Archive for May, 2009

Worthwhile Reading on Sheen

May 30, 2009

sheen bookI’m working on an article about Archbishop Fulton Sheen for The Catholic Answer, planned for publication to mark the thirtieth anniversary of his death this December.  Sheen died  at the age of 84 on December 9, 1979. 

As part of my research for the article, I’m currently working my way through America’s Bishop: The Life and Times and Fulton J. Sheen, by Thomas C. Reeves.  It’s an excellent and very worthwhile read, providing far more than the standard and commonly known facts about Sheen’s remarkable life and ministry. 

Sure, everyone knows he was the greatest evangelizer the Catholic Church in America has ever known.  And he was certainly a full-fledged television star, with the same clout and popularity as just about anyone else on television in his heyday.

But the book also reveals some other truly admirable aspects of his character, as well as some of his interesting and surprising flaws.  It also has a lot to say about the tragic impact on his life and career of his conflict with Cardinal Francis Spellman. 

The article will be an interesting one to pull together.  I recommend the book to anyone interested in looking a little more deeply.


Blessed Francis Seelos miracle?

May 29, 2009

From the Baltimore Sun last week:SeelosSeatedBrievary

Archdiocese to investigate alleged miracle

19th century priest could be canonized a saint

By Matthew Hay Brown

Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien commissioned a panel of experts on Tuesday to investigate the allegedly miraculous healing of an Annapolis woman through the intercession of a 19th-century Baltimore cleric.

Mary Ellen Heibel, a parishioner of St. Mary Catholic Church in Annapolis, says prayers to Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos led to the healing of her metastasized esophageal cancer, according to the Archdiocese of Baltimore. If accepted as miraculous by Rome, such a cure could lead to his canonization as a saint.

O’Brien commissioned the five-member panel at the request of the Redemptorist order, to which Seelos belonged. The members include the archdiocesan judicial vicar, a canon lawyer and the chief of surgery at Mercy Medical Center, each of whom swore an oath of office during Mass on Tuesday at the Baltimore Basilica.

Source (which continues) here.  More on the Mass and the alleged miracle here.

Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos was born in Germany in 1819.  He joined the Redemptorist order and soon came to the U.S. in 1843.  He was ordained a priest in Baltimore the following year.  He worked in Pittsburgh for 9 years (for a while as assistant pastor to St. John Neumann!), then Baltimore, Cumberland, and Annapolis.  After having himself excused by the Pope from a proposed appointment as Bishop of Pittsburgh, Francis became an itinerate preacher on a tour which took him to  Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Wisconsin.  After that he served as a pastor in Detroit, and finally lived the last months of his life as a pastor in New Orleans!   The guy knew America.

Seelos was beatified by John Paul II in 2000. 

Great site loaded with information on him here.

Hopefully canonization will come and we’ll have more reason to talk about him here.

New Today:

May 28, 2009

damien%20(2)The Diocese of Honolulu has rolled out a brand new website just today, which looks like it’ll be the go-to place for all things Damien, particularly as the universal Church welcomes him as one of its newest saints.  It’s

By all means, spend some time nosing around there yourself.  But among its resources are biographical information, songs about Fr. Damien, a great set of FAQs, interesting information about the statue of him that stands in the U.S. Capitol building, an itinerary for the relic that will tour the U.S. following the canonization, and much more.   I particularly enjoyed the rich collection of prayers to Fr. Damien that is provided. 

Thanks to Sharon Chiarucci at the Honolulu diocesan offices for the heads up, and kudos to those responsible for putting it together.

More info on the St. Damien relic tour

May 26, 2009

Sharon Chiarucci, an official of the Diocese of Honolulu, responded very helpfully and promptly to my request for details about the brief U.S. tour that the relic of St. Damien of Molokai will make in the days following the Leper Priest’s October 11, 2009, canonization in Rome.  I had somehow missed the helpful information available at the diocesan website (.pdf file of itinerary as it stands now is here) in my own search. 

Basically, if you’re living at the North American College, in Detroit, San Francisco, or Oakland, you’re in luck.  If you’re in Hawaii, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to spend quality time with a bit of St. Damien’s mortal remains. 

Here’s where things stand now, based on Ms. Chairucci’s email and the website:

Sunday, October 11 – The Pope canonizes St. Damien at St. Peter’s Basilica.

Monday, October 12, 6:30 am – Relic will be at the Pontifical North American College in Rome.  (No details noted about public veneration.)

Tuesday, October 13 – The relic arrives in the U.S. in Newark, New Jersey, but there is no planned stop for public veneration in Newark.

Wednesday, October 14 – The relic stops in Detroit, Michigan.  Place and time for public veneration to be announced.

Thursday, October 15 – The relic stops in San Francisco, California.  Veneration will take place at St. Mary’s Cathedral, sometime in the afternoon and/or evening; specifics to be announced.

Friday, October 16 – The relic stops in Oakland, California.  Veneration will probably take place at Christ Our Light Cathedral, time to be announced.

Saturday, October 17 – The relic arrives in Hawaii.  An extensive itinerary of places and times for veneration of the relic in the Hawaiian islands is already available here (same .pdf file linked above). 

I’ll try to keep my antennae up for developments on this and note them here.  Sure would be nice if more locations were added to this list.  But since the tour obviously can’t begin before October 13, and the plans for its presence in the Hawaiian islands are well developed beginning October 17, that leaves very little room for development in between.

Appreciative thanks to Ms. Chiarucci and the Diocese of Honolulu for providing the information!

St. Damien relics to tour U.S. — good luck finding them

May 26, 2009

A Honolulu newspaper is reporting that a relic of the newly canonized St. Damien of Molokai will tour a list of sites in the United States immediately following the priest’s canonization this October. 

The Pope will canonize Damien in Rome on October 11, 2009.  Bishop Larry Silva, bishop of Honolulu, will receive the relic on that day, and apparently take it himself to Newark, New Jersey, where the relic’s travels across the U.S. will begin on October 13.

Unfortunately, there are not many details about dates and places for most of the country, and I’ve been unable to find a more detailed schedule elsewhere on the internet.  (I’ve sent an email to the Diocese of Honolulu, asking if they have any other information about the tour, or if they could point in the direction of someone who might.  If I find out anything, I’ll be sure to note it on this blog.) 

Unfortunately (for most of us), it does indicate that the relic will spend most of its time actually in Hawaii, rather than mainland U.S.  It’ll travel from Newark to Oakland, California, between October 13 and October 17.  That’s five days in all — there can’t be too many stops in there.  Then it’ll be in various Hawaii locations October 18 through November 6 — twenty days!

[UPDATED information above.]

On Francis

May 21, 2009

My article marking the 800th anniversary of the founding of the Franciscan order appears in this week’s issue of Our Sunday Visitor.  It was a piece I thoroughly enjoyed researching and writing.  Francis is an amazing figure in Church history — far more compelling than the most common images of him that we sometimes see around us (i.e., the guy who talked to birds).   In fact, Mary DeTurris Poust, an author whose work I often enjoy, does a very good job of making that point in a column that appears in the same issue of OSV

So especially if you’re a Francis fan, or even curious to see what all the fuss over him is about, it’s a great issue to check out.

St. Arcangelo’s Day tomorrow

May 19, 2009

The feast of one of the five new saints of the Church is upon us tomorrow.  It’ll be the feast of St. Arcangelo Tadini.

Sacred Heart Radio will be replaying the conversation I had with Brian Patrick on the Son Rise Morning Show about St. Arcangelo recently.  Matt at Sacred Heart tells me the chat will be on sometime between 7:00 and 7:30.  You can listen at or during that time.

Life’s a journey that we take together

May 17, 2009

Brittany's 18th birthday 001Cecilia, Abigail, and Hope take a walk.  For some reason, maybe the tilt of their heads, it looks they’re pondering some weighty issue together.

Live for Eternity

May 12, 2009

When I was a teenager, I think around the time of my high school graduation, someone (a priest, actually) gave me some advice.  It was one of those statements that sounded simple yet profoundly important.  I was open to it, both because of who it was coming from and how wise it sounded.  And yet, it made me uncomfortable, and I knew  there was something just not quite right with it.

“Live for today,” I was told.  “Don’t worry about the past or the future.  Live for today.”  Heady words for a senior in high school.

From time to time over the past two decades, I’ve gone back to that and tried to pry out of it what seemed askew to me.  Several times since beginning to raise a family, for example, I’ve thought how the advice makes absolutely no financial sense.  And of course, it could be used to justify any sort of behavior, regardless of morality. 

But today I came across the text of a talk that brings out boldly what I sensed but never really articulated to myself about the problem in the statement.  Over at the First Things blog, there’s a talk delivered by Denver’s Archbishop Charles Chaput. 

“Live for eternity” is the advice he offers  there, and he explains very well what he means, invoking two heroes of mine, Franz Jagerstatter and Charles de Foucauld, along the way.

If someone ever offers that anemic advice, “Live for today,” remind yourself of this much sounder advice: Live for eternity.

Shock o’ the week

May 5, 2009

The United States bishops’ marriage website offers a tip o’ the day to married couples: “Don’t be afraid to experiment in your love making. Some things might not work out, but one of the beauties of married love is the security that you’re not competing with anyone else.”

One Catholic blogger is shocked: “Excuse me but “experiment” can mean a lot of things, including stuff that is simply contrary to the dignity of the human person.”

What suggestion will those scandalous bishops come up with next?  Married couples dancing together?  (Another dangerous suggestion.  What sort of dance might they come up with, after all?)