Signs

Signs Around Town

Since the Supreme Court decision on Dobbs, I’ve observed protestors on our Tyler public streets and parks half a dozen times, carrying threatening and blasphemous signs. My heart sinks; our mostly Christian, friendly little city, where you see “WE LOVE LIFE” lawn signs all around town, occupied by raging, shouting  women, glorying in their ability to offend.

The website http://www.wewontgoback.com posts the details of pro-abortion protests all over the country and includes downloadable poster designs, though the most disturbing signs I saw in Tyler were homemade ones, more horrific than these from the website. 

Signs have the power to rouse people, for good or ill.

Prayer on the Square

We hold signs, too, when we pray on the town square. Back on January 12, 2022, long before the abortion protests, a group of Catholic prayer warriors began meeting on Wednesday evenings in our city square to pray the rosary. We were acting in solidarity with Catholics in Austria, who had begun to pray for help against the tyrannical measures of their government, under the name “Austria Prays.” We held signs and flags, intended to help wake passersby up to the dangers bearing down on good people all over the world.

The Canadian Truckers’ Convoy was in full swing at that point, and we were eager to support them. They were perhaps the first globally-visible Freedom Fighters, though their efforts ended in apparent defeat. I say “apparent” because the government crackdown on peaceful protestors alerted us to the dangers of central banking when you hold opinions that differ from the government’s official narrative. Prime Minister Trudeau so casually ordered the bank accounts of truckers frozen, that the whole world saw how easy it would be for governments to manipulate a central banking system. For that forewarning alone, the whole Canadian truckers’ movement was worthwhile.

One of the founding couples of our Prayer on the Square arrived from Canada last year, and Martin proudly held the beautiful Maple Leaf flag in the early days, alongside the Stars and Stripes.

Life in little Tyler, Texas was pretty sedate all winter and spring, but we could see the global community rising up against the lies and over-reach of governments. We hoped that Americans would be energized by the Canadian patriots, to fight for freedom here, but Tyler was not feeling the pinch yet. 

When the American People’s Convoy launched on February 23 from California to Washington DC, we were super-enthused. We wished, rather than believed, that it would light a spark in the American people, but it was still not time. Enough people have to be alarmed and personally affected by tyranny before there will be a mass outcry.

So we keep praying, every Wednesday at 5:30, rain or shine. We’ve been meeting for seven months now, and we actually rather enjoy it. There is joy in praying the rosary together, we love the honks from passing cars, and we enjoy our fellowship over dinner afterwards. Since we pray on public sidewalks, we are not required to have a permit, but we’ve had one nevertheless, every week we’ve been out there. It puts us on solid ground with law enforcement, and alerts them to our presence. 

Once a month, we visit the nearby police station with pizza, cookies and other treats, to demonstrate our appreciation, and cultivate a relationship with police. They have our backs, as we saw when the abortion protestors marched in front of the Cathedral. We want them to know that we have theirs. 

Some of our signs could be considered “political,” but at this point, politics are over: there is only good and evil. Is it political to urge Americans to pay very close attention to their freedoms (including freedom to worship) as governments globally crack down? Is it political to point out the dangerous experimental shot that was forced on the world without ever receiving approval (and which still does not have approval,) but which has killed and disabled hundreds of thousands of victims?

Soon we will have a sign of solidarity with farmers worldwide, who are being put out of the food production business, thus setting up a worldwide famine. If Christians don’t stand up for such things, who will? It’s not politics; it’s solidarity.

In the Netherlands, farmers block a major highway with their tractors during a national protest. 

Frankly, I’m not sure God cares about what we call “politics”, but I think He cares a great deal about innocent people who are poisoned, killed or otherwise preyed upon by the arrogant and powerful. 

He has shown the strength of His arm; He has scattered the proud in their conceit.

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones and has lifted up the lowly.

God cares very much about the welfare of His little ones. Once we know what is being done to God’s people, we have to speak up.

Signs elicit responses. They plant seeds. They let people know they’re not alone in seeing that something very wrong is going on, and that there are people who care about it. The media attempts to maintain the fiction that everyone believes the approved narrative, thus gaslighting the population, but with every car that passes us and our signs, we challenge that notion. And when Tyler finally does feel the pinch that the global chessmasters have already set in motion, signs will let people know that we are a community ready to stand up for them.

Join us and our signs and flags on the Tyler town square (Ferguson and Broadway), rain or shine, any Wednesday at 5:30 pm, to pray the Rosary for protection over our community, our country and our Church.  

Texas Heat Tutorial

Last summer, newcomers thought that maybe the rumors about Texas summers were exaggerated. But now, Texas is showing its true summer colors… triple-digit heat multiple days in a row, almost no rain, but still able to throw out some humidity in the mornings. You’re not in the Pacific Northwest anymore!

Whether or not you’re new to the intensity of a Texas summer, you should absolutely not think you’re immune: dehydration and heat exhaustion can creep up on you without you even noticing. Suddenly, you’re down. Here’s how to avoid that outcome.

Hydration: Normally you should be drinking 8-10 glasses of water per day, every day. That’s 64-80 oz, or about one giant 2.2 liter bottle, the kind that Coke comes in… but don’t drink the Coke!  Caffeine is a diuretic. You want to hydrate, not flush. 

In extreme temperatures, it’s generally not sufficient to just sip mindlessly. Get a calibrated water jug and monitor how much you’re actually drinking every day.

If you’re exercising in the heat, clearly you need more water than normal to replenish your fluids.  It’s best to drink a few extra glasses of water several hours before exercise, not during. During exercise, simply drink according to your thirst. With sufficient fluids onboard, you should be able to avoid “crashing” in the heat. 

The acid test for hydration is the color of your urine. Don’t be squeamish; monitor your output. If it’s almost clear or light yellow, fine. If it’s dark yellow or amber, you are clearly under-hydrated. Drink up! Other signs of dehydration are fatigue, light-headedness, headache, heart palpitations and low blood pressure.

The other side of hydration is electrolytes. Sweating causes you to lose a lot of your natural salts and minerals. An imbalance in your optimal levels of sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium can cause all sorts of alarming symptoms, like muscle cramps, nausea, headache and vertigo. That’s why athletes drink electrolyte solutions like Gatorade or Powerade, to replace critical minerals that have been sweated out. 

If you prefer not to support Pepsi (Gatorade) or Coke (Powerade), make your own rehydration drink. 

Blend together:

3 cups coconut water

1 cup apple juice

1 cup ice

¼ tsp sea salt

1 tablespoon honey

Garnish with limes or lemons. Put the leftover in a Mason jar in the fridge for later. 

You can also buy low-sugar rehydrating powders, such as NUUN, Emergen-C Hydration+, or FLUID products. Just mix with green tea or water for a great rehydration drink. These are especially recommended for people doing heavy exercise or outdoor work during the summer. 

Heat exhaustion

Everyone raised in the South knows to beware when you have goosebumps or chills in hot weather, or when you stop sweating. Those are the signs that you must quickly get to a cooler place, stop all activity, and drink water or rehydration drinks. 

Other signs of heat exhaustion are “hitting the wall,” losing all energy, low blood pressure, and dizziness when you get up from sitting.

If you take action immediately (rest, cool, rehydrate) you should be back to normal in a short time, half an hour or less. 

Heatstroke

The most serious sort of overheating condition usually requires medical treatment, but if you’re monitoring yourself, it should not reach this point. If you have stopped sweating and your skin is hot and flushed, your mental state is altered, pulse is racing, head is throbbing, breathing is rapid and shallow, then you need medical attention immediately. Don’t get to this point!

Monitor your fluid intake (ounces)

Monitor your urine output (color)

Replace electrolytes from sweating

Rest, cool down and rehydrate at the first symptom

It all sounds a little scary, and people have died from heat-related symptoms, but millions of Texans have survived these ridiculous summers for a long time. You’re only in danger if you’re not paying attention to your own body and its signs. Be wise and attentive when the temperatures are extreme!

Roe Ground Zero

Once upon a time, the world was safer for children. We played outside without adults, invented games, solved our own disputes and everyone got home in time for supper. Day or night, we knew that we could (and did) knock on literally any door in the neighborhood, and the adults there would help us without question. The whole culture looked out for children.

These days, if adults are looking out for children, it may very well be to exploit them, not protect them. If kids are even allowed to play outside, there are not multiple safe havens to run to; most households have no one at home. It’s a different universe for children now; they have no idea what true safety actually is. Roe changed everything in 1973. The world was already changing, and Roe sent it nuclear.

As we look with hope to the Supreme Court’s ruling on Dobbs v. Mississippi, it’s important to listen to those who once knew a world in which children were indisputably valued under the law. Only 20% of the American public was born before January 23, 1973, and knows what a pre-Roe world looked like. We are like World War II veterans; soon our story will be buried with us. We have to tell it, and it begins in Dallas, where I grew up.

Roe v. Wade is a Texas tale. The case originated in Dallas with a Texas cast of characters: Henry Wade, the swashbuckling Dallas District Attorney; Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee, two University of Texas law graduates; Norma McCorvey (Roe), a pregnant Dallas waitress, who wandered into the story by chance.

I was 14 years old in 1973, a freshman in a nominally Catholic high school in Dallas, and mostly unaware of national political events when Roe was handed down. My older sister remembers very well reading the Tuesday headline, “ABORTION LEGAL” on the front page of the Dallas Morning News on that fateful January day. She understood what it meant deeply enough that she remembers crying over it.

Many years later, I found out that one of my best friends was among the first in line when clinics opened the moment the decision was handed down. The clinics had been set up well in advance, ready to service women the minute the decision was announced. They were dicey affairs in sketchy parts of town, and my friend remembers it only as “hideous.” She’s spent decades trying to erase the memory, but she does recall that all the girls lay together recovering in a big space where folding cots had been set up in close lines without privacy curtains.

It seemed that January 23 was a “tipping point,” everything already in place to make the decision inevitable. It’s like the tracks were greased.

Henry Wade, the losing name in the equation, was the Democrat District Attorney for Dallas County. Wade was a big Texas legend who cast a long shadow. He had an undefeated record for criminal prosecutions, including Jack Ruby’s conviction for killing Lee Harvey Oswald. He put on a Southern-fried Columbo act, catching legal opponents in his web like a cigar-chomping spider. He was formidable.

But he seemed to have cared little about Roe. He’d earned his reputation as a prosecutor of murderers, rapists, assassins, not as a defendant of a Texas law he didn’t really support. He entrusted the defense to two associates, not interested enough to participate. In later years, he never even read the decision.

When opposing attorney Sarah Weddington was informed that the case would be argued by someone other than Wade, she is said to have thanked her lucky stars. She was only 26 years old, and had never performed in a courtroom before. Had Wade given a damn about abortion, he probably would have buried Weddington in court, and children might still be safe in the United States. Or maybe not. In hindsight, the victory appears planned and coordinated. 

In the original Dallas case, Linda Coffee and Sarah Weddington allied to force the issue of “reproductive rights” in the courts. Coffee had already sketched out a test case when she asked Weddington to join her. The legal team complete, they went looking for a plaintiff to challenge the abortion prohibition in Dallas County.

In 1969, Norma McCorvey, an addicted nomad who’d worked in carnivals and restaurants, found herself pregnant with a third child and no support. Looking for an illegal abortion, she was introduced to Coffee by an associate who knew Coffee needed a plaintiff. Norma was already 5 months along, and desperate for help. She seemed unaware that the legal proceedings would not, in fact, help her at all, given that she had only four months to delivery. That may have been the beginning of what Norma would later characterize as “being used” by people for their own purposes.

Had Coffee and Weddington actually answered Norma’s request, they would have arranged for her to get an abortion in New York or California, but they needed her to be pregnant when the suit was filed, in order to have legal standing to sue. As the legal machine was just getting warmed up, Norma delivered her daughter, who was adopted by a north Texas family, all in God’s good plan.

Meanwhile, Norma became the name of the abortion culture after the Supreme Court decision in 1973, and was passed around the country on the speech circuit. Really, she had gotten sucked up by circumstances: she wanted to lose a child at the same time that Linda Coffee desperately needed a pregnant plaintiff. Had Coffee not been so anxious to bring the case, she might have waited for a more well-spoken, more well-turned out subject than Norma. Even after years on the public stage, Norma never developed into a polished speaker, and was never quite sure what people expected of her.

Despite the fierce face she learned to put on, Norma was a fragile personality inside a hard shell. In the mid-90s, her prickly heart was cracked open by the affection of a 4-year old child who greeted her in the mornings as she went into work at a Dallas abortion mill. The child belonged to a pro-life worker, praying and counseling on the sidewalk of the facility.

Norma began attending church with that family, and in 1995, was famously baptized in a swimming pool by Rev. Flip Benham of Operation Rescue.

Through friendships with many Catholics and Fr. Frank Pavone over the ensuing years, Norma began attending Mass at the Dominican Priory at the University of Dallas. She came under the direction of a holy priest, Fr. Edward Robinson, and was received quietly into the Catholic Church in 1998.

Norma regretted her cooperation with Coffee and Weddington terribly, calling it the biggest mistake of her life. In reparation, she founded the organization “Roe No More,” hoping she would live to see the day the carnage would end. She died in 2017.

And here we are, waiting expectantly for the Supreme Court to scrub her name from the pro-abortion movement. But can the world ever go back to the times when children were safe? Unfortunately, legal and widespread abortion has given rise to evil we couldn’t even have imagined in 1973. The hard-heartedness that grows in the aftermath of abortion has built up an army of irrational ragers against pre-born life, and against those who try to protect it. Over time, the movement has dispensed with niceties, and shown itself to simply be haters of goodness and of God.

It would be poetic for legal abortion to end in Dallas, where it began. And indeed, Dallas has built up a full-bodied pro-life organization with paid staff, hundreds of volunteers, and robust ministries for every phase of pregnancy and early parenthood. It’s been called the most effective diocesan pro-life organization in the world.

But it appears the honor of ending legal abortion will belong to Jackson, Mississippi, where the Jackson Women’s Health Organization of the case Dobbs v Jackson is still in business, pending the Supreme Court decision. A good synopsis of the case is here: https://www.ncregister.com/news/mississippi-pro-life-law-biggest-case-on-abortion-in-30-years.

Every pro-life organization and person in the country will need to step up if Roe is overturned by the Dobbs decision, as appears likely. It will take at least a generation for people to modify their behavior when abortion is less easily available. The children may be protected by law, but the task of reclaiming all the souls who have been coarsened by access to abortion will be epic. All hands will be needed.

Norma’s story should serve as encouragement. As a pro-abortion activist, she was none too pleasant, and I expect I would have recoiled from her anger the same way I recoil from the screeching rage that we see displayed now, across the country and even on our own small city square. But after everything she had done, and everything done to her, she retained enough of her true self to embrace Christ. I don’t think she ever fully healed from the damage she’d sustained, but Jesus and Mary brought her the rest of the way.

That’s a possibility for every person we encounter on the mined battlefields we will travel in this next era. Even if the Supreme Court doesn’t strike down Roe, notice has been served: the pro-abortion folks will never again take it for granted. The change is here, no matter what the Court does. And whether Miss Norma is in Purgatory or Heaven, she can pray for us. She can remind us that every angry woman can be saved.

May God strengthen us all to pave the way for goodness, after Roe is redeemed.

2000 Mules Waiting For Its Audience: Movie Review

The night after I saw “2000 Mules,” I didn’t sleep.

I went on Monday, May 2, opening night. I wanted to be part of the first wave if the film had the paradigm-shifting power I thought it might. I also prefer to see a movie before I read any reviews, so that I can experience my genuine reactions, free of any subconscious prejudices I may have picked up from others.

When I emerged from the theater, my mind was staggered with all the provocative issues the movie raised… and then, when I turned my phone back on, it was all blown up with messages about the Supreme Court leak. It really felt like the world had indeed shifted in the course of one evening, and that is not conducive to sleep.

Since Monday night, only one paradigm has taken over the national conversation, leaving “2000 Mules” in its dust. But like every other manufactured crisis (draft written months ago, final decision pending, the leak intentional and timed), the public’s attention will not stay focused for long. And when people realize that Roe is still not overturned, there will be “2000 Mules,” patiently waiting for you to notice.

For anyone who thinks that election fraud is not in the same universe of importance as Roe v Wade, I maintain that our best chance to restore a culture that values life is to have fair elections, in which decent people actually have a chance of being heard.

A week before the release of Dinesh D’Souza’s new film, an internet pundit predicted that soon, everyone would know what geo-fencing was. And if you see the film, you will want to know much more about the technology that True the Vote used to isolate the most egregious mules, in the most contested states, in arguably the most important US presidential election in history.

The term “mules” comes from drug cartel culture, where a mule is someone who illegally traffics substances for profit. The term was popularized by the 2018 Clint Eastwood movie, “The Mule,” in which the lead character begins to courier illegal drugs across the border to make enough money to save his broken existence. Votes are the drug in “2000 Mules,” and since it is incontrovertibly illegal to traffic ballots, the analogy holds.

Showing in an almost abandoned, echoingly empty mall, the theatre was packed. The only empty seats were in the neck-strain section of the very front row. The audience was like a noisy Pentecostal church congregation, shouting and cheers for the white hats, hissing and boos for the criminals. No one seemed to mind the noise.

As movies go, it was not great cinema. You could clearly see that Dinesh and Debbie were re-creating the setup scenes, like when they’re in their kitchen chatting and the phone chimes, and whaddaya know, it’s Catherine Engelbrecht of True the Vote, calling to tell him that there are some things he’s going to want to see. Then you see Dinesh’s car pulling up to a mysterious warehouse-looking place for the Great Reveal. Yes, it’s a little hokey, but it was a humanizing device to add a bit of normalcy to a straight documentary format.

(It was especially amusing how Debbie could not stop smiling during the presentation of the evidence, which was as serious as myocarditis. She’s just so darn proud of her husband, she couldn’t keep it off her face.)

The inclusion of Dennis Prager, Sebastian Gorka, Charlie Kirk, Larry Elder and Eric Metaxas was another humanizing device. They were the Geiger counters. Dinesh solicited their opinions before and after they saw the evidence so you could see what effect it had. Before, several of them were unwilling to state categorically that the 2020 election was fraudulent, though they were suspicious. Afterward… well, you’ll see.

True the Vote is the real star of the movie, represented by founder Catherine Engelbrecht and data analyst Gregg Phillips. They say that the movie is just the beginning of a marathon effort and that they will not quit. Thank God for them! Gregg is the data specialist, and I would like to have heard much more from him, but the movie kept the premise simple enough to reach the majority.

Mules are identified as illegal couriers who picked up harvested ballots at central organizing points, and then visited multiple dropboxes to deliver them, often in the middle of the night. The team selected only those mules who visited at least 10 dropboxes and at least 5 non-profit organizations, where they presumably picked up batches of illegally obtained ballots.

The story of the electronic data used to identify these worst of offenders will surprise you. Did you know that vendors of phone apps collect your location data and sell it, through brokers, to anyone willing to pay? Analysts are able to build a “pattern of life” from the signals our cell phones emit. That explains why, when I get in my car, without ever opening an app, there is a notification with directions to my next destination. And it’s usually correct. It “knows” where I go on a regular basis.

In any case, True the Vote obtained two petabytes (a pedabyte is a million gigabytes) of data, ten trillion cell phone pings, and four million minutes of government surveillance video for their research. Curiously (wink) many of the cameras dedicated to surveilling the dropboxes had been disabled, but there’s plenty enough to carry the point. Video after video shows mules dropping off big handfuls of ballots. Anyone attempting to explain these videos away as rational behavior needs to answer the questions: who has access to so many ballots? who wears nitrile gloves to drop off ballots? who votes in the middle of the night? who takes photos of the ballots before dropping them in? who goes to dozens of different dropboxes on a Pac-man sort of a route through the city?

True the Vote only looked at certain counties within five swing states: Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. Using the criteria of 10 dropboxes and 5 stash houses, they identified only the worse of the offenders. The fraud is potentially much, much bigger.

We learn that it is always and everywhere indisputably illegal to pay anyone for a ballot. Whistleblowers described how traffickers in nursing facilities appropriated or forged the ballots for people who were legally incompetent to vote. Did you know that a mail-in ballot probably went to your old addresses, as the Democrat party agitated for universal mail-in balloting in 2020? I had to wonder if COVID was created for just this purpose. Ballot harvesters target places like college dorms, apartment complexes and nursing facilities, places where people establish an address for only a short time. That leaves large numbers of ballots undeliverable to the proper person.

I guess I thought there was a mechanism in place to purge me from the voter rolls of my former addresses, but apparently not. This is a solid steel reason to go back to in-person voting. There could still be cheating, but it would be much more difficult.

One caveat to the overwhelming conclusion that Trump won the election is that legal proof was not shown that all the fraudulent ballots were marked for Biden. Anyone with a lick of sense knows they were, but it’s not provable by the movie. I would think that identification and investigation of the non-profit stash houses where the ballots were distributed to the mules would provide that evidence, but perhaps that is part of the marathon effort that True The Vote has pledged. 

“2000 Mules” presents the mere tip of the iceberg, and makes any thinking person want to know more about that electronic evidence. Then we all have the task of motivating law enforcement to take action on it.

The movie was set to detonate on Monday night, but suddenly, thanks to the Roe leak, no one was listening. Strange, that. But the evidence is there nevertheless. The criminals only got a reprieve, not a pardon. Go watch the movie and be a part of justice unfolding. 

Watch movie online as it goes public Friday, May 6, at 7:00 pm Eastern: https://2000mules.com/

Excellent textual background (in six parts): https://kanekoa.substack.com/p/2000-mules-exposing-the-ballot-traffickers?s=w

We Want Your Story!

The East Texas Catholic community welcomes you and would love to know the story of how you landed in the Diocese of Tyler. We believe sharing your story will inspire others and will give God glory by sharing how He is working in your life.

We would also like to use your story to produce a book to give to Bishop Strickland to fill his heart with hope for the future of the Church. This book of stories will also serve as a historical document for the Diocese of Tyler.

In addition to your story, we have a professional photographer, Mark Tanner, who is available to capture our beautiful faces for the book.

To organize your thoughts, the outline below may help. You don’t have to follow the order or the exact prompts. Please feel free to be as detailed as you would like.  Include dates and experiences before, during and after your arrival in Texas. 

A rough draft is all we need.  We want to make this easy for you.  After all, you have had a lot going on! Your submission will be edited, with your permission, to have some unity in format. If you would like to share but want to remain anonymous, just let us know.  We won’t print anything without your permission.

Submit your story to Celeste Spitz in digital format. This can be done by email, on a thumb drive, or through the website TruthForSouls.com.  We will provide you with a copy of the final draft for your review.  Again, rough drafts are all we need!

Thank you so much for participating in this collection.  May God bless you and your families and enrich your faith through our beautiful Catholic community here in East Texas. 

Contact us with any questions or to submit your story below:

Rebecca Cali, MD

Publisher

Celeste V. Spitz

Editor


Outline

  1. Begin with a short paragraph about you and your family.
  • Where are you from?
  • What was your home like? 
  • Were you and your family member working, retired, students, etc.    

2. What was the situation in your community and parish during the time you first had thoughts about relocating?

  • What factors impacted your decision? 
  • Were restrictions or regulations of the state a factor?       
  • What was your previous parish life like and were you active in the parish?

3. Describe the point at which you made a definite decision to move.

  • Was there a specific incident that was the tipping point?
  • Was it a result of prayer- perhaps a novena to St Joseph? Special devotions?
  • Did you hear about or do research about other places to live besides Tyler?

4. How did Tyler or East Texas enter as a possible relocation place?

  • Did you know about the Bishop here?
  • Did you have friends or family in the area?
  • Employment opportunities?

 5. The moving process. 

  • What was your experience selling your home and finding a new home.
  • Did you quit a job (how was that?).  Did you have to find a new job?
  • How did you get your belongings to Texas?
  • What was the experience when you actually left your former home?

6. Settling in Texas.  Describe the process of assimilating into your new community and parish.

  • Did you and your family members feel welcome right away or did it take time?
  • Do you find daily life very different than where you came from?
  • Have you gotten involved in the parish?  Do you see yourself in a specific role?

7. Looking Back.  

  • As you look back, do you see how God worked in your life to guide and direct you to this point?
  • Did you have any experiences during this process that you would consider miracles?
  • Has it turned out to meet your expectations, your hopes?  Or has the experience been just different than what you expected. 
  • Has this experienced increased your faith?
  • Anything else you would like to add?

Movie Review – Father Stu

I didn’t hate “Father Stu.” That’s a low bar for a movie, but there it is. Though it personally left me a little cold, I have to acknowledge the good intentions of the movie, and the genuinely good real-life story of Fr. Stuart Long’s conversion and priesthood.

I just wish the movie had told that story. Perhaps to make the story more relate-able to “average” movie-goers, at least as Hollywood sees us, (ignorant of faith, entertained by vulgarity and with a certain bloodlust,) general ugliness was elevated over the real story. Details of the real lives of the Long family that would have mitigated the tawdriness of the movie were left out. Bill, the father played by Mel Gibson, was not the brutal drunk of the movie. Stu had a college education, and an intellectual life long before he entered seminary.

The movie portrays Stu as ape-ish, led around by anything but common sense, with the facial expression of someone who’s been hit too many times in the boxing ring. There’s not a whiff of his interior life. Even when he begins RCIA, he is depicted as simple; and I don’t mean endearingly simple like a child, but dull and unwitting like an orangutan (that fell out of a tree on its head.)

The constant level of vulgar speech in particular is noted in most reviews. It was not just the use of vulgar words, though; it was also vulgar concepts. I worked for a man once who did that: put together two ugly words to create an ugly concept that you just couldn’t scrub from your mind. Like a mashup of cussing. I’ll refrain from using an example here.

I’d been warned about the language, and was prepared. That’s the guarantee of a good story, right? If the language is way over the top, it must mean that the story is so good, it justifies the language. Where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more. But that overshadowing of ugliness with beauty was not fully achieved in “Father Stu.” The movie was not so good as to make the language worth it.

Part of the problem was numerical: two-thirds of the movie stayed on the dark side, leaving only a third to explore Stu’s conversion and life in Christ. Truth to tell, they never really got to his life in Christ. Oh, they showed lines of people waiting to go to Confession with him, but the movie never gave up the goods on exactly why he was so compelling as a priest. They left it at the implication that any priest who could cuss at a professional level would be enough to draw crowds. But it takes more than just a deep knowledge of the seamy side of life to make a good confessor. Why didn’t they explore that? A lost opportunity of great magnitude.

Comedy is what happens when you juxtapose two radically different things, so there was some comic relief when Stu goes into a prison to minister, alongside a seminary classmate who is painfully proper. The prig bombs like a plane dropping out of the sky, and Stu steps in (so to speak; he’s crippled by disease at that point) with some crudity, immediately gaining the trust of the men. It’s an easy laugh to show a Catholic priest saying seriously vulgar things, and the director took advantage of it. I wondered later if the real Father Stu actually taunted imprisoned men with the idea of their wives in bed with other men. That goes beyond crude, all the way to cruel.

The sermons Stu preached in the movie lacked depth, which was perhaps part of the strategy to draw in a worldly audience who couldn’t comprehend anything more. But doesn’t that imply that genuine Christianity is too much for the average person? I think that was a poor decision. Christ never dumbed down anything.

I particularly noted a facile bumper-sticker slogan that Stu repeated in a conversation, “We’re not bodies having a spiritual experience; we are spirits having a bodily experience.” That is not Catholic theology: we are not two separate essences, body and spirit, one dominating the other. We are one essence, an inseparable unity. Granted this is a little profound for a Hollywood film, but since it is at the heart of damaging gender ideology, it’s an especially inappropriate time to throw that confusion at an audience.

I didn’t like Stu as a person for most of the movie. I didn’t like his father or his mother either. Carmen, his love interest, was the shining light of the movie, a rose of pristine virtue… and then he beds her. This detail was true to life, but it broke my heart. Did it advance the movie to include this detail? I suppose it did make his decision to enter seminary particularly poignant, set against the weeping betrayal that Carmen felt.

So the language, the violence, the bedding, was the first two-thirds of the movie. By the time Stu actually became likeable, the movie was almost over. His change of heart, his deepening, his development as a priest, were all glibly portrayed in about ten minutes, with easy devices, like the line snaking out the building for confession.

I have friends who found the movie perfectly excellent, who appreciated the long road that Stu traveled to get to the Faith and the priesthood. The road beyond that conversion point, though, was the real interest for me, and that road was very lightly trod by the movie. I would have switched the proportions, and given more time to the amazing priest that Stu became.

The movie certainly has people talking, and articles are appearing about the “real” Father Stu, who was quite a bit more inspiring than the movie character. For touching those who explore his life outside of the movie itself, “Father Stu” may have scored an indirect win.

6 out of 10, mostly for the good intentions and unintended consequences.

Links to find the “real” Father Stu:

Fr. Stuart Long’s testimony

Fr. Stuart, Montana priest

Full interview with Bill Long, Stu’s father

Interviews with Father Stu

Is the movie based on a true story?

Catholic layman: Why I refuse to wear mask, provide contact details before entering church

To comply with these measures from the bishops would be to assent, by my conduct, to the false claim on which these measures are based

https://www.lifesitenews.com/opinion/catholic-layman-why-i-refuse-to-wear-mask-provide-contact-details-before-entering-church

June 4, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – As Catholics, as Christians, and as people of good will (regardless of their faith or non-faith), we are all supposed to love truth. This includes not only theological truth, but scientific truth, medical truth, historical truth, and truth about matters of justice, laws, policies and politics. 

The response of Canada’s federal and provincial governments to COVID-19 appears to have been driven by Dr. Neil Ferguson of Imperial College, who predicted in March 2020 that as many as 510,000 people in the United Kingdom would die of COVID-19, along with 2,200,000 Americans. Once unleashed, this “Ferguson Fever” infected the minds of politicians around the globe, as well as the media and the public at large. 

In the name of “saving lives,” politicians have shut down schools, universities, businesses, gyms, recreation and entertainment facilities of every kind, restaurants, bars, pubs, cafes, libraries, mosques, temples, synagogues, churches, and much of the economy. All of this to make room for the wave of COVID-19 patients who would soon overwhelm our hospitals, needing thousands of ventilators and Intensive Care Units. With very few exceptions, politicians have made no effort to calculate, or even to attempt to calculate, the numerous harms and the predictable suffering which these lockdown measures would inflict, and indeed have inflicted, on so many people.

What we now know in June, and sadly did not know in March, is that the global COVID-19 death toll (374,000 as of June 1) is within the range of deaths resulting from the annual flu. The annual flu tragically claims between 290,000 and 646,000 lives each year, most of them people who are elderly and already very sick. We also know now that COVID-19 poses little if any threat to children and healthy adults. Yet Dr. Ferguson’s wildly inaccurate predictions are still used by fearmongering politicians to frighten Canadians into accepting the continued violation of their Charter freedoms to move, travel, associate, assemble and worship.

Government measures which continue to violate our human dignity and our fundamental Charter freedoms could arguably have been justified in March, and imposed temporarily, at a time when we did not know what we know now.  But in June, we know that 95% of COVID-19 deaths occur amongst those 60 and older, with more than two-thirds of COVID-19 deaths in people 80 and over, and next-to-zero deaths among people under 20. COVID-19 tragically targets the same demographics as the annual flu. This is what publicly available government data is telling us, from provinces, states, and countries around the world.

Sadly, it seems the Catholic bishops of Alberta have accepted the Ferguson-like predictions of Premier Jason Kenney, who claimed in early April that as many as 32,000 Albertans could die of COVID-19. At the end of May, COVID-19 had claimed the lives of 143 Albertans, not 32,000. Putting aside conjecture, hypothesis and speculation, there is no actual evidence that the number of COVID-19 deaths would have been higher without a lockdown.  

Premier Kenney has repeatedly compared COVID-19 to the Spanish Flu of one hundred years ago, which killed between 20 and 100 million adults, most aged 20-40, at a time when the world’s population was only two billion. Globally, the 374,000 COVID-19 deaths (as of June 1, 2020) constitute 0.00005 of the world’s population: one half of one percent of one percent. This means the Spanish Flu was between 200 and 1,000 times more deadly than COVID-19. Any comparison of the two is ignorance of fact, or deliberate fearmongering.

Relying on the inaccurate and fear-inducing predictions of March rather than on the facts that have been readily available since early May, Alberta’s Catholic bishops are asking their flock to behave as though COVID-19 is a very serious threat to everyone, regardless of age or health. 

Rather than quelling unfounded fears, Alberta’s bishops, touting “safety,” now require Mass attendees to wear masks; to subject themselves to personal health questions before being allowed to enter the church; and to provide their names, addresses and phone numbers to be written on a sheet and made available to the government upon request.

While Alberta’s more than 11,000 restaurants can seat six people from six different households at the same table, only a foot or two apart from each other, the bishops insist that Catholics at mass must maintain “social distancing” of six feet or two metres, unless they are from the same household. While restaurants can operate at 50% capacity, such that a large restaurant can welcome 100 or 200 people at the same time, the bishops insist that no more than 50 people be permitted inside a church, even a large Cathedral that can seat over 1,000 people. 

While the Alberta government has re-opened daycares and day camps, the bishops insist that infants and children at Mass must remain with their parents or guardians at all times, in spite of the fact that COVID-19 is less likely to kill children than a lightning strike. 

Restaurant patrons are treated like adults, free to shake or not shake the hand of another person, but the bishops prohibit Catholics from shaking hands before, during and after Mass. Albertans are now free to socialize at bars, pubs, restaurants and cafes, but the bishops insist that Catholics cannot socialize with each other before or after Mass.

Tim Hortons, McDonald’s, and many other drive-throughs serve hundreds of thousands of Albertans every week, yet the bishops prohibit the faithful from receiving Holy Communion on the tongue “in view of the common good.” The bishops’ requirements pre-suppose that the wildly inaccurate predictions made by Dr. Neil Ferguson and Premier Kenney are correct, that COVID-19 kills people as the Spanish Flu did, and that everyone should be very, very worried. The bishops seem to have forgotten that the common good must be based on truth, not on fearmongering predictions that were discredited many weeks ago.

The bishops have also banned congregational singing as a “high-risk activity”; the presentation of the gifts; and our entrance and recessional processions. The bishops have banned summer camps for Catholic children and families, which is entirely unnecessary. 

Since the lockdown in March, Premier Kenney has deemed box stores, hardware stores, abortion clinics and liquor and marijuana outlets as “essential.” By failing to insist to government that churches are more essential than gyms and health clubs, the bishops have effectively taught that, while Tim Horton’s coffee may be essential, the Holy Mass is not.

Perhaps the average Catholic cannot be faulted for failing to spend a few minutes to get acquainted with readily-available government data that suggests that COVID-19 is not more deadly than the annual flu and targets the same demographic as the annual flu. Perhaps the average Catholic can be forgiven for remaining fearful when Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer Deena Hinshaw made a demonstrably false claim when stating, in regard to COVID-19, that “some people who are young and healthy will go on to have severe disease and die.”

In contrast to the laity, bishops have a higher duty: to acquaint themselves with the facts that were already available in early May. When politicians impose measures which very obviously violate the freedom of Catholics to practice their faith, Catholic bishops have a duty to look at the facts, rather than permit themselves to be led about by dubious political claims. 

In the past 2,000 years, whenever Caesar demanded that Christian worship be curtailed, appropriate disagreement with Caesar has been a vital part of our Christian tradition, from which we should draw wisdom and courage. Bishops should be guided by love that is rooted in truth, rather than encouraging Catholics to live in daily fear.

Attendance at Mass is currently not obligatory. Why then do we need all these prohibitions and restrictions, which are not enforced on other public places? Those who attend Mass in person, instead of virtually, assess the risks and choose to attend, just as people decide to enter a grocery store or a restaurant rather than ordering online. Why not hold separate Masses, with a myriad of precautions, for the truly vulnerable?

My objection to the Alberta bishops’ new requirements (even if the requirements are supposed to be temporary) is that they are based entirely on the acceptance of the government’s demonstrably false claim that COVID-19 is an exceptionally deadly killer that threatens everyone. 

For me to comply with these measures would be to assent, by my conduct, to the false claim on which these measures are based. As someone who is called to love the truth, and to bear witness to the truth, I will not do so.