Revere the Saints, Or You Will End Up Revering Zucchini and Rice Pudding

Recently at The Coming Home Network, we’ve been tackling the question of how the liturgical calendar has impacted the lives of Catholic converts.  And reverts too.  Really, anyone who’s gained from the Church’s wisdom of scheduling feast days and seasons that cover pretty much the entire calendar year.  I’m planning to link later to some feedback from our members on the subject, so stay tuned.

I know for me personally, once I discovered there were more feasts on the calendar than just St Patrick’s Day, I started looking literally every morning to see which saint, or groups of saints, were designated for that date, and resolving to know more about them. Getting into feasts and seasons was one of the most tangible ways for me to learn the ropes of living like a Catholic. I thoroughly enjoyed researching how different saints and feasts were celebrated historically and in different cultures, and even if it was as simple as just saying “St. So-And-So, pray for us” at mealtime that day, it was a major upgrade to my daily prayer life.

I think for me too, the liturgical calendar satisfied a very human need to attach spiritual meaning to the natural change of seasons, as well as an opportunity to take each day as its own separate and distinct spiritual adventure.

And I don’t think I’m the only person who feels this way about wanting to make each day have its own individual personality- why else would we see so many dumb pseudo-holidays springing up on social media over the past few years?  Every day on Twitter, it seems another one is trending- I mean, for crying out loud, today is #NationalRicePuddingDay, yesterday was #InternationalCatDay, and we also just came off of – no joke – #SneakSomeZucchiniOntoYourNeighborsPorchDay.  The world is starved for the liturgical calendar.

So plug into the Church calendar.  Grab one from that table at the back of your parish, or look online at any one of the gazillion sites that tracks that sort of thing.  Revere the saints.  Or you will end up revering zucchini and rice pudding.  And that is not what I would call feasting.

Zucchini image credit: Pixabay. I drew the halos on myself.

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Nerdy Catholic Tees – My Latest Clandestine Venture

I know I’m by far the least active Conspirator here- or am I?  If you knew what I was doing all the time, how good of a Conspirator would I be, really?  I let people like Larry D do all that up front stuff while I’m lurking in the background, always connecting dots…

That being said, I figured I’d call your attention to a new venture of mine, a partnership with my pal Seth Paine (also of The Coming Home Network).  It’s a creative outlet where we make t-shirts with Catholic stuff on them, and then check sales reports to see if anyone went for it.  It’s nerdy, and its’ Catholic, and it involves tees, hence the name: Nerdy Catholic Tees.

So far, designs have included some old images from vintage Catholic books, a couple plays on the “Keep Calm” theme, and, since Seth is a major DC Comics fan, a couple of shirts with nods in that direction as well.  Plus, some of the images have some pretty cool history- such as our Sacred Heart shirt, modeled off an emblem worn by the Vendee uprising, a Catholic loyalist rebellion that stood up to the violent “humanism” of the French Revolution.

In any case, head over to Nerdy Catholic Tees and check out some of the designs- we have men’s, women’s, boys and girls sizes and fits available.  Plus proceeds from one of them, our “Eucharistic Adoration: Praise and Worship for Introverts” shirt, go to support the Friends of Little Portion Hermitage.  Because really, what says “Catholic introvert” more than being a hermit?

Also, you need some new shirts.  Seriously, look in your drawers.  You don’t even listen to some of those bands anymore.

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Bracketology 2017: Magisterial Fidelity Edition

“An atheist is a guy who watches a Notre Dame-SMU football game and doesn’t care who wins.” -Dwight D. Eisenhower

For the past decade or so, I’ve been posting online my annual NCAA bracket picks, which I decide upon based on religious criteria.  The sites on which I’ve done so have pretty much all gone defunct over the years, so I’m hoping that posting here won’t signal the death of The Fairyland Business Journal.

As in previous years, here are the loose criteria:

1. In games between religious schools and nonreligious schools, the religious school is picked.

2. In games between Christian schools and schools with other religious affiliations, the Christian school is picked.

3. In games between Catholic schools and protestant schools, the Catholic school is picked.

4. In games between Catholic schools, the one with the highest degree of fidelity to the Magisterium is picked.

5. Criteria 1-4 may be abandoned if a secular school boasts notable alumni, has personal significance to the author, or has some set of arbitrary qualities that apply to matters of religion.

Of course, when it comes down to it, I usually follow these criteria about as closely as some of these schools follow the Magisterium, so there’s that. Here are just a few of my predictions for some of the key matchups:

EAST ROUND 1: SMU vs. Providence

So Southern Methodist University is back in the tournament after being banned for NCAA violations?  Providence is the home of a number of solid Dominicans, who are historically known for being able to spot a cheater (cough, cough, INQUISITION).  And while in the Inquisition, it was the secular authorities who meted out the harshest punishments while the religious authorities mostly judged guilt or innocence, the thumping that the Friars will give the Mustangs on the court will make them long for the mercy of the NCAA rules committee.

WEST ROUND 1: Notre Dame vs. Princeton

Easy, Mr. Vice President! It’s just a blog post…

In the past, Notre Dame’s picks of commencement speakers have determined where they fall in my bracket.  This year, they’ve picked fallen-away Catholic Vice President Mike Pence.  Put that against Princeton, whose perennial Catholic intellectual powerhouse Prof. Robert George has had more than a few things to say about the moral veracity of the various positions and personalities of the administration of which Pence is a part, I’m going with Princeton here.  Pence, you’re not a bad person, your formation is just incomplete.  And if there’s one thing that’ll do you in on the hardwood, it’s lack of fundamentals.

SOUTH ROUND 2: Dayton vs Northern Kentucky

This is a tough one, as yours truly has taken a few classes at Dayton, and have been to its impressive Marian library, which boasts the largest collection of its kind outside of the Vatican.  Meanwhile, the NKU alumnus who founded their student pro-life group married a Habsbourg and is now a princess of some kind in Belgium, perpetuating their Catholic monarchical line so that it can come back into power once Europe collapses under the weight of its own religious confusion.  NKU wins!

EAST ROUND 2: Duke vs Marquette

Many’s the battle for Catholic identity that’s been waged on the campus of Marquette- from “bathroom law” controversies, to the censure of a professor for defending traditional marriage.  Meanwhile, a quick glance at Duke Divinity’s course offerings shows a class on “Italy in the Life of the Church.”  Sorry, Golden Eagles.

WEST ROUND 2: Xavier vs. Florida State

Visit FSU’s Catholic campus ministry, and you’ll find plenty of men and women religious sporting habits.  Visit Xavier’s theology department, and you’ll find a Jesuit or two sporting the Tommy Bahama Spring collection.  ‘Noles chop their way through the Musketeers.

EAST ROUND 3: Duke vs Providence

Providence’s mascot is a Dominican Friar.  Duke’s mascot is literally The Devil.  I think we know where this one is going. Providence, and it’s not even a close one.

WEST ROUND 3: Gonzaga vs. Princeton

Pic of Bishop Barres dunking courtesy of Long Island’s Newsday.

In previous years, Gonzaga has ridden pretty high in my brackets because of its connection to the great Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J.  However, it recently came to my attention that the recently appointed Bishop of Rockville Centre, John Barres, was actually a point guard for Princeton’s JV team during his college years.  His Tigers come out on top in this one.  (To see Bishop Barres’ recent appearance on The Journey Home, click here.)

WEST ROUND 3: Florida State vs. St. Mary

In watching Florida State the other day, I was struck by two things: one, that one of their top scorers is named Dwayne Bacon.  I can’t vote against bacon, even if they play this game on a Friday in Lent.  Also, they have a center whose first name is, no joke, Christ. Christ Koumadje.  I think he pronounces it differently, but seriously, Christ is the center?  Gotta go with Florida State here.

SOUTH ROUND 4: Seton Hall vs. Northern Kentucky

I love Northern Kentucky.  They’re spunky, and a great upstart pick for this bracket.  But for some reason, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton has been following me around a lot lately.  I feel like I have a thousand connections to her- not the least of which is that we’ve adopted her as one of our unofficial patrons of women converts at The Coming Home Network.  I’m picking her Pirates to win.

EAST ROUND 4: Providence vs. Villanova

Dominicans vs. Augustinians?  The Dominicans gave us St. Thomas Aquinas.  The Augustinians gave us Martin Luther.  No repeat for ‘Nova this time around.

WEST ROUND 4: Princeton vs. Florida State

Here’s where this one gets tough- I know that Catholic News Agency’s Adelaide Mena, a Princeton alum and die-hard fan, and EWTN Pro-Life Weekly host Catherine Szeltner, a FSU alum and die-hard fan, work out of the same DC offices just up the road from me, and I’m not interested in the kind of conversation that would make me decide who I prefer to make angry here.  So I flipped a coin, and Princeton won.


Providence vs. Princeton

Princeton has some Thomists on staff.  But Providence has more.  So Providence goes to the championship.

Seton Hall vs Creighton

This is the first we’ve spoken of Creighton so far in this post.  They’ve been in the Midwest region, and there haven’t been many battles of religious importance there.  As a matter of fact, Seton is the first historically religious school I have Creighton meeting in my bracket.  I’m giving this to Creighton, mostly because they’ve developed a lot of credibility beating all those secular programs to get here.

CHAMPIONSHIP: Creighton vs. Providence

Another tough one here.  The Jesuit-affiliated Creighton, or the Dominican-affiliated Providence?  When all is said and done, it comes down to this: when the going gets tough in life, when the chips are down, when there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel, do you say to yourself, “I rely on Creighton?” No, you rely on Providence.  That’s all you’ve got.  Congratulations, Friars!


Got your own picks, or care to take issue with any of mine?  Comments are open!

****UPDATE: The Providence Friars were eliminated on Wednesday night by the USC Trojans in a First Four play-in game.  My bracket was busted this year before the field of 64 even began play.  I do not recommend putting money on my method.

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The Presidential Debate You’ve Been Waiting For…

…is here!



No interruptions!  No artful dodges!  No expected references to “bad hombres” or “that Mexican thing!”  No alliteration practiced a hundred times in front of a mirror! (say it five times fast- “Trumped-up Trickle Down…”)

This TUESDAY, OCTOBER 25 at 8PM Eastern, Yours Truly will be moderating a debate between two Catholic gentlemen who are running for President of the United States of America.  You could write them in, but you may find them on your ballots, depending upon where you live.

Mike Maturen (American Solidarity Party) and Joe Schriner (Independent) will be joining me for a series of questions related to everything from national security to the economy to education to the common good- and you’re invited to watch along, and even add your questions.

The event will be broadcast LIVE via my YouTube channel:, so be watching at 8PM Eastern on Tuesday, October 25, and spread the word!

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When Captain America Communicates Everything You Feel About Politics And Theology Right Now In A Single Quote


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Two Voices, One Stage, All The Important Issues- Tonight is Appointment Television, and Here’s Why:

screen-shot-2016-09-26-at-11-52-30-amOF COURSE, I’m referring to tonight’s encore episode of The Journey Home with Marcus Grodi and his guest, former America’s Next Top Model contestant Leah Darrow.  Where else on the dial will you hear two people admitting they were wrong about the way they used to view the world, who will let each other finish sentences, who will ask- and answer- questions without the use of scripts, who will look genuinely happy to be in one another’s company?

If you’ve never joined us for a live tweet of The Journey Home, it’s loads of fun- just share your reactions to the episode as they occur to you, and use the tag #JHprogram.   The show starts at 8PM Eastern on EWTN, and you can stream it as-it-happens online at

OR you could watch truth be mangled, manipulated and maligned on a presidential debate stage while you weep for the soul of your nation and ask God how much longer he’s going to restrain his wrath.  But I’ll leave that up to you, the discerning consumer!

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Five Ways To Avoid Talking to your Protestant Friends About Mary


Over at The Coming Home Network this week, I’ve written a post about five Catholic devotional titles for the Virgin Mary that protestants can safely use, because they apply to beliefs about Mary that pretty much all Christians can affirm. For example:

Seat of Wisdom

Some concepts get confused because they are taken too literally.  In the case of Mary’s recognition as the Seat of Wisdom, it gets confused because it’s not taken literally enough.  In local government, for instance, a “county seat” means an administrative center, where a courthouse containing a repository of official archives are stored.  It is the source and center of civic life.  But even that idea comes from a more literal interpretation of the word “seat,” denoting the place where the administrator of the local government officially “sits.”

In the case of Mary, the icon of her as Seat of Wisdom features-  guess what- the child Jesus on her lap.  Jesus Christ is the true personification of Wisdom, who as a child sat on his mother’s knee just as any child might.  Again, the “seat” in this case receives her importance from the One who is seated upon her.

Read the rest here.

mother-of-god-453514_960_720Here at the Fairyland Business Journal, I’ve decided to make a complementary list that I hope can be similarly helpful when it comes to discussing Mary with your protestant friends.  Only this time around, I’ve decided to list five ways of referring to the Blessed Mother that are pretty much guaranteed to freak out your Evangelical buddies and make them think you’re engaged in some form of idolatry.  Here you go:


If you’re used to talking about Mary’s cooperation with God’s plan in poetic and effusive terms, this is not a big deal.  If you’re of the persuasion that Catholics worship Mary, this title sounds like a dead giveaway that Papists revere Jesus’ Mom as some sort of She-God
in a four person Trinity.

Here’s the thing.  I work for JonMarc Grodi at The Coming Home Network.  He is the Director; I am merely the Communications Coordinator.  We are coworkers, but he’s the boss.  Mary cooperates in our redemption, yes, but Jesus accomplishes it.  When protestants hear co-, they don’t hear “co-operator with Jesus.” They hear “co-equal with Jesus.”  You know what you mean by referring to Mary as Coredemptrix, but it’s best not to lead with that title in your next ecumenical dialogue.

Queen of Heaven

Catholic Answers has practically made a cottage industry out of explaining this title.  It’s from the Jewish tradition of the Queen Mother, whose son was the sitting King. Because of her relationship to him, she was afforded special respect.  Kinda like Maggie Smith as the Dowager Countess in Downton Abbey.  She doesn’t make the rules, or execute the decisions, but you want to take her opinions into consideration, however salty they might be.  Mary’s like a much holier version of that.

What your protestant friend thinks when they hear “Queen of Heaven” is based on their knowledge of both medieval monarchy and the modern egalitarian concept of marriage.  Again, if you understand the Jewish tradition, this is a perfectly reasonable title for Mary.  If you don’t, you might have the opinion that Catholics see the Blessed Mother as Elizabeth II and Jesus as Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.  And now you know the name of Queen Elizabeth’s husband.  You’re welcome.

Mediatrix of All Graces

Jesus is the source of all graces.  He was born of a woman.  He mediated himself to us through her womb.  Theologically, it’s a pretty simply explained concept.  However, this is another title that just sounds huge.  Say “Mediatrix” out loud and try not to sound ominous.  Matter of fact, just avoid any theological terminology containing the suffix “-trix.”  They were all ruined in the lead-up to the French Revolution.

Immaculate Conception

I know I’m going to take some heat for this, but I think there are a lot of handier and clearer ways to refer to Mary when explaining her to your protestant friends.  The Immaculate Conception isn’t explicitly referred to in Scripture,  even though the description of Mary as “full of grace” at the Annunciation implies way more than her just being a good person in that moment, as any Church Father would tell you.  The average internet-trained fundamentalist will immediately accuse the Church of inventing the concept in 1854, and suddenly your conversation ends up going down a rabbit hole where you’re having to explain sensus fidelium and Papal Infallibility, and the point you meant to make at the beginning about Mary being a pure vessel for the incarnation gets lost in the shuffle.  It’s happened to me before.  Maybe you’ve had better luck than I have in this area, but I’m just warning you from my personal experience.

And finally, unless the protestant you’re talking to has expressed a significant sympathy toward the Catholic understanding of Our Lady, it’s definitely best to be careful about introducing them to…

St. Louis-Marie Grignon de Montfort’s Total Consecration to Jesus Through Mary

Even most Catholics are intimidated by the concept.  Unnecessarily, I might add.  It’s a challenge, but it’s certainly doable.  Nevertheless, there are several reasons that people can be scared off by this devotion.  First, its main proponent is a guy with a really ostentatious French name, which makes it sound complicated right off the bat.  Second, the words “total consecration” are not for the faint of heart.  No one wakes up one morning and on a whim decides they’re going to totally consecrate themselves to something.
Actually, there’s probably a hagiography out there about someone who has, but it’s not common.

Basically, unless they’re on board with a bunch of other theological concepts about Mary, your average protestant is going to think that involving her in this consecration is a distraction.  Of course, if they were to read de Montfort, a great many of their fears would be assuaged.  But if your protestant coworker who attends Bethel Harvest Community Fellowship Chapel of the Redeemer asks you about Mary, and you just hand them this book, you may not get a very positive reaction.


Of course, with any of the above titles, you never know- sometimes God works in mysterious ways, and Our Lady has been known to break through to hearts in remarkable fashion (Guadalupe, anybody?).  That being said, it’s always good to know your audience, and where their points of hesitation might be before you bash them over the head with some of the more intimidating-at least on the surface- Marian concepts.

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The Feast of the Assumption and Marian Theological Hurdles

statue-1465250_960_720Over at The Coming Home Network this week, our latest weekly community question has to do with the feast that kicks off this week; namely, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, body and soul into heaven.  And if you’re a protestant, you probably just coughed something incredulous and unrepeatable into your elbow.

I get it, really, I do; I always like to share my personal story of visiting the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption on an art appreciation field trip when I was in college, and, smart aleck that I was, remarking that it was an awfully big building to erect based on an assumption.  Bible verses or it didn’t happen.

Of course, years later, the wheels began to turn, and I thought to myself- if Enoch and Elijah were assumed into heaven, couldn’t Jesus’ mom have been, too?  And hey, if Christians were obsessed with keeping the bodily relics of even the martyrs who’d been torn to pieces by wild beasts in the arena, forgetting to keep any bodily remains of the one woman on the planet with biological ties to Jesus was a pretty glaring oversight, don’t you think?

At any rate, all of the Catholic theological stuff about Mary makes perfect sense to me, even if some of the devotional stuff out there- especially the French devotional stuff about her- I find a little off-putting.  But the devotional stuff isn’t necessary for salvation.  The dogmatic stuff is, and on that, I’m all in.

That being said, I invite you to weigh in on the latest CHNetwork community question:

As you began to study Catholicism, what uniquely Catholic teaching about Mary was the first to make sense to you?

I’m sure my fellow Conspirators will have a thought or two- share either in the comments on this post or the one at the link, and I’ll try to include them in the roundup article that comes out this Friday !

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The Massive Event in Washington This Weekend That You Probably Didn’t Know Pope Francis Had Invited You To

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 2.07.40 PMNews about Together 2016 has been circulating in Evangelical circles for some time, but got a bit of play in Catholic media (a VERY little bit of play, that is) when it was announced a few weeks back that Pope Francis would be addressing the event.  He won’t be there, of course; he’s only recorded a video invitation.  More on that in a moment.

July 16, 2016 has been reserved at the National Mall in Washington, DC for  a large ecumenical party, the aim of which is to invite all Christians of good will to push the “reset button” and put Jesus at the center of our mission ahead of politics, personalities, and anything else that might divide us.  Some of the names that will be part of the event: Michael W. Smith, Kirk Franklin, Ravi Zacharias, Josh McDowell, Lecrae, David Crowder, Hillsong United- basically an impressive list of people that you might not know that much about, but who are huge rock stars to your megachurch-going friends.  For you Catholics who own one praise and worship CD, the answer is yes, Matt Maher will be there too.

Obviously, there are challenges to unity, even at an event as general and inclusive as this one.  Questions of authority, of justification, of history, of the meaning of the human person and all those other questions that go back and forth on message boards and Facebook pages will still be in play after the sun sets on Saturday.  This event doesn’t even pretend to try and solve all of that, even if it still holds out hope that something that big might happen.  Catholics are usually a footnote to these sorts of things, if not all but excluded.  The mere fact that an Evangelical gathering would include in its vision of ecumenism an olive branch to us Romish types should be enough for us to acknowledge the gesture warmly.

At any rate, this blogger is going to be in attendance, even credentialed for the event.  I’m hoping that the stated goal of this gathering comes to fruition; that for at least one Saturday in the heart of the most divided city in this nation, a bunch of us who love Jesus can come together and use Him as the starting point for our conversations; that charity will bring clarity, and that we can move toward the unity that Jesus prayed for in the hours leading up to his crucifixion.  I’ll let you know how it turns out.

And about that Pope Francis thing- here’s the invitation he recorded for Together 2016:

Video and screen capture courtesy of

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Protestants and Catholics: Christians Separated By A Common Language

grammar-389907_960_720Dealing with ecumenical matters as I do on a daily basis, I frequently find myself in the position of being a protocol droid, having to be fluent in six million forms of religious communication.  That’s part of the greatness of The Coming Home Network– just when you think you’ve heard an interesting backstory, another comes along and reminds you just how exciting- and varied- the path to conversion can be.

At any rate, to illustrate some of the challenges, and to assist those in difficulty, I recently posted over at EpicPew some terms that can cause confusion in protestant-Catholic dialogue.  For instance, there are those terms which mean different things to Protestants than they do to Catholics:


Protestant: Being devout, pious or showing reverence to God. Sometimes this term is used derogatorily to criticize those who seem to favor adherence to rules over a personal relationship with Jesus.

Catholic: While it can mean the same as above, it can also refer to someone who has taken a vow with an order as a sister, brother, monk, nun or friar. Someone who has committed to these vocations is referred to as having answered the call to “religious life.”

And then there are those things that are called one thing by protestants and another by Catholics:

Protestant: “Unspoken Prayer Request”
Catholic: “Special Intention”

This usually means that someone wants to lift up in prayer either a personal struggle, an illness or tragedy, or some other matter to prayer, without revealing specifics. This is primarily done to protect the confidentiality of the party being lifted up in prayer.

At any rate, head on over to EpicPew to see a few more terms that fit into the above two categories.  There’s also a lively discussion on the same topic taking place in our CHNetwork Community Forums.  If you haven’t checked those out before, stop by and say hello!

Image credit: Pixabay

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