Return of the Prodigal Son by Pompeo Batoni - 1773

Evolution for the Catholic Student

Order 'Evolution for the Catholic Student' - Click on the image above

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Lenten Retreat

Lenten Retreat

Due to an overwhelming schedule and the need for personal discernment this Lent, I will not be able to maintain this blog until after Easter.  Have a blessed Lent and a glorious Easter!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Link - Ten Tips for a Holy Lent

Link – Ten Tips for a Holy Lent

The link below is to an article by Father Ed Broom, a holy priest of the Oblates of the Blessed Virgin Mary, with ten ways to have a fruitful Lent.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Our Lenten Discipline

Our Lenten Discipline

Image from

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent.  Lent, of course, is a wonderful time of spiritual opportunity that the Church gifts us with.  One of the beautiful things about Lent is its duration: 40 days.

Of course the 40 days is based on Jesus’s 40 days of fasting and prayer in the desert, after which He was tempted by the devil.  During this 40-day period we are called to face our own temptations and weaknesses.  The beautiful thing about 40 days, is that it is the perfect amount of time to develop a habit, or to break one.

As we pray about what to offer God this Lent, I suggest the first thing we need to do is examine ourselves and ask the question, “What habit do I need to develop, or to break, that can bring me closer to God?”  The answer to that question will guide us in discerning a powerful Lenten discipline.

By focusing for 40 days on this discipline, we should find ourselves a better person on Easter than we were on Ash Wednesday.  It is good to give up something that we know we will return to after Lent, simply as an offering to God, but we should also do something that will make a lasting impact on us spiritually.

Do I lack discipline in my eating habits?  Can my stomach become my god, as Scripture says?  Then perhaps my discipline should be dietary, and include fasting.  If I am faithful to it, by Easter I should have much more self-mastery (and be healthier, too).

 Have I struggled to find time to pray?  The maybe my discipline should be focused on prayer this Lent.  If I am faithful to a Lenten prayer regimen, then by Easter I should be a man with the habit of daily prayer, a habit that should naturally continue long after Lent is over.

Do I lack generosity, or am I anxious about financial matters?  Then perhaps my discipline should center on almsgiving.  If I am faithful to it, but Easter I should be a man less attached to material wealth, and better able to trust in God for my temporal needs.

This Lent, may we prayerfully consider what we will offer God.  Consider what your habits are today, and what you would like them to be in 40 days.  Then this Lent will truly be the gift that God means it to be.

Monday, March 3, 2014

'Son of God' Movie Review

Son of God Movie Review

One of the hardest things to do is make a movie about the life of Jesus.  It’s true that you don’t have to make up the story, but you have to somehow do justice to the greatest story ever told.  You also have to take a life in which every breath touches the depths of both time and eternity, and encapsulate it into a watchable time frame.  It’s no easy task, I’m sure.

Son of God opened in theaters this weekend.  The film is structured as a narrative told by St. John at the end of his life, as he’s in exile.  It begins with the words, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  It then quickly moves through some of the early events of salvation history, from Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and even the birth of Jesus.  The story then takes its narrative form with the beginning of His public life.

One of the things I liked about the film is that it really brought out how controversial a figure Jesus was.  An encounter with Him demands a choice.  Often, society turns Jesus into a cuddly teddy bear, but as Professor Peter Kreeft likes to remind us, “Aslan is not a tame lion.”  Jesus should shock us.  How could an encounter with God do any less?  I do think a glaring omission was perhaps the most shocking and controversial thing Jesus ever said: “Unless you eat my Flesh and drink my Blood, you have no life in you.”

However, though this production was basically put together by Protestants, there is not much a Catholic would complain about.  The film clearly portrayed Peter as the head of the Apostles, and the rock on which Christ built His Church.  It also did a good job in its treatment of Mary.  The Last Supper was handled with care – we might find some things lacking, but the filmmakers did a good job of making it amenable to both Catholics and Protestants (and the Orthodox, of course).

That being said, for someone with a deep love of Scripture, some of the license that was taken may be a little annoying.  I know it was usually done with an eye on including as much as possible into two-and-a-quarter hours, but each word and gesture of Jesus has such meaning that at times certain things were lost.  There are also minor historical errors (such as Pilate telling Caiaphas to go ahead and execute Jesus, even though in reality Jews had no authority to do so) that only nitpicking lunatics like myself will probably even notice, and some license taken with lesser-known characters like Pontius Pilate and Nicodemus.

The only other concern I have is one scene in which Pilate’s wife Claudia is a bit immodest.  It’s not major, but could have easily been fixed.  Another thing to be careful of, especially if you come with children, is that the previews before the film are not necessarily chosen with them in mind.  I found one quite inappropriate.

I brought my seven year-old son to the movie in the hopes of giving him a visual framework for the story, as well as some help in meditating when praying the Rosary.  Overall, it was fine for him, though there were some parts that were violent, both during the Passion and at other times, that parents may want to be cautioned about.  The Passion scenes were obviously heavily influenced by Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, but Son of God does a good job of showing the suffering of Christ more than most films while still being within the limits many kids can handle.

One of the best qualities of Son of God is that it is an extremely watchable film that covers the whole life of Jesus while remaining the length of a typical film.  That makes it very accessible.  People who want to watch it to meditate on the essence of the Story will probably not be disappointed.