Saturday, May 30, 2009

Billy Raftery (1952-2009), R. I. P.

It is with great sadness that I report the death of my friend, Billy Raftery. I have known Billy and his wonderful parents and siblings since I was a student at St. Viator Elementary School in the late 1960s. During my years at Bishop Gorman High School (1974-78), Billy was the most enthusiastic fan and supporter. He bled orange and blue.

Billy lived a full and flourishing life, touching the lives of countless friends and admirers who had the privilege to cross his path. Although his time with us has been brief, his personal virtues and deep love for friends, family, and community have left an indelible mark on so many of us. Here his is obituary in this morning's Las Vegas Review Journal:

Friday, May 22, 2009

I'll be on Hugh Hewitt and the Bible Answer Man next week, May 26 and May 28

I will be a guest on the Hugh Hewitt and Bible Answer Man programs on May 26 and 28. On the former I will be talking about my new book, Return to Rome: Confessions of An Evangelical Catholic (Brazos Press, 2009). On the latter I will be discussing a chapter I contributed to the new book published by Christian Research Institute, What is Truth?: The Best of the Christian Research Journal (CRI, 2009). The chapter, "Deconstructing Liberal Tolerance" was originally published in 2000 in the Christian Research Journal.

(Cross posted on Southern Appeal and What's Wrong with the World)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Thomas Hibbs' review of Angels and Demons

My Baylor colleague, Thomas S. Hibbs, has reviewed in National Review Online the latest Dan Brown movie, Angels and Demons. You can read the review here.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Joseph Bottum on "God and Obama at Notre Dame" in The Weekly Standard

The First Things editor, Joseph Bottum has just published a piece in the May 18, 2009 issue of The Weekly Standard. Here's how it begins:

All across campus, the flowers have begun to bloom, their dull Indiana roots stirred by the spring rain, and the grass is almost green again at Notre Dame. Beneath a 16-foot statue of the Blessed Virgin, the main administration building sits, as always, its gold dome sparkling in the warm spring sun.

Meanwhile, in the offices of the college chapel--some chapel: the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, with a 230-foot spire and the world's largest collection of 19th-century French stained glass--young couples are meeting with deacons to plan the alumni weddings that run nonstop through the spring and summer. The Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes flickers with candles, lit by anxious students as they prepare for final exams. The 14-story mosaic of Jesus, arms in the air, signals a perpetual touchdown on the side of the Hesburgh Library. The girls wear shorts, the boys wear jeans, and the gossip is all about next year's football team.

Oh, and a small plane crisscrosses the sky above campus, dragging an enormous picture of a bloody fetus. The wild-eyed and news-hungry pro-life activist Randall Terry is being hauled away by the police for trespassing. Graduate students from the theology department, their faces twisted red in fury, are screaming "Torturer!" at former Bush-speechwriter William McGurn as he tries to give a campus lecture on abortion. The local bishop has declared he will boycott the graduation ceremonies, the Secret Service has announced its fears of violence, and the university's president has retreated in a snit to his office--venturing out only to make snide remarks about his fellow Catholics before he closets himself again. The official Notre Dame website has dealt with the circus by featuring a desperately uncontroversial photograph of the school's annual Eucharistic Procession, a kind of pathetic little lie that, really, there's nothing much happening here in South Bend, Indiana: No, sir, no need to worry. No need to worry, at all.

Welcome to 2009 at the most famously Catholic school in America. Welcome to Catholic education in the 21st century

You can read the whole thing here.

Friday, May 8, 2009

My nephew Dylan's confirmation

Pictured above is my nephew, Dylan Beckwith (age 16), with his grandparents, my parents (Pat & Liz Beckwith), moments after Dylan received the Sacrament of Confirmation last Sunday, May 3. He took "Francis" as his confirmation name.

Canterbury to Constantinople

Just saw this on Eric Sammons' Divine Life blog:

Edith Humphrey, an Anglican laywoman and Professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, has announced that she is becoming Eastern Orthodox. Humphrey has been a leading voice for classical Anglicanism and one of her areas of expertise has included Eastern Orthodoxy.

Her conversion is another in a long line of recent academics leaving a community founded in the 16th century for an apostolic communion. Others include Jaroslav Pelikan (Lutheran to Orthodox), Peter Kreeft (Calvinist to Catholic), and Francis Beckwith (Catholic to Evangelical back to Catholic). In many ways, all these converts can trace their heritage to John Henry Newman, who is on track to be beautified by the Catholic Church soon.

God bless you, Dr. Humphrey, and Cardinal Newman, pray for us!

Monday, May 4, 2009

St. Monica

Today, May 4, is the feast day of St. Augustine's mother, St. Monica. Here is an excerpt from her online biography published on the EWTN website:
Augustine was twenty-nine and a successful teacher when he decided to go to Rome. Monica opposed the move, fearing that his conversion would be indefinitely postponed. Her son went on with his plan, and set off with his young mistress and little son Adeodatus for the seaport. His mother followed him there, and when he saw that she intended to accompany him, he outwitted her by a deception as to the time of sailing. He embarked while she was spending the night praying in a church. Although this grieved her deeply, Monica was still not discouraged about her wayward son, for she continued on to Rome. The ship on which she took passage was tossed about by a storm, and she cheered those on board by her serene confidence in God's mercy. On reaching Rome, Monica learned that her son had gone to Milan. There he had come under the influence of the great Bishop Ambrose. When his mother finally found him in the northern city, he had given up Manichaeism, although he was not yet a Christian. Monica's friendship with Ambrose is worth touching upon. She apparently made a friend of this eminent churchman and he entertained the highest opinion of her. Here in Milan, as at home in North Africa, Monica was foremost among the women in all charitable works, and also in her devotions. The bishop, however, persuaded her to give up some of the customs practiced by the Christians of her homeland, for they were derived from ancient pagan rites; carrying food and wine to the tombs of the martyrs was one of the customs which Monica now relinquished.

The joyous day of Augustine's conversion, which will be fully described in the life of that saint, came at last. For some time his mother had been trying to end her son's illicit relationship of so many years' standing. She hoped to find a suitable bride for him, but after his mistress went back to Africa Augustine informed her that he would now adopt a celibate life and devote himself to God's service. The Confessions give us glimpses of the period of preparation preceding his baptism. The time was passed in the house of a friend, where a close-knit group, consisting of his mother, brother, Adeodatus, and a few companions occupied themselves with discussions of religion and philosophy. At Easter, when Bishop Ambrose baptized Augustine, his mother's cup was full to overflowing.

You can read the whole thing here.