Category Archives: EWTN Groupie

Why Kenny Rogers and John Lennon were wrong

“The best that you can hope for is to die in your sleep,” said one.
“Imagine all the people living for today,” said the other.

Our neighbors like to have bonfires on the weekends and play the radio.  Usually, they do it in fall and our relatively mild winters, but, given the bad winter we’ve had, coupled with yard debris, they’ve been having them the last several weekends.  When we were leaving for Mass, the repulsive “Imagine” started playing on the radio at the neighbors’.  I quickly started the car engine, knowing it was on Casting Crowns.  I thought about switching to Fr. Antonio Vivaldi’s _Four Seasons_, but figured I’d rather hear content to get Lennon’s book of Marx out of my head (so to speak; “Imagine” came out nearly a year after “American Pie”).  I didn’t, and it fit in with the weekend’s meditations.

“Imagine all the people living for today”??
That’s exactly why we’re in the mess we’re in.  That’s what Thomas Hobbes famously describes as the state of nature: the war of “all against all” because everyone is “living for the moment,” and “the life of man [is] solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”

"YOLO? No, bro"

Living for today is a good thing if you’re focused on the eternal “today” that is our destiny.

In his address at the 1998 Seattle C. S. Lewis Institute, Peter Kreeft quoted Voltaire saying that too many people had their minds on Heaven and Hell and not on France.  “I don’t know where Voltaire is now,” said Kreeft, “but, wherever he is, he’s not in France.”

Me with Peter Kreeft and Tom Howard

Me with Peter Kreeft and Tom Howard

Liturgically, this weekend’s theme of course was resurrection in anticipation of the upcoming Easter.  Saturday, we also celebrated the Memorial of St. Vincent Ferrer, known for his preaching on the Last Things, for promoting the following:

Prayer of St. Vincent Ferrer to be Sinless at the Hour of Death

Lord Jesus Christ, who willest that no man should perish, and to whom supplication is never made without the hope of mercy, for Thou saidst with Thine own holy and blessed lips: “All things whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, shall be done unto you”; I ask of Thee, O Lord, for Thy holy name’s sake, to grant me at the hour of my death full consciousness and the power of speech, sincere contrition for my sins, true faith, firm hope and perfect charity, that I may be able to say unto Thee with a clean heart: Into Thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit: Thou hast redeemed me, O God of truth, who art blessed forever and ever. Amen. 

As we usually do, ironically, when I actually make it to Mass with my family, we went to the “last chance” college Mass, with a very kindly priest of the Holy Father’s generation who tends to overemphasize, as it were, “Niceness.”  He gives pleasant, uplifting homilies but never really challenges people.   He has a lot of good qualities, but I found his homily a bit lacking in the caution that should come with these themes.

“I am one of those who believe this life isn’t all there is.”
I should hope so.
He emphasized, “But if Christ is in you,
although the body is dead because of sin,
the spirit is alive because of righteousness.” (Rom 8:10).

He kind of left out the conditions “if” and “because of righteousness” and went with, “Christ is in all of us, so we’re all going to be together.”  He phrased it in that “ambiguous” manner that typifies his era, but he definitely promoted presumption.
I don’t know if it was posted because of St. Vincent, or the Sunday liturgy, or just an act of Divine Inspiration, but a blogger who goes by Tantamergo at “Dallas Area Catholics” posted a great piece on praying for a Happy Death, particularly praying for the opportunity to be conscious, as St. Vincent recommends above, so we can invoke Our Lady in our dying days, with various examples from Saints to that effect.
Thus, it was dismaying coming into Mass with those things in mind to hear Father say how most of his family were dead, and they’d all died of cancer, and he hoped to be fortunate enough to die in his sleep or suddenly!
No, the best we can hope for is not to die in our sleep; it is to die fully aware so that we’re not further punished for putting off our repentance.

Reports claim that Yellowstone is getting closer to eruption, and the animals are fleeing.   Others say that the supervolcano theory hasn’t been proven, that the animals are just engaging in normal migration, etc.  I say that, obviously, if they knew it was going to happen, they wouldn’t want to trigger mass chaos by saying that a mass extinction event is coming.  Either way, whether it’s Yellowstone, cancer, a heart attack, a gang playing the “knock out game,” or the proverbial bus, we must all heed Our Lord’s warning to store up treasure in Heaven, not on Earth.  Whether we die tomorrow or 90 years from now, we’ll still face the same personal judgement and the same two options for Eternity.  We worry so much about preparing for “retirement,” or how to survive various disasters, but do we worry about what will happen if we die a sudden and unprovided death?

Daily examination of conscience
Daily devotion to Our Lady and to Our Lord’s Passion
Self-sacrifice and almsgiving
Frequent recourse to the Sacraments
and, most of all
Praying daily that we and our loved ones will experience a “Happy Death,” with complete Confession, the Anointing, Viaticum, and the Apostolic Blessing (collectively, “Last Rites”).

These must be everyone’s priorities.

A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand: TBN sues itself, and shows how it compares negatively to EWTN

Paul and Jan Crouch, founders of Trinity Broadcast Network (TBN), are being sued by their own granddaughter for financial misdeeds. The granddaughter, in turn, is being sued by them on the allegation that *she* is the one who embezzled. What strikes me most about the article is learning the network’s operating budget, given that it’s already known how the Crouches live an extravagant lifestyle, and how it’s very clear they’ve never read the Gospel (a spokesman cites some verse about not owing anyone anything, but I guess he missed the part about “Let him who has two coats share with the one who has none”).

People often compare EWTN to televangelism (in the negative sense) and TBN in particular, especially since they both claim, for different reasons, to be the largest religious broadcaster in the world. I think that TBN takes the cake on that one, and not in a good way. Even granting their claim that the “private jet, multiple mansions and $100,000 mobile home for their dogs” are truly about security and housing network facilities, EWTN manages to do the same thing with just a few modest facilities: and, until relatively recently, just one.

Some people have been trying to say that EWTN’s lay staff are “in it for the money,” reaping huge benefits from donors’ money, etc., because they collect middle class salaries, while the Crouches really *do* that, and it’s proven in the difference between their operating budgets. According to the original article I linked above, TBN’s maximum known budget one year was $170 million. EWTN has a budget of about $24 million a year. Both networks broadcast worldwide. What’s the difference?

The Cockroaches–I mean Crouches

Mother Angelica, criticized for wearing a habit.

Some people, of all backgrounds compare the superficial similarities of the sets. Yet the criicisms of EWTN’s sets and studios are inconsistent: on the one hand is the claim that they don’t deserve donors’ money, overspend, etc., and that their sets are opulent and gaudy; on the other is the more accurate claim that their studios are still like a local TV station from the 1980’s. A Facebook friend pointed out that she visited EWTN’s studio at the JPII Center in DC a few years ago, and the cameras were being held together with duct tape.

Mary with Marcus Grodi

Mary with Marcus Grodi

When we visited there in 2000, we saw all the shows, but only attended 2 tapings of _Mother Angelica Live_. Why? Because the sets are all on wheeled platforms like sets in a play. There are, as you can see from the live shows, just a few rows of seats. Compare that to the “Mega Church” stadium on TBN. I’m sure that TBN would attribute that to the “success” of their “prosperity Gospel,” and I’d say, “in a worldly sense, yes, that’s very sucessful,” but the claim that EWTN’s people are secretly like the Crouches (or even the Medjugorje visionaries, who also have their summer homes and private jets) is ludicrous at best and calumnious at worst.

EWTN Groupie Pictures 12

Here’s one I couldn’t find when I originally posted this series. It’s a picture of me with Marcus Grodi and a bishop from South America who was a regular guest on _Mother Angelica Live_:

EWTN Groupie Pictures 11

Getting closer to the Shrine. From the same set.

EWTN Groupie Audio: Mary and Allie’s e-mail is answered by “The Donut Man” on _The Journey Home_

On September 11, 2006, Rob Evans, aka “The Donut Man,” appeared on The Journey Home to discuss his conversion to Catholicism. That time, Mary e-mailed a question, in two parts.
The first part of the question was from Allie, who was upset that he was dressed in regular clothes and didn’t “look like” the “Donut Man.” He was glad someone asked, and pulled his trademark hat and glasses out from under the table.
The second part was more serious, and she signed all our names on the e-mail.

Here’s the audio.

EWTN Groupie Audio: My “Appearance” on _Life on the Rock_

On September 6, 2001, Anthony Buono of (Ave Maria) Single Catholics Online appeared on Life on the Rock. EWTN wanted a “success story” couple to appear with him. Since we had gotten married in Valdosta, GA, he asked us to be on the show, but we had moved to Virginia by that point. Instead, I called the show right when it started, and they kept me on hold, saving me to be the first caller!

If you’d like to listen to the streaming audio of the conversation, click here.

If you’d like to download it and listen later, click here.

EWTN Groupie Pictures 16

Tom Howard, Peter Kreeft, a bystander and me at the Seattle C. S. Lewis Institute, June 1998.

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Thomas Howard, Peter Kreeft, a bystander, and me at the Seattle C. S. Lewis Institute, June 1998.

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Thomas Howard speaking at the 1998 Seattle C. S. Lewis Institute

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This was a rose from the set of Mother Angelica Live. After the show, one of the friars was passing around flowers from the set. The objective in this picture was to capture our hands clasped together, holding the rose, at the same time showing our wedding rings. The rings don’t reall yshow up clearly in the picture, but, if you look hard, you can see them.

EWTN Groupie Pictures 12

Close to the parking lot at the Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, AL (from the same set by friends)

EWTN Groupie Pictures 10

The road to the Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, AL, taken by friends, Jon and Gail Wood, proprietors of Sky View Satellites in Sumter, SC (thought I’d throw in a little promo there!). Not many business establishments you walk into and see Catholic art all over the place, and EWTN on the TV.

EWTN Groupie Pictures 8

One of my all-time favorite pictures–the one I usually clip from when I need an avatar: me with Thomas Howard in Seattle, June 1998.

EWTN Groupie Pictures 6

Marcus Grodi and Mary, August 2000.

EWTN Groupie Pictures 7

Mary next to the Infant Jesus of Prague in the vestibule of Our Lady of the Angels, Irondale, AL

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My other shot of Fr. Groeschel. Like my picture of “Mother Angelica” I posted a couple days ago, this was a case of the camera not catching the perfect shot in time. I was trying to capture Fr. Groeschel standing between the proprietors of the St. Francis Shop, our local Catholic book store: Deacon Greg Weigold and his wife Maureen.
Instead, I captured a rather poignant picture of a frail, saintly priest being helped by his assistants.

EWTN Groupie Pictures 4

Here’s Fr. Benedict Groeschel, CFR, at St. John Neumann Catholic Church on Wednesday, March 11, 2009, ca 8-9 PM.

An EWTN Groupie’s Photo Collection 2

See that little bit of brown, white and black between that fellow’s chin and arm? That’s Mother Angelica. I tried to catch a shot of her as she was leaving the stage after the show, but that fellow–a producer, I think–walked in the way. One of the Franciscan Friars is there, as well as Bishop Molloy again. The fellow in the tie on the right was the actual guest that night. He runs the Holy Face Association out of Montreal.
I tried looking his name up in the archive, but that episode is not there. Now, we have always joked that we were disappointed in the caliber of the guest when we saw _Mother Angelica Live_ live. The week before–when we’d wanted to get married, but various family members’ schedules didn’t permit it–the Wednesday line up was Mother Angelica with Marcus Grodi *and* Jeff Cavins and Fr. Thomas Dubay.
This fellow that we saw was obviously very devout, but he seemed very underprepared. It worked to our advantage in one sense: they took a number of questions from the phone lines and the audience to fill time, and I got to be on international television! Of course, since the episode has apparently been deleted from the archives for its lameness. . . .
Another way it kind of worked out was that we got to meet this fellow again a few years later, when his touring Shroud of Turin exhibit came to St. William of York in Stafford, VA.

EWTN Groupie Audio: My E-mail answered by Tom Howard on _Journey Home_

In September 2007, Tom and Lovelace Howard appeared on The Journey Home, and I submitted a question via e-mail. Click here to hear the answer.

An EWTN Groupie’s Photo Collection

Fr. Groeschel’s visit to town has me thinking of my “EWTN Groupie” photo collection. Unfortunately, I haven’t scanned many of those pictures into the computer yet, and I don’t know where the album is. But we have a whole bunch of pictures from visiting Birmingham on our honeymoon (including great pics with Marcus Grodi and a distant, partially covered shot of Mother Angelica), as well as photos from when we met Fr. Jacques Daley, OSB, at St. Vincent’s Archabbey in Latrobe, and a few other “EWTN celebrities” we’ve met. I think we have a picture of Christendom’s Dr. Timothy O’Donnell somewhere: attended daily Mass at Christendom once and met him.

Here’s me with Marcus Grodi and Bishop Dermot Molloy.

It’s kind of an “adult” analogue to this one, taken at Disney World in April 1986: