#165: The Devil vs Rules for Discernment—Dan Burke (Free Version)

#165: The Devil vs Rules for Discernment—Dan Burke (Free Version)

Dan Burke lives life literally on the edge of life. The author and former COO of EWTN News (and founder-director of the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation) has suffered many life-threatening maladies resulting in hospital trips, surgeries, and sundry set-backs.

He teaches the art and science of spiritual direction and appreciation of the Catholic mystical tradition for ordinary Catholics, including seminarians and priests. In a sense, Burke is on a mission to help people understand that the spiritual battle is real, and rages daily in and around us. How equipped are you for this battle?

In this episode you will learn

  • The gist of the (very wise and practical) Rules for Discernment taught by St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits
  • How child abuse at the hands of family members in Burke’s childhood gave him both a sensitivity to others’ pain and also conviction that demons can and do exploit such pain
  • Why practices like mindfulness, yoga, and centering prayer offer counterfeit remedies for our spiritual hunger
  • The three sources of inspiration
  • How the daily examen can change your life
  • What consolation and desolation mean and how to navigate both modes or experiences

Resources mentioned in this episode

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Top 10 Annoying Social Media Phrases

Top 10 Annoying Social Media Phrases


1. Bad clickbait titles

2.  “Clap back”

3. “Netflix and chill”

4.  “Sorry not sorry”

5.  “Cringe”

6. “Out of pocket”

7.  “I can’t even”

8.  “Broke the internet”

9. “Throw shade”

10  “Just saying”



#164: Chastity Banned in Ireland—Jason Evert (Free Version)


#164: Chastity Banned in Ireland (Free Version)

Chastity speaker and author Jason Evert has been charged with an EWC (Existing While Catholic) by the ruling elites in Ireland. The boyish father of eight has spoken to millions of young people around the world to great acclaim. But a recent speaking tour to some Irish schools, including its largest college, University College of Dublin, was canceled.


Because Evert has the temerity to patiently explain the whys and wherefores of the Catholic sexual ethic, a message vehemently rejected by the LGBTQ2 community that largely controls the Irish media noise machine. He also came down with a bad flu and the remaining gigs that hadn’t been canceled had to be rescheduled. Such blatant censorship is typical of the intolerance displayed by the Irish left.

In this episode you will learn

  • The backstory to the speaking tour and who canceled the events
  • How super sensitive the SJW activists have become in the face of contrary ideas
  • Why the UCD talk banning is especially egregious as it undermines the very reason for a university
  • The lies and damaging half-truths told about Evert in the Irish papers and media websites
  • How profound has the shift been between the massively attended 1979 visit to Ireland by St. Pope John Paul II, and the World Meeting of Families attended by Pope Francis
  • What the Church teaches about chastity in all its vocational forms and why

Resources mentioned in this episode

  • The Chastity Project website
  • Follow Jason Evert on Twitter: @jasonevert 
  • Images from the 1979 visit to Ireland by St. John Paul II
  • Images of the 2018 visit to Ireland by Pope Francis

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A Review of 1917

A Review of 1917

Here is my review for the new Sam Mendes World War 1 drama, 1917.

The movie showcases a wise blend of newcomers and veterans. Director Sam Mendes has decades of experience in the theater and went on to direct movies like American Beauty, Skyfall, and Road to Perdition

I just read that he directed Dame Judi Dench on the stage in England at the age of 24.

The Director of Photography is Academy Award winner, Roger Deakins, whose credits include Kundun, The Shawshank Redemption, Oh Brother Where Art Thou, and the underrated movie “The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford” based on a book by Deacon Ron Hanson.

1917 blends together all that experience to deliver a quiet wallop. While the subject matter is harrowing and mostly terrifying, one has to use the word beautiful to describe the visuals throughout.

More on that in a moment.

Two very well-known actors have small but critical roles as military commanders, Benedict Cumberbatch—who has one of the most magnificent speaking voices in the world—and Colin Firth.

Both of these great actors seem born to play characters from the past.

On the other hand, Mendes’ co-writer is a relative newcomer Krysty Wilson-Cairns, who has written a few short films and a TV series. There’s nothing green showing here, though. The dialogue is pithy and rings true to the context and the period.

Almost unknowns in the two lead roles:

Dean-Charles Chapman as Lance Corporal Blake and George MacKay as Lance Corporal Schofield.

These are fine young actors who are mostly unknown to American audiences. and this is a good thing because, from the opening scene, they are a blank slate.

The fact that both characters are a bit on the bland side is also a plus because they become “everyman” making it easier to vicariously follow their mission behind enemy lines and alert a British general to halt an invasion that intelligence has discovered is a German trap.

The emotional stakes have to do with the fact that Lance Corporal Blake’s brother is set to be unleashed into this trap along with 1600 other British soldiers.

And this is where 1917 draws an easy comparison with “Saving Private Ryan.”

The brutal depiction of what was called The War to End All Wars coupled with the emotional impact of saving a brother makes for a very watchable movie.

But 1917 in its basic story components it’s much more similar to Gallipoli, the 1981 World War One drama that proved to the world that Mel Gibson could you more as an actor than motorbike to the desert a black leather outfit and bad hair.

Gallipoli and 1917 share the same trope of gung ho soldiers maybe or maybe not being stopped before going over the top into enemy fire. No spoiler alerts, so I’ll stop right there on that.

1917 opens and closes with bookend images that show how many physical and emotional miles the characters have undergone. Again, simple and unadorned.

Everyone’s talking about the single continuous shot which of course is not literally true, as was the case with the Oscar-winning Birdman, directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu.

It WAS the case with the 2002 movie Russian Ark, directed by Alexander Sokurov, and LITERALLY a 90-minute continuous steadicam shot.

With 1917, Mendes and Deakins have pulled off a two-hour magic trick by seamlessly blending the cuts along the way to give the uncanny appearance of one single camera perspective, mostly handheld and mostly traveling backward which adds to the sense of disorientation.

If you’re wondering where they spent the estimated 100 million dollar budget, this is it. cameras mounted on dollies, on cranes, on steadi-cam operators, and even on motorcycles, all to take the viewer on a dangerous and unpredictable adventure into hell.

Unlike with most war stories that introduce the characters’ backstories, 1917 jumps right into the mission, we don’t know who these men are, we’re not sure where they came from, we’re only half sure of where they’re going, And we certainly don’t know if they’ll live through it.

1917  does not have the same explicit blood and guts visuals of a “Saving Private Ryan.” The obstacles met and the dangers faced by the two leads is more Hitchcock than Spielberg.

The non-stop action includes a few stops for breathers, one of which is a beautiful scene involving a young French woman and a baby in the middle of a German-controlled village.

I’ll mention one more. Special mention here goes to a haunting rendition of a 19th-century gospel ballad called “Wayfaring Stranger,” which has been covered by Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris, Ed Sheeran, and Jack White.

In 1917, we are treated to an angelic acapella version by actor Jos Slovick, who, standing in the middle of the clearing in the forest in front of absolutely exhausted sitting men—many of them teenagers—sings the song like a liturgical hymn.

It’s one of those memorable movie moments that provides a consoling elixir for both the characters and the audience. For a few moments, a war-torn forest becomes a cathedral.

It reminded me of the montage scene with Jose Feliciano haunting version of “California Dreamin’” smack in the middle of Quentin Tarantino’s Masterpiece black comedy, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”

All this to say that 1917 is going to clean up at Oscar time.

Finally, an Academy Award win that makes sense!


#163: Germany: Microcosm of the Catholic Crisis—Princess Gloria von Thurn und Taxis (Free Version)

#163: Germany: Microcosm of the Catholic Crisis—Princess Gloria von Thurn und Taxis (Free Version)

Despite being one of the wealthiest women in Germany, and having hobnobbed with top prelates and politicians, royalty and rock stars, for most of her life, Her Serene Highness the Dowager Princess Gloria von Thurn und Taxis exudes childlike joy. She is the picture of unaffected simplicity and she speaks truths, some of them uncomfortable, in a way that suggests she’s beyond political game-playing and certainly beyond political correctness.

In this candid and wide-ranging interview, Princess Gloria describes her German upbringing, her beloved aunt who was a Benedictine nun, her now-famous jet-set life in the United States (Vanity Fair dubbed her the “Punk Princess”), the loss of her husband Johannes I, and the trials involved in raising three young children alone with massive debt.

For someone surrounded by opulence, she understands deeply the need for detachment from and disinterest towards, the shiny things of this world. In short, she is a practicing Catholic who would like to see sanctity as something every day and normal.

In this episode you will learn

  • How Germany’s hangover from Lutheran-tinged Puritanism affects evangelization
  • Her attitude toward rubbing shoulders with secularist figures like Hillary Clinton, Mick Jagger, Andy Warhol, heads of state—and the homeless people who are fed at her Palace in Regensburg
  • What happened when she reached out to then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, and how she has been shaped by their friendship
  • Why is she loves Africa and Africans as signs of hope and sanity for the future of the Church
  • Her friendship with beleaguered Cardinal Gerhard Müller and why our clergy need strength and affirmation in the age of Pope Francis
  • What can happen to those around us when Catholics make the decision by God’s grace to enjoy the color, riches, beauty and depth of the Catholic Faith through simple kindness and joy
  • Why every baptized Christian is an artist

Resources mentioned in this episode

Our Sponsors 

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Why I Quit Drinking

Why I Quit Drinking

In the early part of November 2019, I decided to do something that I have been thinking about for a couple of years. And never really imagined I would do.

And that is, I quit drinking.

In the past, I had given up drinking for Lent—with a whiskey and maybe some red wine on Sunday, because I’m not a Southern Baptist—and I prided myself on not really craving it through the week.

But after looking at 30 straight days of zero booze, through the Whole 30 diet, that was a different deal for someone who enjoyed the taste and the feeling of a nice buzz.

In fact, for the first time in my life, halfway through the Whole30, I felt a bit buzzed just from the feeling of having fasted from booze, and crap sugar and bloating carbs, too.

But the diet ended, and I did feel good, and I did lose weight.

But…I didn’t stop drinking.

I had heard about Ven. Matt Talbot, the Irish drunk who got sobriety and sanctity by cooperating in a heroic way with God’s grace before AA came along.

To understand why I quit drinking last fall, you have to understand that’s my father’s father was a hopeless alcoholic who died early in his 60s with health breakdowns related to decades of almost non-stop drinking.

His son, my father, ended up following in his footsteps and was an active alcoholic before I hit Middle School. Did a lot of damage to himself and his wife and his kids.

Thanks be to God he hit his own personal rock bottom and got sober on Halloween 1980.

He enjoyed 38 years of continuous sobriety in AA.

I never really felt I was in danger of becoming an alcoholic myself although having wine with dinner and maybe a cocktail in the night or with friends here and there began to become a habit.

I’m also a sinner, and although my Lord and Savior has suffered and died to forgive my sins, you and I can still play a *small* part and making up for the years that the locusts stole, and make reparation for the sins perpetrated against Christ and the Church at the hands of our enemies from without, and from within the Church.

And today there’s plenty of both around.

Maybe what I’m saying right now inspires someone — maybe you — to at least consider the idea of giving it up for your own reasons.


#162: From Chaplain to the Queen to Catholic Convert—Gavin Ashenden (Free Version)

#162: From Chaplain to the Queen to Catholic Convert—Gavin Ashenden (Free Version)

His official title was Honorary Chaplain to the Queen (QHC), kind of a big deal for any Anglican clergyman. Then Rt. Rev Gavin Ashenden held the position from 2008 until 2017, when he left following, inter alia, a public liturgical reading in a Glasgow cathedral from the Quran that denied the divinity of Christ. 

A good Protestant, he protested. And then he parted ways with the established church.

The rest of the story is told in this interview with England’s highest-profile Catholic convert, received into the Catholic Church in December 2019.

In this episode you will learn

  • The main influences in his spiritual life and the incident that triggered his conversion
  • His thoughts on the Alpha Program
  • Why he didn’t join the Anglican Ordinariate, erected by Pope Benedict XVI
  • How nationalism, hyper-intellectualism, and collective pride have co-opted the Protestant world
  • Why he stayed outside the Church for so long while understanding her better than many Catholics
  • The strange rage from friends and family that so often gets unleashed at Catholic converts
  • Ashenden’s plans for the future

Resources mentioned in this episode

Our Sponsors 

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10 Must-Read Books for 2020

Ye lovers of the printed word! Here are 10 books for which I can enthusiastically vouch. They are not all books on theology, but all have had their respective impact on my thinking, habits, and self-perception as a Christian who’s also a perpetual student (discipulus being Latin for pupil or learner).

If you are looking for practical wisdom, engaging prose style, and real-world growth, I can heartily recommend the following, in no particular order:

  1. Theology and Sanity by Frank Sheed. For my money, simply the best overall explication of the mysteries of Christianity with a view to understanding and internalizing the truths of the Faith. Special mention goes to the chapter on the Blessed Trinity.
  2. Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life by Nir Eyal. Just right for anyone with ADHD traits such as starting projects but not finishing them, a tendency toward daydreaming, a lack of focus, and dreaming without doing. Here is my recent interview with the author.
  3. Will Many Be Saved?: What Vatican II Actually Teaches and Its Implications for the New Evangelization by Dr. Ralph Martin. This book is the antidote to the deeply problematical theory popularized by Hans Urs Von Balthasar that suggests that hell might be empty. Here is my interview with the author.
  4. Essentialism The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. This modern classic has helped me drop the things I don’t need to be doing so I can devote my energy and attention at the things I do need to be doing. McKeown shows you the difference.
  5. Consecration to St. Joseph: The Wonders of Our Spiritual Father by Father Don Calloway. We live in an age of St Joseph and we don’t even know it. The foster-father of Jesus and head of the Holy Family goes through the New Testament without saying a word: but constantly acting like a real man, strong and silent. I will be doing the consecration to St. Joseph this year as crafted by Father Calloway. Look for my March interview with the author.
  6. Poems Every Catholic Should Know edited by Joseph Pearce. Face it: school taught you to hate poetry. Well, it’s not too late to start loving it and sharing it with people you love. The English language is uniquely suited to the elegance and power of poetry. This fine collection gathered together by my friend Joseph Pearce, to borrow from Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca, will be the start of a beautiful friendship—with classic Catholic-themed poems.
  7. The Name Above the Title: An Autobiography by Frank Capra. This 1971 memoir by the inimitable director of such cinema classics as It’s a Wonderful Life, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Lost Horizon, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, Meet John Doe, and many others feel like Capra is in the room with you, regaling you with anecdotes galore about his remarkable life as a director, Catholic revert, and mentor to two generations of movie-makers. 
  8. After the Ball: How America Will Conquer Its Fear and Hatred of Gays in the ’90s by Hunter Madsen and Marshall Kirk. In their own words, gay activists Madsen and Kirk give us their game plan to execute the book’s subtitle, using outright lies (“10% of the population is homosexual”), manipulation of facts, capturing the courts, bringing in celebrities, Hollywood writers and athletes as allies, and (key point) never discuss the behavior that characterizes the lifestyle. Now, what’s our game plan? (The Catechism is not a game plan, btw.)
  9. Life of Christ by Ven. Fulton J. Sheen. In a field of over 60 books, Life of Christ is a great place to start if you wish to understand why Archbishop Sheen is at once a literary master, a magnificent teacher, and a media prophet. This classic also reveals why Sheen doesn’t exactly fit in with the current crop of Pachamama-supporting Church leaders.
  10. An Introduction to Philosophy: Perennial Principles of the Classical Realist Tradition by Daniel Sullivan. Don’t let the dry sounding title put you off! This is a terrific overview of the history of philosophy, the classical realist stream from Aristotle to St. Thomas Aquinas, proofs for God’s existence, and sundry insights into the relationship between faith and reason. 


I would love to hear your comments. All the very best to you and your family for 2020. Happy reading and Happy New Year!

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Ten Ways to Crush 2020

Ten Ways to Crush 2020

I am updating something I said 12 months ago, this time focusing on how to crush 2020.

If you want to make the absolute most out of the coming year, here are my top 10 tactics for total tenacity and triumph…..And I apologize for the terrible alliteration.

In no particular order:

1. Don’t make a New Year’s resolution. Make a plan.

2. As Nir Eyal says in his fine book “Indistractable,” master your internal triggers. Listen to them.

3. Speaking of writing things down, well everyone gets excited about to-do list, write a not-to-do list.

4. Cry more. The shortest verse in the Bible is John 11:35 and describes what Jesus did when he learned that his friend Lazarus had died. “Jesus wept.”

5. Pick up your smartphone and delete your social media apps. Delete them. I dare you.

6. Small is huge. A lot of us get grandiose ideas about how this year’s going to be different/way better/more powerful etc than last year, and we forget that small wins are the key to success.

7. Don’t lie to yourself about your willpower. None of us have strong willpower. You are weak, and I am weak, and we both need constant, deliberate reliance on the grace of God to do anything well.

8. Get thee to a Latin Mass. Go for the sumptuous silence, the reverent atmosphere, the sight of young large families, the smells and bells, the fellow Catholics actually singing, and the aerobic exercise afforded by sitting, standing, and kneeling.

9. Don’t argue about the Faith. Even if you win the argument, as Bishop Sheen said, you can lose the soul. I know this sounds counterintuitive, but…

10. This last one is a joke one: be part of the Coffin Nation community.