For the Faith of St. Paul Miki, and Companions (For All the Saints)

Today is the feast day of St. Paul Miki and his companions. They were martyred in Nagasaki on February 5th in the year 1597.

The story of the martyrs has been made into a film and it’s title is 26 Martyrs. It’s an animated short that will serve as a companion piece to the docu-drama that a number of you have helped to fund: All That Remains. I think you’ll agree that it looks like a “must see” film. [Read more...]

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Searching for Truth: Arrogant? Or Audacious?

Back in the Fall, I shared thoughts of the Dalai Lama on the efficacy of religion, and those of G.K Chesterton as a counterpoint. As a result, I had someone charge me with being  arrogant for the attempt. [Read more...]

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For Thoughts on Atheism by the Father of Empiricism UPDATED


Remember my affection for the Harvard Classics, the Five Foot Shelf of Books? Admittedly, I haven’t looked them over much since I became a Catholic. Not because I’ve outgrown them, but because there have been far too many other books to occupy my time since the spring of 2008. Mostly stuff from authors whose names begin with “S”,  as St. Philip Neri suggested when he counseled that reading the works of the saints is profitable.

But I dipped a toe back into the HCFFSB water today and found these thoughts of Sir Francis Bacon. [Read more...]

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Ember Days: What They Are And Where They Went

Photographer Credit: Tyler Parks

Today is the first Ember Day of autumn, the week after the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.

A long time ago, in a world that seems so very far away, Christian traditions rooted in simple faith thrived among the flock. One such tradition is the celebration of what are known as Ember Days. Traditionally, the first Wednesday after Guadete Sunday is the first Ember Day of Winter.

What are these mysterious days of penance and fasting? Their name alone evokes thoughts of a glimmer of light shed upon a dark world. And yet the story of the practice of this devotion has nothing to do with embers, kindling, or ashes, though it is true that the image of glowing splinters of hot coals did appear in my mind’s eye when I first learned of them. They still do. [Read more...]

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Because The Case for Marian Devotion Is Iron-Clad

On the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, it’s a good time for a little post on Marian devotion, wouldn’t you agree? Because if it’s Advent, ’tis the season for carping about Catholics and their overdone attachment to the Mother of Christ.

So I’ve got a two-for-one post to help explain this predilection of ours, via the old media (from a book you can’t find) and via the new media from a You Tube video, which ironically is based on passages from ancient media (the Bible). [Read more...]

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News Flash: Dead Chinese Jesuit Befriends Catholic Blogger

You may remember my friend named Wu Li, SJ.  I introduced him to you in a post a few years back.Wu died as a Jesuit priest in Macau in 1718.

There is something about departed Catholics and me. I’m like Haley Joel Osment in The Sixth Sense, or something. Except I don’t really see dead people. But I make friends with them so maybe they might be saints. [Read more...]

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Because the Dalai Lama Says Things Like This UPDATED


Which points out to me that though he (perhaps) will be perceived as being on the right/correct side of history, he’ll still be just another casualty in the train wreck of relativism.

All the world’s major religions, with their emphasis on love, compassion, patience, tolerance, and forgiveness can and do promote inner values. But the reality of the world today is that grounding ethics in religion is no longer adequate. This is why I am increasingly convinced that the time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics beyond religion altogether.

Sounds like anarchy to me. What do I know that the 61,789(and climbing) folks (in four hours) that liked this thought on Facebook don’t know? Something G.K. Chesterton observed regarding our proclivity to throw in the towel and cry uncle. [Read more...]

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For The Thoughts Of (And a Prayer For) My Favorite “Friendly” Atheist Who Believed in Hell

Let me preface this post with an acknowledgement of the fact that philosopher George Santayana died as an atheist. But as an atheist, Santayana put pen to paper on some Catholic ideas that lack only one thing, really. And that one thing is the simple faith of a child in order to believe them.

As minds of adults go, George had an intellect that was top notch. But as Our Lord said,

Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

[Read more...]

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Because We Need Sheets, Even If We Think We Don’t

On Sunday, my family and I made a trip to a little college in a little town near the peach capital of South Carolina. We did so in order to drop my daughter off at a camp that her lacrosse team was attending. After a lunch stop at a local eatery, we wound our way through the town on our way to the campus. As we did, we passed by an old, impressive looking Baptist church, established in 1878.

Up and down that same street were a number of other churches with impressive steeples, and my daughter asked the following question. “Dad, how is Mass different in these churches from ours?” A short question, and as we were getting close to our destination, and as I was navigating for my 16 year old son, a freshly minted driver, I just gave her a few brief answers on basic Protestantism like this.

“Well the first thing to know is they don’t have a Mass, actually. See, they don’t believe that Christ is actually present in the Eucharist, like Christians have believed since the very beginning. Also, in most cases Protestants, which means “to protest,” believe that if something isn’t written down in the Bible, that it isn’t true. Only if something is spelled out clearly in black and white in the Bible, will they believe it. Keeping in mind that there were no Bibles for hundreds of years after the Church began, that makes you wonder, right? We believe in the Bible too, Tradition, and the teaching authority of the Church.  Also, most Protestants don’t revere the Blessed Virgin Mary, despite the fact that in the first chapter of Luke, right there in black and white, she proclaims that “all generations will call me blessed.”

And that was about all I had time for, as navigating which way to turn, and where to find the registration building for the camp put an end to her query. In the back of my mind though I was happy that she had asked the question, and I figured we could revisit the issue at some point in the future as a topic to discuss during the summer before CCD classes picked up again.

As it turned out, events would conspire to bring this topic back to the fore much earlier than that.

We got my daughter checked in at the registration desk, were issued keys to the dorm where she would be staying, and then we headed off to check out the room. It was in an older wing of the dormitories, but nice and clean. Bonus! Her roommate from the team had already moved in, bed made and everything. Mom stayed back as gear guard while the kids and I headed to the car to unload her stuff, and head back to the room to settle her in. We saw her coaches dropping their daughters off, exchanged pleasantries, etc.  All was well.

Safely in the room with her gear I say, “Well, let’s make your bed. Where are your sheets?” There had been a checklist on what to bring, see, and sheets, blanket, pillow, or sleeping bag, had been on the list of items to bring. Noting that she had her pillow and her quilt, and not a sleeping bag (like she had brought the previous year) I was surprised, nay, shocked (!) to learn that she had not brought sheets. “I don’t need them. I didn’t have sheets last year.”

“But you had a sleeping bag last year, and this year you didn’t bring it. You will not be sleeping on this mattress without sheets, honey. That is impossible.”

Clearly, it’s not impossible. My daughter seems to have an austerity streak going that shocks her Mom and me sometimes. This girl can rough it with the best of them. Now, though, I’m doing my level best not to turn into Drill Instructor Staff Sergeant Weathers, reading her the riot act for deciding to ditch bringing her sheets to camp. My wife was not too happy about the sheet situation either.

What to do? Take action! “I saw a Walmart on the way here from lunch. The boys and I will go get her some sheets while you two stay here, unpack, hang out with the other girls etc. Also, let me know if there is anything else on that check list that she forgot, okay?” Actually, the tensions had risen to the point where the boys had high-tailed it out of there at the first intimation that the check-list hadn’t been followed to the letter. I found them outside, rallied them to the cause, and headed to Walmart which, love them or hate them, would have sheets a-plenty standing tall and awaiting purchase by me.

As my son piloted the vehicle through the unfamiliar town, and we passed by the big Baptist church again, the idea hit me that ditching the sheets on the checklist was another answer to my daughters’ question earlier on how we Catholics are different from these other churches. My mind is weird that way.

Long story, short, we bought a set of brand new sheets, learned that we also needed to pick up some hand soap (sheeesh!), and then we beat feet back to quarters. Upon arrival, sheets and soap was distributed, and the naked bed was clothed with brand new sheets with that smell that probably only Marines can understand when I write the phrase “smells like Cash Sales.” In other words, so new, they haven’t even been washed. You know the smell.

The lack of sheets crisis had been averted! Bed now made, and ready to hang out with her teammate/roommate, it was time for the parents to depart. Kisses and hugs all around, but I asked my daughter to step out in the hall so I could tell her something before I left.

“Remember how you asked me what makes Catholics different from the Protestant churches? And I told you some things that, as protesters, they decided to get rid of? It’s kind of like how you decided to not bring any sheets. You didn’t think you would need them, but you did. They too have decided that they didn’t need sheets. And now, though they may find themselves living in sumptuous mansions, the beds inside their rooms do not have sheets on them. Isn’t that strange? Beds need sheets, whether you live in a shack, or in a palace. The fullness of the Faith is found, and lived, in the Catholic Church. We haven’t decided to ditch what we have been given, and what we have needed, from the very beginning. Understand?”

She did, of course, because how much simpler can you put it?


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Because of Catholics Like Vincent Liem of Vietnam (1732-1773)

November is the month that we Catholics remember the dead. There’s the Feast of All Souls, and the Feast of All Saints, celebrated right after Halloween.  Here in the United States, as the Fortnight for Freedom enters its third day, the Archdiocese of St. Louis suggests we remember the martyrs of Vietnam, and St. Andrew Dung Lac. I don’t know much about Andrew, but I found a treasure trove worth of information about the Vietnamese martyrs, especially one named Vincent Liem. [Read more...]

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