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Balm of Faith

The Czachorowskis: “Christ’s face is visible throughout our day”

“We feel like Legatus helps us support 35 families,” David Czachorowski said of his membership in the Wilmington, Delaware Chapter. “It’s not just for us but it’s also for the people we work with.”

The inspiration he receives through Legatus is about more than business, according to him, but about family too — both his and those of his employees. “At times, we’ve had to make the right choice as opposed to the best business decision for making the most money,” he said. “That is how we want to run our business, to make decisions for them as well as everyone around us.”

David is partner with his father Bill, who began Zack Excavating Inc., a heavy excavation company. He and his wife Aimee, an attorney, joined Legatus in 2016 and his dad and mom, Mary Ann, a pharmacist, followed last year.

Bill and Mary Ann also have a hobby farm that includes 22 Angus cattle. Mary Ann raises chickens and donates eggs for their parish’s twicemonthly breakfast and also to a homeless shelter.

They have many obligations to keep them busy but said that Legatus adds to their lives. Bill said that he and Mary Ann often avoid socializing through business but Legatus is different. “I am glad to have the connection of faith on this level,” Bill said. “Legatus reminds me that I have a responsibility to carry God’s message into the work place.”

David and Aimee just welcomed their fourth child on Easter Sunday and their eldest is only nine. “Legatus forces us to get a babysitter to go out,” David said. “It’s a good way to step back and reflect on all that we’ve been blessed with.” He said that the main theme he and Aimee have taken from Legatus is that their daily work is not separate from the Church. “The Holy Spirit does not just speak to us on Sundays,” he said. “Christ’s face is visible throughout our day.”

The Michalaks: “Don’t get too busy for spiritual things”

Penny and Mike Michalak were charter members when the Louisville, Kentucky Chapter chartered last year. During 31 years of marriage, they founded a family business named MiPenico, in which they own 15 Little Caesar’s Pizza restaurants with approximately 400 employees. They are the parents of 16 children, 10 of them adopted. Four of the children have Down syndrome which inspired them to start a private accredited, Catholic school: Immaculata Classical Academy, which has an enrollment of 200 and was granted Catholic status by their bishop in 2016.

Mike and Penny also began the charity, which celebrates the gift of Down syndrome and has helped with adoptions of 70 children. And, they just became grandparents to identical twins. Yet, Mike and Penny make time for Legatus.

“God has been involved in our business from the beginning,” Penny explained. “Legatus was a natural connection.” She said she was especially moved by Tom Monaghan’s message not to get too busy for the spiritual things and to say ‘yes’ to whatever God is calling one to do.

Legatus’ passionate pro-life stance is especially close to Mike and Penny’s heart, given the high rate of abortion for babies with Down syndrome. When Mike’s Uncle Ray was born, one of 14 children, his parents were told to put him in an institution. Instead, he stayed home and was a beloved member of the family. The family considered him so special that when Mike and Penny’s sixth biological child Elena (child #9) was born with Down syndrome in 2008, their 10-year-old son Simon (child #3) considered the 1 in 100 odds for his 41-year old mother and announced: “So we hit the jackpot!” Their other three children with Down syndrome were adopted from Poland.

Mike said he was impressed when Tom Monaghan visited their chapter and was asked what he wanted them to do. “He said he wasn’t going to tell us what to do, except to live our life in grace and stay close to the sacraments, then God would let us know.”

The Browns: “We have to transmit our Catholic faith …a gift to us and to the world”

Jacqueline Brown and her husband Daniel, the parents of two boys from China, joined the Jacksonville, Florida Chapter last year. Daniel is owner and COO of Miller Electric Company based in Jacksonville with offices throughout the country. Jacqueline, a psychologist, has also been a featured speaker for the Portland Chapter. From 2010 to 2017 she worked with Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center serving women and girls who have experienced trauma and entanglement with the criminal and juvenile justice systems.

According to her, Legate families have many blessings and advantages missing in families she once served. It was Legatus’s call to integrate the Catholic faith into the secular world that attracted her and Daniel.

“There is so much darkness in the world,” she explained. “The numbers are staggering; 1 in 3 girls suffer sexual abuse before adulthood and 1 in 6 of boys.” Although she’s seen the depth of darkness, Jaqueline said that we have a faith that gives us hope. “Jesus conquered death, but we have to accept that evil exists,” she said. “If we transmit nothing else, we have to transmit our Catholic faith because it is such a gift to us and to the world.”

Jacqueline could not push religion on clients, so she would let them lead. If they mentioned God or prayer, she used that to ask their beliefs and help them identify good values. Jacqueline felt called to leave that work last year and is now working on the fourth book in her The Light series – dramatic fiction with Catholic values. The audio books are being produced by the daughter of Ann Fitzgibbon, a Legate in Portland Oregon.

The Greens: “Even our children want to hear about the [Legatus] speaker when we get home”

Paul and Sherry Green were founding members in 2014 of the DuPage County, Illinois Chapter where Paul is the chapter treasurer and a senior partner at Ernst & Young. They have five children, having just adopted a three-year old boy with Down syndrome from China this past March.

Among their other four children, three are in high school, and one is a college freshman. The entire family traveled to China to experience the adoption process together, documenting it in a blog at

“My wife initially went on a trip to China with our adoption agency as an advocacy trip,” Paul explained. “While she as at the orphanage, she heard about a little guy who was left at a church in Shanghai. Sherry wanted to meet the boy. ‘That’s him you are playing with,’ she was told.”

It was clear from the start, according to Paul, that Howie was meant for them. “He is the most loving, happy little guy,” Paul said. “Last night, we had work colleagues over for dinner. My daughter brought him to meet everyone and he just opened his arms to them.”

Sherry credits Legatus with helping her and Paul schedule quality time together. “We’ve never been good about having date nights,” she said. “At the meetings, we always have good conversations and even our children want to hear about the speaker when we get home.”

Sherry also noted that she and Paul appreciate spending time with like-minded people. “It’s a safe place,” she said. “We have so much in common and can talk about things like our faith and abortion. Even in my family and among Catholics we can’t always do that.”

“Legatus has emboldened me to bring my faith to work,” Paul said. For example, a young lady at work had shared with him that she was considering living with her boyfriend even though she was Catholic. Paul sent up a prayer and then expressed his own views on the beauty and importance of marriage. Three weeks later the women thanked Paul and let him know she wasn’t going to move in. Three months later they were engaged and got married in the Church.

“I would not have done that before I belonged to Legatus,” Paul said. “We went to the national conference and there was a focus on being ambassadors. The speakers were so amazing and inspiring, sharing what they have done with their faith.” He said it gave him the confidence to engage with people about his faith.

“Legatus means ‘ambassador’ and the name is appropriate for what we are called to do,” he said. “We are to step back and think about bringing our faith into the world which needs it so much. The Lord gives us those opportunities and when we take advantage of them, it builds on itself and we are inspired to share our faith even more.”

PATTI MAGUIRE ARMSTRONG is a Legatus magazine contributing writer.

WHAT TO SEE: The Tribunal

Ryan Wesley Gilreath, Chris Petty, Laura E. Mock
Run time: 114 min
Rated PG-13

“It’s complicated.” Isn’t that how people often describe their relationships? The relationships in The Tribunal are precisely that. The film, a limited theatrical release now available on cable and streaming services, is a well-intended drama involving a petition for a declaration of nullity, or annulment, from a Church tribunal. The story is told largely in flashback style through testimony given at the hearings.

Tony (Ryan Wesley Gilreath), a concert promoter and local musician, is a lapsed Catholic who falls for Emily (Laura Mock), a good Catholic girl. When she refuses his advances and invites him to Mass, he begins to clean up his act and recover his faith.

Yet the couple’s indiscretions weaken them into a sexual relationship that ultimately leads to their breakup after Emily’s father (Jim Damron), a permanent deacon, confronts Emily about her sinful choices. Tony is devastated.

Tony’s best friend and bandmate, Joe (Chris Petty), falls in love with Emily, creating the expected tensions. Joe, who is not Catholic, is divorced from Jessie (Victoria McDevitt), who married Joe only because she was unhappily pregnant. As Joe and Emily seek an annulment of Joe’s previous marriage so they can be free to wed in the Church, they need the testimony of Tony, who knew Jessie didn’t believe in the permanence of marriage and never wanted children — both grounds for annulment. Tony hesitates to help Joe, hoping Emily might return to him instead. Emily’s father, by the way, is one of the tribunal officials. Complicated enough?

As with many lower-budget films, viewers might quibble with the acting and scriptwriting. Yet the film’s small production company, St. Michael Movies, sets its sights on producing solid Catholic stories for the New Evangelization. Where this film succeeds most is in illustrating the bouts of conscience experienced by the major players and in depicting the Church’s thoughtful and compassionate handling of the tribunal process — highlighting that annulment is certainly not a light matter and often a complicated one at that.

GERALD KORSON is a Legatus magazine staff writer.

Faith Roused Through Sacred Art and Architecture

It is quite possible these days for Catholic children to grow up without ever setting foot in a traditionally designed church. Buildings that can easily be taken for concert halls, multipurpose centers, or even gyms have become commonplace substitutions for structures that clearly and beautifully express the unchanging truths of the faith.

If modern church structures contain any artwork, it is often watered down so that effective symbolism is lost. Also lost in this drab milieu, Pope Benedict XVI has indicated, are souls. The former Holy Father was credited in the pre-pontifical Ratzinger Report (Ignatius Press, 1985) with the exhortation that Christians “must make their Church into a place where beauty—and hence truth—is at home. Without this the world will become the first circle of hell.”

There is hope.

According to a 2017 study by a British group called Hope Revolution Partnership, approximately 13 percent of responding teenagers said that they made the decision to become a Christian after a visit to a church or cathedral. Church buildings were even found to be more influential on the spiritual lives of young people than verbal communication regarding religion.

While the study was confined to the Church of England, there is more than enough hope for Catholics. Indeed, all Anglican architectural beauty comes from the Catholic Church, not only by way of inspiration for structures built after King Henry VIII’s revolt from Rome, but by way of ecclesiastical theft during that revolt.

Conversion of atheist Charles Rich

New York City has its fair share of beautiful churches, one of which had a profound impact on a young man in the early 20th century. Charles Rich, born one year before that century began, was raised Jewish, but became an atheist. Despite studying philosophy and religion in his twenties, even the writings of great saints, he became depressed— then suicidal.

One warm day during his 33rd year of life, Rich entered a Catholic church. Looking up at a beautiful stained-glass window depicting Christ calming the storm at sea, Rich thought of how wonderful it would be to believe what was expressed before his eyes in glass. Such a belief would bring the consolation he so longed for.

Rich had been “pulverized” by the possibility of life being meaningless, like a rock reduced to a thousand pieces of sand. Yet on this warm day, the rough and gray “sands of his soul” were heated and molded by the Divine Artisan into a smooth, colorful reflection of what stood before him. Charles Rich, after so much study of religion, had become convinced, via sacred art, of the authenticity of the Catholic faith. The light shone into his soul.

Priest quit sports career for beauty of Rome

Father Chase Hilgenbrinck, who left a professional soccer career in 2008 at the age of 26 to enter the seminary, recounted how he was subsequently overwhelmed by the architectural arts of Rome. He was, as he had expected, amazed by the beauty of historic structures such as St. Peter’s Basilica and the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, but he was not prepared to be completely awed by the spirituality that made these structures possible.

He explained: “The majesty was endless and I couldn’t fathom how all of this was done. Then in a moment of grace and reflection I marveled at how all of this beauty was the result of many peoples’ encounter with one Person.” Fr. Hilgenbrinck, who now serves souls in Peoria, Illinois, emphatically asked himself, “Why would anybody go to such great lengths of spending so much money and putting in so many years of effort in these monuments of faith if the Incarnation wasn’t real?”

Fr. Hilgenbrinck has maintained a much deeper appreciation for the dynamic role of beauty in evangelization. He knows that genuine beauty can express, far more eloquently than words, the wonder of the Incarnation. The Blessed Virgin’s sinless role leading up to the Incarnation is reflected in the mother church of Fr. Hilgenbrinck’s diocese. The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Peoria was renovated by Chicago’s own Daprato Rigali Studios from 2014 to 2016.

Sacred architect left former business

Dan Rigali, of Daprato Rigali Studios in Chicago, is pleased by the results of his studio’s labors and believes that the beauty found therein can be a major force for passing on the faith. He had started working in another field after graduating from the University of Denver in 2009, but soon realized how transformational sacred art can be. “I could have done well in another business” he said, “but it dawned on me that church design and decoration is a field that has irreplaceable value. It goes beyond simply supplying for material needs; it uses material things to remind us of God and to actually draw us into a better relationship with Him.”

Rigali has found that faith communities take on a renewed sense of purpose when beautifying their churches. ”It only makes sense,” Rigali said, “since church beautification is about making the Catholic faith more explicit—about bringing it to life so that people see its value and get motivated to become better followers of Christ. As Pope Benedict has alluded to in the context of Plato, beauty provides a ‘holy shock’ that draws us out of our everyday existence and inspires us to reach new heights.”

Architect’s epiphany’ while restoring cathedral

It was in one of the highest points in a beautiful church that Steve Baker, principal architect at Baker Architects in Denver, Colorado, had a revelation. While working at the Gothicstyle Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption in Covington, Kentucky in 2001, his then- 30-year-old faith was given a boost. He was already aware of the possibilities of ecclesiastical structures, yet something new occurred to him at this project. “When in the attic of the basilica looking down on the nave,” he said, “I was hit in a new way at how amazing church architecture can be. It’s in the choir lofts, bell towers, and other out-of-the-way places that you literally and figuratively get a different angle on things.”

Now even when he is at ground level, Baker brings his renewed appreciation with him. Baker, who recently completed a doctorate at the University of Colorado Denver on sacred architecture humanizing the divine and divinizing the human, said, “Christian architecture is supposed to help restore to humanity what had been lost. It lifts us up and ennobles us, making us, not less human, but more human, because we’re drawn closer to God’s original design for us.”

In fact, a traditional church floor plan resembles a human person. The nave (the central part of the church containing pews) is the core of the body, the sanctuary is the head, and the transepts (extended sides, often with minor altars) are the arms. These elements taken together are also cruciform, calling to mind the work of Redemption.

A clearly distinguished sanctuary, prominent tabernacle placement, and accurate iconography are among the most important interior elements of a church building. Once the faith is made present materially, it is far easier for it to be made present in souls. Showing the interconnection of these two elements, Pope Emeritus Benedict was quoted in The Ratzinger Report as saying, “The only really effective apologia for Christianity comes down to two arguments, namely, the saints the Church has produced and the art which has grown in her womb.”

TRENT BEATTIE is a Legatus magazine contributing writer.

Transcendence at work

“Do we wish to become beautiful with Christ’s own beauty? If we do, it is to the Church of Rome that we must go for that kind of beauty, and beauty [is] to be found in everything she promulgates by way of her liturgy, her chants, her statues, and her paintings. It is to the Church of Rome we have to go to get a living experience of the beauty of Christ’s being, seeing that that beauty of His is enshrined and interwoven with everything she does and is.” —Charles Rich in Honey From the Rock, published by Ignatius Press in 2007

“On the one hand, it is the continued embodiment of God that started in the Incarnation, and on other hand, it is the continued elevation of humans back toward God.” —architect Steve Baker

“Art can make the next world come alive in this world.” —church designer Dan Rigali

The munificent man turns lucre into Magi gold

Sometimes in Catholic circles one can hear a bias against wealth as though it were a crime to be a rich man; however, that bias lacks an understanding of a principle that Aristotle contributes to the Church’s thinking. Our Lord speaks of the danger of riches but St. Luke (16:9-13) subtly points to the virtue that governs them; and Aristotle, when commenting on greatness and wealth, helps to illuminate what Jesus says through St. Luke. The clue to understanding the connection between wealth and the Gospel lies in the virtue of munificence (or magnificence).

As a moral principle it rises from great wealth and generosity, but how does the munificent man turn wealth, be it lucre or honest gain, into Magi gold? Anne Catherine Emmerich in her book The Life of Jesus Christ claims that the Magi traveled not only with gold for the Holy Family but with an extraordinary amount of money in the form of small, thin metal triangles of hammered gold which they generously distributed to poor people along the way to Bethlehem. Although Anne’s visions belong to private revelation, what they describe is not useless in the service of piety and moral principle. And she reveals to us men of high character who in wisdom exercise liberality.

Understanding the principle of proportion in relation to social need, the munificent man takes stock of his resources and judges what he may reasonably give to supply the want of others. In general, there are two categories of need: those that are small and pertain to private individuals and families; and those that are great and pertain to public enterprise, both civil and ecclesiastical. Strictly speaking in Aristotle’s terms, munificence concerns itself with large projects such as building schools, churches, hospitals, radio stations, and funding the needs of social reconstruction, one of the great examples of which can be found in the Holy Land Foundation which supports Christians in the Middle East, particularly young Christian Palestinians in Israel that they might remain in their country and support the needs of poor people and maintain a specifically Christian presence there which is always under threat of diminution, and in the long run, the threat of extinction if no one cares for them. While it is a form of liberality, it differs from generosity in the largeness of its enterprise.

For his 1950 apostolic constitution defining the dogma of the Assumption, Pope Pius XII entitles it with the Latin phrase Munificentissimus Deus, , from munificentia, meaning “munificence,” or “liberality.” No doubt he used the word munificent in Aristotle’s sense, Pius himself regarding Aristotle as probably the most intelligent man in history.

In ancient times, the task of the pagan munificent man was to construct in the city public projects that would imitate the glory of the cosmos thereby bringing public life somewhat closer to the harmony of the cosmos. The point of such construction was to move men’s souls to resonate with cosmic order and, from that inner music, they had a resource for harmonizing the order of public life.

Similarly, Pius quite possibly sensed that God was glorifying the new cosmos of the Mystical Body in the Assumption of Christ’s Mother, God Himself having begun the new order in Mary’s womb. Given Pius’ Aristotelian sense of things, Mary’s Assumption glorifies both the old cosmos, of which she was a part, she also being a daughter of Adam and Eve, and the new one begun in the Body of Christ. Both cosmic structures require the allocation of wealth, but divine munificence moves through the temporal city to the eternal one where the glory of harmony can never end.

FR. ROBERT E. MAGUIRE, O. CIST., is affiliate assistant professor of English at the University of Dallas, where he has taught since 1979. He has been at the Cistercian Abbey of Our Lady of Dallas (close to the university) for 47 years, where he was ordained a priest in 1976.

Hip-check on new replacement option

Total hip replacements, also known as total hip arthroplasties (THA), are one of today’s most successful orthopedic procedures. Over 300,000 total hips are replaced annually in the U.S.

The most common approach to hip replacement has been the “posterior approach.” More recently, an “anterior approach” has become popular. Let’s look at the differences between the procedures, and pros and cons of the newer anterior approach.

During a posterior approach, a curved incision is made on the side of hip, just behind the greater trochanter. This approach requires surgeons to cut muscles and soft tissue at the back of the hip to access the hip joint. These muscles are repaired and reattached at the end of the surgery.

During the anterior approach, the incision is made at the front of the hip, with the incision starting at the pelvic bone and ending toward the top of the thigh. The surgeon works between the muscles with minimal or no muscle cutting. The surgeon has a limited view of the hip joint which makes this surgery more technically challenging. The anterior approach has been referred to as a “minimally invasive” approach. This is because there is less muscle cutting which for most patients speeds the recovery.

Advantages of the anterior approach:

• Less damage to major muscles;

• Less post-operative pain;

• Faster recovery – in general, anterior approach patients walk unaided sooner than posterior approach patients;

• Decreased risk of hip dislocation, since muscles and soft tissues surrounding the hip are kept intact;

• Better range of movement – patients can cross legs and bend over after surgery (posteriorapproach patients usually must wait 6-8 weeks);

• Shorter hospital stays, depending on the patient and access to on-site physical therapy.

Disadvantages of the anterior approach:

• Obese or very muscular patients may not be good candidates;

• Very technically demanding surgery; steep learning curve for surgeon; • Potential for nerve damage – surgical area is close to the lateral cutaneous femoral nerve which supplies sensation to the outer thigh; potential for numbness in the thigh;

• Wound-healing issues — surgical incision can become irritated especially in very overweight patients.

Success of a total hip replacement depends on many factors beyond surgical approach. The most crucial factor is the knowledge and skill of the surgeon. In addition, the type of hip prosthesis, the patient’s weight and build, and his or her willingness and ability to participate in post-surgical rehabilitation are all important considerations.

SUSAN LOCKE is Healthnetwork Foundation’s medical director.

HEALTHNETWORK is a Legatus membership benefit, a health care “concierge service” that provides members and their families access to some of the most respected hospitals in the world. One Call Starts It All: (866) 968-2467 or (440) 893-0830. Email:

HEALTHNETWORK FOUNDATION is a nonprofit whose mission is to improve medicine for all by connecting CEOs with leading hospitals and their doctors to provide the best access to world-class care and increase philanthropic funding for medical research.

Into His Likeness: Be Transformed as a Disciple of Christ

Edward Sri
Ignatius Press/Augustine Institute
150 pages

The biblical idea of a disciple means more than simply learning the teachings of a teacher; it has meant modeling oneself after His example and growing more like Him every day. Edward Sri’s new book reminds readers of what that kind of discipleship means: to be a Christian requires more than an assent to a set of doctrines, but a commitment to imitate Christ and allow oneself to be transformed into His likeness. This marvelous book provides a gut check and blueprint even for practicing Catholics to ensure they live that baptismal call to discipleship as fully as possible.

Order: Amazon , Ignatius Press

Alfie Evans Case — poster-child for health care ‘best interest’

Two months ago, the British court senselessly ordered two-year-old Alfie Evans to be taken off life support, despite his parents’ desperate pleas and a worldwide outcry. In the aftermath of Alfie’s government-mandated death, many of us are asking whether our government has the power to determine when life is simply too burdensome to justify saving. But with the federal government’s waning influence over individual health care as a result of the weakening of Obamacare regulations, another question arises: Whether the health care providers and insurance companies could trump the rights of families in cases like Alfie’s. After all, in many cases, providers and insurance companies do have the power to ration health care. The degree to which they do is up to us.

Currently, the federal government prohibits hospitals from withholding or withdrawing infant life support. There are, however, three exceptions. Life support may be withdrawn if: (1) the infant is chronically and irreversibly comatose; (2) life support would merely prolong dying or be futile in terms of the infant’s survival; or (3) the life support itself, under the circumstances, would be inhumane. These exceptions can give doctors too much power to make end-of-life decisions. Given the possibility of coercion or undue influence on parents, the current system is set up for an Alfie Evans-like tragedy here in America.

Moreover, many in the medical profession, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, are advocates for the “best interest standard,” which gives doctors the ability to make arbitrary decisions about what is in the best interest of infants. The standard does give parents a role in the decision making. However, parental rights can be seriously compromised by health care providers and insurance companies that may pressure parents to make the more “economical” choice under the guise of an infant’s “best interest” and against the backdrop of skyrocketing hospital bills.

Another source of pressure can come from hospital “ethics committees,” which many consider to act like “death panels.” For example, the Texas Advance Directives Act empowers hospital administrators to arbitrarily withdraw or withhold care, regardless of the reason and the patient’s condition. The danger of the Texas law is illustrated in the case of Christopher David Dunn. In that case, a “bioethics committee” ruled that a 46-year-old man’s life was not worth living, and it therefore withdrew his life support. His family vigorously pleaded for his life to no avail. While many have defended such committees as an appropriate way to strike a balance between the patient’s right to life and the medical professionals’ reasonable end-of- life treatment, the potential for abuse is enormous. Indeed, many ethics committees have little guidelines and accountability; and, with the pressure of insurance companies and other health care providers, the risk of exploitation is very real.

Most agree that prolonging a painful process of dying for a terminal patient is inhumane, and they argue that doctors should not be forced to provide such treatment. Moreover, there is no constitutional right to receiving medical care paid for by others. But, as advocates for life, we must be vigilant in ensuring that health care providers and insurance companies do not have the arbitrary power to decide if one life is worth more than that of another. Furthermore, the withholding of food and hydration to a patient in need of it can never be morally justified. This is in keeping with the mission of faithful Catholics, who started the hospital system long ago based on the belief that nothing is worth more than the life of a person created in the image and likeness of God.

ATTORNEY CHARLES S. LIMANDRI is a past member of the Legatus board of directors and a recipient of the Legatus “Ambassador of the Year” award. He is the president and chief counsel of the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund (

The modern, migrant tomato – from a dysfunctional family

Tomatoes are among those tormented vegetables (or fruits?) of the garden patch. Like many family lines, the tomato comes from a distinguished, albeit, dysfunctional one. Originating in the lower Andes (part of present-day Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia), the tomato was held in little esteem. Small and perishable, it was not a food easily cultivated for storage like potatoes, beans, squash, and maize. By the time Christopher Columbus arrived upon the shores of America, the tomato had made its way to Mexico, but stopped short of crossing the border into southwest North America.

To its credit, the tomato had the distinction of being among the 15 most valuable crops – such as sweet potato, pumpkin, avocado, and cocoa – to depart the New World for the Old, according to Russian botanist Nikolai Vavilov. This unprecedented swapping of plants and animals was dubbed the ‘Columbian Exchange’ by historian Alfred W. Crosby, Jr., who went on to say that these foods “made the most valuable single addition to the food-producing plants of the Old World since the beginnings of agriculture.” The Italians embraced tomatoes with gusto despite the warnings of naturalist Pierandrea Mattioli, referring to it as an “unhealthy apple.” Still, can you imagine Italian cuisine today without tomatoes?

The tomato infiltrated Spain, France, Poland, and beyond, yet North Americans were skeptical of this member of the deadly nightshade family. They were a further menace to Puritan society when rumors circulated that the tomato was an aphrodisiac! How noble was the first man who took a stand on its behalf. According to James Trager, it was Colonel Robert Gibbon in 1840 who stood on the courthouse steps in Salem, New Jersey to eat a raw tomato. Death was surely imminent, yet he lived! It was not until after World War I that the tomato gained status as a worthy component of the dinner table.

Seemingly prone to controversy and discord, there was also the business of classifying the tomato. According to Waverley Root, in 1893 the Supreme Court “ruled that because it was used like a vegetable it must be considered one for the purposes of trade.” So legally, tomatoes are vegetables, while botanically they are fruits.

One might compare this mixed-up botanical debacle with the present-day, hot-button issue of a “Columbian Exchange” of peoples from many countries and across many borders. Genealogical and ancestral lineage aside, we love our homegrown tomatoes, just as we love our extended families in Christ. We must pray to the Lord as we discern the immigration debate. May we each have the courage of Colonel Gibbon, who ate the “forbidden fruit,” to amicably resolve the immigration issue while loving all neighbors as ourselves.

CHEF JOHN D. FOLSE is an entrepreneur with interests ranging from restaurant development to food manufacturing, catering to culinary education. A cradle-Catholic, he supports many Catholic organizations including the Sister Dulce Ministry at Cypress Springs Mercedarian Prayer Center in Baton Rouge, LA. This month’s featured recipe is from his recent cookbook, Can You Dig It: Louisiana’s Authoritative Collection of Vegetable Cookery.

MICHAELA YORK is vice president of communications for John Folse & Company.

Creole Tomato-Basil Pie • yield: 6-8 servings • prep time: 2 hours

4–5 medium Creole tomatoes
½ cup torn basil leaves, divided
1 (9-inch) pre-baked pie shell
1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese, divided
½ cup olive oil, divided
½ cup julienned andouille sausage, divided
1 cup crawfish tails, divided
½ cup grated Cheddar cheese, divided
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
salt and cracked black pepper to taste
1 small Bermuda onion, peeled, sliced and divided
1 cup seasoned Italian bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350°F. Core tomatoes, cut into ¼-inch slices. Drain approx. 1 hour on paper towels to remove excess liquid. Set tomatoes aside. In bottom of pie shell, layer ¼ cup Monterey Jack cheese; then top with sliced tomatoes. Brush tomatoes with olive oil, then sprinkle with basil, andouille, crawfish tails, Cheddar and Parmesan along with ¼ cup Monterey Jack. Season to taste with salt and pepper then add 2–3 slices Bermuda onion. Continue with tomato slices and repeat layers 2–3 times or until pie is filled. Sprinkle top generously with bread crumbs along with any remaining cheeses and basil. Bake 1–1½ hours or until cheese is melted and bread crumbs are well browned. Remove from oven. Allow pie to cool slightly before serving. If desired, place finished pie in refrigerator and serve cold or freeze for later use.

6 ways kids lead parents to God

Our children often push us to our limits, and we may react in uncharitable ways. When that happens, we might be tempted to think of them as obstacles to Christian growth. Wouldn’t it be easier to be saintly if we didn’t have to deal with temper tantrums, sibling spats, and broken curfews?

Yet consider what the Second Vatican Council fathers had to say: “Children contribute in their own way to making their parents holy” (Gaudium et Spes, 48). What a startling notion! We can strive for holiness, not despite the trials of parenthood, but through them. Our children can teach us to be more holy.

Some of the best opportunities to grow spiritually emerge precisely at those places where we encounter the most difficult challenges of family life. Here are six practical ways to cooperate with God’s grace so that can happen.

1. Let your children’s needs and shortcomings drive you to pray. If the parenting road were always smooth, you’d be tempted to forget all about God while you busy yourself with dirty dishes and soccer games. This is one way He gets your attention. Get alone with God first thing every morning and ambush the little bandits with prayer before they get out of bed.

2. Let parenting challenges drive you to learn from Scripture and saints’ lives. Meditate, for example, on St. Paul’s beautiful admonition to families about how to live together (Eph 5:21–6:4). Apply his famous “hymn to love” (1 Cor 13:4–13) to your family life.

Learn also from parents in the Bible: Mary and Joseph are our model. Others teach us by their mistakes, such as King David’s struggles with his rebel son (2 Sam 13:1–18:33); Rebekah’s family trickery (Gen 27–33); and Eli’s failures in childrearing (1 Sam 2:12–17, 22-25; 4:12–18).

Study as well the lives of saints who grew spiritually through their role as parents. Read about St. Monica’s struggles with her wayward son, St. Augustine, or the daunting family challenges of St. Rita.

3. Let children’s questions about spiritual and moral issues drive you to learn more about God and His will. In your struggle to respond to their questions, you’ll gain a greater understanding of the great truths of our faith.

4. Let parenting battles drive you to seek fellowship with other Catholic parents for mutual support and advice. Don’t be embarrassed to talk and pray over your parenting problems with others who struggle. Think of other parents as comrades in arms.

5. Let parenting struggles drive you to the sacraments for grace and strength. The grace we receive in the Eucharist fortifies us for the task of parenting as it does for every other duty of life. And parenthood is one of God’s secret strategies for getting us into the confessional.

6. Let your kids teach you some basics about the spiritual life. Jesus said: “Unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 18:3). What can you learn from your children’s holy example of simplicity, honesty, trust, zeal, faith? What surprising gems of wisdom may come out of their mouths?

When all is said and done, perhaps the most important way we can let our kids help us grow in holiness is to view the hassles of parenting as scouring pads: they can either scrape us raw or scrub us clean.

If we resent our children’s needs, demands, and shortcomings, they’ll forever be rubbing us the wrong way. But if instead we embrace the frustration and heartache as part of God’s plan to polish us into saints, in time we’ll find ourselves shining in ways we never have before.

PAUL THIGPEN, PH.D, is an award-winning journalist and the bestselling author of 49 books. He and his wife, Leisa, have two children and five grandchildren who are helping them to become holy.

Take a revelry in the beauty of Catholicism

This October, Legates can enter the inner orbit of the Catholic Church, during the exceptional Legatus pilgrimage to Rome where all will see the Church, both behind the scenes and on the world stage. The tour group will venerate the unassuming relics that seemed so insignificant to the mighty Roman Empire: the bones of St Peter—the fisherman killed in the wake of a mad emperor’s ambition—in the Vatican Scavi, the slivers of ancient wood that held the infant Christ in St. Mary Major, and the simple linen cloth that absorbed the blood of Christ in the Eucharistic miracle of Bolsena. Then pilgrims will marvel at how these humble seeds bore glorious fruit in the breathtaking basilicas and works of art.

Walking through the Coliseum, marveling at the crumbled vestiges of Imperial Rome, the Legatus group will learn how the Romans, who worshipped men as gods, came to believe, thanks to brave witness of the early Christians, in God-made-Man. A few steps further and we’ll stand before St. John Lateran, the first legal Christian church and the cathedral of Rome.

The centerpiece of the trip will be Vatican City state, where pilgrims will dive deep into the beauty and history of the Church, even as history is being made. In a private after-hours visit to the Sistine Chapel, the Legatus group will stand alone before the glorious paintings of Michelangelo revealing in powerful forms and brilliant color the invisible beginnings and ending of our great story of salvation. They will visit the enclave of the Swiss guards and learn the history of Europe’s oldest private army. Don’t let the colorful uniforms deceive— this group of young men offered their service to the pope 500 years ago and still proudly promise to protect the pope with their lives today. Legates will see their armory containing the ancient weapons used to save the life of Pope Clement VII to the brand-new, state-of-the-art helmets forged just this year.

Even as the group tours and learns and basks in beauty, they will witness the Church renewing herself.

Mostly the Legate tour group will partake in the joy of the Christian faith, expressed in the soaring frescoes of the great basilicas, the delightful fountains donated by generous popes, and even the fun of learning how to make pizza together!

Come and revel in the ancient true faith that remains vibrant and living, to renew hearts and spirits in the beauty that is the Catholic Church!

For more information on the Legatus 2018 Rome Pilgrimage Oct. 5-12, contact Kendall Ripley at Corporate Travel for details (866-468-1420) or

ELIZABETH LEV is an American art historian living in Rome, and teaches art history at Duquesne University’s Italian campus and at the Pontifical University of St Thomas Aquinas. She is a commissioner of the Tourism board of Rome and a consultant on art and faith for the Vatican Museums, for whom she authored Vatican Treasures: Art and Faith, a film that was presented to Pope Benedict XVI. She also works as a Vatican analyst for NBC.


… and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, for work in every craft. Exodus 31: 3-5


Pilgrimages evoke our earthly journey toward heaven and are traditionally very special occasions for renewal in prayer. Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2691