“Just another guy with a blog.  No big whoop.”

February 14, 2011

patrickmadrid.com is the new home for this blog

At the urging of a priest friend of mine, Father Bud, I first launched this little blog back on November 8th, 2008, and had no idea whether my musings here would be of any interest to anyone other than myself. In the two years since it launched, I've been gladdened and grateful to discover that a number of you have found it interesting and useful. Thank you! Thank you for reading and subscribing to this blog, thank you for your excellent and thought-provoking comments, even when they took issue with something I said here. I appreciate all of you very much.

And as a small way of showing my appreciation (not to mention as a way to keep up with the times), I've had had a completely new patrickmadrid.com site designed, which now includes everything under one roof: the blog, info on my books, a new forum, seminar info, pictures, etc. I really hope you will like it. If you do, please be sure to do two things: 1) book mark it, and 2) subscribe to my blog feed using the sign-up box just below the nav bar on the right side.

This will be my last post here on this blogger platform. I hope you'll all migrate over to the new blog and continue reading and commenting. My sincere thanks to all of you -- and to Father Bud!

February 8, 2011

An all-new PatrickMadrid.com coming soon

I'm happy to report that the completely new and improved patrickmadrid.com website, which we've been working on assiduously for the past month, is nearly ready to go live — hopefully, within the next couple of days. I think you'll like the new look and feel of this version of the site. There's quite a bit more for you now, including past articles I've written, a picture gallery, a new and much-improved discussion forum, a slew of audio and video digital downloads, my speaking event calendar, and more. Best of all, everything will now be under one roof: This blog, for example, will no longer be located on a separate site but will be contained within patrickmadrid.com. Which means that very soon you'll need to update your feed from this site to the new one. We'll make that as easy as possible with a sign-up box on the new site. I'm planning to leave this version of the blog up and available for awhile to give my visitors and feed subscribers ample time to get the new feed installed on their readers (Google, Feedburner, etc.).

Assuming that the new site will go live in the next few days, I most likely won't be posting any additional blog posts here, but will be adding them to the new site. I'm looking forward to unveiling it! And once it’s up and running, please do feel free to send me any constructive criticism, requests, or suggestions you might have regarding how we can make it as user-friendly and helpful to you as possible. I very much appreciate your feedback. Thanks, and God bless you all!   

February 4, 2011

I can totally picture my grandson, Blaise, doing this

And for that matter, I can totally picture my son, Jon (Blaise's dad), doing his part, like the dad in this commercial.

February 3, 2011

Behold how much the world has changed in just 15 years

“What is the Internet, anyway?” a clueless Bryant Gumbel asks his equally clueless co-hosts on the “Today” show, way back in 1994. I can't blame him, though. When I first heard of the Internet, about that same time, I couldn't make sense out of it either. Karl Keating had been reading up on it in some BBS-related techie magazine he subscribed to and was trying to explain it to me over lunch one day.
I remember him saying that he thought the Internet could potentially become a big thing, as long as enough people started using it. In fact, he had the foresight to be the first to register the domain name (“what's
 that?” I remember asking him) catholic.com. That was back in late 1993 or early 1994. You know, back in the days when very few people could decipher what @ stood for in a mysterious term such as violence@nbc.ge.com. 

February 2, 2011

Letting go of someone I never knew

I had an oddly poignant experience on Twitter yesterday — I know, the last place you’d ever expect to encounter something poignant.

I was going through the list of people I follow and was removing those who are just trying to sell something, as well as  all the self-proclaimed “marketing gurus,” “life coaches,” and political pundits. Just part of the necessary pruning and cleaning one occasionally must do in the world of social media platforms. Nothing new there.

But in the midst of this utterly banal chore, I came to the Twitter profile of Ginger, a Catholic woman whose profile picture I only vaguely remembered seeing before and whose posts I hadn't seen in quite awhile. Opening her profile, I saw that her last several posts were from mid 2009 and were about her rapid decline from lung cancer. In one, she expressed how hard it was for her to deal with the shock of having just been diagnosed by her physician as “terminal.” A few posts later, her comment stream just . . . ended.

Nothing more. 

I Googled her name and saw that she died that summer, not long after her last post, mourned, no doubt, by many grief-stricken family and friends. She was only 41.

This brought back the sad memory of another Catholic woman I knew quite well and very much admired — a vibrant and vital young wife and mother of just 44 — who also died of lung cancer in September of that same year. A pang of melancholy rose up in me at that still-painful remembrance.

Gazing at Ginger’s picture, the mouse cursor poised over the “unfollow” button in her profile, I was moved by the realization that, even though she had died some time ago and I would therefore never see any further posts from her, still . . . by pressing “unfollow,” I would be, in a certain sense, letting go of her. It seemed strange that it should occur to me that way — after all, I never knew her personally. I was only aware of her existence through Twitter — a dim and superficial awareness of someone, to be sure. But still, there had been the slightest of connections there, albeit nothing more than pixels on a screen.

In that moment, an image from the movie Titanic arose in my mind; the one in which Rose is lying on a piece of floating debris holding on with one hand to the now dead Jack, almost entirely submerged in the frigid water. As she lets go of his hand, he sinks slowly into oblivion. True, those two were illicit lovers. In Ginger's case, well, she was someone I had ever even met or spoken to before, much less known personally. 

And yet, for a few brief, uncanny moments, my mind was pervaded by that poignant image of Rose letting go of Jack’s hand. 

I pressed “unfollow,” and in so doing said a kind of electronic “goodbye” to a sister in Christ I never knew, except through the medium of an ephemeral, tenuous, and  insignificant collection of pixels on my computer screen. And then, I said a prayer for the repose of her soul.

How strange, it seems to me, and how perfectly fitting at the same time, that the Lord makes use of even something as casual and (seemingly) inconsequential as Twitter to remind the members of His Body of their connection to each other.

Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. May she rest in peace. Amen. 

January 27, 2011

I gotta git me one of these

I am so putting this on my Amazon wish list. Anyone? Anyone?

January 26, 2011

"Beat him out of recognizable shape."

Here's a list of actual English subtitles from actual Hong Kong Kung Fu Movies, sent to me the other day by an e-mail pal.* These are the results of the original Chinese dialogue being rendered — or rather, beaten out of recognizable shape — into English:
1. "I am damn unsatisfied to be killed in this way."
2. "Fatty, you with your thick face have hurt my instep."
3. "Gun wounds again?"
4. "Same old rules: no eyes, no groin."
5. "A normal person wouldn't steal pituitaries."
6. "I'll burn you into a barbecue chicken!"
7. "Who gave you the nerve to get killed here?"
8. "Quiet or I'll blow your throat up."
9. "You always use violence. I should've ordered glutinous rice chicken!"
10. "I'll fire aimlessly if you don't come out!"
11. "You daring lousy guy!"
12. "I got knife scars more than the number of your leg's hair!"
13. "Beware! Your bones are going to be disconnected."
14. "How can you use my intestines as a gift?"
15. "The bullets inside are very hot. Why do I feel so cold?"
16. "Beat him out of recognizable shape."

* I received that e-mail in October, 1997, and ran this list in the issue of Envoy Magazine that was just going to print shortly afterward. Anyway, I ran across it again just now and, even a dozen years later, it still evoked a chortle.

Join me in San Antonio, February 18th & 19th

If you're anywhere near San Antonio, Texas, next month, I hope you'll be able to attend the Archdiocesan-sponsored seminar series I will be presenting there at Blessed Sacrament Parish on Oblate Drive. This website has more details, and you can also call 210-734-1990 for directions. 

I'll be speaking on the following topics:
• Answers to Lies Society Tells You
• The Godless Delusion: How to Respond to Atheist’s Claims
• The Bible and the Catholic Church: A Marriage Made in Heaven
• The Case for Christ: His Existence, Resurrection, and Divinity
• How to Explain the Sacraments to Someone Who Doesn’t Believe in Them
• Stump the Apologist: An Open-Forum Q&A Workshop

Bring your friends! I'd love to meet you in person. See you there.

January 17, 2011

January 15, 2011

The National Catholic Register's “About Us” section is about to change

For years, the Legion of Christ has emphasized that being involved in the media is an “integral” aspect of its (once) ever-expanding mission. This thinking was borne out in the Legion’s 1995 acquisition of the National Catholic Register and Twin Circle magazine (whose name was changed to Catholic Faith & Family). Its in-house media arm, Circle Media, was established that same year to administer these two publications as well as publish books, promote Internet ventures such as Catholic.net, and the like. 

But these days, since the sordid double-life of the organization's founder, Fr. Marcial Maciel, came to light in 2009, the prevailing winds are no longer blowing in a favorable direction for the Legion or its closely intertwined lay affiliate, Regnum Christi. Many young American Legionary priests have abandoned the order, most having transitioned into diocesan ministry. Thousands of disheartened and disillusioned lay members of Regnum Christi have likewise bolted. Donations to the Legion are down. Vocations are down. There are indications that both are, in fact, way, way down, which would explain why the Legion's already determined belt-tightening has recently moved into high gear. It would appear that the belt has become a tourniquet.

The Legion's U.S. publishing entity, Circle Media, is now kaput. Its abrupt disappearance fits the ongoing pattern of retrenchment taking place within the once far-flung and powerful network of Legionary owned and operated ventures. True, Circle Press, the Legion's book-publishing subsidiary of Circle Media, still has an Internet presence, but that seems to be only because, with a load of inventory still sitting on the shelves and needing to be depleted, it makes good sense to try to sell the remaining product for as long as possible. Prices for their books have been slashed dramatically, some down to just $2.00. 

Over the last two years, waves of layoffs have hit the lay employees of the organization's many lay apostolates and business ventures. The wide-swinging layoff scythe has whickered remorselessly through the ranks of the Legion's in-house lay staffers. The order's real assets are also being downsized. Once-important properties in the Legion's American holdings are being sold off. I am told that enrollment at their Center Harbor, New Hampshire, apostolic school for boys (grades 7-12) has been steadily dwindling. Three of my own sons attended that school in the 1990s, back when enrollment was booming and a splendid new dorm-gym complex was constructed to accommodate the ever-increasing number of boys who felt a call to become Legionary priests.

Now, however, at least one grade at the once thriving school is comprised of fewer than five students. I can only assume that if enrollment there continues to dry up, the Legion will be forced to do one of three previously unthinkable things: either 1) sell the school outright or 2) import students from other countries, such as Mexico, in order to keep the place operational or 3) convert the facility from a school to a retreat house or something of the sort. It's unclear whether the same diminution in enrollment has affected other Legionary seminaries, but time will tell.

In the meantime, the cost-cutting scythe will swing twice more in a few days.    

The next two strategic pieces on the Legionary chessboard to be eliminated are the National Catholic Register and Faith & Family Magazine. As will be announced in the next few days, both publications have been sold by the Legion and will be changing hands soon. Out of respect for the Register's new owner, I won't name names — you'll know who it is soon enough —  but I can tell you that the new owner is an organization run by good and dedicated people who are thoroughly Catholic and certain to ensure that the paper is faithfully Catholic and journalistically excellent. 

Personally, I am very pleased at this new chapter in the Register's saga. And as for Faith & Family, well, it has always been an exceedingly beautiful publication, perhaps the most lush and elegant Catholic periodical around on the American scene. (And I'm biased in this regard, as I publish Envoy Magazine, which I think looks pretty good, too).

You'll be hearing the official news of these changes in the next couple of days. I have high hopes for both publications and encourage all of you to subscribe to them as a vote of confidence for their new circumstances and their new owners. 

Something to be aware of: the possibility of impending food shortages

January 11, 2011

Think about it . . .

This FOTC bit has long been a favorite of mine. I watched it again just now and thought . . . hey, there may still be some folks out there who need to hear this message.

Dramatic video of today's tsunami-like flooding in Australia

"Kill the Cathlics!"

January 7, 2011

Something to keep in mind

“The problem with Internet quotations is that many of them are not genuine.” — Abraham Lincoln

Far out, man

Tune in, turn on, and click the image . . .

January 6, 2011

How to Start a Movement

The psychology of leadership and followership, explained here in just three minutes, rings true. As I watched this, I thought about great movements, started by a lone man or woman, that have accomplished great good for many people. Examples that come to mind are St. Ignatius of Loyola — the Society of Jesus, Blessed Mother Teresa — the Missionaries of Charity, and St. Benedict of Nursia — the Benedictine Order. Of course, there are many other great founders of Catholic religious orders who are rightly included in this category (St. Francis, St. Dominic, etc.).

But it's also true that "lone nuts," as the video presenter Derek Sivers says, can effectively start movements, too, by getting enough people to follow them until a tipping point occurs and the "movement" gains enough momentum to become a force. Sometimes, they are bad and destructive and, amazingly, sometimes they can be good and beneficial. A notable example of a leader who left a path of some good but also a great deal of destruction and misery in his wake would be Fr. Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legionaries of Christ. Pope Benedict recently branded Maciel a "false prophet," which seems to be an apt description of his devious, squandered life. As for the religious order he founded and the lay movement associated with it, we've seen many of his former followers walk away from them, shaking their heads in bewilderment, sadness, and disgust. Many more who feel that way, from what I've been hearing lately, are poised to walk away soon. Personally, I think they should, given what we now know about what Fr. Macial hath wrought and how he went about wroughting (and rotting) it.

Anyway, it seems to me that the moral of this little video is that each of us should be consciously aware of at least three things:

1) Just because someone is out there doing something attractive, daring, and noteworthy is not in itself sufficient evidence that he or she is worthy of being followed by you or anyone else. Yes, it's certainly possible that he is worthy of a following, of course, and it's true that what he is beckoning others to join in with him to accomplish may also be an excellent and worthy cause. But it's just as possible that he isn't and neither is his cause. It's usually more prudent to take a wait-and-see approach, especially when it's the Church's wait-and-see approach. In due time, the truth or error or admixture of both will come to light, sometimes shocking those who thought they had it pegged, only to discover that they were wrong. ("Signs-and-wonders" enthusiasts and devotées of unapproved alleged Marian apparitions should take special note of this. Just ask those unfortunates who avidly fell in with Veronica Lueken and fell for her false but widely believed [for a time] "apparitions" at Bayside, NY.)

2) Just because others — even many others — are flocking to a movement or an alleged apparition is not in itself evidence that the movement or alleged apparition is worthy of being followed. Even if everyone in the Catholic "in crowd" is jumping into the conga line behind some charismatic leader or alleged apparition "seer," don't let that suffice as proof that you should jump in too. It's not. That tendency to follow the crowd is known as falling for the fallacy of argumentum ad populum, and a lot of people get suckered into bad situations because they don't recognize that. In other words, fifty million Frenchmen can be wrong.

And 3) If you are Catholic, don't forget that you already are a duly registered member of the One True Movement established by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself: the Catholic Church. The older I get, the more I've come to see that while sub-movements such as religious orders, lay apostolates, and other worthy groups are surely necessary, important, and helpful to the life of the Church, they should never become substitutes for the Church. They should never be allowed to morph into, as sometimes happens, a religion within a religion. Good, wise, and holy founders like St. Benedict and St. Ignatius would have been horrified at the thought of their movement becoming for some a substitute for the Church.The danger, it seems to me, is that we can forget, slowly and imperceptibly, that Jesus Christ is our leader and the "movement" He has called us into is the Catholic Church. The more consciously determined we can become to be spiritually and materially active there, in the Church — in our parishes and dioceses, united with the pastor and the bishop, most importantly — the better. Anything else, however good it may be, is purely secondary.

I discuss "150 Bible Verses" with host Doug Keck on EWTN's "Bookmark" show

January 5, 2011


My kids’ Christmas gifts have all broken already. That’s what I get for buying them Waterford crystal.

I loved his music

Gerry Rafferty's distinctive voice is well-known to any radio-listening Westerner over the age of 40. With hits like "Stuck in the Middle With You" and the 1978 smash "Baker Street" (what a song), he contributed something important, if minor and intermittent, to the 1970s' music scene. He died today at just 63. May he rest in peace. May the Lord grant him pardon and peace, and may perpetual light shine upon him.  

January 4, 2011

A primer on the difference between devotion and superstition

Here's the entire "Catholic Answers Live" show from yesterday, January 3rd. One of the issues we covered in this show is the superstitious practice of burying a statue of St. Joseph in the yard of a house one is trying to sell. As you'll hear, I don't look at all favorably on that deplorable custom. One of the most intriguing calls came from a man named Larry, whom I assume is Catholic (or perhaps he's just "Catholic"). He argued that Catholic piety regarding reverence toward the Eucharist is "superstitious." You read that right. I've fielded thousands of Catholic-related questions over the years, but that one was among the most bizarre. Take a listen and please feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts on that or anything else we covered (or should have covered) in this show.

P.S. The debate on religious images and the communion of saints that I had with Protestant apologist James White (which I reference in this show) is available here.  

January 3, 2011

Map of American English dialects

Being born and raised in Southern California and living most of my life there (we moved to Central Ohio in 1997), I always thought that the "California accent" was so mild and flat that it hardly qualified as one at all. I still think that, though now that we've been living in Ohio for nearly 14 years, when I hear a fellow Californian speak, it's distinctive enough for me to notice. Native Ohioans are a much different story. I can always tell when I'm speaking with someone who grew up here, especially when they say the words "boosh" (bush) and "poosh" (push). Another common one is that they say "Nerk a-HI-ya" for "Newark, Ohio." There are other noticeable idosyncracies, to be sure. And I have no doubt that we Californians sound kind of odd to them, as well. Without question, the rise of popular television programs broadcast coast-to-coast, as well as Hollywood movies, not to mention the great increase in transience that followed in the wake of President Eisenhower's Interstate construction initiative) contributed greatly to the general flattening of regional accents. We're quite far away from anything resembling a homogeneous American dialect -- I strongly doubt that such a thing could ever develop -- but it seems to me that the regional quirks in dialect are slowly becoming, if I may be forgiven for putting it this way, less pronounced.

January 2, 2011

Costa Rican Leaf-Cutter Ants are ready for their close-up