So what is authentic Catholic masculinity?
“The lost cause are exactly those which might have saved the world.”
“We men and women are all in the same boat, upon a stormy sea. We owe to each other a terrible and tragic loyalty.”
C.S. Lewis describes character in terms of knighthood:
“The knight is a man of blood and iron, a man familiar with the sight of smashed faces and ragged stumps of lopped-off limbs; he is also a demure, almost a maidenlike, guest in hall, a gentle, modest, unobtrusive man. He is not a compromise or happy mean between ferocity and meekness; he is fierce to the nth and meek to the nth…”
“Knightly character is art not nature – something that needs to be achieved , not something that can be relied upon to happen.” C.S. LEWIS
When Ronald Reagan spoke on Memorial Day, you know the words flowed from his heart.
He revered those brave men and women in our armed forces who sacrificed their lives in the name of freedom. Let us revisit a few of his words as we pay homage to our fallen brothers and sisters:
MAY 25TH, 1981: Today, the United States stands as a beacon of liberty and democratic strength before the community of nations. We are resolved to stand firm against those who would destroy the freedoms we cherish. We are determined to achieve an enduring peace — a peace with liberty and with honor. This determination, this resolve, is the highest tribute we can pay to the many who have fallen in the service of our Nation.
MAY 31ST, 1982: The United States and the freedom for which it stands, the freedom for which they died, must endure and prosper. Their lives remind us that freedom is not bought cheaply. It has a cost; it imposes a burden. And just as they whom we commemorate were willing to sacrifice, so too must we — in a less final, less heroic way — be willing to give of ourselves.
MAY 31ST, 1982: Our goal is peace. We can gain that peace by strengthening our alliances, by speaking candidly about the dangers before us, by assuring potential adversaries of our seriousness, by actively pursuing every chance of honest and fruitful negotiation.
MAY 31ST, 1982: I can’t claim to know the words of all the national anthems in the world, but I don’t know of any other that ends with a question and a challenge as ours does: Does that flag still wave o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave? That is what we must all ask.
MAY 26TH, 1983: I don’t have to tell you how fragile this precious gift of freedom is. Every time we hear, watch, or read the news, we are reminded that liberty is a rare commodity in this world.
MAY 26TH, 1983: We owe this freedom of choice and action to those men and women in uniform who have served this nation and its interests in time of need. In particular, we are forever indebted to those who have given their lives that we might be free.
Mr. Reagan said we need to speak candidly about the dangers before us. Iowans for LIFE works on the front line fighting the most evil danger facing the United States: human abortion. Memorial Day honors those who died fighting to preserve our liberties, and liberty begins in the womb.
This Memorial Day, we honor the dead who sacrificed their lives for you and me. We can truly honor them by redoubling our efforts to restore the rights that have been taken away from our unborn brothers and sisters.
Three children saw something that changed the world. The year was 1917.
It took place in Portugal on May 13th at 5PM. Lucia Santos and her cousins, Jacinta and Francisco Marto, were stopped in their tracks by the mystical appearance of a beautiful woman.
Here’s how Lucia described the woman:
She was “brighter than the sun, shedding rays of light clearer and stronger than a crystal ball filled with the most sparkling water and pierced by the burning rays of the sun.”
The woman appeared to them again on June 13th. And again on July 13th. Word was getting out about the mysterious woman, and thousands of people began to flock to the area.
The communist authorities attempted to stop all of this nonsense by jailing the children on August 13th. But the Woman appeared to them instead on August 19th upon their release from jail.
The children claimed “the Lady,” as they called her, entrusted them with three secrets. The first involved a vision of Hell. The second gave instructions on how to save people from Hell.
The third remained a secret until the year 2000.
The day was May 13th.
The time was 5PM.
The year was 1981.
Pope John Paul II made his way through St. Peter Square in an open air vehicle. A man approached the pontiff, raised a gun and fired at point blank range.
Five, maybe six shots were heard. The Pope was hit.
His internal injuries were severe. He was bleeding internally. In fact, he lost most of his blood.
He was near death. In fact, he should have died.
But he lived.
It was a miracle he lived. Upon gaining consciousness, the Pope recalled the significance of the date and time, 64 years to the second that the Lady had appeared to those three children in Fatima, Portugal.
And he thought about the significance of the yet unrevealed “3rd secret.” What was the secret? That a “Bishop dressed in white” would be shot and killed.
But John Paul II lived. He credited the Lady with deflecting the bullet just enough to spare his life.
Today is the 100th birthday of Saint John Paul the Great. I marvel at the events of 1981 and contrast them with the events of 1968.
I was in 9th grade when Martin Luther King was shot and killed in Memphis. And then two short months later, Bobby Kennedy was shot and killed.
It seemed as if our country was falling apart.
In 1981, I was married and just a week away from becoming a father for the first time when a gunman shot President Ronald Reagan.
The President almost died. By all accounts, he should have died. His injuries were grave.
Six weeks later, Pope John Paul II was shot and almost died.
Two men with the potential to change the world were shot and died in 1968.
Two men with the potential to change the world were shot and lived in 1981.
Why did events go so differently in 1981? Was it divine intervention?
Did this mysterious Lady from Fatima somehow intercede in a supernatural way to allow President Reagan and Pope John Paul II to fulfill their destiny, to meet and join forces to defeat communism?
You be the judge.
The Pope was presented with the bullet doctors removed from his body. He held it in his hand, turned it and studied it from every direction.
What did he do with it? He had it mounted in the crown of the statue of the Lady of Fatima, the Blessed Mother of Christ.
The Pope was devoted to the Blessed Mother. He asked for her prayers of intercession daily.
I juxtapose the events of 1917, 1968, and 1981 as one of life’s many mysteries. Happy birthday Saint John Paul the Great. Pray for us.
Our May 7th blogpost, “How much is a human life worth,” generated some pushback with this response:
“You hit the nail on the head when you called the fetuses “unborn humans.” Until they are born, they are not humans, but potential humans.
Why do you never talk about stillborns? Approximately 0.6% of all births are stillborn. Without abortions that number would be higher. Also about 0.2% of mothers die in childbirth or during pregnancies. That number too would be higher without abortions.
Another problem I have with anti-abortionists is that once a child is born, when it has become a verifiable human life, no one cares what happens to it. You just walk away, thinking your job is done. Well, it is 18 years away from being “done”! It doesn’t matter to you if a child has a proper family, a safe home, enough food to eat, or sufficient love to become a happy adult.
You are hypocritical.
I won’t even talk about your defense of the death penalty, except to say it is no longer pro-life. Because of age you switch to being pro-death. Bah humbug!”
Like many supporters of abortion rights, this writer blends misinformation with straw man arguments. Let us clear the air point-by-point:
“You hit the nail on the head when you called the fetuses ‘unborn humans.’ Until they are born, they are not humans, but potential humans.”
Actually, scientists disagree.
In an interview of 5337 biologists, 96% of biologists said human life (not potential human life) begins at fertilization. This matters. When surveyed voters were asked: who do you think is most qualified to tell them when human life begins? Biologists? Philosophers? Religious leaders? Supreme Court Justices? Eighty percent said biologists.
Specifically, embryologists tell us human life begins when the sperm and ovum, neither of which can sustain life or direct growth by itself, come together at fertilization. For the first time the new life has all 46 chromosomes and all the directions (DNA) it needs for the rest of life. The sex of the baby, the color of the hair, everything is already fixed. Humanity is fixed, and personhood is fixed, as if there were even a distinction.
But, there’s the rub. Abortion proponents DO want to make a distinction. They suggest that if a living ‘thing’ isn’t neurologically functioning as a human being, it’s not a person. The argument doesn’t make sense. By the same logic, you could kill a sleeping person, someone in a coma, or the handicapped with moral impunity.
The burden of proof that the unborn human at 9 months in the womb … or even 9 seconds, isn’t a human person, despite all evidence to the contrary, lies with abortion advocates.
“Why do you never talk about stillborns? Approximately 0.6% of all births are stillborn. Without abortions that number would be higher. Also about 0.2% of mothers die in childbirth or during pregnancies. That number too would be higher without abortions.”
The writer suggests that somehow human abortion is ‘therapeutic’ by reducing the incidence of stillborn births and childbirth mortality.
The Centers for Disease Control tell us some 24,000 babies are stillborn a year, and that some 700 women die a year as a result of pregnancy delivery complications. Each of these deaths is a profound tragedy.
By contrast, roughly 862,320 unique human beings were aborted in 2017 according to the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute. Each of these deaths is a profound tragedy. There is no comparison: human abortion is 35 times as deadly.
“Another problem I have with anti-abortionists is that once a child is born, when it has become a verifiable human life, no one cares what happens to it. You just walk away, thinking your job is done. Well, it is 18 years away from being “done”! It doesn’t matter to you if a child has a proper family, a safe home, enough food to eat, or sufficient love to become a happy adult.
You are hypocritical.”
Who told you such falsehoods? These assertions would be laughable if they weren’t so inaccurate.
The question is, why are so many supporters of abortion rights so oblivious to the loving outreach to “born children” by thousands upon thousands of pro-life supporters in the U.S. and beyond?
Because their rant is a straw man argument meant to change the subject and demonize the pro-life movement while attempting to present abortion advocates in a compassionate light.
Nonetheless, let us shine a light on their straw man and light a match to this lie.
Pro-life Christians care for kids after they’re born
An entire industry of pro-life faith-driven organizations provides tangible outreach for babies AFTER they’re born. The Wall Street ran an entire piece on an incredible organization called the Christian Alliance for Orphans (CAFO) providing tangible assistance to children.
Groups like Catholic Charities, Lutheran Family Services, Focus on the Family, and Bethany Christian Services have been around for a long time. Dynamic new groups, members of CAFO, have launched in recent years, such as:
- Replanted Ministries: they offer post placement support for adoptive and foster families.
- Patty’s Hope: they provide counseling, training and housing for biological mothers of kids in foster care.
- Reece’s Rainbow: they advocate for children with special needs and awards grants to families who adopt them.
Pro-life Christians don’t receive public funding
The WSJ points out that these groups don’t receive public funding. Abortion cynics sneer that these ‘do-gooders’ are only doing it to gain converts to the faith, which is kind of rich.
Think about it. Big Abortion and their political, media, and Hollywood allies try to gain converts with a club. The latest is their insistence that we scrap the Hyde Amendment and require pro-life taxpayers to fund abortions through their tax dollars.
The power of love
By contrast, pro-life Christians use love, not a club, to gain converts. Jedd Medefind, the president of CAFO put it this way:
“If you just want to proselytize, you can go to the park and pass out tracts. Adopting or fostering or becoming involved in the life of a struggling family is far more costly than cheap proselytizing.”
So why do they do what they do? Is it out of guilt? Is it just a duty? Mr. Medefind says it’s more than that:
“Being loved is the most transformative power on earth. The Christian gospel said our God welcomes us amidst our great need. We seek to reflect that same heart.”
The Knights of Columbus
If ever there was a pro-life group that helps babies after they’re born, it is the Knights of Columbus.
The Knights of Columbus supports the Special Olympics, you know the very kids abortion advocates abort at alarming rates. (Some 90% Down Syndrome babies are aborted.)
They buy ultra sound machines for pro-life pregnancy centers.
They provide funds to support refugee relief to help persecuted groups facing genocide around the world.
And they provide coats for kids; wheelchairs for the lame; and homes for the homeless.
Have you ever seen a Knight handing out Tootsie Rolls when you walk into a local grocery store, and do you ever wonder what happens to the money you donate? Here’s one example in Des Moines, Iowa: Holy Trinity Catholic Church’s Knight’s chapter has donated tens of thousands of dollars to Ruby Van Meter school over the years.
Ruby Van Meter is a school for kids with significant intellectual disabilities. The Knights help these “actual living human beings.”
They buy coats for actual human beings.
They save lives of actual Christian human beings being persecuted in dangerous corners of the world.
And they improve the lives of actual disabled young people.
Knights are demonized by abortion zealots
This is a compassionate organization abortion advocates should be applauding, not demonizing, but demonized they are. Two pro-abortion U.S. Senators, Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, both said membership in the Knights of Columbus disqualifies men from being appointed to judgeships.
Senator Hirono charged that the Knights have staked out “extreme positions” based on Catholic teaching that supports traditional marriage and the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death.
In fully McCarthyism mode, she demanded to know of a judicial nominee who was a member of the Knights:
“If confirmed, do you intend to end your membership with this organization to avoid any appearance of bias?”
And Senator Harris showed her disdain by characterizing “the Knights of Columbus [as an] an all-male society comprised of primarily Catholic men … [that] opposes a woman’s right to choose.”
Can you see how abortion poisons rational thinking?
The largest pro life group in the world
Here is a partial list of the active outreach to kids after they’re born provided by the largest pro life group in the world. They are …
√ Reducing infant mortality.
√ Boosting the number of kids with health coverage.
√ Increasing access to healthy food for the hungry.
√ Lessening the number of families and individuals forced to live in emergency shelters.
√ Expanding the quantity of affordable housing units.
√ Working to increase fathers’ involvement in families.
√ Expanding access to quality affordable early childhood education.
√ Increasing the rate of high school completion.
√ Raising the number of youth participating in postsecondary education or workforce training.
√ Adopting out more children than any other provider in the country.
We refer, of course, to Catholic Charities, a group for whom IFL Executive Director, Maggie DeWitte, once worked. And this is just the Catholics. It doesn’t even include the great work being done by the Lutherans, Evangelical Christians, and other outstanding faith-based and secular organizations.
On what do abortion proponents base this straw man argument? Nothing. It is fabricated out of thin air to mask the moral shortcomings of their own position.
For the record, what is Planned Parenthood doing to help actual human beings AFTER they’re born?
“I won’t even talk about your defense of the death penalty, except to say it is no longer pro-life. Because of age you switch to being pro-death. Bah humbug!”
For the record, this is an actual response we received from an abortion rights proponent. We didn’t change a word.
Regarding the death penalty, this is another straw man argument that attempts to change the subject. Human abortion and human execution are two different issues.
The difference between a million and 23 deaths
The writer fails to acknowledge the innocence of the human person in the womb, one million of whom were “executed” (aborted, in 2013) for being unwanted in contrast to 23 people who were executed in 2017 for the crime of murder.
Does he not understand the difference between an innocent baby in the womb and a murderer?
Does he not understand the difference between a million innocent deaths and 23 just punishments?
Abortion proponents who raise this point DO know the difference. That is why this, like the previous arguments, is a straw man.
The largest pro-life group in the world is the Roman Catholic Church, which opposes the death penalty without exception. Many, maybe even most pro-lifers we know, oppose the death penalty.
So to this writer who dismisses pro-lifers as being hypocritical, we hope you’ll reconsider your dismissive “bah humbug” in light of the good work being done by the pro-life community.
Thank-you for writing.
“How much is a human life worth? That is the real discussion that no one is admitting, openly or freely. That we should. To me, I say the cost of a human life, a human life is priceless. Period.”
The governor’s rhetoric doesn’t square with his actions.
On the one hand, he was quick to support Pope Francis’ revision to the Catholic Catechism that the death penalty is never morally permissible. Said Cuomo:
“The death penalty is morally indefensible and has no place in the 21st century. Today, in solidarity with @pontifex and in honor of my father, I will be advancing legislation to remove the death penalty from State law once and for all.”
On the other hand, he aggressively promoted and ultimately signed into law the dishonestly named Reproductive Health Act (RHA). The RHA essentially sanctions human abortion right up until the instant of delivery.
The good governor was so tickled by the passage of this anti-life law that he lit up the World Trade Center to celebrate and rub it in the faces of his dejected pro-life adversaries. At the same time, he snubbed the church that he so enthusiastically endorsed just a few months earlier:
“As a Roman Catholic, I am intimately familiar with the strongly held views of the church. Still, I do not believe that religious values should drive political positions.”
Because laws can be undone, the man who professes his belief in the pricelessness of human life wants the unfettered right to abort unborn humans enshrined in New York’s state constitution in case Roe v Wade is ever overturned.
In case you were wondering, New York state aborted 82,000 unborn humans in 2016; they aborted two-thousand after 20 weeks of being conceived; and nearly 6000 were ripped apart via dilation and evacuation abortions.
The Governor needs to explain the disconnect, as if any explanation is necessary.
Or he believes that they are human, but less ‘priceless’ than convicted murderers.
Governor Cuomo talks out of both sides of his mouth. He is the worse type of hypocrite.
The poor Little Sisters of the Poor are back in court again, thanks to lawsuits filed by pro-abortion governors. It’s all a part of an ironic “war on women” campaign waged by pro-abortion politicians against pro-life women.
It’s pretty amazing. The same people who sometimes say ‘they are personally against abortion, but can’t impose their own religion on someone else,’ keep trying to impose their religion on The Little Sisters of the Poor.
A quick recap:
The Obama Administration imposed an HHS mandate on organizations and businesses in 2011 which compelled them to provide abortifacients and contraception in the health insurance coverage offered to their employees.
The administration provided exemptions to churches, but not to religious organizations like the ‘Little Sisters,’ who were forced to fight the Obama administration all the way to the Supreme Court. Sadly, Justice Antonin Scalia died before getting a chance to vote on their case. The resulting 4 to 4 tie left the issue unresolved.
The Trump administration quickly moved to undo the immoral mandate on the Little Sisters. Nonetheless, pro-abortion governors continue their war on these pro-life women who refuse to violate their consciences.
Nancy Pelosi launches a ‘War on Women’ campaign in 2012
Pro-abortion politicians, led by Nancy Pelosi, formally launched a fundraising campaign in 2012 to counter what they assert was a Republican “war on women.”
What does this mean? At its core, it’s about eliminating all regulation on human abortion.
At its core, it’s about achieving unfettered taxpayer-funded contraception and abortion-on-demand.
To that end, pro-abortion Senators have worked overtime to undermine Supreme Court nominees they perceived as potentially hostile to Roe v Wade.
They trotted out Anita Hill at the last minute in an attempt to bring down Clarence Thomas in 1991. Ms. Hill asserted that her boss, Mr. Thomas, talked suggestively around her at the workplace, something Thomas denied. And yet Ms. Hill followed Thomas to his next job, which seems strange if Mr. Thomas was harassing her in her previous job.
In 2018, once again pro-abortion Senators trotted out last minute sexual harassment charges against Bret Kavanaugh. Christine Blasey Ford asserted Kavanaugh sexually harassed her decades ago, despite the fact that she couldn’t remember exactly when or where it occurred. Worse, none of her friends could corroborate a single fact.
An inconsistent ethic
If these pro-abortion politicians truly cared about the well-being of women, shouldn’t they adhere to a consistent ethic? But they don’t. Take former president, Bill Clinton. Here’s a recap of women who claimed he sexually harassed them in one form or another:
Juanita Broaddrick accused him of raping her in 1978.
Kathleen Willey said Clinton kissed her, fondled her breasts, and forced her to touch his crotch in the Oval Office in 1993.
Paula Jones said Clinton exposed himself to her in a hotel room and propositioned her for sex. He even blocked her exit, threatening her with, “You’re a smart girl, let’s keep this between ourselves.”
Leslie Millwee asserted that Clinton groped her a number of occasions in 1980 at a television station at which she worked.
Prominent feminist, Gloria Steinem dismissed allegations against Mr. Clinton:
“Mr. Clinton seems to have made a clumsy sexual pass, then accepted rejection.”
The View’s Joy Behar, called these women “tramps.”
Contempt for women
“It wasn’t a Clinton enemy that came up with the phrase “bimbo eruption,” but an ally and friend, Betsey Wright. The word “bimbo,” by the way, says it all about the contempt Clinton World had for women with the poor judgment to succumb to Bill’s wiles.
According to journalist Michael Isikoff, the Clinton campaign in 1992 spent $100,000 on private-detective work related to women. The approach, when rumors first popped up, was to get affidavits from women denying affairs — the reflex of most women is to avoid exposure — and, failing that, to use any discrediting tool at hand.”
Today, the same pro-abortion politicians and talking heads who condemned Clarence Thomas and Bret Kavanaugh, and gave Bill Clinton a pass, are doing it again. They’re giving a free pass to presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
Why are these politicians willing to believe the worse about Thomas and Kavanaugh? Abortion.
Why are these politicians willing to dismiss even worse accusations against Clinton and Biden? Abortion.
If we’re honest, the true war on women is abortion, which leaves physical, spiritual, and psychic wounds in its wake.
The term, ‘war on women,’ is a con. It’s a club used by abortion zealots who miss the irony that their ultimate victims … are women.
Just ask The Little Sisters of the Poor.
Iowans for LIFE is a non-partisan pro-life organization that advocates for the dignity of human life from conception to natural death. The pro-life movement is built on a conviction supported by science, theology, and philosophy.
Joe Biden has none.
Two years ago, a woman came forward and accused then Supreme Court nominee, Bret Kavanaugh, of sexual assault. The woman couldn’t remember many details and no one corroborated her story.
Nonetheless, Joe Biden said everyone should automatically “believe the woman.” By this standard, he suggested Kavanaugh wasn’t fit to sit on the Court.
His standard has changed now that he is the one accused. However, his accuser does remember details and has a number of people who corroborate that she told them about the assault around the time it occurred. He truly is a “transition” candidate.
Biden’s standard on pro-life issues has also deteriorated in the name of political expediency over his long career.
Joe Biden and abortion
Since IFL’s mission is all about protecting human life from fertilization to natural death, we are especially interested in the former vice president’s views on the abortion issue. The EWTN video above showcases his transition from pro-life advocate to a candidate with a perfect pro-abortion record. Iowans for LIFE has written about how out-of-touch Democratic candidates are with their constituents on this issue.
Last year, Mr. Biden withdrew his support for the longstanding Hyde Amendment, which bars the use of federal funds to pay for abortion, except to save the life of the mother, or in the cases of incest or rape. He said:
“I’m prepared to accept for me, personally, doctrine of my church” [about when life begins] …
And what is that doctrine? The Church states it in its Catechism :
“Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law”
Biden continues …
… “but I’m not prepared to impose that on every other person.”
Obviously, he IS willing to impose Big Abortion’s view on American taxpayers by forcing them to to be complicit in the moral evil of abortion by paying for it.
IFL embraces all of the reproductive teachings of the Catholic Church. Mr. Biden disappoints pro-lifers with his willingness to quickly jettison longstanding positions on life for the sake of political expediency.
Joe Biden continues to lead the polls
As of yesterday, he leads President Trump 47.4% to 42.1% in RealClearPolitics’s national average, down slightly since December.
Joe Biden is an unserious man in a time that demands conviction and courage, two virtues that seem to have dissipated in his transition candidacy from pro-life advocate to no-holds-barred supporter of Big Abortion.
Christmas holds a special place in the hearts of pro-lifers. As we remain confined in our homes during this unusual, but still glorious Easter season, let us reflect on the birth, death, and rising of The Royal Child.
Yes, it seems odd to reference Christmas in April while we’re still basking in the glow of His resurrection. And yet Christ’s death and resurrection tell us that life matters. Scripture tells us God knew us before we were born, that our lives have dignity from the instant we were conceived.
Iowans for LIFE is producing a pro-life Christmas Gala, one for the ages, which we call The Royal Child. The date is Saturday, November 21st. Our poster is above. Thanks to all of you who voted in our poster contest. This one won it in a very tight race!
We’re telling you about it today to give you something to look forward to after weeks of isolation during the Coronavirus lockdown.
The Bible builds on Christ’s kingship from beginning to end. Jesus told Pilate that His ‘kingdom’ was not of this world.
Revelations says that on his robe was written King of kings and Lord of lords.
In the Old Testament, Daniel foretold His coming. He prophesied:
“To Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him.”
The Royal Child, the Prince of Peace, Savior of the world, hope for God’s least. Today, the least among us are our unborn brothers and sisters who have had their fundamental right to life stripped from them. The Royal Child came for them.
Iowans for LIFE labors tirelessly on behalf of the unborn, doing the bidding of The Royal Child who is the source of Life. We are fighting the good fight to restore the unborns’ fundamental right to life.
Our Christmas Gala is a critical fundraising banquet for IFL. Please, mark your calendar. Together, let us celebrate the beauty of human life on Saturday, November 21st at Ron Pearson Hall in West Des Moines, IA.
[Can you support IFL right now with a $9 donation, a dollar for each month of a baby’s time in the womb? Your financial support is essential to maintaining our pro-life educational outreach. Thank-you!]
By Tom Quiner
Leonardo da Vinci’s focused on what he didn’t get done:
“I have offended God and mankind because my work did not reach the quality it should have.”
Actor Humphrey Bogart was flip:
“I should never have switched from scotch to martinis.”
Atheist Karl Marx was typically defiant:
“Last words are for fools who haven’t said enough.” Clearly, nine words too many!
On the other other hand, Jesus quoted Psalm 31, as reported by Luke 23:46:
“Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”
This psalm is so important, so loaded with meaning, that we sing/pray it every Good Friday in the Catholic Church in three minutes of stark drama.
Like Psalm 22 that we sing on Palm Sunday (in non-Coronavirus times), Psalm 31 explores the depths of the human experience at a crisis point. The psalmist is a laughingstock, an object of scorn, a pariah who has lost friends. The world has rejected him, much as it has our unborn brothers and sisters in these un-enlightened times.
All of this leads to the power of this psalm.
When we hit bottom, we have two choices: give up, or go on. The culture tells women in crisis pregnancies to give up.
The psalmist tells us to go on, as long as we let God carry us. He calls on God to rescue him. And then he turns everything, body AND spirit over to the Creator who provided the gift of his body and spirit in the first place.
The prayer of the psalmist is primal:
“Into your hands I commend my spirit; you will redeem me, O LORD, O faithful God.”
This is a prayer for the living, whether you have a billion breaths left … or but one.
[Iowans for LIFE wishes you a blessed Holy Week. If you know someone in a crisis pregnancy, check out our resource page. They are not alone.]
By Tom Quiner
Holy Week is upon us. What a perfect time to enjoy good religious movies, especially with so many of us homebound due to the coronavirus lockdown.
The movies that follow aren’t all overtly religious, like “Angels With Dirty Faces.” But hidden within the drama is a profound, Christlike message.
A good religious movie makes me want to be a better person as it entertains, and as a Roman Catholic, draw me nearer to Christ. It reveals a Truth, with a capital T.
My list of top religious movies for Lent changes from year-to-year. Classics like the Ten Commandments and Ben-Hur come and go, replaced by something more recent offering a fresh, new way of telling a story, like a “A Quiet Place.” You’ll find everything from biblical epics to horror films, musicals to ‘who dunits’ on this list.
I sincerely believe you will enjoy these films. Let me know your favorites.
#10: ANGELS WITH DIRTY FACES. I haven’t seen this 1938 classic in years. Jimmy Cagney turned in a Academy Award winning performance as a local gangster, Rocky Sullivan, who has become the role model for a group of young, fledgling hoodlums. Pat O’Brien is Cagney’s boyhood chum who escaped a life of crime by turning to God and becoming a priest. O’Brien’s character doesn’t give up on Rocky, even as he faces the electric chair. To appreciate the dramatic final scene below, you have to see the entire film. Was it enough to save Rocky’s soul?
#9: THE MISSION. This film was written by Robert Bolt. It follows the lives of 18th century Jesuit missionaries in South America. Jeremy Irons and Robert Deniro turn in riveting performances as two very different priests. Their relationship is beautiful and complex. Ennio Morricone wrote one of the great musical scores of all time. The theme song all by itself is enough to make a doubter believe in God. (Mr. Morricone also wrote the film score for “The Scarlet and the Black,” #6 on my list.
#8: THE CASE FOR CHRIST. I loved the book upon which this movie is based, and I loved the premise: Lee Strobel is an award winning investigative journalist for the Chicago Tribune. He and his wife are comfortable living their lives as atheists until their daughter almost dies. Strobel’s wife becomes a Christian to his considerable chagrin. He sets out to disprove the resurrection of Christ, and it’s a fascinating journey. This is a good movie for people of little or no faith, because Strobel approaches his task as an investigative journalist with shocking results. The movie is simply excellent. I encourage you to watch it this Lent.
#7: RISEN. “Risen” approaches the Jesus narrative from an entirely fresh perspective. Joseph Fiennes, who you may remember from “Young Shakespeare in Love,” portrays the powerful Roman centurion, Clavius, at the time of Christ. He returns from battle only to be immediately deployed by Pontius Pilate to the site of three crucifixions in progress. One is Jesus. Clavius looks directly into the dead eyes of Jesus (a unique twist, Jesus’ eyes are typically depicted as being shut) as He hangs on the cross. To ensure that He is dead, he commands a soldier to lance His side. When the corpse goes missing from a sealed tomb the next, day, Pilate orders Clavius to find it. What a mystery! Clavius’ investigation takes him on a journey he never expected. The casting was outstanding with the great Peter Firth as a convincing Pontius Pilate, young Tom Felton (Malfoy in Harry Potter films) as Lucius, aide to Clavius; and Cliff Curtis as an effective, if unconventional Yeshua (Jesus). Maria Botto made a great Mary Magdalene.
#6: THE SCARLET AND THE BLACK. Get ready for a tense game of cat and mouse as a Vatican priest and a German Lieutenant Colonel clash in Nazi-occupied Rome. This film is based on true events. Gregory Peck portrays Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty who heroically saved the lives of thousands of Jews and escaped Allied POWs by hiding them from the Nazis. Christopher Plummer portrays the Nazi officer in charge of rounding them up. The battle of wits between the two antagonists makes for great cinema, especially in the hands of two pros like Messrs. Peck and Plummer. Be sure to watch the ending credits for the remarkable epilogue to this great story!
#5: A QUIET PLACE. A Quiet Place restores the horror genre to its proper place with a smart and surprisingly pro life movie. Even more, the film abounds with religious imagery. A Quiet Place is another in a long line of post apocalyptic movies. The premise: Most of the earth’s human population has been wiped out by unstoppable monsters who move quickly and kill you before you can say “Planned Parenthood.” The monsters are blind, but they have hyper sensitive hearing. If you utter a peep, you’re dead within minutes, thus the movie’s name. No one talks. Communication must be done by sign language. The movie is terrifying without being a gore fest. You can read a more complete review here, along with a link to a video commentary from Bishop Robert Barron who delves into the religious symbolism of the film in more detail.
#4. LES MISERABLES (The Musical). “Do you hear the people sing, singing the songs of angry men?” That line makes me think of the seething passions roiling in America as I type. This is a movie about the human condition and the drama of human life in an unjust world. The themes are as immediately relevant today as they were in the 19th century France as depicted by Victor Hugo in his classic novel on which it is based. The protagonists, Jean Valjean and Inspector Javert, each rely on God in remarkably contrasting ways, leading to a dramatic denouement. This is a remarkable musical. The actors sang their parts ‘live,’ creating such a sense of authenticity. In other words, they didn’t dub in their singing later. I love this musical and have seen it on stage some five times, including twice on Broadway. Kudos to director Tom Hooper for creating a film that lived up to the musical by presenting the complexity of our Christian faith.
#3: THE PASSION of the CHRIST. This was more than a movie, it was an event that either united or divided people, much like Christ Himself. Mel Gibson’s movie was controversial. The violence is grotesque. It is not a fun movie to watch. I have seen it twice, and I will see it again … someday. Jim Caviezel was perfect as Jesus. The movie is important because it gives modern man an inkling of what Christ did for us. I heard Fr. John Riccardo once say about Christ’s crucifixion: “If this is the cure, can you imagine the disease?” This movie forces us to think about that question seriously. The scene of Christ’s scourging is horrendous. Do you know why He was lashed 39 times? Because 40 was considered “death” by the Romans. It was unsurvivable. I would recommend the edited version with some of the violence excised. After watching this film, fall to your knees and thank Christ for what He did for us.
#2: THE CHOSEN: Not a movie, but rather the first original TV series about Jesus Christ. I’ve only seen the first four episodes, and I’ve been blown away. What’s interesting is this was made outside of the Hollywood system. It was financed via crowd funding. The writers let us get to know Jesus through the eyes of key players from scripture. So far, I’ve met Simon Peter, Mary Magdalene, Andrew, and Nicodemus as they encounter this mystery man, Jesus, portrayed with authenticity by Jonathan Roumie. There’s an episode devoted to a group of children who meet and are taught by Jesus. It is a delight. Jesus is wonderful with the children, just as you would expect, and the children are spot on in their portrayals. You can watch it free on Youtube. I HIGHLY recommend it based on what I’ve seen. The director is Dallas Jenkins, son of Jerry Jenkins, author or The Left Behind series. My only beef with the production is the opening theme song, which to me doesn’t fit. However, I suspect it connects with the evangelical Christian market, which is it’s primary market. As a Roman Catholic, I’m being a little nitpicking on this point. Nonetheless, I love the production so far, and hope they are able to pull off the multi season story arc to which they aspire.
#1: JESUS of NAZARETH. Nothing touches this film. It is the best Jesus film. It is the best Christian film. And it is the best religious film. Ever. Robert Powell is the best Jesus ever, even better than Jim Caviezel. (Although I do love Jonathan Roumie in The Chosen) . This film was a 382 minute mini series on television in 1977. Every single minute of this film is worth it. Nothing is wasted. Director Franco Zeffirelli has created an artistic masterpiece. He is true to the Gospels and creates an ancient Holy Land that seems real to modern man. His presentation of Jesus’ telling of the Prodigal Son is a work of genius, surely inspired by the Holy Spirit! Interestingly, one of the writers was Anthony Burgess, also the author of “A Clockwork Orange.” What a cast. Each star was at the top of their game. In addition to Mr. Powell, James Farantino was a Peter for the ages. Ian McShane was a complex Judas whose motivations are slowly revealed in his deft political maneuverings. Olivia Hussey as the Virgin Mary, and Anne Bancroft as Mary Magdalene both shine. The list is endless: Christopher Plummer fleshes out the human weakness of Herod Antipas. You can’t stand him in the end. And James Mason brings Joseph of Arimathea to life. The conversation he has with Jesus about the idea of being “born again” draws you irresistibly into the essence of the Gospels. That’s why this film is so good. You feel like you’re walking right alongside of Jesus. Everything seems so authentic.
Those are my picks. What are yours? Please let me know. I want to watch some great, new faith-filled films this Holy Week, starting today. So let me know your favorites right away!