Author Archives: lilshepherdess

Laundry Madonna

Yesterday, I was at the Catholic bookstore, and I found a holy card with an image of the Madonna and Child that I had never seen before.

laundry madonna3

Isn’t that great? Mary’s doing laundry, and Jesus is playing on the ground while He waits for His clothes to dry.

Apparently this image is called the Polish Madonna (not to be confused with the Black Madonna of Częstochowa), and I can barely find any information on it online, including the name of the artist. I know nothing about art, but I would guess it’s from the 20th century.

What little I can find online includes this, which is identical across several sites:

“This charming picture depicts Our Lady hanging laundry while the infant Jesus sits nearby. Polish legend has it that the bright warmth of the sun must shine upon the earth on Saturday, if only for a brief moment, in remembrance of Christ’s infancy when on that day Mary would wash immaculately clean his swaddling clothes so that Sunday might find delight in witnessing the baby God in pure and fresh-scented dress.”

This somewhat corresponds to what the lady at the bookstore told me, which was that there’s a Polish legend that the sun always shines on Saturday, if only for a few minutes, to recall the Blessed Mother doing laundry during the Flight to Egypt. I’m always fascinated by the folk-traditional aspects of Catholicism: these unwritten things that hark back to a time before the masses were literate, and the only records are oral.

As a convert from Protestantism, I don’t yet have a strong Marian devotion, so these unusual depictions appeal to me. I love this picture because it is so real: what mother hasn’t had a naked baby running around beneath her feet as she tries to get his clothes clean enough to put back on him?

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Eternal rest grant to Mary Angelica, O Lord…

There. I’ve said one prayer for the soul of Mother Angelica. I figure that’s all she needs, and now she’s in heaven, ready to rock and roll.

There was someone in a combox yesterday, lamenting everyone else’s assurance that Mother Angelica is / will very, very soon be enjoying the Beatific Vision. She said that everyone’s flawed, so a Catholic funeral ought to focus on prayers for the soul of the departed, acknowledging their many flaws, etc., etc.

And in general, I agree. It is possible to focus too much on what isn’t an absolute positive, after all. The vast majority of us need a pretty thorough in-processing evolution before we get to the final party.

HOWEVER… I don’t think that that means that we can’t acknowledge that some people are already extremely holy when they die, and that we can’t have a pretty good idea of their state when they shuffle off this mortal coil. Throughout Christian history, there have been stories of people who, as soon as they stopped breathing, were pretty much mauled for relics, because everyone around them knew, by virtue of their life and actions, that they would soon be in heaven.

Full disclosure: I am one of the group that believes that Mother Angelica ought to be canonized as soon as legally possible after her death. (In fact, I’m peeved that she died the day after I entered the Church; I would have chosen Angelica as my confirmation name!) I recognize that not everyone feels this way. But to deny that we can have any idea at all where someone’s final destination is defies common sense. It is up to the Church (now, at any rate), to determine when someone has achieved sainthood, and I will patiently wait for that to happen. But I can hold my own personal, private, pious belief that God allowed Mother Angelica to undergo most of her purification while still on this earth, and that she only needed a bare touch-up before being escorted into His presence by choirs of angels.

All that being said, who needs a miracle? I don’t really need anything, otherwise I’d be invoking her intercession for something huge. Come on, people, let’s get this show on the road!

Mother Angelica, pray for us!

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Crossing the Tiber

Holy Saturday / Easter Vigil, 2016: Successfully made entry into the Catholic Church. Notes follow.

First confession: after days of anticipatory terror, was somewhat anticlimactic, mainly because I managed to royally screw it up. I had labored on a list of sins so that I wouldn’t forget anything — and managed, somehow, to forget the list. So I only had about four things to confess, and I forgot some fairly major ones. So I’ll be going back fairly soon to tidy that up, although it is comforting to know that I can make such a huge mess of something, and it still counts, because its effectiveness has nothing to do with my efforts. Thankfully!

Easter Vigil: the original plan was for the four-year-old to stay home in the afternoon and take a nap, so that she would be able to make it through the Vigil. Alternatively, she could go to the Easter egg hunt at the Methodist church, and stay up all afternoon. We went with the latter option.

We had our showers before we left for church, and I cut the time too close, so I forgot to put on nice earrings and change necklaces. And I was nearly out of gas, so I was standing there at the pump shivering in my stockings and summery dress, pumping as fast as I could so we wouldn’t be late.

I realized that I had left my to-do notebook at another church on Friday night during Stations of the Cross, so we had to scramble to find another notebook for my daughter to color in. She ended up with multiple notebooks and workbooks and pens, which she scattered all over three separate pews as she climbed around throughout the Mass.

In general, I was too terrified about getting up in front of people and messing things up to really pay attention to what was going on; fortunately, I think the pastor uses the same homily every year. And I can go back through and read everything in my missalette. I basically just sat/stood/knelt there and tried to keep from shaking while trying to keep my daughter quiet and not miss my cues.

First communion: again, so terrified about missing cues, and the assembling of the candidates up at the altar was a mess, so more trying not to knock into people than focusing on the Eucharist.

All in all, the take-away was that despite all of our efforts, we managed to mess up a bunch of pretty simple stuff. But that didn’t matter, because none of what we received was anything we earned. God pours out the graces from the generosity of His nature, not because of anything we’ve done to earn it.

Also: priests have WAY too much fun slinging holy water onto people with that aspergillum thing.

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Definition of terms, lack of (part 2)

Last time I spent a bunch of time critiquing a Protestant author’s understanding of Catholic theology. There were two fundamental problems: 1) the author is operating under a mistaken conception of what the Catholic Church teaches, and 2) since there is no attempt to define terms (on either side), most criticisms turn out to be directed against straw men.

I mentioned that I was frustrated because of the lack of defined terms, and also because of the lack of citations. It wouldn’t be so bad if the author was honestly trying to understand the Catholic position, but if you’re going to straight up claim that something isn’t a true church (“At the moment the Roman Catholic Church condemned the biblical doctrine of justification by faith alone, she denied the gospel and ceased to be a legitimate church, regardless of all the rest of her affirmations of Christian orthodoxy.”), then you’d better have at least some footnotes or something to show where you’re getting these ideas.

So there are a couple of issues happening here: confusion about terms, and a certain amount of confusion about some underlying principles of logic.

The first underlying principle is a common meme among Protestant converts to Catholicism: “either/or” versus “both/and.” In many instances, Protestant theology tries to make hard distinctions between various things, forcing them into “either/or” positions against each other. In contrast, Catholic thought is much more likely to utilize a “both/and” understanding of various concepts. To wit, I present a quote from this Protestant author:

The fundamental issue is this: is the basis by which I am justified a righteousness that is my own? Or is it a righteousness that is, as Luther said, “an alien righteousness,” a righteousness that is extra nos, apart from us—the righteousness of another, namely, the righteousness of Christ?

The Protestant says, “There must be only one kind of righteousness: righteousness of my own, or the righteousness of Christ. Since I cannot merit salvation myself, then it must only be Christ’s righteousness.” The Catholic looks at the same scenario and says, “On my own, I have no righteousness. Christ has righteousness, which He then gives to me, so that I, too, have righteousness.”

You will notice that in neither case does the person claim to have earned or merited the righteousness themselves, but the Catholic sees righteousness as a thing that God truly gives to us, that changes us and makes us righteous, whereas the Protestant seems to claim that while God is willing to impute Christ’s righteousness to us, He doesn’t see any reason to actually change us, to make us righteous ourselves. See? Either/Or vs. Both/And

…Which leads into the next issue, the divergence in term definition. I’ll start with the Protestant version, because that’s the one I learned first (caveat: I was raised non-denominational, evangelical, fundamentalist, etc. I recognize that other Protestants have different understandings, but mine matches fairly closely to the article in question.)

In Protestant thought, “justification” and “sanctification” means different things.

I was going to try to explain this, but I couldn’t verbalize my thoughts clearly, so I’m going to use a metaphor, okay? Basically, in our fallen state, we’re like criminals in prison. We’ve done bad things, and have been convicted of those bad things we did. We got what we deserved, and there’s no way we can escape the prison ourselves. Justification is a one-time event, when God gives us a full pardon.  We didn’t earn it, but God just lets us walk right out of the prison, even though we are still, objectively, guilty. Sanctification is a separate process, that is seen to begin at the same time justification occurs, but that takes time. Sanctification is like rehabilitation: after we get out of the prison, God works with us to gradually make us holy, so that we won’t keep doing the things that get us thrown in prison in the first place.

In Catholic theology, justification and sanctification are used interchangeably, based on the usage in the New Testament. To the Catholic mind, it is impossible to be sanctified (made holy) without being justified (receiving the merit of Christ’s work), and it’s impossible to receive the merits of Christ’s work without those merits making you holy. They occur simultaneously, relying on and supporting each other, like a man walking on two legs. For a Catholic, the thought that God could justify you without sanctifying you is a contradiction in terms, a logical impossibility.

Now, this is where the differences in these particular definitions gets difficult. Ever since the Protestant reformers started preaching “justification by faith alone,” they’ve struggled to parse how one could become right with God and still live in blatant, unrepentant sin. It’s something that offends common sense, as well as Scripture, but according to faith alone, the only important thing is intellectual assent to the truth of God, regardless of repentance and becoming actually holy. Here’s the important thing: most Protestants, despite how they may parrot what they’ve been taught, don’t actually believe this. They are steeped in Scripture, and they KNOW that true Christianity involves an actual change of life, that God actually changes the people who follow Him, that striving to become holy is part of the real Christian life. But they’ve been told that “sola fide” is the foundation of their faith, so they suppress the cognitive dissonance. In real life, they act according to the Bible: that faith, hope, and charity are all necessary parts of the true believer’s life.

Sometimes, when you press them, Protestants will try to resolve the conflict by defining faith as “intellectual assent that is lived out in works that are empowered by God.” And the Catholic Church has agreed that, if you define faith this way, then to say “by faith alone” would be correct.

But the terminology that the Catholic Church uses separates faith (intellectual assent to the truth that God has revealed), hope (trust in the sufficiency of Christ to bring us to salvation), and charity (the active working out of love for God and neighbor), as all necessary to the Christian walk, and all three as what God gives to us in justification/sanctification.

This is an area where the great divergence of Protestant thought makes discussion difficult: some Protestants will buckle down on “faith alone,” and claim that as long as intellectual assent is present, nothing else is required: one could live in gross violation of every moral code, but as long as one claimed to “believe,” then one is justified before God, and is heaven-bound. Other Protestants will say that such a person is not genuinely saved, otherwise the sanctification process would have started, and the person would show signs of a regenerate life. Catholics have more options to work with: the person could either 1) never have been saved at all, or 2) have been saved, but exercised his free will in a direction that took him away from God, and is no longer saved.

If I have made this clear enough, hopefully you’ll be able to see the overlap in the Catholic and Protestant positions.

Again, I’m not claiming that there aren’t significant differences between certain Catholic and Protestant positions, but some are a lot closer than Protestants, at least, have been led to think.

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Definition of terms, lack of (part 1)

I stumbled across this article earlier today, and I haven’t been able to stop prodding it. It bugs me, because 1) the guy is making claims based on incorrect information, and 2) he doesn’t CITE anything, so I can’t even tell where he’s getting said mistaken information. (Also, he doesn’t have any contact info, so I can’t even ask for clarification.)

As Jimmy Akin often says, one of the primary difficulties for Catholics and Protestants attempting to discuss their theological differences is that they often use the same term for different things, or different terms for the same things. So they can both walk away convinced that the other person is a resounding heretic, not realizing that they are in more agreement than disagreement.

It’s frustrating, but I can’t be too hard on the guy, because at one point I was the Protestant who was roundly ignorant of the Catholic Church, condemning a straw man, because I had never seen what the Catholic Church really teaches. Even so, it is painful to watch such a schism over what reduces to confusion over terms. (Not to say that there are no significant differences between the two, but that they are fewer than originally appear.)

He starts off talking about how good it is that the Catholic Church has stood firm on many Christian doctrines and moral teachings, unlike several mainline Protestant denominations. However, he ultimately condemns the Church for defining the Marian doctrines, papal infallibility, and affirming the Council of Trent‘s teaching on justification in the Catechism.

Then he (rightly) states:

The question, “what must I do to be saved?” is still a critical question for any person who is exposed to the wrath of God.

And that’s where he starts to get confused:

In the final analysis, the Roman Catholic Church affirmed at Trent and continues to affirm now that the basis by which God will declare a person just or unjust is found in one’s “inherent righteousness.”

Question #1: You use quotes around “inherent righteousness,” but you don’t cite any sources. What are you quoting?

Question #2: What do you mean by “inherent”? Do you mean something that we have in and of ourselves before the Holy Spirit works in our lives, that we can merit justification by our own efforts? Because that’s Pelagianism, and the Church condemned that at the Council of Carthage in the 400s.

His confusion continues as he mistakingly describes Purgatory as taking time:

If righteousness does not inhere in the person, that person at worst goes to hell and at best (if any impurities remain in his life) goes to purgatory for a time that may extend to millions of years.

Then he sets up the Protestant position, which he describes as contrast to the Catholic teaching:

In bold contrast to that, the biblical and Protestant view of justification is that the sole grounds of our justification is the righteousness of Christ, which righteousness is imputed to the believer, so that the moment a person has authentic faith in Christ, all that is necessary for salvation becomes theirs by virtue of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness.

Shall we contrast it to the Catechism of the Catholic Church on justification?

1987 The grace of the Holy Spirit has the power to justify us…

1989 The first work of the grace of the Holy Spirit is conversion, effecting justification … Moved by grace, man turns toward God and away from sin, thus accepting forgiveness and righteousness from on high.

1990 Justification detaches man from sin which contradicts the love of God, and purifies his heart of sin. Justification follows upon God’s merciful initiative of offering forgiveness

1991 Justification is at the same time the acceptance of God’s righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ…

1992 Justification has been merited for us by the Passion of Christ…

1994 Justification is the most excellent work of God’s love made manifest in Christ Jesus and granted by the Holy Spirit.

1996 Our justification comes from the grace of God. Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God

1998 … It depends entirely on God’s gratuitous initiative, for he alone can reveal and give himself.

1999 The grace of Christ is the gratuitous gift that God makes to us of his own life, infused by the Holy Spirit into our soul to heal it of sin and to sanctify it.

2003 Grace is first and foremost the gift of the Spirit who justifies and sanctifies us.

2007 With regard to God, there is no strict right to any merit on the part of man.

2010 Since the initiative belongs to God in the order of grace, no one can merit the initial grace of forgiveness and justification

2011 The charity of Christ is the source in us of all our merits before God. 

And how about quoting from the Council of Trent itself? (The language is a little archaic; I’ll try to make it comprehensible. How about a modern translation, somebody?)

…if [men] were not born again in Christ, they never would be justified; seeing that, in that new birth, there is bestowed upon them, through the merit of His passion, the grace whereby they are made just.

Of this Justification the causes are these: the final cause indeed is the glory of God and of Jesus Christ, and life everlasting; while the efficient cause is a merciful God who washes and sanctifies gratuitously, signing, and anointing with the holy Spirit of promise, who is the pledge of our inheritance; but the meritorious cause is His most beloved only-begotten, our Lord Jesus Christ, who, when we were enemies, for the exceeding charity wherewith he loved us, merited Justification for us by His most holy Passion on the wood of the cross, and made satisfaction for us unto God the Father…

…no one can be just, but he to whom the merits of the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ are communicated…

…when by the merit of that same most holy Passion, the charity of God is poured forth, by the Holy Spirit, in the hearts of those that are justified, and is inherent therein: whence, man, through Jesus Christ, in whom he is ingrafted, receives, in the said justification, together with the remission of sins, all these (gifts) infused at once, faith, hope, and charity.

…we are therefore said to be justified freely, because that none of those things which precede justificationwhether faith or works-merit the grace itself of justification.

Thus, neither is our own justice established as our own as from ourselves; nor is the justice of God ignored or repudiated: for that justice which is called ours, because that we are justified from its being inherent in us, that same is (the justice) of God, because that it is infused into us of God, through the merit of Christ.

CANON I.- If any one saith, that man may be justified before God by his own works, whether done through the teaching of human nature, or that of the law, without the grace of God through Jesus Christ; let him be anathema.

CANON II.-If any one saith, that the grace of God, through Jesus Christ, is given only for this, that man may be able more easily to live justly, and to merit eternal life, as if, by free will without grace, he were able to do both, though hardly indeed and with difficulty; let him be anathema.

CANON III.-If any one saith, that without the prevenient inspiration of the Holy Ghost, and without his help, man can believe, hope, love, or be penitent as he ought, so as that the grace of Justification may be bestowed upon him; let him be anathema.

This turned into a lot more quotes that I had counted on, but I just kept finding more and clearer teachings, from the Catholic Church, in the very documents that the author condemns, that we can merit nothing on our own, and that everything comes from the free gift of God.

I’ll save a comparison of various terms for the next post.






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The First Rosary

the first rosary


(attributed to this artist, but I can’t find it on his site)

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Sola scriptura and authority

I’m pretty sure I’ve touched on these topics before, but I’ve been doing more reading and thinking, so I’m going to address them again.

I was listening to an archive of Catholic Answers Live this morning, and a caller asked about the Genesis 6 reference to the Nephilim. Jimmy Akin came right out and said that this was one of the most mysterious passages in the Bible — and THAT is exactly what I appreciate about the Catholic Church’s understanding of Scripture, tradition, doctrine, and authority.

As a Protestant, when (according to sola scriptura) the only sources of truth you have is 1) the Bible 2) according to how you, personally, understand it, it’s very hard to admit that you’re stumped by anything in the Bible.

Basically, if your first premise is 1) God has revealed Himself only through the Bible, and your second is 2) everything that God has revealed can be easily understood by anyone (which it would have to be, otherwise God wouldn’t be revealing Himself equally to everyone), then admitting that you don’t understand something is basically saying that you’re not a real Christian, because a real Christian would have the Holy Spirit enlightening him about the meaning of obscure Scripture passage “x”. (I’m not even going to touch on how many different interpretations the Holy Spirit gives to different Christians right now.) And since you are your own authority, you can’t just take someone else’s argument and say, “Well, wise theologian Christian McGoodGuy said it means this, and I’m going to take his word for it,” because he could be totally wrong. You have to figger it out yourself (if you even can; for a comprehensive critique of this idea see Jimmy’s article “Practical Problems of Sola Scriptura“).

But the Catholic Church! The Catholic Church says, simultaneously,

  1. We believe the Bible to be the inspired Word of God, without error in the original manuscripts.
  2. We believe that Christ gave His Church the role of final judge in interpreting what the Bible means.
  3. We believe that doctrine develops; that we don’t know 100% of everything right at the beginning; some of the stuff we have to work out, sometimes over millennia.
  4. And, we believe that the Bible can have multiple meanings! The same passage can treat a literal event, which is also a prophetic reference, which has application in the universal moral realm… There’s so much room for investigation and conjecture, which the Church is completely fine with — as long as you don’t go past the limits of what it has defined!

As many other Protestant converts have said, this method of approaching Scripture is much more freeing than, as someone said, “Having the truth, but being unable to grasp it.” When you’re relying only on yourself (which, if you have any common sense, you’ll realize is ridiculous), you can never be sure that you’re interpreting Scripture correctly, and every new opinion you hear will throw you off balance. But the security of knowing where the fence is (the teaching of the Church) means that you can explore and hypothesize as much as you want, without having to worry that you’re going to end up going to hell because you misunderstood something in the Bible.

Now, as soon as I can figure out how to read the Bible again without triggering panic attacks about total depravity and God’s judgment, I’ll be good to go.


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December 6: St. Nicholas


I suppose if you have to lose your temper and punch someone in the face, then heresy is, at least, an understandable motivation.

St. Nicholas, pray for us!

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Some unorganized thoughts on marriage

This is something that I just threw together to get it out of my head, because I have other stuff I need to think about, and I couldn’t as long as all this was taking up space in there! I really want to think all this through and give it a decent treatment, but I just don’t have time right now.

So it’s really messy and unorganized, but it gives a rough gist of what’s been going through my head recently. Forgive the sloppiness!


Greg Popcak has made several posts in the last several days that really resonated with me, and gave me a new direction to go in my attempts to understand Catholicism and marriage, and all the other stuff that been flying around the blogosphere recently.

One thing that has been niggling at the back of my logic for a long time, but that I could never put into words, is the assumption of validity: basically, that the Church assumes that all marriage are valid unless expressly proven otherwise in an ecclesiastical court. (Please forgive any errors I make in my understanding of the technical details of the annulment process.)

For me, and I’m sure for a lot of others, the knowledge that we have to ASSUME that our marriages are valid is a huge stumbling block; as a person on my way into the Catholic church, it is a huge hurdle to overcome when I consider that if I become Catholic, I have to (potentially) accept that I am bound until death to the man who abused me. I absolutely understand the resistance to this idea; I see why many people leave or don’t enter the Church, given this understanding.

But at the same time, I would read what the requirement are for a valid marriage, and it seemed crazy that ANY marriage would be valid under those expectations. Maybe for people who were born and raised devout, thoroughly-instructed Catholics, but even for people like me, who were raised very conservative, biblical Protestants, our understanding of marriage was NOTHING like the Catholic position. We didn’t believe in sacraments, we didn’t believe in graces, very often we believed that marriage was dissolvable (usually in cases on abuse or adultery); in other words, most Protestant marriage, as I understand them, by definition wouldn’t be considered valid by the Catholic Church!

And that’s devout religious Christians! What about the millions of baptized-but-not-religious, atheists, pagans, what-have-you, who don’t acknowledge God at all, much less specific goals HE has for marriage? If the requirements for a valid marriage are truly what the Catholic Church says, then how can any of those marriage be sacramental?

Why, then, do we throw this huge metaphysical obstacle in the way of people who want to join the Church? How can we tell them, “There are very specific things that we require for institution to be valid, but you had no idea that they existed when you contracted it. However, we are going to hold you to something that you either didn’t know existed, or explicitly rejected.”

My belief is that the current understanding of ASSUMING that all marriage are valid is gravely flawed, given our culture. At one point in time, our society viewed marriage very differently, so even non-Catholics had a better understanding of the true requirement of a sacramental marriage. But now that society’s understanding of marriage fundamentally rejects the necessity of procreation and permanence, much less things like divine grace, how can we expect people to contract true marriages when they had no idea what that means?

I fully agree with what Dr. Popcak says about the lack of consent/formation criteria for annulment: it is impossible to hold people responsible for something that they not only didn’t know, but could not even conceive of as a Protestant, or an atheist, or a pagan. At this point in our culture, the common understanding of marriage is an unfathomable distance away from the Catholic requirements; thus, people not explicitly formed in Catholic teaching are incredibly unlikely to stumble into the correct understanding of it.

Ultimately, none of this contradicts Church teaching: the requirements for valid marriage stay the same, as do the consequences of deliberately violating them. What changes is the assumption about the state of most marriages contracted in the West: lacking any understanding of the true nature of marriage, the vast majority of marriages ought to be assumed invalid from the beginning.

In fact, one could argue that even when a happily-married couple joins the Church, they should still have to undergo an extensive catechesis and have their marriage convalidated, because the chances that their prior views of marriage match Church teaching are tiny.

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Catholics in culture

I was reading a conversion story a while ago, I can’t remember where, but the convert said that when she was growing up Protestant, she always wanted to be a Catholic. It had to do with the culture, and the tradition, and that sense that there’s something going on where you’re on the outside of a great big club and they all know something you don’t know…

I know what she means. Even when I was a Protestant and believed that the Catholic Church was one step away from (or possible a full-fledged) cult, I was wished that it wasn’t. I wished that they were right, because they had all this cool stuff: a world-wide organization, traditions that went back centuries, whole cultures where everybody did and believed the same things,  more holidays than I could ever figure out, and, again, that nagging feeling that all that stuff was significant in a way that I couldn’t understand.

And this wasn’t because I knew any Catholics, because the circles we travelled in were not overrun with them. It was from passing references in popular culture: not explicitly Catholic things, just authors who happened to be Catholic, and so populated their books with characters who just happened to be Catholic.

These are some of the authors and books that tweaked my interest in Catholicism long before I could ever have seriously considered it:

Mary Higgins Clark: A very popular author of mystery books, her characters talked about going to Mass instead of church, visited old Catholic churches in New York City as a matter of course, and were otherwise perfectly normal people. Some of my pre-conceptions that Catholics were all ignorant, poverty-stricken denizens of Third World countries who just didn’t know any better were shaken.

Dean Koontz: Kinda same things as above: without being explicit or preachy, his characters have priests for friends and go to Mass and Catholic school and are just normal people. Well, Dean Koontz’s characters are rarely normal, but you know what I mean.

Judge Benjamin, Superdog by Judith Whitlock McInerney: When I was a kid, I really loved dogs and animals and read every kids’ book about them I could find. I read most of the Judge Benjamin books, which are about a St. Bernard and his family, who happen to be Catholic. Judge Benjamin mentioning it in passing was probably the first time I had heard of the rosary. And when a new baby was born, they had her baptized, and it didn’t seem like anything crazy, it was just what they did.

I guess it’s just funny, the stuff that you notice in passing growing up, not realizing how significant all those little things are going to seem later… Was it Chesterton who said that it was all a giant conspiracy?

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