Behind the scenes of
‘The Beauty Within’
July 16, 2021 Vol. 6 No. 14
July 16, 2021
Vol. 6 • No. 14
3424 Wilshire Blvd.,
Los Angeles, CA 90010-2241
(213) 637-7360 • FAX (213) 637-6360
Published by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese
of Los Angeles by The Tidings
(a corporation), established 1895.
ARCHBISHOP JOSÉ H. GOMEZ
Vice Chancellor for Communications
RICHARD G. BEEMER
ANGELUS is published biweekly by The
Tidings (a corporation), established 1895.
Periodicals postage paid at Los Angeles,
California. One-year subscriptions (26
issues), $30.00; single copies, $3.00
© 2021 ANGELUS (2473-2699). No part of this
publication may be reproduced without the written
permission of the publisher. Events and products
advertised in ANGELUS do not carry the implicit
endorsement of The Tidings Corporation or the
Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
POSTMASTER: Send address changes to:
ANGELUS, PO Box 306, Congers, NY 10920-0306.
For Subscription and Delivery information, please
call (844) 245-6630 (Mon - Fri, 7 am-4 pm PT).
Sign up for our free, daily e-newsletter
Always Forward - newsletter.angelusnews.com
ON THE COVER
A religious sister walks the grounds of St. Mary’s
Abbey in Wrentham, Massachusetts. On Page 10, Ann
Rodgers tells the story of a doctor’s fascination with his
cloistered neighbors at the abbey, a collection of nearly
forgotten tapes, and the providential strokes that have
led to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ new “The Beauty
Within” podcast project.
TOM TRACY/CNA, FLORIDA CATHOLIC
A makeshift memorial near the site of the partially
collapsed condo building in Surfside, Florida, for
those who have died and who are still missing.
Pope Watch................................................ 2
Archbishop Gomez.................................. 3
World, Nation, and Local News....... 4-6
In Other Words......................................... 7
Father Rolheiser........................................ 8
Scott Hahn.............................................. 32
Events Calendar..................................... 33
The final farewell to the Long Beach deacon who ‘never gave up’
John Allen: Canada and the papal apology that no one remembers
Mike Aquilina: The Church’s long fight against abortion
Msgr. Richard Antall on Silicon Valley’s obsession with cheating death
Robert Brennan: Surfside and the surprise of death
Kris McGregor: Spiritual battle tactics from St. Ignatius
Heather King comes to the defense of clutter
July 16, 2021 • ANGELUS • 1
Who am I to you?
The following is adapted from the
Holy Father’s Angelus address to the
faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square on
Tuesday, June 29, the solemnity of Sts.
Peter and Paul.
At the heart of today’s Gospel (Matthew
16:13–19), the Lord asks the disciples
a decisive question: “Who do you
say that I am?” It is the crucial question
that Jesus repeats to us today: “Who am
I to you?” Who am I to you, who have
accepted faith but are still afraid to set
sail on my word?
Prior to this question, Jesus asked the
disciples another one: “Who do people
say that I am?” Why did he ask the
question? To underline a difference,
which is the fundamental difference of
There are those who stop at the first
question and talk about Jesus; and
there are those who, instead, talk
to Jesus, bringing their life to him,
entering into a relationship with him,
taking the decisive step. This is what
interests the Lord: to be at the center of
our thoughts, to become the reference
point of our affections; to be, in short,
the love of our lives.
The saints we celebrate today took
that step and became witnesses. They
were not admirers, but imitators of
Jesus. They were not spectators, but
rather protagonists of the Gospel.
Peter did not speak about mission, he
lived the mission, he was a fisher of
men; Paul did not write learned books,
but letters of what he lived as he traveled
and bore witness. Both spent their
lives for the Lord and for their brothers.
And they provoke us, because we run
the risk of stalling at the first question:
of giving views and opinions, of having
grand ideas and saying beautiful words,
but never putting them into action.
How often, for example, we say
that we would like a Church that is
more faithful to the Gospel, closer
to the people, more prophetic and
missionary, but then, in practice, we
do nothing! It is sad to see that many
speak, comment, and debate, but few
Witnesses do not complain about others
and the world, but they start with
themselves. They remind us that God
is not to be demonstrated, but shown,
by one’s own witness; not announced
with proclamations, but shown by
example. This is called “putting your
life on the line.”
However, looking at the lives of Peter
and Paul, an objection might arise:
They were both witnesses, but they
were not always exemplary — they
were sinners! Peter denied Jesus and
Paul persecuted the Christians. But
they also bore witness to their failures.
Peter, for example, could have said
to the evangelists: “Do not write down
the mistakes I have made.” But no, his
story comes out raw in the Gospels,
with all its miseries.
Paul does the same, recounting
mistakes and weaknesses in his letters.
This is where his witness begins: with
the truth about himself, with the fight
against his own duplicity and falsehood.
The Lord can do great things
through us when we are not careful to
defend our image, but are transparent
with him and with others.
Today, the Lord is questioning us.
And his question is the same one:
“Who am I to you?” It delves into us.
Through his witnesses Peter and Paul
he urges us to take off our masks, to
renounce half-measures, the excuses
that make us lukewarm and mediocre.
Papal Prayer Intention for July: We pray that, in social,
economic, and political situations of conflict, we may
be courageous and passionate architects of dialogue
2 • ANGELUS • July 16, 2021
NEW WORLD OF FAITH
ARCHBISHOP JOSÉ H. GOMEZ
The American creed
have always loved how, in God’s
providence, the Church celebrates
the memorial of St. Junípero Serra
three days before our nation celebrates
its independence on July 4.
It is fitting, because Junípero was not
only the Apostle to California, he was
also one of America’s founding fathers,
a fact that Pope Francis recognizes,
even if many of our own historians still
I am still struck at how the Catholic
beginnings of this country are ignored
in the telling of American history,
even in otherwise excellent books. As
I pointed out in my own 2013 book,
“Immigration and the Next America,”
such histories are not wrong, but they
History is what holds us together as
one nation. How we remember our
past shapes how we understand where
we are in the present, and helps define
our meaning and purpose as a people.
We are in a period of deep division
in our country. Not surprisingly, our
anxieties about the present are playing
out in fierce debates — in school
boards, legislatures, and the media —
over the meaning of American history
and how to tell our national story.
Recovering the story of America’s
“other” founding — which occurred
more than a century before the Mayflower,
James Madison, and Thomas
Jefferson — can help us see beyond
our present polarization.
Beginning in the 1500s, missionaries
from Spain were proclaiming the love
of Jesus Christ to indigenous peoples
from present-day Georgia and Florida
to Texas and lower California. French
missionaries were consecrating to the
Virgin Mary the lands from the Great
Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico.
It is true, these missionaries had
no hand in developing America’s
founding documents or institutions.
But their mission gives witness to the
authentic American spirit that runs
through our history and finds expression
in the “letter” of our Declaration
of Independence and Constitution.
For the most part, America’s Catholic
missionaries, like Junípero,
were “doers,” men and women who
preached through lives of self-sacrifice
and service, rather than in eloquent
speeches and letters.
The missionaries had profound respect
for the indigenous peoples they
served, learning their languages and
traditions, and defending them against
the lusts and avarice of exploiters.
Enduring hardships and dangers,
they testified to their belief that Jesus
Christ is the greatest gift they could
ever offer to their neighbors.
They also witness to what Martin
Luther King Jr. and others have called
the “American creed” — the belief
expressed in those founding documents
that all men and women are
endowed by God with a sacred dignity
and undeniable rights to life, liberty,
Recovering the spirit of America’s
“other founding” gives us a more
solid grounding for American individualism,
which is always tempted
to fall into a kind of selfish pursuit of
one’s own interests without regard to
We are far more than “expressive
individuals,” the missionaries would
tell us. We are creatures with bodies
and souls, born not in isolation but in
relation, in families and communities;
not only with rights but also responsibilities
to care for our neighbors and
the world around us.
The missionaries’ example offers
a deeper perspective to our current
debates about race and group identity.
Individual identity for the missionaries
is rooted in being a child of God
and a brother or sister to everyone else.
The Jesuits in upstate New York and
the Franciscans in California envisioned
communities that were multiracial
and multicultural, reflecting the
Christian belief that the human race
is one family made up of a wonderful
diversity of races and languages, tribes
Finally, America’s other founding
can help us to not become prisoners of
our past, defining the nation’s future
by the hypocrisy and injustices of our
The missionaries’ own failings
remind us that we are all sinners —
decent people who want to do the
right thing but very often do not.
In our current debates, we could use
a little of their humility and realism
about the human condition. It could
help us to realize that America is not a
nation whose founding ideals are false,
but a nation whose founding promises
have yet to be fully achieved.
The ongoing work of fulfilling
America’s promise falls to you and me.
That is why I am excited for our upcoming
Jubilee Year to commemorate
the 250th anniversary of Junípero’s
founding of Mission San Gabriel
Arcángel, which I announced formally
I pray this jubilee will inspire us to
continue the work of those first missionaries
— to be saints and missionary
disciples proclaiming Christ and
building an America that lives out its
founding principles of equality, freedom,
and dignity for every person.
Pray for me and I will pray for you.
And let us ask Our Lady of Guadalupe,
mother of the Americas, to help
bring a new awakening of our commitment
to the American creed.
July 16, 2021 • ANGELUS • 3
French priest Regis Maurel rides his motorcycle to visit residents in Placetas, Cuba, on April 24. | ADALBERTO ROQUE/
AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES
■ Church grows ministry in Cuba
As Cuba faces its worst economic crisis in 30 years, Catholic priests are demonstrating
that the Church can be a source of aid.
Four French priests have started ministering from the town of Placetas, birthplace
of Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel, and have opened three day care
centers, five soup kitchens, an after-school center, a boarding school, and an
“In Cuba, the Church is ... putting a foot in the door so that it stays open,” Father
Jean Pichon told Agence France-Presse. “The idea is not to convert people
or to seek a more prominent role, but truly to help.”
This help comes as the Cuban government strips subsidies for food and other
basics to encourage more people into the workplace. Though these ministries
have increased the effect of the Church on the lives of Cubans, the island
nation of 11.2 million has only 300 priests, and Catholics are prohibited from
working various government positions.
■ Poland: More bishops removed,
sanctioned over abuse claims
Several Catholic bishops in Poland have resigned, been placed under investigation,
or sanctioned in Poland as the country’s deepening clerical abuse crisis
In mid-June, Pope Francis ordered a special commission to investigate Cardinal
Stanislaw Dziwisz, retired archbishop of Kraków and former aide to St. Pope
John Paul II, for mishandling abuse cases.
On June 25, the Vatican announced that two other retired Polish bishops had
been barred from public appearances and participating in the bishops’ conference
and ordered to pay personal funds to an anti-abuse foundation as a result of
The same month, two other bishops in Bydgoszcz and Legnica resigned in
response to Vatican investigations.
And on June 28, the country’s Institute of Statistics of the Catholic Church
reported that 368 allegations of sexual abuse against clergy — both new and
historical — had been made in the past 2 1/2 years.
Archbishop Wojciech Polak, primate of Poland and the Polish bishops’ point
person on child protection, asked for forgiveness to those “wronged and all scandalized
by evil in the Church” at a press conference responding to the report.
■ India: Catholics stand
up for ‘Untouchable’
Catholic advocates for the protection
of members of the Dalit class in India,
formerly known as “Untouchables,”
have raised alarm following the death
of a Dalit Catholic woman in police
Mariamma and her son were arrested
June 15 in connection with the theft
of $2,500 from a church where she
worked. Their lawyers claim that they
were tortured during their three days of
incarceration. Mariamma was transferred
to a hospital on June 18 following
complaints of uneasiness, but was
declared dead on arrival.
“For the theft of less than [$2,500] a
life is gone,” Father Devasagaya Raj,
former national secretary for the Indian
bishops’ Commission for Scheduled
Castes, told Crux. “The life of the Dalit
is equated with little money. Whether
Christian or Hindu or Muslim, the
lives of the Dalits are taken away just
for the loss of little money.”
The perks of diplomacy — U.S. Secretary of State
Antony Blinken is accompanied by a tour guide,
right, as he visits the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican
on June 28 just before meeting Pope Francis. The
pair reportedly discussed the climate crisis, human
rights, and religious freedom in China, as well as
the humanitarian crises in Lebanon, Syria, the
Tigray region of Ethiopia, and Venezuela during
their 40-minute private meeting. | CNS/ANDREW
HARNIK, POOL VIA REUTERS
4 • ANGELUS • July 16, 2021
■ Texas: Suspected embezzler of church funds arrested
A church employee accused of stealing thousands from the cathedral of Lubbock,
Texas, has been arrested in Colombia.
Nathan Allen Webb began managing donations and the Venmo and PayPal
accounts belonging to the Cathedral of Christ the King in August 2019. In March
2021, Father John Ohlig, rector of the cathedral, discovered that more than
$250,000 was missing from the cathedral’s bank account and alerted the diocese,
which notified the FBI.
“Webb was embezzling thousands of dollars each month by making unauthorized
transfers of money from (Christ the King’s) Venmo account to his personal
Venmo account,” according to the FBI criminal complaint. An arrest warrant was
issued on June 10.
Webb, who was arrested in Colombia for a visa overstay, is awaiting deportation,
but has been delayed due to a positive COVID-19 test, according to the Lubbock
Though the diocese has confirmed that Father Ohlig was not involved in the embezzlement,
he has resigned as rector.
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland. | CNS/GRAEME
JENNINGS, POOL VIA REUTERS
■ US bishops welcome
probe into boarding
The country’s Catholic bishops will
“look for ways to be of assistance” to a
federal investigation into possible unmarked
graves of Native American children
at the sites of government-funded,
Church-run boarding schools.
The probe was announced June 22
by Interior Secretary Deb Haaland,
prompted by the recent discoveries of
unmarked mass graves at the sites of two
former residential schools for natives in
“By bringing this painful story to light,
may it bring some measure of peace to
the victims and a heightened awareness
so that this disturbing history is never
repeated,” said U.S. Conference of
Catholic Bishops spokeswoman Chieko
Noguchi in response to the news.
Haaland, who is a member of the
Laguna Pueblo in New Mexico and
is Catholic, said the new initiative will
present a final report next April.
According to the National Native
American Boarding School Healing
Coalition, more than 350 such boarding
schools operated across the country in
the 19th and 20th centuries.
Bishop Mark J. Seitz of El Paso, Texas, holds a rosary blessed during the canonization of St. Oscar Romero in 2018 to
give to Vice President Kamala Harris at their June 25 meeting. | CNS/COURTESY OF HOPE BORDER INSTITUTE
■ Bishop asks VP to work with Catholics on border
Vice President Kamala Harris met with El Paso Bishop Mark J. Seitz during her
June 25 visit to the U.S.-Mexico border, part of a larger survey of the situation at
the border and the services offered to migrants and asylum-seekers.
“Why is your visit today important?” Bishop Seitz said during the meeting, which
included other faith and nonprofit leaders. “Borders are places where the drama
of human life — its suffering and aspirations — unfolds and they put squarely
before us a moral choice: to build bridges of encounter or walls of fear.”
During the meeting, Bishop Seitz issued two invitations to the vice president:
to partner with faith communities to bring relief to migrants and to join Catholic
bishops from the U.S. and Central America during an upcoming meeting in
“I invite you to join us,” Bishop Seitz said. “We need to work together, Madame
July 16, 2021 • ANGELUS • 5
■ It’s official: San Gabriel Jubilee
Year to kick off in September
A proclamation officially announcing a Jubilee Year for Mission San Gabriel was
read at Mass in all parishes around the archdiocese the weekend of June 26-27.
In the proclamation letter, Archbishop José H. Gomez said the year will officially
begin Sept. 11, with an opening Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels
and conclude Sept. 10, 2022, with a closing Mass at Mission San Gabriel.
“In the tradition of the Church, Jubilee Years are designated to commemorate
important moments in the history of salvation,” he wrote. “The foundation of
Mission San Gabriel is one such important moment.”
Noting that the mission is the first church in what is now the Archdiocese of Los
Angeles, the archbishop stressed that “this Jubilee Year is not about the past.”
“It is about the present and the future,” the archbishop wrote. “I am confident
that during this holy year God will pour out many graces on our local Church and
on our families.”
The Jubilee Year will take place as restoration work continues on the mission
church, which was severely damaged in a July 2020 arson fire.
Volunteers came from local charities to help at the St. Barnabas Church food drive June 26. | LONG BEACH
■ Long Beach parish hosts historic food drive
More than 1,000 boxes of food were handed out to local families in need at a
June 26 drive-through event at St. Barnabas Church in Long Beach that drew
helpers from all parts of LA County, including Sheriff Alex Villanueva.
The drive was organized by the Long Beach Bacolod Association and the LA
Sheriff Department’s Community Advisory Council.
More than 100 volunteers from local charities, including the Knights of
Columbus, Manny Pacquiao Foundation, Filipino American Community of
Los Angeles, Wives of the LASD, Philippine Nurses Association of Southern
California (PNASC) and the Philippine Consulate General, passed out canned
and dry goods, milk, fresh vegetables, and hand sanitizers. One-hundred fifty
boxes were earmarked for Gold Star Moms, local families whose relatives died
in the line of duty.
“We normally do festivals and exchange cultural events,” said organizer Peter
Ramirez, president of the Long Beach Bacolod Association, “but because of the
pandemic, we started to concentrate on food drives.”
Fox Bradley Melo. | COURTESY CATHOLIC COMMIT-
TEE ON SCOUTING, ARCHDIOCESE OF LOS ANGELES
■ St. Finbar teen scores
A local Eagle Scout is headed to
college with a $5,000 scholarship for
his outstanding service and leadership
in his Catholic community.
Fox Melo of St. Finbar Church in
Burbank was awarded the Emmett
Doerr Scholarship from the National
Catholic Committee on Scouting. He
is one of eight scouts honored with
scholarships throughout the U.S., and
the first from Los Angeles to receive
As a member of Troop 118, Melo
has earned all 138 merit badges, and
held a variety of leadership positions,
including senior patrol leader and junior
assistant scoutmaster. He has also
received all four Catholic religious
emblems in the ranks of scouting.
For his Eagle project, Melo organized
a team to relandscape the patio
area at St. Finbar’s, where parishioners
gather before and after Mass.
He will be attending the University
of Oregon as a Stamps Scholar, where
he plans to major in marine biology.
6 • ANGELUS • July 16, 2021
IN OTHER WORDS...
An objective take on the US bishops meeting
The analysis on the USCCB June meeting “Teachers or Policymakers?”
in the July 2 issue is a great example of unbiased reporting
on the Communion debate that cannot be found in the secular media.
After reading this article, I feel that I have a better understanding of what
the bishops are faced with. It’s not as simple as so many seem to think!
As someone who doesn’t have a television, Angelus is my “quiet way” of
— Marilyn Boussaid, St. James Church, Redondo Beach
The choice for pro-abortion Catholic politicians
Dr. Greg Polito’s letter in the July 2 issue was right on the money. Nobody
who embraces the Democrat Party, whose cornerstone is the “right” of
women to have an abortion, can be a Catholic. It just isn’t right. It’s time
to compel politicians Biden and Pelosi to make a choice: save their jobs or
save their souls.
— Jim Patton, Arcadia
Letters to the Editor
Continue the conversation! To submit a letter to the editor, visit AngelusNews.com/Letters-To-The-Editor
and use our online form or send an email to email@example.com. Please limit to 300 words. Letters
may be edited for style, brevity, and clarity.
(Re)open for worship
“Stop using Lebanon and
the Middle East for outside
interests and profits.”
~ Pope Francis, in a statement after a day of prayer
and reflection with Lebanon’s Christian leaders at the
Vatican amid the country’s worsening political crisis.
“I knew I had been badly
hurt by my transition, and I
wasn’t the only one.”
~ Grace Lidinsky-Smith in a June 25 essay in
Newsweek, advocating for standards of care for
patients suffering gender dysphoria.
“If protecting the life of a
baby struggling to breathe,
after surviving a brutal
attack on his life, is a bridge
too far for pro-abortionrights
politicians, then I
ask again, what are we
~ LA Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron, in a June 28
New York Post op-ed.
“The ultimate goal seems to
be to suppress any kind of
identity — religious, ethnic,
or ideological — that
might challenge the CCP’s
authority, whether now or
in the future.”
“Foreign Policy” columnist Azeem Ibrahim in a July
1 essay, “The Chinese Communist Party Is Scared of
People leave the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels after Mass on June 19,
the first day that churches in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles were able to drop
COVID-19 restrictions. | VICTOR ALEMÁN
View more photos
from this gallery at
Do you have photos or a story from your parish that you’d like to share? Please send to editorial @angelusnews.com.
“A law intended to fight
and must not, pursue that
objective with intolerance.”
~ Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, president of the CEI
conference, on Italy’s proposed “Zan bill,” aimed
at combating homophobia. In a historic first, the
Vatican invoked its sovereign status under a 1929
treaty to protest the legislation.
July 16, 2021 • ANGELUS • 7
FATHER RONALD ROLHEISER, OMI
Oblate of Mary Immaculate Father
Ronald Rolheiser is a spiritual
Joy: A sign of God
is only one true
sadness, not being a saint!”
French novelist, philosopher,
essayist, Leon Bloy ends his
novel “The Woman Who Was Poor”
with that much-quoted line. Here is
a less-known quote from Bloy, which
helps us understand why there is such
a sadness in not being a saint: “Joy is
a sure sign of the life of God in the
Joy is not just a sure sign of the life
of God in the soul, it is a sign of the
life of God — period. Joy constitutes
the inner life of God. God is joy. This
is not something we easily believe.
For lots of reasons we find it hard to
think of God as happy, as joyful, as
pleased, and (as Julian of Norwich
says) as relaxed and smiling.
Christianity, Judaism, and Islam,
for all of our differences, have this in
common. We struggle to think that
God is happy with our lives and, even
more important, that God is happy,
joyful, relaxed, and smiling.
Yet, how could it be otherwise?
Scripture tells us that God is the
author of all that is good and that all
good things come from God. Now, is
there a greater goodness in this world
than joy, happiness, laughter, and
the life-giving grace of a benevolent
smile? Clearly not. These constitute
the very life of heaven and are what
makes life on earth worth living.
Surely then they take their origins
inside of God. This means that God
is joyful, is joy.
If this is true, and it is, then we
should not conceive of God as a disappointed
lover, an angry spouse, or a
wounded parent, frowning in the face
of our inadequacies and betrayals.
Rather, God might be imagined as a
smiling grandmother or grandfather,
delighting in our lives and energy, at
ease with our littleness, forgiving our
weaknesses, and forever gently trying
to coax us toward something higher.
A growing body of literature today
suggests that the purest experience
of love and joy on this earth is not
what is experienced between lovers,
spouses, or even parents and their
children. In these relationships, there
is inevitably (and understandably)
enough tension and self-seeking to
color both its purity and its joy.
This is generally less true in the
relationship of grandparents to their
grandchildren. That relationship,
more free of tension and self-seeking,
is often the purest experience of love
and joy on this earth. There, delight
flows more freely, more purely, more
graciously, and mirrors more purely
what is inside of God, namely joy and
God is love, Scripture tells us; but
God is also joy. God is the gracious,
benevolent smile of a grandparent
looking with pride and delight at a
However, how does this all square
with suffering, with the paschal
mystery, with a suffering Christ who
through blood and anguish pays the
price of our sin? Where was God’s
joy on Good Friday as Jesus cried
out in agony on the cross? As well, if
God is joy, how do we account for the
many times in our lives when, living
honestly inside of our faith and our
commitments, we do not feel joyful,
happy, laughter, when we struggle to
Joy and pain are not incompatible.
Neither are happiness and sadness.
Rather, they are frequently felt
together. We can be in great pain
and still be happy, just as we can be
pain-free, experiencing pleasure, and
be unhappy. Joy and happiness are
predicated on something that abides
through pain, namely, meaning; but
this needs to be understood.
We tend to have an unhelpful,
superficial notion of what constitutes
both joy and happiness. For us, they
are incompatible with pain, suffering,
and sadness. I wonder how Jesus
would have answered on Good Friday
as he hung on the cross if someone
had asked him, “Are you happy up
I suspect he would have said something
to this effect: “If you’re picturing
happiness in the way you imagine
it, then no! I’m not happy! Today, of
all days, particularly so! But what I’m
experiencing today amidst the agony
is meaning, a meaning so deep that
it contains a joy and a happiness that
abide through the agony. Inside of
the pain, there is a profound joy and
happiness in giving myself over to
this. Unhappiness and joylessness,
as you conceive of them, come and
go; meaning abides throughout those
Knowing this still does not make it
easy for us to accept that God is joy
and that joy is a sure sign of the life of
God in the soul. However, knowing
it is an important start, one we can
There is a deep sadness in not being
a saint. Why? Because our distance
from saintliness is also our distance
from God and our distance from God
is also our distance from joy.
8 • ANGELUS • July 16, 2021
July 16, 2021 • ANGELUS • 9
Trappistine Sisters at St. Mary’s Abbey in Wrentham, Massachusetts pray the Liturgy of the Hours in the convent’s main chapel.
Guests are allowed to pray and attend Mass in the visitor section of the chapel.
INSIDE VOICES OF PRAYER
For 25 years, an unlikely series of recordings made inside a cloistered
convent went unpublished — and almost forgotten. Now, a new project
is revealing ‘The Beauty Within.’
BY ANN RODGERS / PHOTOGRAPHY BY ISABEL CACHO
On the way home from his
psychiatric practice, Dr. John
Masko used to stop at St.
Mary’s Abbey in Wrentham, Massachusetts,
to buy chocolates that the
nuns made — and sometimes to attend
Mass. On those visits to the Trappistine
monastery in the 1990s, he discovered
something that changed his understanding
of living the faith: a gift he is
sharing through the new podcast series,
“The Beauty Within.”
Glimpses of the sisters at work and
prayer led him to reconsider his assumptions
about cloistered nuns, those
who live a life of prayer inside their
monastery and don’t do ministry in the
outside world. He had viewed them as
sad escapees from a loveless life. Yet
the women he met seemed radiant.
One day around 1996, he overheard
a nun laughing with such pure joy that
he resolved to investigate the disconnect
between his perceptions and their
experience. He eventually talked their
superior into allowing him to record
and publish interviews with the sisters.
He learned that their lives are designed
to draw them deeper into love
with God, love for the world, and for
everyone they encounter. They can’t
hide because they are vowed to live
“One of them says it’s a school of love.
And so, you’re confronting yourself,
you’re confronting others. You can’t
escape, and the goal is love,” Masko
Excerpts from the interviews are the
core of “The Beauty Within,” with
seven episodes to be released Tuesdays
through July 13.
Trappistines are the women’s counterpart
to Trappists — formally the Order
of Cistercians of the Strict Observance
— contemplatives made famous by
the spiritual writer Thomas Merton.
Their life is spent within the monastery
walls, in a rhythm of prayer and work,
with a special commitment to silence.
“It’s a notion of silence that’s more
like stillness,” Masko said. “The sisters
I spoke with are glib. They are chatterboxes,
a lot of them. They are very
thoughtful, and have no hesitancy.
They are not what you would call shy
or quiet people.”
Their cultivation of silence “seemed
more like a philosophical concept of
being available, of not being distracted
10 • ANGELUS • July 16, 2021
y chatter and other sorts of distractions.
It’s so you can be available to
grow and to love and to pray.”
In the words of Pope Francis’ apostolic
constitution for contemplative women,
they “live exclusively seeking God’s
face, longing to find and contemplate
God in the heart of the world.”
Trappistine spirituality is designed
to remove distractions and superficial
activities, in order to be fully available
to love God and others.
Sister Maureen, a New Jersey native
who had been influenced by Thomas
Merton’s writing, had first entered the
Sisters of Mercy, an order known for
hands-on service to the poor. But she
felt called to a life of intimacy with
“I do believe that every human being
has desires deeper than they know,”
said Sister Maureen, who later served
11 years as mother superior. “And I
think they know some of them. But
like me and many others, it’s too hard
. . . to put them into words. But sometimes,
when they see the contemplative
life or hear the contemplative witness,
“They were all so honest,” said Masko of his
interviews with sisters. “They were aiming
for honesty. I wasn’t used to that and our
culture isn’t used to that.”
they know that they know it deep
down. They know that there is something
inside them too, that is made for
A quarter century after the interviews,
the St. Mary’s website shows a diverse
community of more than 30 sisters,
ranging in age from 25 to 91. Many
photos show sisters laughing as they
walk in the woods, make chocolate
candy, or tend the sheep that supply
wool for yarn and blankets that the
sisters also make and sell.
Contemplative monasteries “are really
a beating heart of prayer and holiness,”
said Sister Germana Santos, a Daughter
of St. Paul who serves as delegate
for religious in the Archdiocese of
“These sisters leave the world for one
reason only: because they are in love
with God who has called them,” she
said. “The nuns love God and the people
of God. They spend their lives contemplating
the face of God and praying
and offering their lives for others.”
Though she doesn’t know the individual
sisters well, their superior, Mother
Sofia Millican, is an inspirational
speaker whom Sister Germana recruited
to address Boston’s men and women
religious on three occasions. At a time
of tension and division in both society
and the Church, cloistered communities
are instruments of healing, Sister
“They live in community, seeking to
create relationships that are a witness
Sister Maureen, former mother superior of St. Mary’s Abbey, walks up the main drive to the convent.
July 16, 2021 • ANGELUS • 11
of goodness and mercy, and of accepting
one another and of charity. That
is a great prophetic sign to the world,
which is so bereft, so full of aggression
and lacking in mercy.”
The podcast title, “The Beauty
Within,” is from Sister Jean, who felt
a sudden call as a young woman who
was acutely homesick for her native
Scotland. While praying in church
for peace, she had an overwhelming
experience of being in love with and
loved by God.
She knew it was a call to religious life,
something so far from her experience
that she began by looking up “convent”
in the phone directory. Her friends
and family thought she would snap out
of it, but three decades later, the love
“It’s a life that brings you to the recognition
of the goodness and the beauty
in everything you come across,” she
said. “We don’t go in for a lot of flowers
and statues and so on, like in churches
and so on, because the idea was there
that . . . you look for the beauty within,”
“The beauty within is always love.”
Their silence is not isolating.
“We go together to God,” she said.
“The silence is for solitude, for prayer,
it’s not just to be kind of separate. ...
Our goal is prayer, as much as we can
possibly do, and so we kind of give
each other a space. You don’t interfere
with the other sister by chatting.”
They pray for global issues and for
personal concerns that people send to
“Now, we take those prayer petitions
very, very seriously, because our life is
for prayer,” she said.
“We’ve come away not to get away,
but to be actually more involved in the
world because you have that space to
kind of sit back and look and consider
and yearn for a better world.”
Masko, whose work taught him that
most people fool themselves about who
they are, remains struck by the sisters’
“They were all so honest,” he said.
Even if they knew that their thoughts
“might sound odd, they don’t really
care. They were aiming for honesty. I
wasn’t used to that and our culture isn’t
used to that.”
He originally sought to produce an
audiobook, so listeners could hear the
sisters’ turns of phrase and tones of
voice. Publishers told him that no one
was interested in cloistered nuns.
A sister at St. Mary’s Abbey adds feed to
a trough in the convent’s barn. Raising
the convent’s few dozen sheep are
among the sisters’ regular duties.
12 • ANGELUS • July 16, 2021
In frustration, he went to talk to
Mother Agnes, the superior.
“She said something like, ‘It’s the will
of the Lord right now. Let it go. You
don’t know if this is the time. And I
thought to myself, maybe she’s right.
Maybe this is not the time,” he said.
“I just put it on the shelf — way up
on top of a 6-foot-tall bookshelf in my
Which is where his elder son, John
Masko IV, found it about eight years
ago, when he was in college.
In the interviews, “I started hearing
words and concepts that were part of
my upbringing,” he said.
“The emphasis on love is a learning
process. To my dad, that is the ultimate
standard of human maturity — having
learned to love.”
As someone used to the speed-of-light
pace of digital information, John IV
was gripped by the focused thoughtfulness
of the sisters’ reflections.
“I was struck by the richness of
these women’s lives. We are all sort of
trained to think that a fast pace and
extreme variety of content in our lives
is necessary in order to have a fulfilling
life. Listening to these interviews, it
really brings home how much you are
missing in a normal, fast-paced life,”
“These women stay on the same fewacre
plot of land their entire life with
the same group of people, have services
at the same time and the same jobs.
They never travel. They never buy
much of anything, and yet they seem
to have some of the most interesting
lives of anyone. They never get bored.
There is a weird, inverse proportionality.
It may actually be that the more
stuff is going on in your life, the more
unfulfilling it is because you don’t
actually fully absorb anything.”
Dr. John Masko is
interviewed by the LA
Catholics digital team
at his home in Cumberland,
Rhode Island, a
10-minute drive from
“do a lot of good.
spending so much
time alone in their
own cloisters. A
lot of people were
struggling to figure
out how to live with themselves and
actually live with the actual people
they live with but don’t usually have to
spend that much time with.”
A friend from California put him in
touch with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles,
whose digital communications
department produced the podcasts.
As his work comes to fruition, Masko
hopes that listeners will gain an appreciation
for the complexity of life and
the primacy of love.
“If even a soul or two is affected, that’s
important,” he said.
The first episode of “The Beauty
Within” podcast launched on June 1.
To listen, visit beautywithin.lacatholics.
Ann Rodgers is a longtime religion reporter
and freelance writer whose awards
include the William A. Reed Lifetime
Achievement Award from the Religion
July 16, 2021 • ANGELUS • 13
The happy hero
of St. Cyprian
Handicapped and ill for much of his
life, Deacon Santiago ‘Jimmy’ Salas was
a force to be reckoned with, whether
ministering in the parish or the prison.
BY STEVE LOWERY
It’s not unusual for people to hug
at a funeral. Of course, these are
usually hugs of consolation, the
kind offered in support and accompanied
by grim expressions, sometimes
There were hugs when they came to
say goodbye — for now — to Deacon
Santiago “Jimmy” Salas. Lots of
hugs, so many hugs before his June
25 funeral Mass that the interior of St.
Cyprian Church in Long Beach resembled
the activities of a particularly
But these hugs were different, offered
with arms and smiles wide and accompanied
often by backslaps, sometimes
laughter. These were the kind of hugs
you’d get at a family reunion or backyard
barbecue, the kind Jimmy and
Lupe, his wife of 42 years, often threw
for friends and those they served,
including those they met through the
Kairos Prison Ministry.
“A guy would get out of prison,
Father Al [Scott] would bring him
to Jimmy’s house for dinner, maybe
watch a movie and then talk about his
reentry into the world,” said Deacon
Brian Conroy, who was part of
Jimmy’s diaconate class and oversees
diaconate formation for the Archdiocese
of Los Angeles.
“It was beautiful: you’re in prison,
Mourners embrace at the funeral for Deacon Santiago
“Jimmy” Salas at St. Cyprian Church in Long
Beach on June 25. | MIKE GOULDING
you get out, now what do you do?
You go to Jimmy’s house! Just beautiful.
It’s why you saw so many happy
people [at his funeral]. He did that for
so many, brought so much joy to so
A devotee of the Cursillo movement
that trains Catholic laypeople to
become active leaders and examples
of Christ’s message, Jimmy embraced
the call to evangelize. Besides his
various duties as a deacon, he worked
14 • ANGELUS • July 16, 2021
with men in prison, incarcerated
juveniles, and delivered the Eucharist
to those trapped at home.
If he encountered someone experiencing
homelessness, Lupe said, “he
would not only give them money,
but many times food, and ask, ‘Hey
brother, what’s your name? Joe? OK,
hello Joe Jones.’ He always respected
someone’s dignity. Jimmy’s favorite
saying was, ‘The only time you look
down on a person is when you’re
picking them up.’ ”
Father Scott gave the homily during
the Mass, calling Jimmy “a hero to
me,” because he “never quit, never
gave up,” though no one would have
faulted him if he had. Jimmy had
been afflicted by numerous ailments
and illnesses for a good deal of his life.
When he was 49, both of his legs had
to be amputated due to diabetes.
And yet, anyone who knew him
knew he was never one to complain,
never one to ask, “Why me?” If anything,
what some saw as physical challenges,
Jimmy viewed as a spiritual
advantage, especially when working
“He was such an example of faithfulness,
he never used what some
people saw as a handicap to get out of
anything; if anything, he used it as an
opportunity,” said Audrey Hamamoto,
a friend and the wife of his deacon
classmate, Joe Hamamoto. “He used
to say the only time he’d used his
handicap to his advantage was to get
to the front of the line to volunteer.”
Then there were those moments that
Jimmy made sure you’d never forget,
like those occasions when he would
slip off both prosthetic legs and place
them in front of himself to answer
someone who believed they had cornered
the market on hardship.
“He’d tell them, ‘You think you have
problems? Let me tell you what problems
are,’ ” said Joe Hamamoto.
During prison ministry, Jimmy was
known to use one of the legs as a
gavel, banging it on a table to call to
order overly excited or unruly young
men at a juvenile detention center.
To those with whom he went
through diaconate training, Jimmy
served as a lesson that “we had to be
men of faith, we had to know that
we are here to serve, to always be an
example,” Joe said. He could provide
that lesson because he had been
serving in numerous ministries long
before he showed up to diaconate
training at Alemany High School.
“Jimmy,” Deacon Conroy noted,
“was doing deacon things long before
he became a deacon.”
Lupe said that his inspiration to
serve was born after attending his first
Cursillo movement event. The pair
had met at a family get-together at
Lupe’s aunt’s. Her cousin had called
her over, introduced her to Jimmy,
and casually added that, “This is the
man you’re going to marry.” Lupe
laughed but, a year later, they were
“He was so kind and patient,” she
said. “You couldn’t help but fall in
love with him.”
Lupe described themselves as “cradle
Catholics” whose faith practice didn’t
extend far past attending Sunday
Mass. But then Jimmy attended
Cursillo as a favor to someone who
asked him to, his expectations low to
nonexistent. When he returned home,
Lupe noticed the difference immediately.
Jimmy and Lupe Salas
with Archbishop José H.
Gomez at Salas’ diaconate
ordination in 2016.
| VICTOR ALEMÁN
walk back into
the house, he
said. “It totally
he was nearly
I thought, ‘What
did they do to
this poor man?’ I thought they had
Whatever it did to his brain, the experience
had scrubbed his heart along
the way, too. Lupe would have her
own Cursillo experience and the pair
would embark on a lifetime of serving,
most often together, Lupe saying that
Jimmy was “the brains and I was his
hands and legs.”
The pair remained a team when
Jimmy became a deacon in 2016,
something common among diaconate
couples. Virtually all of the couples
July 16, 2021 • ANGELUS • 15
from Jimmy and Lupe’s diaconate
class were at the funeral, forming an
honor guard of sorts on either side of
the aisle as Jimmy’s casket passed by to
the tune of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy.”
Though diaconate classes are known
to be close, this particular class was exceptionally
so, assembling for annual
getaways and often spending time at
one anothers’ homes. In many ways,
Jimmy was the center from which
much of that happened. He was
beloved by them, the affection that his
brothers had for him never as palpable
as the day of his ordination.
Because of his physical limitations,
Jimmy was excused by Archbishop
José H. Gomez from having to kneel
or prostrate himself during the ceremony.
“But he really wanted to be with
everybody else in everything,” Conroy
said. “So, the two biggest guys in the
class placed themselves on either side
of him. They put him down on the
ground and they picked him back up.
It was a beautiful thing to see.”
Beautiful things happened a lot
when Jimmy was involved, and they
happened right up until he passed
away. Just three weeks before he died,
Jimmy had made a promise to officiate
at the baptism of his nephew’s
son, but as the day approached, he’d
become so ill that he could hardly get
out of bed. The night before, Lupe
told him everyone would understand
if he couldn’t do it.
“He told me he was just going to pray
really hard and see what God brings,”
The next morning, Jimmy said he
felt well enough to do it, but Lupe
said she had her doubts. “His eyes
looked sunken in. I had to help him
in and out of the car.”
But once he arrived at the church,
everything changed. It was as if “the
Holy Spirit slammed into his chest,”
Lupe said. “He was alive, gregarious,
talkative. He did a beautiful job, he
even went to the after-party!
“It was like a miracle God granted, a
beautiful gift for him and us.”
And for Jimmy’s fellow deacon class,
there was that final gift that came in
the timing of his death: Thursday,
June 10, the night before the fifth
anniversary of Jimmy’s ordination as a
Santiago “Jimmy” Salas Jr. was 68.
He is survived by his wife, Lupe, son
Santiago “Jimmy” Salas III, daughters
Alicia Salas and Amanda Salas, and
grandchildren A.J. Cruz, Santiago
Salas IV, and Chelsea Salas.
Steve Lowery is the arts and culture
editor for the Long Beach Post and
a parishioner at American Martyrs
Church in Manhattan Beach.
Fellow deacons gather around Salas’ casket for a final
farewell after his funeral Mass. | MIKE GOULDING
16 • ANGELUS • July 16, 2021
The honorees of this year’s St. John Seminary Annual
Awards Gala, from left to right: Father Patrick Mullen,
Msgr. Jim Forsen, Christopher and Laura Meissner,
and Msgr. Tim Nichols. | ST. JOHN’S SEMINARY
St. John’s gala to honor longtime
LA pastors, seminary benefactors
BY TOM HOFFARTH
By the time the annual gala for St. John’s Seminary
returns to the Plaza at the Cathedral of Our Lady of
the Angels on Sept. 18, it will be a full two years since
supporters have been able to meet in person to celebrate the
successes of the alumni from the Camarillo campus.
COVID-19 restrictions led to a virtual event in 2020, but it
still was one that St. John’s Seminary board president Dan
Schwala called “very successful” and marked by generous
contributions from benefactors throughout the archdiocese
That included a Daniel Murphy Foundation grant of
$250,000 to upgrade classrooms into the digital age with
technology enhancements as well as more renovations and
repairs. More than $100,000 also came from the seminary
board of directors.
Schwala is counting on having a reenergized fundraising
effort as three priests who were scheduled to be recognized
in 2020 will now be honored for their service:
• Father Patrick Mullen, the pastor at Padre Serra Church
in Camarillo, is a former St. John’s Seminary faculty member.
He has a Ph.D. in biblical studies/New Testament from
the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley after receiving
his Bachelor of Arts in philosophy and a M.Div. at St.
John’s Seminary, graduating in 1985. A regular speaker at
the Religious Education Congress in Anaheim, he has also
been involved in giving retreats and continuing education
seminars to priests in Southern California and beyond.
• Msgr. James Forsen, the pastor of Visitation Church in
Westchester, was the archdiocesan vocations director for
more than 10 years, starting in 2002. This came after 12
years as the pastor at St. John the Baptist Church in Baldwin
Park. He was ordained a priest in 1979 after graduating from
St. John’s Seminary and has served as an associate pastor
at St. Joan of Arc Church in West LA as well as St. Mark
Church in Venice, and Our Lady of Lourdes in East LA.
• Msgr. Tim Nichols, the pastor at St. John Vianney
Church in Hacienda Heights, was ordained in 1973 and
received his M.Div. and Master of Arts from St. John’s Seminary.
He was also the head of the LA Council of Priests. One
of his great challenges at St. John Vianney was gathering his
parishioners to lead a $5 million-plus fundraising effort to
build a new church in 2018, seven years after an arsonist’s
fire destroyed the longtime sanctuary.
Also, Christopher and Laura Meissner will be recognized
with the Evangelii Gaudium (“Joy of the Gospel”) Award for
their longtime support of St. John’s Seminary and their years
of service to the church and to the wider community. Christopher
Meissner, president and CEO of Meissner Filtration
Products, has been on the St. John’s Seminary board since
For St. John’s Seminary rector Father Marco Durazo, the
ways in which Catholics persevered to stay connected with
the Eucharist during the COVID-19 shutdowns has underscored
the importance of vocations to the priesthood like
“Without St. John’s, there would be no formation of priests
to celebrate the Eucharist and the other sacraments and to
lead the faithful in their spiritual journey,” said Father Durazo.
“Each and every one of us needs to support our seminary,
because the future of our Church depends upon it.
“The origins of the seminary’s annual gala lie in the critical
need of building a deeper awareness of the paramount and
profound importance of St. John’s Seminary to each and
every Catholic throughout the archdiocese and beyond.”
To learn more about attending or supporting this year’s
annual awards gala, visit stjohnsem.edu/Gala.
Tom Hoffarth is an award-winning journalist based in Los
July 16, 2021 • ANGELUS • 17
Acts of contrition
If Pope Francis repeats his predecessor’s apology to
indigenous Canadians for abuses at residential schools, will
it stick this time?
BY JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
ROME — At one level, the
current press for Pope Francis to
apologize for the abuse of indigenous
persons at Church-run residential
schools in Canada might seem a
bit gratuitous, given that another pope
already did issue such an apology more
than a decade ago.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who
became the first pope in history to
apologize for the clerical sexual abuse
crisis during a meeting with victims in
the United States in 2008, issued the
“mea culpa” to indigenous Canadians
Pope Benedict met representatives of
the First Nations, groups of Canada’s
indigenous population, in the Vatican
in late April 2009, roughly a year after
his trip to the U.S. Though the session
itself was private, the Vatican issued
a statement afterward indicating the
pontiff had delivered the hoped-for
“Given the sufferings that some indigenous
children experienced in the
Canadian residential school system,
the Holy Father expressed his sorrow
at the anguish caused by the deplorable
conduct of some members of the
Phil Fontaine, leader of Canada’s Assembly of First
Nations, at the Vatican in 2009. Fontaine was one of the
native leaders who met then with Pope Benedict XVI
about the legacy of Indian residential schools, many of
which were run by Catholic dioceses and orders.
| MANUELA DE MEO/CNS, CATHOLIC PRESS PHOTO
church and he offered his sympathy
and prayerful solidarity,” the Vatican
Members of the First Nations groups
at the time called the apology historic.
“Today, to listen to the Holy Father
explain his profound sorrow and
18 • ANGELUS • July 16, 2021
sadness and to express that there was
no room for this sort of abuse to take
place in the residential schools, that
is an emotional barrier that now has
been lifted for many people,” said
Chief Edward John of the Tlazten
Phil Fontaine, national chief of the
Assembly of First Nations, also said he
appreciated the apology.
“I think His Holiness understands
the pain that was endured by so many,
and I heard him say that it caused
him great anguish,” said Fontaine. “I
also heard His Holiness say that the
abuse of the nature that was inflicted
on us has no place in the Church; it’s
“What I heard,” Fontaine added, “it
gives me comfort.”
It was also praised by the prelate
who represented the Canadian
bishops in the session, Archbishop
Gérard Pettipas of the Archdiocese of
“It was important to hear from the
one person who does speak for the
Catholic Church around the world, to
hear him say ‘I am sorry. I feel for what
you people have suffered. We hope
that we can turn the page and move
toward a better future together,’ ” he
It was well known a decade ago that
more than 150,000 native Canadian
children had been compelled to attend
these residential schools from the
mid-19th century through the 1970s,
that for most of that time the schools
had been run by the Catholic Church,
and that physical and sexual abuse had
been rampant. Thus Pope Benedict
was issuing a blanket apology for the
whole sorry story, while unambiguously
recognizing the Church’s role in it.
Given that history, how does one
explain the recent press by indigenous
Canadians for more apologies,
including one from the pope, which
they now hope will come in a Dec.
17-20 audience with Pope Francis
announced this week by the Canadian
Equally, how do we explain the
public demand for an apology by
Canadian Prime Minister Justin
Trudeau, who claimed the Church
has been “silent” and “not stepping
up”? Surely someone in the Canadian
government, or the country’s bishops’
conference, could gently point out
that his claims of silence aren’t quite
For one thing, 12 years ago is a long
time, and it’s possible that not only the
emotional impact of Pope Benedict’s
apology has faded but the very memory
of it in some quarters. The fact that
Pope Benedict’s papacy generally had
a reduced public and media profile
may play some role.
For another, we didn’t know in 2009
that the suffering of native children
for more than a century included not
merely physical and sexual abuse, but
also deaths amid neglect and obscurity.
That reality was brought home by
the recent Kamloops discovery earlier
this year, when the remains of some
250 children, unceremoniously placed
in what amounts to a mass grave,
were found on the grounds of what
had been the country’s single largest
residential school. Since that discovery
was made in late May, the finding of
remains on the grounds of other residential
schools has also been reported.
The past 12 years have also, of
course, witnessed the further unraveling
of the Catholic Church’s public
standing due to further revelations of
various sorts of abuse, combined with
the sometimes anemic and unconvincing
efforts of Church authorities to
come to terms with that past.
All of that makes Pope Francis’
mid-December session with members
of three different Canadian indigenous
groups — First Nations, the Metis,
and the Inuit — which will include elders
and Knowledge Keepers, residential
school survivors, and youth from
across the country, especially fraught.
No doubt Pope Francis will deliver
the desired apology, as Pope Benedict
did before him. In this case, the session
will stretch over a full three days,
with the pontiff
Protesters take part in a
group of indigenous
march from the Ontario
in Toronto on June 6,
after the remains of 215
at the end, and
children were found on
it strains credulity
that the Vat-
the grounds of the Kamloops
ican would have
School in May. | CHRIS
agreed to such a
pope will deliver.
Will the apology stick this time?
Perhaps, in all likelihood, it depends
in part on how many more gruesome
revelations the future holds, and therefore
how much previous apologies fade
from memory in the harsh light of new
John L. Allen Jr. is the editor of Crux.
July 16, 2021 • ANGELUS • 19
A first-century fresco from Pompeii depicting a woman in thought. Women — then as now — were often the victims of coerced abortion. | WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
An ancient social injustice
The Church’s position on abortion is nothing
new. Since the days of the early Church,
Christians have fought against the practice —
even when no one else would.
BY MIKE AQUILINA
20 • ANGELUS • July 16, 2021
Abortion may dominate the news
cycle, but there is nothing new
Nor is the Church’s response to
abortion different than it was in the
Abortion was, in fact, the first social
injustice confronted by Christians,
plainly, passionately, and without
In time, believers would similarly
oppose slavery, capital punishment,
and other institutions of pagan society.
But the condemnation of abortion
was singular in its consistency and
vehemence from the very beginning of
the Gospel proclamation.
The Apostolic Teaching
Modern proponents of abortion
sometimes argue that the issue is
absent from the New Testament. But
that is not the case.
In his Letter to the Galatians (5:19–
20), St. Paul likely makes reference to
drugs that were prescribed to induce
abortion. “Now the works of the flesh
are plain,” he says, “fornication, impurity,
licentiousness” — and next in
his list comes the Greek word “pharmakeia.”
We recognize the word instantly as
the root of our English terms “pharmacy”
and “pharmaceutical.” In English
it is sometimes translated as “potions”
or “drugs,” but also as “sorcery” or
“magic.” The range of possibilities is
real. The ancients drew no bright line
between pharmacy and sorcery, and
practitioners of one were often practitioners
of the other. When Plato used
the term “pharmakeia,” he used it to
denote abortifacient drugs.
The context of Paul’s usage suggests
that he intends the same meaning for
the word. He places “pharmakeia”
immediately after three words denoting
Related Greek terms (“pharmakeion,”
“pharmakeusin,” “pharmakoi”) also
turn up in the Book of Revelation
(9:21, 21:8, and 22:15), and in every
instance they appear in lists of immoral
acts, adjacent to terms suggesting
This is not an imaginative reading of
the text, propounded by conservative
Christian interpreters. It is presented
as fact in the standard academic
history of contraception and abortion,
“Eve’s Herbs,” written by pro-abortion
historian John M. Riddle and published
by Harvard University Press.
It is, moreover, confirmed by the
unanimous interpretation of the early
Church Fathers, beginning in the first
The Next Generation
Consider the witness of the “Didache,”
whose text, according to modern
scholars, was compiled between
The “Didache” presents Christian
moral teaching within the sacramental
dispensation of the Church. The
opening line provides context for all
that follows: “There are two Ways, one
of Life and one of Death; but there
is a great difference between the two
At the outset, its moral teaching
seems to be a simple recitation of the
Ten Commandments: “Thou shalt not
kill.” “Thou shalt not commit adultery.”
“Thou shalt not steal.” But then
comes a startling interpolation. In the
midst of the familiar commandments,
the “Didache” charges its readers:
“Thou shalt not practice sorcery.”
“Thou shalt not procure abortion.”
Thus, this earliest Christian document
— which presents itself as “The
Teaching of the Lord by the Twelve
Apostles to the Gentiles” — places
abortion among the primordial
concerns of the Church and the most
fundamental laws of God.
For those who transgress these norms,
the early Church required repentance.
“Thou shalt confess thy transgressions,”
says the “Didache,” “and thou
shalt not come to thy place of prayer
with an evil conscience.” Later, the
text declares the necessity of a previous
confession of sins before eucharistic
Communion, “that your sacrifice may
The prohibition of abortion appears
in identical language in the “Epistle
of Barnabas,” which was written later
in the same century: “Thou shalt not
slay a child by procuring abortion.”
The letter goes on to describe those
who commit abortion as “murderers of
children and destroyers of the workmanship
In the “Apocalypse of Peter,” an
apocryphal document of the early
part of the next century, the author
claims to have seen a vision of hell
that included the souls of many who
had performed, sought, and otherwise
The Great Apologists
In the second century arose a movement
known as the apologists, because
they provided a well-reasoned explanation
of the Christian faith. The word
comes from the Greek “apologeisthai,”
meaning “to speak in defense.”
Christian doctrine regarding abortion
was something that required explanation
and defense, because it was
something that set Christians apart
from almost every other culture and
subculture on the planet. The pagan
Romans, Greeks, Phoenicians, and
Persians had no qualms about the
practice; and it was condoned and
even promoted by Socrates, Aristotle,
Seneca, and many others.
Christians (and Jews) stood alone
in their rejection of abortion. That
In A.D. 177, Athenagoras of Athens
addressed a respectful letter to the
Emperor Marcus Aurelius and his son
Commodus. He addressed common
misconceptions about his religion, and
he spells out the common Christian
belief about the sanctity of pre-born
life. Christians, he said, “regard the
very fetus in the womb as a created being,
and therefore an object of God’s
care.” Furthermore, he added, “those
who use drugs to bring on abortion
commit murder, and will have to give
an account to God for the abortion.”
Another document from that time,
the anonymous “Letter to Diognetus,”
informs a Roman official that Christians
“beget children, but they do not
destroy their offspring,” and this very
fact makes them different from their
Yet another contemporary, Minucius
Felix, a North African practicing law
in Rome, reported: “There are some
women who, by drinking medical
preparations, extinguish the source of
the future man in their very bowels
and thus commit a parricide before
they bring forth. ... To us [believers]
it is not lawful either to see or hear of
July 16, 2021 • ANGELUS • 21
These voices are joined by many others,
but none so passionately and often
as that of Tertullian, another North
African jurist, who lived at the end of
the second century.
He wrote, in his great “Apology”: “We
may not destroy even the fetus in the
womb. ... To hinder a birth is merely a
In another work, he said poetically
that those who cause abortion “pour
out the blood of the future.”
It was Tertullian who first stated explicitly
what others only implied: that
human life begins at conception.
Tertullian knew the reality of
abortion. In his work “On the Soul,”
he provides shockingly graphic
several methods of
is a certain instrument,
which is formed with a nicely
adjusted flexible frame for opening
the uterus first of all and keeping it
open; it is further furnished with an
annular blade, by means of which the
limbs [of the child] within the womb
are dissected with anxious but unfaltering
care; its last appendage being a
blunted or covered hook, wherewith
the entire fetus is extracted by a violent
“There is also a copper needle or
spike, by which the actual death is
managed in this furtive robbery of
life. They give it, from its infanticide
function, the name of ... ‘the slayer of
the infant.’ ”
To understand and explain such
realities was a difficult but necessary
task for a Christian like Tertullian, an
intelligent believer who was active in
Councils And Discipline
Yet it was not only lay Christians who
spoke about abortion. Bishops did,
too, and with the full weight of their
The Spanish hierarchy met in Elvira
in A.D. 305 to consider a wide range
of disciplinary matters. The bishops
summarized their conclusions in a
series of canons. Two dealt specifically
with abortion, and prescribed that
anyone guilty of the sin should be
denied access to the sacraments until
the end of life.
Nine years later, bishops met at
Ancyra, the capital of Galatia, and invoked
the “ancient law” as it was stated
at Elvira, but “softened” the penalty,
imposing only 10 years of exclusion
from the sacraments.
The great churchmen of the fourth
and fifth centuries — St. Basil, St.
John Chrysostom, St. Jerome, St.
Ambrose — all condemned abortion
in the strongest terms, as had St. Cyprian,
St. Hippolytus, and St. Clement
During the early years of the Church,
Christian doctrine regarding abortion set
Christians apart from almost every other
culture and subculture on the planet.
before them. They faulted those who
performed abortion — or provided the
drugs — as well as those who procured
This was never a local issue. Nor was
it a passing fad. It was always, and it
St. Augustine wrote about the
practice in several places. He knew
nothing of embryology, and much of
his scientific speculation (like much
of Aristotle’s) proved to be wrong. But
in his moral analysis he was unwavering.
He made clear in several works
that the act of intentional abortion
was always gravely sinful. Today, his
arguments are all the stronger, when
supported by modern science.
With the Edict of Milan in 313,
the Emperor Constantine legalized
the observance of Christian religion.
Gradually, in the century that followed,
Christian doctrine influenced
Roman law. It was no longer legal, for
example, to rape or kill a slave. And
abortion and infanticide were now
The practice never disappeared, of
course. Because pregnancy outside
wedlock was considered an occasion
of shame, desperate women still
sought abortion, and unscrupulous
practitioners still plied the trade. The
issue continued to arise in sermons,
disciplinary manuals, and penitential
But it was no longer necessary to
argue the matter. In a Christian world,
the practice was known to be grievously
sinful, like the rape or murder
of a slave. The fact that such practices
were legally condoned by pagan Rome
was no argument in their favor.
The Christian principles that protected
the unborn would eventually lead
to other notions that today we take
for granted: universal human dignity,
These are all
made possible by
makes them work
is their universality,
their catholicity, which the Christian
Way demands. But if one class of people
can deprive another of the right
to life, then all the other principles,
and all the rights and protections they
brought about, will fall in time.
The opposition to abortion is — like
all those other good things — a historical
anomaly. The medical historian
Riddle speaks of Christianity as
breaking a “chain of knowledge” that
had made it possible and acceptable to
kill children with impunity.
He is right, of course. The prohibition
of abortion was distinctive to
early Christianity and key to Christian
identity. For the first Christians — the
Fathers, the martyrs, the apologists —
this doctrine on abortion was essential,
not peripheral. Thus, it was subject to
the Church’s discipline.
What seems news to the media
today — and even to some Catholic
politicians — is actually an argument
settled against brutal paganism a long,
long time ago.
Mike Aquilina is author of the book
“The Fathers of the Church,” host of
the “Way of the Fathers” podcast, and a
contributing editor to Angelus.
22 • ANGELUS • July 16, 2021
When Silicon Thoughts on the
perils of looking
for the wrong kind
want to die BY MSGR. RICHARD ANTALL
imitates art,” said Oscar Wilde in his essay “Decay
of Lying,” turning Aristotle’s saying on its head.
Sometimes Wilde was a prophet.
Case in point: a May 31 article in Bloomberg Businessweek
began by announcing, “As the tech industry has matured,
people in Silicon Valley have become obsessed with developing
ways to stop the human aging process.”
It is a phenomenon that recalls Aldous Huxley’s novel
of Southern California, “After Many a Summer Dies the
Swan.” First published in 1939, and perhaps inspired by
the figure of William Randolph Hearst, the novel is about
a wealthy tycoon, Jo Stoyte, who pays for the research of a
quack scientist named Doctor Obispo to find the secret of
Some of the tycoons of the Silicon Valley, according to
Bloomberg Businessweek, unnamed in the piece, began
experimenting with “really long bike rides and intermittent
fasting” and progressed to “taking dozens of pills every morning,
or injecting stem cells into their brain [sic], or infusing
their body with the blood of the young and virile.”
The goal is what is called “life-extension,” exactly what the
millionaire Stoyte seeks in Huxley’s novel. Stoyte eventually
finds out about an English lord, the Fifth Earl of Gonister,
who discovered that eating fish viscera prolonged life. Eventually,
the millionaire finds the earl, who has shrunken to an
ape-like state and is hidden in the basement of an English
estate. He has found immortality, but it has taken a frightening
The novel’s title comes from a poem by Alfred Tennyson
about Tithonus, a Trojan prince in Greek mythology who
was kidnapped by Eos, the goddess of the dawn. Eos, who
was in love with Tithonus, begged Zeus to give the young
man immortality. She neglected to add eternal youth to the
The man does not die but is so withered he eventually has
no strength and only babbles ceaselessly, becoming a cicada.
Tennyson’s poem has Tithonus reflecting:
Man comes and tills the field and lies beneath, / And after
many a summer dies the swan. / Me only cruel immortality /
Consumes: I wither slowly in thine arms.
What price immortality? The Greek myth is really a cautionary
tale for all of us. As medicine prolongs life, vitality
24 • ANGELUS • July 16, 2021
becomes an issue.
Scientists are studying the aging process in dogs, the
Bloomberg article reports, because the two species have
“co-evolved” according to a woman who has a startup called
“Cellular Longevity.” She has raised $11 million and projects
trials of two anti-aging drugs soon.
She is involved in a growing field of research. Part of this
involves the medicine sometimes called rapamycin, developed
from a bacteria found in the soil of Easter Island. Rapamycin
is used for cancer patients as an immunosuppressant,
but there are some people experimenting with low doses to
with dogs is a
We live in an age
compete with babies
So, it is natural
that some 30,000
dog owners are
with a research
with a grant of
$25 million from
the National Institutes
(yep, your tax dollars
at work). At
least 200 “middle
aged” dogs will
be given rapamycin
doses to see
if they can retain
their vigor. Doggy
immortality as a
If this sounds
like science fiction,
perhaps you have read or heard of the novel by Robert
Heinlein called “Methuselah’s Children.” In the novel, selective
breeding has produced a clan of people who eventually
have an average lifespan of 150 years. They hide this by
faking their own deaths and maintaining a secret connection
with one another.
A critic of Heinlein’s writing calls the theme of “escaping
death” as very important for the science-fiction writer.
Escaping death is certainly close to denying death. As a
pastor I see that our culture has become more and more
diffident about accepting death. Even in my mostly blue-collar
parish, I see important changes in the American way of
dealing with death.
Wakes are declining, funeral Masses are, too. Cremation
has become very popular, and not just because of the
outrageous expense of some funerals. “Cremains” are kept
at home or thrown into lakes and rivers. Disneyland has
Italian artist Antonio Balestra’s “Aurora Taking Leave of Tithonus,” 1704. | WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
protocols to guard against people depositing the cremains
of relatives at the amusement park, a happening that occurs
about once a month according to an article published in
People are fabricating jewelry to hold ashes of relatives or
make them into some kind of crystal “death diamonds,” I
call them, to be worn on your neck, fingers, or ears. I have
seen these advertised at Catholic funeral parlors.
Death is hard for people to accept and so it is disguised in
many different ways. One way is the pursuit of the Fountain
of Youth. It is a myth that Ponce de Leon sought that,
but it is certain
that many men
and women in
(I’d rather not get
into details) are
youth. How much
has this to do with
the fear of death?
If you ask
they want to die,
most will say no.
The sick and
a death wish,
and despair has
a bigger place in
our culture with
suicides. But the
majority of people
want to live. That
who want to
They want to go to Jesus, who, as the Swiss theologian
Hans Urs von Balthasar wrote in his book “Theological
Anthropology,” never experienced old age and promises
spiritual eternal youth. We hope for an eternal life that is not
like Tithonus’ immortality of withering away, but a new kind
of life, as different from this one as a seed is from a plant,
according to St. Paul.
I would recommend that some of the titans in Silicon Valley,
especially those who are getting unnecessary transfusions
of blood and hoping for some earthly paradise of the aged, to
read “After Many a Summer Dies a Swan.” After that, they
should be ready to take a look at the New Testament.
Msgr. Richard Antall is pastor of Holy Name Church in
Cleveland, Ohio. He is the author of several books, including
“The Wedding” (Lambing Press, $16.95) and the forthcoming
novel “The X-mas Files.”
July 16, 2021 • ANGELUS • 25
Like a thief in the night
When the emperor Constantine,
through the herculean
prayer power of his mother,
unshackled the faith in the Roman
Empire, he himself put off his own
baptism. He still had much to accomplish
as the supreme leader of the
most powerful empire on earth, and
believed the responsibilities of his
station required him to perform many
In other words, he didn’t want to
“waste” his baptism and its benefit of
washing away one’s sin. Luckily for
Constantine, and unluckily for his
rivals and enemies, he pulled it off and
was received into the Church on his
Oh, if we all could be as lucky as an
emperor of ancient Rome.
Fast forward 1,684 years. Your troubles
and sins may not be as great as
a fourth-century absolute ruler, but
maybe you had a rough day at the
office, came home thinking un-Christian
things about your boss, or took
Emergency crews in Surfside, Florida, just north
of Miami Beach, respond in the rain to the partial
collapse of a residential building June 24. | MARCO
your frustration and anger out on your
wife and kids. There might be homework
that isn’t getting done or bills
that cannot be paid. You might go to
bed thinking tomorrow will be better.
Tomorrow you will act kinder, more
26 • ANGELUS • July 2, 2021
Robert Brennan is director of
communications at The Salvation
Army California South Division.
lovingly, and more forgiving.
What if tomorrow never comes?
Jesus warned us not to put our
conversions on the layaway plan three
centuries before Constantine was
born. Just like life can sneak up on us
as we look in a mirror at gray hair, and
hair where it just doesn’t belong, death
can be even more devious, resembling
that thief in the night Jesus cautioned
No child recited the traditional bedtime
prayer: “Now I lay me down to
sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
and if I die before I wake, I pray the
Lord my soul will take,” thinking they
were not going to see another day.
But death came to a still unknown
number of victims in the dreadful
collapse of a condominium complex
in Florida in June. It happened in the
wee hours of the morning, so it is safe
to assume most victims had already
laid their heads on their pillows.
Whether they were feeling good or ill
about their life, or whether they were
in a state of grace or not, death came,
not quietly like a thief, but loud and
roaring like a wrecking ball from hell.
The death toll from the building
collapse is yet to be tallied. Maybe,
God willing, we will hear about a miracle
and there will be someone who survived,
but more likely we will have to
satisfy ourselves with prayers for God’s
mercy for both the living and especially
for the dead.
When this ghastly story begins to fade
in media interest, we will go back to
our lives as before. It is just the way
God made humans. We will climb inside
a couple thousand pounds of steel
and hurtle ourselves on freeways at
80 miles an hour. We will shuffle into
aluminum tubes with wings and zip
through the air at hundreds of miles an
hour, fully expecting to arrive safely at
So much of our popular culture is
about how much control we have over
ourselves and our world. Slogans like
“Our bodies ourselves” have never
been more in style. In entertainment,
we see all manner of people seemingly
in control of their lives. So-called lifestyle
shows that permeate television are
all about those who truly believe they
are captains of their own ships.
Yet, as the collapse of what seemed
like a perfectly good piece of 20th-century
modern construction has reminded
us, we really are not in control of a
lot of things. This suppressed knowledge
always has a way of creeping back
up into our conscious minds, especially
when there is a catastrophe like
the one in Florida. Earthquakes and
airplane crashes have the same effect
The apostles thought they were in
control, too. They had seen their boss
walk on water, cure the sick, and raise
the dead. If there ever were any 12
people who should have had a sense of
God’s sovereignty, it should have been
them. But they had their moments
of fear and uncertainty until they all
finally realized just who was in control,
and they became fearless and faithful.
This ghastly episode in Florida can
be hammered into a blessing, if we use
it as a reminder of the Lord’s advice
regarding being prepared for when and
however our age-old nemesis decides
to come to us.
July 16, 2021 • ANGELUS • 27
July 2, 2021 • ANGELUS • 27
INSIDE THE PAGES
Between the ‘good
spirit’ and the ‘enemy’
Every day comes with a spiritual
struggle. Knowing our opponent’s
tactics can help us win.
In “When You Struggle
in the Spiritual Life: An
Ignatian Path to Freedom”
$14.95), Father Timothy Gallagher,
OMV, addresses the
everyday challenges faced
by those seeking a deeper
relationship with God.
Drawing from the spiritual
wisdom of St. Ignatius of
Loyola and from the second
rule of his classic discernment
of spirits, Father Gallagher
breaks open the four
ways in which the “enemy”
tries to discourage people
from moving more closely
to God, and the five ways
in which the “good spirit”
is going to try to encourage
persons on their journey.
Father Timothy Gallagher, OMV
“St. Ignatius of Loyola,” by Juan
Martínez Montañés, 1568-1649,
Spanish. | WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
Kris McGregor: St. Ignatius truly understands that the daily
struggle in the spiritual life is real, doesn’t he?
Father Timothy Gallagher: Yes, he does!
We’re all well-aware that there are times of energy in the
spiritual life when God feels close and prayer is alive, and we
look forward to the new steps.
And then, for reasons we often don’t understand, the bottom
seems to drop out of that energy. It’s hard to even want to
pray. And if I can say this reverently, maybe we don’t pray,
or pray less, or not as well as we wish we did. The energy for
those new steps and involvement in the parish and living our
vocation more deeply — all of that seems to wane.
Because we don’t understand it, we don’t really know how
to respond to it. Most of the time we don’t even know how to
28 • ANGELUS • July 16, 2021
Kris McGregor is the founder of
Discerninghearts.com, an online resource for
the best in contemporary Catholic spirituality.
talk about it until Ignatius gives us a vocabulary. But it’s very
real, and it matters a lot in the spiritual life. Ignatius brings
us clarity, and gives us a set of tools to know how to respond
McGregor: All the rules in the discernment of spirits are
essential gems. Why is this book primarily dedicated to the
Father Gallagher: Every one of the rules is useful, and so in
whatever order you learn them, they’re going to be a blessing.
But obviously there is a reason why Ignatius wrote them
in the order that he did, and learning them with a certain
systematic approach is going to be helpful.
He looks at the “good spirit” and the “enemy.” The good
spirit is God, the Holy Spirit, the good angels, the rich work
of grace in us, good influences around us in the world. And
the enemy is Satan and his fallen angels, the wound of concupiscence,
that weakness as a legacy of original sin, and all
the harmful influences around us.
They’re both real, both important, and they both need to
be understood in the spiritual life, but they are not equal
parts. The enemy is of a higher order than we are, but still no
more than a fallen creature. And the good spirit is the infinite
eternal omnipotent, endlessly faithful, present, loving Savior
This is a whole spirituality of hope. It is all about freedom.
It’s about setting us free from these discouraging lies and
tactics of the enemy.
The second rule speaks to the situation of anybody who
seeks to grow in their relationship with God. A person who
sincerely loves God, who is a person of faith, who wants to be
faithful to God, who wants to live according to the teaching
of Jesus, wants to be loving. And this person will encounter
the ups and downs of the spiritual life.
McGregor: Ignatius’ teachings on the four tactics of the
enemy says he will “bite, sadden and place obstacles,” but
will also affect us by “disquieting with false reasons.” I think
that is a really tricky one.
Father Gallagher: In this particular tactic of the enemy, the
enemy is speaking to our thoughts. It’s about reasons that the
enemy brings to discourage us.
Because the enemy, as Jesus says, is the liar and the father of
lies, when the enemy brings reasons they are going to be false
reasons. There’s not going to be truth in them, maybe a grain
of truth, but twisted so much that it becomes a lie, or even
just an outright lie.
The effective consequences of these false reasons that the
enemy will propose is to trouble our hearts. When we find
ourselves thinking in ways that are false, we may not see it
immediately. This is why it is important to be aware and
to understand what is troubling our hearts, to be aware of
what may appear as involuntary thoughts, temptations, and
Realizing this as a tactic of the enemy, we can say, “Wait
a minute.” That’s the awareness. “You know what, this isn’t
right.” That’s the understanding. And then we know these
thoughts are of the enemy and we say, “I’m not going to
let this stop me.” That’s taking action to reject. I love that,
because that’s freedom in the spiritual life.
McGregor: If the enemy has four tactics, God has five. He’s
never outdone! Ignatius says the good spirit will “give courage
and strength, consolations, tears, inspirations and quiet,
easing and taking away all obstacles.”
It’s really the power of grace and being able to receive that,
to be aware of it, to understand it, and then allowing it to
carry us, that’s key.
Father Gallagher: That’s the bottom line in this whole
thing. There are all sorts of nuances to this, but sometimes
we can be very aware of the enemy and the discouragement,
and not aware enough of the bigger part of the picture, and
that’s the good spirit. We’re on the winning side in this. And
so it really is a blessing to focus on the ways in which the
good spirit is at work every day. So to be aware of that, to
understand it for the action.
In this case, it’s, “Oh. …” That’s the awareness. “Oh, this
is so helpful.” That’s the understanding. And then thanking
the Lord, and opening our hearts to receive it. That’s to take
If you look at the two things — what God does in the
spiritual life and how the enemy attempts to discourage us
from that — both are important, both are real. But obviously
what is primary, absolutely, is what God is doing. And so
that’s always the most
important thing in the
We know by experience
that when we open our
hearts to this loving,
strengthening action of
the good spirit, we grow
so much. But having said
that, it is also very liberating
to be aware of and
name and understand
these four tactics of the
enemy and firmly reject
them, because that safeguards
and opens up the
path for the action of God
in our lives.
July 16, 2021 • ANGELUS • 29
The global garage sale and the quest for more
Lately I’ve been reading a lot
about “stuff.” How much of it we
have, what we do with it while
we’re alive, what happens to it when
The latter is actually a big problem.
In the olden days, people would pass
down their heirlooms, furniture, and
household goods and the recipients
were thrilled to get them. But today
no one wants a 12-piece dinner set, or
a set of sterling silver, or a heavy oak
table with eight dining room chairs.
To me, the point isn’t how many or
few belongings we own but how much
we love and care for them.
The problem is that very likely no one
else cares for them. There’s a name for
the favor you’re supposed to do your
relatives and friends by getting rid of
your belongings before you croak. It’s
set forth in such books as “The Gentle
Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How
to Free Yourself and Your Family
from a Lifetime of Clutter” (Scribner,
$16.99), by Margareta Magnusson.
Again, I get it — but there’s something
peculiarly Western about the notion
that your person, your belongings,
and the space you inhabit are a burden
on the rest of the world.
Adam Minter considers the “death
cleaning” aspect of our belongings,
and many others, in his book “Secondhand:
Travels in the New Global
Garage Sale” (Bloomsbury Publishing,
Tammy Wilcox, manager of a Minneapolis,
Minnesota, company called
30 • ANGELUS • July 16, 2021
Heather King is an award-winning
author, speaker, and workshop leader.
Gentle Transitions, makes a living
clearing out the living spaces of people
who have permanently moved on. “I
went through pics of safaris, animals,
his whole life,” she observes of one recently
deceased gent. “I told his family
they should take them. They said no.
1-800-JUNK came, and it broke my
Many people drive up from Nogales,
Mexico, to the Tucson, Arizona, Goodwill
stores daily to comb the wares
and bring them back over the border.
Though technically the practice is
illegal, U.S.-to-Mexico second hand is
a booming industry.
There are people in the U.S. who
spend their workdays running old
T-shirts and hoodies over the whirring
blades of a machine specifically
designed to make rags — rags being
another (who knew?) huge business.
Minter travels all over the world: the
U.S., Malaysia (his current home),
Benin, Canada, Japan, talking to the
people who wholesale, ship, and sort.
In 2016, second hand was a $16
billion industry in Japan. (People there
often die alone and undiscovered for
days if not weeks or months in their
high-rise apartments, which gives rise
to another niche business).
“Before the 1960s, Japanese had
a feeling of ‘mottainai,’ a difficult-to-translate
Japanese word that
expresses a sense of regret over waste,
as well as a desire to conserve,” reports
Rina Hamada, editor of Japan’s Reuse
Business Journal. But that was before
the living standard in Japan shot
sky-high. Now people are way more
acquisitive, though they’ll buy second
hand if it’s of high quality.
Humongous warehouses around the
globe house used goods destined for
global shipments. Hamaya Corporation
operates out of a small city 35
miles outside of Tokyo. Refrigerators
and washing machines stacked three
high are bound for Vietnam; pallets of
knitting machines will go to Nigeria.
Electric keyboards, PCs, boomboxes,
chainsaws: the appetite for such goods
In Ghana, Minter learns that in some
parts of the world used electronics and
appliances fetch a higher price than
new: the used items are often of better
quality (because they’re older) and
they’re more repairable.
In fact, the decline in quality of goods
across the board is one reason for the
enormous growth in the secondhand
(Apple, by the way, purposely renders
their products unrepairable, gluing
them in such a way that they can’t
be pried apart without destroying the
phone or tablet; using screws that
require a special, impossible-to-find
Clothing, for example, is now universally
acknowledged to be of such poor
quality that it’s essentially disposable.
At Used Clothing Exports in Mississauga,
Ontario, as much of one-third
of the used clothing generated in the
U.S. and Canada is sorted, priced, and
shipped by “graders.”
Panipat, a town in northern India, is
home to the world’s largest concentration
of clothing recyclers.
There’s something peculiarly Western about the notion
that your person, your belongings, and the space you
inhabit are a burden on the rest of the world.
The implications reach far beyond
what we might grab from our closets
any given morning. The secondhand
clothing industry has almost completely
wiped out the African textile
industry, in particular the manufacture
of kente cloth, the beautiful fabric that
was once the pride of Ghana and its
But as Minter acknowledges, “Simplistic
explanations built on what seem
like logical correlations — used must
undermine new! — don’t do justice to
the complex, very human reasons that
individual consumers make specific
German theologian Dietrich von Hildebrand
observed: “All possessions …
that have real value, that in themselves
are honorable, excellent, significant,
that fall like dew from above and
ascend to God like incense, achieve a
higher and new radiance in Christ.”
So I say hang onto the things you truly
love. After you’re canonized, people
will want the stuff for relics.
July 16, 2021 • ANGELUS • 31
LETTER AND SPIRIT
Scott Hahn is founder of the
St. Paul Center for Biblical
Talking about our veneration
Second in a series on St. Paul.
Many Catholics are skittish about
reading St. Paul. It was his texts that
were most invoked by Luther and
Calvin during the Protestant Reformation.
And anti-Catholic propaganda
often draws heavily from the apostle.
As author Frank Sheed said, “A man
can never feel quite the same about
even the nicest book if he has just
been beaten round the head with it.”
Yet the Catholic Church has canonized
Paul’s letters, and we celebrate
his feasts. We honor him as a founder
of the Church of Rome.
And he deserves the respect. Yes, he
called himself “the least of the apostles”
(1 Corinthians 15:9) and “the
very least of all the saints” (Ephesians
3:8). Yet even these self-deprecating
titles imply a special dignity and
authority. The least of saints is still a
saint. And the least apostle speaks with
the “the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians
7:40) and “the mind of Christ” (1
He acknowledged an “authority”
of which he could “boast” (2 Corinthians
10:8); for he was “not at all
inferior to these superlative apostles”
(2 Corinthians 12:11). His position
merited him a “rightful claim” to respect
(1 Corinthians 9:1–12). He held
the power to “pronounce judgment”
on sinners (1 Corinthians 5:3).
By grace, he bore a dignity that
Christians were duty-bound to
observe. They looked to him as a
father: “For though you have countless
guides in Christ, you do not have
many fathers. For I became your
father in Christ Jesus through the
Gospel” (1 Corinthians 4:15). The
fourth commandment obliges us to
“honor” our fathers, and that means
give them love, respect, obedience,
Though he knew himself to be “the
foremost of sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15),
Paul knew also that he must serve as a
model. “Be imitators of me,” he said,
“as I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians
His favorite term for Christians was
“saints” (see Colossians 1:2–4). Yet
he also distinguished between the
saints on earth (Colossians 1:2) and
the “saints in light” (Colossians 1:12).
The Epistle to the Hebrews tells us
that the latter are “a cloud of witnesses”
around the former.
To the saints on earth, we give our
love. To the saints in light, we give
our veneration. It’s not the same
honor we give God. It’s more like the
respect we owe parents and grandparents.
We love them so much that
“Communion of Saints,” by José Luiz Bernardes
Ribeiro, 2016, Portuguese. | WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
we frame their photos and give them
a prominent place in our homes. We
shouldn’t hesitate to ask our parents
for prayer; nor should we hesitate to
ask the saints, especially the apostles.
St. Paul told the Colossians: “We
have not ceased to pray for you”
(Colossians 1:9). I believe that longago
pledge still holds true. And so we
should ask his intercession, even as
he begged the intercession of other
Christians (see Colossians 4:3).
To venerate Paul is to glorify Christ
for the grace made manifest in the
life of an apostle. The apostle himself
said, “It is no longer I who live, but
Christ who lives in me” (Galatians
32 • ANGELUS • July 16, 2021
■ AVAILABLE ONLINE 24/7
“Walking with Jesus in Difficult Times” SCRC virtual event. Available to view online 24/7 for free. Event
includes teachings by Father Bill Delaney, SJ, Sister Regina Marie Gorman, OCD, and Patti Mansfield, with a
special video tribute to the late Father John H. Hampsch, CMF. Register for free at events.scrc.org.
■ FRIDAY, JULY 9
Retrouvaille: A Lifeline for Married Couples. Weekend
program runs July 9-11 in Los Angeles. Retrouvaille is an
effective Catholic Christian ministry that helps married
couples. The program offers the chance to rediscover
yourself, your spouse, and the love in your marriage.
Married couples of any faith are welcome. For more
information, visit https://www.losangelesretrouvaille.com or
Free COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic. Our Lady of Victory
Church, 1317 S. Herbert Ave., Los Angeles, 2-6 p.m. Free
Pfizer vaccine available. Second shot offered Friday, July 30.
Twelve- to 17-year-olds must be accompanied by an adult.
$20 Target gift card available to first 150 people. For more
information, call 323-268-9502.
■ SATURDAY, JULY 10
Little Sisters of the Poor Rummage Sale. 2100 S. Western
Ave., San Pedro, 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Call 310-548-0625 for more
information. All proceeds benefit the Little Sisters of the
St. Vincent de Paul Church Vigil Night. 621 W. Adams
Blvd., Los Angeles, from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m., July 11. Vigil
Night will have live music, rosary, prayer, and Holy Hour,
and concludes with 8 a.m. Mass inside the building, the
first Mass celebrated inside since the beginning of the
pandemic. For more information, contact Silvia Macias at
■ TUESDAY, JULY 13
Catholic Cemeteries and Mortuaries Memorial Mass.
San Fernando Mission Rey de España, 11 a.m. Mass will be
livestreamed on LA Catholics social media channels and will
not be open to the public.
Rosary Rally for a Better World. St. Louis of France
Church, 6 p.m. Mass, 7 p.m. rosary. Event held on the
13th of every month through October 2021. Contact
Margarita Acevedo at firstname.lastname@example.org for more
LA Council of Catholic Women Rosary Conference Call.
8 p.m. Call 1-424-436-6200, code 410510#. Prayer requests
open. Rosary takes place every Tuesday and Thursday in
June and July. For more information, call Carol Westlake at
■ THURSDAY, JULY 15
Children’s Bureau: Foster Care Zoom Orientation.
Children’s Bureau is now offering two virtual ways for
individuals and couples to learn how to help children in
foster care while reunifying with birth families or how to
provide legal permanency by adoption, 4-5 p.m. A live Zoom
orientation will be hosted by a Children’s Bureau team
member and a foster parent. For those who want to learn at
their own pace about becoming a foster and/or fost-adopt
parent, an online orientation presentation is available.
To RSVP for the live orientation or to request the online
orientation, email email@example.com.
■ SATURDAY, JULY 17
Taking the Next Step: Through COVID-19 &
Relationship Losses to Our New Lives. 1-2:30 p.m. Free
Zoom presentation sponsored by the Archdiocese of
Los Angeles Separated, Divorced & Widowed Ministry.
Presented by Christine A. Gerety, Ph.D. To register, visit
jzifSTW7SSuqv9ijwtmr4A. For more information, email
Free Eye/Glasses Exams. St. Bernadette Church, 3825
Don Felipe Dr., Los Angeles. July 17, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., July 18,
10 a.m.-4 p.m. In partnership with Catholic nonprofit See
the Lord and the Center for Restorative Justice Works, the
free eye clinic is open to all families. Registration required;
call St. Bernadette Church at 323-293-4877 or CRJW at
■ SUNDAY, JULY 18
“Pueblo Amante de Maria” Virtual Procession, Rosary,
and Tagalog Mass. Incarnation Church of Glendale will
host a virtual procession and rosary at 1:15 p.m. to celebrate
500 years of Christianity in the Philippines. Tagalog Mass
to follow. To join on livestream, visit the Incarnation Church
Facebook page. For details, call 818-242-2579.
Vox Vitae California Pro-Life Leadership Summer Camp.
Santiago Retreat Center, 27912 Baker Canyon Rd., Silverado.
Day camp for teens ages 14-19 runs July 18-23. Vox Vitae
campers explore the truth of Catholicism, the destruction of
abortion and euthanasia, the beauty of chastity and holiness,
and more. Campers also practice defending their faith
and pro-life views. Speakers include Archbishop Salvatore
Cordileone and Bishop David O’Connell, and other leading
Catholic pro-life voices. Cost: $200/camper, scholarships
available. $100/family for online camp option. For more
information or to register, visit voxvitae.com.
Racism and Youth and Young Adult Ministry Lecture.
Zoom, 3-4:30 p.m. The African American Catholic Center
for Evangelization and the LMU Center for Religion and
Spirituality will host a lecture by Dr. Ansel Augustine. To
attend, visit facebook.com/aaccfe or facebook.com/lmucrs.
■ MONDAY, JULY 19
St. Michael’s Abbey Summer Camp. A Catholic camp for
boys 7-14 in Orange County. Experience great summer
activities like hiking, sports, campfires, etc., and learn more
about the faith. Camp runs July 19-24, July 26-31, Aug. 2-7,
or Aug. 9-14. Visit stmichaelsabbey.com/summer-camp or
■ SUNDAY, AUGUST 1
Eight-Day Silent, Directed Retreat: Jesus is Our Hope.
Mary & Joseph Retreat Center, 5300 Crest Road, Rancho
Palos Verdes. Retreat runs from Aug. 1, 6 p.m. to Aug.
8, 1:30 p.m. Led by spiritual directors Sister Pascazia
Kinkuhaire, DMJ, Father Joseph Miller, SVD, and Sue
Ballotti, the retreat is based on the spiritual exercises of St.
Ignatius. Cost: $820/person, single rooms only. Limited
to 14 guests; register by July 9. For more information or to
RSVP, call Jose Salas at 310-377-4867, ext. 250.
■ TUESDAY, AUGUST 3
Conductor 2021 C3 Conference. Hosted by the Catholic
Communication Collaboration, the 10th annual C3
Conference will be free and virtual Aug. 3-6. Register at
https://c3.leadlms.com/register. Contact April Zavala at
C3Con@la-archdiocese.org with questions.
Items for the calendar of events are due four weeks prior to the date of the event. They may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
All calendar items must include the name, date, time, address of the event, and a phone number for additional information.
July 16, 2021 • ANGELUS • 33