Tuesday, October 26, 2010 \AM\.\Tue\.
In this political season I was curious as to which saint was the patron saint of politicians. Much to my shock I learned that on October 26, 2000, Pope John Paul II proclaimed Saint Thomas More as patron saint of politicians and statesman. It was an inspired choice, but I think the average politician might find Saint Thomas More difficult to emulate.
1. As far as I can tell, Saint Thomas More always told the truth. Most politicians seem to regard lying as a job requirement or a job perk.
2. Saint Thomas More was noted by contemporaries for not taking bribes. Such honesty was just as rare among politicians then as it is now.
3. As Cardinal Wolsey, unforgettably portrayed by Orson Welles, in the video clip above noted, Saint Thomas always viewed issues of public policy with a “moral squint”. Most politicians would view this as a severe handicap.
4. Saint Thomas gave up the highest office in England over a matter of principle. I am afraid the average politician’s reaction to this would be, “You have got to be kidding”.
5. Most politicians when viewing the movie “A Man for All Seasons” would probably think that Richard Rich is the hero of the film. Read the rest of this entry »
Friday, September 17, 2010 \PM\.\Fri\.
The text of Benedict’s keynote speech on his trip to the UK is here; video of the speech can be found here.
Obviously, you read or watch the speech in its entirety, but I will present a few highlights for readers:
And yet the fundamental questions at stake in Thomas More’s trial continue to present themselves in ever-changing terms as new social conditions emerge. Each generation, as it seeks to advance the common good, must ask anew: what are the requirements that governments may reasonably impose upon citizens, and how far do they extend? By appeal to what authority can moral dilemmas be resolved? These questions take us directly to the ethical foundations of civil discourse. If the moral principles underpinning the democratic process are themselves determined by nothing more solid than social consensus, then the fragility of the process becomes all too evident – herein lies the real challenge for democracy.
Read the rest of this entry »
Thursday, September 16, 2010 \PM\.\Thu\.
Many in the mainstream media have failed to see the obvious concerning Pope Benedict XVI’s trip to the United Kingdom, the truth of the Catholic Church has won out. The Pope of Christian Unity (as he is often called by the blogging Father Z) is reaching out to serious minded Christians. The Holy Father is asking them to unite as they once were under the leadership of the Successor of Saint Peter. Now I realize Pope John Paul II went to the UK, but the Anglican Church is in a far more dilapidated condition than it was then. In addition, I am aware that many in the United Kingdom, and Western Europe for that matter, have little to do with religious matters, but the same could be said in the early days of the Roman Empire. Against all odds, three centuries later Catholicism would be the dominant faith. It can happen again.
The Holy Father is about to beatify John Cardinal Henry Newman. He was a towering figure in the 19th century state run Anglican Church. He came to the Catholic Church and gave us this memorable quote; To go deep into history is to cease to be Protestant. I am not bringing this up in the spirit of triumphalism but in the spirit of truth. Christ promised us that the gates of hell would not prevail against the Church, and though it has been through many rough patches (we are currently in one) the truth is winning out. (Matthew 16:15-20.)
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Monday, September 13, 2010 \PM\.\Mon\.
[Update: RealCatholicTV is back online!]
Salvete TAC readers!
Here are my observations and opinions on the Catholic Church in the Internet:
1. A RealCatholicTV (RCTV) representative is reporting that they have been experiencing technical difficulties and should be up and running by Tuesday evening at the latest.
The RCTV Facebook page reports that they could be up as early as this evening!
2. Last nights Sunday Night Live on EWTN had Father Benedict Groeschel interviewing Archbishop Timothy Dolan and I have to say that the good archbishop is very impressive.
He has a strong presence and speaks well with authority. Outside of dodging a question on female altar servers, he looks to be the leading archbishop and the unofficial primate of the United States of America for the foreseeable future.
His Excellency posited that the severe drop in receiving the Sacrament of Penance may have contributed to the vocational crisis since 1968. Most of the interview though was on the recent increase in vocations though.
Another theory that His Excellency suggested was the loss of grandmothers within the home. He truly believes that grandmothers have a significant impact in passing on the faith which leads to vocations to the priesthood. But with more and more families sending their dear grandmothers to retirement “homes”, the family is losing a great advocate for vocations to the priesthood.
Cardinal’s hat within five years or less.
Read the rest of this entry »
Wednesday, June 23, 2010 \AM\.\Wed\.
Hattip to my friend Jay Anderson at Pro Ecclesia who has a superb tribute to Saint Thomas More here.
Yesterday, June 22, was the feast day of Saint Thomas More. Never has saintly sanctity and legal acumen been combined so well in any man as in Saint Thomas More. The foremost English lawyer and judge of his day, he was one of the most learned men of his time, at the forefront of the Christian humanist revival of letters. He rose to the highest office of England, save that of the King. He could have lived a life of ease and comfort, enjoying a peaceful old age, basking in the honors and plaudits his hard literary and legal work had earned him. Instead he died the death of a martyr, going to the chopping block in defense of his Catholic faith. Here is a contemporary account, August 4, 1535, written in the Paris Newsletter, of the last days of Saint Thomas More.
On the 1st July 1535, Master Thomas More, Chancellor of England, was brought before the judges and the accusations against him read in his presence. The Chancellor and the Duke of Norfolk turned to him and said, “You, Master More, have gravely erred against the King; nevertheless we hope by his clemency that if you repent and correct your obstinate opinion in which you have so rashly persevered, you will receive pardon.” He replied, “My Lords, I thank you very heartily for your good will. I pray God preserve me in my just opinion even to death. As to the accusation against me, I fear words, memory, and judgment would alike fail me to reply to such a length of articles, especially considering my present imprisonment and great infirmity.” A chair was then ordered to be placed for him, and he proceeded as follows: Read the rest of this entry »
Monday, March 29, 2010 \AM\.\Mon\.
One of my favorite movies is A Man For All Seasons (1966). The film depicts the events that led up to the martyrdom for the Catholic faint of Saint Thomas More. The movie completely captures the look and sound of Tudor England, and evokes well Saint Thomas More, perhaps the most learned, and one of the most holy, men of his day. That such a man was an attorney, and I say this as an attorney, is shocking!
But Saint Thomas More was an attorney, and one of the ablest of his time. When he was a judge, he once called for the next case only to learn that he had cleared the docket of all cases pending before the court, something that had not occurred before More’s time and has not occurred since. He even wrote a prayer, a copy of which I have hanging in my office, and which I believe should be said by attorneys as they go home from their offices: “Give me the Grace Good Lord, to set the world at naught; to set my mind fast upon Thee and not to hang upon the blast of men’s mouths. To be content to be solitary. Not to long for worldly company but utterly to cast off the world and rid my mind of the business there of.
His secular life revolved around the law, and when the King sought his blood because he would not bend to the King’s bigamous marriage to Anne Boleyn, he defended his life with such legal skill that the perjured evidence of Sir Richard Rich had to be used to allow the judicial murder of Saint Thomas.
At the beginning of this post we see the scene in the movie where the playwright Bolt has Saint Thomas defending the proposition that the Devil should be given the benefit of Man’s law. I believe that is a perfectly accurate statement of the view of Saint Thomas. If a law is unjust, as laws not infrequently are, then the law should be changed. However, for laws to be ignored or to be actively disobeyed in order for some good to be achieved would have struck him as anathema. Read the rest of this entry »
Sunday, November 22, 2009 \PM\.\Sun\.
The Catholic Church has always had a bull’s-eye attached to it, and in truth many of us wouldn’t want it any other way, for when we are almost universally loved, as has happened a few times in the last 40 years we have become “of the world,” instead of suffering for the world.” Lately, during the pontificates of Pope John Paul II and now Pope Benedict XVI dark forces have gathered at the gates of truth attacking the Church for a variety of long held beliefs. These beliefs can range from the theological to the social. However, following the US Election of 2008 a tidal wave seems to have inundated the Church from the mainstream media, the political realm and even the entertainment world. The Church’s 2,000 year old teachings and beliefs have been attacked in the United States and Western Europe from elected officials, the mainstream media and well known entertainment celebrities. Some of the faithful have become discouraged and questioned me as to how the thesis of my book, The Tide is Turning Toward Catholicism, could possibly be true in light of this news.
The truth of the matter is that against this troubling backdrop the Church continues to grow around the world, especially in African and Asia but even in North America, where much of the onslaught against the Church has emanated. Seminaries and Mother Houses often have no room for those pursuing a vocation and those young African and Asian men and women are often sent to the US or Europe to explore their vocation. Even in the US and pockets of Europe seminaries are experiencing a mini boom. One seminary rector told me that in the 40+ plus years of being affiliated with the Church, he has never seen a longer sustained period of top notch orthodox minded young men coming in and being ordained as he has seen in the last 10 years. Perhaps this is why the powers that be are so angry.
It seemed the US midterm Election of 2006 emboldened the cause of those militant liberals and secularists who have contempt for much of what orthodox minded Catholicism holds dear. Following the results of the Election of 2008, many pundits proclaimed the results as a sea change for America. Agnostics and atheists gleefully announced that a world where religion and especially conservative or orthodox minded Catholicism held sway was being replaced by a humanist brand of religion where age old teachings were replaced by the ideas of “enlightened” religious leaders, agnostic thinkers, and pop culture celebrities. It seemed this new brand of liberal thinker was less idealistic than their 1960s peers and displayed an anger and hostility that was a far cry from the utopian idealism displayed some 40 years ago. Yet, beneath the surface and below the radar screens of many news organizations, lies the hope of the Catholic faithful who hold on to the ideas imparted by Christ, His Apostles, Popes, Bishops, Priests, Women Religious, Saints and holy laymen and laywomen throughout the centuries. Read the rest of this entry »