Saturday, October 31, 2009

Book Review: Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of the Civilization of Love

Just in time for her feast day, December 12, this book by Carl Anderson and Fr. Eduardo Chavez documents the visitation of Our Lady to Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin on Tepeyac. Anderson and Chavez recount the visitation using several sources, including the testimony of Juan Diego himself as well as his contemporaries.

I knew the outlines of the story but I didn't realize how the Virgin spoke to Juan Diego in his native language, using phrases and endearments that he would recognize. And, as she did later at Lourdes and Fatima, she chooses her messenger from among the lowest caste.

In fact Juan Diego protests that there are others who would be better suited to deliver her request for a church to Friar Zumarraga, the bishop-elect of Mexico. But the Virgin insists and Juan Diego obeys. Fr. Zumarraga's staff stonewalls Juan Diego and later lies about his actions, but he delivers the Virgin"s message and later the proof Fr. Zumarraga demands: flowers wrapped in his tilma. And the incredible image we know as Our Lady of Guadalupe.

An incredible image it is, too. Anderson & Chavez write about the scientific examinations the tilma has undergone over the centuries, how this simple garment has withstood deterioration, the lack of damage from acid and bombs. They also reveal the complex symbolism of the painting, incorporating images recognized by the Spanish and by the native population, including the fact that Our Lady is a mestiza: a mixture of Spanish and native. I found this section quite interesting and wish I had known more about it when the authorized reproduction of Our Lady of Guadalupe visited my parish several years ago. In fact, my one complaint is the lack of color illustrations in this section of the book.

Anderson & Chavez spend a lot of time on the historical events at the time of the Apparition (1531), both in Europe as well as the New World, further clarifying the extraordinary power of the apparition and why Our Lady of Guadalupe is so highly honored in the Americas, including the United States and Canada. And explaining, as well, the significance of Mary to the Catholic Church.

The final section discusses the hope the Virgin brings to us because she carries her Son with her always. She directs our attention to Him and models for us the behavior of a true believer. To quote from the book, "...she is the spiritual mother we all share, perfectly enculturated, a symbol of the "catholic" aspect of a Church where all are full members and all are welcome as equal heirs to the kingdom of God." We share Mary as our Mother and with her help, we are called to bridge the gap between cultures and countries.

The Appendices include The Nican Mopohua, the earliest written record of the apparition, as well as a Chronology, prayers, and a bibliography. There are extensive footnotes.

Carl Anderson is the Chief Executive Office and Chairman of the Board of the Knights of Columbus. Fr. Eduardo Chavez is an expert on the Guadalupe apparitions and was the postular of St. Juan Diego's cause for sainthood.

The book is well-written in language for the layman. Canonical and theological terms are explained without slowing down the narrative.

FTC Disclaimer: I received an uncorrected proof copy of this book for review from The Catholic Company

On the March Hare scale: 4 out of 5 Golden Bookmarks

This review was written as part of The Catholic Company product reviewer program. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Our Lady of Guadalupe: Mother of the Civiliation of Love.

crossposted at The Mad Tea Party

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Book Review: Uncommon Trust in God

Uncommon Trust in God: The Recent History of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Springfield
by Kathleen C. Keating, SSJ
Sisters of St. Joseph, Holyoke, MA 2009

"Uncommon Trust in God" was written to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Springfield, Massachusetts. Almost every Catholic life (and many non-Catholic lives) in this part of the world has been touched by a Sister of St. Joseph. Best known for their work in education, in recent years they have expanded their outreach and become fully dedicated to social justice issues wherever they may find them. Sr. Kathleen Keating, Ph.D. reflects on the past twenty-five years of the SSJ's history in this book.

The study is interesting in many ways. For those from the Springfield, MA area, this book is a trip down memory lane. Readers will recognize many of the names of the sisters profiled in these pages. They will smile at reflections on the SSJ Craft Fair which for twenty years was a mainstay of the Columbus Day weekend. They will remember schools and principals and new buildings. They will acknowledge programs and places that continue to make the world a better place. They may recall how a special sister or two touched their lives forever. Those who attended Elms College will find the appendix on that institution particularly fascinating. Sr. Kathleen Keating is a former president of the school and offers a tremendous amount of insight on its recent history.

From a broader perspective, it is a look at a congregation of religious sisters and how they adapted in the years after Vatican II. Sr. Kathleen examines how their lives changed in terms of how they lived and worked and governed themselves and carried out their mission. There were definitely growing pains, but Sr. Kathleen and most of the other sisters agree that the changes were for the best. They have learned to cope with an aging population and declining membership. They have found ways to continue to be relevant to the world. They have found ways to raise money and utilize their properties in order to care for their own. Through it all, they have retained their "Uncommon Trust in God."

Perhaps the greatest tribute to the Sisters of Saint Joseph is in the words of Bishop Timothy Harrington who spoke at the Sisters' 100th Anniversary Celebration:

"Each Sister of St. Joseph is a teacher. They teach by example, by that mysterious power that goes out from them like a light from a lamp, heat from a fire, and perfume from a flower. They teach by their presence in classrooms, in soup kitchens, in shelters for abused women, in their tireless advocacy for the poor, for human rights all over the world and here at home on behalf of America's new migrants and immigrants . . .They teach us when they ask, 'What are you as a Christian doing . . . ?'"

"Uncommon Trust in God" is a wonderful book for anyone interested in the Sisters of St. Joseph of Springfield or those who wish to learn more about religious sisters over the past twenty-five years.

To purchase a copy, please send $24 ($20 plus $4 shipping) to:

Sr. Kathleen Keating
Mont Marie
34 Lower Westfield Road
Holyoke, MA 01040

Reviewed by Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur

Monday, October 26, 2009

Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm) urinates on Jesus

I am glad that I've never seen this show.

Bill Donohue describes a recent episode of "Curb Your Enthusiasm":

At one point in the show, David goes to the bathroom in a Catholic home and splatters urine on a picture of Jesus; he doesn’t clean it off. Then a Catholic woman goes to the bathroom, sees the picture and concludes that Jesus is crying. She then summons her equally stupid mother and the two of them fall to their knees in prayer. When David and Jerry Seinfeld (playing himself) are asked if they ever experienced a miracle, David answers, “every erection is a miracle.” That’s what passes for creativity these days.

story here

"Law & Order" Abortion Episode Outrages Pro-Abortion Groups

cross-posted from A Catholic View

I saw this episode (Law & Order is one of my favorite shows) and I agree with James Tillman that this episode handled the topic of abortion very well. They had an abortion clinic nurse who witnessed the killng of a baby born alive and subsequently became a nurse in a neo-natal ICU unit. I particularly liked that at the end when Connie admitted: "I grew up thinking that Roe v. Wade was gospel for women, but now I'm not so sure" (paraphrasing)

Last Friday's episode of Law & Order on NBC, entitled "Dignity," has infuriated pro-abortionists while pleasantly surprising pro-lifers with an unexpectedly even-handed treatment of the issue of abortion.

Ripping its plot from recent headlines, "Dignity" begins with the murder of late-term abortionist Dr. Walter Benning (Matthew Boston) during a church service. Although the episode has a disclaimer stating that the story is fictional, its initial outline closely matches the case of the late-term abortionist Dr. George Tiller, who was shot and killed in a church in Wichita, Kansas, on May 31st.

After the murderer, Wayne Grogan is captured and confesses to the crime, while his defense attorney, Roger Jenkins (Richard Thomas), argues that the killing was justified because Grogan was acting in defense of someone else - namely, an unborn infant whom Benning was going to abort.

In the end Grogan is found guilty of the murder; but over the course of the episode a host of the arguments and issues surrounding abortion are covered in a manner unusually sympathetic to the pro-life cause.

As Dave Andrusko writes on the NRLC's website: "What makes the Law & Order episode so riveting is that virtually every pro-life argument you knew you would never hear on a network program is a part of 'Dignity.'"

story here

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Movie Review: Law Abiding Citizen - R

cross-posted from A Catholic View

Warning:possible spoilers

Clyde Shelton and his family are the victims of a home invasion, and his wife and daughter are killed. It is understandable that he would seek revenge against the guys who did it, and it is also understandable that Clyde is angry when the DA has to make a deal with one to obtain his testimony against the other. At first, Clyde is a sympathetic character, but when he decides to target the ADA and others in the criminal justice system, he becomes irrational and as such, is just another killer.

A very engaging plot, and lots of action. Not a dull moment. I really enjoyed the movie and recommend it.

Content Warnings: During the initial attack on his family. there is a rape. The full attack is not shown, but it is clear what is occurring. As you can tell by the previews, there is plenty of violence, particularly explosions. The goriest murder, including torture, is shown in the first half. There is offensive language, in particular the F word is used quite a bit.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Priests new album is coming.

The saintly trio of Irish tenors who took the international music world by storm are back in time for Christmas giving. Listen to a preview of "The Priests" new album, entitled "Harmony" and watch for a review of it coming soon.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Civil groups protest new anti-Christian film

Just days before the release of the new movie “Agora” by Spanish director Alejandro Amenabar, civil rights organizations are denouncing the film for promoting hatred of Christians and reinforcing false clich├ęs about the Catholic Church.

The president of the Religious Anti-Defamation Observatory, Antonio Alonso Marcos, has sent an open letter to Amenabar, also know for his pro-euthanasia film “The Sea Inside,” denouncing the film’s anti-Christian bias.

“The reason for my letter is to make you realize something that you already know but have dismissed as unimportant: your film is going to awaken hatred against Christians in today’s society. You present a biased view of the relationship between science and the Church, between faith and reason. It has been pointed out to you directly and indirectly, and you have used a somewhat vague excuse and looked the other way,” Marcos wrote.

story here

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Music Review: KISS Sonic Boom

I don't mention it often, but a few of my online friends are well aware that I've been a KISS fan for many years.

Today, KISS released Sonic Boom. It is a Walmart exclusive release, and their first since Symphony: Alive IV in July 2003.

It has two CD's: Sonic Boom contains 11 new songs, and KISS Klassics contains 15 new recordings of older songs. There is also a DVD of a live concert from earlier this year.

My favorite new songs are Modern Day Delilah, Stand, and Danger US.
The new songs that most closely represent the style, tempo and vocals of their classic songs are Modern Day Delilah, Never Enough, and Say Yeah (which also features Paul Stanley's classic vocal range).

An excellent KISS collection...I highly recommend (especially for Angela and Annie :)

cross-posted from A Catholic View

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Movie Review: The Informant! - R

cross-posted from A Catholic View

Warning: Possible spoilers.

Based on a true story.

Mark Whitacre (Damon) works for Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), where he is a rising star. At first, he tells a story about being blackmailed by someone adding a virus to one of their food products. The next story he tells is one of price-fixing. That one is actually true. He agrees to wear a wire, thinking he will will move up when he brings down the top executives. That doesn't happen, but by the end of the story it is clear that he has gotten more out of this than anyone realized.

I found the characters pretty annoying, especially Whitacre. At first, he portrays a naive, almost child-like character. As the story progresses, he becomes more and more pathological, and you begin to doubt every word he utters. By the end of the story, it is clear that he needs medication. The other characters are almost as annoying; they are almost caricatures of themselves. I actually think Damon did a good job portraying his character as he did; Whitacre was probably just that annoying and frustrating to the FBI.

The first part of the story was fairly entertaining. After the sting, the story of the fallout was slower paced. Perhaps it seemed that way because I was weary of the characters and eager to see how it turned out.

Content Warnings: There was no nudity, no sex scenes. The only warning I can offer is that the F-word was used a couple times.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Hartford Catholic Examiner

I am now live as the Hartford Catholic Examiner. Read my posts about the Guadalupe Celebration which launched Carl Andersen's new book "Our Lady of Guadalupe; Mother of a Civilization of Love" by clicking here.

The Celebration featured a Marian Procession through the campus of Yale University only three days before the tragic murder of Annie Le. Our Lady must have known that Yale needed our prayers.
My slide show of the procession is listed under my posts.

New movie about Our Lady of Fatima to be screened in major U.S. cities

cross-posted from A Catholic View

A new film about the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima, based on the memoirs of visionary Sister Lucia and the accounts of thousands of eyewitnesses, will be holding pre-release screenings in at least seven major U.S. cities.

“The 13th Day” is the first major motion picture by directors Ian and Dominic Higgins. According to the film’s U.S. distributor Ignatius Press, their film tells the story of the Virgin Mary’s appearances to Lucia Santos and her cousins Francisco and Jacinta Marto.

story here

Book Review: Fire of God's Love-120 Reflections on the Eucharist

Through the Eucharist God changes us as surely as he changed the elements of bread and wine into himself. He forms us as living stones in the temple of his Church. He builds up a eucharistic culture to replace the culture of death.

Think globally? Act eucharistically. It's the sacrament that renews the earth.

Asking what you can do for your country. Make a good Communion. Make a visit to the tabernacle. Much more will follow.

God will make limitless poetry out of the prose of your life, and he will renew the face of the earth, beginning with your little corner.
It is simply impossible to express what we gain from adoring the Eucharist as I know full well. How do we describe an encounter with God? Yet many Catholics have expressed some facet of it over the thousands of years since Christ gave us Himself in that gift.

Mike Aquilina has chosen 120 wonderful quotations that not only help us rise to meet God but that God uses to push aside the veil between us. Some are short and some are long, some are poetic and some are straight to the point, but all are well chosen. One of the surprising things I found what that Aquilina doesn't just include saints and popes, though they are well represented here as one might expect. I was pleased and interested to find reflections from more modern sources such as J.R.R. Tolkien, Maria Montessori, Conrad Hilton, and George Wiegel.

This book could do double service not only as a source for reflection during adoration but as a daily devotional if one wished. It is much more interesting and thought provoking than the usual quote collections. Also, it is beautifully typeset and organized which is something I always notice, especially in a book that is to be used in prayer. I am sorry to say, careful attention to layout is not something we see very often from small publishers. Servant Books is to be congratulated on this.

Highly recommended.
97 | The Best Prayer

We need not speak so much to pray well. We know the good God is in the holy tabernacle. We open our hearts to him, and delight in his holy presence; that is the best prayer.
--Saint John Vianney