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"A fascinating and compelling narrative; a story of discovery, adventure and eventual homecoming, all told with verve and honesty." — Malcolm Guite, Girton College, Cambridge
Not God's Type An Atheist Academic Lays Down Her Arms By Holly Ordway
Chapter 1 A GLORIOUS DEFEAT
Here I set out to do what might seem to be a straightforward task: to recount how it happened that I walked away from atheism and entered into Christian faith.
But the story is not a simple one to tell.
When I said Yes to Christ, I thought I had reached the end of my journey, but I found that I had merely crested the nearest hill. The road, it seemed, went ever on and on, and I soon realized that the Christian life was not going to be easy...
Once a year, a group of admirers of G.K. Chesterton make a 30-mile pilgrimage from the site of his birth to his grave. This year’s trek included several Chestertonian touches.
Just before 8 am, on July 30, 2014, I made my way to a church in Kensington, London. As I drew nearer I saw smoke rising, and, nearer still, found a young man puffing on a fat cigar. It was then I knew I had arrived at the right place.
I had come to join the Catholic G.K. Chesterton Society’s annual pilgrimage, now in its fourth year. This consisted of a trek from the center of London, beginning at the church Chesterton was baptized in, to the place he now lies buried, some 30 or so miles away in the country town of Beaconsfield. The young man greeted me with a smile as I sat down and waited for others to join us. That said, there was no telling who was going to turn up. On its inaugural outing, the walk consisted of only two people, one of whom was the organizer, Stuart McCullough. So, if nothing else, having spoken to him earlier that week, I was expecting at least one other to arrive. He had better, I thought, as he had the route map.
London at that time of a summer’s day is particularly fine, but that morning the street we waited on was bathed in a gentle sunlight, and, it was through this, with a broad smile on his face, that our leader was to stride. Stuart is a Chestertonian character in his own right. He is as good-natured as he is unflappable, as humorous as he is determined. When not organizing excursions such as this, he is to be found running, with his wife, Clare, the Good Counsel Network, a charity for women who find themselves pregnant with few options available if plenty of “wolves” circulating. It is a venture few would have dreamed possible. And yet, starting with just a few hundred pounds, the McCulloughs have established a permanent presence in central London that has offered, and offers still, hope to many.
Stuart may be a serious man in many respects, but like many in the pro-life cause he wears it lightly. And so, as one might expect, the Catholic G.K. Chesterton Society is all a bit of a joke. When first come across, the expectation is of meetings and chairmen, conferences and annual dinners—not a bit of it. Its sole purpose is the yearly pilgrimage. The society has no members as such, no permanent abode; it is invisible except for the band of pilgrims assembling yearly on a London street, a band with no banners, with most of those assembled strangers to one another, and with a lone map—not only do I think Chesterton would have approved, I think he would have laughed out loud.
Ordway, an atheist academic, was convinced that faith was superstitious nonsense. As a well-educated college English professor, she saw no need for just-so stories about God. Secure in her fortress of atheism, she was safe (or so she thought) from any assault by irrational faith.
But then something happened . . . How did she come to “lay down her arms” in surrender to Christ – and then, a few years later, enter into the Catholic Church?
This is the moving account of her unusual journey. It is the story of an academic becoming convinced of the truth of Christianity on rational grounds – but also the account of God’s grace acting in and through her imagination.
It is the tale of an unfolding, developing relationship with God, told with directness and honesty – and of a painful surrender at the foot of the Cross. It is the account of a lifelong, transformative love of reading – and the story of how a competitive fencer put down her sabre to pick up the sword of the Spirit.
Above all, this book is a tale of grace, acting in and through human beings but always issuing from God and leading back to Him. And it is the story of a woman being brought home.
Dr. Holly Ordway is the director of the MA in Cultural Apologetics at Houston Baptist University. She holds a Ph.D. in English literature from the University of Massachusetts Amherst; her academic work focuses on imagination and literature in apologetics, with special attention to the work of CS Lewis and Charles Williams.
Heinrich Denzinger had a good idea. So good, in fact, that his idea is still going strong after 160 years.
Father Denzinger, a German theologian of the 19th century, saw a need for a collection of creeds, ecumenical council decrees and teaching documents of popes to help theologians, homilists and serious readers concerned to know what the Catholic Church really teaches, as the teaching is set forth in official documents of the magisterium — the Church’s teaching authority.
German Catholic theology
The first edition of the volume users would come to call simply “Denzinger” rolled off the press in 1854 — by coincidence, the year Pope Pius IX infallibly defined the dogma of Mary’s Immaculate Conception.
It featured texts from 100 documents of the pope of that day, Pius IX. By contrast, the contents of the recently published 43rd edition extend from an Ethiopian “Letter of the Apostles” dating between A.D. 160 and 170 to an instruction on bioethics published by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2008 (“Compendium of Creeds, Definitions, and Declarations on Matters of Faith and Morals,” (Ignatius Press, $69.95)).
The English translation of this new edition is the first in that language since the 30th edition in 1957. It joins editions in Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Croatian — as well as German, of course. Korean and Chinese translations also are planned.
For people accustomed to using Denzinger in their work, the English version’s publication is a notable event as well as a formidable specimen of book publishing.
Along with the texts in their original languages (usually Latin, occasionally Greek) accompanied by versions in the vernacular, its 1,437 pages include a “systematic index” grouping the documents under 12 headings (“God Reveals Himself,” “God Saves Man through Jesus Christ,” “God Calls Man to a Moral Life in Community,” etc.), several specialized indexes and a historical introduction by the volume’s current editor, Peter Hünermann.
The texts are organized chronologically, with documents grouped according to the pontificates during which they were published.
By far the largest set is the one from the long pontificate of Pope St. John Paul II, which began with his election on Oct. 16, 1978 and ended with his death on April 2, 2005. Texts in Denzinger from the Johannine era number 49.
The Scriptural Roots of St. Augustine's Spirituality | Stephen N. Filippo | IgnatiusInsight.com
Perhaps of all the Church Fathers, none shone so brightly as St. Augustine (351-430). Augustine's spirituality has deeply pervaded the Church right up to this very day. Two great Orders in the Church (just to cite a few), the Benedictines and the Franciscans took their spirituality directly from St. Augustine. St. Augustine's spirituality came into the Benedictine Order primarily through St. Anselm (1033-1109) and into the Franciscans primarily through St. Bonaventure (1221-1274). Both these men were in themselves, also great lights in the Church.
Of course, no discussion of Church giants can be complete without mentioning St. Thomas Aquinas, who is best described as 'following St. Augustine in Theology and Aristotle in Philosophy.' In sum, the Church gets her Dogmatic Theology primarily through St. Augustine. Since Spiritual Theology is based upon the correct Dogmatic Theology, it only makes sense that one of the Church's greatest Theologians, St. Augustine, is also responsible for a great deal of her Spiritual Theology.
And for St. Augustine, as it should be for all Catholics, this means a deep concentration and constant reflection on Sacred Scripture. The scriptural roots of St. Augustine's spirituality can be clearly seen by examining one of his greatest, yet lesser known works, De doctrina Christiana, literally "On Christian Doctrine," but actually "On how to read and interpret Sacred Scripture."
In De doctrina Christiana (henceforth "DDC"), St. Augustine lays the groundwork for a good, spiritual exegesis by elucidating on the virtue of charity, and all that means. Then, in order to begin the climb to spiritual perfection, he explains a scripturally based seven-step ladder. Lastly, he gives seven rules that are helpful in reading and understanding Sacred Scripture correctly.
Charity Towards God, Neighbor And Self
St. Augustine teaches that there are four possible objects of human love: 1. The things above us, 2. Ourselves, 3. Things equal to us, and 4. Things below us. Since all men by nature love themselves, there was no need to give the human race precepts about self-love. And, since it is obvious to most men that they should not love that which is below them, namely lesser objects, but merely use them, fewer precepts are given in the Bible concerning these. But about the love of things above us, namely God and His Angels, and things equal to us, namely other men, Sacred Scripture has everything to say. Our Lord Himself tells us the two greatest commandments are: "You shall love the Lord your God, with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Upon these the whole law and the prophets depend" (Mt. 22: 37-40).
Then, Augustine makes the distinction between enjoyment and use: "Some things are to be enjoyed, others to be used, and there are others which are to be used and enjoyed. Those things which are to be enjoyed make us blessed. Those things which are to be used help and, as it were, sustain us as we move toward blessedness in order that we may gain and cling to those things which make us blessed . . . To enjoy something is to cling to it with love, for its own sake. To use something, however, is to employ it in obtaining that which you love, provided it is worthy of love." (DDC I, iii, 3. iv, 4.) And, for St. Augustine, as it should be for us, the only thing worthy of his love, the only "thing" to be "enjoyed for its own sake" is the Holy, Blessed Trinity, the One True God.
Concerning love of our neighbors, St. Augustine reminds us that "all other men are to be loved equally; but since you cannot be of assistance to everyone, those are especially to be cared for who are most closely bound to you by place, time or opportunity, as if by chance. Just as if you had an abundance of something special that you could only give enough of to one other person, yet two came asking, neither of whom deserved it more or less. You could do no more than choose by lot. Thus, among all men, not all of whom you can care for, you must consider those in your life as if chosen by lot, who, in reality, are chosen by God." (DDC I, xxviii, 29). Therefore, the second great pre-requisite of St. Augustine's for interpreting Sacred Scripture is charity to every person in your life.
Tolkien and Beowulf | Jerry Salyer | Catholic World Report
Tolkien’s newly published translation of the Old English epic beautifully demonstrates that there is more reality in folklore than in the perverse fantasies by which many live today.
At morn King Hrothgar on his throne for his lieges slain there mourned alone but Grendel gnawed the flesh and bone of the thirty thanes of Denmark. A ship there sailed like a wingéd swan, and the foam was white on the waters wan, and one there stood with bright helm on that fate had brought to Denmark.
— “Beowulf and the Monsters,” J.R.R. Tolkien
Heathen or no, Beowulf does the Lord’s work, and knows full well that there is a higher power to Whom all must answer. So believed the anonymous eighth-century Christian poet who saw fit to set down Beowulf’s adventures; so too believed the late scholar and novelist J.R.R. Tolkien, whose long-awaited translation of the greatest of Old English epics has finally been released.
If Professor Tolkien and the ancient Anglo-Saxon storyteller are right, then Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014) should interest not only philologists and Tolkien fans but the inquisitive Catholic layman, too. Perhaps northern European folklore is more relevant to the Faith than we might think? Perhaps modern Christians can derive wisdom and inspiration from what Tolkien called “point[s] of contact between Scripture and Germanic legend”?
In Tolkien’s view, the first noteworthy “point of contact” is manifested through the Beowulf monsters—particularly the ogre Grendel. By terrorizing the realm of the good King Hrothgar and devouring Hrothgar’s subjects at night, Grendel stands as a representative of Cain, that first killer from whom, in the Beowulf mythos, “all evil broods were born, ogres and goblins and haunting shapes of hell, and the giants too, that long time warred with God.”
What attracts Grendel’s hostility is the music coming from Heorot, as the sound of Hrothgar’s minstrel singing joyfully of Creation rings hatefully in the creature’s ears. This loathing for Christian civilization is extremely important for understanding the poem, for as Tolkien observes in his commentary on the Old English text Grendel is the ultimate féond(enemy), in a permanent state of enmity—fæhÞ—with mankind:
Left: Heitor Villa-Lobos at the end of a concert in Tel Aviv, 1952; right: Villa-Lobos, circa 1922 (photos: Wikipedia.org)
Villa-Lobos: The Clown Turned Devout | R. J. Stove | CWR
One of 20th-century music’s most industrious enfants-terribles understood, in his sacred works, Dr. Johnson’s advice: “time to be in earnest.”
On the morning of August 25, 1954, New York Times readers found much of Page One devoted to the news that Brazil’s president Getúlio Vargas – who had dominated his nation’s politics for a quarter of a century even when in short-term eclipse – had killed himself. The man so cryptic that historian Richard Bourne called him “the Sphinx of the Pampas” had sprung one last surprise on his foes.
Nobody accused Vargas of undue charm-offensives. In fact, through his diminutive physique (a mere five feet two inches tall), through his bespectacled face, and through his temperament, he made Gerald Ford look like Justin Bieber. Having achieved absolute office in a 1930 coup, Vargas first used his unbridled strength to smash Brazil’s hitherto influential Communist Party; then, when national fascist elements thought they had a faithful patron in him, he shunted them to the sidelines. Having bestowed upon the Third Reich’s representatives enough honeyed words to suggest that he would join the Axis, he proceeded to hurl the considerable weight of Brazil’s army on the side of the Allies. Brazilian troops saw particularly severe fighting against Mussolini’s Salò Republic. Forced to resign six months after Nazi rule collapsed, Vargas vegetated within the federal senate before returning to the presidential palace in a 1951 election that even his enemies admitted to be fair. But that same army which he had sent to oppose the Führer and the Duce increasingly gave up on him, as inflation approached Weimar Republic levels. Rather than aggravating what had already become a low-level civil war in the streets of Rio (the capital would not move to Brasilia for another six years), Vargas entered one of the palace bedrooms and there committed suicide. The pyjamas which he wore while doing the deed, and the revolver with which he did it, have been on museum display ever since.
Vargas would not require more than a footnote to cultural history if he had not done the arts a turn so good as to compel our gratitude long after his economic and administrative policies – the policies in which he took the greatest pride – had ceased to interest anyone save specialists. That good turn consisted of supporting Heitor Villa-Lobos, by every possible and many an impossible measure the most musically talented man that South America has ever produced.
In 1930 Villa-Lobos, having turned 43, could not forever continue brandishing the flag of enfant-terribilisme. He had eagerly waved that flag for as long as he could, and perhaps longer than was prudent. For example, he rewrote his own résumé with a frantic imaginativeness that might have made Lawrence of Arabia blanch. Like Lawrence, he showed such flair at having blended spin-doctoring with equivocations, half-truths, and periodic outright lies that the resultant heady postmodernist brew frustrated genuine scholarship for decades ahead.
The present, future, and quality of Catholic online education | CWR Staff | Catholic World Report
An interview with Patrick Carmack, President of the Ignatius-Angelicum Liberal Studies Program, about Catholic online education, technology, and Great Books
Patrick S. J. Carmack, J.D. is the President of the Ignatius-Angelicum Liberal Studies Program, and the founder of the Angelicum Academy Homeschool Program and of the Great Books Academy Homeschool Program (2000 AD). In addition to earning his Juris Doctorate, Patrick has completed additional courses in psychology and philosophy, as well as studies at the Institute of Spirituality at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome (the “Angelicum”). He is a former Judge at the Oklahoma State Corporation Commission, member of the U.S. Supreme Court Bar, former CEO of an independent petroleum exploration and production company, founder and former Chairman of the International Caspian Horse Society, and President of a non-profit educational foundation.
Patrick was a participant in Dr. Mortimer J. Adler’s last several Socratic discussion groups in Maryland and California in 1999 and 2000, and he moderated the first live-audio Socratic groups online and numerous online groups since. He has spoken on educational topics at various conferences in the U.S. and in Europe. He is the recipient of the International Etienne Society’s Pope John Paul the Great Thomist Humanist Award for his work in education.
CWR: Online education has had exponential growth in the last decade; has Catholic online education kept pace?
Patrick S. J. Carmack: No, but it is catching up. There is a conservative tendency in Catholic education with respect to the use of modern technology, which results in a reluctance to embrace it. This is probably partly due to a kind of nostalgia for the golden age of Catholic education in the scholasticism of the High Middle Ages and the later, very successful Jesuit pedagogy developed during the Counter-Reformation period. But there is another reason as well, one articulated by Marshall and Eric McLuhan, which recognizes that technology and media themselves change us, and hence society, regardless of the content. There are both advantages and disadvantages to this, but overall the changes are troubling, especially if one connects them to the increasing secularization of the West, where technological change is most rapid. In a word, there is a dehumanizing element to technology that disembodies us to some degree—a discarnation of a sort. That, of course, runs counter to the Catholic love of all reality, including the body and the incarnational aspect of the faith.
CWR: It is surprising to hear you criticize educational technology since you work so much with it. Are you opposed to the use of technology in education, to online classes for instance?
Over the centuries, Saint Anthony of Padua has been acclaimed as a great example of holiness through countless works of art, sculpture and books. Many Catholics, and even non-Catholics, think of Saint Anthony as the first one to turn to when something is lost. Yet amid this widespread veneration and devotion, we may miss the story of a man who began his life like all of us.
This film reveals the journey of Fernando Martins de Bulhões, a 13th century Christian whom we know today as Saint Anthony. Here, we discover a young man who was often "lost" and searching for direction in his life. He wanted to make a difference in the world of his time. As we encounter his humanity, we find someone we can relate to, someone who struggled in life, someone we could have easily called a friend.
Shot on historic locations in Portugal and Italy, Finding St. Anthony: A Story of Loss & Light is a documentary film that focuses on the experiences of Fernando (Anthony) in his search for the life God is calling him to lead. And as we look closely at the journey of St. Anthony, what we find may surprise us: a reflection of ourselves. His story gives us insight and inspiration for our own spiritual journey.
"With his outstanding gifts of intelligence, balance, apostolic zeal and, primarily, mystic fervor, Anthony contributed significantly to the development of Franciscan spirituality." - Pope Benedict XVI
In his History of France, so characteristic of the nineteenth century, Jules Michelet has painted a fresco in which he shows the Church of the thirteenth century in Languedoc checking "the spirit of free thought" that represented heresy. The sentences pour out, nervous, breathless, romantic . . . and inexact. "This Dominic", he writes, "this terrifying founder of the Inquisition, was a Castilian noble. No one surpassed him in the gift of tears, a thing so often joined to fanaticism."  And in the following chapter he continues: "The Pope could only vanquish independent mysticism by himself opening great schools of mysticism: I refer to the mendicant orders. This was fighting evil with evil; attempting that most difficult of contradictions, the regulation of inspiration, the determination of illuminism . . . delirium unleashed!" Pedro Berruguete's (d. 1504) tableau, the Scene of Auto da fé in the Prado museum in Madrid, is equally well known. St. Dominic, recognizable by his mantle ornamented with stars, is seated on a throne presiding over a tribunal and surrounded by six magistrates, almost all of them laymen. Below, to the right, are heretics roped to stakes soon to be set ablaze. The contrast is striking and the composition noteworthy. The tableau was doubtless intended for the glory of Dominic: the same painter designed several altar pieces for the Dominican convent in Avila at the request of Thomas of Torquemada (d. 1493), Inquisitor General in Spain in 1483.
If we go back a little further in history we shall find Dominican witnesses to show how Dominic took part in the first Inquisition against the Catharists and Vaudois in Languedoc. A reference made by Bernard Gui (1261-1331) in aLife of St. Dominic does not hesitate to claim for his Founder the title of First Inquisitor, following the "legendary" texts of the thirteenth century.  Nor has the author of the celebrated "Manual for Inquisitors" hesitated to interpolate on his own authority the Albigensian History of Pierre des Vaux de Cernai in order to prove Dominic's presence at the Battle of Muret during the bloody Albigensian Crusade on September 12, 1213: the Saint is pictured holding in his hands a crucifix riddled with wounds, which is still shown at St. Sernin in Toulouse. 
Lacordaire, on the contrary, at the moment when he was pleading before his "country" the cause of the reestablishment of the Order of Preachers in France in 1838, that is to say, a few years after the impassioned words of Michelet about the foundation of the mendicant orders, affirmed boldly (chap. 6) that "St. Dominic was not the inventor of the Inquisition, and never performed the duties of an inquisitor. The Dominicans were never the promoters or principal agents of the Inquisition." The historical demonstration following these claims must unfortunately be viewed with some reserve. It was - and not only on the basis of historical accuracy - vehemently attacked, in particular by his friend Dom Prosper Guéranger, the restorer of the Benedictines of Solesmes; he accused Lacordaire of not having the courage to "accept his heritage".
What, then, are we to believe? Was Dominic the first of the inquisitors? The answer is categorically: by no means! Simple chronology suffices to resolve the problem: Dominic died in 1221, and the office of Inquisitor was not established until 1231 in Lombardy and 1234 in Languedoc.
Religious life continued to evolve in the thirteenth century as it had in the twelfth, and the evolution necessarily involved the retention of some traditional elements as well as the introduction of original creations. In fact, the variety of new forms of religious life reached such a point that the Lateran Council in 1215 and the Council of Lyons in 1274 prohibited the creation of new religious institutes henceforth.
Nevertheless, two new orders came into existence in the thirteenth century: the Franciscans and the Dominicans. As mendicant orders they both emphasized a strict observance of poverty; as apostolic orders, they were dedicated to the ministry of preaching. Yet there was a noticeable continuity between the newly founded mendicant orders and the older forms of monasticism and the life of the canons regular. At the risk of oversimplifying, we may say that the Franciscans adapted Benedictine monasticism to new needs while the Dominicans adapted the monastic observances of the Premonstratensians to the assiduous study of sacred truth, which characterized the Canons of St. Victor.
The mendicant orders, however, were not simply a development of monasticism; much more than that, they were a response to vital needs in the Church: the need to return to the Christian life of the Gospel (vita apostolica); the need to reform religious life, especially in the area of poverty; the need to extirpate the heresies of the time; the need to raise the level of the diocesan clergy; the need to preach the Gospel and administer the sacraments to the faithful. This was especially true of the Dominicans, who were consciously and explicitly designed to meet the needs of the times and to foster the "new" theology, Scholasticism. The Franciscans, as we shall see, were more in the tradition of the old monasticism and sought to return to a life of simplicity and poverty.
St Dominic Guzmán, born at Caleruega, Spain, in 1170 or 1171, was subprior of the Augustinian canons of the cathedral chapter at Osma. As a result of his travels with his bishop, Diego de Acevedo, he came face to face with the Albigensian heresy that was ravaging the Church in southern France. When they learned of the failure of the legates to make any progress in the conversion of the French heretics, Bishop Diego made a drastic recommendation. They should dismiss their retinue and, travelling on foot as mendicants, become itinerant preachers, as the apostles were.
In the autumn of 1206 Dominic founded the first cloister of Dominican nuns at Prouille; towards the end of 1207 Bishop Diego died at Osma, where he had returned to recruit more preachers. The work of preaching did not end with the death of Bishop Diego, but during the Albigensian Crusade under Simon Montfort, from 1209 to 1213, Dominic continued the work almost alone, with the approval of Pope Innocent III and the Council of Avignon (1209). By 1214 a group of associates had joined Dominic and in June, 1215, Bishop Fulk of Toulouse issued a document in which he declared: "We, Fulk, ... Institute Brother Dominic and his associates as preachers in our diocese . . . . They propose to travel on foot and to preach the word of the Gospel in evangelical poverty as religious." (56) The next step was to obtain the approval of the Holy See, and this was of special necessity in an age in which preaching was the prerogative of bishops. The opportunity presented itself when Dominic accompanied Bishop Fulk to Rome for the Lateran Council, which was convoked for November, 1215. According to Jordan of Saxony, Dominic desired confirmation on two points: the papal approval of an order dedicated to preaching and papal recognition of the revenues that had been granted to the community at Toulouse. (57)
Satan and the Saint | The Feast Day of St. John Vianney | August 4th | Carl E. Olson
Imagine a saint – a priest – so dedicated to God that he often went days without eating, and when he did eat, it was a boiled potato or a piece of hard bread.
Although many considered him unfit for the priesthood, he revived the crushed faith of an impoverished village and often spent eighteen hours a day hearing confessions, often sleeping only an hour or two each night.
As the reputation of this holy man of God spread, pilgrims began to seek him out, sometimes waiting days for him to hear their confession, heal their illnesses, and speak directly to their deepest needs. But not everyone was so pleased. This priest began to be attacked, sometimes physically and, at other times, emotionally and psychologically. He was verbally mocked, scorned, and abused. At night he was subjected to loud and violent noises for hours on end. He was pulled from bed in the middle of the night and, on one occasion, his bed was set on fire.
Despite this constant abuse, the priest never called the police or requested security. It wouldn’t have mattered, for the abuse and taunts did not come from another human, but from Satan. The priest, of course, was St. John Vianney (1786-1859), the Curé of Ars, whose feast is celebrated August 4.
Although rightly renowned for his holiness, asceticism, and spiritual insight, the Curé of Ars was also remarkable for his courage and steadiness in the face of the Devil. For some thirty-five years (1824-1858) Satan assaulted the Saint in a nearly endless number of ways, seeking to break the will and resolve of the great man of God: making harrowing noises, singing in a wicked voice, meowing like a cat, or shouting, "Vianney! Vianney! Potato eater!" Living being or scary symbol?
Many people today would understood St. John Vianney's struggles with Satan to simply be the result of psychological problems that weren’t understood or properly identified in his day. They would explain that in a less scientific age people often attributed behaviors they didn't understand to the work of the devil, but now we can treat many such illnesses with proper medication and therapy. Behavior that once was deemed demonic or caused by spiritual oppression can be explained by science and psychology, as newspapers, magazines, and television programs instruct us on a regular basis.
While it’s not surprising that non-Christians or non-religious people might make such assessments, there’s evidence that more and more Christians are rejecting the ancient belief that Satan is a real, living being.
Tornielli, the foremost “Vatican insider” journalist, offers here inspiring stories, incidents, encounters, and excerpts from the writings and talks of Pope Francis through his first year as Pope.
These add up to a powerful witness by Pope Francis of “heartwarming stories of the Gospel in action”, and reflect on various spiritual and social themes important to the Pope, including mercy, forgiveness, charity, prayer, justice, Eucharist, Our Lady and much more.
His little gestures and big ones, the minor or major choices that he has made each day, his ability to meet everyone and to speak to everyone, his simple way of being himself, have made Francis not only credible but above all close. The Pope is perceived by many, many people throughout the world as ‘‘one of us’’. It is enough to watch him embrace the sick, the suffering, the children, to see why that is so.
The title echoes the Little Flowers of Saint Francis, the famous collection of stories about the beloved Francis of Assisi, whose name the Pope adopted for himself.
This work offers a wonderful collection of insightful fragments from various aspects of the life of the Pope in his first year that will help the reader become better acquainted with the immensely popular Bishop of Rome who came ‘‘from the end of the earth’’.
Andrea Tornielli is a Vatican correspondent for the highly regarded Italian newspaper La Stampa who has collaborated with numerous Italian and international publications. His numerous books include Francis - Pope of a New World; Pius XII, the Pope of the Jews; Pope Luciani: the Smile of a Saint; The Pope Who Saved the Jews; Benedict XVI, Guardian of the Faith; The Secret of Padre Pio.
“Too Late Have I Loved Thee”: On the Genius of Franz Joseph Haydn | R. J. Stove | Catholic World Report
He seems to need rediscovering with each new generation. And by the way, let’s lose the fatuous “Papa Haydn” tag.
Strange how certain extremely famous creators are not really famous after all. For proof of this sub-Chestertonian paradox, consult Franz Joseph Haydn, who seems in many respects the musical counterpart to Mark Twain’s definition of a literary classic: “something that everyone wants to have read and nobody wants to read.” The normally perspicacious Schumann—possibly misled by the “Papa” which common usage all too swiftly attached to Haydn’s name —dismissed Haydn as “a familiar friend of the house whom all greet with pleasure and with esteem but who has ceased to arouse any particular interest.” Tchaikovsky remained only slightly more enthusiastic: “I also like some things of Haydn.” Kingsley Amis, in 1982, exhibited downright contempt: “Except perhaps for J.S. Bach, Haydn was the laziest of the great composers.” (Proof, if we required proof, that a verdict once passed upon Belloc fits Amis still more: “As he grew older the rather juvenile desire to ‘shock’ grew stronger and not weaker.”)
Overall it is surprising how accurate the remark credited both to pianist Paul Badura-Skoda and musicologist Sir Donald Tovey—“Haydn The Unknown”—continues to be now. For Cincinnati-based editor Donald Vroon, writing in 1992, “Haydn is almost like a secret.” Two years beforehand, former New York Times critic Joseph Horowitz had provided mostly illuminating specifics about this quasi-clandestine role:
[Haydn] … holds limited popular appeal. He is not a sufferer, a lover, a confessor, a combatant—all the personae we expect our heroic musical executants to embody. His knowing wit and repartee privately gratify the attuned interpreter. Interpreters otherwise attuned—to a mass public, for instance—smooth away his subversive detail, transforming him into a cut-rate Mozart.
In one respect Horowitz's conclusion is inept because parochial. Outside the New York Times mindset, no automatic contradiction exists between “a mass public” and Haydn's output.
Teaching the Faith: Contributions from Thomas Aquinas | Brother Michael Weibley, O.P. | Homiletic & Pastoral Review
God’s love, mediated through the articles of faith, is a communication of God’s love speaking to us. Those who hear, and cling to the merciful speech of God, in faith, are the ones who attain this saving knowledge.
“But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” – Luke 18:8 This is a striking, and relevant, question. It has become somewhat common to note the inadequate retention rates of many RCIA and sacramental catechesis programs in parishes. Recent converts cycle in and out of programs, seemingly designed to teach the faith, only to find at the end of the program that they are still incapable of connecting to an authentic faith life in the Church. Many pastors will see people walk into their parishes, then quickly walk back out. The poignancy of Jesus’ question for the Church of the 21st century is, therefore, very much relevant. The problem, naturally, elicits another question: What are some solutions to the need for robust and abiding catechesis at the parish level?
Looking to the traditions of the Church, any catechist will inevitably fall upon the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas. One encounters in Aquinas a master of theological understanding. He was a man guided by the Holy Spirit, who pursued the science of God in wisdom and truth, which directed his every teaching towards the goal of every man: eternal life. Aquinas was not purely an academic, but a man who found his abiding attraction to God in the love that God first had for him. It was this love that urged him to write his Summa Theologiae for the sake of beginners, so that they, too, could be ever pointed toward their final goal and lead others in that direction. Likewise, it is the goal of every catechist to orient his or her students to that same end. Recourse to Aquinas’ method of teaching, therefore, is certainly relevant for the catechist of the 21st century.
In this short essay, I will draw upon the prevailing wisdom of Aquinas and his importance for catechists today. I will first outline Aquinas’ thought on the role of teaching, using the structure of the Summa Theologiae as an example of theological teaching. Next, I will develop how his thought on teaching corresponds to his teaching on the Articles of Faith. In summation, I will describe how the wisdom of Aquinas provides a model for catechists today in orienting their students towards the goal of Christian life.
Aquinas on Teaching
Aquinas saw the reality and dignity of being a human person in the fact that the individual is able to come to know the truth and choose the good.
Citadel of God: A Novel About Saint Benedict (Chapter One) | Louis de Wohl
"Rome is finished", said Senator Albinus. He sipped his wine, then held up the goblet carved from amethyst. "Very pretty", he approved. "I wonder where they find stones large enough to be cut like this. Very pretty."
Senator Boethius frowned. 'They come from India, I believe", he said, with a warning glance towards his wife.
But Rusticiana was beyond taking notice. Her face was drained of blood, and her hands twitched. "Rome is indeed finished", she said breathlessly, "if there are no Romans left. And I see there aren't."
The boy Peter gazed at her with rapt admiration. She was as beautiful as a goddess when she was angry. She was a white flame burning.
"Romans", Senator Albinus drawled. "I wouldn't say there aren't any, Domina Rusticiana, but they are few, you know. The city prefect tells me he had great difficulty in getting the men together for the escort of honor."
"The escort of honor for a barbarian tyrant", Rusticiana said icily. "Indeed, I hope it was difficult. It is bad enough that anyone at all would comply."
"Oh, it wasn't for that reason, I'm afraid", Albinus said dryly. "They didn't want to wear armor all day. So heavy, don! 't you see, and standing on the walls and in the streets in it for hours on end. The city prefect had to grant them three sesterces for special duty. They asked for five, at first." He smiled at Rustician's disgust. "The trouble with you, Domina, is that you were born five centuries too late. On second thought, make it a thousand years. You ought to have been a contemporary of Cloelia, Virginia, and Lucretia."
"I wish I could return the compliment", Rusticiana. snapped.
"Don't you see that he talks like that only because he, too, is suffering?" Boethius asked with gentle reproach.
"Talking seems to be all that is done', she said. "If there were one true Roman left, he would act."
"What would you have him do, Domina?" Albinus asked, mockery in his tone, but not in his eyes. "Have a nice, hot bath and open his veins? Old Scaurus did that, last week, when he heard that the King was coming to Rome."
"He was eighty", Rusticiana said, her eyes blazing. "And at that age the only veins a man can open are his own. But at least he did do that."
Albinus looked at Boethius. "Do you know, I begin to believe your wife wants me to go and kill the King." He laughed. "As her husband, I trust she has given you first chance."
"A thousand years ago," Rusticiana said, "at the time of Lucretia, we threw out our own King, and not even the maddest of the Caesars dared to assume that title again. Now we are to give it to an Ostrogoth."
(Left) Dietrich von Hildebrand (photo courtesy of the Dietrich von Hildebrand Legacy Project); (right) Alice von Hildebrand (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
Alice von Hildebrand: Reflecting on a Life of Teaching, Scholarship, and Prayer | Jim Graves | Catholic World Report
With her memoirs due out later this summer, the prolific writer and scholar looks back over decades of service to the Gospel and to truth.
Pope Francis recently recognized Alice von Hildebrand as a Dame Grand Cross of the Equestrian Order of St. Gregory in recognition of her lifetime of work on behalf of the Church. She is originally from Brussels, Belgium, and came to the United States in 1940, as World War II began ravaging Europe.
Unable to find employment at a Catholic college, she began a 37-year career teaching philosophy at Hunter College, a public university in New York, beginning in 1947. She married Dietrich von Hildebrand (1889-1977) in 1959, two years after the death of his first wife. Since her husband’s death in 1977, she has devoted her time and energy to promoting his work. She is a prolific writer and gifted public speaker, eloquently sharing the message of the Gospel with Catholic audiences throughout the world.
Later this summer, Mrs. von Hildebrand will release her memoirs, Alice von Hildebrand: Memoirs of a Happy Failure (Saint Benedict Press). She recently spoke to CWR.
CWR: In your memoirs, you go into detail about your 37 years of teaching at Hunter College, and the trouble you experienced in its anti-Christian environment.
Alice von Hildebrand: Yes. I was a perfectly harmless little foreign girl, teaching in a secular university, and I experienced much persecution. I began writing my experiences after I left Hunter, because I wanted my memory to be exact.
I had first applied for jobs teaching at Catholic colleges. They would not hire me because I was a woman. The same thing, incidentally, happened to Edith Stein in Germany. She couldn’t find a university job because she was a woman.
There was an opening at Hunter College. They needed someone to fill in for a professor who was going to be out for two weeks. Having never taught college before, I began on December 8, 1947. At the end of the two weeks, I thought I was going to get a pink slip, but was allowed to stay on.
I became an adjunct, but after many years of teaching I received no promotion, and no medical coverage. After 11 years I became an instructor, but at the lowest possible salary on the scale.
One day I received a terse note telling me to report to the dean’s office. I went, and found 17 other professors who spent the next two hours questioning me about my teaching. They said I was injecting my religious ideas into the classroom. When I left, I was totally exhausted. I had not experienced such exhaustion in all my years teaching.
Remarkably, I was given tenure, with nine professors voting for and eight voting against. I bumped into a friend at that time who asked me, “Do you believe in miracles?” I said, “Yes, I do.” He replied, “Well, your receiving tenure was nothing short of a miracle.”
Non-believers Make the Best Saint Movies: Monsieur Vincent | Patrick Coffin | CWR
“It is only because of your love that the poor will forgive you the bread that you give them.”
When Christians make movies about saints, they sometimes succeed as hagiography, always make their intended audiences feel good, and almost always fail as art. Christians often can’t resist the temptation to tell the story with a bullhorn and end up, too frequently, with movies that appeal primarily to the choir, the members of which are (understandably) hungry for fare that glorifies the Faith.
When agnostics and atheists make movies about saints or other heroes whose life choices were motivated by the claims of faith, however, things tend to turn out differently. If it’s true that saints irritate us into changing our ways, secular artists often build into their art their own anxious searching, their own “reaching out” to meet the irritating (read fascinating) protagonist, to understand him, and to unveil the mystery of what makes him tick. A few examples would include Therese (1986),the French film about St. Therese of Lisieux written and directed by Alain Cavalier; The Song of Bernadette (1943), written by Franz Werfel; Man For All Seasons (1966) and The Mission (1986), written by Robert Bolt; and The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928), written and directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer. I argue this would include Darren Aronofsky and Ari Handel for Noah (2014).
In this tradition stands Monsieur Vincent (1946), the classic biopic of St. Vincent de Paul. It was directed by Maurice Cloche based on a script adapted by the great French playwright Jean Anouilh, who built a writing career exploring ideas that resonate more with Albert Camus and Jean Paul Sartre than with Frank Capra and Walt Disney. Interestingly, Anouilh had successfully tackled another saintly subject in his celebrated play Becket, the movie version of which starred Richard Burton and Peter O’Toole.
In Monsieur Vincent, director Cloche and co-writer Anouilh omit the real life backstory of St. Vincent being sold as a slave, and begin the story with the priest’s arrival at the village of Châtillon-les-Dombes (more on this later).
One denied Christ after having been chosen by him. The other was chosen by Christ after he had spent much time and energy persecuting Christians. One was a businessman with a large, impetuous personality. The other was a rabbi whose emotional passion was equaled by his stunning intellect.
Both men were flawed; both were transformed by encountering Christ. Both were martyred for their faith in Christ. Both, according to tradition, died in the city of Rome nearly forty years after the Resurrection of their Lord.
After Jesus, it is Peter and Paul who dominate the New Testament and whose leadership set the course for the early Church. Peter is mentioned well over two hundred times in the New Testament, while close to half of the books in the New Testament are attributed to Paul. The Acts of the Apostles, an account written by Luke of key events in the early Church, is essentially divided between what might be called the “acts of Peter” (chapters 1-12) and the “acts of Paul” (chapters 13-28).
Each of today’s three readings reveals something of how the hearts and lives of these two great Apostles were met, filled, and transformed by Jesus Christ. The reading from the Gospel of Matthew is well known, describing the dramatic conversation that took place in the region of Caesarea Philippi. Standing in front of a massive one-hundred-foot high wall of rock marked with shrines and statues of pagan gods, Jesus asked two questions of his disciples: “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” and “But who do you say that I am?” Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, did not come from superior intellect or human cleverness, but from faith and the revelation of the Father: “For flesh and blood have not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father” (cf., Catechism, par. 552).
Peter, of course, struggled with faith, eventually denying Jesus on the cusp of the Crucifixion. But after being reaffirmed as head apostle by the Risen Lord (cf., Jn 21), Peter emerged as a man both humble and assured, his confidence placed fully in Christ, not himself. Pope Benedict XVI, reflecting on this change, said, “From the naïve enthusiasm of acceptance, passing through the sorrowful experience of denial and the weeping of conversion, Peter succeeded in entrusting himself to that Jesus who adapted himself to his poor capacity of love” (General Audience, May 24, 2006). This journey was possible for Peter because “he was constantly open to the action of the Spirit of Jesus.”
That openness is readily evident in the account, found in Acts 12, of Peter’s miraculous escape from prison. Like Jesus, he was arrested and imprisoned during the time of the Passover. And although Peter escaped death on that occasion, the episode described by Luke is evidently meant to “echo” the death and resurrection of Jesus, for Peter is delivered from the darkness of prison and certain death by an angel of Lord.
Prior to his encounter with the risen Christ on the road to Damascus, Paul was a zealous persecutor of the Church. Blinded and lying on the road, the stunned Paul asked, “Who are you, Lord?” (Act 9:5). Given an answer and directives, he spent the rest of his life preaching the Gospel, competing in “the race,” one of his favorite metaphors for the Christian life. “His existence,” stated Benedict XVI, “would become that of an Apostle who wants to ‘become all things to all men’ (1 Cor 9:22) without reserve” (General Audience, Oct 25, 2006).
Both Peter and Paul are key witnesses to the reality and veracity of Jesus Christ. Their witness was two-fold: through living, first-hand encounters with the Lord and through their acceptance of martyrdom. “By martyrdom,” the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council explained, “a disciple is transformed into an image of his Master…” (Lumen Gentium, 42). May their bold witness encourage us to be likewise transformed by and for the Savior.
(This "Opening the Word" column originally appeared in the June 29, 2008, edition of Our Sunday Visitor newspaper.)
All four evangelists begin Jesus' entry into public life with John the Baptist's emergence from his desert. Matthew leaps straight to John's mission after the return of the Holy Family from Egypt, Luke after the finding of the boy in the Temple. The other two actually begin their Gospel with it, nothing of our Lord's earthly life being told before, apart from John's "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us."
It is clear, then, that John the Baptist's mission was essential: Jesus' own mission needed it. In his Gospel, St. John interrupts his breathtaking Prologue about the Incarnation of the Word (which we Catholics read as the Last Gospel at Mass) to say: "There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to give testimony of the light, that all men might believe through him." So that the Light of the World, the Light which of all lights could surely not be hid, needed someone to give testimony to him, needed John to give testimony to him!
Little is said in the New Testament to show why John's work was thus essential. Our Lord praises him indeed: "Amongst those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist" (Luke vii.28): and he was not lavish of praise; pause a moment and try to think of anyone else he praised. But although Jesus says (you will find it in the verse before) that John was to prepare his way, it is hard to find any hint from him as to why any preparation at all was necessary for a mission as powerful in word and as studded with miracles as his. We are not shown in the Gospels mighty things flowing from John's work into Christ's. And in the rest of the New Testament nothing much is made of St. John's mission either. St. Paul never refers to it at all, though he must have known about it, since the only description we have of John's origin is given by Paul's companion and disciple, Luke.
Thanks to Luke, all the same, the Church has been intensely aware of John ever since. He is one of that small and immeasurably select band to whom we say the Confiteor at every Mass and daily in our own prayers. Great saints have been named after him—St. John Baptist de la Salle, for instance, who founded the Brothers of the Christian Schools in the seventeenth century; St. John Baptist de Rossi, the eighteenth-century saint whose own instincts were rather like those of his namesake; in the nineteenth century the Cure of Ars, Jean-Marie-Baptiste Vianaey, who would have loved a desert but was never allowed by God to go to one. The number of not spectacularly saintiy persons. who bear his name is, of course, beyond counting—the great French writer of comedy, Moliere, for instance, was Jean-Baptiste Poquelin.
But all that this means is that the parents of the saints, to say nothing of the parents of the dramatist and of the unnumbered others, had a great devotion to the son of Zachary and Elizabeth, not that they had any clear understanding of why it was essential that Our Lord should have him for a Forerunner, or why be should have anybody for a Forerunner. What herald could he possibly need? Their devotion was almost certainly not to the prophet without whom Christ's mission would have lacked an essential element: it was to the child whose birth had been foretold by Gabriel, the child who had leapt in his mother's womb at the sound of Mary's voice as she entered the house of his parents with the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity in her womb: it was to the man who had paid with his head for telling the truth about Salome's mother.