Category Archives: Catholic

Gregory Peck 4.5.13 Thought of the Day

“I don’t lecture and I don’t grind any axes. I just want to entertain.”–Gregory Peck

Cropped screenshot of Gregory Peck from the tr...

Cropped screenshot of Gregory Peck from the trailer for the film Gentleman’s Agreement. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Eldred Gregory Peck was born on this day in La Jolla, California, USA in 1916. Today is the 97th anniversary of his birth.

He was born to Bernice Mae “Bunny” and Gregory Pearl Peck. Bunny was Scottish, English and Protestant, Gregory senior was Irish and Catholic. She converted when they married and they raised Eldred Catholic. When the couple split  little Eldred was six, he went to live with his grandmother.

Peck…”never felt he had a stable childhood. His fondest memories are of his grandmother taking him to the movies every week and of his dog, which followed him everywhere.” [IMDb]  When he was ten his grandmother passed away and he went to live with his father full-time.

He went to St. John’s Military Academy, a Roman Catholic military school in Los Angeles, then to  San Diego High School. He enrolled at San Diego State Teacher’s College for one year before transferring to the University of California, Berkley where he settled on Acting. Working as a truck driver and kitchen assistant helped pay the bills.

Upon graduation Peck headed east to New York City.  Gregory Peck was ‘born’ when he dropped his first name. “I never liked the name Eldred. Since nobody knew me in New York, I just changed to my middle name.” He worked as an usher at Radio City Music Hall and a tour guide at NBC. He worked for the acting experience and for food, landing progressively larger roles as he honed his craft.

His debut was in Emlyn Williams‘ play “The Morning Star” (1942). By 1943 he was in Hollywood, where he debuted in the RKO film Days of Glory (1944).

Stardom came with his next film, The Keys of the Kingdom (1944), for which he was nominated for an Academy Award. Peck’s screen presence displayed the qualities for which he became well-known. He was tall, rugged and heroic, with a basic decency that transcended his roles. [IMDb]

Cropped screenshot of Gregory Peck from the tr...

Cropped screenshot of Gregory Peck from the trailer for the film The Yearling. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He was nominated for four Academy Awards in the 1940’s for his work in: The Keys of the Kingdom, The Yearling, Gentleman’s Agreement and Twelve O’Clock High. He’d have to wait another 20 years before winning the statue.

An old back injury keep him out of the service during World War II (he’d hurt himself while taking dance and movement classes — not while on the UC Berkley Rowing team as 20th Century Fox claimed.)

He kept his stage skills up at The La Jolla Playhouse, a theatre he co-founded with Mel Ferrer and Dorothy McGuire in 1947.

To Kill a Mockingbird, 1962

To Kill a Mockingbird, 1962 (Photo credit: mystuart)

His best known and most love role came in 1962 as Atticus Finch in the film adaptation of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mocking Bird. He won an Academy Award for his portrayal of the soft-spoken, southern lawyer. And his portrait of Finch was voted as the #1 greatest hero in American film by the American Film Institute in 2003.

Other notable films from his large library of movies include:

  • Spellbound
  • Captain Horatio Hornblower
  • The Snows of Kilimanjaro
  • Designing Women with Lauren Bacall
  • On the Beach
  • The Guns of Navarone
  • Cape Fear
  • The Omen
  • The Boys From Brazil

and my other favorite (besides Mocking Bird)… Roman Holiday with Audrey Hepburn.

Cropped screenshot of Gregory Peck from the tr...

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St. Teresa of Avila March 28 Thought of the Day

“What a great favor God does to those He places in the company of good people!”–St. Teresa of Avila

Teresa of Ávila, Ulm, Germany

Teresa of Ávila, Ulm, Germany (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Teresa de Cepeda y Ahumada was born on this day in Gotarrendura, Ávila, Spain in 1515. Today is the 498th anniversary of her birth.

Teresa’s grandfather converted to Christianity to avoid persecution from the Spanish Inquisitors. It didn’t quite work. Although his son, Teresa’s father, Alonso Sánchez de Cepeda, became a prominent member of Catholic Avila society, her grandfather was later condemned for allegedly returning to his Jewish roots. Alonso was a strict and pious man and Teresa grew up fascinated with the mysteries of the faith and the lives of the Saints.

At seven she tried to run away with her brother. The plan was to find some Moors and convince the “barbarians” to chop of their heads so they could become martyrs. Fortunately their uncle found the children before they could get too far.

She was 15 when her mother, Beatriz, died, and Teresa was sent to live with the Augustinian nuns. She soon decided to enter religious life

In 1535, she joined the Carmelite Order. She spent a number of relatively average years in the convent, punctuated by a severe illness that left her legs paralyzed for three years, but then experienced a vision of “the sorely wounded Christ” that changed her life forever. [CCEL.org]

When she was ill she claimed to have experienced a number of religious ecstasies and visions. At about age 41 some of her friends thought these visions might be the work of the devil, but her confessor assured her that they were  of Christ’s doing.

From this point forward, Teresa moved into a period of increasingly ecstatic experiences in which she came to focus more and more sharply on Christ’s passion. With these visions as her impetus, she set herself to the reformation of her order, beginning with her attempt to master herself and her adherence to the rule. Gathering a group of supporters, Teresa endeavored to create a more primitive type of Carmelite. [CCEL.org]

She had opposition from her original order, the local church and the town. At some point she was threatened with the Inquisition, but she pushed on.

In 1567, she met St. John of the Cross, who she enlisted to extend her reform into the male side of the Carmelite Order. [CCEL.org]

She died while on a journey from Alba de Tormes in 1582. Forty years later she was canonized a saint by Pope Gregory XV.

"It is love alone that gives worth to all...

“It is love alone that gives worth to all things.” – St. Teresa of Avila (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


St. Patrick 3.17.13 Thought of the Day

“Christ beside me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ within me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me.”
St. Patrick

[Image courtesy: Wikipedia]

[Image courtesy: Wikipedia]

St. Patrick died on this day in 461, in Saul, Ireland. Today is his Feast Day.

Patrick was born in Scotland sometime around 385 AD to Roman parents, Calpurnius and Conchessa. When he was about 14 he was kidnapped by a raiding party and taken to Ireland to work as a slave. There he tended sheep.

In the despair of his captivity he turned to God in intense and desperate prayer, drawing comfort from the Christian faith that he and so many others of his people had abandoned under Roman rule. …Patrick’s captivity became a preparation for his future in ministry. He learned the language and customs of the Irish people who held him, and even while he practiced devotion to Christ he also became very familiar with the pagan and druidic practices that were popular throughout Ireland at that time. After six years as a slave he was told by an angel in a dream to run away to the coast. He travelled over 200 miles from Ballymena to Wexford and escaped on a ship that was taking dogs to Gaul (France). After landing in England he was recaptured and returned to slavery, but this time he escaped again after only two months and traveled around Europe seeking his destiny. [All Saints Brookline.org]

Once home he had another dream that called him back to Ireland to teach the people about God. He studied to become a priest and eventually be came a Bishop. At 48 he was sent to Ireland.

Patrick preached and converted all of Ireland for 40 years. He worked many miracles and wrote of his love for God in Confessions. After years of living in poverty, traveling and enduring much suffering he died March 17, 461. [Catholic Online.org]

His ability to connect with the people on a personal level helped him win over hundreds of thousands of converts from peasants to tribal kings.

Oxalis Shamrocks, Two Kinds

Oxalis Shamrocks, Two Kinds (Photo credit: cobalt123)

He is, perhaps, most famously known for using the common shamrock [NOT THE 4-LEAF CLOVER] to explain the Holy Trinity.

Familiar with the Irish language and culture, Patrick chose to incorporate traditional ritual into his lessons of Christianity instead of attempting to eradicate native Irish beliefs. For instance, he used bonfires to celebrate Easter since the Irish were used to honoring their gods with fire. He also superimposed a sun, a powerful Irish symbol, onto the Christian cross to create what is now called a Celtic cross, so that veneration of the symbol would seem more natural to the Irish. [History.com]

Mythology has Patrick “bringing Christianity to Ireland,” but the Church was already there. He expanded it and made it more appealing to the Irish. He’s also suppose to have “driven the snakes out of Ireland.” Another myth. There weren’t any snakes in Ireland to drive out.

The Patrick of historical record is just as compelling as the Patrick of legend. … He was the first real organizer of the Catholic Church in Ireland by dividing the church into territorial sees; he raised the standard of biblical scholarship and especially encouraged the wider teaching of Latin; he travelled throughout the country preaching, teaching, building churches, and opening schools and monasteries; and he converted countless people of all social classes, and inspired many to become monks and nuns. He not only shared God with the people of Ireland, but also grew in his understanding of God through them. [All Saints Brookline.org]

In Ireland St. Patrick’s day is a holy day of obligation, but Catholics and non Catholics alike celebrate it world wide. So whether you are saying a rosary or lifting a glass in St. Patrick’s name today… I wish you Sláinte (good health)…. and …

May the strength of God pilot us,
may the wisdom of God instruct us,
may the hand of God protect us,
may the word of God direct us.
Be always ours this day and for evermore.

Statue of St. Patrick in Aughagower, County Mayo


John Henry Newman 2.21.13 Thought of the Day

“To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often” –John Newman

English: Portrait painting of John Henry Newman

English: Portrait painting of John Henry Newman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

John Henry Newman was born on this day in London, England in 1801. Today is the 212th anniversary of his birth.

Newman was the oldest of six children, three boys and three girls, born to John Newman and  Jemima Fourdrinier Newman. He went to Trinity College, Oxford then attended Oriel College.  He received his bachelor’s degree from Oriel in 1820 and became a fellow then tutor at the school.

He had held academic and pastoral assignments simultaneously for several years, serving first as both fellow of Oriel and curate of St. Clement’s and later as both tutor and vicar of St. Mary’s. He remained in his pastoral office until 1843, attracting hundreds of students, university officials, and townspeople to St. Mary’s [this church’s UK site] with his scholarly yet earnest preaching. [The Victorian Web]

He was a leader in the Oxford Movement —  a “19th-century movement centred at the University of Oxford that sought a renewal of “catholic,” or Roman Catholic, thought and practice within the Church of England in opposition to the Protestant tendencies of the church.” [Encyclopedia Britannica] .

Newman…was the Movement’s primary spokesman, promoting its doctrinal and moral concerns through his editorship of the British Critic, his contributions to Tracts for the Times, and his weekly sermons at St. Mary’s. [The Victorian Web]

However, “In 1839, Newman began to lose confidence in the cause… and he soon became convinced that Rome, not Canterbury, was the home of the true Church.” [Ibid] He withdrew from Anglican life and left Oxford. He took back anti Catholic and anti Papal statements he’d said and written  in his youth. In 1845 he converted to Catholicism and became a preist.

Newman worked just as energetically for the Catholic Church as he had for the Anglican. He was instrumental in the creation of the Catholic University of Ireland, and he wrote…

Cover of "Parochial and Plain Sermons"

Cover of Parochial and Plain Sermons

The 1870s brought Newman special recognition for his work as both an Anglican and a Roman Catholic. In 1877 he became the first person elected to an honorary fellowship of Trinity College; two years later, Pope Leo XIII awarded him a place in the College of Cardinals.[The Victorian Web]

Cardinal Newman died of pneumonia in August of 1890.

He wrote the lyrics to the hymn Lead Kindly Light. Here’s the Wells Cathedral Choir singing the song…


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