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Recommended today on the radio

Posted by on March 18, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Biblical origin of the Hail Mary: Luke 1:28 My interview with exorcist Father Gary Thomas (see at right) Coming Soon book by Dr. Michael Barber

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Meet me in Dallas!

Posted by on March 11, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

I will be emceeing the Annual Bishop’s Pro-Life Dinner in Dallas on the evening of April 18, 2015 at the Irvine Convention Center. Special guest is pop and gospel singer Kathy Troccoli. Kathy and I met briefly in 1995 when I co-hosted the Steubenville High School Youth Conferences on campus that summer. Hard to forget a voice that naturally soulful. Should be deliciously awkward when she tells me she doesn’t remember me, wot. I must say, awkward used to bother me. Now embrace it. We’re buds. Feeeel the awkward, O my people. If you’re a drive from Dallas/Irvine, register at that link. A great night for a worthy...

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Recommended on “Catholic Answers Live”

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Welcome to my website, new visitors! Whenever I or a guest recommends a book or some other resource, I try and post as many as I can remember at the end of the broadcast. A few recent picks: Free prayer app: iBreviary YouTube documentaries on homosexuality and chastity: The Third Way and Desire of the Everlasting Hills Book on suffering and God’s will: Making Sense of Suffering by Peter Kreeft Book explaining Catholic teaching on contraception to skeptics: Sex Au Naturel by Patrick Coffin (available by clicking at the right)....

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Patrick’s picks

Posted by on February 18, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

As I mentioned on Catholic Answers Live today, since most people do not have a pen and paper handy while listening to live radio, I’m going to start posting books or other recommendables that I bring up on the air. You can do an online search for: The Mental Sufferings of Our Lord in His Passion by Bl. John Henry Cardinal Newman. Makes for GREAT Lenten reading and meditation. He did it all for me and you…

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Kevin Costner’s Big Gamble

Posted by on February 10, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

My latest Cinephile column over at Catholic World Report includes an interview with double Academy Award-winner Lt. Dunbar, I mean Eliot Ness, I mean Ray Kinsella, I mean…. The audio version began airing February 6 at    

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Best made movie in history

Posted by on December 25, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

Published this two years ago tonight, my analysis of the Frank Capra uber classic It’s a Wonderful Life. Hands down, and up, the greatest film ever made. Merry Christmas.  

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Church is good for men, and vice versa

Posted by on December 8, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

Church is good for men because Jesus is good for men. It’s also because contact with other good, strong, loving Christian men is good for men, and because men (despite the posturing and the denial) crave community. Men in particular are drawn to adventures that involve team participation and the call to exceed oneself. Which explains the military, street gangs, sports and hunting teams, knights, and family life. There is a fascinating, detailed study called “The Demographic Characteristics of the Linguistic and Religious Groups in Switzerland” by Werner Haug and Phillipe Warner of the Federal Statistical Office, Neuchatel, Switzerland in Volume 2 of Population Studies No. 31. Involving data covering 1994-2000, the study found some surprising truths about men, manliness, and the transmission of faith. If both father and mother attend regularly, 33% of their children will end up as regular churchgoers, and 41% will end up attending irregularly. Only a quarter of their children will end up not practicing at all. If the father is irregular and mother regular, only 3% of the children will subsequently become regulars themselves, while a further 59% will become irregulars. 38% will be lost. If the father is non-practicing and mother regular, only 2% of children will become regular worshippers, and 37 percent will attend irregularly. Over 60% of their children will be lost completely to the church! The problem is, men don’t relate to the typical environment that characterizes the average parish in America. Why’s that? Because it’s feminine, mostly. The liturgical music tends toward the sentimental and the treacly — the “hymns sound like hers.” If you look around the next time you’re in church, note of the sex proportion. It’s usually 60-40 or 70-30 female over male. Most CCD classes are taught by women; most Christian men consider the religious eduction of their children to be women’s work; anecdotally, I’d say most Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion are women; in some parishes, altar girls outnumber altar boys; most of the sandwiches are made by women, who also set up most of the tables, stock the hall with coffee and donuts, and run the bereavement ministries. The message? Being a Christian is about softness. Safety. The Mister Rogers model. It takes a blind man to see that women are more naturally more religious. They are far less likely to confuse themselves with God the Father; and they tend overwhelmingly to represent stability and wholesomeness of the family. Prisons are filled with men, not women. Most pornography addicts are men. If one spouse is going to abandon the family it’s going to be the man. (Of course, there are exceptions but these are the strange outliers). In innumerable ways, gentlemen, women are our betters. When I speak to men around the country, I focus on simple truths. One helpful image is a pyramid, with strata lines drawn across it. The bottom section (the widest) represents the role men play in public: they are community leaders, entrepreneurs, captains of industry, and so on. Even if they don’t have management positions, they do have a public influence and the make an impact in whatever their work happens to be. Next up the pyramid is the role they play closer to home, at, say, the  parish–whatever time and resources they volunteer to the local church, and so...

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She gave the Word flesh

Posted by on December 4, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

She gave the Word flesh

One of the insights non-Catholics get as they’re being drawn by the mystic magnetism of the Catholic Church is that all Marian doctrines are essentially Christocentric.   Not everyone gets it to the same degree or at the same stage in the journey, but: Jesus alone explains Mary. Any devotions to her derive from devotion to him. Yes, some of the more sentimental “maximal” customs regarding the Blessed Mother — motivated as they may be by a sincere wish to make her better known and loved — give the impression that Mary is somehow the terminus point, the goal of devotion. This, of course, is completely out of balance. A great many more Christians err, however, on the other side of the filial fence. The presuppose (when they ponder it at all) that Mary was a nice Jewish girl that the God of Israel was pleased to use for a time and, well, what’s the big deal after that?   Authentic devotion to Mary must reflect a sense of proportion and the classic “both-and” principle. Like us, Mary is a creature; like our Savior, she is yet sinless. How did that human-divine incarnation come about? Think about it. Jesus didn’t acquire his precious blood from a first century blood bank, nor (directly) from his heavenly Father. No, the blood that flowed from his torn flesh and down the beam of the cross to sanctify the ground at Calvary was possible because of the human nature that he got from…his Blessed Mother. The Bible says Jesus saved us in and through his body (Heb. 10:10). Jesus delivered us from — not some, not most — but every evil, thanks to Mary’s yes to the angel Gabriel. That whole angel thing and waiting for the fiat was God’s idea. This is why Christmas is such a strong refutation of the Marian minimalism that characterizes most of Protestant theology and belief. Jesus not appear on the banks of the Jordan fully formed at age 30, Star Trek teleport-style. Neither did the Baby Jesus, as shown in every creche scene.   God chose this Woman to form and guide his only begotten Son, and to be formed and guided by him. Our holy Faith is incarnational. It’s comfortable with shared missions and intermingled purposes. Just as we accept divinity with humanity, grace with nature, and faith with works, how fitting it is that maternity be joined to paternity in the very foundation of “making the Word flesh.” As Jesus is God (because of his Father) and man (because of his Mother) our growth in faith must be shaped by both the masculine leadership of the Son and the feminine maternity of the Mother. In a certain sense, the Church is Marian before it is Petrine. She gave the Word flesh long before that he could change the name of a flimsy fisherman to “rock” (Matt. 16:18).   Mary teaches boys how to be men, and girls how to be women. By her quiet example, she instills a spirit of simplicity, humility, and purity. To borrow from Pastor Rick Warren, the purpose that drove her life may be summed up with the gentle mandate to “do whatever He tells you” (Jn 2:5).  The more we love her, the more conformed we are to doing whatever he tells us. Is it even possible to love the Blessed Mother...

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An Open Letter to Philip Seymour Hoffman

Posted by on February 6, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

Dear Phil: Forgive me for addressing a stranger as a friend. The cliché holds true: I feel like I know you. For 11 years now you’ve been the guy who was born to play blogger Mark Shea in a TV movie-of-the-week biopic. You’re one of those Completely Inhabiting the Character kind of actors. And what a range of characters you inhabited. You never got the girl at the end, but very few actors can bring to life the sheer variety of different characters you did: a dumpy baseball manager (Moneyball), a mincing novelist (Capote), an accused priest (Doubt), a megalomaniac cult leader (The Master), a shy caregiver (Magnolia). I could go on. You won the coveted Best Actor Oscar award. You were nominated three times for Best Supporting Actor. How did you get to work with the best of the best (start the list with David Mamet, Sidney Lumet, the Coen brothers, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Ralph Fiennes)? Easy. Because that’s what you are. You were unusually good at your day job. I thought that the news of your death would have flowed past my eyeballs and gotten lost this week along with the other news items. How quickly I go on with life after reading about ships that sink, kids with cancer, and genocide by machete. I got that pang of sadness that attends such news as the needless death of celebrity, and moved on. But the pang kept coming back. So I wanted to write you an open letter on the day of your funeral. Some will wonder what the point is of writing to a dead guy. But I’m a Catholic. I believe in the communion of saints. And so I strongly suspect you’ll somehow get my drift from beyond this vale of tears. First of all, since your name is Philip Seymour Hoffman, I presumed you were Jewish. But the obituaries say your mom was Catholic, your dad Protestant. (A lot of stories about your mother; zip about your father.) I’m not a betting man, but chances are good that someone who loved you had you baptized. Piecing your life together from interviews you gave and the obituaries that continue to roll out, the stand-out event for me was the divorce of your parents when you were nine. Nine is an awfully tender age. A nine-year-old boy is supposed to be perfecting his slap shot in winter, and his campfire-building chops in summer: living the life boisterous and rowdy, and viscerally eager to feel the affirming clasp of his dad. The social science data on the psychic wounds from divorce has a 60-year plus track record now. The news is not good. The trauma inflicted on small children by divorce must be faced and accommodated by them somehow, they say. If not, these heirs of sorrow must find a sense of equilibrium through escape and pain management. It’s no longer a secret that heroine was your escapist pain management of choice. Your long-suffering girlfriend Mimi, according to “insiders,” had had enough of witnessing your self-destructive downward spiral in front of the kids and asked you to leave last fall. You can’t blame her. I’m certain she prayed you’d hit that coveted rock bottom and would bounce upward. All moot. Your spirit was slowly...

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There are tours, pilgrimages and then there are Steve and Janet Ray LIFE EXPERIENCES

Posted by on September 24, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

I got back on September 10 after a nine-day experience of wall-too-wall, minute-to-minute spiritual growth and enrichment. Steve and Janet Ray of Footprints of God Pilgrimages fame, are in a class all by themselves. From the expert (and encyclopedic) Israeli Christian guide, to the hotel choices, to the TLC given to pilgrims, to the focus on prayerful meditation, to the masterful teachings along the way — it all adds up to a extravagant experience of grace, grit, and gratitude. Bishop Robert Vasa of Santa Rosa, and Father Willy Raymond, CSC, of Family Theater in Hollywood were the picture of fatherly care and openness. The whole experience of being in the Holy Land, under Steve’s seasoned pilgrim leadership skills, makes for a lifetime of sanctified memories. Bonus that keeps on giving: Great friends in Christ get made to boot! Steve takes Catholics (and others) all over the world on unforgettable journeys. More on them...

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