Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Archbishop's Retirement

The Dayton Daily News has an article on the retirement of Cincinnati Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk. The lede of the story is that the Archbishop's time at the helm has been marked by scandal and controversy. The only scandal and controversy noted in the body of the story is that of sexual abuse of minors by the clergy and the apparent failure of the American episcopate to recognize and adequately address the problem. I found the story, although brief, to be fairly even-handed, despite the sensationalist headline.

What was anything but even-handed were the comments. They made me appreciate the level of discourse and civility that is found on the blogs that I read. I hope that the commenters are not representative of the inhabitants of the Archdiocese (Catholic and non-Catholic).

Friday, August 28, 2009

Payday Inspiration (or Not)

Like most of the employees where I work, my pay is delivered to me via direct deposit – the money is transferred directly to my primary savings account. However, I still get a “pay check” every Friday telling me important things like how much was deposited in my account, how much was withheld for taxes, and how much vacation time I have accrued. Most of the time, there’s also an innocuous message. My cubicle mates and I have made a bit of a game out of ripping open our statement every Friday to discover the message. It’s like the fortune cookie you get with your bill at the Chinese buffet.

Sometimes, the message might be promoting safety (“You’re important to us!”). At other times, it might be advising us of administrative details such as the deadline for filing changes to our health benefits package. Today’s message had me scratching my head, saying to myself, “Huh?”

“Innovate or evaporate. (Jim Higgins)” That’s it. There’s a capital letter at the beginning and period at the end. It’s been a while since I had an English class (I understand they call it “Language Arts” now), but that looks like it’s supposed to be a complete sentence, and an imperative one at that. I have received the command to either innovate or evaporate. I guess the choice is up to me. Evaporating doesn’t sound like a lot of fun, but if I’m not able to innovate, will evaporation be force upon me? Maybe, if I’m lucky, I won’t be the object of the evaporation, but the subject. If I boil water on the stove, is that close enough to evaporating?

I took to Google to find out who Jim Higgins is or was. There are lots of chaps named Jim Higgins out there. One of them is an Irish politician. The one that I was looking for, though, is an author of business books. These are like self-help books for business men, where they learn all the latest buzz words. Mr. Higgins apparently has written a book entitled Innovate or Evaporate, in which he encourages executives to discover their company’s IQ (Innovation Quotient).

I wish that I could say the message on my pay stub is reassuring. Unfortunately, serene confidence was not the first emotion that I felt upon receiving this week’s dose of inspiration.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Monica, Marilyn, and Vanity in Death

Driving in to work today, I heard a segment on NPR that once again highlighted for me the difference between the culture of the world and the Christian culture, where we are called to be in the world but not of the world.

There is, it seems, a market for people who want their remains to be buried near those of a celebrity. In this case, a Japanese gentleman purchased a mausoleum space directly above that which houses the remains of Marilyn Monroe. The winning eBay bid was a cool $4.6 million. The current resident of that space, who asked that he be buried face down, is being evicted by his widow, who needs the money.

Contrast that with St. Augustine’s account of the death of his mother, St. Monica, whose memorial is today:

While she was sick, she one day sank into a swoon, and was for a short time unconscious of visible things. We hurried up to her; but she soon regained her senses, and gazing on me and my brother as we stood by her, she said to us inquiringly, "Where was I?" Then looking intently at us stupefied with grief, "Here," saith she, "shall you bury your mother." I was silent, and refrained from weeping; but my brother said something, wishing her, as the happier lot, to die in her own country and not abroad. She, when she heard this, with anxious countenance arrested him with her eye, as savouring of such things, and then gazing at me, "Behold," saith she, "what he saith;" and soon after to us both she saith, "Lay this body anywhere, let not the care for it trouble you at all. This only I ask, that you will remember me at the Lord's altar, wherever you be." And when she had given forth this opinion in such words as she could, she was silent, being in pain with her increasing sickness.

St. Monica, intercede for us, that we might be saved from vanity in death as well as in life. Pray for us!

Oh, and the gentleman with the winning bid? He’s trying to renege on the deal “because of the paying problem.”

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Lions and Lambs and Louis

There is a chapter in G. K. Chesterton's Orthodoxy in which he examines the paradoxes of Christianity. He found it simply amazing that critics of Christianity could hold that the Church was simultaneously two contradictory things. One of his examples is that there are those who consider followers of Christ to be entirely too pacifistic, while asserting at the same time that Christianity is the cause of all wars and bloodshed.

Here is another case of the same kind. I felt that a strong case against Christianity lay in the charge that there is something timid, monkish and unmanly about all that is call "Christian," especially in its attitude toward resistance and fighting. The great skeptics of the 19th century were largely virile. Bradlaugh in an expansive way, Huxley in a reticent way, were decidedly men.

In comparison, it did seem tenable that there was something weak and overpatient about Christian counsels. The gospel paradox about the other cheek, the fact that priests never fought, a hundred things made plausible the accusation that Christianity was an attempt to make a man too like a sheep.

I read it and believed it, and if I had read nothing different, I should have gone on believing it. But I read something very different. I turned the next page in my agnostic manual, and my brain turned upside down. Now I found that I was to hate Christianity not for fighting too little, but for fighting too much. Christianity, it seemed, was the mother of wars. Christianity had deluged the world with blood. I had got thoroughly angry with the Christian because he never was angry. And now I was told to be angry with him because his anger had been the most huge and horrible thing in human history; because his anger had soaked the Earth and smoked to the sun. The very people who reproached Christianity with the meekness and non-resistance of the monasteries were the very people who reproached it also with the violence and valor of the Crusades. It was the fault of poor old Christianity (somehow or other) both that Edward the Confessor did not fight and that Richard Coeur de Leon did. The Quakers (we were told) were the only characteristic Christians; and, yet, the massacres of Cromwell and Alva were characteristic Christian crimes.

What could it all mean? What was this Christianity that always forbade war and always produced wars? What could be the nature of the thing which one could abuse first because it would not fight, and second because it was always fighting? In what world of riddles was born this monstrous murder and this monstrous meekness? The shape of Christianity grew a queerer shape every instant.

I bring this up because today is the feast day of St. Louis IX. He is a canonized saint of the Church. As king of France, he fostered learning, literature and the arts. He was also a crusader, who did not shirk the responsibility of defending Christendom with his sword. Chesterton recognized him for this.

And, sometimes, this pure gentleness and this pure fierceness met and justified their juncture; the paradox of all the prophets was fulfilled and, in the soul of St. Louis, the lion lay down with the lamb. But remember that this text is too lightly interpreted. It is constantly assured, especially in our Tolstoyan tendencies, that when the lion lies down with the lamb, the lion becomes lamb-like. But that is brutal annexation and imperialism on the part of the lamb. That is simply the lamb absorbing the lion instead of the lion eating the lamb. The real problem is - Can the lion lie down with the lamb and still retain his royal ferocity? That is the problem the Church attempted; that is the miracle she achieved.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Jephthah Did What?

Today's Lectionary reading from the Book of Judges is a shock to modern ears. The passage recalls how Jephthah, leading Israel in battle against the Ammonites, vow to sacrifice to God the first person who greets him when he returns home, if God will only grant the Israelites success in battle. The Israelites meet with great success, and Jephthah returns to his home, where he is greeted by his daughter, an only child. After two months in which she mourns for never being able to be married, the vow is consummated and she is sacrificed.


The literal sense is a little troubling here. God seems to accept the oath, for Israel is rewarded with success in battle, and Jephthah is not stopped short of sacrificing his daughter, as Abraham was stopped from sacrificing Isaac. Nowhere does the scripture explicitly state that God was displeased with the sacrifice of Jephthah's daughter, although it does note that Jephthah served as a judge for six years before he died. Six is a number associated with incompleteness, being one less than the seven days associated with the creation account.

What about the allegorical, moral, and anagogical senses?

The moral sense seems to suggest that human sacrifice is A-OK, but we know from subsequent revelation and Tradition that that's not true. In the allegorical sense, we might suggest that the daughter of Jephthah is a type, but is she a type for Jesus in that she is willingly sacrificed, or a type for Mary in her virginity? Only in the anagogical sense, in which we see that Jephthah held nothing, even his only daughter, back from God, does the passage make any real sense. Jephthah made a rash oath to God, but even though the oath was rash, he fulfilled the terms. Oaths to God are not to be taken lightly.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

It's About Dad

Last week, Mark Shea was a guest on The Journey Home. Mark is an author of several books, a speaker, and one of the foremost Catholic bloggers. His blog is Catholic and Enjoying It.

During the course of their conversation, Mark and host Marcus Grodi discussed the current fad of popular atheism, and Mark noted that all of the arguments against God’s existence boil down to one of two basic assertions: either things are going badly and, therefore, God doesn’t exist or things are going well without God, therefore we don’t really need him. St. Thomas Aquinas anticipated both arguments and answered them long ago.

Mark attributes much of the current vogue for atheism to a statement that he attributes to Pope John Paul II, that the mark of original sin is loss of the apprehension of God as Father. Mark went on to add:

And when you lose the apprehension of God as father, God doesn’t disappear. What happens is, you perceive him simply and solely as master, and then you’ve got a choice. You can submit to him as master, which is what Islam is, or you can rebel against him as master, which is what atheism is. As Chesterton said, it is always the Christian god that the atheist does not believe in. If you don’t believe it, try saying something blasphemous about Thor. You don’t run into people doing that too often.

Yes, it’s true that we live in a society that’s obsessed with sex and this sort of thing. And so it really is true sometimes that, as a wag once said, “The person that says to you that the modern rational intellect can no longer accept the primitive doctrines and dogmas of transubstantiation and the Trinity, what he often mean by that is, ‘I’m sleeping with my neighbor’s wife.’” But far more than that, I’m really discovering that it’s not about sex, it’s about Dad. Great, great anger at the father, and that gets directed at God the Father, and there you go. But it comes back to that remark that John Paul made. The longer I live, the more insightful that I think it is.

And so, it comes down to me. I hold the faith (or lack of faith) of my children in my hands. Their first intuition of God as a loving Father will be my example. It is an awesome responsibility, and I am painfully aware of my every failure and weakness as a parent. I know that I cannot be perfect. I can only try my best, ask God for the grace to do better, and pray that I don’t leave them permanently damaged.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Fool of a Took!

There's a scene in The Fellowship of the Ring, after the Fellowship has entered the Mines of Moria and found Balin's tomb. As they read from the book and learn how the dwarves released an ancient evil that had been locked in the earth, the hobbit Peregrine Took pokes at a corpse near a vertical air shaft or well. The corpse's helmeted head rolls off into the shaft, followed by the body of the corpse, a chain, and a bucket at the end of the chain. The whole thing bounces noisily off the walls of the shaft, deeper and deeper into the mine. With each loud clang, the members of the Fellowship wince, until Gandalf, looking directly at the hobbit, snarls, "Fool of a Took!"

The scene leaps to mind whenever somebody does something stupid, and it leaps to my mind today because of the non-Gospel readings. Proverbs 9:6 tells us, "Forsake foolishness that you may live; advance in the way of understanding." And St. Paul writes in Ephesians 5:15, "Watch carefully how you live, not as foolish persons but as wise, making the most of the opportunity because the days are evil."

We are, it seems, surrounded by foolishness, and all to often we find ourselves infected by it to a greater or lesser degree. As we advance in scientific understanding, we become tempted to wield the power, much as those in the Lord of the Rings were tempted to wield the power of the one ring. There are some who would compromise, intending to wield the power only so long as it is needed to defeat evil. They have good and noble intentions, but they underestimate the corrupting influence of the power. There are others who have given themselves over entirely to the desire to wield the power. For them, "the science" is the ultimate arbiter of right and wrong. If we have the technology to do something, then we should do it. To them, sacrificing a generation of human embryos is a small price to pay for bio-engineering a superior race. Such fools seek to understand how the world works, but neglect to consider why.

There are other fools who claim to be trying to understand the why of human behavior, but in practice do little more than try to justify aberrant behavior. People act the way they act, they will say, because they can't help it. Those who follow their advice end up embracing destructive behaviors, and then wonder why their lives are so messed up. Uninhibited pleasure does not lead to happiness. Pleasure can, in fact, lead us away from happiness. A married man might find pleasure in the affections of a woman other than his wife. That pleasure leads to unhappiness as his marriage falls apart.

We, however, are called to seek wisdom. Wisdom, we are told, begins with fear of the Lord. That doesn't mean that the wise are cowering in fear before a vengeful deity. It means that we are to have a healthy perspective regarding who we are and what God is. "Were you there when I laid the foundations of the earth?" (Job38:4) We are creatures, he is our creator. Paradoxically, the world often sees the wisdom of God as foolishness. Suffering and sacrifice, in the eyes of the world, are evils to be avoided. Yet, God the Father sacrificed his own Son through suffering for our sake, that we might become sons and daughters of God.

We are to live our lives, not as foolish persons with only the standards of the world in mind, but as fools for God, prepared to be mocked by the worldly. The world will tell us to eat, drink, and be merry. We have to be prepared to remain sober. When the world laughs, we must be prepared to mourn. And yet we are still struck with the paradox that through it all, the love of Christ must fill us to that we radiate a certain joy. Joy in mourning will seem perverse, indeed even foolish, to the world.

It's not easy finding the right balance, and I readily admit that I'm not there. But I'm working on it. Repentance, conversion, and confession are regular events for me, and I suspect that they will be until the day that I die. I don't know why God made us this way - it is beyond my understanding. But I refuse to allow my oft-demonstrated personal weakness become an excuse for foolish behavior. Rather, I will seek Wisdom's house and "try to understand what is the will of the Lord." May God grant me the grace and the gifts (wisdom, knowledge, understanding, right judgment, courage, piety, and wonder) necessary for me to live as I ought, as is fitting for a believer. Let me not appear before Him at the end of my life and hear the words "Fool of a Took!"

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Emphasis in Scripture

You've probably heard the adage that 90% of communication is non-verbal. Even with verbal communication, commiting the words alone to text can lose a bit of the nuance in a sentence. Take for instance, the phrase from today's Gospel, "I am the bread of life." (John 6:48)

That sentence could be uttered with an emphasis on the subject. "I am the bread of life." Jesus would have been indicating that the bread of life is not to be found anywhere other than in Him. It would be as if he were saying, "If you want eternal life, look to me."

The sentence could also be said with an emphasis on the verb. "I am the bread of life." When I speak the words both ways in my mind, it seems as though the meaning is slightly different, although I can't exactly put my finger on the difference.

There is another example where the distinction is a little easier to see: "Follow me" versus "Follow me." In one case, the emphasis is on the action of the person being spoken to, in the other the emphasis is on the one being spoken about. Most people, when reading aloud, default to the second formulation. I prefer the first.

My point is that the text doesn't say how it should be read. There might be some clues from the context, but those clues aren't always easy to read. In my mind's eye, I can see Jesus saying, "I (Jesus, the man standing here before you) am the bread of life. Your fathers (the ones who were delivered from Egypt and cared for in the desert by my Father) at the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This (gesturing to himself) is the bread that comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die (unlike the manna of the Exodus). I am the living bread (not only that you might never die, but that I might teach you through my life) which came down from heaven."

The Murmuring Crowd

It seems so easy to accept the words of the Bread of Life Discourse from the 6th chapter of John that we heard from in today's mass. We have the benefit of living after the great signs of John's later chapters and the death, resurrection, and ascension. We live in the era after the Holy Spirit descended at Pentecost. We have two millenia of tradition upon which to draw. It is enough for us to know that He said it. We accept that He was the Son of God. The crowds from today's Gospel reading didn't enjoy those benefits.

If I had been in the crowd, it is quite likely that I would have been disturbed by what I was hearing. Knowing the family life of the man making the claim and remembering his childhood would make his words even harder to accept, even if he was able to do miraculous things. I probably would have been one of those murmuring against Him, much to my detriment.

Do we take the time often enough to thank God that we don't have to figure all this out for ourselves? Don't get me wrong. There's still plenty for us to discern. But we already have so many of the really important, foundational answers. It means that we can focus our attention on actually trying to live up to what He taught. And God knows that, for me at least, that's plenty hard enough.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

An Elegantly Simple Child

I’m a big fan of Catholic radio. Unfortunately, our local station does not carry most of my favorite programs, so I end up listening to archived podcasts. One of my favorites is Catholic Answers Live, produced by Catholic Answers, an evangelization and apologetics apostolate located in San Diego, CA. Catholic Answers Live is a call-in show with two one-hour segments every day, Monday through Friday.

A few weeks ago, Catholic Answers Live featured Dr. Ross Porter for an hour-long discussion about raising a handicapped child. Dr. Porter is a clinical psychologist specializing in integrative psychology and family systems. He is also the founder and Executive Director of Stillpoint Family Resources, a non-profit organization that offers counseling services to individuals, couples, and families in crisis, with nine different office locations throughout Los Angeles and Orange Counties, California. Dr. Porter and his wife have four children, the oldest of whom, John Michael, has Down Syndrome.

It was an interesting program, with the discussion touching upon many of the areas that Amy and I have talked about with respect to our own child with Down Syndrome.

The Porters had three more children after John Michael, and a fair number of people were surprised by that. Dr. Porter talked about feeling overwhelmed at times, but returning to the challenge of Pope John Paul the Great, “Be not afraid.” And so, they made a conscious effort to stay open to life and to the god of miracles. “A lot of people were surprised. Gosh, you’re gonna have another child? Well, why wouldn’t we want another child? This wasn’t a mistake, like John Michael didn’t go well so we better close up shop. He’s the baby that God intended for us, and why would we stop now?”

Raising a child with special needs is a challenge, but it is not one that comes without any rewards. You’re life might be rearranged, but you arrive at a new sense of normal.

One caller questioned whether, having received a prenatal diagnosis of Down Syndrome, it would be appropriate to pray for healing. My wife has discussed something similar with other parents of children with Down Syndrome. If you could give back the extra chromosome, would you? Dr. Porter would not. “John Michael was sent to us exactly how John Michael was meant to be. If we had known while he was in utero that he was Down Syndrome, we would not have prayed for a healing because I really believe that (and my wife also) this is John Michael’s mission and that as long as John Michael has life, he will be leading people to God through his disability. That’s not to say that people are wrong if they pray for healing. The way that I feel about it is that you pray for God’s perfect will, and then the courage to do it. So if there’s going to be a miracle of healing where the Down Syndrome child is suddenly not Down Syndrome, fine. The deeper miracle is if we’re able to love and do God’s Will.”

Elaborating upon the rewards of raising a child with special needs, Dr. Porter noted that he is a better man because of John Michael. “All my children have helped me to grow and to be a better man, but no one has stretched me like John Michael has stretched me. And nobody challenges – none of us, including my wife and I – challenge people like John Michael does. There’s something very powerful and compelling about him, and as I’ve said before, Patrick, that you talk about a disable child – John Michael is happier in any given week than I’ve been in 45 years. He doesn’t have the neuroses, the hangups, the anxieties, the fears that I have with my degrees and my knowledge and blah blah blah. So what he really challenges us to do is almost redefine disability. He wears his disability on the outside. We’re all disabled, we’re just better at hiding ours. The more resources and the more education you have, the better able you are to hide it. He’s a great grace. I would never pray that he would be anybody but the person that God made him to be.

The phrase the Dr. Porter especially likes to use with regard to his son is that he is “elegantly simple.”

Dr. Porter also touched upon the challenges of parenting his elegantly simple son compared to his three typical children. “We’ve got four children. John Michael has his particular challenges that he brings to the table, but he is going to be, in a lot of way, our easiest kid. We’re never going to have to worry about him out late at night. We’re never going to have to worry about him in moral areas. He’s got this gift of simplicity that will always keep him a little child. All children are going to have their challenges. All of us, as we get older, it’s not like we have less challenge or less temptation in our lives. That’s just part of being human, is dealing with the challenges that come with humanity.”

The full hour with Dr. Porter is available from the Catholic Answers radio calendar. The Rosses have written a book, Hidden Graces, which can be ordered from Dr. Porter’s web site. “Ross and Jenni Porter offer a personal and uplifting book of reflections on the lessons God has taught them through their very special boy John Michael, who has Down Syndrome. This book is not only applicable to parents, siblings, and friends of special needs people, it is a work that will inspire anyone interested in a deeper life of faith, hope, and love. ‘We believe in the relevancy of this book because it is ultimately a story about God's love, and God's love includes everyone whether they have a special needs child or not.’”

Monday, August 3, 2009

Exodus Reflections

For the last three weeks, the weekday Lectionary readings have led us through the book of Exodus and into Leviticus. This week we'll move into Numbers and then Deuteronomy and Joshua. We returned to the story of the Exodus this past Sunday for the connection between the manna in the desert and the Bread of Life discourse from the Gospel of John.

Throughout our time in the Book of Exodus, I've found two themes occupying my mind: the immanence of God to the Exodus Israelites and their inability, in spite of that immanence, to trust in Him and live up to their end of the Covenant.

The Israelites of the Exodus could see the power and glory of the Lord. After the plagues in Egypt, culminating in the Passover and the death of the first-born, God led the Israelites out of Egypt, going "before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light that they might travel by day and by night; the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people." (Exodus 13:21-22) Yet, in spite of this visible presence, when the Egyptian army pursued them, they feared and wanted to return to Egypt.

So the pillar of cloud/fire stopped the Egyptians while the waters of the Red Sea were parted, allowing the Israelites to escape. God then allowed the Egyptians to pursue them, only to be swallowed up by the waters of the sea. The pursuing army was destroyed by the hand of God, and the Israelites knew it. "Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the seashore. And Israel saw the great work which the Lord did against the Egyptians, and the people feared the Lord; and they believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses." (Exodus 14:30-31) Yet only three days later, the people were once again upset with Moses (and God) because of bitter water!

Again and again, the people would grumble and complain against God, and again and again, God would provide for them, giving them flakes of manna and quail to eat and water from the rock to drink. A little gratefulness would be understandable.

When Moses went up on Mt. Sinai "Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire; and the smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mounting quaked greatly. And as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder." (Exodus 19:18-19) "Now the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel." (Exodus 24:17) In the shadow of all of this glory, "the people gathered themselves together to Aaron, and said to him, 'Up, make us gods, who shall go before us." (Exodus 32:1) With God's power visible before them, after having been miraculously fed in the desert and delivered from the Egyptians, this seems almost unfathomable. And yet, we continue to create our own gods everyday. We might not fashion our gold into a calf, yet we still look to our gold to save us.

Even after the golden calf incident, God remained visibly, tangibly present to the Exodus Israelites through the Tent of Meeting. "Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud abode upon it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Throughout all their journeys, whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the people of Israel would go onward; but if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not go onward till the day that it was taken up. For throughout all their journeys the cloud of the Lord was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel." (Exodus 40:34-38)

All that we get today is a single flame in the sanctuary lamp that tells us that the Blessed Sacrament in present in the tabernacle. The glory of God is hidden in the mundane. Is it any wonder then that we are prone to losing the plot? Yet while the Israelites were saved from slavery in Egypt, we have received a much greater grace. We have been redeemed by the blood of the lamb.

After all that they had seen with their own eyes, the Israelites so quickly forgot. They forgot the power and the glory and the merciful kindness of the Lord, and they forgot the humiliation and shame of slavery in Egypt. They grew tired of the desert and the manna, and they longed to return to Egypt. We grow tired of ascetic detachment from the things of this world, and we take for granted the extreme gift that comes to us in the Eucharist. In spite of all that we know and all of the evidence to the contrary, the allure and glamour of sin still beckons to us.

So where does that leave us? Are we worse off than the Israelites of the Exodus? By no means! If anything, we learn from the past that signs and wonders are no guarantee of faithfulness. God’s ultimate self-revelation took place in the incarnation, and we are the beneficiaries of His redeeming sacrifice. Those who claim that they would believe if only they had a sign refuse to accept the signs that are present, even today. 70,000 witnessed the miracle of the sun at Fatima. Numerous miraculous cures have occurred at Lourdes. Scientific tests have been performed on the particles of the Eucharistic miracle of Lanciano.

God is immanent. He is present to us. He loves us, and he remains true to his covenant. We just need to let go of Egypt.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Dean Koontz at Catholic Exchange

There's a short interview with author Dean Koontz over at Catholic Exchange. Some highlights:

On Catholicism:

I did become engaged, more and more as the years went by, by the intellectual rigor that lies behind the Catholic Church. A lot of people will possibly laugh at that but if you know St. Thomas Aquinas and some of the other famous writers of the Church — or laymen who wrote brilliantly from a Catholic perspective like G.K. Chesterton — then you understand what I’m talking about. There is a deep intellectual basis behind it and that always appealed to me.

On Special Needs Children:

I’ve featured Down Syndrome kids in books at times and I’ve gotten literally thousands of letters from people who have Down’s children. Every single one of them says, “This was the best thing that happened to me.” They’re not pretending; they’re not trying to make the best of a bad situation. They’re saying it really was a tremendous benefit to their lives.