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“Our Finest Hour” (Or, American Christianity Today)

When I get on the blog-o-sphere these days, I get the unsettling vibe that many of my brothers & sisters in Christ are none too pleased to be a Christian in American these days. Admittedly, this is not the Christian faith’s most popular hour. When a Christian misrepresents a concept, they are lambasted as naive. If they mispronounce a word, they are called ignorant. Any attempt to represent their moral views opens them up to being attacked as judgmental, backwards or even hateful.

Yet, for all this, I can’t help but feel that this is precisely the hour that we are called to silently raise our heads high. It is for this hour that we have been kept on earth. The world writhes in pain even now. We bring the remedy. They may chide & criticize, but we know that Christ’s message of contrition & committed love is the only real answer to life’s deepest longings.

Where the world offers “free sex” and when the unborn are reduced to “unplanned” side-effects, it is our opportunity to remind the world of the dignity of human life.

When the world claims to know the meaning of love, but then is quick to accuse it’s enemies of “hate crimes,” it is Christians who must be peaceful enough to accept the accusation in stride.

When the powers-that-be use healthcare politics to pick on nuns serving the poor, we should have no doubt who David & Goliath are in that situation. And, of course, we stand with David.

Near the end of the movie Apollo 13, the administrators at Mission Control are speculating that, should the astronauts not survive re-entry, it could be “the greatest disaster in the history of manned spaceflight.” Overhearing their comments, the Flight Director Gene Kranz turns to the suits and blurts out “With all due respect, I believe that this will be our finest hour.” I cannot help but share his sentiment. The Church was made for moments like this. Christ has given us the Holy Spirit, promised not to leave us orphans and has assured as that the Enemy will not prevail against us. Why are we so slow to believe Him and so quick to listen to the world?

So, as things get worse before they get better, as it becomes more and more difficult to stand up for what (and Who) we believe in, we must remember that it was for hours like this that Christ has left us on earth. Let us not get our feathers ruffled. Lets not lose heart, our patience or our courage. Should His love be our guide, no matter how many voices rise against us, this indeed will be our finest hour.

Our School, Starstruck (Or, Jesus Coaching Football Outside My Classroom)

“Guys, Jim Caviezel is here filming a movie.” This was how Mr. Collins, our Academic Dean, started things off this morning in the front office. Over the weekend, Archbishop Shaw High School was transformed into De La Salle High School in Concord, California. Arriving to work this morning and seeing De La Salle signage all over campus did have me a bit puzzled. It was announced at the last faculty meeting that a small movie would be filming on campus during finals week, but for some reason I was under the impression it was a indie documentary. They said it was about Catholic schools’ athletic programs, or some such, so I assumed that it would consist of a couple of artsy-types walking around with a hand-held camera shooting interviews between classes. Instead, I find myself sharing a parking lot with Jim Caviezel and Laura Dern’s make-up trailers. Shaw’s maintenance guys are running all over campus installing professional lighting. The football field and gym are crawling with grips, props, set designers, extras, cameramen and actors. As I look out on the back field right now, Jesus and Dr. Sadler are watching “The Thing” from The Fantistic Four run line drills with a team of teenage actors. Seriously, it is one of the most impressive-looking football teams I have ever seen: delicately groomed hair, immaculate uniforms, and picture-perfect drill lines. Nonetheless, I’m sure that the state-champ Shaw Rugby team could give them a run for their money.

Anyway, I’ve been excited all morning. I’ve never been one to be starstruck, but Jurrasic Park & Passion of the Christ are both on my top ten list of movies. The fact that a star from each of these films is down on the field a few yards away has me quivering in my slip-on dress shoes. And, as is always the case with my overly-philosophical mind, I find myself wondering what all the fuss is about. Seeing them from 100 yards away is not much better than seeing them on a 100-foot movie screen. It’s a scorching summer day on the Westbank. Mr. Caviezel looks like any other man would on such a morning: hot, lethargic  wishing that he didn’t have to get up so early to stand under the sun. I don’t know, though. It feels kinda cool to be making the same commute. It feels kinda cool to know that both Jim Caviezel and I are a little reluctant to be up so early and sitting the parking lot of Archbishop Shaw High School. It feels kinda cool to be “going to work” at the same place, even if we’re there for totally different reasons.

It feels kinda cool. Still, that’s not quite why I am excited. I am excited for my students, who keep looking out the windows trying to catch a glimpse of the stars. I am excited for them as the shout, “Yeah! Jesus is playing football on our field! He’s using our locker room! He’s running our drills!” There is something Incarnational about that. I like the idea of them realizing that the actor who played Jesus is really here doing all the stuff that they normally do. Maybe it will help them realize that Jesus Himself is really here, and really did all the normal human stuff too. Maybe.

Anyway, I that’s kinda what told Mr. Caviezel when I briefly introduced myself between takes. He simply smiled, chuckling.

Misérables Without Christ

I very rarely decry my public school education. I value the experiences it gave me, the lessons it taught me and the affection it showed me: and all that for free. But as I have grown more and more into the adult world, I am amazed at just how much it left out in leaving out God. And while it is true that I was never persecuted for my faith (as current public school students are beginning to be) it is an unfortunate fact that God was never invited to the party. Much of my post-compulsory education has been the gradual realization that God is indeed everywhere, even academically. Every great thinker spoke on Him, either to search for Him, embrace Him or deny Him. It is only our current age that chooses to ignore Him entirely.

The latest example in my own pilgrim’s progress has been the reading of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables . Growing up a theatre kid, I was well acquainted with the characters, the plot and the themes of Les Mis. I have heard the songs, seen the play and reflected on the show many times. Yet, even when enjoying the haunting Castle of Cosette or the On My Own of Eponine, it always seemed like there was something substantial missing from the stage rendition. The music made it emotional, the backdrop of the French Revolution made it epic, but still something was lacking. It felt like they had left out some important character or neglected some important plot point in the story arc. I cannot explain precisely why I felt this way: I only know that I had this sneaking suspicion that something significant had been abridged from the tale. When I read the novel recently, I found out that all of my suspicions were true. The Broadway version does indeed leave out an event, a character, a plot point and a moral. The politically correct script writers left out God.

Hugo’s original version is not the epic-melodrama that Americans are familiar with. It was, rather, an epic story of conversion. With chapters entitled things like “Christus nos liberavit” and a whole section of the book dedication to the Bishop of D— who grants absolution to Jean Valjean, Les Mis reads more like St. Augustine’s Confessions than it does The Phantom of the Opera, that other famous French melodrama. Yet, because of the watered down Broadway musical version, most people associate it with the latter rather than the former.

Here are just a few things I have learned:

1) The Bishop of D—, only a minor character in the musical, is actually a major character at the outset of the book. He is presented at the perfect, saintly Christian. Nearly 10% of the story is written with him as the guiding figure. When he dies, Jean Valjean goes into mourning much to the scandal of the town.

2) Jean Valjean is a devout Catholic. He attends Mass every Sunday and every funeral during the week. He employs nuns in his house. He prays for extended periods. In fact, when Fantine is rescued by him, she immediately falls for him because of his sanctity and prayer.

3) Christ is often referenced as the only true solution to “the miserableness.” Hugo returns again and again to the efficacy of the Gospel and Christian charity as the best and brightest hope for the poor.

4) In contrast, a character’s distance from the Christ usually works to indicate their level of enmity toward the heroes. For example, when Fantine is ratted out by a town gossip, Hugo goes out of his way to point out that this spinster was the widow of an apostate monk. He makes certain the his audience associates her distance from the church with her scheming and trouble making.

5) As any fan of the play would tell you, forgiveness and redemption are recurring themes in the plot. However, in Hugo’s original version, it is a specifically Christian forgiveness. Characters often frame their reconciliation with each other within the larger frame of their reconciliation with God. And before anyone argues that this is due to the cultural context, remember well that Christian reconciliation was NOT one of the priorities of Enlightenment-Era French society. Rather than imitating any popular movement of the time, Hugo was in fact making certain the both his contemporaries and all future readers should be surprised by the mention of Christ’s forgiving love.

Now that I have read the original Christ-inclusive version of Les Misérables , it has quickly become one of my favorite books. It’s wisdom and wit concerning institutionalized injustice and the plight of the poor is as valuable today as it was a century-and-a-half ago. Hugo’s point is clear: until men learn to love each other as God intended (and with the help of his grace), poverty will continue to be a blight upon our race, overshadowing all our supposed “progress” and “revolution.” As he said so well in his short Preface to the novel;

“So long as there shall exist, by virtue of law and custom, decrees of damnation pronounced by society, artificially creating hells amid the civilization of earth, and adding the element of human fate to divine destiny…books of the nature of Les Misérables cannot fail to be of use.”

Passionate Repeat Viewing

I’m watching “The Passion of the Christ” 5 times through this week. Maybe six. It’s what comes of being a high school religion teacher and wanting each of your classes to be exposed to one of the most historically accurate depictions of the crucifixion and death of Our Lord.

I do believe that it is historically accurate but, even if it weren’t, it is psychologically and spiritually accurate. The way the torturers treat Jesus, the way Pilate tries to worm his way out of the act, the way the crowds persecute and the way that the Sanhedrin prosecutes: it is all real to human life. As for spiritual accuracy, the fact that the script only departs from Scripture when showing extra-Biblical events is a testament to its depth and sublimity.

In any event, I’m not writing to argue the accuracy of the movie. I am confident that most anyone who has stumbled upon these words will agree. What I do want to reflect on is, in general, the sheer power of remembering the Passion event. When I was young, before I put aside childish things, I used to reason thus; “Why go to the Stations of the Cross? Why read the Passion readings twice during Holy Week? Why pray the Sorrowful Mysteries so much during Lent? I get it: Jesus died for me. Looking at it again and again and again: isn’t that just a bit over-indulgent? Why not have one big Passion liturgy every year and then have done with it?” It wasn’t just the Catholic guilt that intimidated me: it was the Catholic logic. It wasn’t just the shame and disgrace: it was the theology. Over and over again being hit with the Crucifixion, I felt like there was nothing more to see or learn. I knew that I should accept the Crucifixion as true and salvific, or I was a bad person. Once convinced of its power and meaning, was there any real reason to keep witnessing it, meditating on it, praying over it, etc?

All this I thought while still a child. Then I became a man and learned about love. I learned that love is not a matter of being ‘satisfied’ or doing something ‘enough.’ (It is interesting that the Latin word satis occurs so often in “The Passion.” So frequent is its use that my students even asked me “Why do they keep saying satis and what does it really mean?”) I am slowly learning that love, Christian love, is a matter of never drawing a line. It is a matter of seeing things through regardless of personal consequences.  It is about giving to the other at not just great, but total, risk to the self. It cares not for what is “necessary” but about what is best for the beloved.

As I watch Jesus die again and again and again over this week, culminating in the Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion on Friday, I feel that this is really what I need to remember. God’s Infinite generosity is what we see modeled in the Crucifixion. Given the status of the world and, more importantly, the status of my heart, I do not think I can look on this model often enough:

The Avengers and Discernment

For the fifth year, I have embarked on a pilgrimage, a pilgrimage of life. I am traveling with a group of willing, or mostly willingly teenagers to reflect on the right to life and moving closer to the end of our mission, the protestation of an unjust law that allows wombs to be graves for children created in the image and likeness of God. Part of the gift of life is the gift of our vocation.

This trip not only opens their eyes to the culture of death but also that it is conquered through the living out of our vocation, which naturally fosters the culture of life. To that end, we have priests, seminarians, and women religious traveling with us. We also have certain reflection starting points, one of which I find very interesting, the summer blockbuster The Avengers.

I have reflected previously on The Avengers, wherein I actually made a sort of connection with priesthood, the Old Testament priesthood, but the priesthood nonetheless. However, after watching it several times since that initial theatre experience. It seems that the concept of vocation and discernment can be gleaned from a rather complex popcorn film.

First, often times vocation discernment is initiated from without. We are called. Iron Man, Bruce Banner, Natasha Romanoff, Hawkeye, Thor, and Captain America are called out of their various lives to protect earth. They each have certain gifts which are useful for protection. Each would rather be doing their own thing. Indeed, all are reticent to take up the vocation which Nick Fury could see, with the prophetic one eye. Fury acts as a sort of battle worn spiritual director moving the men and woman to what they are called. Granted he uses a lie, but any analogy fails.

Second, discernment is not done alone. It is done in community. They realize together what they have and to what they are called. They make a definitive choice to move as a community toward that call. They are aided by S.H.I.E.L.D but are ratified by the community at the end of the film as fulfilling their calling. S.H.I.E.L.D, for all its brokenness, is a place of formation for them, a superhero seminary or novitiate. They come from various places to be directed and guided to their call.

Finally, the catalyst for them answering their call was a death. We find our vocation realized in and through the obedience of Christ even unto death. His response to his vocation, You are my Son this day I have begotten you and Behold the Lamb of God. Christ fulfills his call in and through His death and His Resurrection from the dead.

So to where or what is God calling you? The Avengers can help.

The Avengers Have Nothing on Jesus Christ

I am a comic book geek. I might not be as geeky say as guys/girls who blog about comic books (I thought about doing that by the way, it would be called Catholic Comicie, no?), but I’m still pretty geeky. I was very much looking forward to watching the film version of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, the Avengers. Marvel had hyped this film up over years of prequels that were created prior to the film itself, a brilliant advertising move. Get’em hooked and then create a super-team. Anyway, Joss Whedon, the idol of many comic fanboys, directed the film so it promised to be done well, achieving where other comic book films fell, mainly in being worth watching. 

Anyway, so when it came out I was on my retreat in preparation for Holy Orders, and although I am a geek, I am also a follower of Christ Jesus. Jesus came before Tony Stark, Thor, and Samuel L. Jackson’s eyepatch. In case you were wondering, I had a great retreat the Lord worked a lot in my heart and thought the great wisdom of Archbishop Alfred Hughes better prepared me for the sacrament I will soon receive. Much of the retreat got me naturally thinking about Jesus, His person and His redemptive act.

Today, I finally got to see the movie, in 3D even. It was very enjoyable and exactly what I imagined it would be. There was a great plot line and fantastic actions scenes. The interaction between the characters was classic Marvel, Stan Lee style with 21st century language.

About half way through the movie, you realize that the Avengers have to save the world from Loki and his army, which is many movies and comic book plots. What was different though was my reaction. I began to reflect, in an action movie that doesn’t evoke reflection (it wasn’t directed by Christopher Nolan). The plot is set for the Avengers to be the only hope for the world. Well, I realized, we’ve already been saved, once and for all, but the death and Resurrection of the Son of God who became man for our sake, Jesus Christ.

After the movie, I began to reflect on that passage from Hebrews that talks about the once for all sacrifice of Christ. It starts by talking about the priests in the temple. They offer sacrifice daily and yearly for their own sins and for the sins of the people. Their sacrifice needs to be repeated whereas Christ’s was once for all. It dawned on me. We treat superheroes like priests. They are there to save us, but their offering needs to be repeated (in trilogy form). They will never fight a fight to end all fights and defeat the archnemesis of all, namely death and sin.

Our desire for heroes is rooted in our desire for saving, which has been fulfilled offered in the eternal salvation offered by Jesus Christ.

Left Hungry

Everybody has an opinion on the Hunger Games series, which is quite appropriate since the series seems to have little opinion of itself. Just as people are always quick to praise the exulted quiet man, be he hero or villian, the great mass of readers (yes, there are still enough of us to compose a ‘great mass’) will say as much as they can about the popular book that has little to say on its own. There was that author that commented he had stopped reading his fan mail and book reviews because he was tired of people telling him what he had said. He explained that he never meant to say half the things they said he said. Suzanne Collins might voice a similar complaint, but the irony is that, even if she doesn’t deserve all the attention she is getting, she does deserve all of the comments. That is because the Hunger Games begins and ends on an empty stomach. Should the fans be blamed if they are forced to stuff their mouths with commentary (if not, like the characters of the book, with food) because not enough was served them by the author?

The test by which any science fiction or fantasy must be judged is how realistically it portrays humanity. Tolkien was fond of pointing out that the suspension of disbelief should not be shyed away from, but embraced but it is embraced on certain terms. I can believe in human beings being tempted by an all-powerful ring because I have seen human’s tempted. The fact that I will never (God willing) come across an all powerful ring is a minor detail in comparison to the fact that I will (devil willing) come across powerful temptation. I can believe in an evil galactic Empire that existed a long time ago in a galaxy far far way because I have studied evil european Empires that existed a short time ago. It is the humanity of science fiction and fantasy that must ring true precisely because we do not rely upon the believability of the technology or the magic. Nevertheless, this technology and magic must be consistent with human nature. I accept the idea of an ‘Eldar Wand’ or a ‘Death Star’ because I know humans are always trying to build more awful and more deadly weapons. However, I also know that these weapons rarely work to benefit those who build them. The reason why the stories that contain these menaces are received with such relish is because, deep down inside, we all know that those who live by the sword will perish by the sword.

It is the lack of this lesson, or the confusion with which it is presented, that makes the Hunger Games less than satisfying. The story has a lot of potential. It begins with a simple and powerful conflict: a progressing post-Apocolyptic society, an evil Capitol, hungry slaves, illegal black-market deals, a young warrior, and an oppressive gladiator style competition (and thats just the first 50 pages). However, written in typical ‘page-turning’ fashion, the reader is given little chance to dwell on these facts. The bad guys get things going too fast, and the narrator is too worried about mere survival, for full rumination on the subject of human dignity, the greater good or the nature of self sacrifice. In a world where injustice draws names out of a hat and the good guys shoot first and do not even ask questions later, virtue and vice become matters of reflex, not matters of choice. Good and evil seem to be little more than instinctual. Life is a game. The driving force is hunger. If there is any greater depth to life in Panem, Katniss Everdeen never discovers it.

There are many powerful points in the plot, too many to mention because the author overloads the story with them. If the reader comprehends their significance, its only because she has taken the time to dismiss the urge to flip the page. That is to say, she has chosen to make a choice that none of the characters make: the choice to reflect in order to grow. As long as the action keeps coming, this is no problem to the stream-of-conscious plot (though it should present problems to the conscience). But when the series draws to its conclusion, and Plutarch Heavensbee smugly suggests that victory over the Capitol may or may not change anything after all, the honest reader wants to throw the book across the room. Or when the love triangle resolves itself because one of the guy’s philosophy on total war shoots him in the foot. Or when Katniss ends up as a recovering morphine addict thanks to her 17 visits to the hospital over the course of 18 months. Without giving too much more away, I think that these examples suffice to show how the ending is less than thrilling. The fact that the first book showed so much potential only makes it worse. Here was a popular teen phenomenon that addressed such relevant points as solidarity, first-world vs third-world poverty, human rights, and a bitting critique of the media’s role in undermining human value. Even the love triangle was intriguing: ever-faithful Peeta vs. edgy, sexy Gale. There is so much here that could have challenged us. Instead, it merely charged us up for a less-than-satisfying conclusion. 

I really wanted to like these books. I really wanted to tell you to read them and like them too. Instead, I find myself warning you: if you do read them, don’t get your hopes up. Katniss Everdeen may be a girl on fire, but she is no phoenix. When the blaze of the games is over, she does not rise from the ashes. Redemption and resurrection have little place in this novel. It is never Easter season in Panem: yet one more reason to be glad that the place is fictional.

Duped By the Hunger Games?

We have before us a guest post! With the fiery start of the new film Hunger Games in the box office, it seemed good to compare book to film. At the time, I had not read the book and I still I have not read the film. So I asked Katherine Lee over at NOLA Front Porch to lend her Hunger Games expertise. Katherine is distinguished as the first female to post on this blog. It is honor really for her to be here. Hope to see her again soon. Her post will beginning a small series on the Hunger Games (book 1). Check back for more reflections on the book that has taken imaginations by storm.

Without further ado ….

If you were one of countless individuals who was dragged by an overly eager friend, child, or significant other to The Hunger Games movie, I know what you’re thinking. You didn’t get it. You didn’t see the big deal AND you definitely could care less about this Peeta character everybody is raving about. I hate to even mention the thought, but some of you could even be coerced into reading the books simply because you judged the movie as a “B” at best. You’ve come to the right place. Call this the cliff notes or maybe just a short cut to save you the embarrassment of being caught reading the trilogy on your morning commute.

The plot of the Hunger Games unfolds in the futuristic former America, Panem, that is divided into 12 districts tyrannically ruled over by the Capitol. Though not directly explained in the books, Panem’s name derives from the Latin term for “bread” connecting to “Bread and circuses”. The metaphor refers to a government’s use of entertainment to distract and appease citizens from the harsh reality of rule, classically demonstrated by the Roman Republic’s gladiatorial homicide festivals. The Capitol oppressively controls food production and distribution in the districts, forces citizens to watch required media programming, and even outlaws communications between districts. While the rest of Panem’s citizens starve to death, life for the people in the Capitol is glutinous and outlandish signaled by the bizarre make-up and Lady Gaga influenced clothing.

The Capital represents a “dystopian” society, the opposite of the more familiar expression, utopia. The genre of the books is meant to evoke similar themes as Brave New World and Orwell’s Nighteen-Eighty Four. The main character, Katniss, hunts for food so her family doesn’t starve. She and her best friend, Gale, break the law by selling their yields at a black market known as the HOB. The ultimate expression of Capitol exploitation is the annual competition where each district must submit a girl and boy tribute to fight in an arena to the death. The Hunger Games serve the double purpose of intimidating districts into submission and providing a source of perverse entertainment for citizens. Families have no choice in preventing their children from being placed into a “reaping” lottery from which names are pulled. The incentive for tributes to win the games is to secure an ample supply of food for their district for the coming year.

SPOILER ALERT: From here on out your read at your risk of receiving integral parts of the plotline, reading the book or watching the movie is suggested.

The movie moves like a freight train pressing too quickly through the background of the story and directly into the action of the games itself. Here lies the inadequacy. Audiences were left perplexed by the nature of the games, presented as a violent contest for survival of the fittest where promoting a “fake” romance could easily secure necessities from sponsors. The books represent a more multi-faceted insight into Katniss’ interior dilemma of playing the game to save her family versus standing up to the injustice of the situation she finds herself a part. Perhaps the most genuine cinematic look into her interior struggle comes with her sobbing screams after burying her friend, Rue. From her 1st person perspective in the books, the reader feels truly Katniss’ predicament throughout the entire course.

Finally, the majority of the complaints about the movie center on the apparent weaknesses in the character of Peeta, the other male tribute representing District 12. The scene in which Peeta tells Katniss that he hopes that the game-makers don’t change him is extremely important for understanding his value. Unfortunately, the movie fails to explain the reference and doesn’t do him justice. There’s a brief flashback scene in which Katniss is starving and Peeta, outside his family’s bakery, throws her a piece of bread. Peeta’s act of kindness toward her reflects a couple things. First, he did love Katniss from the time she was little. He was not faking the romance. Second, he burnt the bread intentionally to give her at the risk of receiving a beating from his mother- selfless sacrifice. It wasn’t, as the movie portrayed, an act of happenstance.

Katniss is drawn into Peeta’s goodness. She finds herself slowly being won over by his easy going nature and confidence in her. He sees the best. She notices the apparent differences between his warmth, even in front of the camera, and her cold, paranoid nature. Though she does fake the romance on screen, something more is emerging on the interior. After a hard-knock life of self-dependance and struggle, she finally has someone to trust.

Okay, so maybe, this doesn’t mean you’re a Hunger Games expert now, but at least you’ve got the overall idea. For a more in depth analysis of the movie, I highly recommend watching two video commentaries from Fr. Robert Barron. Start with this video ( then move on to his additional comments on the religiosity of the film (

The Undead and the Resurrection

Tonight I say amongst the dead.  Daylight was moving to some other part of the world.  Accompanied by headstones and bones, I prayed.  Up above, in place of the sun, was crescent moon surrounded by a slowly fading dark blue reminiscent of a Marian apparition yet to have occurred.  Around me flickered fireflies, light up the dusk left by the departing sun.  I say on a bench beneath a tree to spend some time in prayer with the dead.

Suddenly, an image flickered in my imagination, a memory, certainly brought on by the graves before me.  Corpses were rising from their places of rest to grab at the feet of the protagonists of a zombie film I had watched some weeks earlier.  These particular corpses desire the consumption of human flesh, indeed a rather morbid desire, but, then again, they are dead.  Still in prayer, for better or for worse, I began to reflect on the recent fascination with zombies, not only in film, but in novels like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and in normal conversation (as normal as conversation about the zombie apocalypse can be).

Why such a fascination?  Of course, there are different genre of dead alive compared to vampires, and vampires, especially their love lives, are big right now.  Still, why zombies?  I would venture to guess it is because there is a cultural fear of death that the, through the use of human imagination, is personified by those who are already dead but are no longer resting in peace.  Does this personification help us cope with the inevitability of death?  Does it ease our minds by playing with the prospect that one day our soulless bodies might be feasting on human flesh?  I think it puts the fear of death before us and, in a sense, mocks it, while still recognizing it can only mock and never allay that fear.

Death has no reason to be feared though.  It has been destroyed by the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  Death, and therefore, zombies, have no power over us, who have been given the gift of entering through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Zombies, although maybe not intentionally, mock Christ’s Resurrection, which in mocks our promised resurrection.  Zombies ‘rise’ decrepit, corrupted, and lustfully desiring flesh.  When we rise from our graves, we will have glorified bodies with the beauty of God shining through our flesh, desiring nothing but the glory of God.

Zombies have the place in popular fiction.  As Christians, Zombies can provide for us a reflection on our fear of death and on our future Resurrection.

References for the Saints

I wanted to provide some references for the lives of the saints and other such sundry things

Butler’s Lives of the Saints is one of the definitive collections of the lives of the Saints.  You can find it here.
This is a lives of the saints for the visually oriented.  Pictures are cool and moving and can really assist in meditation and prayer.  
You can find it here
There are some great films about saints as well.  Film is great medium to allow someone to be moved by the life of a saint.  Some of my favorite are:
The Passion of Bernadette follows the life of St. Bernadette after her apparitions of Our Lady of Lourdes.  It shows the value and beauty of obedience, and how, for her, it assisted in her heroic virtue.
Therese shows in drama some of the highlights of St. Therese of Liseiux’s life.

Another one is a classic movie that won an Academy Award, Becket.  Peter O’Toole plays St. Thomas á Becket.  Becket was martyred in his own cathedral.  To me, it’s a bit overacted but is still a good film.

The last movie is an adaptation of Leonardo Defilipis’ (he directed Therese and played her father) one-man play about St. Maximilian Kolbe, called Maximilian: Saint of Auschwitz.  I had the opportunity to see Defilipis perform the one-man play.  It was very moving, the film captures the emotion and the beauty of Kolbe’s life.