U.S. Nun a Media Mogul

A World-Wide Conglomerate Begun in a Garage

About fifteen years after the conclusion of Vatican Council II, Mother M. Angelica, a cloistered nun, turned the garage of Our Lady of Angels monastery in Irondale, Alabama into a television studio. She had two hundred dollars and twelve cloistered nuns with no television experience to assist her.

On January 27, 1981, the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) received its FCC license and became the first Catholic satellite television station in the United States. It began broadcasting pre-taped programs to sixty thousand homes four hours a day.

By its thirty-third year, EWTN had grown to become the largest religious media network in the world using satellite television, AM and FM radio networks, a worldwide short-wave radio station, an Internet website, and a publishing arm. It is available to over 230 million television households in more than 140 countries and territories.

EWTN offers a wide variety of both taped and live programs in English, German, French, and Spanish, commercial free, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. All are family and religious programs from a Catholic perspective.

Its website (www.ewtn.com) is the largest Catholic website in the United States. The EWTN Global Catholic Radio Network broadcasts through over 235 affiliate radio stations, Sirius XM satellite radio, and such apps as EWTN Network, iTunes Radio, iHeart Radio, and TuneIn Radio. More than five thousand affiliates worldwide are now connected to a conglomerate that was started in a garage by a Catholic nun.

There are numerous other television and radio stations that carry Christian programming, from theological debates and biographies of the saints to children’s stories. Even the Vatican has its own television station (www.ctv.org) created by John Paul II in 1983, two years after Sister Angelica started her network.

This story and many more concerning the history of the Catholic Church may be found in Rock of the Apostles: A Brief History of Catholic Tradition now available through Amazon.com ( click on goo.gl/w9h5H2 ).

The Inquisition

How Christians Dealt with Heresy

Heresy has been with mankind for millennia as have courts dealing with it. Early in the second century, the philosopher Celsus wrote that Christians persecuted dissidents with death, burning, and torture based on the Old Testament. The Christian apologetic Origen answered Celsus by explaining that one must distinguish between the law received from Moses binding on all Jews, and that given by Jesus Christ, which was binding on all Christians.

Origen, the most influential Christian in the third century, claimed that Christians were no longer bound by the Mosaic Law, and therefore no longer required to kill, burn, or stone violators of the Mosaic Law. The law they followed was a Christian law established by Jesus Christ to love even our enemies. Saints Augustine, Ambrose, and Leo agreed with Origen.

However, beginning in the twelfth century France there is no question that Christians ignored this commandment of Christ and were in fact burning and killing. The Church had ordered the inquisition to find whether the accused is guilty or innocent of heresy and nothing more. To their shame, the inquisitors sometimes exceeded this duty. Yet, the secular authorities were more than willing to take up the slack on their part and that reflected back on the Church. That they were a creature of their time is no excuse.

Remember Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, and their adherents all believed in punishing heresy with death. Even Heinrich Bullinger, the successor of Zwingli as head of the Zurich Protestant church, announced the principle that heresy could be punished like murder or treason. It is not to the credit of the Catholic Inquisition that other religions held this principle, only that it reflected society in the sixteenth century.

Most of the time the penalty for those found guilty of heretical actions, but who repented, seems to have consisted of penances like wearing a cross on one’s clothes, going on a pilgrimage, ect. When unrepentant, the heretic was usually turned over to the secular authorities for final sentencing, which depending on local prescriptions, resulted in such findings as banishment, imprisonment for life, or burning at the stake. The inquisitors knew what to expect from the local civil authorities and so did the heretics.

For more on the life and times of the mid-sixteenth century, read The Hidden Saint: The Sixteenth Century Church in Crisis. For Amazon pricing go to goo.gl/MJaXfs. To join my facebook page go to goo.gl/2lWm2v.

The Monastic Movement

How Hospitals and Universities Came To Be

In the sixth century, St. Benedict (480–543/4) wrote monastic rules which would be applied not only in the monasteries he founded in Italy, but in most of the monasteries established throughout Europe. Even today, fifteen hundred years later, his Rule is the most common set of instructions used by monks and monasteries. His directives for moderation and reasonableness reduced the excessive asceticism found in some of the early hermits.

The growth of communal living among the monasteries following the Benedictine Rule was immense. As the years passed, those entering the monasteries were younger than the first monks and this necessitated they be given an education. The ability to read and understand Scriptures was paramount, of course, for Origen had written: “Ignorance of Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.”

However, the abbots of these monasteries recognized the value of studying medicine, mathematics, astronomy, and Greek philosophy as well. Care of fellow monks and the general population required that someone read about and practice the science of herbal medicine and surgical procedures. Astronomy allowed the monks to know when the calendar required religious practices to take place. Philosophy and logic permitted the student to argue and understand the reasoning behind much of the orthodox, heretical, and schismatic movements as well as the thinking of Aristotle, Socrates, and Plato.

In effect, many of the monasteries from the sixth century to the Middle Ages became the forerunners of universities. Not only were the monks taught religious and secular subjects, but many of the scholarly types from the secular world came to these monasteries to learn as well. The education formerly found only in such schools as the Catechetical School of Alexandria had spread throughout the Eastern and Western Christian communities.

Medical wings for ill monks became hospital wings for the local population and then separate hospitals for the larger community. Expertise in medical practice became almost the exclusive property of the monastic community. How quickly we forget who and how care came to be given to the general population from a selfish generation.

For a more complete picture of such benevolence, read my book Rock of the Apostles: A Brief History of Catholic Tradition by going to goo.gl/w9h5H2.

Arguing Biblical Tradition

How the Common Latin Version Came About

In 382, Pope Damasus asked his secretary, Jerome, to take the four Gospels, then found in Old Latin with loose translations from the original Greek, and put those four Gospels into a coordinated and more elegant Latin version. Many different hands had translated the earlier version without any central control and the result had been numerous translation errors and a vocabulary of local colloquialisms. The opposition, particularly in Italy, was enormous for the Old Latin version was considered sacred writing and to change it was considered sacrilegious.

However, the pope wanted to adhere to the basic intent of the ancient Greek writers, and if this meant to change the Old Latin version where the original purpose was clearly at variance, then so be it. When the upset population insisted that tradition required continued use of the Old Latin version, Jerome responded that he was not flouting tradition, but restoring tradition.

To that end, Jerome did not write the Gospels in the order of Matthew, John, Luke, and Mark as the Old Latin version did, but restored the order of the earlier Greek version; that is from Matthew to Mark, Luke, and then John. The pope’s motive for the rewrite was to have the readings in the liturgy be as uniform as possible whether in Gaul, Egypt, Rome, or Cappadocia. Too many local variations had popped up and heresies were not easily defeated.

When the New Testament was completed and long after Damasus had died, Jerome began translating the books of the Old Testament into Latin. These books had been written in Greek about six hundred years earlier, and some scriptural books in Hebrew and Aramaic had been written as much as a thousand years earlier. Jerome knew four languages and studied the original documents, especially the Greek and Hebrew documents. He also consulted with Jewish and Greek specialists regarding the Old Testament scriptural books. Once completed, his clarity of exposition and elegance of diction soon overcame any objection to his Bible.

The resulting Bible called the “Vulgate” or “Version Commonly Used” Bible was adopted by the Council of Trent in the sixteenth century as the official Latin Bible of the Catholic Church. Numerous versions have been published since to take into account the latest in linguistic and biblical studies.

To learn more about the life of Jerome and his works, read my novel The Scholar’s Challenge.  Go to goo.gl/MPqLV6 to acquire it or to read more about it.

The Sanhedrin

A Governing Body

When Jesus was born, the son of Herod the Great, Archelaus, was ethnarch of Samaria, Judea, and Idumea and Augustus was emperor of Rome. Archelaus had the army and strength of Rome behind him, but the Sanhedrin had the people of Judea. Anytime the Sanhedrin wanted a protest, riot, or insurrection, the people of Judea would follow the decision of the Sanhedrin.

Who were these Sanhedrin? Seventy in numbers, they were appointed from every area of Israel to make decisions affecting social as well as religious activities. While Archelaus ruled from the palace, the Sanhedrin ruled from the courtyard of the Temple. If someone wanted to be a member of the Sanhedrin, he must not only be recognized as religious, but also as political. If Archelaus wanted to follow the dictates of Augustus, he had to consider also the opinion of the Sanhedrin. His failure to do so….

For more interesting discussion of this period, read my novel Eugenios: Servant of Kings. To go to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00FBD7KK4. To go to my facebook page: goo.gl/2lWm2v.

Another Newspaper Article


There are nineteen Erickson Living communities across the nation with 24,000 residents. Their paper The Erickson Tribune chose your humble servant to cover for the July issue. It is a beautiful story written by Danielle Roxrode with an excellent picture taken by Mel Tansill, the publicist for the Erickson communities. I feel blessed to live in a gated retirement community where the daily cares of my wife and I are taken into daily consideration. It is never too late to think about your retirement and what you will do or not do in that retirement. Perhaps there is another author out there reading this. Who knows? To see the article go to:


Rock of the Apostles

A Brief History of Catholic Tradition

My latest book Rock of the Apostles: A Brief History of Catholic Tradition has now been published and is available on Amazon.com. Anyone who believes they do not need the institutional Church with its priests, bishops, popes and 2,862 paragraphs of the Catholic Catechism should read this book. Without the Scriptures and the teaching authority of the Catholic Church for the past 2,000 years there would be no foundation with which to believe in a “spiritual church.” One can claim the ability to have a spiritual relationship with God, one without walls or dogma. However, that relationship is built on shaky imaginations, temporary and ever adjusting to current tides of fantasies–certainly not Christ’s revelations which are built on Scriptures and a Living Tradition.

Rock of the Apostles describes how the Catholic Church countered two millennium of heresies, schisms, and slanders through a Tradition developed by the Early Fathers, Monastics, Doctors of the Church, theologians, ecumenical councils, and a long line of Apostolic teachers. It is an enjoyable and fascinating explanation of how the same, unending Deposit of Faith is transmitted over the years to new cultures, new languages, new ways of exploring the road to salvation. It covers current topics such as abortion, contraceptives, and divorce and reveals how the Church has not changed its position on these topics and why it cannot change its position.

The book has been granted an imprimatur by the Archdiocese of Baltimore and is aimed at high school students, CCD, and home school students. However, any history buff or Catholic adult will find in it an excellent overview of the religious influence wielded by the Church over the years–an influence that cries out for acceptance in today’s secular world.

The cover portrays an 19th century oil painting by Francesco Bergametti found in the church Santa Maria Immacolata delle Grazie in Bergamo, Italy. The scene represents The Little Jesus in the Temple explaining the word of God to the scribes while Mary in the background listens. How better to begin the history of Church teachings than by seeing it’s foundation from the lips of Jesus Christ? To see more visit goo.gl/w9h5H2.

Jalsa Salana Convention

Muslim Sect Believes Shroud Authentic

The Ventral Image on the Shroud of Turin as it appears on a photographic negative

Thanks to my good friend, Barrie Schwortz, world-renowned lecturer and photographer of the Shroud of Turin, I recently learned that at least one Muslim sect believes the Shroud to be the authentic burial cloth of Jesus Christ. This year Barrie will give his third keynote address to the Ahmadiyya Muslim community at the Jalsa Salana Convention in Hampshire, near London. This convention is attended by 35,000 people a day over three days. The largest tent seats 10,000 people and they are enthralled by a Jewish man (Barrie) speaking about a Christian relic before one of the twenty-seven sects of the Islamic faith. The Ahmadiyya Muslim sect has 150 million followers in 200 countries and is the fastest growing sect in Islam.

Their philosophy is “Love for all, hatred for none” which is also the address of their website: www.loveforallhatredfornone.org. Because this sect interprets some mainstream Muslim philosophies differently, they have been labeled heretics, ostracized and marginalized by the mainstream Muslim world. We rarely hear about Muslims expressing love for all, but instead hear about the Sunni and Shi’ite sects that have been violently battling one another for many centuries.

The Ahmadiyya accept that Jesus was crucified and buried with the Shroud. However, they believe the Shroud proves he survived all the tortures and escaped from the tomb to die in India. Today, we can visit the tomb of “Jesus” in Kashmir according to the Ahmadiyya.

As owner and manager of the largest website dedicated solely to all of the scientific and other evidence concerning the Shroud (www.shroud.com), Barrie gives his personal opinion to the convention attendees, that, based on expert opinion, the man of the Shroud was dead while he lay in the tomb. The convention is televised internationally and Barrie will give a report on his 2017 address at his website in September. You can also read his reports from the 2015 and 2016 conventions on his website (www.shroud.com).

My latest novel, The Hidden Saint, includes a historically accurate account of the huge crowds that gathered when Archbishop Charles Borromeo visited Turin shortly after the Shroud arrived there in the 16th century.  For additional information about the book, go to Amazon.net: goo.gl/MJaXfs

Television Appearance

How to Avoid a Poor Interview

Yesterday, I was interviewed on television regarding the publication of my latest book. I was asked what the book was all about. After I had mentioned a few of the facts found in the book, I realized that the interviewer wanted a summary of the entire book in no more than two or three minutes. In five minutes, I hadn’t finished the first chapter. It was a disaster. Returning home, I immediately summarized the novel as I should have earlier. This is the way it should have been reported:

The Hidden Saint tells the story of two men, one a historical figure and the other a fictitious figure. Carlo Borromeo, the historical figure, becomes Pope Pius IV’s secretary of state. He assumes his duties with fortitude and quickly progresses up the ecclesial ladder—a deacon, priest, bishop and finally archbishop of Milan. Taking on the reins of his archdiocese, Carlo dedicates his life to sanctifying its 3,000 clergy and 800,000 people by implementing the decrees of the recently concluded Council of Trent.

The fictitious character, Roberto Vecchi, is somewhat of a duplicitous individual. On the one hand, he faithfully serves his master, Carlo, for Roberto is a swordsman of remarkable skill and pride. On the other hand, Roberto hopes to benefit monetarily by Carlo’s rise up the ecclesial hierarchy. Carlo, aware of Roberto’s shortcomings, reminds him that within every man there lies a hidden saint. Roberto scoffs at this for he knows his own moral failings. And therein lies the story.

The First Catechism

Unofficial, That Is

A Catholic Catechism identifies the current theological beliefs of the Church, both the dogmatic (required belief for all times) and the decreed beliefs (required until changed). Only two official Catechisms have ever been published by the Catholic Church: the Trent Catechism in the 16th century; and the Vatican II Catechism published in the twentieth century. They follow the same four-part layout scheme; Profession of Faith (Apostles’ Creed), Celebration of the Christian Mystery (The Sacraments), Life in Christ (The Ten Commandments), and Christian Prayer (The Lord’s Prayer). While it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between the required beliefs and suggested beliefs, the Catechism provides extensive footnotes and comments enabling the attentive reader to make such a distinction.

With over two thousand years of history behind it, why has the Church issued only two official Catechisms? And those two only in the past five hundred years? Well the truth of the matter is, another Catechism was published in the third century and recognized as the most comprehensive set of beliefs at the time–well researched with contributions from many  bishops throughout the Christian world. It was called De principiis and written by Origen, the director of the Catechetical Schools of Alexandria and Caesarea, the finest Christian schools known to man up to that time and for some time afterwards.

Origen’s work was not an official document of the Christian Church for two reasons. The most basic reason is that the Church had not held a Ecumenical Council–a gathering of the bishops of the world–until the fourth century so it could not have been considered recognized as such by the “Church.” Secondly, several of Origen’s suppositions within De principiis had subsequently been rejected by the Vatican and large numbers of bishops even before the first Ecumenical Council. Nevertheless, the subject matter within Origen’s work has been and is still being studied within seminaries up to the present time for its early description of dogmatic beliefs as passed on from the lips of Jesus Christ to his apostles.

A more comprehensive discussion of Origen’s work is found in my novel The Scholar’s Challenge. I also cover the need for and writing of the first official Catechism in my novel The Hidden Saint: The Sixteenth Century Church in Crisis. I think you will enjoy both novels.