MY COUSIN THE SAINT
A Search for Faith, Family, and Miracles
by Justin Calanoso

Archive for November, 2008

Castro, Cuba and a Catholic ritual

Saturday, November 29th, 2008

HAVANA (Reuters) Nov. 29 – Cuban President Raul Castro attended a ceremony for the country’s first religious beatification on Saturday in another sign of warming relations between the Communist-ruled island and the Catholic Church…After Fidel Castro came to power in an armed revolution in 1959, Cuba expelled priests and Catholics faced decades of official atheism. Ties improved after Cuba guaranteed religious freedom in 1992 and Pope John Paul II visited six years later.

Ask Sister Mary Martha

Saturday, November 29th, 2008

In the midst of recommending holiday gifts that are themed entirely around saints, Ask Sister Mary Martha, a popular Catholic blog written out of California, has some very nice things to say about My Cousin the Saint, which she also recommends (here) this holiday season.

She writes: “Justin Catanoso found the Catholic Church, his giant Italian family and his cousin the saint. He wrote a wonderful interesting, funny, poignant, informative story. Miracles do happen. It’s a book you’ll want to read yourself and pass on. I really couldn’t put the book down. It’s a real page turner.”

Garry Wills

Friday, November 28th, 2008

John L. Allen Jr of the National Catholic Reporter profiles Garry Wills, whom he says “Wills is hardly just a ‘Catholic writer,’ but one of America’s most distinguished nonfiction writers, period, whose horizons are far broader than the church.” The profile is here.

That’s (not) Italian

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

Cox News Service writes: “It’s true: The cuisine we refer to as Italian is really the ultimate fusion cuisine — Italian-American — a blending of the traditions and tastes of the Old World and the New.” Click here for the story.

pizzaI should note, though, that while in Reggio Calabria, I couldn’t help but notice a favorite pizza topping for teens — French fries. It did not look enticing to me at all. Rather, it struck me that America’s love of junk food had crossed the ocean and ruined a perfectly good Italian invention. Fortunately, at the best pizzerias in the city (and there are some excellent ones), the French-fry topping was not an option.

Vatican ‘forgives’ John Lennon — really

Monday, November 24th, 2008

The BBC reports today: “A Vatican newspaper has forgiven the late English singer John Lennon for saying four decades ago that The Beatles were more popular than Jesus. In an article praising The Beatles, L’Osservatore Romano said Lennon had just been showing off.” Story and archival video here.

Online review

Monday, November 24th, 2008

Kate Wicker, who writes a popular blog on themes of faith and family, offers a thoughtful and thorough review of My Cousin the Saint today. The review is here.

An excerpt: “Catanoso describes himself as a ‘mostly lapsed, mostly doubtful Catholic’ and considers his spiritual life as little more than an afterthought. He remembers the ‘forced march to Mass every Sunday.’ He questions some of the Church’s teachings and in fact does indulge in a bit of rationalization by citing Garry Willis’s Why I Am a Catholic, a book that criticizes some of the core beliefs of Catholicism. At first, I admit I ‘tsked, tsked’ at the few passages that seemed to trivialize some of the Church’s teachings. But then I stopped myself and realized I had no grounds to scorn this seeker. Really, who am I to judge? Haven’t I, like Catanoso, been Catholic in name only during parts of my life?”

The Obamas’ choice

Sunday, November 23rd, 2008

Washington Post religion columnists ask: Can the Obamas choose a church? Will we let them?

Not exactly a saint

Sunday, November 23rd, 2008

Joe Paterno
Joe Paterno isn’t exactly a saint, but the legendary Penn State football coach has been an icon in our family for many, many years. Our ties to Penn State are long and deep (my father, my two older brothers and my wife, whom I met in State College, and I all have Penn State degrees) and our support for Nittany Lion football has been mildly fanatical since the late 1960s. Thus, as Penn State concludes a highly successful season, and Joe proves that like the sun, he’ll be back tomorrow, it’s nice to see articles like this one being written about the coach and team again.

Update: Joe has surgery. Details here.

What C.S. Lewis meant

Saturday, November 22nd, 2008

A clear and compelling essay by Joseph Schriftman on the nature of miracles, as defined by C.S. Lewis, one of the great Christian writers and thinkers of our time.

Schriftman writes: “Thus C. S. Lewis wrote Miracles, where he presses the question about the reliability of the Gospels to an even more essential question: ‘Can the events told in the Gospels – including their miracles and predictive prophecies – happen at all, or are they absolutely impossible?’ ” The entire essay is here.

Miracle in Philly?

Saturday, November 22nd, 2008

From today’s Philadelphia Inquirer: “It was exactly a month ago today that Paul Pickel, owner of a Vero Beach, Fla., stained-glass studio, learned that $100,000 of his artwork had been stolen in Philadelphia. An 8-by-12-foot mosaic of Italian saint Padre Pio and two stained-glass windows depicting the Ascension of Christ were stored in a van that was stolen from a motel parking lot near Philadelphia International Airport. Pickel, 65, feared that his meticulous work would have been for nothing and that his works would be lost or destroyed, possibly putting his studio in jeopardy.” The rest of the  story is here.