A Catholic Blog for Lovers

A celebration of beauty, truth, and goodness, and, of course, love...and perhaps a little nastiness

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Saturday, February 28, 2004
Blogging on Friday

My brother just reminded me that I intended to "fast" from blogging on the Wednesdays and Fridays of Lent. What can I say? I think because I wasn't feeling all that well yesterday and again last evening, I sort of lost track. I am feeling a lot better right now, thankfully. But I simply forgot my resolution - and blogged quite a lot yesterday. I hope to be more faithful to my resolution as Lent continues.

Fix the church in the name of hope

The president of Voice of The Faithful speaks his mind in the Boston Globe.

Abuse Scandal Is Now 'History,' Top Bishop Says

WASHINGTON, Feb. 27 — Just after the release on Friday of two long-awaited studies on the sexual abuse of children by more than 4,000 priests, the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops declared with emphatic finality in a news conference that the bishops had faced the problem, come clean and swept the church of abusers.

"I assure you that known offenders are not in ministry," the leader, Bishop Wilton D. Gregory of Belleville, Ill., said as he punched out his words. "The terrible history recorded here today is history..."

Today in Christian history

February 28, 1551: German Reformer Martin Bucer dies in England at age 60. One of the first Protestant ministers to take the radical step of marrying, he attempted to mediate between Martin Luther and Swiss reformer Ulrich Zwingli, but Luther would have none of it. "It is better for you to have your enemies than to set up a fictitious fellowship," Luther said.

February 28, 1944: Nazi soldiers arrest Dutch Christian Corrie ten Boom and her family for harboring Jews. The Jews hiding in her house escaped. Corrie was the only member of her family who survived internment in concentration camps.

Friday, February 27, 2004
An Orthodox Bishop on "The Passion"

There have been any number of negative reviews (or warnings, even before the picture was seen) from Orthodox clergy and laity (e.g. Frederica Mathewes-Green). I believe at the root of much of this negativity is a lack of appreciation of the fulness of the Tradition, of the western Catholic Tradition in particular. A distorted view. My Orthodox priest friend saw "The Passion" on Tuesday and was riveted and in utter awe at the message and artistry of the film. He could not understand why so many Orthodox were so negative, even fearful.

Here is another voice from Metropolitan Methodios of the Greek Orthodox Diocese of Boston.


Yesterday, together with other ecumenical leaders of Greater Boston, I had the opportunity of viewing Mel Gibson's film, "The Passion of the Christ". Much controversy has surrounded this movie. Some critics are concerned about the amount of violence it contains, and whether it is suitable for children. Others debate whether the script was faithful to the accounts of the divine passion in the gospels, or contains embellishments from non gospel sources. Finally, a strong voice of concern has been raised by Jewish groups fearing new outbreaks of anti Semitism throughout the world.

What is important, I believe, for us Orthodox Christians is to understand that no film concerning the life of our Saviour--especially one concerned exclusively with His passion---could possibly please everyone. The film was riveting, and cannot be compared to any other previous film on the life of Christ. The violence depicted throughout the film was excruciating to witness, and led me to reflect deeply on the pain of Christ's passion. While there were numerous scenes where the producer used artistic license, the film as a whole was faithful to the gospel accounts. As an Orthodox Christian, I was disappointed that enough emphasis was not given on the triumph and joy of the Holy Resurrection.

As we continue our journey in the Great Lent, I encourage everyone to see the movie (parents should decide concerning its appropriateness for children), reflect on the pain of Christ's passion, make their own reviews, and come to their own conclusions about the movie. As a Christian leader who witnesses the sufferings endured by Christians for their beliefs throughout the world, and who strongly protests the ongoing muzzling and ridiculing of the Christian message in America, I fully understand the concern and fear of our Jewish brethren that the film, in their opinion, may foster anti Semitism. I encourage all Orthodox Christians to continue promoting appreciation and respect of the beliefs of people who do not share our beliefs in the Risen Lord."

With an Ear for God and an Eye for Art

New York Times Art Section speaks of Sister Gertrude Morgan, who seems almost like a character right out of Flannery O'Connor

"IF you wonder what it means to say that art is a calling, don't miss the ethereal "Tools of Her Ministry: The Art of Sister Gertrude Morgan" at the American Folk Art Museum.

During the 1950's, Sister Morgan believed that God called on her to paint. She was in her mid-50's, a self-appointed prophet, a street preacher in New Orleans, "the headquarters of sin," as she called it. With no art training and illustrated Bibles for guides, she put pencils, pens, crayons and paints to paper, canvas, cardboard and almost anything else at hand: Styrofoam food trays, toilet paper rolls, doors, window and lamp shades, scrap wood and detergent boxes.

Untutored but full of an uncanny grace, her paintings were meant as teaching aids to spread the word of God, and words, thousands of them, increasingly took up every spare millimeter of space in her pictures. They flowed, stream-of-consciousnesslike, in rapt and incantatory style, which was also how she spoke...

..Briefly she became a cultish favorite. Rosemary Kent visited her in the early 1970's to write an article for the first issue of Interview magazine. Sister Morgan was seated behind her white-draped table, in her starched white nurse's uniform with her little peaked white cap, dressed as always as the bride of Jesus, in the small front room of her whitewashed Everlasting Gospel Mission, pounding her tambourine and shouting sermons through a narrow painted paper megaphone in her gravelly alto voice..."

Sister Gertrude Morgan "Wedded to Christ", 1975

The newest Word from Rome of John Allen

'The Passion' and 'liturgy wars'; A tour of Denver; Annual Religious Education Congress in Los Angeles; Canadian talk show TV; The John Jay report

Some encouraging reports from John Allen; appreciated his report on Denver. And I tend to agree with him about the connection between reactions to the Passion and reactions to liturgical changes. I am not sure I would be so "upbeat" about the Los Angeles Congress, but I haven't attended and so don't have much to go by really. But I am sure many good people were there!

Catholic Panel Rebukes Bishops for Abuse

"..The findings are sure to fuel debate among Catholics on two controversial issues: whether the church should try to screen out gay priests and whether celibacy for clergy should be optional.

The board said celibacy was not a cause of the scandal, but that the celibacy requirement may have attracted candidates for the priesthood who were seeking an escape from their sexual problems.

The board came to no direct conclusions about whether gays should be ordained. However, it noted that ``any evaluation of the causes and context of the current crisis must be cognizant of the fact that more than 80 percent of the abuse at issue was of a homosexual nature...''

Prayer of Saint Ephrem

Used abudantly by Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholics during Great Lent:

Prayer of St Ephrem the Syrian

O Lord, Master of my life, grant that I may not be infected with the spirit of slothfulness and acquisitiveness, with the spirit of ambition and vain talking.

(Great Prostration (Metany), which is kneeling and touching the forehead to the floor, then standing and making the Sign of the Cross.)

Grant instead to me your servant the spirit of purity and humility, the spirit of patience and neighborly love.

(Great Prostration (Metany), which is kneeling and touching the forehead to the floor, then standing and making the Sign of the Cross.)

O Lord and King, bestow upon me the grace of being aware of my own sins and of not thinking evil of those of my brothers and sisters.

(Great Prostration (Metany), which is kneeling and touching the forehead to the floor, then standing and making the Sign of the Cross.)

For You are blessed unto ages of ages. Amen.
O God, be gracious to me a sinner, and have mercy on me.

(12 times, with each time making a Small Prostration (Metany), bowing very low, touching the floor with the fingertips of the right hand, then standing and making the Sign of the Cross.)

Yes, O Lord and King, bestow upon me the grace of being aware of my own sins and of not thinking evil of those of my brothers and sisters.

(Great Prostration (Metany), which is kneeling and touching the forehead to the floor, then standing and making the Sign of the Cross.)

For You are blessed unto ages of ages. Amen.

Prayer Request

Usually, while I am aware of my fragility and vulnerability, I feel quite well. Grateful for that! However, earlier this morning I realized I wasn't feeling "up to par" and then I began to experience chills over my body (and not just in my bad foot where there isn't much circulation). I ask your prayers that I don't panic, that I do what I have to do, and that, if God wills, it passes REAL SOON! Thanks. And you are in my prayers daily.

Update: 3:30PM. Feeling much better and no chills for a few hours. Keep up those powerful prayers!

'Passion' critics retract reviews

"Early detractors of Mel Gibson's hit film, "The Passion of the Christ," are backing away from their critical remarks after the movie grossed a record-setting $26.6 million on its opening day.

"The Passion," which opened Wednesday on 4,643 screens at 3,006 theaters, set a record for the biggest opening day for a movie released outside the summer (May-August) and winter holiday months (November-December).

It came in third among all movies that have premiered on a Wednesday, bypassed only by "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" ($34.5 million) and "Star Wars: Episode 1 — The Phantom Menace" ($28.5 million), according to the movie tracking service Box Office Mojo.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) retracted critical remarks made about the film last April by its ecumenical and interreligious committee, which suggested that the film might be anti-Semitic.

In remarks released Wednesday on Catholic News Service, three staff members of the USCCB's Office for Film and Broadcasting said the film might be overly violent but not anti-Semitic.

"Concerning the issue of anti-Semitism, the Jewish people are at no time blamed collectively for Jesus' death," said a review by Gerri Pare, David DiCerto and Anne Navarro. "Rather, Christ freely embraces his destiny."

The reviewers went on to call the movie "an artistic achievement in terms of its textured cinematography, haunting atmospherics, lyrical editing, detailed production and soulful score."

Hollywood film company Dreamworks also backed away from remarks published in yesterday's New York Times suggesting that Hollywood producers will blacklist Mr. Gibson..."

Another Gerard!

Checking for the number of Mel Gibson's children I came across Mel's real name. It is: Mel Columcille Gerard. Nice factoid.

Christ in the crossfire

The London Tablet's review of Mel's movie. Another writer who says Gibson has 11 children (he is one of 11 himself). I believe Gibson has 7 children.

Good and Evil Locked in Violent Showdown

This may be the New York Times official review of The Passion of The Christ.

Two Studies Cite Child Sex Abuse by 4 Percent of Priests

WASHINGTON, Feb. 26 — Two long-awaited studies have found that the Roman Catholic Church suffered an epidemic of child sexual abuse that involved at least 4 percent of priests over 52 years and peaked with the ordination class of 1970, in which one of every 10 priests was eventually accused of abuse..."

Today in Christian history

February 27, 280: Constantine, the first Roman emperor converted to Christianity, is born. Though some scholars question the authenticity of Constantine's conversion (which came after he saw a vision on the battlefield), the emperor did seek to settle church controversies by calling the Council of Nicea in 325.

February 27, 380: Roman emperor Theodosius makes Christianity the official law of the land. "It is our will," he decreed, "that all the peoples we rule shall practice that religion that Peter the Apostle transmitted to the Romans".

Thursday, February 26, 2004
Tourists invited to Saudi sea and sun

"..The supreme commission for tourism's website lists those who will not be allowed in: Jews; people with Israeli stamps in their passport; "those who don't abide by the Saudi traditions concerning appearance and behavior", and "those under the influence of alcohol"....

Here's a commentary from the WSJ Best of the Web for Feb. 26:

"Our friends the Saudis.

Saudi Arabia, normally a byword for stern and puritanical sobriety, is preparing to show the world its jollier side by issuing visas to tourists," reports London's Guardian. "At present they are issued only for employment, pilgrimages and other approved visits, and can be difficult to obtain. Tourist visas will be introduced within a few weeks, officials quoted by the daily Arab News in Jeddah said."

But not everyone can visit, as the official Saudi Tourism Web site notes:

Visas will not be issued for the following groups of people:

An Israeli passport holder or a passport that has an Israeli arrival/departure stamp.

Those who don't abide by the Saudi traditions concerning appearance and behaviors. Those under the influence of alcohol will not be permitted into the Kingdom.

There are certain regulations for pilgrims and you should contact the consulate for more information.

Jews and drunks need not apply: Has it occurred to the guys at Qorvis Communications, the Saudis' fancy Washington public relations firm, that their clients might be better off if they made an effort to sound less like Nazis?

Here's a suggestion the Qorvis folks should feel free to steal from us: Have the Saudis sponsor an essay contest on the theme "Saudi Arabia, Tourist Paradise," and use the winning entry to promote Saudi tourism in an American's words. First prize could be a week in Saudi Arabia, all expenses paid. Second prize: two weeks in Saudi Arabia."

And here is a fine article trying to explain why the US stays so close to Saudi Arabia despite so many violations of human rights and religious freedoms.

By the way, I have no plans to visit the Kingdom anytime soon!

Some Stats from Boston on Allegations of Abuse

About 7% of the priests of the Archdiocese of Boston have had accusations of abuse. That's a high figure (though for one following the news these past years not really surprising - I was always surprised at how low the figures given by both secular and Catholic sources had been). Here are some graphs giving some interesting and perhaps important information:

The Official Statement of Archbishop Sean O'Malley

Film Forum: Excruciating? Excellent? Reviews of The Passion of The Christ

Christianity Today's review and summary of the incoming reviews of Mel's movie, as well as the CT's . I like this section:

"It is worth nothing that, while Protestants are enthusiastically embracing the film, it is a Catholic work through and through, from its adherence to the Stations of the Cross to its reverent attention to Mary's experience of the ordeal. These aspects of it impressed Catholic film critic Steven D. Greydanus (Decent Films). "The film is an imaginative, at times poetic reflection on the meaning of the gospel story in light of sacred tradition and Catholic theology," he writes. "[It is] a preeminently important cinematic expression of the faith—probably one of the most important religious films of all time."

Gibson's Passion

Leave it to RJN's "First Things" to give one of the best reviews yet.

Florence Daniel Cohalan

A wonderful appreciation of a wonderful person and priest by Father George William Rutler.

Mel Gibson and Saint Alphonsus

I wonder: did Mel Gibson ever meditate on the writings and works of Saint Alphonsus Liguori or ever gaze on some of his paintings? The painting below of the saint might embarrass us today. The "critics" and "experts" might well pan it and call it "obscence!"

The Crucifixion painted by Saint Alphonsus Liguori

Pope urges protection of children

"VATICAN CITY -- Pope John Paul II ushered in the solemn Lenten season by urging the faithful at an Ash Wednesday ceremony to pay particular attention to the plight of children, who more than anyone else "need to be defended and protected."

The service was held this year in the Vatican instead of at a Roman basilica to spare the ailing pontiff a trip across the city.

John Paul made his comments in St. Peter's Basilica before placing ashes on the heads of cardinals, bishops, and rank-and-file Catholics -- a ritual sign of one's own mortality that opens Lent, the church's period of penitence, sacrifice, and reflection that ends with Easter.

In his homily, delivered in its entirety and in a strong and clear voice, John Paul asked the faithful to pay particular attention to the plight of children around the world this Lenten season, saying they are often abandoned and in need of special care..."

New Film May Harm Gibson's Career

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 25 — Mel Gibson's provocative new film, "The Passion of the Christ," is making some of Hollywood's most prominent executives uncomfortable in ways that may damage Mr. Gibson's career.

Hollywood is a close-knit world, and friendships and social contact are critical in the making of deals and the casting of movies. Many of Hollywood's most prominent figures are also Jewish. So with a furor arising around the film, along with Mr. Gibson's reluctance to distance himself from his father, who calls the Holocaust mostly fiction, it is no surprise that Hollywood — Jewish and non-Jewish — has been talking about little else, at least when it's not talking about the Oscars..."

Today in Christian history

February 26, 398: John Chrysostom, the greatest preacher of the early Church, becomes bishop of Constantinople. So well-regarded was his preaching that he earned the name Chrysostom: "golden-mouth." He was exiled in 403 for his outspoken criticism of his congregation, including Empress Eudoxia. After the church recalled him, he again offended Eudoxia, who exiled him again. He died three years later.

February 26, 1732: In Philadelphia, Mass was celebrated for the first time at St Joseph's Church, the only Roman Catholic church built and maintained in the American colonies before the Revolutionary War.

February 26, 1857: American Congregational clergyman Charles Sheldon, author of more than 50 books and editor of the Christian Herald, is born in Wellsville, New York. His most famous work, "In His Steps" (1896), sold more than 23 million copies and spawned the recent "What Would Jesus Do?" phenomenon.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004
Fun Days Ahead

No not Lent! Not even Easter!

It may be fun for those of us who read people like Andrew Sullivan, who has been largely a Bush supporter, especially in regard to his leadership in the war on terror.

But now that the President has come down in favor of a constitutional admendment to ban same-sex marriage, Andrew is not a happy camper. He has already effectively said, the same day as the President's announcement, that he would not be voting for Bush but would vote for Kerry if he runs.

The fun? I suspect Andrew and some others will show how Bush really wasn't all that good as a leader in the war on terror after all and that the Bush critics are mostly right after all..... blah, blah, blah.

I could be wrong, of course. But I expect some twisting and turning and some fun ahead!

Good and Evil Locked in Violent Showdown

The New York Times' review of Mel's movie.

Bush Calls for Ban on Same-Sex Marriage

"..Last week, he met with 13 Roman Catholic conservatives. They included Deal Hudson, the publisher of Crisis magazine and a friend of Bush political adviser Karl Rove; William Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights; Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan, former speechwriter for President Reagan; and Kathryn Jean Lopez, associate editor of National Review magazine..."

The Passion of The Christ

I had been planning on attending a showing of this "famous" movie this evening at The Senator Theatre here in Baltimore. But I've decided to follow my "gut" and stay home after all. I have not liked movies about "spiritual" themes that are close to my own soul, nor movies that deal with Our Lord. For me, it just seems an impossible task to capture the essence of Jesus Christ in cinema (though I appreciate the effort of those like Mel Gibson and even want lots of folk to see his film). And while I enjoy violence in action movies (yes, and perhaps I need to repent of this), I don't feel up to the violence I hear about in The Passion.

So I will pass after all; though a desire to be "au courant" and "cool" almost made me do it!

James Carroll thinks Mel's Passion "obscene."

No surprise here. Amazing how differently people can view the same reality! Read Rod Dreher's appreciation in this comment thread.


I need Lent very much this year. I need a touch of God's grace and a reallignment of my priorities. I need to repent.

I need more time to be with the LORD consciously and attentively. Not easy for me. But I will try. I need to "fast" as well as I attempt to detach from so many things that weigh me down. To quote the Psalm of Lent: "Turn away your face from my sins; blot out all my guilt. A clean heart create for me, O God; renew in me a steadfast spirit. Do not drive me from your presence, nor take from me your holy spirit. Restore to me the joy of your salvation; sustain in me a willing spirit."

I plan to "fast" from blogging on the Wednesdays and Fridays of Lent. But I hope to continue posting materials the other days of Lent.

P.S. While we are all responsible to ourselves for our choices, it is disappointing to me that on the American Bishops' website there seems to be nothing at all about the holy season of Lent, other than the Pope's Lenten Message dutifuly posted. I am in need of repentance; I believe, along with Father Richard John Neuhaus in the Public Square article I linked to, that our bishops, too, need repentance. I will be praying not only for myself but for the Bishops and for the entire Church - and, God willing, for you too. Please, remember me!

Welcome to St Blog's

Domin-I-Can! The blog of a Novice of the Order of Preachers - Brother Andrew
Cor ad cor loquitur - David Armstrong
DeoOmnisGloria.com - Jay
My Vocation Journey - Ryan Guthrie
Catholic Ragemonkey - Father S.T.
Laudem Gloriae - Christine

Today in Church history

February 24, 1208: Francis of Assisi experiences a vision in the church of Portunicula, Italy. Though not his first vision, it convinced him to begin a mission of preaching repentance, singing, caring for lepers, and aiding the peasants. Most notably, he and his followers renounced wealth and followed absolute poverty.

February 24, 1582: Gregory XIII issues a bull requiring all Catholic countries to follow October 4 with October 15 and replace the Julian calendar with the Gregorian. By 1582, the Julian calendar had drifted from the equinoxes by a full ten days. Some Eastern Orthodox (and Eastern Catholic) Churches still use the Julian calendar for their liturgical calendar.

February 24, 1633: English poet and cleric George Herbert dies. His devotional poems, most of which are collected in "The Temple", exemplify the metaphysical tradition (as do the poems of his contemporary John Donne). Herbert's poems show forth a refined piety suffused with warmth.

Monday, February 23, 2004
Vatican Report Calls U.S. Abuse Policy Too Strict

VATICAN CITY, Feb. 23 — A report on child sexual abuse that the Vatican released today found fault with and challenged American bishops' zero tolerance policy of seeking to remove from ministry any Roman Catholic priest who has abused a child.

The 219-page report, titled "Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church: Scientific and Legal Perspectives," cast that policy as an overreaction by Catholic leaders in the United States to a public outcry and as a potentially counterproductive way to keep children safe from sexual abuse.

The report included expressions of concern that sexually abusive priests who are cast out of ministry and pushed away from the Roman Catholic Church might be more likely to abuse again, due to their isolation and a lack of monitoring of their behavior.

"Although until now the phenomenon of abuse was not always taken seriously enough, at present there is a tendency to overreact and rob accused priests of even legitimate support," wrote one of the editors of the report, Dr. Manfred Lütz, in its conclusion. Dr. Lütz, a German psychiatrist, is a member of the Pontifical Council for the Laity here.

The other two editors are not connected to the Vatican, and the report mainly presents the perspectives of those two scientists and six others. None of the eight scientists are Catholic; all are experts in the study or treatment of sexual abuse.."

The Goriest Story Ever Told

Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ is a well-made film. That doesn't mean you'll want to see it

Monsignor says harm of abuse wasn't recognized

SPRINGFIELD -- The temporary leader of the Diocese of Springfield, appointed after its bishop resigned amid sexual abuse allegations, said in an interview yesterday that the scandal that has rocked the Catholic Church stems from a belief among some priests during the 1960s, '70s, and '80s that sex with young men was acceptable..."

Today in Christian history

February 23, 155 (traditional date): Polycarp, the bishop of Smyrna, is martyred. Reportedly a disciple of the Apostle John, at age 86 he was taken to be burned at the stake. "You try to frighten me with fire that burns for an hour and forget the fire of hell that never burns out," he said. The flames, legend says, would not touch him, and when he was run through with a sword, his blood put the fire out.

February 23, 303: Diocletian begins his "Great Persecution," issuing edicts that call for church buildings to be destroyed, sacred writings burned, Christians to lose civil rights, and clergy to be imprisoned and forced to sacrifice. The following year he went even further, ordering all people to sacrifice on pain of death.

February 23, 1455 (traditional date): Johannes Gutenberg publishes the Bible, the first book ever printed on a press with movable type.

February 23, 1685: George Frederick Handel, composer of the oratorio "Messiah," is born. He died in 1741, having spent the last six years of his life in total blindness.

Sunday, February 22, 2004
Islam Attracts Top Britons in a Growing Trend

"JEDDAH, 23 February 2004 - Over 14,000 Britons have embraced Islam, according to the UK's Sunday Times.

Citing the first authoritative study of the phenomenon, the paper said that they had done so because of disillusionment with Western values.

Some of Britain's top landowners, celebrities and the offspring of senior Establishment figures have embraced Islam..."

Richard John Neuhaus' February Public Square online

Great stuff, covering many topics, such as "In the Aftermath of Scandal" - which is, at least in part a wise, balanced, and challenging reflection on the state of the American episcopacy - and Mel's movie and much more. I resonate with most of Father Neuhaus' writings and appreciate, from this Public Square, these comments (among many others):

"There has in recent years been a slew of books and articles offering variations on “Why I Am Still a Catholic.” I confess I find the genre very odd. In some cases, it is as though the author is doing the Church a favor, in almost all cases the implication is that the “I” in question is in a morally and spiritually superior position and feels the need to explain to others why such a splendid person continues to associate with such a disreputable community. Here is another long article on the “dysfunctionality” of the Catholic Church, with specific reference to the current scandals.

The author offers some conventional, and for the most part sensible, suggestions on how the bishops might better lead the Church, and along the way discusses how the scandals almost drove him to leave. He concludes with this: “If we don’t actually change the way we do things, it is hard to imagine how severe the consequences will be the next time the Church is called to account. Personally, I doubt my own faith would survive a disillusionment on this scale a second time.” Really? He is generously giving the Church another chance? I don’t know in what he has invested his faith, but, if one believes that the Catholic Church is what she claims to be, nothing—not sex abuse scandals, not maladministration, not cowardly and incompetent bishops, not popes with bastard children, not simony, not lies, secrecy, inquisitions, nor any other moral perfidy—could possibly lead one to return the gift of being in communion with her.

Why am I still a Catholic? Because I am a sinner in need of grace, a learner in need of guidance, a disciple determined to be faithful to the way that Christ, for reasons I don’t understand, constituted his Church. No number of bad bishops or, for that matter, bad popes can change that. As I recall, there was a time when most Catholics seemed to understand that. But that was before the idea spread that the Church is simply a voluntary association in which one can cancel one’s membership, or a religious retailer from which one can withdraw one’s patronage. I will not name the author of the above mentioned article, or the magazine in which it appeared. Give them another chance."

Jesus Christ, cinema star

Mel Gibson's movie is the latest take on the Passion Story, but filmmakers have long found it a source of inspiration

Cherishing an older Catholicism

Controversy highlights belief of traditionalists like those in Richmond, N.H.

RICHMOND, N.H. -- The worshipers at the St. Benedict Center are not big consumers of popular culture. Many don't own televisions. The nearest multiplex is miles away. And R-rated movies are frowned upon.

But Mel Gibson has done what MTV could not. By producing a graphic motion picture depicting the last 12 hours of Jesus's life, Gibson has punctured the cultural isolation of this small community of believers, who worship in Latin, eschew birth control, cling to the rituals and beliefs of the Catholic Church before the Second Vatican Council, and claim Gibson and his father as theological allies..."

Today in Christian history

February 22, 1906: Black itinerant evangelist William J. Seymour arrives in Los Angeles to lead a lead a Holiness mission. The group grew larger as word spread of its revival meetings and speaking in tongues, and it eventually moved to a rundown building on Azusa Street. The church's revival is often cited as one of the birthplaces of Pentecostalism.

February 22, 1978: Pulitzer-Prize-winning poet Phyllis McGinley died at 72. She wrote one of my favorite books of all times, "Saint Watching", a marvelous, humorous, warm look at the uniqueness and humanity of the Catholic saints. It is available through Amazon from other venders at great prices. Highly recommended!

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