Scary John the Baptist – UPDATED

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A favorite priest calls him "Scary John the Baptist", and there are my notes on what makes him scary, culled from one great homily: John’s scariness; he embodies faith at its most primitive; he seems unsophisticated and a little exotic. He is the wild man, of wild places; he is not civilized. There is in him no facade of civilization or society. He delivers a unfiltered message, one undistracted by the worldly things or the niceties. He disgusts the Sadducees and Pharisees who see … [Read more...]

“Why be singular when you can participate in heaven?”

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My latest column at The Catholic Answer is called "Our Professors, Who Art in Heaven" and touches on the question that comes up again and again, particularly with those concerned about idolatry: why do Catholics show such reverence for saints? The Communion of Saints must seem strange to outsiders who wonder why Catholics and Orthodox Christians bother taking side roads in their orisons when a prayer to Jesus seems like a faster, more direct route. As a religious sister from my childhood put … [Read more...]

O My 3 Patron Saints, Teach Me What You Know!

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Yes, that is patrons, as in multiple. Because I have three of them, this year. Plus all the others I'm not able to leave behind. I've been pulling saint patrons (or having friends pull them for me, or using internet generators like this one and this one) for probably a dozen years, and most years I start out getting my saint and wondering, "Whaaaat? Saint Who?" My nun friends all say "you don't pick the saint; the saint picks you", and I've tried to keep that in mind. Most years, I … [Read more...]

A Female Cardinal? Not a New Idea, Really

Saint Thecla Praying for the Plague-Stricken
Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (1696–1770)

It's always struck me as interesting that when Tiepolo painted Saint Thecla, here portrayed at prayer for plague victims, he imagined her in what appears to be an old-fashioned Cardinal's robe. Our Orthodox and Byzantine brothers and sisters call Thecla "the Protomartyr, Equal-to-the-Apostles". I've always thought of her as first in a long line of women -- from the earliest days of the church until today -- who were headstrong in their obedience. One of my favorite writers, David Gibson … [Read more...]

Lino Rulli: “Perfect people don’t inspire me…”

Lino press kit

Okay, I've been very upfront about it, so we already know that I am an idolator! But perhaps you didn't know how bad it has become. Take a look: Aye, that's not just a copy of Lino Rulli's new book, Saint: Why I Should be Canonized Right Away, but a medal, and a prayer card and, yes, an I-mean-business 7-day candle. Let's call it what it is: The Shrine of Saint Lino de Sirius-ly Imperfect, patron of "Catholic Guys" and Gals, Bookies, and People Who Expect Every Flight to End … [Read more...]

Maximilian Kolbe: Catholic Subversive!

Kolbe

That night, I asked the Mother of God what was to become of me, a Child of Faith. Then she came to me holding two crowns, one white, the other red. She asked me if I was willing to accept either of these crowns. The white one meant that I should persevere in purity, and the red that I should become a martyr. I said that I would accept them both. -- Saint Maximilian Mary Kolbe It is fitting that we today anticipate the Feast of the Assumption of Mary by remembering a saint whose devotion to … [Read more...]

Too much earthly dross? Here’s your Palate Cleanser

Brendan_Kelly meets JPII

Yeah, I'm not even going to excerpt it. Just do yourself a favor and read this. Austen Ruse did a series about three young Catholics who gave cheerful and heroic Christian witness during their short lives: Brendan Kelly, seen above, Audrey Stevenson and Margaret Leo. Each story is humbling; each one makes you grateful, and makes you want to...do better in your own life of faith. He rounds it out, here. Do yourself a favor, this weekend, read and share these remarkable stories. You'll … [Read more...]

Saint Sharbel Makhlouf, Pray for Us! – UPDATED

Saint Sharbel

Today is the feast day of the fascinating and excellent Saint Sharbel Makhlouf, who really needs to be better-known than he is, particularly in an age where Eastern Christians are being challenged and persecuted to rather vague notice. Charbel Makhlouf was born on 8th May, 1828, in the small village of Biqa-Kafra in the high mountains of Northern Lebanon. His parents were poor but religious, and their fifth child was attracted at an early age to prayer and solitude. In spite of the opposition … [Read more...]

A good day for this book: Voices of the Saints

voices of the saints

I happened to be talking to Julie Davis -- who is the primo go-to person when pondering any book, because I do believe she may have read them all! -- about what collections of "lives of the saints" we would recommend. I have a few that I like a lot, and they're all well-known award winners: Father Jim Martin's My Life with the Saints, Colleen Carroll Campbell's My Sisters, the Saints and Robert Ellsberg's All Saints. And I've always liked Lisa Hendey's collection for Catholic Moms. Julie … [Read more...]

Acedia and the Help of Saint Benedict

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So, you may have noticed that for the week, I have written nothing. At all. Anywhere. For whatever reason, I have most uncharacteristically been doing battle, all week, with the devilish little blue megrim that is acedia. Actually, "doing battle" sounds romantic and pro-active. It would be more accurate to say I have been whining and unable to work and whining about being unable to work, and wandering around the house ineffectually, and walking the park feeding ducks, and missing my dog, … [Read more...]


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