Feb 052015

One of my absolute favorite books I read last year was the Manual for Spiritual Warfare by Paul Thigpen, which I reviewed here.

I see today via Brandon Voght that the Kindle version is on sale.

For the last several weeks, I’ve been carrying the beautiful leather bound edition of Manual for Spiritual Warfare with me to Mass, reading a few passages afterward. It’s loaded with spiritual advice from the saints and Church fathers on how to overcome temptation and defeat those nagging sins.

TAN Books, the publisher, told me it “destroyed our projections” by selling thousands of copies in the first month, which means the leather bound edition is now out of print. They said it should be back in stock in about 10 days.

But in the meantime they’ve decided to significantly drop the price of the Kindle version. Instead of $29.95, you can now now get it for just $4.99:

If you’re looking for some powerful daily reflections to lift your soul and equip you to resist the Devil’s attacks, this is a really great deal.

I am very happy that this book is doing so well. The leather bound edition is exellent, but I am thrilled to own it along with an ebook version.

Make sure you sign up for Brandon’s book deals newsletter at CatholicBookDeals.com. It has notified me regarding lots of sales I have taken advantage of.

Feb 032015

I knew I was in for some trouble when I heard the opening lines of a homily on Sunday. It was one of those using the Super Bowl as an extended metaphor and framework for the homily. So yes bad metaphor alert. It was just as cheesy as you might imagine. The two teams rivaling each other were the “Holy Ones” and “Satan’s Team” (which apparently was not a reference to the Patriots).

The eternal battle between these two teams lead by the Quarterback Jesus. Yes that was the words actually used. It was quite awkward as intentional laughter was threatening to break out over the unintentional humor of the bad metaphors. Maybe the worst part is that a fairly decent homily could have been salvaged without the football comparisons. He didn’t even go for the cheap laugh over the “Hail Mary” reference. Really it was delivered very deadpan which made the delivery deeply serious. This extended football metaphor might just possible had been pulled off to good effort if delivered with some humor.

So I thought I had it bad until I saw this the following day.


Parish: St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Marysville, WA.

Deacon Greg Kandra said “Out of bounds? Yeah. I’d say so.”

Or to extend the joke, the priest should be sacked over this. Well at least the colors were Ordinary Timish. Still if you watch the video it gets worse.

While not his diocese, Cardinal Dolan could not be reached for comment.

Feb 032015

Entropy Academy a book by Alison Bernhof.

Entropy, the second law of thermodynamics, happens. It steals our time, brings chaos into our homes, and spreads the myth that chaos and education are mutually exclusive. Far from it!

Entropy Academy reveals how you can train your home (even a messy one) to do half your teaching, while much of the other half can be taught “Entropy style”—in the natural process of everyday life.

Marvel at the specialization of birds’ feet through your kitchen window. Recognize the musical eras as you drive. Watch logic and Venn diagrams become crystal clear in a box of random buttons. Use raisins to introduce your kindergartener to algebra. Let the pages of Entropy Academy show how, with a minimal outlay of time and money, you can leave much of the teaching to the house while you relax with a cup of tea.

Those who are currently homeschooling, considering it, or simply wish to be more involved in their child’s (or grandchild’s) education will find much to encourage, amuse, and inspire them in this account of the inner life of a highly unusual, unabashedly idiosyncratic family. Building on “Entropy style” foundations, the Bernhoft children’s successes have ranged from Stanford Phi Beta Kappa, Ivy League and aspiring Ph.D., to the son with Down’s Syndrome who is one of the best-known and most popular residents of Ojai, California, the small town the author calls home.

New video from Ascension Press for young men considering the priesthood

Along with a preview of their upcoming video Altaration: The Myster of the Mass Revealed

Here is an interview of Dawn Eden from Matt C. Abbott. Dawn has recently released a Catholic version of her book “Thrill of the Chaste.”

An excerpt:

Dawn Eden: For several years, I had been wanting to revise The Thrill of the Chaste, because my understanding of chastity – especially its relationship to Christian joy – had deepened since I became a Catholic. I especially wanted to make the book accessible to men, as the first edition was directed at women, and many male readers had told me they needed a book like it for them.

When I wrote the original edition of The Thrill of the Chaste in 2005, I was Protestant – having converted as an adult from Judaism – and was preparing to enter the Church. My life before my conversion to Christianity was pretty typical for an unmarried rock journalist from New York City, so my new walk forced me to make some serious changes.

Initially, it was hard for me to discern how living chastely could be compatible with Christian joy. I looked for a book to guide me, but all I could find were books on teen purity – which were not exactly relevant for a 31-year-old woman.

That is why, after a few years of learning how to find meaning and happiness in my new way of life, I wrote The Thrill of the Chaste. It is the kind of book I wished had been there when I needed it.

Today, having been Catholic for nine years, I can hardly believe that I managed to be joyfully chaste without the benefit of Confirmation, the Eucharist, Confession, and the whole life of the Church.

Being a member of the Mystical Body of Christ, and receiving Jesus’ own Body and Blood in the Eucharist, has given me a deeper understanding of the meaning of being embodied. I see more clearly how chastity enables one to love fully in each relationship, in the way that is appropriate to the type of relationship and to one’s state of life.

Chastity is not just for singles; in marriage, it enables couples to grow together in freely willed, total, faithful, and fruitful love. For that reason, I wanted to make the new Catholic edition of The Thrill of the Chaste relevant for men and women, whether they are discerning marriage or a celibate vocation, and that is what I have done.

Feb 032015

There have been a number of stories regarding bakers and others refusing to materially cooperate with same-sex marriage and the resulting prosecution. When such stories appear we run the mental simulation of reversing the story and wondering what would happen. In this case such as requesting a baker to do some activity contrary to their possible support of same-sex marriage.

DENVER – Azucar Bakery on South Broadway is under investigation for religious discrimination by the Civil Rights division of the Department of Regulatory Agencies stemming from a March 2014 incident.


A customer came into the store and requested a couple of cakes in the shape of Bibles, according to the owner Marjorie Silva.

Silva says the man pulled out a piece of paper with hateful phrases like “God hates gays” and requested her to write them on his cakes. He wouldn’t let employees make a copy of the paper and would not read the words out loud, Silva claims. The bakery owner also says the customer wanted an image of two men holding hands with an “X” on top.

“After I read it, I was like ‘No way,’” Silva said. “‘We’re not doing this. This is just very discriminatory and hateful.’”

Silva then received a complaint from DORA for religious discrimination.

“It’s unfair that he’s accusing me of discriminating when I think he was the one that is discriminating,” Silva said.

My first reaction when I saw this story was “Ha! About time somebody performed this reverse action.”

My second reaction was to repent of my first reaction. This really is evil. This is treating a person as a means to an end.

With all the other cases often it was remarked that the businesses were singled out by same-sex activists and this was certainly a possibility. People rightly decried this aspect. That the women was specifically targeted is quite evident in this case. That is is okay to sick the state on somebody to make an ironic point is totally missing the point of conscience rights and religious freedom. We want others to respect conscience rights while cheering trampling somebody else’s. That because somebody is wrong about their support of something means that you can treat them as somebody with no rights.

This is simply inexcusable, just as the other cases by same-sex activists were.

Feb 022015

pope-francis2-300x187This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 28 October 2014 – 31 January 2015

The Weekly Francis is a compilation of the Holy Father’s writings, speeches, etc which I also post at Jimmy Akin’s The Weekly Francis. Jimmy Akin came up with this idea when he started “The Weekly Benedict” and I have taken over curation of it.


Daily Homilies (fervorinos)

General Audiences





Papal Tweets

Jan 222015

Lifted from Brandon Vogh’s blog regarding a great book I previously reviewed.

Some REALLY exciting news on this otherwise sobering day:

Today, January 22, 2015, marks the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision which legalized abortion throughout the United States. In an effort to combat abortion and spread the gospel of life, Catholic Answers is offering Trent Horn’s tremendous new book, Persuasive Pro Life: How to Talk About Our Culture’s Toughest Issue, as a completely FREE download.

Those who follow Trent’s work, or who have seen this book, know that it’s simply the best book out there on pro-life apologetics. If you want to become more confident and effective at defending the dignity of life, this is definitely the book you want.

This free offer is exclusively for the Amazon Kindle version of the book, and ends on midnight, January 24. Just click here to download your FREE copy.

NOTE: You do not have to own a Kindle device to read this free book. You can instantly begin reading the book online through Amazon’s Kindle Cloud Reader, or download their free Kindle apps onto your computer, phone, or tablet.

Jan 222015

Yesterday I saw news that there won’t be a vote today on a 20-week abortion ban.

Mollie Hemingway at The Federalist gives some background in her post Why Everyone Should Be Terrified By The GOP’s Abortion Bill Debacle,

Today marks the 42nd anniversary of the Supreme Court legalizing abortion on demand throughout pregnancy. The pro-life movement commemorates this day with marches, worship services and lobbying for bills to protect unborn children. Pro-lifers were promised by the Republican leaders they just helped elect and re-elect that the House of Representatives would pass a bill today banning most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, a point after which infants can feel pain and survive if born prematurely.

The legislation has been passed by the House in the previous Congress and is extremely popular in national polling. “One of the clearest messages from Gallup trends,” the polling firm reported, “is that Americans oppose late-term abortion.” A Washington Post/ABC survey showed that 64 percent of Americans favor limiting abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy or earlier. When just women were asked, the figure jumped to 71 percent. Such measures are popular among independents and Americans of various income levels.

Apparently the reason it wasn’t voted on:

Two of the representatives who caused the biggest stink about the bill were Rep. Renee Ellmers of North Carolina and Jackie Walorski of Indiana. Last week, Ellmers said she didn’t think it was a good idea to vote on the legislation so early in the session (an argument that makes no sense, but let’s put that aside). Yesterday the women pulled their sponsorship of the bill over what they said were concerns over the rape reporting requirement. And yet here are both women speaking in favor of this exact same legislation two years ago:

These women are claiming to all of a sudden be concerned about the reporting requirement — the requirement that has nearly two-to-one support among voters and the one they had no problem with just a couple of years ago. This reporting requirement would keep late-term abortion doctors like Kermit Gosnell or Leroy Carhart from simply checking a box before going ahead with the procedure. Besides, it’s one thing to seek an exception to abortion laws for victims of rape, and entirely another to think that exception must be extended until the baby exits the birth canal. This bill wouldn’t have a reporting requirement for abortions in the first five months of pregnancy.

In fact, even Democrats who think late-term abortion should be legal with no restrictions didn’t make an issue of the reporting requirement in the last two elections. Last year, support for late-term abortion hurt Democratic candidates. But now Ellmers created a controversy where non existed, hereby handing Democrats a way to fight a broadly popular bill.

This sabotage of the pro-life movement over what may have been a power struggle happens at a time when many pro-life activists have grown weary of being used by the GOP for electoral victory only to be forgotten weeks later when it’s time to vote.

This does not surprise me, disappointed certainly. The purpose of politicians is not policy but to be reelected. Even when we think the way they go about this is contrary to being reelected. So anything they see as a threat to this they will avoid. Especially since often no matter how bad they fulfilled their term, people have short memories and vote for them again.

It also does not surprise me on another level. While I’ll grant that many of them would really want to stop abortion. They often don’t have the philosophical conviction behind this. How many of these people do you think are fully pro-life? That is don’t have any exceptions regarding abortion. That would also object to IVF and to abortafacient drugs. I can’t thinks of any currently in office that believe so or at least admit it in public. Thus they can easily cave on pro-life issues since they don’t really understand the evil of murdering the innocent except in a general way.

Now if I had my limited way I think every such cowardly politician should have a troup of minstrels following them around singing of their cowardly misdeeds.

Brave G O P ran away.
Bravely ran away, away!
When danger reared its ugly head,
They bravely turned their tail and fled.
Yes, brave G O P turned about
And gallantly they chickened out.
Bravely taking to their feet
They beat a very brave retreat,
Bravest of the brave, G O P!

Jan 212015

When I first came across Alice Von Hildebrand while watching Mother Angelica Live I was rapidly impressed with her. Her quick wit, intelligence, and common sense was a delight. Since then I have been interested in what she had to say. Around the same time I became acquainted with the works of her late husband Dietrich Von Hildebrand. I have by no means fully dipped into all his works, but I want to go further. His Transformation in Christ is a book I dearly love.

When her biography of her husband came out The Soul of a Lion: The Life of Dietrich von Hildebrand I quickly attained and read it. Such an amazing story and an equally amazing man. You would think somebody who was a named enemy of Hitler would have his story more well known. There is at least a new book out called My Battle Against Hitler: Faith, Truth, and Defiance in the Shadow of the Third Reich.

When I read Soul of a Lion I wondered about his later years since the story ends, as I remember, after his escape and ultimately ending up in New York. Some of this is covered in Alice Von Hildebrand’s new book Memoirs of a Happy Failure. While this autobiography does go into how she met her future husband and some of her life with him, she is mostly quiet on her personal life in this regard except when there are interactions with her students.

What this book does cover is her life growing up in Belgium before World War II and her subsequent move to the United States during the war. The book starts out with her on a ship headed for New York that was threatened by a German sub with orders to evacuate before being sunk. I was quite interested in her descriptions of being raised in a very Catholic culture and the descriptions of her family members including the roles they played during the war. There were differences in both sides of her family that caused some tension.

The large majority of this book covers her years as a teacher at Hunter College which is part of the City University of New York. This was to be where she ended up teaching philosophy throughout her career. Now having heard her speak I was aware of the difficulties she had regarding students versed in moral relativism as she taught the objectivity of truth. I just didn’t realize that this was a continual philosophical battle.

What shouldn’t have surprised me is that this was rather minor considering even worse problems with the other faculty and those above her. The stories she relates regarding how she was treated by her fellow academics in such a pitiless back-biting manner raises your ire as she relates them. A Darwinian survival of the fittest where the fittest meant you had the right politics and sneer regarding subjective truth. Part of this was due to her being a women, but no doubt a lot of it was due to her being Catholic or really for being a faithful Catholic. Academics have no problem with Catholics just as long as they don’t believe that stuff. She describes how her education as taught by nuns little prepared her for such an atmosphere of prejudice and ill will.

What I enjoyed most was her stories of students. It was quite obvious her love of teaching and her love of her students. There are many wonderful stories regarding the opposition she got and when the truth of what she was saying clicked with many of her students. Even stories of students converting to the Catholic Church despite the fact that she never talked about the Church at all in her lectures. Not all the stories regarding her students go well and some are rather sad. Still there were several that came into the orbit of her personal life along with her husband. Despite the opposition she was getting from the school and the many attempts to sabotage her career and to force her to leave, she endured. It must have really annoyed them the number of students who elected to take her classes over other philosophy professors more in tune with the zeitgeist.

The title of her autobiography is quite apt. From the measure of the academic world she was mostly a failure. From the measure of her students that was not correct and even ultimately the school had to grudgingly admit this. I enjoyed the good humor she uses as she relates all these episodes. Experiences that might leave many bitter, yet her happiness shines through along with her love of the truth.

On a side note this book provides another example to me regarding the cultural revolution of the sixties. In that it was not as if everything was in good condition before then and that this was a sudden revolution. Her examples of attitudes in the 1950’s show just how much the culture was infected with moral relativism and that it was even worse in academia. Cultural termites had already weakened the foundations of the culture.

Jan 202015

pope-francis2-300x187This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 9 – 19 January 2015.

The Weekly Francis is a compilation of the Holy Father’s writings, speeches, etc which I also post at Jimmy Akin’s The Weekly Francis. Jimmy Akin came up with this idea when he started “The Weekly Benedict” and I have taken over curation of it.





Papal Tweets

Jan 152015

During lunch I noticed the activity in my news reader regarding an interview Pope Francis gave today on the airplane. I had already come to the conclusion that if pope’s never again gave an interview on a plane trip that would be just fine.

The medium of an interview on a plane just is really not that helpful for the mission of the Church. It really doesn’t matter who is Pope when it comes to this not being helpful. When Pope Benedict XVI gave an interview inflight and mentioned condoms there was a total media freak out and tons of bad reporting. For the most part reporters are not out to spread the truth, but to get headlines and if they can craft an agenda it is even better. Asking questions on controversial topics is one way to achieve this. Although often it is not the questions themselves, but how they get reported. I can’t remember the last time I thought “That was an accurate representation of what the Pope said” when I read a story.

Pope Benedict XVI often spoke off-the-cuff as if he had written something out previously and was fully formed. Yet that didn’t stop the press from distorting what he said. Pope Francis when speaking off-the-cuff if often not that precise and he casually talks trying to fill out the answer. So of course this just gives the media more room to play with. Still there is much that I like about the casual way Pope Francis speaks as he often reveals information about processes pope’s usually don’t share. For example in the latest interview I found it rather fascinating his talking about the development of the latest encyclical regarding development of the initial draft, his working on it, and the further review process still ongoing. I enjoy how he does this with good humor.

Still the main problems with journalism is that so often it distills complex subjects with necessary caveats into a textual sound bites. The textual sound bite is often what the headline plays off of. The other piece of deception is how several paragraphs are distilled down to less than a paragraph. The ellipsis is the reporter’s friend in this in that you can boil out all context and just print the juicy bits. So when he was asked about religious liberty and freedom of expression 455 words got distilled down to a couple sentences. This was brought about to bring about controversy with the Pope showing a moral equivalence between the terrorist murders of the staff of Charlie Hebdo and the satirizing of (not a prophet) Mohammad. When I saw all the ellipses in news stories I figured I will wait for a full transcript.

Thankfully the National Catholic Register was fairly quick in releasing a full transcript.

Sebastien Maynard (La Croix): Holy Father, yesterday during Mass, you spoke about religious liberty as a fundamental human right. With respect to other religions, how far can the freedom of expression extend, since this latter is a fundamental human right, too?

Pope Francis: Thanks for the question, that is smart, it is good. I think that both are fundamental human rights, religious liberty and liberty of expression. You can’t … Let’s think, are you French? Let’s go to Paris. Let’s speak clearly. You cannot hide a truth. Everyone has the right to practice their religion, their own religion without offending, freely. And that’s what we do, what we all want to do.

Secondly, you cannot offend or make war, kill in the name of your religion, in the name of God. What has happened now astonishes us. But always, let’s think to our history, how many religious wars we have had. Think of St. Bartholomew’s night (editor’s note: when Catholics massacred Huguenots during the French wars of religion in 1572). How can we understand this? Also we were sinners in this. But you cannot kill in the name of God, this is an aberration. Killing in the name of God is an aberration against God. I think this is the main thing with freedom of religion. You can practice with freedom without offending but without imposing or killing.

The freedom of expression … Every one of us has not just the freedom, the right, but also the obligation to say what he thinks to help build the common good. The obligation. If we think of a congressman, a senator, if he doesn’t say what he thinks is the true path, he doesn’t collaborate in the common good. We have the obligation to freely have this liberty, but without offending. It’s true that you cannot react violently. But, if Dr. Gasbarri, my great friend, says something against my mother, he can expect a punch. It’s normal. It’s normal. You cannot provoke, you cannot insult the faith of others, you cannot make fun of the faith.

Pope Benedict, in a speech, I don’t remember which, he spoke of this post-positivist mentality, of the post-positivist metaphysics that brought people to believe that religions or religious expressions are a type of lower culture: that they are tolerated but that there’s not much to them, that they are in not part of an enlightened culture. And this is a legacy of the Enlightenment. So many people speak against others’ religions. They make fun of them. Let’s say they “giocatalizzano” (make a playing out of) the religion of others. But they are provoking, and what can happen is what I said about Dr. Gasbarri if he says something about my mother. There is a limit. Every religion has dignity; I cannot mock a religion that respects human life and the human person. And this is a limit. I’ve used this example of the limit to say that in the freedom of expression there are limits, like the example I gave of my mother. I don’t know if I was able to respond to the question. Thanks.

Some how the moral equivalence got lost in translation. Now there are parts to pick apart here and there and there are certainly aspects of this I would have questions and caveats about. But generally I understand the point Pope Francis is making.

I pretty much agree with Thomas L. McDonald’s quick critique of one aspect of this answer.

The Holy Father and I are going to have disagree on this one.

“Should not”? Certainly.

“Cannot”? No.

“Every religion has its dignity”? Every one? Eh, not so much.

I totally enjoyed his one word reaction to the Pope’s “But, if Dr. Gasbarri, my great friend, says something against my mother, he can expect a punch.”


Shades of St. Nicholas and Arius.

Back to the central point about papal inflight interviews I just don’t see their usefulness since they always generate more heat than light. Yet I can totally understand how easy it is for them to come about and this is even more true for this gregarious pope who loves talking to people.

Hey remember when Pope Francis said on his flight to Brazil for World Youth Day:

It is true that I do not give interviews, but why, I do not know, I can’t, it’s just like that. For me it is quite an effort to do so, but I thank all of you here.

Good times.