Mar 232015

Thomas L. McDonald modeled his How I Pray series after Lifehacker’s How I Work series. He decided to publish his own entry on “How I Work” and to invite others to do the same. Well any opportunity to geek out and talk about myself geeking out – well how could I resist?

Location Ask the NSA for specifics, generally Jacksonville, Fl.

Current Gig Application Developer

One word that best describes how you work: Edison (caveat below)

Current mobile device: iPhone 6 Plus, iPad Air 2

Current computer: Since I do work at work and from home:

  • Home: 5K 27″ Retina iMac with a 500GB SSD and 1TB Fusion drive and 24GB of memory. Along with two external monitors: 27“ Apple Thunderbolt Display and a 24” HP display.
  • Work: 2012 Mac Pro with 500GB and 256GB SSDs and 24GB of memory. Along with one Apple Thunderbolt Display and two Dell 24″ monitors.

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without? Why?

Visual Studio, Sublime Text 3, Dropbox, Markdown, Marked,

Microsoft’s Visual Studio Much of my work involves writing software used in courseware development. Since the company I work for mostly uses Windows along with the military, then Visual Studio is really the premiere development IDE available. C# is mostly my language of choice for Windows desktop software. I’ve used Visual Studio since it came out and I have come to really enjoy the power it has developed over the years, especially when used with Resharper. Considering that I have worked with it day in and day out for years on end I am surprised that I still enjoy coding with it. Although the development of C# during the years is part of that. On the Mac side I have also done some OSX and iOS development which is why even as a Windows developer we now have Macs at work. Apple IDE Xcode is quite different from Visual Studio in many ways along with a different emphasis regarding development. Xcode has gotten better, but Visual Studio is superior in many ways. Although Xcode new playground feature is pretty awesome.

Sublime Text 3 Programmers are well known for getting into flame wars over text editors. I have used dozens of text editors over the years with various text editing love affairs that eventually end when I move on. I’ve only been using Sublime Text for a year, but there are several reasons it has become my favorite.

  • The fact that it works on Mac and Windows is certainly key to me since I run a Windows virtual machine on my Mac and an constantly going between the two OSs.
  • Extensibility on Sublime Text is amazing. Strangely it was a third party that provided a package manager that allows all the power of Sublime Text. These packages make a good editor great in what you can do quite quickly and text selection capabilities are so good it is quite annoying using any editor with them.
  • As a keyboard jockey I like to be able to do tons of editing without moving to my Apple Trackpad to perform them. Sublime Text lets you set your keyboard bindings and pretty much all user settings. The fact that I can use VIM keyboard binding also is a plus.
  • Searching across projects is easy along with fuzzy matching. Again with a quick keyboard shortcut I can jump through a file or search through multiple files quickly. Sublime Text_ is not free and recently GitHub has developed there own open source multi-platform text editor Atom which is very much like Sublime Text including almost exactly the same features and keyboard shortcuts.

Dropbox I’ve used Dropbox since it was in beta and you needed an invitation. Since I do work from home and my work location having my files instantly synced wherever I go is perfect. The fact that so many iOS apps also support Dropbox means that I can also access those same files from my movile device. Dropbox has been integrated into almost all of my workflows. While there are similar services like Google Drive and One Drive, Dropbox is better integrated in most mobile apps.

Markdown is a plain text formatting syntax that has become increasingly popular for more than just geeks. I use it for wiki documentations of applications I write, notes, history, and of course blog posts. I mostly use it with Sublime Text, but also with Drafts and other iOS editing apps. Since it is plain text it is not limited or proprietary like other document formats. I wrote a quick introduction to the power of Markdown here. To give some idea about how good the Markdown syntax is I give this post as an example. It is filled with formatting and links, yet I can easily read the plain text file almost as if it was already formatted.

Marked Since I use Markdown so much it is nice to be able to see those files as formatted in HTML. Marked 2 by Brett Terpstra is phenomenal in displaying Markdown as HTML along with allowing direct export to HTML or PDF. I use this with Sublime Text where I can see the currently edited document with a keyboard shortcut. This is just a great app which is constantly updated. It’s only downside is that it is Mac only and I have not found anything near as feature-rich on Windows. Although when using Sublime Text on Windows I use the Markdown Preview package to see my current document in a browser window. This is a bookmarking service that I use constantly. Whenever I come across a web page with information I want to archive or refer back to I add it to This is a service much like the original Delicious. But it is a service I expect will be around for a while since it is not free. The one time cost is rather minimal, I think I paid a bit less than $10. The cost is to support and to keep the service running. When reading through all my RSS feeds or doing research for work anything useful I find I just tag and add it to and then I can easily find it later. For an annual fee they will also archive all the pages you tag so even if the page you added goes away later you will still have it. What I do instead for information I want to make sure I keep, I use Heck Yes Markdown to convert the page from HTML to Markdown and then save it in my notes or archive folder. Now that iOS 8 has shared extensions I can send links to from pretty much any app.

Honorable mentions go to Drafts 4 on iOS which is a clearing house for ideas and notes. iOS 8 has given Drafts even more power since I can quickly tap in notes from the notification screen and add chunks of texts to my monthly archive on Dropbox. Pushbullet has also become another go to app. This service which works in a browser, iOS, Android, and OSX allows you to send information to other devices. So I can easily send text between my phone, work and home computers, or to all my devices. This service keeps getting better.

Oh and one more facet of my workflow that is intrinsic to the way I work is text expansion and keyboard shortcuts. With text expansion I can just type a couple of letters and then have words, phrases, etc, inserted into my text . Great for coding, writing, and even filling out forms. I use TextExpander for this and this is a great application. Since I use a ton of keyboard shortcuts, keyboard remapping is important. I have remapped my Caps Lock key to be able to use it in combination with other keys to trigger actions. On the Mac I do this with free software with the instructions listed here. On Windows I use the freeware program AutoHotkey.

What’s your workspace setup like?

At Work

At Home

iPad Screen

iPhone Screen

What’s your best time-saving shortcut/life hack?

The problem with most note systems is tagging and finding what you have previously jotted down. My system isn’t perfect, but it works for me.

  • I mostly keep all my notes in one folder with few sub-folders on Dropbox.
  • My tagging is in the filename. For example for work I might have files like “” and “”. So this gives me a general category for the first word then with further topic differentiation separated by periods. So instead of having the organization in folders, the organization is inherit in the filename in one main folder.
  • Finding notes is extremely fast using the following methods.
    • Using Alfred on OSX with a keyboard shortcut I can instantly search for terms in my filename and select from a list of matching files to then load up into Sublime Text. This could be also done with OSX built-in Spotlight. Window’s users could do the same with something like Launchy.
    • When I have my notes project loaded into Sublime Text I get even quicker file name and file content searches.
  • Since my notes are plain text files on Dropbox it means my notes are easily accessed via any mobile device. With the iOS app Trunk Notes I even have a wiki on my iPad which uses my Dropbox notes in one folder.

What’s your favorite to-do list manager?

I have seen and used a lot of them, but mostly I just don’t use one. At work the developers as a team use Agile software development with task organization divided into sprints. So I guess that is my to-do management for work. At home I am much more laissez-faire where mostly my to-do’s are what book I am going to read next or blog ideas. For both of those and honey-do tasks I use my note system already mentioned.

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without and why?

Well like the wording in the other question I take issue about the whole idea of not being able to live without something. My years in the Navy taught me there are lots of things I can live without and annual Lenten periods taught me that there were another whole group of things I can live without. Yes I am a geek and I enjoy working with technology very much and love that I have a job that I very much enjoy doing, but I could live without all of it (if forced to).

Still I have loved music my whole life and have continued to find new artists I enjoy. So the fact that there are now subscription music services is pretty awesome. When I use to go to sea I would take hundreds of cassettes with me. It was a major pain to cart them all on and off ship and so now I greatly appreciate both music stored on disc space and streaming. So much more convenient.

Along with that Netflix is another great service. I hardly watch any live TV at all and just binge watch series along with receiving Blu-Ray discs. Totally changed the way I consume video.

As a final note, ebooks have also transformed the way I read. It has become my preferred way to read since now I am never without a book as long as I got my phone in my pocket and besides I can carry around my whole library. I currently have 1307 book stored in a Calibre library on Dropbox and out of that number there are about five I haven’t read yet. Mostly I use the Kindle app on my iPad along with Marvin. Although I am starting to use the Logos iPad app more and more for both scripture reading and my growing Logos library. In connection with this I also use Voice Dream Reader on iOS. This is a Text-To-Speech app with phenomenal voices and a slew of capabilities. I use it mostly to play ePub books imported from Dropbox during my daily commute. Gives you an instant audiobook with quality voices. I also use it to play back articles I stored in Pocket.

What everyday thing are you better at than everyone else? What’s your secret?

In one of the first questions it asked me to use one word to describe how I work and that was Edison. I chose this word not through prideful bravado or thinking I am any kind of genius, but because of my stick-to-it-ness. Supposedly Edison just kept trying different filaments until one worked. How true that is I don’t know. But I do know that in coding and other situations I don’t easily give up regarding a frustrating problem not easily solved and keep trying different alternatives until I find one that works. In the past this allowed me to do some rather surprising things with software development not envisioned by the authors of the tools.

As for doing this better than everybody else, well I wouldn’t want to put any money down on that proposition.

What do you listen to while you work?

Well sometimes my boss. But seriously mostly I listen to podcasts and music. During most coding tasks I can listen to podcasts while working. If I am learning something new or architecting software design than I just listen to music.

What are you currently reading?

This post has gone on long enough. But oh well. As a bibliophile I spend lots of time reading. You can see this from my Goodreads account. On my reading list of books I own and will read within the next week or so I have.

  • Furies of Calderon – Jim Butcher
  • Son – Lois Lowry
  • Scripture – Stephen J. Binz
  • Finding True Happiness – Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J.
  • The League of Frightened Men – Rex Stout
  • The House of Silk – Anthony Horowitz, the first Sherlock Holmes authorized by the Arthur Conan Doyle Estate

Then of course there is the Liturgy of the Hours and other devotional reading I have set out for the year.

What has changed over the years since you started and what do you do differently?

I first became interested in programming in High School. At the time the only real personal computer was the Altair 8800 which was a kit you put together and it only had switches for octal input. I use to go the the Byte Shop with my High School electronics teacher to learn on this machine. At the time I also picked up my first book on the Basic computer language. After that there was dabbling with programming on a Commodore 64, then Commodore Amiga, and then the IBM PC and the subsequent PC clones. While still in the Navy I started to get much more seriously into programming and for the last half of my Navy career I ended up being allowed to spend a lot of time writing programs for use.

So what has changed over the years? Well pretty much everything. Still I won’t get into older geek reminiscences where I say “I remember when <insert any hardware> cost this much!” Still maybe the biggest change has been a move from the desktop to the web and then to mobile devices. There are strange congruences here since much of mobile application development is just like desktop development. Web technologies which have become very powerful, but they still don’t fully match up to applications developed for specific processors. Still for many developers this means that, as in my case, you have to be able to do more traditional application development along with development on the web side.

Mar 182015

When I see a book about about the scientific evidence for God I have some trepidations. Especially since there are many ways this can go badly. So when I received The Reality of God: The Layman’s Guide to Scientific Evidence for the Creator by Steven R. Hemler for review I had that in the back of my mind. Since it was from Saint Benedict Press I should have known not to be concerned.

This book is rather straight forward and divided into three major categories regarding God’s existence. The cosmic, biological, and then philosophical arguments.

Generally the first part covers arguments regarding proofs of the universe having a beginning irregardless of what competing theory of the universe you go with. As part of this the Kalām cosmological argument is presented. After this are section regarding the fine tuning argument. How the universe seems to be fine tuned for life and that even minor variances in universal constants and laws would have rendered life impossible. I found the information well presented and easily understandable. While I have read several related books on these topics I still picked up some more information.

The trepidations I mentioned at the beginning of this post usually regard the handling of biology and evolution. I have gone through different phases regarding this myself. Originally held the view of evolutionary naturalism as a result of atheistic materialism. My conversion included a brief stop in creationism I picked up from Protestant radio. My mistaken belief was that if I was going to take the existence of God seriously that this went with it. After that I was more into the view as popularized by the intelligent design movement. Now my opinion is more along the line “Whatever God did is fine with me.” So the view usually called theistic evolution raises no hackles with me. This is the view this book goes into. I really liked how the subject was covered including necessary caveats. To often this topic is presented as either/or when really both/and is really called for. Regardless I am open to wherever the evidence leads.

The last part deals with what the author calls human evidences such as conscience, the light of reason, and the philosophical ways of knowing of God’s existence classically put forward by St. Thomas Aquinas. Again I found this presented well.

This is a fairly short book and so there is a lot of information to be covered and gone through. Really most of the topics covered usually require full-length book treatment. Still I think the book meets its objective as a layman’s guide. So as an introduction to these topics I consider this worthwhile and at a level for high school students on up. There are plenty of references to other books that do go in more depth. Fr. Robert J. Spitzer works are mentioned throughout. I found his book New Proofs for the Existence of God: Contributions of Contemporary Physics and Philosophy to be outstanding even if it made my brain hurt. Although that book is not for the casual layman and is can be quite technical in parts. As an introduction to some of the basic arguments for the existence of God I found The Reality of God as something I would have no problem recommending.

Mar 172015

pope-francis2-300x187This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 27 February 2015 to 17 March 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

Mar 162015

My RSS feed is chock full of Catholic blogs, Catholic news sites, and other news sources. So often I am doing much more skimming than reading. Sampling what catches my interest. There are exceptions to this and a dozen blogs or so that I read every entry.

One example of this is Thomas L. McDonald’s God and the Machine. He writes on Catholicism, technology, gaming, history, with occasional forays into more political subjects. Often the topics he covers don’t fit into just one category but spillover. Even when his areas of interest don’t line up with my own I still find myself interested in what he has to say.

His posting today was a good indicator of the variety of his topics and the excellence of his writing regarding them.

First off there was another post in the series “How I Pray” series this time with Al Kresta. I’ve pretty much stopped listening to “talk radio” except in the case of Al Kresta’s show via podcast. So when I saw today’s entry in this series was from him I knew it would be something special and it was. One thing I so love about this series is the honesty of those who have responded. It might be an odd-encouragement to see the struggles of others in their prayer life, but it is the solidarity of those attempting to grow in holiness. I’ve learned something from each author in this series. Last week’s entry by Amy Welborn was also exceptional, but really there hasn’t been an entry that wasn’t worth reading (possibly even my own contribution).

He also writes for the National Catholic Register and his piece today on net neutrality was also exemplary. Net Neutrality Needs to Be Done the Right Way. This is a complicated subject that is not well explained as echoed via the various political divides. I have heard and read much discussed about the subject over the years with many opinions regarding this. Still what is best about this article is that it was written not just for geeks like myself, but for a more general audience – not an easy task. His conclusions concur with my own, but that’s not his fault.

Also today he posted Exorcising A Possessed Statue of The Virgin Mary and Child which is perfect linkbait for me. His posts on Catholic art history often have the bizarre and this is no exception. All I know is that if I ever need to create a costume for Halloween I will go as St. Peter Martyr.

Mar 112015

Well since pretty much every Catholic blog has already linked to the Crescat’s post Denied Communion on the Tongue at My Grandmother’s Funeral… I might as well join in. What happened to her is just totally inexcusable. While you sometimes hear stories of this kind, fortunately they seem to have become fewer except I guess in this Spirit of Vatican II parish locked in a 1970’s stasis.

This scenario has been in the back of my mind when I receive Communion. Since I receive on the tongue while kneeling there is always the possibility of some reaction to this (oddly). Thankfully the only thing that as ever happened was a dumbfounded EMHC who didn’t’ seem to know what to do as if nobody had ever received on the tongue before. Still the mental scenario regarding what I would do has been partially thought out. That is I hope I just wait until after to deal with the situation in the manner spelled out in Matthew 15 after Mass.

Another aspect to the story was the fact that Pita bread was used. While it is possible that the use of Pita bread could be licit it almost certainly was not in this case. It was actually Pita bread from Trader Joe’s which contains honey and sea salt along with a chemical used as a dough conditioner.

As Jimmy Akin summarizes:

In the Latin Rite of the Church the bread is to be made with wheat and water only. Nothing may be added to the recipe, and the introduction of materials such as baking powder, salt, and honey render the bread that is used illicit. In the Eastern Rites, leaven may be added to the bread

See his post for references to Inaestimabile Donum. and Canon Law

So it is one thing to be such a jerk in forcing the way for someone to receive Communion it goes beyond mere jerkdom to deprive people of the Eucharist. Jesus asked the rhetorical question “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?” Well here is a father who would give bread instead of the Eucharist.

On a final note please pray for the Crescat’s grandmother. Most funeral Masses are instant canonizations and actually praying for the repose of the soul is left behind.

Mar 102015

I must say I was excited when I saw Archbishop in Philly for Pope Visit Planning, Special Milkshake Unveiling and that they were going to pick one official milkshake out of three created by Potbelly Sandwich Shops. The suspense was really getting to me.

Well the wait is over.

The Vatican has given its blessing to a shortbread milkshake.

Part of the proceeds from sales of the vanilla ice cream and shortbread cookie “#PopeinPhilly” milkshake will benefit two major events this fall in Philadelphia: a world gathering of Catholic families and a visit by the pope.

Fifty cents from every shake sold at three locations in Philadelphia will benefit the events.

Well I guess we can be glad it wasn’t Kasper Karamel or Remarriage Raspberry.

Mar 092015

Lately there has been much discussion regarding the death penalty due to the “Capital punishment must end” editorial of America, National Catholic Register, National Catholic Reporter, and Our Sunday Visitor.

My first reaction to this was no big deal. Generally I align myself with Pope Saint John Paul II’s reasoning in the Evangelium Vitae and what is spelled out in the Catechism. Through most of my life I have not had a strong opinion either way. Mostly I have been against the death penalty and at times favoring it in some cases. It was not until I became Catholic that I formed a stronger opinion about this.

One of the things I strive to do as a Catholic is not to go farther than what the Church actually teaches. I credit Jimmy Akin for my desiring this attitude since time and time again I noticed this in the way he answered questions. As a result I have had to moderate my own favoring of the end of the death penalty to the fact that the Church has constantly taught the “moral liceity of the death penalty justly administered.”

Mark Shea from time to time has accused so-called “conservative Catholics” of using prudential questions as a way of ignoring doctrine. An aspect of this is true, but ignoring doctrine in this way is not limited to any one group. Especially since much of the support for eliminating the death penalty is almost totally prudential without much anchoring to the consistent teaching of the Church. When I finally read the editorial I found this to be mostly the case. As someone generally inclined in this direction I did not think the case made in the editorially very well thought out. Kind of all over the place with no caveats regarding Church teaching on this. I found it a bit dishonest.

I found myself nodding my head mostly in agreement as I read Dr. Ed Peter’s blog post today Okay, what about Catholics and the death penalty?.

… As a Catholic squarely in line with the Catholic tradition that, as Long accurately if turgidly sets out, supports the just administration of the death penalty for capital crimes, I have grown used to having my motives for such support reduced to: my thirst for vengeance, my disdain for mercy, my obliviousness to Christ’s salvific will, my despair about conversion, and my contempt for compassion. I apparently do not understand that the death penalty does not bring murder victims back to life (gee, whodathunkit?) but that’s not to worry, because my support for the death penalty can be excused (and then dismissed) on purely demographic grounds (I am, after all, white, male, middle-aged, and usually vote conservative, so who cares what a heartless jerk like me thinks about anything?)

… So argue, if one will, the prudence of the death penalty—there are some very good prudential arguments against it, as Häring noted fifty years ago—but do not read the Catechism as making any principled points against the death penalty beyond those that have long been part of the Church teaching on the death penalty, that is, for the last 20 centuries during which no Catholic thinker, let alone any Magisterial pronouncement, asserted the inherent immorality of the death penalty. To the contrary, as Long points out, acknowledgment of the moral liceity of the death penalty justly administered, is the Catholic tradition.

There has been way too much noise and straw men on both sides of the debate. I’ve seen some rather ridiculous arguments pro and con.

What was helpful for me in coming to understand this more was the late Cardinal Dulles’ article in First Things Catholicism & Capital Punishment. This is an excellent overview of this issue.

In light of all this it seems safe to conclude that the death penalty is not in itself a violation of the right to life. The real issue for Catholics is to determine the circumstances under which that penalty ought to be applied. It is appropriate, I contend, when it is necessary to achieve the purposes of punishment and when it does not have disproportionate evil effects. I say “necessary” because I am of the opinion that killing should be avoided if the purposes of punishment can be obtained by bloodless means.

He goes over the fourfold purpose of punishment in secular courts as it applies to the death penalty and how it stacks up prudentially to the use of the death penalty. Really just read the article as I find it accurately states Catholic teaching along with the prudential concerns with the state administering the death penalty.

Mainly my point is that the debate should be about as he states “The real issue for Catholics is to determine the circumstances under which that penalty ought to be applied.” The problem with prudential questions is that of course they are prudential or as Dr. Ed Peters’ wrote “debatable”. What a shock that one persons prudential opinion goes against another’s. So as is often the case we have people arguing over each other and being rather dismissive towards their view even if it is within the range of what Catholics can believe on this issue.

Mar 042015

Via Tom at Disputations:

I’m having a raggedy Lent so far this year, which on the upside means I’m not at risk of vainglory in how well I’m keeping Lent.

But I have managed to actually complete a novena – to Our Lady, Undoer of Knots – in the nine days since Ash Wednesday. (I probably complete on time about 10% of the novenas I start.) And just a couple of hours after I finished the ninth day’s prayer, I received some fantastic news related to my prayer intention.

Correlation? Empirically so. Causation? Impossible to say, as impossible as when something good happened related to my prayer intention the other time I completed a novena to Our Lady, Undoer of Knots.

Now, there’s nothing at all miraculous about the good things that happened. I’m inclined to think – even, in a way, hope – they were purely coincidental. If it turns out to be the case that God wants to answer my prayers, then my lousy prayer life is responsible for a whole lot of grace missing in this world.

Frankly, though, it doesn’t matter. The act of prayer is in itself a grace, which if maintained becomes the habit of prayer, and that’s a good in itself. Whether or not we get what we pray for in some discernible way, we are sure to get what praying does for us, which we can then give to those we’ve been given to love.

Offer yourself to Jesus. Invoke Mary’s aid. Trust.

Well said with something to chew on.

Thomas L. McDonald’s “How I Pray” series had contemplative lay hermit Margaret Rose Realy, Obl. OSB for this week’s entry.

Another delightful entry in this ongoing series and I especially enjoyed:

I think my favorite rosary is the plastic glow-in-the-dark that hangs on the shade of a small lamp beside my bed. I love praying it as my last motion of the day. I don’t worry if I fall asleep while praying it, assured that my Guardian Angel or a saint will carry on. I look at it this way—I don’t imagine we are ever fully matured spiritually until after death. So we are always children, and if a child is resting in your arms and falls asleep mid sentence, would you mind it so terribly much? I thought not…

I just love this image of my Guardian Angel or a saint carrying on a Rosary I started but fell asleep praying. Still considering the number of times this has happened, Heaven must have a duty roster to carry on my Rosary whenever I start one. Annoys me the number of times this has happened and when awakening and going to bed not being able to sleep. Guess I should have brought my Rosary to bed with me.

As a consequence my habit now has been to pray the Rosary standing up to prevent this from happening.

Mar 032015

Oddly I wish the Church had more liturgical seasons.

The reason is that I want the Benedictines of Mary Queen of Apostles to keep releasing albums. Thankfully they haven’t yet run out of liturgical seasons to tie releases to and I am very pleased to see their new release today Easter at Ephesus.

These pitch perfect recordings get the most play out of my sacred music collection more than anything else. I can almost put their CD’s on repeat for the extent of the related liturgical season.

Not that we need any encouragement for wishing Lent to be over, but this makes me yearn even more for Easter.

  1. Anonymous: This Is The Day
  2. Aichinger: Regina Caeli (Aichinger)
  3. Köln Jesuit: The Clouds Of Night
  4. Wipo: Victimae Paschali
  5. Traditional: Alle Psallite Cum Luya
  6. Anonymous: Christ the Lord Hath Risen
  7. Ravanello: Haec Dies (4 Part)
  8. Ravanello: Pascha Nostrum
  9. Anonymous: Jesus Christ Is Ris’n Today
  10. Kichengesäng: Regina Caeli Jubila
  11. Palestrina: Alleluia Ye Sons
  12. Palestrina: Sicut Cervus
  13. Tisserand: O Sons And Daughters
  14. Benedictines Of Mary, Queen Of: Regina Caeli (Original)
  15. Saint Venance de Fortunat: Salve Festa Dies
  16. Gallus: Haec Dies (8 Part)
  17. Anonymous: Exultemus Et Laetemur
  18. Benedictines Of Mary, Queen Of: Her Triumph
  19. Carturan: Ascendit Deus 1:30
  20. Anonymous: Sing We Triumphant Hymns of Praise
  21. Lassus: Oculus Non Vidit
  22. De Corbeil: Concordi Laetitia
  23. Benedictines Of Mary, Queen Of: Queen Of Priests
  24. Herman: Veni Sancte Spiritus
  25. Ravanello: Confirma Hoc Deus
  26. Ravanello: Veni Creator
  27. Lambilotte: Come Holy Ghost
Mar 032015

Like many I was caught totally surprised by the naming of St. Gregory of Narek as a Doctor of the Church. Although the same is true when Pope Benedict XVI named St. Hildegard of Bingen as a Doctor of the Church in 2012 along with St. John of Ávila. Still at least I was somewhat aware of the ones Pope Benedict XVI named. St. Gregory of Narek was a total unknown to me.

After the naming I started seeing grumbling threads about him not even being Catholic. I thought surely that can’t be right.

On February 21, Pope Francis announced his decision to make St. Gregory of Narek (950–1003) a Doctor of the Church. Once again, Pope Francis has caught us off guard and now many people are scrambling to figure out who St. Gregory was and what the implications of the new honor bestowed upon him are. One key question that is arising is: was St. Gregory a Catholic?

The short answer to this question seems to be no. He was a member of the Armenian Apostolic Church, which is a non-Chalcedonian Church (sometimes referred to somewhat pejoratively as a Monophysite Church), because of its rejection of the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon.

However, the relationship of the Armenian Apostolic Church to the Catholic Church is long and complicated. I would like to provide a brief overview to help us consider the implications of the new Armenian Doctor of the Church.

This excellent article at Catholic World Report gives a overview regarding the Armenian Catholic Church along with its reconciliation with the Catholic Church under Pope St. John Paul II in 1996. It also details information about St. Gregory of Narek and references to where he is quoted in the Catechism and the encyclical Redemptoris Mater.

An update to this post included this information:

Thanks to the comments of readers, I have learned that the 2005 martyrology included not only St. Gregory of Narek on February 27, but also two other Orthodox saints, the Russians St. Stephen of Perm (1340–1396) and St. Sergius of Radonezh (1314–1392).

The first article I had read about this was Mark Movesesian at First Things who pondered about this:

As far as I can make out, it’s this. When Rome receives part of an Eastern church into full communion, it accepts all of the Eastern church’s saints, as long as they did not explicitly contradict Catholic doctrine. So, when part of the Armenian Church united with Rome in the eighteenth century to form the Armenian-rite Catholic Church, Rome accepted the Armenian saints, including Gregory of Narek. He was, as it were, grandfathered in, and has been a Catholic saint ever since. That’s how, in light of his great contributions, he can be declared a Doctor of the Church today.

So now this makes much more sense to me regarding the process. This was first under the purview of the Vatican’s Congregation for Causes of Saints which made the recommendation to the Pope. How this came about would be interesting in and of itself.

What annoys me is that I had to piece together information from news sources to see what was going on. You would think the Vatican just might communicate some clue when a non-Catholic is named a Universal Doctor of the Church. That just possibly some people might be scratching their heads over this. Yes that even the infamous “teaching moment” that constantly evades Vatican communication could be invoked and that some background information might be provided. Hope springs eternal that the Vatican could ever get ahead of the curve.

Still mostly the press has almost totally ignored the naming of a new Doctor of the Church and is confining itself, as usual ,to unimportant stories about the Church.