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The Intelligent Catholic’s Guide News and Notes for Catholics

Loreto Publications has brought the Haydock Douay-Rheims Bible back into print.  The Haydock Bible has a larger font than the Douay-Rheims Catholic Bible and includes a comprehensive Catholic commentary, an illustrated Catholic Bible Dictionary and a History of the Books of Holy Scripture.  It is reproduced from the 1859 edition of Father Haydock….EWTN has a couple of Christmas Concerts on their schedule:  “Christmas in Harvard Square: The Boys of St. Paul’s Choir School” on December 21 with reruns on the 22 and 27 and on December 22  “Catholic University of America’s Christmas Concert.”…From Ignatius comes Mary of Mary of NazarethNazareth: The Life of Our Lady in Pictures, a companion volume to the movie Mary of Nazareth with over 65 pictures from the movie….First Things will host a lecture and book signing with Sheila Liaugminas, author of the recent book Non-Negotiable: Essential Principles of a Just Society and Humane Culture and host of the Relevant Radio show A Closer Look.  The event will take place on January 7 at the First Things office (35 E. 21st Street) in New York from 6-8 p.m….Franciscan University’s second Fidelity and Freedom Symposium is on March 5 and 6, 2015.  The theme is the relationship between faith and reason.  There is no charge to attend.

Maureen Williamson

Divorced and Remarried Couples Need to Find Salvation Not “Integration”

On the First Things blog of December 15, Williams Doino Jr. tells the moving story of how the poet Dunstan Thompson, a lapsed Catholic in a homosexual relationship with the writer Philip Trower, watched a procession of the Blessed Sacrament in the English town of Walsingham and “instinctively fell to his knees, bowed his head and made the sign of the Cross.”

Thompson eventually returned to the Church.  Philip Trower converted to Catholicism and both repudiated their former lifestyle.

I contrast this true story with the current controversy within the Church over whether divorced and remarried Catholics be allowed to receive Holy Communion and the attitude of both Pope Francis and a number of bishops.

These are the Pope’s words as quoted on Rorate-Caeli from his interview with La Nación:

“In the case of divorcees who have remarried, we posed the question, what do we do with them? What door can we allow them to open? This was a pastoral concern: will we allow them to go to Communion? Communion alone is no solution. The solution is integration. They have not been excommunicated, true. But they cannot be godfathers to any child being baptized, Mass readings are not for divorcees, they cannot give communion, they cannot teach Sunday school, there are about seven things that they cannot do, I have the list over there. Come on! If I disclose any of this it will seem that they have been excommunicated in fact! Thus, let us open the doors a bit more. Why can’t they be godfathers and godmothers? ‘No, no, no, what testimony will they be giving their godson?’ The testimony of a man and a woman saying ‘my dear, I made a mistake, I was wrong here, but I believe our Lord loves me, I want to follow God, I was not defeated by sin, I want to move on’. Anything more Christian than that? And what if one of the political crooks among us, corrupt people, are chosen to be somebody’s godfather. If they are properly wedded by the Church, would we accept them? What kind of testimony will they give to their godson? A testimony of corruption? Things need to change, our standards need to change.”

Now, I am by no means a theologian; but basic Catholic doctrine tell us that the divorced and remarried have, indeed, allowed themselves to be “defeated by sin.”  Our Lord certainly does love them; but He also wants them to keep His word.

turmoil and truthPhilip Trower, author of Turmoil & Truth: The Historical Roots of the Modern Crisis in the Catholic Church, told Mr. Doino in the First Things story mentioned above, that once Dunstan Thompson went to confession and received the Holy Eucharist that it signified an end to their illicit relationship.  This was an era when the laws of the Church were understood by both Catholics and many non-Catholics.  Yes, it is sometimes difficult to follow God’s word; but touchy-feely sentimentality doesn’t take the place of God’s word nor will it help us attain salvation.

Philip Trower and Dunstan Thompson remained close friends until Dunstan’s death – without what Mr. Trower called “the wrongness of homosexual practice.”  One suggestion for divorced and remarried Catholics is that they live as brother and sister.  This solution is especially practical if there are children from the second marriage outside the Church.  It would allow the couple to receive Communion and keep their family intact.

The Catholic Church is our road to salvation.  Couples married outside the Church need to be saved, not integrated into the Church just to make them feel good.

Maureen Williamson

Why Change Children’s Classics? Just Read the Real Thing to Them

little womenWhile looking around for new children’s books to recommend for Christmas I came across A Little Women Christmas, a picture book adapted from Louisa May Alcott’s classic, Little Women, by Heather Vogel Frederick with illustrations by Bagram Ibatoulline.   It is a retelling of Chapter 22 of the original.  This is the chapter where Mr. March surprises the family by coming home from the war on Christmas Day.

Reading Little Women was a rite of passage for girls for generations.  I read it and reread it many times from age eight until twelve or so.  I hope girls still read it; but I have my doubts.

Neither the text nor the pictures in this new picture book are bad; but it certainly isn’t Little Women.  Reading it prompted me to go back and read this Christmas chapter in the original.  There is no comparison.  Which made me think.  Why bother?  Especially since the publisher recommends this new book for ages four to eight.  Four-year-olds can’t read this text and eight-year-olds can read the original classic.  And a four-year-old who needs the text read to him doesn’t need to have this version read to him.  He, or more likely, she can certainly understand the original text if an adult reads it to her.  Which brings on another thought.  Whatever happened to reading to children?  My mother read to us from the classics frequently, as did my husband’s mother to him.  This reading started us on the road to reading many books on our own.

So, my recommendation is to buy the original version of Little Women and all Louisa May Alcott’s other book for the children on your Christmas list.  My favorite of Louis May Alcott’s books – even more than Little Women – is Eight Cousins.  Be sure to add it to your list.

Maureen Williamson

The Intelligent Catholics Guide News and Notes for Catholics

Angels calendarHow does an academic go from atheist to Catholic?  For Holly Ordway it was reason and God’s grace.  Read her story in Not God’s Type: An Atheist Academic Lays Down Her Arms….The Vatican’s final report on U. S. nuns is scheduled to be released at a December 16 press conference….From Tan Books comes a 2015 Angels Calendar with full color classic artwork….In Reclaiming Catholic Social Teaching, Anthony Esolen explains that Catholic social teaching isn’t focused exclusively on serving the poor; but also includes teaching on the nature of man, his eternal destiny, the sanctity of marriage, and the important role of the family in building a coherent and harmonious society….Philosopher Alice von Hildebrand, widow of Dietrich, tells the story of her fascinating life in Memoirs of a Happy Failure….Sacred Journeys: Lourdes premiers on most PBS stations on December 16 and features students and facility from Franciscan University of Steubenville….For the little ones in your life comes My First Catechism, aimed at children two and up….Ignatius has brought The Maid of Orleans: The Life and Mysticism of Joan of Arc back in print.

Maureen Williamson

The True Victim in Ferguson

Does anyone besides me think that the greatest tragedy to come out of the Ferguson situation is that a decent young police officer’s life has been ruined?

A Grand Jury acquitted Darren Wilson of any wrongdoing when he shot Michael Brown.  He defended himself against a man who attacked him.  The evidence in Wilson’s favor was overwhelming.  No matter.  We have riots.  The media willfully ignores the facts of the case.  And Darren Wilson’s life will never be the same again.

No one wants to see any police officer have to kill another human being.  A police officer’s job is to defend society against criminals.  All police officers are entitled to defend themselves in the course of their duty.  Every perpetrator knows that he risks death or injury if he attacks an officer.

Why is it that in a case with overpowering evidence supporting police officer Darren Wilson the liberal establishment  assumes he was in the wrong.  If Darren Wilson had been a black policeman and Michael Brown a white perpetrator in the same situation with the same outcome would anyone have objected?  Would there have been riots in the streets?  Would innocent people’s property have been destroyed?  Would the officer’s life be in danger?

Darren Wilson has had to resign from his job.  His career is ruined.  He has lost his pension.  He is now being protected by volunteers from the Fraternal Order of Police who are doing it on their own time and not being paid.  Darren Wilson has said his conscience is clear and he behaves that way, with quiet dignity.

This Christmas if you are looking for a good cause you can contribute to a defense fund for Darren Wilson started by the Fraternal Order of Police.  Make your check out to Shield of Hope and write “Darren Wilson” in the memo field.  Checks should be mailed to: FOP Lodge 15, 9620 Lackland Road, Overland, MO 63114, Attn: Shield of Hope.

Maureen Williamson



Try Marjorie Flack’s Books for the Children on Your Christmas List

Story of Ping

Marjorie Flack was a noted children’s author during the first half of the twentieth century.  Some months ago I reviewed her Angus books which my mother read to us when we were children.  While doing some research on the author and talking to friends about her, I came upon other of her books.  One friend told me that, while she liked the Angus books, her favorite Marjorie Flack book was The Story about Ping.

I decided to check into it.  It is still in print which is good.  Unfortunately, I didn’t think it lived up to the three Angus books, although, it was, apparently, Ms. Flack’s most popular book.

The Story about Ping is about a little duck who lives on the Yangtze River.  One night to avoid a spanking he runs away.  His adventures on his own and his return to his family make up the rest of the story.

The illustrations in the book are by Kurt Wiese who, according to one piece I read about Ms. Flack, was recruited to do them because he had lived in China.  I liked the illustrations very much.  There is a fluidity to them and all the faces are expressive.

One thing that unnerved me about the book is that the edition that I own is part of what the publisher, Penguin, calls its “Core Concepts Program”.  Listed on the inside front cover are the twenty concepts which make up the Penguin Core Concepts Program.  They are typically liberal and politically correct.  Nothing so judgmental as teaching children the difference between right and wrong, of course.  The suggested questions the publisher supplies are again typical of what a liberal would ask to start a discussion and indoctrinate chilren.

While I don’t agree with my friend that it is Marjorie Flack’s best story, I still recommend The Story of Ping for children and it, along with the three Angus books, would make excellent Christmas gifts for the children on  your list.

Maureen Williamson

Happy Thanksgiving

We live in a world that is very often at odds with our Catholic faith.  Still, when you are a Catholic you have hope.  In the words of Pope Benedict XVI:

 “The one who has hope lives differently;

the one who hopes has been granted the gift of a new life.”

On this Thanksgiving, let us remember that.  Let us remember that despite the world we live in, that we have our Faith and we have Hope.

Happy Thanksgiving to all from everyone here at The Intelligent Catholic’s Guide.

Maureen Williamson

A New Christmas Book for Children with Special Meaning for Today’s World

Ishmael_Distributor (2)

Ignatius and Magnificat have combined to publish a new Christmas story for children, Ishmael: The Shepherd Boy of Bethlehem

The plot revolves around a young boy named Ishmael who comes with his family to Bethlehem, their native village, as ordered by the Emperor Augustus, so a census could be taken.  Another young boy, Isaac, lives in Bethlehem and is not happy to see so many people come to his town.

Both Ishmael and Isaac are descendants of Abraham.  Ishmael is named after Abraham’s son by Hagar, the slave girl, and Isaac is named after the son of Sarah, Abraham’s wife.  The Jews descended from Isaac and, according to Islamic beliefs, Mohammed descended from Ishmael.

As with the Jews and the Moslems, Isaac and Ishmael fight.

But there are other things happening.  Also in Bethlehem are the carpenter Joseph and his expectant wife Mary.  The story of the Nativity unfolds and Ishmael and Isaac visit the Christ Child together:

“As Isaac and Ishmael contemplated the newborn, they saw themselves as they truly were, and they felt their hardened hearts softening within them.”

Ishmael: The Shepherd Boy of Bethlehem is obviously a story meant to mirror the centuries-long conflict between the Jews and Moslems.  The moral of the story is that it is through the love of Jesus Christ, the savior, that men come together.

The book is illustrated in full color with lovely delicate pictures.  Special features include the words and music of Away in a Manger and the text of a moving Christmas prayer from Pope Benedict XVI.

This is a nice Christmas story that teaches children Christian virtue and makes a broader point as noted above. Yet, I find, it lacks charm.  Still, it could easily make a good gift for the children on your Christmas list.

Maureen Williamson

The Lost Concept of Redemptive Suffering

I was standing in line in the supermarket the other day when I noticed all the tabloid and magazine headlines about the sad story of Brittany Maynard, the 29 year-old who took her own life because she had terminal brain cancer.

In a People Magazine story, Brittany said: “For people to argue against this choice for sick people really seems evil to me.  They try to mix it up with suicide, and that’s really unfair because there’s not a single part of me that wants to die. But I am dying.”

Philip Johnson, a Catholic seminarian in Raleigh, NC, received a diagnosis of terminal brain cancer in 2008.  Last month he wrote about Brittany’s choice to take her own life.  “Suffering is not worthless,” he wrote, “and our lives are not our own to take.  As humans we are relational – we relate to one another and the actions of one person affects others.  Sadly, the concept of ‘redemptive suffering’ – that human suffering united to the suffering of Jesus on the Cross for our salvation can benefit others – has often been ignored or lost in modern times.”

Six months or so ago my husband and I went to a wake for a Catholic young lady who, like Brittany, had had terminal brain cancer.  We didn’t know her.  She was the niece of friends.  When she was first diagnosed she was given three or four months to live.  She lived almost a year and enjoyed some wonderful times in those months with family and friends.  We don’t know why God chose to take her; but we know He had His reasons.  This young lady died with true dignity and, we hope, is in the arms of the Lord.

Maureen Williamson

How Not to Solve the Problems Surrounding Marriage

The recent Extraordinary Synod on the family was fraught with controversy.  Traditional Catholic teachings on the indissolubility of marriage, homosexuality and cohabitation before marriage were on the table.  While the final document released by the Synod did not, of course, change Church teaching, some of its conclusions along with the Synod discussions and media reports of these discussions were sources of confusion which could not help but hurt the Church and its faithful in today’s pagan culture.

As reported by the UK’s Catholic Herald, Cardinal Raymond Burke said the other day at a Catholic Voice conference on family and marriage, “Even within the church there are those who would obscure the truth of the indissolubility of marriage in the name of mercy.”

Perhaps as an attempt to counter the confusion of the Synod, Pope Francis, in his opening address to the Colloquium on the Complementarity of Man and Woman, said:

“We know that today marriage and the family are in crisis.  We now live in a culture of the temporary, in which more and more people are simply giving up on marriage as a public commitment.  This revolution in manners and morals has often flown the flag of freedom, but in fact it has brought spiritual and material devastation to countless human beings, especially the poorest and most vulnerable.”

“I urge you to bear in mind,” His Holiness further noted,  “especially the young people, who represent our future.  Commit yourselves, so that our youth do not give themselves over to the poisonous environment of the temporary, but rather be revolutionaries with the courage to seek true and lasting love, going against the common pattern.”

Yet, the final document of the Synod says, “[T]hose who are divorced and remarried require careful discernment and an accompaniment of great respect [italics mine].”  Why great respect?  There is nothing to respect.  They are committing sin – public sin – which not only affects the couple involved; but also any children they may have and, perhaps, one or both of their legitimate spouses.

I don’t suggest that one shouldn’t behave civilly towards such couples.  Nor that one should be unkind to them or ridicule them.  After all, the object isn’t to alienate them from the Church; rather to bring them back.  Certainly they should be encouraged to continue to go to Mass; but not to receive Holy Communion.

One doesn’t combat crises in marriage and sexual morality by talking about changing the Church’s teaching or minimizing the seriousness of the wrongs done by those who marry outside the Church, practice homosexuality or cohabitate when they aren’t married.

Why can’t liberals understand that obfuscating truths accomplishes nothing?

On the other hand, it is clear that some want to obfuscate – or change – the rules, thus denying truth.

Maureen Williamson

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