26 Feb

And the Oscar goes to...

As you watch the Oscars this weekend, keep in mind Hollywood's Catholic roots:

Academy Award
  • Alfred Hitchcock was born Catholic, invoked Catholic themes in many of his movies (I Confess, Vertigo, and more), and towards the end of his life had a priest come to his home every Saturday for Confession and Mass.
  • John Wayne called himself a “cardiac Catholic.” He raised his children from his first marriage Catholic and, two days before his death, summoned a priest to his bedside to be baptized and received into the Catholic Church. His grandson became a Catholic priest.
  • Gary Cooper befriended his Catholic wife's parish priest, whom he called "Father Tough Stuff," and converted to Catholicism, saying, “I know that what is happening is God's will. I am not afraid of the future.”
  • Bob Newhart, a Chicagoan, attended Loyola University, raised his four children Catholic, put them all through Catholic schools, and is active in his parish in Beverly Hills. His faith influenced his comedic career, which included The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart, The Bob Newhart Show, and Newhart, which was declared by TV Guide to have the best series finale of the twentieth century.
  • The director John Ford, who won Best Director for four films, including The Grapes of Wrath, was Catholic and inserted Catholic notions of grace and redemption throughout his pictures. He received a Catholic funeral Mass at Blessed Sacrament Church in Hollywood.
  • Bob Hope was generous not only to the United States government, giving shows to American soldiers during wartime, but also to the Catholic Church, giving large-scale gifts to various parishes and religious orders. Hope converted to Catholicism a few years before he died in 2003.

I could go on, but I'll stop there. Now, back to your viewing...

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19 Feb

Good Things Happen to Bad People

Why do good things happen to bad people? Perhaps the story of Jacob from the Old Testament (cf. Gen 27-35) can give us some insights. Jacob was, to put it simply, a bad guy. He deliberately tricked his father Isaac into giving him the inheritance, when it was intended for the older son Esau. (Isaac, by the way, was also a pretty mediocre figure.) Jacob bartered for his wife, had concubines, stole from his father-in-law, fought again with his righteous brother, and had sons who were likewise murderers and liars (you know the story with Joseph and the coat.) Jacob even had a wrestling match with God—literally! And what happens to this miscreant? Not only does he not receive punishment or misfortune, he gains prominence! Jacob will become one of the forefathers of Israel. In fact, the name Israel is derived from Jacob (cf. Is 45:12). It means ‘one who does battle with God.’ God will even deign to refer to himself as The God of Jacob (cf. Matt 22:32).

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12 Feb

A Fish Tale

Old Man and the SeaErnest Hemingway converted to Catholicism, attended Sunday Mass, visited shrines, and arranged for a priest to conduct prayers at his graveside. Yet people still see him as irreligious, if not an atheist. When I read The Old Man and the Sea, which was published in 1952 and for which Hemingway won the Nobel Prize, I indeed see a Catholic.

The story is simple (spoiler alert!). The old man finally snags a gigantic marlin. He reels in the 18-foot fish after five exhausting days only to have it eaten away by sharks. When he returns to shore, there is merely a skeleton tied to his boat.

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05 Feb

Christ in "Hell"

Christ descends into HellThere's a saying that Christ's mysteries are our mysteries. It's based off the theological principle that the realities of Christ's life are enduring. In other words, the Resurrection didn't just happen two thousand years ago and now it's over. The Resurrection is ongoing. Jesus continues to rise; the world continues to be renewed. Likewise, Jesus continues to suffer and be crucified; our sufferings add to Jesus's for the continual redemption of the world.

Well, if that's true, then it means Christ continues to descend into hell. That's right, Jesus descended into hell on Holy Saturday. We say this in the Apostle's Creed: “he descended into Hell, on the third day he rose again from the dead...”

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