Because of Opinion Polls (Not!)

—Feast of St. Teresa of Avila  

The latest research numbers are out showing (once again) that the average Catholic in the pews in the United States, is morally sick, spiritually lame, and theologically lazy. How in the hell did I wind up surrounded by such a motley crew? How did I slip into this program? Why would I join this outfit?!

Well, I was called is all I can figure.

For forty years they wearied me, that generation. I said: their hearts are wandering, they do not know my paths. I swore in my anger: they will never enter my place of rest—(Psalm 95).

Swearing and anger? Uh-oh. And that’s God talking, through David. And no, this scripture reference wasn’t initially directed at the Vatican II generation, but does it kind of fit? Or doesn’t it fit every generation?

Dateline Palestine, the years 31—33 A.D. Our Lord Jesus Christ,

Who answering said to them: An evil and adulterous generation seeketh a sign: and a sign shall not be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet. (Matthew 12:39)

and again later,

A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign: and a sign shall not be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet. And he left them, and went away.(Matthew 16:4)

Why would I join this Church when seemingly the vast majority of the crew doesn’t believe in Her teachings? Because here’s a news flash for you: I’m not worried about the other crew members.

I’m not concerned with what they say or what they do. I definitely don’t care one iota for what the latest research out of Georgetown University (the institution that willingly covered up all evidence of their Catholicity when President Obama gave a speech there) has to say about Catholicism at all. I’m sure they mean well, but Mark Twain said everything I need to know about these kind of studies.

“They” say you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. Well, “they” shoot horses don’t they? How could I join such a Church? Because when it comes to the Roman Catholic Church, the sum is definitely greater than the parts. Squeaky wheels make a lot of noise, in the U.S. and elsewhere,  but seemingly they don’t come to Confession to get oiled.

I didn’t convert to Catholicism because of my wife, or my next door neighbor, my best buddy, or because it is the most popular place to be seen on a Sunday in town. I became a Catholic because Truth hit me like a bolt out of the blue and knocked me on my kiester, much as Webster reminded me in a post he wrote recently.

Hey Frank, how do you know it was Truth? Because I had been running away from Truth pretty much my whole life, at least since I was old enough to leave home. Maybe you believe in your own infallibility. Maybe you believe the tall-tales you tell everyone about yourself. Maybe you believe you don’t need to go to Confession because you’re sinless. Maybe you don’t believe Christ is present in the Eucharist at all, because you are all grown up. Maybe that’s why you believe it is okay to abort babies too, and…

Frankly, I don’t care what you believe. I don’t care how unpopular, or popular, the Church is. And in case you haven’t noticed, the Church doesn’t care if you don’t like the Truth either.

I take that back—the Church does care! She cares so much that she won’t change the message just to make it more palatable to you. She cares so much that she is not going to sugar-coat the Truth for you. She cares so much that She leaves the evidence all over the place: here, and here, and here, and here, and in the Communion of the Saints. But She won’t be taking account of tracking polls, and if She starts, I am out of here (unless called for by a Papal Encyclical)!

Webster’s most recent post asked our readers to pose questions and answers to the riddle of Catholicism. Perhaps one of the biggest misconceptions is that the laity doesn’t have to lift a finger in order to be saved. Maybe a lot of those in the pews think that this is their priests responsibility and not there own. My buddy John Wu hit this nail right on the head when he wrote,

the average Christian has no idea of the three ways, the purgative, the illuminative, and the unitive. The spiritual education of the Christian is sadly neglected.

What did St. Paul have to say about this?

So then, my beloved, obedient as you have always been, not only when I am present but all the more now when I am absent, work out your salvation with fear and trembling. For God is the one who, for his good purpose, works in you both to desire and to work. Do everything without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine like lights in the world, as you hold on to the word of life, so that my boast for the day of Christ may be that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.—(Philippians 2:12-16)

Riddle me this: what other institution on the planet, either in the past, present, or future ever was formed for the sole purpose of saving souls? How many institutions give you so many avenues to salvation via the Sacraments, because Christ knows that you need them all? And though She won’t sugar-coat the Truth for you, She still forgives you like the most loving and merciful of mothers? Completely forgives you, in such a way that not only does it transform you, but you want to willingly change, because you know you need to. You know that you want to be a son or daughter of God, and that you need to change in order to measure up to this standard.

Reading surveys like these are as meaningful to me as the best places to retire surveys, or the most driver friendly states surveys. I’m not retiring anywhere, or moving anywhere based on these silly reasons anytime soon. And if I do have to move, I likely won’t be doing so because some survey tells me this place is heaven or that place is hell. That assumes some measure of control of my environment, a measure of control that I know I do not have.

Today is the feast day of St. Teresa of Avila, known around these parts as “Big Terry.” She knew about horses too, because her horse threw her as she was crossing a river once. Soaked to the skin she looked up to heaven and said, “If this is how you treat your friends, no wonder you have so few of them!”

Evidently, she was told to get back on her horse and ride. Maybe we should do that too.

Ave Maris Stella, A Poem and a Prayer

The poem below was written by a Scot by the name of John Leyden (1775 – 1811). From what I could find, Leyden was a medical doctor by trade and a Christian. He was even a minister, and according to Wikipedia,

Though he completed his divinity course, and in 1798 was licensed to preach from the presbytery of St Andrews, it soon became clear that the pulpit was not his vocation.

But he evidently had a soft spot in his heart for Our Lady as attested to by the following apologetic words of his publisher in the introduction to these verses,


Though valuing highly the principles of the Protestant faith, we cannot withhold our approval of the many avenues of thought opened up by the Catholic creed, which afford material for beautiful poetry. These stanzes with exception of a few lines are executed in Leyden’s best manner.Many avenues of thought indeed! And material for beautiful poetry? Well, Dr. Leyden was inspired is all that I can figure.  The spray in his face and the wind at his back, set his inner Catholic yearning to breathe free, aboard the good ship ironically named the St. Anthony.  Take a look at what flowed forth from his pen,

Portuguese Hymn

To The Virgin Mary, “The Star of the Sea.”
Written At Sea, On Board The Ship Santo Antonio.Star of the wide and pathless sea,

Who lovest on mariners to shine,

These votive garments wet, to thee,

We hang within thy holy shrine.
When o’er us flash’d the surging brine,
Amid the waving waters tost,
We call’d no other name but thine,
And hoped when other hope was lost.
Ave Maris Stella!
Star of the vast and howling main!
When dark and lone is all the sky,
And mountain-waves o’er ocean’s plain
Erect their stormy heads on high;
When virgins for their true-loves sigh
They raise their weeping eyes to thee;—
The Star of ocean heeds their cry,
And saves the foundering bark at sea.
Ave Maris Stella!
Star of the dark and stormy sea!
When wrecking tempests round us rave,
Thy gentle virgin-form we see
Bright rising o’er the hoary wave;
The howling storms that seem’d to crave
Their victims, sink in music sweet;
The surging seas recede to pave
The path beneath thy glistening feet.
Ave Maris Stella!
Star of the desert waters wild,
Who pitying hears’t the seaman’s cry!
The God of mercy as a child
On that chaste bosom loves to lie;
While soft the chorus of the sky
Their hymns of tender mercy sing,
And angel voices name on high
The mother of the heavenly king.
Ave Maris Stella!
Star of the deep! at that blest name
The waves sleep silent round the keel,
The tempests wild their fury tame,
That made the deep’s foundations reel;
The soft celestial accents steal
So soothing through the realms of woe,
The newly-damn’d a respite feel
From torture in the depths below.
Ave Maris Stella!

Star of the mild and placid seas!

Whom rain-bow rays of mercy crown,
Whose name thy faithful Portuguese,
O’er all that to the depths go down,
With hymns of grateful transport own,
When clouds obscure all other light,
And heaven assumes an awful frown,
The Star of ocean glitters bright.
Ave Maris Stella!
Star of the deep! when angel lyres
To hymn thy holy name assay,
In vain a mortal harp aspires
To mingle in the mighty lay;
Mother of God! one living ray
Of hope our grateful bosoms fires—
When storms and tempests pass away,
To join the bright immortal choirs.
Ave Maris Stella!

And what, pray tell, is this Ave Maris Stella? A beautiful prayer, that’s what.  Again, I’m indebted to the anonymous authors of Wikipedia for the following citation:

“Ave Maris Stella (Latin, “Hail Star of the Sea”) is a plainsong Vespers hymn to the Virgin Mary. It is of uncertain origin and can be dated back at least as far as the eighth century. It was especially popular in the Middle Ages and has been used by many composers as the basis of other compositions. The creation of the original hymn has been attributed to several people, including Saint Venantius Fortunatus.

The melody is found in the Irish plainsong “Gabhaim Molta Bríde”, a piece in praise of St. Bridget. The popular modern hymn Hail Queen of Heaven, the Ocean Star, is loosely based on this plainsong original. It finds particular prominence in the “Way of Consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary” by Saint Louis de Montfort.”

It is certainly a beautiful way to ask Our Lady to pray for us. Won’t you pray this with me now?

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Question: What are the Most Common Misconceptions about Catholicism?

I have not been a very faithful contributor to this blog in recent months. I have blown hot and cold. The fact is, I’ve had other writing assignments, including a big book project I just finished. Now I am writing something else, and I need your help!

This Saturday, I am participating in an interfaith symposium at a nearby college, and I have been asked to wave the Catholic banner. Representatives of Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, and Protestantism will also be there, and each of us is to give a 20-minute talk about the core beliefs of our faith. This will be followed by a 90-minute Q&A; free-for-all.

I’m pretty clear on the core beliefs of the Catholic Church. There are two authoritative sources, one measuring 227 words (The Nicene Creed) and the other nearly 900 pages (The Catechism of the Catholic Church). Where I need your help is with a secondary question we’ve all been asked to answer:

What are some of the most common misconceptions of your faith and why are they mis-conceptions?

I have a few ideas of my own, but I would like nothing better than to read yours. And to use them this Saturday without permission!

So fire away. The comment box is yours.

To Pray for Katy Perry and For Our Teenagers

How many generations of parents have worried about their teenagers? I know parents worried Elvis Presley would corrupt their youth. My own teenage tastes ran to Simon and Garfunkel. Nowadays, that seems so tame, but what exactly were Paul Simon and Cecilia doing anyway? Today I got my own jolt of reality on my predawn drive to work as a high-school Special Education teacher.

Instead of popping in a CD, or turning to a classical music or news station, I twirled the dial. Blaring through my speakers came Katy Perry’s chart-topping hit: “Teenage Dream.” I’d never heard it before. The refrain goes like this: “Let’s go all the way tonight. No regrets, just love. We can dance until we die. You and I. We’ll be young forever.”

It gets worse.

“My heart stops. When you look at me, just one touch. Now baby I believe this is real. So take a chance And don’t ever look back. Don’t ever look back.”

Here’s Ms. Perry’s version of love: “We drove to Cali and got drunk on the beach.Got a motel and built a fort out of sheets. I finally found you. My missing puzzle piece. I’m complete.”

Seriously? What messages is this 26-year-old marketing? A girl needs a boy to be complete. Don’t think about your past or your future. Just live for your hormone-filled moments. And sex comes without consequences.

What to do? When my boys were toddlers, I used to tell myself that we have to give our children something to say “yes” to instead of just saying no to what troubles us. This morning, as I listened to this song, I started to pray. I prayed my husband and I are offering our sons something of value to hold onto. The consumer culture Ms. Perry personifies is full of empty promises.

I thought back to the night before, when my husband grilled ribs and chicken wings and we invited a slew of friends over to watch our beloved Phillies. We’d spent the weekend enjoying  our town-wide garage sale, attending a soccer game, a church potluck and Mass.

Later today, I learned that Ms. Perry’s own parents were evangelical Christian pastors and that she had listened to only gospel music as a child. They did their best, I am sure, and she has lost her way. I pray the lessons she must have learned about God’s immeasurable love will return to her.

As for my husband and I, we are flawed parents. But because I am Catholic I know that the moments we spend with our boys are important. The home and church life we have cultivated for them is designed to help them on the paths to their own destinies. And because I am Catholic I pray for them, for all teenagers, and for Ms. Perry too.

At www.lifeteen.com, I found a wonderful prayer we can share with our teens.

Heavenly Father, You know all that I am. I pray today I will grow in your love through all I meet,in all I study, and in all I experience. Help me Lord, to not become overwhelmed this new day and year by those temptations that draw me away from your Truth. I make this prayer this through the intercession of our Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit who live and reign with you now and forever.

Salsa y Merengue Cristiano Católico (Music for Mondays)

Hola! The world is a mighty big place. I read recently that Catholics in the United States make up only 6% of the world wide population of Catholics. So for this edition of Music for Mondays (Música Lunes), we’re going to venture out into the musical world of our Catholic brothers and sisters from Spain and Latin America.

The inspiration for this? Two events: a) The trapped Chilean miners are very close to being rescued(!) and b) on Saturday, in my town, my family and I went to a Latino Street festival. We had great food, heard fantastic music, and saw wonderful dances, and beautiful costumes. We saw lots of crucifixes too. Our kids got their “passports” stamped and visited Spain, Chile, Paraguy, Uraguy, Argentina, Brazil, and every other country in Central and South America.

We ate tamales from Mexico, Brazilian empanadas, Cuban toasted sandwiches, and pastries from Argentina. We drank peach and manadarin orange flavored sodas from Mexico. We were stuffed! After coming home, I wondered what kind of Christian music I could find that brings this culture to life. The problem? I took German in high school and learned a bit of Arabic in the Marines. So I’m clueless about Spanish. But I know what gets my toes tappin’ so come have a listen!

Or maybe this happened,

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Not yet amigos! First, the music…

The Artists? I have no idea. The sound and visuals? 8 minutes of Bueno!
[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BRSFjNS7zeA&feature=related]

The Artists are unknown again (if you know, put them in the comm box!) I like how whoever posted these first three video mixes asks everyone to head to adoration: Do not forget to visit your parish Eucharist Jesus as He is in the tabernacle waiting for you to visit and also completely live via Internet 24 / 7 at: www.radioeucaristia.com. Good advice!

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ewQAgR7u2jU&feature=related]

Wow, we burned through 20 minutes already?! Here’s another 10 minute mix, merengue this time. I love this music! And the visuals? A great theme featuring our Eucharistic Lord.

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Where did the time go?! Hopefully you can stick around because I want to introduce you to Sister Hermana Glenda. Evidently Sister Hermana is bigger than Matt Maher, seeing how her clips are well over the one million views mark, according to the YouTube counters. That’s Pink Floyd territory! She’s from Chile and for more on her background, let’s check this clip (at least the first segment) from Deacon Greg Kandra’s crew at Currents in New York City,

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And now, check out her beautiful voice,

Sister Hermana Glenda, Nada es imposible para ti (Nothing is Impossible for You).
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Sister Herman Glenda, Magnificat. This is fantastic!

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Boy, this edition of MfM has my passport burning a hole in my pocket. See you next week.

Because I Need To Be Forgiven and Forgiving

One beautiful aspect of the Catholic Christian faith is that as we age, we begin to experience it from different perspectives and understand why it makes so much sense. Maybe this is the beginning of Wisdom.

This morning, I was blessed with an epiphany during Mass, thanks to my pastor’s homily on Jesus’ encounter in a village, where he healed 10 lepers. Luke tells us:

And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. Jesus said in reply, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” Then he said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”


 To be a leper in the first century was to be an outcast, a marginalized person who by law could not come near other humans, our pastor said. To be a Samaritan among the Jewish community was to be reviled. To be a Samaritan leper: that was almost like being inhuman. “We’re all spiritual lepers,” our pastor told us. That much, I figured, I understood.

Then our pastor said something I’d never contemplated. The Church offers us the Sacrament of Reconciliation so that we might be able to forgive our brothers and sisters. I know I need Reconciliation to repent for my own sins. And I know we Christians must forgive others, even if we think the person who has harmed us is “undeserving” in the eyes of the world.

But never had I understood how the two are intertwined. Without our willingness to humble ourselves and beg for God’s forgiveness, how can we hope to forgive another? Indeed, unless I acknowledge my own sinfulness, my forgiving someone of their sins is an empty gesture, a kind of spiritual narcissism.

This afternoon I found a beautiful reflection on the power of Reconciliation by Fr. Thomas Ryan, CSP, who directs the Paulist North American Office for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations,

The reconciliation with God and with one another is not allowed to stay in an invisible, “spiritual” or mental realm. Rather, it leads to other real, on-the-ground reconciliations which repair the breeches caused by sin. This is necessary because, while the wrong-doing is forgiven, its concrete effects remain. Thus, through this process, the forgiven offender is reconciled in his/her innermost being where a sense of honesty, integrity, and innermost truth is regained. One is reconciled with others whom one has in some way offended and wounded. One is reconciled with the Church. One is reconciled with all creation.

Today I found yet another reason why I am Catholic.

Because Christ is With Us When Two or More Gather

Measured one way, the family potluck I organized after the 5 p.m. Mass in my parish tonight was a bit of a bust. We thirteen took up three small tables in the large Parish Hall. Two sets of brothers showed up, along with our 14-year-old son. Three moms came, too. My own husband couldn’t make it because our 10-year-old was playing a travel soccer game 30 miles away.

Our parish Deacon arrived with a bowl of homemade meatballs, his wife and their three teenagers. When he led us in grace before our meal, he mentioned how Jesus really didn’t have too many apostles. Just a band of 12 men. And yet their faith spread. He reminded us that Christ tells us: “Wherever two or more are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them.”

Sometimes, being a practicing Catholic in suburban New Jersey feels eccentric. Most of our friends and neighbors do not practice any faith tradition. Among our children’s teen friends, the trendiest thing is to declare oneself an atheist. Over meatballs and roasted chicken, our Deacon told the moms that when he was a child , the parochial school had 50 children in every classroom. He grew up in a family of five. The mothers, all of us cradle Catholics, nodded. We’d all grown up in large Catholic families in active parishes; the family of four children I grew up with was the smallest one among us. How the world has changed, we all were saying.

And yet, a couple was married at our parish today, the first marriage in more than a year there. A baby will be baptized tomorrow morning. Three children are preparing to make their First Communions and the CCD class has at least five Confirmandi. And at another table, five teen-aged boys – all of them altar servers -were playing Apples to Apples. They were laughing, eating pizza and brownies and perhaps realizing on some level that their bonds run far past this moment and into eternity.

As we were leaving, one of the boys said to me: “When can we do this again? It’s nice to have a meal together.” I felt the Holy Spirit had stopped by too, encouraging us parents as we guide our children along the paths to their destinies.

Because I’m Billy Jack (Not Francis of Assisi)

A while back, I wrote a post where I said that I became a Catholic because I discovered that Christ, and His Church, wanted 100% of me. My whole heart, soul, mind and strength. The full-spectrum of Frank, warts and all. I needed to change, but I didn’t have to stop being a man.

I’m especially thankful for this, as I don’t fit the mold of modern-day milquetoast Christian guy. Namby-pamby, pacifistic, always gentle and kind. The ancients counseled “Know thyself,” and I know this about myself: I’m more like Billy Jack than I am like St. Francis of Assisi.

Remember Billy Jack? The movie character brought to life by Tom Laughlin?  He made four movies as this character. The first was Born Losers where we meet Billy and his back-story. Fresh out of the Army, Special Forces. A former Green Beret, see? Eager to turn his sword into a ploughshare. “I ain’t a gonna study war no more,” as the ditty goes.

But then some bad guys roll into town on their choppers and start terrorizing the locals. Raping, pillaging, and generally carrying on in a despicable manner, disturbing the peace with impunity. Enter Billy Jack, who moves to protect the weak with his gifts of strength and skill. Does he go over the top with his vigilantism? Of course (it’s a movie, after all)!

The next movie he made was simply titled Billy Jack, and now he is seriously trying to make himself into a pacifist Christian guy, like he believes he is supposed to do. A square peg trying to fit into a round hole. But Billy is a warrior, and though in his heart he deplores violence, sometimes he realizes that is what is called for. Like in this scene below,

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That could easily be me. I’m not saying it’s pretty, but the Marine in me, the berserker, can admit that it is pretty true. The difference between me now, and Billy Jack/former Frank, is that a) I know that standing up to bullies and hooligans is not forbidden “Christian man” behavior, and b) if my switch gets tripped and I go nuclear, as Billy Jack does in the clip above, the confessional is only a few blocks away if my conscience screams, “You went too far!”

I understand the use of deadly force. I understand that it is hard to control violence, and that lines are crossed daily, from the misapplication of force, changing lives for the worse forever. But I’m also a man, a husband, a father, and a warrior. A protector of not only my family, but of the innocent, a champion of the oppressed, a friend to the unloved. This is what I, with the help of the Church, am teaching my two boys. Teaching them what it means to be a strong Christian, a strong Catholic man. And I trust that my daughter will benefit from this too.

There has been lots of press lately about young people taking their own lives when they were bullied to the point of no return. If they weren’t physically assaulted, then they were attacked verbally. I’m left with a question to parents of children everywhere: Where are the Christian kids who aren’t afraid to back up the bullied kids? Who aren’t afraid to befriend them? Who actively rally around them and protect them?

Obviously, it takes fortitude to go against the mainstream, especially in the peer-pressure-cooker pack of the school-age set, both in public and private schools. Sometimes, it takes young men with the mindset of Billy Jack to police the halls of the world and keep the peace. Thankfully, there are Warrior Saints I can share with my children too.

We have to teach our children this fortitude, along with the rest of the Cardinal virtues of justice, temperence, and prudence. These complement and put into action the Theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity. Teaching our children only the latter (the Theological virtues), while neglecting the former, will leave them ill-equipped to be faithful examples of lived Christianity in our world today.

We are called to love, and to pray for peace. But we are not to turn our backs on injustice, or flee from standing up for what is right, or run away from defending the weak.

I pray that my children, and yours, will do the right thing: love and protect all of their peers—the popular, the average, and the unpopular, and that they be virtuous in this life. Amen.

To Convert, like Thérèse

I have friends, good Catholic friends, who seem to relish nothing more, especially after a couple of beers or in the case of our men’s group while chomping coffee and donuts, than to bemoan the pitiful state of contemporary culture. You know the litany. A conservative Catholic cultural critique can be merciless. (A liberal Catholic cultural critique is an oxymoron.)

I’m pretty sure now, after nearly three years a Catholic, that all such criticism is worthless.

The idea is that “the world”—the cold godless culture of death—is in sore need of conversion. This may be true; no doubt it is true. But there is little point, or honesty, in converting the world before I convert myself. Whether I’m a cradle Catholic, a convert, or a non-Catholic in discernment, what I have to do is to come myself to a conversion.

Conversion to me means turning myself completely and radically toward God, toward Jesus Christ. If I am a layperson, a husband and father, as I am, this does not mean turning away from my life commitments, from my vow of marriage, from my responsibility to provide for my family; it means to turn and open my heart continually, repeatedly, insistently to the love of God and to the presence of his Son, Jesus Christ, in my life. And to let that presence shine into my marriage, my family, my life of work.

Every serious Catholic must have a friend like my friend “Mike,” a born-Catholic guy who has turned himself away from the Church and therefore from the presence of Christ. Armed with “good reasons,” ready to take aim at every slightest failing of the Church, Mike has closed a door in his mind and will not give himself permission to open it again. What am I going to do with Mike?

My first impulse is to argue with him, to prove him wrong, to get Mike to come back, to convert. But to my continuing surprise I have found that my presence does not have the effect of, say,  St. John Vianney or Mother Teresa, and all of my frontal attacks on Mike gain nothing, except Mike’s resentment. Mike’s back, when up, is immovable.

And all the time I am assuming that there’s something wrong with Mike, that I must change Mike.

I must change myself.

I’m pretty sure that if I were St. John Vianney or Mother Teresa, Mike would melt. To be in the presence of either of these saintly people must have been like being in the company of Christ. In fact, that’s probably exactly what it was. How do you explain the conversion of much of the Mediterranean basin in the century after Christ’s death? A whole lot of souls on fire.

Why is my presence any different? Why am I lukewarm? Because I am seldom in Christ’s company. I seldom think of Him. I think of Mike, though, plenty, and how far he is from Christ.

At times like these, I find that nothing works for me better than reading the saints—turning to those men and women who turned themselves so wholly to Christ. And who better to turn to than St. Thérèse of Lisieux, known in her French religious life by the name  Thérèse de l’Enfant Jésus de la Sainte Face—Thérèse of the Child Jesus of the Holy Face—wow, what a name! (That’s her holy card at the top of this post.)

At the age of thirteen, already thirteen years baptized, Thérèse experienced what she called “a complete conversion.” 

God,” she wrote, “worked a little miracle to make me grow up in an instant.” Out of that conversion grew her “Little Way,” an endless rosary of little deeds of love and devotion, performed with her heart turned totally to God.

“I see that it is enough,” she wrote, ”to recognize one’s nothingness and to abandon oneself, like a child, into God’s arms.”

About the time of her “complete conversion,” at about age thirteen, she wrote:

“I didn’t have, as did the other students, any teacher with whom I was on friendly terms and could spend several hours. I was content, therefore, to greet the one in charge, and then go and work in silence until the end of the lesson. No one paid any attention to me, and I would go up to the choir of the chapel and remain before the Blessed Sacrament until the moment when Papa came to get me. This was my only consolation, for was not Jesus my only Friend? I knew how to speak only to Him; conversations with creatures, even pious conversations, fatigued my soul. I felt it was far more valuable to speak to God than to speak about Him, for there is so much self-love intermingled with spiritual conversations!”

With only one Friend, with only one Person with whom she could speak, Thérèse’s heart was turned totally toward Christ. I’m willing to bet that she would melt Mike if they met today. All I want to do is change him.

This post was written after some reflection on the introduction to “Living is the Memory of Me,” a recent talk by Fr. Julián Carrón to the Assembly of Responsibles of Communion and Liberation. You can find a link to it at the CL home page.

YIMCatholic Book Club Poll Results

Thanks to the 44 of you who voted for our next Book Club selections! The polls have closed and here are the results:

Flannery O’Conner’s Wise Blood led the field with 15 votes. As such, this will be the first book we read to start the YIMCatholic Book Clubs fiscal (biblio?) year. Head to the book store, friends, so we can get started with the discussions, say by October 21st, which will continue for approximately once per week for four weeks.

Next, we had a tie between Silence by Endo Shusaku and Loss and Gain by John Henry Newman, both which garnered 10 votes.

I’ve decided to read Shusaku’s book first, with the first discussion around January 20, 2012. Why? Because I’d like to read it before I see the movie based on it that will be filmed by Martin Scorsese. And it would be, I believe, a striking contrast from Flannery’s Southern fried world to the setting of the Land of the Rising Sun.

Then, say around April 21, we’ll head to England for Blessed John Henry Newmans Loss and Gain. And on or about July 21, we will end the year with Father Robert Benson’s smash hit Lord of the World, which came in with 9 votes overall.

There you have it Book Clubbers, a plan of action for the next 12 months for the YIMCatholic Book Club. Novels, this time around, and volunteers to help lead the discussions are always appreciated. We might even be able to twist the arms of Webster and Allison into participating.

Get thee to a book seller, or library, and I’ll see you in the study on October 21st. Happy reading!


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