The prime directive: Make something beautiful. An interview with Jim Janknegt

One of my favorite living artists is James Janknegt. In 2017, he kindly gave me an interview for Aleteia about his life and work. Janknegt, 66, who lives in Texas, is currently working on a commission for five paintings for a book on the meaning of baptism. You can find more of James Janknegt’s art and purchase his book on Lenten Meditations at bcartfarm.com.

Jim Janknegt via Facebook

Here’s our interview:

You converted to Catholicism in 2005. What led up to that?

James Janknegt: When I was a teenager back in the 70s, there was a nationwide charismatic movement. I was Presbyterian at the time. There was a transdenominational coffee house at University of Texas, with the typical youth band playing Jesus songs. There was a frat house we had taken over. We had 20 people sleeping on the floor; it was crazy. A super intense time.

What kind of art education did you have?

I went to public high school, and they didn’t teach much about art history. I would look at books at book stores, and that was my exposure to art. We had a rinky-dink art museum at University of Texas, not much to speak of. After I had this deepening of my faith as a teenager, and really wanted to follow Jesus 100 percent, I was really questioning whether it was legit to become an artist. I didn’t know any artist who were Christians, or Christians who were artists.

Thumbing through the bookstore, I found Salvador Dali. The book was cracked open at “Christ of St. John of the Cross.”

Wikipedia/fair use

That still, small voice that’s not audible, but you know it’s authentically God speaking to you — it felt affirmed. Yes, go forward to be an artist and be a Christian. Those are not incompatible.

Crucifixion at Barton Creek Mall – James Janknegt

Your pieces move from dark and lonely to radiant after your remarriage and conversion to Catholicism — that shift that you define as going from “diagnostic to celebratory.” But even in the “celebratory” stage, there is drama, even agony, along with ecstasy in your pieces.

Foxes Have Holes/James Janknegt

When I was involved in that youth group, they were very super-spiritual, filled with the Holy Spirit, thinking, “Now we can do everything!”

Summer Still Life/James Janknegt

But we never looked internally to see if there are psychological problems alongside your spiritual life. My dad was bipolar and manic depressive, in and out of mental institutions and jail. I met a woman at that Jesus freak outfit, and we got married. I carried a lot of baggage into my first marriage, that I hadn’t dealt with at all. I went to grad school and my marriage fell apart.

Breakdown/James Janknegt

Getting divorced ripped the lid off. All this stuff I had repressed was all bubbling up and coming to the fore. Questioning not my faith, but my ability to be faithful. Can I hear Him and be obedient to Him and do His will? It was a very dark time.

Jet Station/James Janknegt

When we look at your paintings chronologically, it very obviously mirrors different stages in your life. Is it strange to have your whole life on display?

You take that on when you become an artist. It’s very self-revelatory. It’s part of the deal, if you’re gonna be an artist, to be as honest as you can. I think that’s the downfall of a lot of bad religious art: It’s not technically bad, but it’s just not honest. We live in a fallen world. Bad things happen.

Sudden and Tragic Death/James Janknegt

That’s part of life, and that has to be in your painting. You can’t paint sanitized, Sunday school art.

But you do seem to create art that has very specific meanings in mind. Do you worry about limiting what the viewer can get out of a piece?

There’s a painting I did of Easter morning zinnias. They look like firecrackers; Jonah’s on the vase; in the corner, there’s an airplane.

Easter Morning/James Janknegt

I just needed something in the corner to make your eye move into that corner! People were trying to figure out what it meant, but sometimes an airplane is just an airplane.

To me, the role of art is to make something beautiful. Very simple, that’s the prime directive: Make something beautiful.

James Janknegt – supplied
Bug Tools and Beyond/James Janknegt

It doesn’t have to be figurative or narrative or decorative. But my feeling is: The history of our salvation, starting with Genesis to Revelation, is indeed the greatest story ever told. What’s better? As an artist, why wouldn’t I want to tell that?

James Janknegt – supplied
Nativity Christmas Card/James Janknegt

How does the secular world respond to your works? They are full of parables and Bible stories, but also unfamiliar imagery.

A painting is different from a sentence or a paragraph. Paintings deal with visual symbols. I’m trying to take something that was conceptualized 2,000 years ago in a different culture, keeping the content, in a different context.

James Janknegt – supplied
Two Sons/James Janknegt

It’s almost like translating a language, but with visual symbols.

I have a definite idea of what I’m trying to get across. But you [the viewer] bring with yourself a completely different set of assumptions and experiences, and I have no control over that. I don’t want to.

 

James Janknegt – supplied
Holy Family/James Janknegt

When I look at a painting, it’s a conversation. I’m talking into the painting, and the painting is talking to you.

James Janknegt – supplied
Grain and Weeds/James Janknegt

Part of the problem today is that we do not have the same visual symbolic language. In the Renaissance or the Middle Ages, the culture was homogeneous, and symbols were used for hundreds and hundreds of years. If I put a pelican pecking its breast, no one [today] knows what that means. We’ve lost the language. So it’s challenging.

Are you inventing your own modern symbolic language? I see birds, dogs…

You kind of have to. It’s a balancing act. In art school, they say, “Just express yourself! You’re painting for yourself; it doesn’t matter what everyone else gets out of it.” I’m not doing that. I’m trying to communicate with people.

 

The Wise Bridesmaids/Janknegt – supplied
The Wise Bridesmaids/James Janknegt

Tell me about the state of religious art right now.

People complain about how there’s no good religious art.  But there’s a lot of good art out there; you just have to search for it. I feel like I’m hidden away, in this weird place between two cultures, but they are out there.

Saint John the Evangelist/James Janknegt
Saint John the Evangelist/James Janknegt

In our time, people who collect art aren’t religious, and people who are religious don’t collect art. And for an artist, in the Venn diagram, you’re in the place where it says “no money.”

If you could just find an artist you really like and ask them if you could buy a piece for your home shrine.

The Visitation/James Janknegt-supplied
The Visitation/James Janknegt

If every Catholic could buy a piece of art from a living artist, think how that would impact your life, and the life of the artist. You could give them a living.

James Janknegt-supplied
Divine Mercy/James Janknegt

Your farm is called “Brilliant Corners Art Farm.” Is that name a reference to Thelonious Monk?

It is! But it also has a hidden spiritual meaning. Honesty is the light. If you’ve got brilliant corners, then the whole room is lit up.

I Will Make All Things New/James Janknegt-supplied
I Will Make All Things New/James Janknegt

You can find more of James Janknegt’s art and purchase his Lenten Meditations book of 40 paintings based on the parables of Jesus Lenten Meditations at bcartfarm.com.

No words

Sometimes it strikes me as hilarious. I fight down a wild giggle as I recall requesting an interview, scheduling a time, doing some research, writing up questions, talking for an hour, and then, as I sit down to transcribe it, bustling so purposefully into a dead end. I feel like a video game hero who just can’t figure out how to get out of a corner, but keeps walking and walking and walking forward, bump bump bump bump bump into the wall, while his life force drains away.

Sometimes it strikes me as less than funny.

“I’ll fix your feet so you can’t walk,/ I’ll lock your jaw so you can’t talk,” murmurs death.

Read the rest of my latest for The Catholic Weekly.

Image: photo Silberstein, L., Dr. from George Eastman Museum via Flickr; no known copyright restrictions; words added

Valentine gift guide, 2019!

Pshh, I bet you guys don’t even have your Valentine’s Day trees up yet, do you. Slackers! Here’s our special love tree, as of today:

I just love love, okay?

Now let’s get to the good stuff. Here are some lovely gift ideas for your love. Order now and get flowers when the day gets closer. Trust me.

(Etsy links are affiliate links)

Honest and for True, a Valentine’s day romantic comedy by Jane Lebak

Have I read this book? No, I have not! But the author is funny and smart and interesting, so chances are good her writing is, too.

29-year-old Lee has a Park Slope apartment with easy access to Manhattan, loves her job as an auto mechanic, and can see her guardian angel (a wisecracker with a fascination for the Rumours album.) That’s kind of a full life for a kid in the world’s biggest playground. Despite what everyone thinks, she doesn’t need, or want, a romantic relationship.

Far more comfortable in blue jeans and flannel than in heels and satin, Lee finds herself lying to every man she dates. To the physical trainer, she’s a preschool teacher; to the guy at the bowling alley, she’s a secretary. The lies keep romance at arm’s length even as they drive the angel to distraction until the day she realizes she’s fallen for a straight-laced accountant who’s exploring his dark side through bizarre foods (please note: sea cucumber is not a vegetable). But now he thinks she’s someone she’s not.

Now she’s got to turn those mechanic skills on herself to diagnose and repair the most important relationships in her life. And just think, she used to find it tough repairing a transmission!

Long-time comedy writer and novelist Jane Lebak serves up a hilarious comedy with angels and spare tires and a recipe for the best omelets you’ve ever tasted. Also what may be the most romantic toilet-fixing scene in the English language. But there really isn’t an award for that, so we’ll never know.

MORSE CODE NECKLACES from APPLE AND AZALEA

Guys, I will tell you a secret: Women love secret marriage stuff. If you have a romantic in-joke or something sweet that only you and she know about, a morse code necklace is a very good bet, because it’s romantic but not lady-generic.

Theresa at Apple and Azalea makes Morse Code necklaces for men and women. While there are always some great choices in stock in her Etsy shop, necklaces can by customized by color, phrase or even length of necklace. Popular ideas are nicknames and pet names, children’s initials for a parent, or personal sentiments like “all my love,” or “to the moon and back.”

Here’s a few other designs:

Contact her by Feb 5th to get a custom design made and shipped in time for Valentine’s Day. In stock items need to be ordered by Feb 8 to guarantee they will ship in time.

CHAINMAIL JEWELRY FROM IRON LACE DESIGN

Never will I tire of reminding you to shop around Kyra’s amazing chainmail jewelry store. Never, I say! I’m breathlessly awaiting my latest order. These incomparable pieces would not be out of place in a gallery, but you can have one for your very own.

The Time Lord’s Companion

This stunning steampunk choker combines elegant Victorian filigree with authentic Japanese chainmail, carefully linked by hand. It finishes with an astonishing one-of-a-kind pendant, made of authentic vintage watch gears that have genuine movement with sparkling inlaid ruby bearings. This truly magical piece is nineteen inches long, and closes with a lobster clasp.

Named in honor of the perennial classic show Doctor Who, this tiny time machine is a magical piece that promises to be your companion–not just for occasional cosplay wear, at which it excels, but also for everyday enjoyment. Let its beguiling marriage of lace with steel, and the radiance of its ruby bearings, be a reminder to you that fantastic things are possible, and that making magic is worth your time.

Tesseract earrings

“There IS such a thing as a tesseract.”, said Mrs Whatsit. These are lovingly dedicated to Meg Murry, who learned how to tesser and kythe.

Handmade of steel chainmail and Swarovski crystal, these earrings measure approximately 1 1/2in and are hung from sterling silver hooks.

The Selene necklace

The Selene Lace, like the rest of the popular Byzantine line, embodies the Iron Lace ideal of knitting with steel, combining spun moonbeam elegance with lasting strength.

A made-to-order variation on my popular Byzantine-style choker, and the heavier version of the Byzantine chainmail choker, this handmade stainless steel necklace is elegant enough for a formal evening dancing in the moonlight, but tough enough to withstand swimming in a pool or ocean tides. The Byzantine line is designed to make you feel like an everyday empress.

[Kyra’s in Canada, so order by February 5 to get your jewelry before Valentine’s Day. Six-day shipping is possible, but let’s not be silly!]

HOLY MARRIAGE POCKET ROSARY FROM GROTTO ROSARIES

Isn’t this lovely? Tender and dignified. This is one of several pocket rosaries available.

One-decade “tenners” or pocket rosaries are elegant gifts for your sweetheart.  Perfectly portable to keep in the pocket or under the pillow, Grotto pocket rosaries feature stunning bronze medals cast in the USA that will remind your beloved of a special saint, occasion, or intention.  (Pictured: Holy Marriage in the Garden set with Aqua Terra jasper).

All pocket rosaries feature 8mm gemstone Ave beads and a 10 mm Pater bead set between czech fire-polished and bronze, giving them just the right amount of sparkle while not overwhelming the natural beauty of the gemstones.

Artfully packaged with organza gift bag and jewelry box.  Handmade in upstate Central New York.

And finally . . .

MORE LOVELY GEEKINESS FROM THE ONE AND ONLY ELISA LOW OF DOOR NUMBER NINE

Catholic Pickup Lines Card Set

Have you Lent someone your heart and want to ash them out? Do you think you’ve met a special someone, and you wish your guardian angel could intercede? Door Number 9 is here to be your wingman!

Here are the classic Catholic pick-up lines, now printed on 2.5×4 inch cards. Carry them with you inside the included slide-top metal tin so you can smoothly operate the top and slide out one of sixteen suggestions, including: “Confess here often?”; “Your eyes are so [Marian blue, Carmelite brown, or Ordinary Time green]”; and “Do you attend the Latin Mass? Because your form is Extraordinary.”

Don’t just watch that special someone pray the rosary when you could be spending decades with them. Open your heart (and your pick-up cards) and act now!

Grumpy St. Valentine Mug

Get back to the Catholic roots of SAINT Valentine’s day with this icon mug:

Roses are Red,
Violets are Blue,
I was beaten stoned and beheaded,
These flowers and chocolates
Are for you.

.

What’s for supper? Vol. 157: Banh mi, banh you (uh-hunhhhhh)

My father kept telling me time will speed up when you get older, and he was right. Sorry I’ve been a bit scarce on the blog lately. I have a bunch of big projects I’m working on, and they’re kicking my butt. Here’s what we apparently ate this week, in a blur:

SATURDAY
Grilled ham and cheese on sourdough, broccoli, chips

I put out the sandwiches and broccoli, waited ten minutes, and then admitted there were also chips. It was worth a shot. (It didn’t work.)

SUNDAY
Pork banh mi with pickled vegetables

Fabulous. Just so ridiculously tasty. Sometimes I leave the cucumbers unpickled, and have plain mayo instead of sriracha, and skip the jalapeños, but this time I went for the full heat. Grrrrrr.

You can make this with steak, but I actually prefer pork, because it takes on more of the marinade flavor (FISH SAUCE). I pickled the cukes and carrots and sliced and marinated the meat when we got home from Mass, and then almost the whole family went out to see Into the Spiderverse, and wow, it was great! I loved every minute of it. Parts of it were too scary and overwhelming for Corrie, but she got through them and enjoyed the rest. If you only rarely see movies in the theater, this is one to splurge on.

We got back very late and I was so glad all I had to do was cook the meat. I spread it in pans and broiled it up. I also decided to grill the bread on on iron skillet with a little olive oil, and I liked that; but toasting in the oven works fine, too. The ideal bread for this sandwich is a crusty split baguette, but the generic sub rolls we had were fine.

Banh mi and pickled veg recipe cards at the end.

MONDAY
Southwest chicken salad

This was not as popular as I thought it would be. The idea was mixed greens, spicy grilled chicken, corn with red pepper, black beans, avocado slices, grape tomatoes, and spicy, crunchy tortilla strips, with lime wedges. I even bought some kind of name brand Chipotle Ranch Dressing in one of those bottles designed to be upside down like millionaires have.

I got a resounding “meh” from the family. True, I accidentally bought frozen rice with corn in it, rather than frozen corn with peppers in it, but I don’t think the success of this meal was entirely riding on the corn aspect of it. I dunno. I thought it was okay! Oh well.

To make the tortilla strips, I (you’ll never guess) cut tortillas into strips, then tossed them with olive oil and sprinkled them with plenty of chili lime powder. Then I spread them in a shallow pan and baked them at 300 for maybe half an hour, stirring occasionally, until they were crunchy.

I actually burned the first batch and started all over again; that’s how dedicated I was. Anyway, these tortilla strips would make a good topping for all kinds of salads or soups.

TUESDAY
Chicken spinach-walnut pesto pasta salad and garlic knots

The kids have been asking for this dish, which I used to make a lot. I like it, although it seems like more of a side dish to me; but it’s labor-intensive enough that I definitely don’t want to make a main course in addition. So I forged ahead.

I can’t decide if I can really even call what I made “pesto” or not. I usually make this dish with just basil, olive oil, garlic, and parmesan, because pine nuts are expensive. But I did have tons of walnuts in the house from when I was still telling myself I’d just have to go ahead and bake after Christmas. (I did not.)

So I fed about two cups of walnuts into the food processor until they were pretty crumbed. I had a giant bunch of basil, but it had been pushed to the back of the fridge, where it froze. I figured it was going to be pulverized anyway, so maybe it didn’t matter? So that went in, too. But it looked way too nutty, so I says, “Spinach is a leaf, just like basil!” But all I had was a box of mixed greens including spinach, and I sure didn’t feel like sorting leaves. So I just shoved a few big handfuls of mixed greens in, and then about a cup of olive oil, a teaspoon of kosher salt, tons of minced garlic, and an entire jar (I guess 8 oz?) of shredded parmesan cheese. Corrie was helping me at this point, so. We just kept shoving stuff in and pressing the button.

The end result actually tasted nice. Definitely walnutty, but not in a bad way, especially with all that cheese. I think it may have come out more spreadable if I had toasted the walnuts, but I didn’t think of that.

The basil held its own against the spinach and whatnot. I wasn’t crazy about the texture — it was very pasty. But it was definitely too late to turn back, so I pressure cooked some chicken thighs and broke them into bits, and boiled up some farfalle, and just shlorped the whole thing together.

They liked it! I liked it. I guess I will go ahead and make a recipe card. Definitely cheaper than pure pesto. Hard to get a decent picture of it, though. It doesn’t look like a heap of garbage in real life.

For the garlic knots, I just cut balls of pre-made pizza dough into eight lumps, rolled them into snakes, tied them in knots, and topped each one with a pat of butter and a sprinkle of kosher salt, garlic powder, and parmesan. They get baked in a 400 oven on a greased, floured (or better, corn mealed) pan for 12-15 minutes, if I recall.

I made enough for everyone to have two. Corrie had four.

I love these inordinately. Something about how nicely they come apart and how steamy hot their tender insides are. I am not actually a bird of prey, despite how I sound here.

WEDNESDAY
Pizza

Five of them.

I took this picture because I heard myself saying, “Ugh, it’s after noon and I haven’t gotten anything done today!” Then I realized I had taken the kids to school, conducted a phone interview, written a 900-word essay, and made five pizzas, or, as I like to call it, “getting nothing done.” This is what Damien calls having a head full of bullshit, and it may never clear, but at least I can challenge it. Those were fine pizzas.

THURSDAY
Chicken enchiladas

Dora made Pioneer Woman’s chicken enchiladas, may her name be praised. Eighteen red and eighteen green.  Yadda-dadda-dadda-dadda-dai-dai-dai!  I didn’t get an enchilada photo because I wrote through dinner time and didn’t eat until 8:30 or so, and couldn’t spare a second. Here’s something, though:

And there it is.

FRIDAY
Fish taco rice bowls

A new dish I’ll be trying today. I got the idea from Damn Delicious, but I have no energy to make the pico de gallo, sadly. We’ll just have rice topped with batter fried frish (I’m gonna leave that typo because it’s funny), shredded red cabbage, sliced avocado, cilantro, salsa, and fresh limes. She includes what looks like a yummy recipe for cilantro lime dressing, which I bought Greek yogurt for, but I just remembered I ate half of it with honey. Should I buy more, or maybe just make a lime crema? I don’t really see any downside with this. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Banh mi with pickled vegetables

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs pork butt (or other boneless cut), trimmed and sliced thinly

10-12 rolls, split and toasted or grilled

  • 1-2 bunches cilantro, chopped coarsely
  • mayo, with or without sriracha stirred in
  • jalapeños, sliced thinly

For the marinade:

  • 1 cup fish sauce
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 18 cloves garlic, minced (8-9 Tpsp)
  • 1/2 medium onion, minced (or a few shallots, minced)
  • 2 tsp ground pepper

Instructions

  1. Mix all sauce ingredients together. Mix up with sliced pork, seal in ziplock bag, and let marinate overnight or for at least five hours. 

  2. Remove meat from marinade and grill over low heat or under broiler.

  3. Spread mayo or sriracha mayo on toasted or grilled bread, lay on meat, add pickled vegetables (see recipe card), jalapeños, and cilantro.

 

Lime Crema

Keyword Budget Bytes, crema, lime, lime crema, sour cream, tacos

Ingredients

  • 16 oz sour cream
  • 3 limes zested and juiced
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together. 

Recipe Notes

So good on tacos and tortilla chips Looking forward to having it on tortilla soup, enchiladas, MAYBE BAKED POTATOES, I DON'T EVEN KNOW.

quick-pickled carrots and/or cucumbers for banh mi, bibimbap, ramen, tacos, etc.

An easy way to add tons of bright flavor and crunch to a meal. We pickle carrots and cucumbers most often, but you can also use radishes, red onions, daikon, or any firm vegetable. 

Ingredients

  • 6-7 medium carrots, peeled
  • 1 lb mini cucumbers (or 1 lg cucumber)

For the brine (make double if pickling both carrots and cukes)

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar (other vinegars will also work; you'll just get a slightly different flavor)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp sale, preferably kosher

Instructions

  1. Mix brine ingredients together until salt and sugar are dissolved. 

  2. Slice or julienne the vegetables. The thinner they are, the more flavor they pick up, but the more quickly they will go soft, so decide how soon you are going to eat them and cut accordingly!

    Add them to the brine so they are submerged.

  3. Cover and let sit for a few hours or overnight or longer. Refrigerate if you're going to leave them overnight or longer.

Spinach walnut pesto

You can play with the proportions to get the consistency you like. This version is cheaper than using pine nuts and all basil. Makes 2-3 cups of pesto for adding to pasta or spreading on bruschetta.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cups fresh baby spinach (can include radicchio, etc.)
  • 2 cups walnuts
  • 3 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 8 oz grated parmesan
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Whir nuts in food processor until crumbed. 
    Add basil and greens, and whir until blended. 
    Slowly add olive oil and blend again.
    Add salt, garlic, and parmesan cheese and blend again until it's the consistency you like. 


Why isn’t there more advice about raising teenagers?

These feelings of helplessness are actually a good thing, assuming you all survive. It’s a good thing to realize that you’re no expert, you’re no genius, you’re no bottomless font of wisdom. It’s a good thing to realize that your child is not a robot to be programmed, or an empty sack to be filled with whatever habits and preferences and traits and skills you choose.

What your child is is a unique, irreplaceable immortal being with terrifyingly free will and a lot less self-knowledge than he had a few years ago; and what you are is someone who loves your kid and wants the best for him, but is so far from being in control, it’s laughable.

Read the rest of my latest for The Catholic Weekly.

Image by Ryan McGuire via Pixabay

How can you be Church militant if you refuse to train to fight?

In light of the academic and cultural debacle playing out at Franciscan U, I’m reposting an essay I wrote in 2014. It addresses only one aspect of the creeping academic cowardice that threatens, once again, to overwhelm the American Church — to turn the Church militant into the Church Ostrich, squawking indignantly at anyone who wants to get up out of the sand and engage the world, the flesh, and the devil.

At FUS, we see this cowardice not creeping, but swarming and wielding pitchforks. Short version of the nonsense: A well-respected FUS professor assigned The Kingdom, a work of fiction imagining the early Church, to a group of five upper-level English majors. The book, which merited a mixed review by the conservative journal First Things, included a blasphemous and graphically profane passage describing the sexual thoughts of one fictional character. As far as I can gather, part of the professor’s goal was to help some select, mature students learn how to evaluate and respond to literature which isn’t specifically designed to edify the sheltered — i.e., most of literature. He wanted, it seems, to train his students for their imminent battles, both intellectual and spiritual.

But the group that calls itself Church Militant somehow got wind of the assignment and organized a mob, allegedly horrified that any Catholic would read such things . . . and also excerpting the most profane and blasphemous portions of the book and disseminating them far and wide. Strange behavior for an organization that believes no one should read such things. But this isn’t about logic, this is about moral panic. The professor has been stripped of his chairmanship, and Church Militant is calling for him to be fired. The school president wrote a craven letter apologizing for the putative offense and promising reparations and tighter oversight of curriculum.

Coincidentally, social media churned up an old and ludicrous Crisis article warning readers away from Flannery O’Connor because ugliness and violence just don’t pair well with religious ideas.

Counterpoint:

So it seemed like a good time to remind folks that we’re Catholic, dammit, not cowards. If Catholics can’t muster up the intellectual courage and brainpower to answer the world, then the world is doomed. You can be well-educated without reading The Kingdom, but you can’t win any wars if you keep firing the drill sergeants training your kids for the battle.

We are the Church militant — not the fourth-rate media outrage machine that goes by that name, but the real thing, the part of the communion of saints still on the battlefield. We’re supposed to put ourselves on the front lines. How can we fight the world, the flesh, and the devil if we shrink howling away from any kind of toughening and training? How will you fight if you refuse to meet the enemy? How can you fight the devil if you don’t even have the guts to talk about a book?

It may or may not have been wise for the professor to assign that particular book, but it chills my blood to see yet another Catholic institution knuckle under to the demands of a knothead mob. You parents who want to protect your kids from evil: This is what the evil looks like. It looks like vicious cowardice dressed up as righteous indignation. We’ve seen this before. The ones howling “blasphemy” are always the same one panting for another crucifixion.

***

When I was about eight years old, I decided that, just once, I was going to read a story that turned out the way I wanted it to turn out.  So I wrote it myself. It was about a little girl who went to a fair, and she got to go on all the rides as many times as she wanted, and all the vendors thought she looked like such a neat kid that they gave her tons of food for free, and then she played a bunch of games and she won prizes every single time. Then she went home when she was ready to go home.

Even I knew that this was the worst story ever. Even though the little girl was tired at the end, nothing had happened. The story was devoid of conflict, which is the tension necessary to make the gears of the story mesh. No teeth, no engagement, no movement, no vroom-vroom-vroom.

My own daughter just learned this fact this morning. She was home “sick,” so she and the toddler and the dog were watching My Little Pony, which is actually not terrible. It was the episode where Shining Armor is marrying Princess Cadance (that’s how you spell it. I looked it up, everypony), and in Part II, the bridesmares turn crazy and evil. My daughter says, “How come there always have to be jerks?”

Hooray, something I went to college for! I can answer this one. I explain that when everyone is just nice and friendly and helpful all the time, it’s too boring. It may be fine in real life, but when you’re telling a story, there’s no story there.

“Oh,” she says, “Like in Care Bears.” Yes, exactly. Which is why, even I do not let them watch Care Bears. (Or, I don’t ban it outright, but I encourage a heavy atmosphere of hostility and derision around the entire franchise. This is one of the huge advantages of having a big family: all you have to do is brainwash the older kids, and if you’ve done your job thoroughly, your propaganda takes on a life of its own.)

Audiences are primed to expect conflict in a story. This  makes things more interesting, it gives us a reason to care, and, even for little kids, it makes the story more true to life. For kids, it is perfectly okay to have the mess 100% mopped up by the time the ending credits roll: all the misunderstandings are cleared up, all the misdeeds are apologized for and forgiven, and all the unrepentant characters have their just desserts delivered to them in a tidy little pastry box.

That’s for kids.

Not for adults.

In adult fiction, it is okay for things to be a little messier. There is some middle ground between the sunshine-and-lollipops world of Care Bears, and the muck of unrelenting despair that passes for postmodern fiction. There is a lot of middle ground, in fact, and that is precisely where good, thoughtful, entertaining, thought-provoking fiction sets up camp: where there is a moral universe, but it’s not a tidy one.

Not long ago, I had a conversation with a fellow who had been to a Catholic liberal arts college and somehow emerged on the other end with a B.A. and the firm impression that, for a work of fiction to earn the seal of approval from Catholics, the plot must include pretty much everything you’d expect in a My Little Pony episode — especially the parts where all sins are punished and all sinners are either damned or repentant. He said that Catholics ought not to read any book or watch any movie or play where this comeuppance is not reliable and overt. Not only did he advance this point of view in public, under his real name, but he kept it up until three separate people sent me private messages warning me that he would neither eat, nor sleep, nor relieve his bladder until I gave up and admitted he was right.

And I says to myself, I says, Sorry, Shakespeare! Sorry, Homer! Sorry, Flannery O’Connor and Evelyn Waugh, Somerset Maugham, Mark Twain, Faulkner, Melville, Dostoevsky, Chaucer, Joseph Conrad, Dickens, and Thomas “Joyboy” Mann. Sorry to you all, but you have got to go, because I’m fairly sure that on page 243, right where nice little college girls and college boys could read it, someone got in someone else’s pants and didn’t drop dead of the clap before the end of the book. And on the very next page, someone used God’s name in vain and even though a perfectly good crevasse could have plausibly opened up and swallowed him without doing much violence to the dramatic integrity of the work as a whole, IT DIDN’T HAPPEN. Is outrage!

I don’t even have to write the last paragraph of this, do I? You’re not going to argue with me are you? Are you?

Yes, ideas have consequences. Yes, the things we read have an effect on us, and if we wallow in filth, it gets deep into our pores and then the next thing you know, we don’t even want to shower. This is a real danger. But it’s just as dangerous to imagine that the Catholic imagination can produce nothing better than a Care Bears episode, a lesson in manners and morals disguised as a story.

Being a Catholic doesn’t mean foreswearing everything you know about humanity. We can recognize the difference between a novel and an instruction manual; and if we can’t, that’s not the sign of some high moral attainment. That’s a sign of a feeble mind and a limp spirit. We’re not little kids at the fair, and we can deal with someone telling us, “You don’t need any more cotton candy right now.”

***
Images: Shrinking Violet by JD Hancock via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Grünewald Crucifixion detail via Wikimedia (Public domain)

 

What’s for supper? Vol. 156: Cutthroat Fishers

Pretty good week of food! Here’s what we had this week:

SATURDAY
Regular-person tacos

Every once in a while, I like to treat the kids to just regular old tacos with ground beef, orange spice from a little envelope, pre-shredded Mexican-style cheese, and so on. No fish sauce or pickled carrots or Asian pears or microgreen nonsense.

SUNDAY
Drunken noodles with beef

We have taken to watching Cutthroat Kitchen (currently streaming on Hulu) on family laundry-folding night. I love this show. It’s just mean and weird enough to be entertaining, but you also get some good food ideas. Also, Irene has taken to describing anything terrible as “going for more of a rustic feel.” Their favorite episode was the one where that guy made berry muffins that were just a sticky pile of crumbs. They talk about it all the time. The only part I don’t like is where they make the winner do a little money dance at the end, and 99% of them clearly do not want to be dancing for the camera.

Anyway, Damien is a big fan of drunken noodles (which, to my surprise, are not made with alcohol. They are called that because they are so spicy, they make you want to drink a lot), so I figured I would look up the recipe by Jet Tila, who is often a judge on the show. Turns out the recipe I chose is significantly different from what Damien’s been ordering, but he absolutely loved what I came up with. I used beef rather than the shrimp the recipe called for, so I’ll go ahead and rewrite it as I made it. I also chose to make it less spicy than it might have been, because you can always add heat after cooking, but you can’t really take it away. So we just sprinkled some red pepper flakes on top, and that was good, and brought out the other flavors nicely.

There are several steps to this recipe and a certain amount of slicing, but it’s not difficult, and it was so good. Damien and I both found ourselves eating our first helping as quickly as we could so we could get up and get another helping.

Because I used regular basil instead of Thai basil, and I trimmed out the pepper seeds and membranes, it had a slightly Italian taste in combination with the tomatoes. This blended shockingly well with the sweet, spicy Asian sauce. I made a ton of it

and it got gobbled up.

Definitely adding this to the rotation, and I foresee endless variations, too. Next time, I hope I can find wider rice noodles.

MONDAY
Blueberry chicken salad with homemade croutons

Blueberries were on sale, so I chose this always-popular meal. I opted to cook the chicken breast in the Instant Pot with lemon juice, salt, pepper, and garlic powder, which wasn’t the absolute best. Roasted would have been better.

I cut the chicken into chunks and served it over mixed greens with toasted almonds (toast them easily in the microwave for two minutes), feta cheese, diced red onion, the blueberries, and some lovely croutons I made with the mountain of stale hamburger buns I’ve been collecting.

To make croutons, cut the bread into cubes, drizzle them with melted butter, and season them heavily with salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, or whatever else you like. Spread them in a shallow pan and toast them in a 325 oven for half an hour or more, until they are crunchy all the way through.

I had mine with just balsamic vinegar, and it was very good.

TUESDAY
BLTs and tiramisu

Damien made this for his b*rthd*y. Some of the January tomatoes were what Corrie would call “puffetic.”

But most of them were okay, and we had a lovely meal.

Damien made a gigantic tiramisu following this recipe,but he added grated chocolate to the top along with the cocoa powder.

WEDNESDAY
One-pan roasted chicken thighs with balsamic vegetables

A true one-pan dish, none of this “sauté this, then braise that, then toast these, then whirl that through your food processor, reduce, deglaze, make a roux, roll out crust to top, pour into springform pan, steam, release, take it for a nice walk down to the park in a sieve, perform reverse osmosis on the juices and run the resulting curds through your KitchenAid centrifuge, and then simply put in one pan!” stuff. You prep the vegetables, put them in the pan, add balsamic and olive oil, salt and pepper, mix it up in the pan, put the chicken on top of the vegetables which are in the pan, and season the chicken that is in the pan. Then put the pan in the oven. Then get one of your stronger kids to drag it out for you while following her with a camera.

(Actually I made two pans’ worth.)

It turns out so tasty. Not everyone liked all the vegetables, but everyone had something. I made this version with red potatoes, brussels sprouts, a butternut squash, and baby carrots. The vegetables draw up the sauce very nicely and take on a kind of glaze, without you having to do anything but put the pan in the oven and turn it on.

So, the butternut squash has been hanging around my kitchen for a good six weeks now, starting balefully at me and sending out almost-audible hoots of derision. So I showed it! I cut its ends off with my newly-sharpened knife and tossed that sucker in the microwave for three minutes. Then I scooped out the seeds, peeled it, and cut it into chunks.

No, I lied. First I held it against my sinuses for an unseemly amount of time.

 

I briefly considered sharing this as a tip for other migraine sufferers, but then I remembered what happened last time I shared a picture of myself becoming overly familiar with a vegetable

Tito Edwards unfriended me, that’s what happened. And that’s why I live at the P.O.

Oh, if you’re wondering, it’s totally fine to eat a 6-week-old butternut squash. Keep it in a cool, dry place and don’t let anyone stab it, and they keep for a really long time. In fact, they get sweeter and sweeter as they age, unlike people who live at the P.O.

Hey, who wants to talk about my kitchen ceiling? Nice, isn’t it? I think it’s nice.

THURSDAY
Beef stroganoff

I was under the impression that Damien didn’t like this dish, so I planned it for when he was going to be away covering a meeting. As it turns out, he does like it, and also I decided to go to the town meeting with him, because I like him. So I threw together the stroganoff ludicrously quickly — really, it was like a Betty Boop cartoon, except not horrifyingly sexy — and we all ate at 4:30, then we went to the meeting. Which turned out to be a dud — just another Cranky Yankee night — but we did stop for a couple of pints on the way home.

Oh, here is the strogranoff.

Not much to see, but it was tasty, if a little lacking in creaminess. I forgot to buy sour cream, so I used Greek yogurt, which should have worked, except I didn’t really have enough. It really was still tasty, though! I can’t quite bring myself to write up a recipe card for this, but the basic idea is:

Chop up a bunch of onions and fry them in oil, then add a bunch of ground beef and cook it up in the onions, crumbling it up into bits. Then glug in a ton of red wine and a huge heap of sliced mushrooms, plus salt and pepper. Then stir in a big tub of sour cream or Greek yogurt. Serve over egg noodles.

In closing: The decision to grab a little bit more cold stroganoff before heading to bed at 1 a.m. after a delayed bedtime due to diabetic nuttiness? Turned out to be a poor decision. Which I learned and re-learned repeatedly throughout the night.

FRIDAY
Tuna burgers, fries, broccoli

One of the kids surprised me by actually asking for tuna burgers. Or maybe just mentioning tuna, and me figuring out a way to make it into something the kids won’t enjoy.

 

Drunken noodles with beef (after Jet Tila)

This is a less-spicy version. For more heat, leave the serrano pepper seeds in and add red pepper flakes before or after cooking. 

Ingredients

Sauce:

  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 Tbsp oyster sauce
  • 4.5 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Sriracha
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 3 oz fresh basil leaves in a chiffonade (sliced into thin ribbons)
  • 30+ oz wide rice noodles

canola oil for cooking

  • 8 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 6 eggs beaten
  • 6 serrano chiles or jalapeños, seeded and sliced thin
  • 1 lg onion, sliced thin
  • 2 oz fresh basil, roughly chopped
  • 2-3 pints grape tomatoes, halved
  • 3.5 lbs roast beef, sliced as thinly as possible

Instructions

  1. Cook the rice noodles according to directions, and set them aside. 

    Combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl. 

    Heat a very large sauté pan with oil and brown the minced garlic. Add chiles and beaten eggs, and scramble in the pan until the eggs are in cooked bits. 

    Add onion and sliced beef and cook until beef is barely browned. 

    Add cooked noodles, tomatoes, chopped basil leaves, and sauce. 

    Keep stirring and combining until everything is saucy and hot. Serve immediately. 





One-pan balsamic chicken thighs and vegetables

A true one-pan dish that works well with lots of variations of seasonings and vegetables

Ingredients

  • 18 chicken thighs with skin and bone
  • 1 butternut squash in cubes
  • 3 lbs red potatoes in cubes
  • 1 lb baby carrots
  • 2 lbs brussels sprouts, halved
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • salt (preferably kosher)
  • pepper
  • oregano
  • basil

Instructions

  1. Grease a large, shallow pan. Preheat the oven to 400.

  2. Mix together the olive oil and vinegar with a tablespoon of salt and pepper. Spread the vegetables in the pan, pour the mixture over them, and stir them up to coat, then spread them out again. 

  3. Lay the chicken breasts on top of the vegetables. Sprinkle more salt and pepper, basil and oregano over the whole pan. 

  4. Cook for 30 minutes or more, until vegetables and chicken are cooked through and chicken skins are golden and crisp. 

  5. If necessary, broil for a few minutes to add a little char. 

Tuna burgers

Ingredients

  • 1 can tuna
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • seasonings, minced onion, etc.
  • oil for frying

Instructions

  1. Drain the tuna.

  2. Mix tuna thoroughly with egg, bread crumbs, and whatever seasonings you like. Form into two patties. 

  3. Heat oil in pan. Fry tuna patties on both sides until golden brown. 

Cave Pictures is an intriguing new comic publisher with plenty on its mind

Like many parents, I have mixed feelings about comics and graphic novels, especially adaptations. I want my kids (and the rest of civilization) to be able to read through a block of text without pictures to help them along; and I want them to read “the real thing,” not a watered-down version of a classic. But more and more, I see that, while many comics are still lurid and vapid, many are not. We’re firmly in an age of comics with something on their mind. They’re not just colorful, easy-to-digest substitutions for books; they’re something different — or at least they can be. Ben Hatke‘s and Mike Mignola’s work spring to mind.

The other week, I stumbled across an ad for a serialized comic adaptation of The Light Princess. Although I adore the original illustrations by Maurice Sendak, I have always wished someone less wordy than George MacDonald had written his wonderful stories, especially for reading out loud. So I dug around to see what else the publisher, Cave Pictures Publishing, is up to.

It turns out they’re new, and The Light Princess is one of five comic titles debuting this year

— and holy cow, it’s a diverse line-up, to say the least. There’s also “Appalachian Apocalypse” by Billy Tucci (Shi), Ethan Nicolle (Axe Cop), and Ben Gilbert:

and “The Blessed Machine,” a dystopian sci fi series by Jesse Hamm (Batman ’66) and Mark Rodgers

Locked in a city deep within the earth, a courageous few struggle to reach the surface, fighting not only against the minds and flesh of men but against their man-made minders.

Other titles:

THE NO ONES by Jim Krueger with art by Well-Bee

A team of superheroes, blinded by their fame and self-promotion, are forced to reckon with their destructive choices when a twist of fate erases them from both history and present memory.

WYLDE by Daniel Bradford

When a mysterious masked lawman partners with a suspicious sheriff to save his frontier town from an invasion of the undead, the sheriff will learn ancient secrets of the lawman’s past and the power of self-sacrifice. In saving his town, he will save himself.

Okay, sure!

Cave Pictures (tagline: “Great comics for the spiritually inclined”) says it intends to deliver more than mindless, two-dimensional entertainment. They’re not religious, but they hope to engage readers who thirst after spiritual meaning.

My take? I’m intrigued. The artwork and storytelling is skillful and lively, and they do seem dedicated to presenting work that’s layered, but driven primarily by story and art, not message.

The first issue of The Light Princess (the only title I previewed) is a little unsettling. For reasons that are not yet clear, they’ve invented some odd backstory for the princess’ parents

but I’m suspending judgment until future issues. The artwork leans fairy-tale-ish, and so far lacks some of the weird, jarring edge inherent in the story; but this may change as the plot progresses (the first issue ends just as the baby first loses her gravity). The overall look is professional and effective, sometimes quite lovely. The lettering occasionally gets overly pictorial and almost too ornate to read in a few places, but not disastrously so;

and the story moves along briskly and keeps the reader’s attention. In short: Not perfect, but intriguing, and definitely a publisher to watch. I’ll be asking my librarian to look into carrying these titles, and I’m more curious now to look into the other stories, which are all original, not adaptations.

Here’s a page from their free comic that frames their mission, retelling Plato’s allegory of the cave:

Earlier this week, I chatted with the president, Mandi Hart, who “manages all the moving parts of Cave.” Hart has a background in filmmaking, but got a law degree to help her manage the legal and logistical aspects of running a creative business. She soon came to realize that investors would be willing to finance a company that published what their children and grandchildren loved, and that meant comics.

Here’s our conversation:
.
You quote David Foster Wallace saying “Everybody worships. The only chance we get is what to worship. ” What do you think people worship? 
.
It could be any number of things. In our culture today, there’s a lot of self-worship, influenced by entertainment media and also by advertising. It can be very toxic to make yourself the center of the universe. Across all of our titles, we’re trying to incorporate themes like: Is there more to life than yourself, than the material world?
.
.
The key theme in the The Blessed Machine is about whether there is more to the world than the characters inhabit, than what they can see — and more than what the machines they depend on for life are telling them exist.
.
Is it possible to live without faith in anything? We all have to exercise faith in something. It’s a question of where: Where are we going to invest that faith?
.
.
The Light Princess
is actually a little more overtly Christian than the even book itself is. Is there some particular faith background from which you’re approaching these titles?
.
Across all our titles, we’re not coming from any particular faith background. We like to think of our titles as “faith-acceptable” or “faith-aligned,” not promoting any particular perspective. We’re raising universal questions about meaning and moral responsibility.
.
As a Catholic, I often come across creative people of faith who say they want to do just that, but they end up producing preachy, heavy-handed stuff. Does that worry you?
.
We definitely try to avoid using the art form a tool. We are really going for stories that have a lot of layers of meaning. One of the primary gatekeepers is the artists we work with. They all have extensive experience and a great reputation; they’ve won awards, and they have developed their own creative content. So that, for us, has been one of the primary mechanisms to use: That we’re hiring writers and illustrators who do really solid work and have been recognized in the industry.
.
For The Light Princess, it being an adaptation, George MacDonald already imbued it with so many layers of meaning, so that helped us avoid the least common denominator. For the other stories, on the whole, it’s wholly original content. The creators that came up with those titles originated the ideas, and came at their stories as storytellers, not with a message or an agenda.
.
One of our illustrators was talking about his universal approach to his own art. He said it’s much more about raising questions than about providing answers. That’s emblematic of the work we do. We want to start conversations, not feed anyone a particular message.
.
The Light Princess is an adaptation, but the rest of the first round of titles are all original stories. Will you do other adaptations of books in the future?
.
I can’t disclose which one yet, but we will be doing another George MacDonald adaptation. George MacDonald is in the public domain, but we are open to exploring doing other copyrighted work.
.
Of all the titles coming out, which is your personal favorite? 
.
They’re all so different. I have a favorite aspect of each of the different titles. In our sci fi title, The Blessed Machine, it’s about a dystopian future, but it’s also a lot of fun. In Appalachian Apocalypse, certain moments in the dialogue and artwork are such a great laugh release, but at the same time, there’s a serious subject matter to be tackled. What are the implications of an army of undead attacking us? In The Light Princess, one of my favorite things is that the artwork is just stunning. It’s been such a pleasure to see how they’ve rendered this story. The use of color, light, and texture has been really beautiful. In the superhero series, what I love most is the setup. Without giving too much away, the six superheroes have been part of a team, but there’s a twist of fate, and they become pitted against each other. They all face a very stark moral choice, kind of a fork in the road, and half go one way, and half go the other. I love the way the author, Jim Krueger, has developed the story and characters for the quandary they find themselves in.
***
Each series is on a monthly release. The first issues of Appalachian Apocalypse will be out in late January, The Light Princess in February, and The Blessed Machine in March.

Hart welcomes questions from readers. You can follow Cave Pictures Publications on social media:

NH schismatics, Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, can no longer offer sacraments

The Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, an ultra-traditionalist, schismatic, antisemitic group based in Richmond, NH, has been placed under sanctions by Bishop Peter Libasci after rejecting repeated chances to come back into compliance with Church teaching.

Damien Fisher (who is my husband) reported in the Union Leader that the Slaves can no longer offer the sacraments at their compound and cannot describe themselves as Catholic. These sanctions “could be ratcheted up if the group does not comply with orders by church leaders, especially orders to stop preaching the doctrine that only Catholics go to heaven.”

The Vatican ordered them two years ago to stop teaching a strict, literalist interpretation of the idea that there is no salvation outside the Church.

According to the Union Leader story:

In recent years, Manchester Bishop Peter Libasci has allowed a priest in good standing from another diocese to minister to the Slaves and their congregation, celebrating Mass in the traditional Latin rite, and administering other Catholic sacraments. According to a statement released Monday by the Diocese, the Slaves have used that allowance to imply they were an approved Catholic organization.

They were offered several chances since 2016 to come into compliance to remain in the good graces of the Church, but they persisted in disobeying the diocese, in presenting themselves as an independent congregation, and in teaching false doctrine as Catholic.

The group has been in Richmond since the mid 80’s, and they operate the St. Benedict Center, a school, as well as publications, a radio show, and websites. They are an offshoot of the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart in Still River, MA, which was founded by Fr. Leonard Feeney. Fr. Feeney was excommunicated in 1953 after he persisted in teaching that no one can be saved if they are not baptized Catholic; but he made a deathbed conversion and died in communion with the Church. Many of his followers do not acknowledge that he repented of his heretical beliefs, and the Richmond group is one of the most radical splinter groups to form from the original Fenneyites.

The St. Benedict Center in Still River is not affiliated with the Richmond group, and is in full communion with the Church.

In 1958, Feeney wrote that “the Jewish race constitutes a united anti-Christian bloc within Christian society, and is working for the overthrow of that society by every means at its disposal.” 

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the leader of the Richmond Group, Louis Villarrubia, who calls himself “Brother Andre Marie,” stated in 2004:

“If anti-Semitism means opposing the Jews on religious matters, opposing the Zionist state in Palestine (as St. Pius X did), or opposing the Jewish tendency to undermine public morals (widely acknowledged by Catholic writers before the present age of PC [political correctness]), then we could rightly be considered such.”

The SPLC has classified the Slaves as a hate group. It says that Richmond Selectman Doug Bersaw, also member of the Slaves, sometimes known as Brother Anthony Mary, is a Holocaust denier. The SPLC quotes Bersaw as saying:

“There’s a lot of controversy among people who study the so-called Holocaust. There’s a misperception that Hitler had a position to kill all the Jews. It’s all a fraud. Six million people… it didn’t occur.”

In 2009, the Slaves were sanctioned by the diocese of Manchester for their antisemitic teachings, and have since made those ideas less prominent.

According to the Union Leader story, the diocese of Manchester released a statement saying:

“Catholics are not permitted, under any circumstances, to receive the sacraments of the church at the Saint Benedict Center, and its associated locations, nor should they participate in any activity provided by this group or school.”

The diocese is eager to provide a spiritual home for the congregation left without sacraments because of their leaders’ rebelliousness. According to the UL:

[T]he diocese is instituting a sanctioned Latin Mass for people to attend at St. Stanislaus Parish in Winchester.

Photo: Damien Fisher

Do we ask priests for things only they can offer?

A priest who’s too busy to focus on the sacraments is either a priest who’s squandering his vocation, or a priest whose vocation is being squandered.

Read the rest of my latest for The Catholic Weekly.

Image by kisistvan77 via Pixabay (Creative Commons)