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The Intelligent Catholic’s Guide News and Notes for Catholics

remade for happinessRemade for Happiness: Achieving Life’s Purpose Through Spiritual Transformation, Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s classic is being reprinted by Ignatius.  Originally titled Preface to Religion, this new edition has a Foreword by Jennifer Fulwiler….Interesting piece by Gerald J. Russello on called “Catholicism Before and After 1963.”  Mr. Russello uses two novels, Evelyn Waugh’s Unconditional Surrender, published in 1961, and Pier Paul Read’s 1969 novel,  Monk Dawson, to show how Catholicism changed during the sixties.  It certainly gives one pause….Nice to see that Providence bishop Thomas J. Tobin rejected an invitation to attend Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo’s inauguration because she is pro-abortion….Catholic Courses is offering a new lecture series called The New Testament Canon: The Development of the Gospels from Oral Tradition to Sacred Scripture. The 8 thirty-minute lectures are available  as a DVD set, audio CD set, audio or video download.  The lecturer is Monica Migliorino Miller of Madonna University in Michigan….Art and Laraine Bennett have edited Catholic and Married: Leaning into Love, a new book that includes testimonials of married Catholics on topics like parenting, family size, communication, characteristics of a healthy marriage, and contemporary challenges.  Contributors include Simcha Fisher, Dr. Joseph White, Dan and Hallie Lord and Meg McDonnell.

Maureen Williamson

Urge Your House Representative to Vote for the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act

From the National Committee for a Human Life Amendment comes word that the House is scheduled to vote on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H. R. 36) tomorrow, January 22.  With limited exceptions, the bill makes it unlawful to perform or attempt to perform an abortion if the probable post-fertilization age of the unborn child is 20 weeks or greater according to NCHLA.  Please consider contacting your representative and urging him or her to vote to make this law.

Maureen Williamson

Charlie Hebdo, Multiculturalism and the West

This is a strange world in which we live.  The violence against Charlie Hebdo by Muslims has elevated the magazine’s personnel to hero status.  If you have read about the pornographic and insulting cartoons they run about various religions including Catholicism and Judaism, you might easily ask why?  The editors of Charlie Hebdo are anti-religion and use particularly vile ways to express this.  There is a reason why media outlets like the New York Times won’t reprint Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons.  No one denies their right of freedom of speech.  Common sense – as well as freedom of speech – allows for disagreement about religion and respectful criticism of another’s religion.

The editors of Charlie Hebdo are not heroes.  They are provocateurs and they know it.  They risk what any provocateur risks.  As Pope Francis says, “One cannot provoke, one cannot insult other people’s faith, one cannot make fun of faith” without expecting a reaction.

No one condones killing people who insult you or your religion, even in a vile way.  It isn’t a proper response.  But that’s what radical Islam does.

With every incident like this, I keep hoping that the zeitgeist will realize what multiculturalism is and what it is doing.  Walter Williams wrote on, “The bottom line is that much of the Muslim world is at war with Western civilization.”  And, as Mr. Williams rightly points out, “At the heart of multiculturalism is an attack on Western and Christian values.”

Do France and its European neighbors have any sense of the value of their Christian Western Civilization?  Do they realize it is being attacked?

The proper response to an incident like this one and any other terrorist act by the Muslims is to defend your country and civilization.  Closing the borders is a good first response.  Does the West have the will power to do this and more?  Not so far.  President François Hollande was too busy keeping Marine Le Pen away from his unity march.

Maureen Williamson

Passing the Faith from Generation to Generation

I read a very good Catholic World Report piece the other day about the recently concluded Extraordinary Synod on the family written by Matthew James Christoff, a convert who runs   Mr. Christoff points out that the Synod essentially ignored two groups who deserve and need the Church’s encouragement and resources:  Catholic men and sacramentally married Catholics and their families.

The article hit a nerve with me because one of my pet causes is educating Catholics in their faith.  I am of the opinion that saving souls is the most important thing Catholics can do.  In today’s world it is harder and harder to transfer the faith from generation to generation.  Part of the problem is a liberal church with liberal priests.  Part of it is the world we live in which accepts as normal cohabitation before marriage and artificial contraception.  Where modesty is a thing of the past.  Where pornography is easily available.  Etc, etc.

I like to contribute to charities which help average Catholics and their children keep their faith and impart it to others.  One charity I like is FOCUS ( Fellowship of Catholic Students), founded in 1998 by Curtis and Michaelann Martin as a campus outreach.  The number of young adults who lose their faith during the college years is large, as I am sure you know.  FOCUS provides support for Catholics in a non-Catholic environment at a vulnerable time in their lives.

Mr. Christoff is so right when he says that, “Despite the fact that the New Evangelization is over 40 years old, the hemorrhaging of cradle Catholics has accelerated.  Looking toward the next Synod on the Family and the World Meeting of Families of 2015, it is imperative that the Church realize and correct the Synod’s shocking omissions and realign attention to the evangelization and catechesis of men and those intact families who are in the pews.”

Maureen Williamson


Happy New Year

Memoirs of a Happy Failure“As I near the end of my life, I recall all the graces and gifts God has sent me.  One of the greatest is that I grew up in Belgium when it was a truly Catholic country,” Alice von Hildebrand tells Trent Beattie in a National Catholic Register interview.  As mentioned before in this blog, Dr. von Hildebrand has just published a biography, Memoirs of a Happy Failure.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we lived in a “truly Catholic country”?  Unfortunately, we don’t and nor is Belgium one today either.  And, we worry about the Catholic Church itself as much as the secular world around us.  However as we end 2014, I’d like to quote Phillip Trower in the First Things piece about which I recently wrote:

“When I asked Philip about sincere Catholics who constantly worry about the pope and Church,” wrote William Doino Jr., “he replied with a wisdom he has gathered over many years”

I would say pray, trust in God, and if you feel you must, speak your mind, respectfully and conscientiously, never forgetting you are talking about the successor of St. Peter; and if some events still leave you distressed, offer your sufferings up for the Holy Father’s good, and for the good of the whole Church.

I would also recommend praying for the grace to understand what God is trying to tell us through Francis. The three most obvious lessons appear to be: “Live more simply,” “Do as much as you are able for the poor and disadvantaged,” and “Don’t let the way you live and talk about the faith make it seem something grim and unattractive.”

A Happy and Blessed New Year to you and your loved ones.

Maureen Williamson

“And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us”

Tale of Three TreesChristmas time is always a good time for me to reread one of my favorite children’s books, The Tale of Three Trees.  In this book three little trees dream of what will happen when they grew up.

The first tree wants to grow up and “hold treasure.”  Lo and behold this tree is cut down and made into a feed box for animals.  Then one night in a stable in Bethlehem “a young woman placed her newborn baby in the feed box….And suddenly the first tree knew he was holding the greatest treasure in the world.”

After all the hustle and bustle preparing for Christmas it is well to think about this simple folktale.

Let us also remember the words of St. John:

“And the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us, and we saw His glory, the glory  of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.” — John 1:14

A Merry and Blessed Christmas to you and yours from everyone at The Intelligent Catholic’s Guide.

Maureen Williamson

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

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