Because the Saints Give the Best Advice

I may be a new Catholic (relatively speaking, RCIA Class of 2008) but I’ve been around the block a few times. I like to think that I know the difference between noise and signal. I’ve mentioned before why I’m not a disciple of this priest, or that priest, but of Christ.

Remember the counsel of the Holy Spirit through St. Paul?

Brothers, I could not talk to you as spiritual people, but as fleshly people, as infants in Christ. I fed you milk, not solid food, because you were unable to take it. Indeed, you are still not able, even now, for you are still of the flesh. While there is jealousy and rivalry among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving in an ordinary human way? Whenever someone says, “I belong to Paul,” and another, “I belong to Apollos,” are you not merely human? What is Apollos, after all, and what is Paul? Ministers through whom you became believers, just as the Lord assigned each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God caused the growth.

“But God caused the growth.”

I’m definitely not the follower of laymen like Michael Voris. Why? You mean besides not having enough time in a day for following his rants on video? Because he quite simply has as much authority as I do regarding teaching the Faith. In other words, none. He doesn’t speak for the bishops of the Catholic Church. And even if he means well, like I do, his “Vortex” is often times just that. I try not to go that route though, though I’m not always successful.

Here is an example of what I mean. Exhibit A of “Noise.”

If you were able to make it past 15 seconds before you hit the stop button, my hat is off to you. And if you made it through the next 20 seconds of product placement, you are a better person than I am. If you made it another minute without hearing St. Ignatius of Antioch whisper, “Therefore it is fitting that you live in harmony with the will of the bishop,” then perhaps you would like to spend some time (but not money) getting acquainted with his letters.

St. Ignatius of Antioch

Because this isn’t my idea, but the instruction of St. Ignatius of Antioch,

Beware therefore of such men; and this will be possible for you, if you are not puffed up, and are inseparable from God, from Jesus Christ, and from the bishop, and the ordinances of the Apostles. He who is within the sanctuary is pure, but he who is without the sanctuary is not pure; that is to say whoever does anything apart from the bishop and the presbytery and the deacons is not pure in his conscience.

St. Philip Neri also had some great advice for all of us in regards to becoming fully human as well as on how to spend our time learning about the Faith,

It is very useful for those who minister the Word of God, or give themselves up to prayer, to read the works of authors whose names begin with S., such as Saint Augustine, Saint Bernard, etc.

You can find authors like that (free of charge) in your Bible, and on the YIMCatholic Bookshelf. Your “signal to noise” filtering ability will improve markedly after your exposure to them.

St. Philip Neri

For Your Lenten Friday Night at the Movies VI

Does anyone remember my friend St. Joseph of Cupertino? Well, I wrote a post about him once and tonight’s movie is all about him. It is called The Reluctant Saint and stars Maximilian Schell as St. Joseph.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve about had my fill of prima donnas lately. If you are like me, this film will hit the sweet spot. I like to think of St. Joseph of Cupertino as “the little saint who could.” No one thought he would amount to anything. Not his mom, not his priest/uncle, and most assuredly not his brothers when he entered the monastery.

But there was something about Joseph that everyone missed.

Everyone missed it except his bishop, and of course, God. Ricardo Montalban plays the part of a cleric who doubts him the most of all. His character goes so far as to conduct the Rite of Exorcism over poor, obedient, Joseph.

I don’t know what became of Montalban’s character, but St. Joseph of Cupertino, who called himself “God’s jackass”, is in heaven now. I hope to join him someday.

Have a look at the trailer and then dial up this movie from Netflix or watch the whole film on your computer via Gloria.tvBut please watch it…you’ll be glad you did!

Because My Boys Needed to Know About Hildegard of Bingen

I received a note the other day in my e-mail inbox informing me of a movie that would soon be released on DVD. I noted the title of the film and realized that it was still playing in one of the theaters in our town.The movie I’m referring to is Visions: From the Life of Hildegard of Bingen.

Now, my plan was to take my wife with me to this film, but she and my daughter were engaged in another endeavor. [Read more...]

Because Mammon Is Going To Be Angry

Gordon Gekko, Disciple of Mammon

OK. Let’s say (just for fun) that we’ve tossed Christ and His Church into the dustbin of history. Too many rules and regulations, see? Too much guilt and that unpalatable need to be responsible, etc.

We’re now “all-in” on worshiping the god named Mammon. We love Mammon and will always do his bidding willingly.

Would it come as a surprise to you to learn that we are about as faithful to our new god as we were to our former God (with the capital “G”)?

Would you be shocked to learn that we lie to Mammon? That we disrespect Mammon? Or that we try to fool Mammon the way we used to try and fool the God of Mercy? We even use current taxpayer money to support an organization that kills future taxpayers (who happen to also be creators of future Mammon baksheesh), all the while building social programs that can’t be funded without them. Genius you say?

I’ll be sticking with my old religion (thanks, but see title of this blog) because frankly, Mammon is going to be pissed!

Mammon the Merciless

Love, the Blues, & Forgiveness (Music for Mondays)

We are called to love one another. A cursory look at the New Testament will show this time after time. But guess what? Love hurts too, and we all know it. Betrayal, denial, loss. These are the pathogens  of our brokenness.

The songs in today’s MfM set list move through the stages of Love that we all encounter. But we’ll be skipping the puppy love sweetness and head straight to the hard stuff.

Because love and forgiveness go together like peas and carrots, wrapped up in the to-go box called the blues.

Soft Cell, Tainted Love/Where Did Our Love Go. Whatever happened to these guys? Search me. But this hit was epic among the denizens of One Hit Wonderland. Their original song melding into the hit by the Supremes struck cords with many regarding a truth about the “double-edged” nature of love.

The Smithereens, Blues Before and After. OK…you’ve never felt like this after being run through by Love, the double-edged sword? Come on now, be truthful with yourself. Confession time: I love this band, the groove of this song, and this is just a WAY COOL video too. It’s silent for the first few seconds and then…!!!

Red Hot Chili Peppers, Scar Tissue. What happens when the double-edged sword of love wounds us? Scar tissue develops as part of the healing process.

David Bowie, Changes. Do you know what happens if scar tissue is allowed to form naturally, with no further intervention? Rigidity, stiffness, inflexibility of the underlying intersitial tissues. I know a thing or two about this from experience. To regain suppleness, deep massaging of the affected area is needed. Changes…

Wham!, Freedom. We move on to the forgiveness portion of our program now. Betcha didn’t see this one coming. Listen to the words though and I think you’ll see that it fits into this particular set nicely.

The Corrs Forgiven, Not Forgotten. And you thought the Jackson 5 were talented? Get a load of the Corrs. They’re from Ireland, and make a point with this tune that we need to remember. Wounded? Yep. Got scars? Yep. Forgiven? Absolutely. Forgotten? Never!

Don Henley, The Heart of the Matter I have no idea if Don Henley is a Christian or a Catholic. But he isn’t wrong when he notes that forgiveness is the heart of the matter. For as Our Lord said after he taught us how to pray, “But if you will not forgive men, neither will your Father forgive you your offences.(Matt 6:15).”

Pearl Jam, Just Breathe. Because, when all is said and done, “did I say I need you?” Eddie Vetter and the gang at Pearl Jam remind us here…

Have a good day folks. See you here next week

Because Martin Luther Threw This Out of the Bible?!

I’ve written a little bit in the past about how it was that I came to be a Catholic. Everyone knows Catholics are born and not made, right? That’s what I used to think too.

But when I started looking into the matter, I skipped the opinions of the literati and of “those who know best” and just started reading the books of the Bible that had been removed by Martin Luther and his brethren during the Protestant Reformation.

Amazingly prophetic stuff like this for instance,

Wisdom 2: 1a, 12-22

The wicked said among themselves,
thinking not aright:
“Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us;
he sets himself against our doings,
Reproaches us for transgressions of the law
and charges us with violations of our training.
He professes to have knowledge of God
and styles himself a child of the LORD.
To us he is the censure of our thoughts;
merely to see him is a hardship for us,
Because his life is not like that of others,
and different are his ways.
He judges us debased;
he holds aloof from our paths as from things impure.
He calls blest the destiny of the just
and boasts that God is his Father.
Let us see whether his words be true;
let us find out what will happen to him.
For if the just one be the son of God, he will defend him
and deliver him from the hand of his foes.
With revilement and torture let us put him to the test
that we may have proof of his gentleness
and try his patience.
Let us condemn him to a shameful death;
for according to his own words, God will take care of him.”
These were their thoughts, but they erred;
for their wickedness blinded them,
and they knew not the hidden counsels of God;
neither did they count on a recompense of holiness
nor discern the innocent souls’ reward.

****

Why was this removed from my Bible? Search me. Because that prophecy has been fulfilled. As someone who is much smarter than me said recently, “the Bible is not a book, it’s a Library. And this is key to interpreting Scripture.”

And as I’ve said before, unless you have the complete, unabridged copy of the Bible, your engine is missing a few parts. And I don’t care how smart one guy thinks he is, you don’t mess with the Word!

For Your Lenten Friday Night at the Movies V

It is getting towards the end of the Season of Lent. I don’t know about you, but this time around Lent seems to be flying by at warp speed. Before you know it, we will be celebrating the Resurrection. Saints be praised!

Did you guys enjoy last week’s selection? I love pulling out the older black and white movies, listening to my kids groan for the first thirty seconds only to see them get wrapped up in the story in rapt silence. That’s what good classic movies do to you.

And I hope that is how tonight’s selection pans out for us too. It has a catchy title: I Confess An Alfred Hitchcock thriller starring Montgomery Clift as a Catholic priest? Check! Karl Malden as the rational, systematic detective trying to crack a murder case? Check! Anne Baxter as the priests former (pre-seminary!) love interest to muddy the waters? Check! And a murder where a witness sees someone leaving the scene of the crime wearing a cassock? Oh My!

Have a look at what’s in store for us tonight,

YouTube Preview Image

Remember, this is Hollywood, so don’t expect “Canon Law correct” application of the sanctity of the confessional. Just have a good time, OK? Head to your local video source folks and get the popcorn a poppin’!

Because the Proof of Ayn Rand’s Pudding, Is In the Eating

About a month ago, I wrote a wee post around a television interview Mike Wallace did with Ayn Rand back in 1959. I just as easily could have used an interview she did later on. Same story, same selfish pseudo-philosophy.

You see, being selfish is easy and being a Christian is hard. And being really, and truly Christian is almost never even attempted. [Read more...]

Because War is S.O.P. on Planet Earth

The sword shall begin with his cities and end by consuming his solitudes. Because they refused to repent, their own counsels shall devour them. (Hosea 11:6)

You may not have noticed that people are being killed in a war in a little country called the Ivory Coast. You noticed the insurrection in Egypt, though. And you noticed the cruise missiles raining down on Libya, because you started paying $4.00 a gallon for gas pretty quickly thereafter.

Golly, you may be thinking, when will it ever get peaceful again?

Again!? Are you nuts? It’s never been peaceful here on planet Earth. Not since “the Fall,” anyway. S.O.P. in the title above means “Standard Operating Procedure.” Don’t believe me? Then just step into my time machine and I’ll show you.

That’s right. I have a time machine and nobody else can use it! Not Mark Shea especially!

That’s not true though because the good folks over at Conflict History want lots of people to use it too. They have a beta site up and running for their Conflict History Timeline. The subtitle? “Browse the Timeline of War and Conflict Across the Globe.” Even Mark can use it…but I found it first!

It may not be pretty, but this timeline is pretty awesome. This we’ll get you started in the 1982-2011 time period. As you can see, the world is on fire!  That’s been the case pretty much since Cain killed Abel.

Almighty God, from whom all thoughts of truth and peace proceed, kindle in the hearts of all men the true love of peace, and guide with Your pure and peaceable wisdom those who make decisions for the nations of the earth; that in tranquility Your kingdom may go forward, till the earth be filled with the knowledge of Your love; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

By Admiration (A Few Words for Wednesday)

You’ve probably never heard of Kenelm Henry Digby. You’ll be hearing more about him from me though. I’m currently reading a biography about him.

A while back, I added a slew of his works to the YIMCatholic Bookshelf. Back on All Souls Day, I shared one of his poems with you. Today I’d like you to read a few of Digby’s lines of verse about Art. I promise a post about Digby himself in the future (a fascinating conversion story!).

But for now, just these few lines from his poem Ouranogaia: Heaven on Earth, from Canto VI, and a bonus video featuring the work of an amazing child prodigy named Akiane Kramarik.

By Admiration (works of Art, Painting, And Music)

Great Nature’s works admired so, we said,
To fields Elysian men have often led.
But works of human art no less provide
A field for admiration truly wide;
Whether they would exactly imitate
Sweet Nature’s present and imperfect state;
Or striving to combine in one all parts
Of beauty, so as to inflame our hearts
By picturing an artificial whole,
Made up of parts, and no part copied sole.
While, on whatever pathway they would wend,
They all must seek this one essential end—
Of making the unseen to mind appear,
Without which nought that’s seen is ever dear.
For so all works design’d of human art
That with success would touch and move the heart
Must still by means that are well known to all,
From things unseen remove the present pall,
That the invisible may clearly be
Brought thus before the mind; that ever we
May see its sheen, and feel its cheering glow;
For nought else moves the heart on earth below.
‘Tis then that art will yield for mankind here
A foretaste of the bliss that will appear
In those fair, happy regions, where it may
Be not intended all to pass away.

The bliss of those who Nature will admire,
Descends no less on those who never tire
Observing Nature in men’s works of art,
Of which a view they equally impart;
So that we argue justly when we hold
That human works can Heav’n itself unfold.

In song, the thought and sentiment come first;
These reign and govern, and still will keep the heights;
In painting, howe’er purely artists thirst.
The workman’s hand will chiefly claim its
rights—
Yes, even when it seeks the pure ideal,
And shuns an imitation of the real.

But if with skill you weigh the mystic bond,
Connecting hands with the presiding soul,
Your thoughts disparaging will then prove fond,
If raising not more wonder at the whole;
Or else, unless the hand rebels, and then
You well may scorn Art’s democratic men,

Who seek but profit with much daily toil,
By eccentricity, or what is worse,
By agency the human mind to soil
And yield a bitter, and a cleaving curse.
Whereas it is Art’s office to supply
A path towards Eden to attract the eye,

Supporting and exalting human life,
As even Plato show’d in days of old,
Suggesting that its noble, endless strife
Should be in making age and youth behold
The inner nature of the good and fair,
To fan their temples with Elysian air.

You can read the rest of Digby’s canto here. And now, the evolution of the artistry of Akiane,


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