Tag Archives: Church

Easy rider – had everything but God

WRESTLING STEERS AND WRANGLING IN RODEOS TAUGHT LANCE MUDD SOME IMPORTANT LESSONS

For one thing, Mudd learned he was only as good as the horse he was riding. The fact that he could win good prize money one weekend, and then go a month without winning anything else, also kept him humble.

But if anything, his two years of competing professionally in rodeos showed Mudd that he was going to have to work twice as hard as some of the bigger and stronger competitors who excelled in that physically demanding sport.

“People were saying, “Man, if you were bigger, you’d be winning a ton of money.” But I’m not, this is how God made me. Mudd, 54, grew up in Louisiana wanting to do nothing other than rodeo from the time his father put him on a horse at about four years old.

Mudd left the professional rodeo circuit after a couple of years and became a salesman. He used the insights he gained from his rodeo years to build a successful sales and business career, but he was angry at God.

Slipping downward

“I wasn’t winning, and rodeo was all I knew. It was my identity,” said Mudd, who grew up in a Catholic home where his mother taught him and his siblings their prayers, and always made sure the family went to Mass on Sundays.

Even as a teenager, Mudd said he felt a close relationship with God and enjoyed going to church. But over the years, as the rodeo trophies piled up and life’s responsibilities increased with marriage and a business career, Mudd said he lost sight of the big picture.

He woke up one afternoon, hung over from a party the night before. He walked to the bathroom to wash his face and saw his reflection in the mirror.

“‘I saw a man in the mirror I despised,” Mudd said. “I knew my momma raised me better than this.”

Alone before God

That low moment — hitting rock bottom as it’s known in recovery circles — led to Mudd realizing he was an alcoholic. He didn’t know it at the time, but it was the first step on a journey that would lead him to a conversion experience, spawned from spending time before the Blessed Sacrament. The path would lead Mudd to rededicate himself to the Catholic faith and to pour his energies into apostolic endeavors like leading retreats, speaking at parishes, and building chapels in Mexico. He joined Legatus and had become a founding member of its Lake Charles Chapter.

But ultimately, Mudd learned that as a husband and a father, God had given him a vocation and that becoming a loving, attentive husband and father was his true path to holiness and salvation. “The things I’ve been able to do are all because of God,” said Mudd, who has been married to his wife, Kelly, for 29 years. They have three daughters, two of whom are now married, and three grandchildren, including one on the way.

Mudd and Kelly were high school sweethearts back in the late 1980s growing up in Creole, located in Southwest Louisiana.

Hooked on rodeo

One of Mudd’s earliest memories is being about four years old on a horse, working cattle with his father until they made money. One day, his father put him in a horse show, where he won a few ribbons and buckles.

“I was hooked,” said Mudd, who grew up competing in rodeos. In high school, he was a state and national rodeo champion. So was Kelly, who in high school won a national all-around rodeo title.

“That’s how I started relating success, through the rodeo, that if you work hard at it, you’d win a prize,” Mudd said.

He and Kelly went on to college. She graduated with her degree, but he quit halfway through to pursue rodeo full-time. He turned professional when he was about 23. He competed as a steer wrestler, an event where he would ride alongside the steer, jump off his horse, grab the steer by the horns and slide before throwing it down.

Mudd was a good competitor, but not having the size or strength of top-level rodeo athletes led him to leave the professional world after a couple of years. It was a moment he did not expect.

Humbled and hungover

“Rodeo is a humbling sport,” Mudd said. “It’s not like football or basketball where you sign a multimillion-dollar contract. In rodeo, you get what you win, so if you’re not winning, you’re not eating.

“I thought, ‘What am I going to do now? I had no college education. I had no trade,” Mudd said.

But what he did have was a rock-solid work ethic that he had developed through his father’s example and from his experiences in rodeo. He went into car sales, and started a waste management company in his late 20s that he later sold to a corporation. He bought a small oilfield heavy construction company and built it into a successful enterprise.

Along the way, however, Mudd said he developed a drinking problem. The nights partying in college and on the rodeo circuit grew to the point that he estimates he was drinking 16 to 20 nights a month.

“We’d drink and have a good ole’ time,” Mudd said.

The drinking led to that midafternoon where Mudd woke up with his wife not in bed; she had left the casino hotel where they were staying that weekend after he got pretty drunk the night before and passed out.

Lasso from the Lord

Deciding to become sober, Mudd said he was sleepless one night when he decided to drive to the church to pray, but found it was locked. He walked around the building until he found that the door to the parish Adoration chapel was open. He sat to the side of the Blessed Sacrament. He felt at peace when he left the chapel, and kept coming back.

God used that Adoration chapel like a lasso to bring Mudd deeper into the life of the Church and his calling as a Catholic man. He went on retreats, and built churches and chapels in Mexico. He went on a pilgrimage to Italy in 2010, where in Assisi he met Tom Monaghan, who told him about Legatus.

As his faith journey progressed, Mudd’s understanding of his vocation also deepened. Growing up, his father was a hard worker and good provider, but left the family spiritual guidance to his wife. That was Mudd’s approach early on in his own marriage.

“I wasn’t much of a spiritual leader at all,” said Mudd. Misplaced priorities, even in the early years of his renewed faith journey, led him to miss out on his daughter winning a beauty pageant, because he was on a retreat.

Today, Mudd still takes part in activities like church-building projects in Mexico, but he makes sure they do not interfere with family life at home. He retired from his business career last year and is thinking about opening a horse ranch to help men in recovery from substance abuse addiction.

Regardless of what he does next, Mudd said God and his family will always come first.

“You can’t give what you don’t have. That’s what I’ve learned on this whole journey,” Mudd said. “I’m just blessed.”

BRIAN FRAGA is a Legatus magazine staff writer

The true Church can change the world … again

Just as we are tired of hearing people say that Jesus would not recognize the Church [today], we are also tired of hearing people talk about “reimagining” the Church, as if the Church needs to be revamped for a new generation. We didn’t imagine the Church in the first place, so we don’t need to reimagine it (nor is it our place to do so). The Church was founded by Jesus Christ and His apostles, and we want to affirm that Christ’s vision for the Church is still alive, in spite of human failures throughout her history. The problem is not that the Church needs to change to conform to a new generation (Rom 12:2); the Church needs to reclaim her power to change the world.

Back when the Church was persecuted by the Roman Empire, there was no question that the Church was countercultural. The Church converted the (known) world and influenced it for the better. This was a mixed blessing, because subsequently the line between the Church and the world was blurred. That line is being drawn again, sometimes by the Church and sometimes by the world, and Christians today must realize that living the faith means being countercultural.

We are not saying the culture is inherently evil or that all expressions of culture are sinful. Although polls suggest that a majority of people in our country still identify themselves as Christian, it is an unwitting collaboration of the nonreligious minority and non-practicing Christians that now drives the factors that impact our culture. These factors include politics, entertainment media, and consumer marketing.

… Maybe you have also heard that the Church is no longer relevant to the current generation. This is ridiculous. First of all, the mission of the Church is not relevance. Second, the definition of what is relevant changes by the moment and depends on the person. The focus on relevance is in many ways a symptom of the very relativism we encounter all around ourselves. Having said that, even if the Church is perceived as being out of touch with the current generation, the problem is with the generation, not with the Church. Was Jesus being irrelevant when He called His own generation adulterous and sinful? (Matt 11:16-17).

… Christians will be increasingly threatened with marginalization and even legal action, and they will be tempted to compromise their beliefs for the sake of their livelihoods. …More Christian business owners will face lawsuits for trying to run their businesses according to their principles. More restrictions on religious practice and religious expression will be written into law. …

It’s tempting to hide away in private devotion or, for some, to give up on Church altogether. But to do that is to contribute to the social entropy that is hastening the decay of our culture.

Excerpt taken from How Christianity Saved Civilization … And Must Do So Again, by Mike Aquilina & James L. Papandrea (Sophia Institute Press, 2018), from Chapter 9, “The Church Can Change the World Again,” pp. 215-16. www.SophiaInstitute.com.

MIKE AQUILINA has written over 50 books on Catholic history, doctrine, and devotion. He has cohosted nine series on EWTN, hosted documentaries on early Christianity, and is a frequent guest on Catholic radio.

JAMES PAPANDREA is a Catholic author, professor, speaker, and musician, as well as fellow of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology

Our Lady safeguards our success through these times

In these bewildering days when even the most devout are confounded by circumstances and sense that society – even the Church – is careening out of control, it is comforting to know what Our Lady said centuries ago specifically about these times.

Christine Valentine-Owsik

In the early 17th century, a Conceptionist nun in Quito, Ecuador – now known as Venerable Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres – received seven apparitions from the Blessed Mother which describe precisely our present turmoil. The apparitions of Our Lady of Good Success were approved by the bishop of Quito then and many bishops since, yet most modern Catholics have not heard of them until now.

Beginning with her message to Mother Marianna in 1610, Our Lady said: “… from the end of the 19th century [until] after the middle of the 20th century … the passions will erupt and there will be a total corruption of customs, for Satan will reign almost completely by means of Masonic sects. They will focus on children … to sustain this general corruption.”

Our Lady warned that all seven sacraments would be attacked, and difficult to obtain. “Seldom will [children] receive … Baptism and Confirmation. As for Penance, [children] will confess only while attending Catholic schools, which the devil will do his utmost to destroy by means of persons in authority.” She said Holy Communion would be profaned, and sacrileges would abound. Extreme Unction [Sacrament of the Sick] would be little esteemed among Catholics, and many would die “without receiving this sustenance for the final journey.” She said “Masonry would enact iniquitous laws [to] do away with the Sacrament of Matrimony, “making it easy for everyone to live in sin, and encouraging procreation of illegitimate children born without the blessing of the Church.”

“The effects of secular education … will [accelerate] the death of priestly and religious vocations,” she said. “The Sacrament of Holy Orders will be ridiculed, oppressed, and despised, for in this sacrament, the Church of God and even God Himself is scorned and despised since He is represented in His priests.”

Then she describes priestly persecution. “The Devil will … persecute [priests] in every possible way; he will labor with cruel and subtle astuteness to deviate them from … their vocation and will corrupt many of them. These depraved priests, who will scandalize the Christian people, will make the hatred of bad Catholics and the enemies of the Roman Catholic Church fall upon all priests. This apparent triumph of Satan will bring enormous suffering to the good Pastors of the Church.” She said the priests left to uphold the Church will be “like firm columns, will remain unswerving, and will confront everything with a spirit of humility …”.

Finally, when evil will seem to have prevailed, she said “this will mark the arrival of my hour, when I in a marvelous way, will dethrone the proud and cursed Satan, trampling him under my feet and fettering him in the infernal abyss. Thus, the Church … will be finally free of his cruel tyranny.”

CHRISTINE VALENTINE-OWSIK is Legatus magazine’s editor.

St. Joseph, our spiritual father

It is a longstanding tradition of the Church to dedicate the month of March in honor of St. Joseph. This makes sense since the Solemnity of St. Joseph is celebrated on March 19. As I prepared to write this article for the March issue, it became evident that my topic should be St. Joseph. Let me explain.

Tom Monaghan

As you may know from past columns, I spent six and half years as a young boy in an orphanage in Jackson, Michigan, and the name of that orphanage was St. Joseph’s Home for Boys. It was run by the Felician sisters, which is an order that came over from Poland in the late 1800s and primarily (or at least initially) ministered to Polish Americans. In keeping with the traditions of Polish Catholics, they had a deep devotion to St. Joseph. For example, St. Joseph’s solemnity, which is the patronal feast day of Poland, was celebrated in a special way at the orphanage. In addition, all the boys in the orphanage took the name Joseph as their confirmation name. So from a very young age, I understood that he was a very important saint, and yet I did not know much about him and never fully appreciated him…until recently.

Just before Christmas, I had dinner with Chris Ice, who is the new president of Ave Maria University, and his wife, Mary. It was a tremendous evening, and I continue to be impressed by both of them. As a Christmas gift, Chris sent me a book that was hot off the press by Fr. Donald H. Calloway, MIC, called Consecration to St. Joseph, The Wonders of Our Spiritual Father. As the title implies, it contains a 33-day consecration to St. Joseph, which I promptly began after the first of the year and just recently completed on February 3 shortly before writing this column.

Soon after starting this book and consecration, I was struck by the power and importance of this amazing saint, who I had always wanted to know more about. In addition to the day-by-day consecration prayers and readings, this book is an amazing summary of the Church’s teachings on St. Joseph; from what many of the great Saints have said about him to the teachings of popes throughout the ages. Among his many titles, St. Joseph is hailed as the Patron Saint of the Universal Church and of Workers! I thought, this is perfect for Legates and for the month of March. I cannot begin to do justice to this book by Fr. Calloway, so I simply encourage you to read it. It is a great book for Lent or anytime for that matter. St. Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church…Pray for us!

TOM MONAGHAN is Legatus’ founder, chairman and CEO.

Business travel: pilgrimage or occasion of sin?

“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Eph 6:11)

The ordinary experience of a Catholic business traveler provides opportunities for both spiritual growth and evangelization. It also can be a time where we might be tempted to sin and compromise our commitment to virtue. As someone who travels constantly for business, I thought I would pass on some of my habits formed to make these trips into mini-pilgrimages.

Begin the trip well

  • Pray the rosary while waiting to board the flight.
  • Make the sign of the cross and pray the rosary again upon takeoff.
  • Make the sign of the cross and offer a blessing before eating any in-flight food.
  • Make another sign of the cross upon landing.

While these slightly conspicuous Catholic practices might attract looks, they also frequently create an opening for dialogue with other faithful or those searching for spiritual comfort.

Take a stand at check-in

  • Request in advance that there be no alcohol in the minibar. Stop patronizing hotels that demand an exorbitant fee for alcohol removal.
  • Insist that “adult” cable channels be disabled or that the cable be completely disconnected.
  • Ask for the location of the nearest Catholic church and its weekday Mass schedule.

Alcohol and pornography can be sources of temptation. They also are at the foundation of much human sex trafficking, and business travelers form a prominent client base. Be part of the countermovement by taking a stand.

Sanctify the room

  • Travel with a vial of holy water and bless the hotel room immediately.
  • Place a small crucifix and blessed saints’ medals on the desk and next to the bed.
  • Carry spiritually nourishing material, such as the Legatus Timeless Prayers for Busy People.
  • Free hotel wifi is overwhelmingly used for pornography, and Catholics are not immune from this temptation. My work computer prevents me from using hotel networks. Sticking to business electronic devices is a good strategy. If using personal devices, software such as Covenant Eyes can offer protection.

As there are no eyes on you in your hotel room, invite God’s eyes and spiritual protection into that space.

Begin pilgrimage upon waking

  • If possible, get up early, pray, and exercise.
  • Visit that Catholic church identified at check-in — if not for Mass or Confession, then at least to offer an oration.
  • Be on high alert about business entertaining. I frequently make excuses to drink nothing at all or have at most one or two glasses of wine.
  • Speak openly about your Catholic faith and other wholesome subjects such as family and books. Never join in any vulgarity.
  • Get back to the hotel early and call home. These are trusted best practices, but we must be equally committed to keeping our business guests and colleagues spiritually safe too.

Return home with spiritual impact

  • Drop a note to the hotel management requesting pornography blockers on the hotel wifi. (Let’s start a movement!)
  • Thank hotel management for any signage in the hotel alerting guests to signs of human trafficking.
  • Drive like a Christian.
  • Use the constant irritations and stresses of travel to imitate Christ. Forgiveness is the antidote to stress.
  • Consume no alcohol on the flight home. Look forward to a glass of wine with your spouse instead. The armor of God is effective. Use it and stay safe!

JONATHAN TERRELL is the president of the Washington, D.C., Chapter. He is founder and president of KCIC, a Washington-based consulting firm that helps companies manage their product liabilities.

God desires ‘renovation’ in each person

In the parish where I am blessed to serve, we are undertaking a transformation of our church sanctuary. On January 7, 2019, workers “invaded” the church and immediately began the process of transformation. Within hours, demolition began on the floor and the seating. A massive wall was torn down. The altar was moved out of the sanctuary and into a temporary location so we can continue celebrating Mass during the time of construction in our church-proper. The tabernacle was relocated into a chapel where we have perpetual Exposition, so workers would be able to do their job without constantly having to pause, genuflect, and acknowledge the Lord’s Presence. Finally, a wall was erected that virtually encloses the entire sanctuary, to ensure the safety of the project. The wall is painted, but it’s unsightly to say the least. 

I share this because our sanctuary renovation has been a powerful visual for me of the “renovation” that God desires to do in us personally. One of our deacons preached about this visual the first Sunday after demolition began, making a comparison between what the builders are doing in our sanctuary and what God desires to do in us. Deacon Steve shared that when we first considered our sanctuary, we thought it could simply be “tweaked,” with minor alterations and adjustments here and there, and all would be well. As we looked more carefully, though, we realized this project (as with all building projects!) was going to be a bit more involved. He went on to say that’s exactly how it is with the work God desires to do in us. I don’t need minor tweaks; I need a major renovation. While I was hoping God would be content with the equivalent of some new paint and some minor alterations, in reality He’s looking to knock down walls and build new wings. He wants to make of me, and of you, a fit dwelling place for Him to live. He wants me to be a sanctuary. “Jesus came,” he said, “to transform us from creatures of God to sons and daughters of God.

This “renovation project” is a way to think about the purpose of Lent, at least the first few weeks of Lent. In these wondrous days, as we prepare for the celebration of the wondrous events of our redemption by Jesus’ Passion, death, and Resurrection, the Lord invites us to let Him “go to work” in and on us. He is the Master Builder, the Grand Architect, and He offers abundant grace in these days to cooperate with His Spirit. He wants to conform us more into the image of Jesus. He wants to do this so that we experience the fullness of life only He can give, and so we will then be eager to go out and tell others of the One who is the only answer for all that ails the world in which we live. St. Francis heard the Lord say to him shortly after his conversion, “Francis, go and rebuild My Church, which, as you can see, is in ruins.” We have clearly and painfully seen in the past few months that His Church is in desperate need again. You and I — and not just the cardinals and bishops — are “the living stones” in His Church, and I for one know how many repairs are urgently needed in my own heart and mind. Let us pray for each other, and the whole Church, that in these days of Lent the Lord will fashion of us something truly beautiful, so that those who do not yet know the One who is Beautiful beyond words might come to know Him and the life only He can give.

FR. JOHN RICCARDO is a priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit. He was ordained in 1996 and currently serves as pastor of Our Lady of Good Counsel in Plymouth, MI. He is passionate about the new evangelization and offering others a life-changing encounter with Jesus.

Returning the call of Christ

 No matter one’s faith, stature, professional prowess, or any other advantage, he’ll face — without exception — searing junctures for grappling with heartbreak and uncertainty. Life is chock full of them, with no roadmaps for bypassing.

Christine Valentine-Owsik

Some years ago, after an exhausting 15-year run with a succession of profitable clients, I was jarred by a 5:30 a.m. call the day after Christmas, with Dad telling me Mom had just died. We were supposed to see them for dinner that night. Why hadn’t I sensed she was as sick as she was? Many chronic health problems along with latent cancer did her in at 65, and yet I blindly assumed she’d recover. I was in shock for months, tasting despair at its worst. My business faded into meaninglessness. Daydreaming, crying, and sleeping became the norm. I was petrified and powerless as I drifted from my own life.

I realized I needed to reorient for the good of my husband and children. The hidden toxins of relentless stress, deadlines, long days, and client commitments had eaten away at life’s margin for relaxation, downtime, and an awareness- barometer for what else was going on. Nice retainers didn’t compensate for what was traded off. My cardiac test told the tale — too-high-levels of C-reactive protein. In layman’s terms, the doc said, “Lower the stress in your life and get some healthy balance, or else.”

And it was January — the month I’ll forever associate with starting over, but without a clue on how. Dad was a new widower, and we became his weekend helpers, mediators, repair crew, and advisors. My husband picked up lots of slack — cooking, doing laundry, grocery shopping, shuttling the kids to music and sports practices, treating me like I was fine.

One snowy afternoon I went to my favorite place in town, Our Lady of Czestochowa Shrine on Beacon Hill, and sat dazed before the Blessed Sacrament. The heaters hissed in the empty chapel as my thoughts smeared in all directions. Hours of tears streamed to the floor. What did God want from me? Why did I feel so hoodwinked?

Then the wise words of my mother echoed again in the memory-chamber of my heart: Why don’t you consider using your talents for Christ? I had dismissed her suggestion as ridiculous countless times over the years, laughing, saying only desperados did that churchy stuff. They had blue hair and carried rosaries and holy cards everywhere. We were sophisticated communications pros who dressed well, had great parties, and traveled. What would I possibly do for the Church?

I soon found out.

As I was cleaning my office one afternoon — having not spent a day in it in weeks — the phone rang with a message from a new Catholic publisher. They’d been referred to me and needed some marketing help. Would I consider talking with them?

I returned the call. I re-embraced my life and purpose that day, affirmed by The Great CEO.

CHRISTINE VALENTINE-OWSIK  is Legatus magazine’s Editor.

Christ’s gift of purity at Christmas

In these days of turmoil within the Roman Catholic Church – on whether longtime doctrine should stand, or priests should remain celibate, or obedience should extend to certain apostate shepherds, or select traditions should be “relaxed” or set aside – there’s a simple but often overlooked reality in the Holy Family.

Christine Valentine-Owsik

“When the Son of God came into the world on Christmas night, He surrounded His Incarnation with the aura of chastity,” the late Fr. John Hardon stated. “His mother, He made sure, would miraculously conceive Him without carnal intercourse. She would be a virgin before birth, in birth, and after birth.” He made sure He was brought up in the virginal family of Mary and Joseph. St. Joseph, Christ’s foster father, was legitimately wed to Mary, yet remained her “most chaste spouse” throughout their marriage. We even recite those words in the Litany to St. Joseph.

Christ was a virgin during His stay on earth, and He never married. During His public life, He showed special affection for pure souls, especially John the Baptist and John the Evangelist, “the beloved Apostle.”

Huh? What a square notion in today’s sexually corrupt culture. I’ve heard ‘progressive’ priests and deacons try to mitigate truths on the Holy Family and others in the Gospels and Scriptures, in homilies and parish classes, as if they were embarrassed by them. That stirs confusion and weakens faith for sure.

Church history shows there is a clear connection between upholding the traditional states of virginity and celibacy among priests, and purity of doctrine. Priests, bishops, cardinals, and popes are our ‘teaching doctors’ of the Church. If they violate the vows of their vocation, flaunt decadence, or spread disavowing opinions, they in essence become unclean in their doctrine and lose holy credibility before us all.

Surprisingly in the 16th century, it was the great unwillingness of so many priests to remain celibate that tilted the pressure in favor of Protestantism – the mortal split from Catholicism that divided the flock. Though there were other issues as well that splintered Catholic unity, the central issue was really priestly celibacy.

And what value is there in Catholic priests remaining celibate?

If a priest is to be like Christ – in persona Christi
if he is to realistically represent the Savior, be an authentic teacher to the people, administer sacraments and counsel in Confession, and offer pure sacrifice at Mass, isn’t it fitting that he, like his Master, should remain virtuously aligned with God – in and out of season? Celibacy isn’t a ‘choice’ or something a priest simply endures. It is a gift from God – a charism – for men called to Holy Orders, in perfect imitation of the life and ministry of Christ.

Christ Himself endorsed priestly celibacy, saying that there are “…those who make themselves eunuchs for the sake of the Kingdom,” and He added that “not everyone can accept this teaching, but only those to whom it is given” (Mt 19:12).

Celibacy is a great gift to Christ’s chosen priests, one worth preserving for the High Priest and His kingdom.

CHRISTINE VALENTINE-OWSIK  is Legatus magazine’s Editor.

Fitting in vs. hanging in

We Catholics often underestimate the rewards of faithful perseverance.

As in days of old – going back to Old Testament times – God’s chosen people, the Israelites, got tired of being set apart for Him, and demanded that their prophet and judge, Samuel, give them an earthly king (1 Sam 8). “We want to be as other nations,” they raged at Samuel. They longed to enjoy the tantalizations rumored from afar, and taste the comforts, honors, and wealth of neighboring pagan nations – military might, prestige, glory, opulence, and unrestricted carnality. They were late to the party, but could still make it. In reality, Israel had what wealth couldn’t buy – the Ark of the Covenant with God’s law and Presence ever with them, and commensurate protection.

But they preferred earthly kingship to God’s.

I once worked for a major Catholic company exec who said, “We Catholics want to be cool, too, you know” while we were planning a promotional campaign for a new product. He was ready to boogie with Kool and the Gang, and buy in to edgy persuasions to get noticed. It would prove a marketing nightmare and mockery of the company image. I wondered what had gotten to him. What society deems “cool” versus what Catholicism teaches as “worthy” are usually mutually exclusive. But he was serious. The rest of us: overruled.

The product? Failed, at ridiculous cost. Mr. Cool? Still there … go figure.

If philanthropy works to promote the welfare of others, usually by monetary contribution and largesse, even more should Catholics extend spiritual altruism through prayer, sacrifice, and exemplary demeanor. Because without God leading a charge, the Red Sea will inevitably close in.

In late September as bizarre new accusations erupted upon Judge Brett Kavanaugh, his family, and legacy – despite his prevailing in earlier confirmation hearings – Legatus magazine had just gone to press with a profile on him as a Catholic. Each hour’s breaking news was like a sickening psycho film without a predictable ending. Staffers were asking “should we still run the story?” Each time, the same conclusion emerged: he hadn’t been proven guilty of anything. Were we going to abandon him without cause? As rumors gave birth to more shocking ones – a real-life horror flick – it got harder to stay in the theatre.

Final Senate vote was scheduled for Saturday, October 6. The date was gnawing at me. The next day, October 7, would be the Feast of Our Lady of Victory, commemorating the meager Christian army’s prevailing over Muslim myriads at the Mediterranean Battle of Lepanto in 1571 – a miracle-triumph attributed to their rosaries.

A friend in Washington, D.C. told me Kavanaugh was spotted praying in his parish church on that Saturday. October 6 was also the culmination of America’s 54-day coast-to-coast rosary novena.

Amid coven-like protestors screaming in the Senate hall that afternoon, the fifth Catholic Supreme Court justice was voted in, 50-48, on a First Saturday, on the eve of the worldwide Feast of the Holy Rosary –which would be prayed across 57 countries. There’s simply no match for heaven’s intervention.

CHRISTINE VALENTINE-OWSIK  is Legatus magazine’s Editor.

Priests – necessary for life

Despite faults, sins, and scandals, problems of perseverance, and crises that have afflicted the priesthood over 2,000 years, the Catholic Church would have no life without Her faithful priests. We cannot lose sight of the beauty and graces that come through our priests, not to mention their irreplaceable support and loyalty when we need them so.

Beginning with His apostles, Christ instituted the priesthood for three reasons: so that His Presence through the Holy Eucharist would be continually accessible to us; and for the sacraments of forgiveness – Confession, and final cleansing and preparation for eternity – Anointing of the Sick. Only Catholic priests can confer those three sacraments in particular, no one else

Many today forget the value of the Anointing of the Sick. But it enables forgiveness of serious sin when a person cannot make a final Confession, and can spare him eternal punishment. It’s critical that a gravely ill Catholic have access to it – his spiritual wellbeing should be prioritized to the end.

Catholic priests are our palpable connection to heaven. Through offering the Mass, bringing
us the essential sacraments, and authoritative counsel and guidance, they are our lifeline to God.

At so many critical junctures in my life – from childhood to middle age – I can point to life- changing priests who kept me on track with God’s presence and will. At my First Holy Communion in 1969, the celestial hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy” thundered on the pipe organ as our second-grade class processed forward and knelt along the Communion rail of St. Bernard’s Catholic Church in Rockville, CT. Boys were in gelled crew cuts, white suits, and dress shoes, and girls in miniature ‘wedding dresses’ and veils, long pipe curls, white patent Mary Janes, and elbow-length white gloves – awaiting our eternal Bridegroom, Jesus Christ. Our pastor stopped slowly before each child, flanked by two solemn altar boys in a fog of incense, and suspended the Blessed Host before placing it on our tongue. I had never heard the glorious hymn before, and associated it since with that heavenly day. I later learned the organ, and playing that hymn still brings tears.

In high school, I remember asking our priest questions in Confession I wouldn’t broach in religion class. His authority and inspiration on Catholic teaching, along with his approachability, set me on my way with explanations that were clarifying and calming. He helped me navigate a tumultuous time as a teen and young adult. I’ll never forget him.

When caring for my dad in his final years, I called our parish priest in a panic early one morning as my father was being put on a respirator, in a medically induced coma, and the intensive-care team hurried me on making life-or-death decisions for him. Our priest explained what I could and couldn’t agree to, and as soon as dad was awake, gave him the Anointing. A devout Catholic, dad recognized the rite and prayed each prayer in tandem with him, as medical staff surrounded his bed and joined in.

Let us pray for and support always our faithful priests. As Catholics, we owe them our very lives.

CHRISTINE VALENTINE-OWSIK  is Legatus magazine’s Editor.