One of the best ideas I’ve heard all month.
Views of a new Catholic in an old world on the joy and inexhaustible meaning found in the Faith
It’s St. Crispin’s Day! Which means it’s time for my favorite speech penned by William Shakespeare. See, the Battle of Agincourt occurred on the Feast of Sts. Crispin and Crispinian, which back before I was Catholic I would only have known this day as October 25th. But I knew about the Battle of Agincourt because it is renowned as an almost miraculous victory of a small English army, a long way from home, over a vastly superior French one (on it’s home turf) on this day in the Year of Our Lord, 1415. [Read more...]
It’s St. Crispin’s Day. Before I was a Catholic, I wouldn’t have know this, or that there were two men being commemorated. So who are Crispin and Crispinian? Christian twin brothers, martyred in the year 285 or 286. Turning to the always open YIMCatholic Bookshelf, I found this legendary story on the two saints in Jesuit Fr. Francis Xavier Weninger’s Lives of the Saints. Here’s what he reports, [Read more...]
I was moved to share Fr. Louis’ (Thomas Merton’s monastic name) thoughts on faith with you when I saw this photograph on one of my friends Facebook pages, coupled with today’s Gospel reading. Perhaps you have seen it too. Won’t you join them in praying for the same? It will only take a few seconds. Here’s a suggestion from St. Faustina, [Read more...]
When Christmas loomed in our house though, my mom knew what I was interested in and what presents to get me: military history books. Ships, planes, tanks, armies, navies and air forces were her sure-fire ticket to success for Frank. In one of those books I learned about the Andrea Doria.
Now, though, I know better.
To me, though, the most interesting part of this war story is that while preparing for the battle, Admiral Dorea went down to his quarters and prayed in front of a reproduction of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. You may recall that image appeared on a certain Mexican peasants tilma in the year 1531. And,
Andrea Doria had kept a copy of the miraculous image of our Our Lady of Guadalupe given to him by King Philip II of Spain in his ship’s state room.
After this prayer break, the wind turned in favor of the Christian allies, giving them advantages, the much sought after weather guage, which was detrimental to the Ottoman forces. As a result, the undermanned, but heavily armed Christians, known as the Holy League, defeated the Ottoman forces in a naval battle for the very first time. Ever.
Big deal? G.K. Chesterton thought so, as he wrote a great poem about this event. Does prayer make a difference? Pope St. Pius V thought so, because prior to the battle, he asked all of Europe to pray the Rosary to ensure victory. According to the Wikipedia citation,
The Holy League credited the victory to the Virgin Mary, whose intercession with God they had implored for victory through the use of the Rosary.
Take a look at the image below.
What is the Blessed Virgin standing on? Looks like a darkened crescent moon, yes? For more on Our Lady, the significance of this image, Lepanto, Fatima, the Rosary, Islam and what it all may mean, click on this link from our good friends over at EWTN. And then check out Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s thoughts on this matter as well.
Rihanna showing too much skin? So says an Irish farmer. Around his neck of the woods he’s known as “the Christian.” Rihanna & Co. wanted to shoot a music video on his property, and he agreed until he saw how scantily clad she was. Here’s the scoop,
A Christian farmer in Northern Ireland who allowed pop star Rihanna to film a music video in his wheat field, asked her to leave when he saw she was half naked.
Farmer Alan Graham also encouraged the global star – infamous for her risqué performances – to seek after God and his Son Jesus Christ.
He has been praised for showing a strength of belief that was once commonplace, and for standing up against “the sexualistion of society and our celebrity culture”.
Mr Graham said he has no ill will towards the singer, but he asked the film crew to stop shooting the video when things got out of hand.
“I thought it was inappropriate. I requested them to stop and they did,” he explained.
“I had my conversation with Rihanna and I hope she understands where I’m coming from. We shook hands,” he said.
Mr Graham confessed that he had never heard of Rihanna when he was first contacted about using his field for a music video.
He said: “I didn’t know who was coming. If the name ‘Rihanna’ had been mentioned, well, no disrespect but it wouldn’t have meant anything.”
He also said: “Everybody needs to be acquainted with God and to consider his son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and his death and Resurrection.”
Read the rest here. Only 23 years old, Rihanna has had a meteoric rise to fame. There are only 45 million fans on her Facebook page. She has also been abused by her high-profile boyfriend a few years back.
Offer up a prayer for her, so that Mr. Graham’s chivalrous, and Christian, action helps her realize that she is a pawn of an industry (and culture) that seeks to profit off of turning her into an object. While you’re at it, say a prayer for Mr. Graham too,
He has since been inundated with hate mail from her some of her fans – but despite the fuss, the farmer insists he’s thinking about naming a grain in the superstar’s honour.
Graham tells Britain’s The Sun, “I’m taking it all in my stride, it’ll soon die down. To be honest, all this fuss has kept me back a bit. I’ve got straw to harvest that I haven’t been able to finish yet… Maybe I’ll name a type of grain after her.
“I’d love to have her back. She was lovely and gracious when I spoke to her. Just as long as I know what she’s wearing before the visit.“
Good on you, mate!
It’s the feast of St. Francis of Assisi today, in case you didn’t notice. True story: My grandfather was a Catholic and his name was Francis too, and he was named after the fellow you’ll be reading about below. As it happens, that is also how I came to be named, but the Catholic connotation of that Christian name lay dormant for some great length time. My grandfather died, see, when I was a wee tot and my memories of him bear no mark of his (and now my) religion at all.
Dipping into my favorite electronic library, I came across this little review of “Mrs. Oliphant’s” Life of St. Francis in an English journal called “The Saturday Review of Politics, Literature, Science, and Art.” Wow, they don’t write journals with titles like that anymore! Now, I have no idea who the author of the following thoughts is, but the introductory paragraphs of the essay below start with the chagrin St. Francis causes amongst our non-Catholic Christian brethren. Because there really is no one closer to St. Francis in devotion to Christ, than perhaps the Blessed Virgin herself.
Looking for a Catholic who took the gospels literally? You’ve found him. These thoughts were penned in the Year of Our Lord 1872, or about half a heartbeat ago in the cosmic scheme of things. Have a look,
The Franciscan Order met a crying want of the age which the older religious communities failed to satisfy. But there is nothing to show that Francis had any such conscious purpose in originating it. From first to last he was the child of impulse, but of impulses which were always benevolent, generous, and devout. “He thought little of himself, even of his own soul to be saved;” his one idea and master-passion was how best to work for God and to help men.
The first murmurs were already beginning to be heard of the great democratic movement which has since overspread Europe, and the feudal system, still surviving in full force, was more and more felt to be an oppressive burden on the poor. Nor was the only power that could then act as a counterpoise itself irreproachable. There was a very general outcry against the pride of a wealthy and dominant hierarchy accused of caring more for its own aggrandizement than for the souls of men. And that cry had taken shape in strange forms of heresy, old and new, which threatened social as well as ecclesiastical order, and which Church and State—so far as the two can then be distinguished—were banded together to trample out with ruthless and indiscriminate severity.
But the Church, if she was to retain her moral supremacy, required a machinery which could convince as well as crush; there was needed a popular ministry to satisfy the wants of popular devotion, and a popular theology to meet on its own ground the advances of popular heresy. And this was the double work which Francis, however unconsciously, was destined to accomplish, though he might have seemed from his antecedents about the unlikeliest man in Europe for the purpose.
In the little city of Assisi, which lies beneath the Eastern slope of the Umbrian Apennines, there lived a worthy merchant, Pietro Bernadone di Mericoni by name, to whom was born in 1182 a son named Francesco, and known among his companions by the common Italian sobriquet of Cecco. The boy grew up to be the pride of his parents, the spoiled child of fortune, the darling of society, the idol of a glittering circle of youthful friends, gayest among the gay, of singular personal beauty, fascinating manners, and brilliant but genial wit.
At the age of twenty he was struck down by a severe illness, and from that hour is dated his “conversion—from a life of carelessness, not apparently of vice—the first result of which was his joining, in obedience to a dream, the army of the “Gentle Count” “Walter of Brienne, in the strife of Guelph against Ghibelline. But a second dream turned him back at Spoleto, and for a time he resumed his old life, but not in the old spirit. “Why so grave, Francis?” said his wondering companions; “are you going to be married?” The question suggested the reply: “I am; and my bride is—Poverty.”
Those strange nuptials have been immortalized by the greatest of French orators and of Italian poets, and the pencil of Giotto has familiarized to our eyes what the glowing words of Bossuet and Dante have made musical to our ears. The events which followed in rapid succession must be briefly dismissed here. In obedience to another vision Francis undertook to rebuild the little church of St. Damiano, outside the walls of Assisi, and incurred the fierce anger of his father, who had already been sorely troubled by his eccentricities, by selling some of his bales of cloth for the purpose. He was seized as a lunatic, and imprisoned for several months in his own home.
At length, after signing a renunciation of his patrimony, and stripping off his costly garments, he went forth, homeless and friendless, like the patriarch of old, forgetting his own people and his father’s house, and not knowing whither he went. But he now remembered an incident which had occurred some time previously, and had deeply impressed him. He had met a leper near Assisi, and, conquering his natural disgust, had sprung from his horse and embraced him. Those who know the peculiar care bestowed by the Church of that age on these unhappy outcasts, whom Christ, according to the Vulgate reading of Isaiah’s prophecy, had made types of Himself, will not wonder at the sequel. The seeming leper vanished, to appear again to Francis in a dream; for it was indeed none other than the Divine Sufferer of whom the prophet spoke.
To the lepers’ hospital at Assisi accordingly Francis now betook himself, and thence he came forth to supplicate alms to rebuild the church of St. Damiano, and another church outside the city formerly dedicated to St. Peter, but now restored under the name of La Portiuncola, or Our Lady of the Angels, and which is still the central home of the Franciscan Order.
The time for establishing that Order had now come. We must pass over the touching story of the conversion of his two first companions, Bernardo di Quintavalle and Pietro di Catania, who settled in a little hut on the plains of Assisi to form the first nucleus of the new community. In a few weeks the numbers had increased to twelve, and already Francis heard in spirit “the tread of multitudes”—French, Spaniards, English, Germans—thronging to join them. He traced out a cross on the ground stretching to the four points of the compass, and despatched his little band in four companies on their mission of mercy to the bodies and souls of men.
The Order was now formed, but it had no legalized existence, and the members were simple laymen. Francis, therefore, who was no “nonconformist,” but a devoted son of the Church, resolved in Izio to repair to Rome, and ask for the sanction of the Pope. Innocent III., whom he and his companions found pacing at sunset along the stately terraces of the Lateran, looked with amazement on these strange visitors, in their rough shepherd’s dress, and remanded them till the morning.
That night, we are told, he dreamt, like the Syrian King of old, of a palm-tree which rose beneath his feet, and its branches stretched over the earth, and the weary and world-worn from every nation came to repose beneath its shade. And again he dreamed that the great Lateran Church was falling to the ground, and was propped up by the poor beggar in big brown shepherd’s dress who had stood before him the previous evening. He hesitated no longer, and, in spite of the remonstrances of his cardinals, dismissed his visitors with his blessing and a solemn, though as yet unwritten, approbation of their stern rule of poverty.
That went something like this,
The return of Francis to Assisi was like a triumphal procession. Bells were rung and litanies chanted, and crowds came forth to meet him, and the church of the Portiuncola was at once formally made over to him. The conversion of St. Clare soon followed, and the Church of St. Damiano was assigned to the female community of Poor Clares, the “Second Order” of Franciscans, instituted under her rule.
And now Francis, who but two or three years before had been hooted as a madman through the streets of his native city, was preaching in the cathedral, though only a deacon, to enraptured crowds, who hung upon his every word. We must pass rapidly over the first General Chapter of the Order, the second journey of Francis to Rome to obtain a fuller confirmation of the rule from Honorius HL, and his meeting there with St. Dominic, when the founders of the rival Orders vowed before the altar an eternal friendship, to note his first acquaintance with Cardinal Ugolino, afterwards Pope Gregory IX., who remained ever afterwards the warm friend and patron of Francis and his community.
St. Francis, pray for us.
So there I was, just reading the morning paper after breakfast while sipping a cup of coffee when my daughter and my youngest son came tumbling down the stairs to share with me some miraculous news. My daughter’s report went something like this:
“Dad, the most amazing thing happened! I was reading the Bible in my room (extends her right hand clutching the Bible above), and Mom popped into my room with a messenger bag(?) from a trip we took like 3 years ago and guess what we found inside?”
What Sweet Pea?
“My Pokemon Sapphire game!” Bubbling over with excitement and extends her left hand showing me the precious game chip.
So you think that reading the Bible this morning and this find were related?
“Well, yeah!” she says in the manner that I usually hear the expression “duh” in instead of “yeah.” Does that make sense, dear reader? Anyway,
Well hey darlin’, that’s neat! What book and chapter were you reading?
Really? Wow…a miracle it is then! See? Like I’ve always said, reading the Bible is a very good thing. You know, I was just telling your little brother about what St. James writes about the trouble our tongues can get us into too. Keep reading darlin’!
And then I put away the paper and got ready to witness another miracle at Mass, where I thanked God for these minor miracles too.
|The Little Flower lying on her bed of thorns|
It’s hard to believe that a year has gone by, but it’s the Little Flower’s Feast Day again. This time last year, I shared a post in which Thérèse was likened to, and bettered, both Confucius and Lao Tzu. And now, as then, I turn to thoughts on her penned by my friend John C.H. Wu. [Read more...]
Remember me and my pal Anu Garg? We went around the block a few times. Well unlike all the other times I’ve posted about him and his A.Word.A.Day website, this time my hat is off to him. Maybe caught wind of today’s readings.
Whatever the reason, in a string unmatched in my memory every single one of the words featured on his list this week had a trademark Thought of the Day that could be appreciated by believers as well as atheists. Amazing grace!
Maybe Anu is starting to come around? I don’t know. He’s gone on record as an atheist (I believe), and as being skeptical about religion. I think it’s safe to say he’s an agnostic. But maybe he’s a seeker in disguise? Weren’t /aren’t we all?
His theme for this week has been eponyms and you can check them all out here. But I’ll share their accompanying Thought of the Day quotes from his current selections here.
Monday: This one’s a home run. If God put one person on this earth (besides Christ Himself) who can convert the skeptics of the world, this is the fellow. My buddy Blaise!
We are usually convinced more easily by reasons we have found ourselves than by those which have occurred to others. -Blaise Pascal, philosopher and mathematician (1623-1662)
You got that right, Anu. Thanks for noticing!
Tuesday: This one’s a double, if not a triple. I don’t know what Galbraith’s religious persuasions were. I know many dub him as a Liberal economist, but I appreciate the great (and prophetic) book he wrote titled The Great Crash. Reading it as a young stock broker prepared me for the storm we have lived through recently. They say history doesn’t repeat itself, but sometimes it rhymes. Qoheleth knows.
Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof. -John Kenneth Galbraith, economist (1908-2006)
Ain’t that the truth?!
Wednesday: Another triple, but with fewer words. I don’t know John Ruskin from John D. Rockefeller, but truer words were never written than these,
When a man is wrapped up in himself he makes a pretty small package. -John Ruskin, author, art critic, and social reformer (1819-1900)
Thursday: Probably a single, but keep in mind that Anu is 4 for 4 so far in his appearences at the plate. We have a genuine streak going on here with this quote. I think he knocked in an RBI with this one too. My buddy Qoheleth agrees.
Time has a wonderful way of weeding out the trivial. -Richard Ben Sapir, novelist (1936-1987)
Friday: Woke up this morning, and what did I see? This kernel of wisdom from a good (and holy) Pharisee! Short, sweet, but a walk-off grand slam for the win (FTW!).
Be the master of your will and the slave of your conscience. -Hasidic saying
Anu? How’d these good seeds get mixed in with the weeds? A minor miracle perhaps? I’m starting to see our relationship with a clearer eye, and in a whole ‘nother light. See you next week mon ami, and I’ll be praying for you and your readers brother.
This calls for a song! Deacon Scott Dodge and I are on the same wavelength,