let go of the anxiety . If you can’t do anything about a situation, forget it..

12. Live within your budget; don’t use credit cards for ordinary purchases.

13. Have backups; an extra car key in your wallet, an extra house key buried in the garden, extra stamps, etc.

14. K.M.S. (Keep Mouth Shut). This single piece of advice can prevent an enormous amount of trouble.

15. Do something for the Kid in You everyday.

16. Carry a Bible with you to read while waiting in line.

17. Get enough rest

18. Eat right.

19 Get organized so everything has its place.

20. Listen to a tape while driving that can help improve your quality of life.

21. Write down thoughts and inspirations.

22. Every day, find time to be alone.

23. Having problems? Talk to God on the spot. Try to nip small problems in the bud. Don’t wait until it’s time to go to bed to try and pray.

24. Make friends with Godly people.

25. Keep a folder of favorite scriptures on hand.

26. Remember that the shortest bridge between despair and hope is often a good ‘Thank you Jesus .’

27. Laugh.

28. Laugh some more!

29. Take your work seriously, but not yourself at all.

30. Develop a forgiving attitude (most people are doing the best they can).

31. Be kind to unkind people (they probably need it the most).

32. Sit on your ego

33 Talk less; listen more.

34. Slow down.

35.. Remind yourself that you are not the general manager of the universe..

36 Every night before bed, think of one thing you’re grateful for that you’ve never been grateful for before. GOD HAS A WAYOF TURNING THINGS AROUND FOR YOU.

‘If God is for us, who can be against us?’ (Romans8:31)

Submitted by Doria2

Young Wisconsin Catholics Cheer Bishop Morlino for Welcoming Orthodox Priests

By Kathleen Gilbert

MADISON, Wisconsin, June 23, 2010 ( – Catholics in the diocese of Madison, Wisc. are hitting back at negative media coverage of their bishop after he welcomed priests with the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest, a group renowned for their traditionalist liturgy and fidelity to orthodox Catholic teaching. Supporters note that, contrary to the picture painted by dissenting voices in the media, Morlino’s focus on orthodoxy is increasingly popular with Catholic youth – even in the liberal stronghold of University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Madison Bishop Robert Morlino, one of the most outspoken advocates for the unborn among the U.S. Catholic hierarchy, has defended the priests against criticism that the move represented a “step backward” and that the priests’ approach is, in the words of one parishioner, “quite different than we have become accustomed to.” Morlino heard parishioners from St. Mary’s Parish in Platteville at an occasionally-heated meeting on Monday.

Despite media coverage focusing on dissenting voices, many were eager to voice support for their bishop – especially among pro-life Catholics.

Peggy Hamill, director of Pro-Life Wisconsin (PLW), indicated that Morlino’s fidelity to Catholic orthodoxy was of a piece with his reputation as “a man of integrity, and consistency.”

“Pro-life Wisconsin knows him to have a deep respect for the sacredness of human life which he expects his priests to reflect,” said Hamill. “Bishop Morlino’s selection of new priests for the diocese of Madison is simply consistent with his fostering appreciation for the sacred.”

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List of Richard McBrien’s favorite (liberal) bishops

And so we turn to that increasingly mawkish dissident Richard McBrien, inexplicably still on the faculty of Notre Dame.

Last week McBrien, perennial property of the National Catholic Fishwrap, whines that his sort of Catholic hasn’t been appointed as bishop in the USA for far too long.

McBrien says that the bishops appointed by Pope Benedict, and John Paul before him are “ciphers at best, hopeless reactionaries at worst”.

After an encomium of the late Archbishop Jadot, erstwhile Apostolic Delegate in the USA from 1973-1980, and in great part responsible for disaster in these parts, McBrien lists his favorite bishops, whom he “fondly and gratefully” remembers:

Let’s have a look.  You won’t be surprised at either his choice or his mawkish nostalgia.  He adds a caveat: perhaps from his “innocence or ignorance” he might have included a bishop who didn’t belong… in other words a bishop who was perhaps not liberal enough:

  • Leroy Matthieson, Amarillo, Texas, 1980-97;
  • Francis Hurley, archbishop of Anchorage, Alaska, 1976-2001;
  • John McCarthy, Austin, Texas, 1986-2001
  • Richard Cushing, cardinal-archbishop of Boston, 1944-70
  • Lawrence Shehan, cardinal-archbishop of Baltimore, 1961-74
  • William Borders, archbishop of Baltimore, 1974-89
  • Francis Mugavero, Brooklyn, 1968-90
  • Albert Meyer, cardinal-archbishop of Chicago, 1958-65
  • Joseph Bernardin, cardinal-archbishop of Chicago, 1982-96
  • William Hughes, Covington, Ky, 1979-95
  • Victor Balke, Crookston Minn., 1976-2007
  • Maurice Dingman, Des Moines, Iowa, 1968-86
  • John Dearden, cardinal-archbishop of Detroit, 1958-80
  • William McManus, Fort Wayne-South Bend, Ind., 1976-85
  • Donald Pelotte, S.S.S., Gallup, N.M., 1990-2008
  • Lawrence McNamara, Grand Island, Nebr., 1978-2004
  • Joseph Breitenbeck, Grand Rapids, Mich., 1969-89
  • Joseph Imesh, Joliet, Ill., 1979-2006
  • Michael Kenny, Juneau, Alaska, 1979-95
  • Thomas Kelly, O.P., archbishop of Louisville, 1982-2007
  • Cletus O’Donnell, Madison, Wis., 1967-92
  • Rembert Weakland, archbishop of Milwaukee, 1977-2002
  • Peter Gerety, archbishop of Newark, 1974-86
  • Raymond Lucker, New Ulm, Minn., 1975-2000
  • Terence Cooke, cardinal-archbishop of New York, 1968-83
  • John Cummins, Oakland, Calif., 1977-2003
  • Victor Reed, Oklahoma City, Okla., 1958-71
  • John McRaith, Owensboro, Ky., 1982-2009
  • Charles Buswell, Pueblo, Colo., 1959-79
  • F. Joseph Gossman, Raleigh, N.C., 1975-2006
  • Walter Sullivan, Richmond, Va., 1974-2003
  • Francis Quinn, Sacramento, Calif., 1979-93
  • Kenneth Untener, Saginaw, Mich., 1980-2004
  • John May, archbishop of St. Louis, 1980-92
  • John Roach, archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis, 1975-95
  • Patrick Flores, archbishop of San Antonio, Texas, 1979-2004
  • John R. Quinn, archbishop of San Francisco, 1977-95
  • Raymond Hunthausen, archbishop of Seattle Wash., 1975-91
  • Bernard Topel, Spokane, Wash., 1955-78
  • John Leibrecht, Springfield-Cape Girardeau, Mo., 1984-2008
  • Frank Harrison, Syracuse, NY, 1976-87
  • Bernard Flanagan, Worcester, Mass., 1959-83
  • James Malone, Youngstown, Ohio, 1968-95
  • Robert Joyce, Burlington, Vt., 1957-71
  • Paul Leibold, archbishop of Cincinnati, 1969-72
  • James Casey, archbishop of Denver, 1967-86
  • John Whealon, Hartford, Conn., 1969-91.
  • Ernest Primeau, Manchester, N.H., 1960-74
  • Carroll Dozier, Memphis, Tenn., 1971-82
  • Thomas Grady, Orlando, Fla., 1974-89
  • John Snyder, St. Augustine, Fla., 1979-2000
  • Thomas Murphy, archbishop of Seattle, 1991-97
  • William Friend, Shreveport, La., 1986-2006
  • Joseph Maguire, Springfield, Mass., 1977-91
  • John Nevins, Venice, Fla., 1984-2007.

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On the Feast of the John The Baptist: A Strange and Wonderful, Though Long Delayed Answer

Birth of St. John the Baptist

To understand the moment we must go back in time to approximately 1900 BC. The place is a hillside called Moriah where Jerusalem would later be built. Abraham has been commended there by God where he has been told to prepare to kill him in sacrifice. Upon arriving at the foot of Moriah the text says,

Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”  ”Yes, my son?” Abraham replied. ”The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb…? (Gen 22:6-8)

Do not miss the great foreshadowing here: A long promised son, about to die, carrying wood upon his shoulders ascending the very hillside where Jerusalem and Golgotha will one day be located. Yes this is a wondrous foreshadowing.

And then comes the great question to his Father: “But, Where is the Lamb?” Yes, indeed, where is the Lamb who will die so that I don’t have to? Where is the Lamb whose blood will save my life? Where is the Lamb?

Now you know the rest of that story. An angel stopped Abraham and then pointed to a ram, with it’s horns in the thicket. And you may be excused for saying, “Aha, God did provide the Lamb. End of story.” But truth be told, this ram, this lamb cannot really save Isaac. Because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins (Heb 10:4) Isaac’s death is merely postponed and then it is off to Sheol with him where he will lie and wait for the True Lamb who alone can give eternal life.

And so, that question got wafted up on to the breeze and echoed down through the Centuries that followed: “But, where is the Lamb…..where is the Lamb?”

And now we are standing by the banks of the Jordan River 19 Centuries later and John the Baptist sees a full grown man coming toward him and says a very strange thing: “Look! There is the Lamb of God!” (Jn 1:29) Yes, there is the  true Lamb who alone can take away our sins. John the Baptist supplies a strange and wonderful, though long delayed answer to a question Isaac asked 1,900 years before. Where is the Lamb?  THERE is the Lamb!

Happy birthday of John the Baptist.

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A companion to St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica

St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa is extraordinarily well suited to explaining the things of God, but it remains rather tough for many modern minds to understand.

This site attempts to explain the Summa in laymen’s terms.

According to the site: The Companion to the Summa is the most remarkable and successful attempt to put into modern English for a lay audience the essential arguments and insights of Aquinas’ greatest work, the Summa theologiae.

Fr. Farrell wrote almost sixty years ago, in the late 30’s and early 40’s, so we cannot fault him for the use of language that was acceptable at that time but might sound inappropriate today.

His colorful and imaginative paraphrase deserves to be taken off the shelf and reviewed by all serious seekers of theological truth.

In an age which looks upon the theology of the Catholic tradition as irrelevant to contemporary problems we leave it to your judgment to read and see if Aquinas, as mediated by the brilliant imagination of Fr. Walter Farrell, has a contribution to make.

Don’t miss the opportunity to download the entire work, for free.

Visit A Companion to the Summa, by Walter Farrell O.P.

Study the Summa, at

General McChrystal out, but Republicans may finally have their 2012 presidential candidate.

President Barack Obama accepted General Stanley McChrystal’s resignation today. General David Petraeus will head up the Afghanistan campaign, until the Taliban take over in August of next year.

On the bright side, the Republican party may at last have filled out their 2012 presidential slate.

Will we see McChrystal-Palin or Palin-McChrystal running in 2012?

If Afghanistan falls, so goes Obama, who is currently not doing very well in the current Gulf war, either … the Gulf of Mexico war against the oil spill … and BP.

So, it could happen!

Film at 11.

More on the McChrystal affair here

Seen on the web: The difference between people…

The difference between people is that there are sinners on the one hand and repentant sinners on the other.

Dr. Richard Geraghty, EWTN Catholic Q&A Philosophy Forum

The legend of Pope Joan

The legend of Pope Joan can be summarized this way:
In the middle ages, there was a “Pope Joan,” a woman who hid her gender and rose through the ranks of the Church, became a cardinal and was elected pope. No one knew she was a woman until, during a papal procession through the streets of Rome, she went into labor and gave birth to a child. She and the baby were killed on the spot by the mob, enraged at her imposture.
A lot of things are said about the alleged “Pope Joan.” Depending on who is telling the story, she was a courageous feminist, a clever opportunist, a brilliant scholar who couldn’t make it as a woman in a man’s world. She is said to have been a wise ruler and an astute theologian, though, oddly, no decree or theological teaching purporting to have come from her has made its way down to our day.

In any case, the fact is, there was no Pope Joan. She exists only as pure legend, but one that makes for a sexy story.

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“As far as we were concerned, it wasn’t sex ed, it was sex demonstration.” – Iowa parent on 16 year-old’s sex education class

“I do not understand why any adult with a classroom of children would show them sexual positions,” she told Fox News Radio. “I think that’s horribly inappropriate.”

As for the photographs, “I believe some of those photos were pornographic,” she said.

“Had we known this was going on, I would have sat in the classroom or I would have pulled him out,” Dostal said.

She took her concerns to the principal, who Dostal said was “mortified.” The principal apologized but several other parents decided to take the issue to the school superintendent.

“I understand it’s a state law that sex education be taught but it is also state mandated that parents be told that this is going to happen and we were not told.”

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LA Cardinal Tells a Grim Tale of Sex Abuse Complicity

By Kathleen Gilbert

LOS ANGELES, June 22, 2010 ( – In a videotaped deposition released last Tuesday, Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony admits he did not think it necessary to contact police after learning of the sex abuse perpetrated by a priest in his diocese against two boys. Instead, Mahony transferred the priest to other locations, where the abuse could potentially continue.

The archdiocese had tried but failed to keep private the deposition, which was taken as part of a lawsuit that resulted in a $2.2 million settlement.

The five-hour videotaped deposition, the first to be released to the public, shows Mahony explaining his conduct after former priest Michael Baker confessed to him in 1986 that he had molested two boys. Baker, who has been accused of abuse by at least 23 individuals, is now serving a 10-year jail sentence on charges of molestation.

When John Manly, an attorney representing one of Baker’s victims, asked if the cardinal agreed “that the first thing any priest should do … when you learn that a priest has molested a child is call the police,” Mahony answered, “not necessarily.” Later, he said he was unable to report the accusations to the police because the priest had not told him the names of the victims or their parents, and the suspected child abuse form requires one to fill out the name. He admitted, however, that he did not direct his staff to try to find the victims.

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Ten Reasons to Despise Planned Parenthood

10. A recent report reveals that Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s (PPFA) audits show the organization spent just $657.1 million between 2002 and 2008 from federal government grants and programs, but the abortion behemoth’s own annual reports show that it took in $2.3 billion from government grants and programs during the same time period.

9. PP’s repeated and consistent willingness to turn a blind eye to reports of statutory rape.

8. Consumer Reports ranked their condoms the worst, failing tests that measured strength and reliability (they burst when filled with air).

7. Several years ago, PPNYC put a public plea on their Web site—“Harry Potter: Prisoner of Hormones?”—lobbying J.K. Rowling to write sex education into the next novel in the bestselling series.

6. As the video below shows, PP provides medically inaccurate abortion counseling at a tax-funded clinics.

See the rest

The Stations of the Holy Eucharist

The purpose of the Stations of the Eucharist is to help the faithful deepen both their understanding and appreciation of the Source and Summit of our faith: The Most Holy Eucharist, especially during 2005, THE YEAR OF THE EUCHARIST, and, for all ages. Through the whole of salvation history, God, our Father has prepared His people for the Gift of His Beloved Son, and also for the Gift of His Real Presence in the Most Holy Eucharist.  Throughout the Old Testament, the Eucharist was prefigured.  And in the New Testament, these shadows give way to Reality.

Visit the site


“Heaven is God’s ideal, the repose of His intellect.  Let us add: it is the repose of His heart.  The heart goes further than the mind.  It has aspirations and impulses, unknown to genius, which go beyond all the bounds of inspiration and thought…  The transports that the divine vision will arouse in the elect will make their hearts superabound in the most unutterable joys; it will be a flood of delights and raptures, life in its inexhaustible richness and the very source of all good and all life.  It will be, as St Augustine goes on to say, like a gift from God of His own Heart, so that we may love and rejoice with all the energy of the love and joys of God Himself… The contemplation of God will not mean immobility but, above all, activity, an ever-ascending progression, where movement and repose will be bound together in ineffable harmony… They will go from glory to glory, from joy to joy…

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Earliest known icons of Apostles Peter and Paul found

The earliest known icons of the Apostles Peter and Paul have been discovered in a catacomb under a modern office building in Rome.

The images, which date from the second half of the 4th century, were discovered on the ceiling of a tomb that also includes the earliest known images of the apostles John and Andrew.

They were uncovered using a new laser technique that allowed restorers to burn off centuries of thick white calcium carbonate deposits without damaging the dark colors of the original paintings underneath.

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Correcting the Sinner is not “Being Judgmental.” It is an Essential Work of Charity.

In these times one of the most forgotten virtues and obligations we have is the duty to correct the sinner. It is listed among the Spiritual Works of Mercy. St. Thomas Aquinas lists it in the Summa as a work of Charity:  [F]raternal correction properly so called, is directed to the amendment of the sinner. Now to do away with anyone’s evil is the same as to procure his good: and to procure a person’s good is an act of charity, whereby we wish and do our friend well. (II, IIae, 33.1)

Now to be sure, there are some judgments that are forbidden us. For example we cannot assess that we are better or worse than someone else before God. Neither can we always understand the ultimate culpability or inner intentions of another person as though we were God. Scripture says regarding judgments such as these: Not as man sees does God see, because man sees the appearance but the LORD looks into the heart (1 Sam 16:7). Further we are instructed that we cannot make the judgment of condemnation. That is to say, we do not have the power or knowledge to condemn someone to Hell. God alone is judge in this sense. The same scriptures also caution us against being unnecessarily harsh or punitive. As we already read from Luke, Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven…. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you (Luke 6:36-38).  So in this text “to judge” means to condemn or to be unmerciful, to be unreasonably harsh.

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Why Be Catholic? 11: Peace

…only one religion in the entire history of mankind—Roman Catholicism—possesses both a verifiable public Revelation and an unimpeachable authority for interpreting it. Once he is convinced of these two foundations, everything else follows as day follows night. A convinced Catholic has no need to agonize over the truth or falsehood of each individual element of the Catholic creed, or each individual moral precept. Thus Catholics will “no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles” (Eph 4:14). Confident that truth is not first one thing and then another, the Catholic knows the profound peace of being firmly and unalterably anchored not only in Christ’s grace but also in His truth.

This peace is imparted even more deeply by the Catholic’s realization that the sheer sublimity of Catholic teaching and the incomparable means of holiness offered by the Church are such that nothing better can be found by any person who truly seeks perfection. The nobility and consistency of the Church’s teachings, the supreme blending of the spiritual and the material in her sacramental system which speaks so powerfully to the nature of man, the riches of the Catholic tradition in guiding souls, and the extraordinary spiritual power witnessed in the lives of her saints: These are but so many reminders that it is quite impossible to attain through any other means anything which so perfectly answers the highest aspirations of the human heart….

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Thanks to my parents and family … I know man and I know God. I know love, and I know wrath. I know justice, and I know peace … and I know that I have nothing to fear from any of them.

by Doug Lawrence

I grew up in the 50’s and 60’s, in a (fairly) conventional family consisting of dad, mom, two brothers and a sister.

Dad took the car to work each day. Mom stayed home and took care of the house and kids. No surprises there.

We all went to Catholic school … but that’s not the point. The point is how mom ran the household … and particularly … the way she personally maintained family standards.

Even though we rarely had any serious discussions, there was no doubt that we were unconditionally loved and cared for … mainly because that’s pretty much all that mom did … 24/7 and 365. Of course, dad’s job (and his personal commitment to the family) made possible that extraordinary level of “intensive care”.

The house was always spotless. Meals were prepared on time and with abundance. Our clothing, grooming, and personal behavior were always closely and very effectively monitored … sometimes through “mysterious” means. Family outings were modest affairs, but frequent. Holidays were indeed feasts, with Christmas and Easter being number one and number two (but not necessarily in that order). Sundays were reserved for Mass and for family.

That’s just the way things were. We never questioned why.

Nothing went unnoticed, and anything important to mom could never be considered (by us) as irrelevant or insignificant, since we knew with certainty that a fate worse than death awaited all those who might transgress.

The means of our execution was the dreaded “whipstrap”!

Reputed to be a family heirloom of indeterminate age, the whip strap had been fashioned from a stout piece of leather, roughly three inches wide and twenty-four inches long. The first part served as a handle. The last was cut into a classic “cat o’ nine tails” … and it was truly awesome to behold!

The “instrument” typically need not even be displayed, since the mere mention of it was usually sufficient to restore order. But when partial measures were unsuccessful … deploying the strap … and applying a stroke or two, usually did the trick.

Mom was in pretty good physical shape (probably from all that walking … since she didn’t drive … and there was no outrunning her. She was even known to leap fences (and reportedly, tall buildings) in s single bound. And should we have been fortunate enough to discover a hiding place that was (as yet) unknown or inaccessible to her, dad would always be home, by six.

There was no escape!

The carnage of the strap was immense … and the suffering impossible to imagine … at least for a moment or two … in our young minds. Yet we all survived … and thrived … mainly because we were able to develop a good, clear sense of what was right and what was wrong. We also learned that actions brought sure and certain consequences … and sometimes, those consequences could be unpleasant.

The “whipstrap” effectively symbolized all of that potential unpleasantness. In this, a vision of Hell itself could not have been any more effective.

Years later … studying the Old Testament of the Bible … I suddenly realized that all the carnage and strife recorded therein really wasn’t much different than what went on back home … albeit on a much grander scale.

God lovingly cared for his children. God had particular standards and preferences, and when the “kids” got out of hand, God did what was necessary … for their own good … to reign them in.

Evil, in the person of Satan, made the problems in the Bible much more intractable, and the consequences much more severe, but the “model” still works, since God remains the master of life and death, and he is most certainly able to transcend any and all human sufferings and failings … either in this world … or the next.

Back home, should there have ever been any doubt about the fairness of our punishment, a hug from mom or dad was typically all that was necessary to fix things. No harm. No foul. Life went on.

My Catholic faith informs me that a “hug” from the Almighty would undoubtedly have the same effect.

So, you see … thanks to my parents and my family … I know man and I know God. I know love, and I know wrath. I know justice, and I know peace … and I know that I have nothing to fear from any of them.

My mom and dad told me so and my God confirmed it … in his Word … and through his one, holy, apostolic and Catholic Church.

It doesn’t get much simpler than that!