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Stratford Caldecott: Go With God


My latest for Catholic Exchange is a sort of goodbye and remembrance of Stratford Caldecott. Keep he and his family in your prayers.

Goodbye, Stratford, thank you for all the great conversations and good words of wisdom. Thank you for being a reflection of the love of Christ for so many throughout the world. Thank you for all the lessons, especially the lesson that Christ really wants to reveal Himself to us and that all we have to do is to open ourselves up to Him. Thank you for showing us that God really has united Himself with us to make all things new. Let us never forget.

Continue reading…

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Strat reading to his wife and a few students.

#GodForStrat


I received the news yesterday that Stratford Caldecott, the preeminent English Catholic author whom I’ve written about before, has fallen asleep in the Lord last night at the all-too-early age of 60.

After such a heroic fight, and with the love of his amazing family, he still has words that will shine bright in this world. We were never thankful enough for him. If you are unfamiliar, I actually think this essay, written a mere couple of months before his death, is one of the most powerful works by the Good Man. In it, Mr. Caldecott reflects,

God entered deeply into the world—so deeply that we can call it a merging, a uniting of his own nature with the world itself. It is no illusion, but a real uniting. We can participate by joining in the rhythm of life and death. God hides himself deeply within the world, not as an extension of life, such as an experience or two, but as the totality of being. At first it all seems inaccessible and impossible. The Cross seems impossible, incredible. It seems foolish, crazy. But we must join fully, deeply, truly. And we must start as soon as possible.

I will be writing more about Stratford, his work, and his amazing life in the next couple of days, but for now I would like to invite all of you who are inclined to please join me in praying for him.

Christ our eternal King and God, You have destroyed death and the devil by Your Cross and have restored man to life by Your Resurrection; give rest, Lord, to the soul of Your servant, Stratford Caldecott, who has fallen asleep, in Your Kingdom, where there is no pain, sorrow or suffering. In Your goodness and love for all men, pardon all the sins he has committed in thought word or deed, for there is no man or woman who lives and sins not, You only are without sin.

For You are the Resurrection, the Life, and Repose of Your servant Stratford, departed this life, O Christ our God; and to You do we send up glory with Your Eternal Father and Your All-holy, Good and Life-creating Spirit; both now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Stratford.

Stratford Caldecott reading The Ballad of the White Horse to a group of us next to the Uffington White Horse. Some of my most pleasant memories.

Truth, Beauty, and Comic Books


I’ve been on a writing binge (well, my kind of binge). My newest piece over at Ignatius Press Novels is about the three greatest things that have shaped my life: comics, GK Chesterton, and a wise teacher.

Similar to G.K. Chesterton’s fine defense of fairy tales, it is not hard to find a defense of the classic comics that first spark many a child’s imagination and teach him virtues such as kindness, fortitude, and strength in adversity. Comics, like the older brother fairy tales, contain, as Chesterton quipped, more truth than many modern novels. “Fairy tales do not give the child his first idea of bogey,” Chesterton remarked, “What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey.” In the same way that a child doesn’t need to be told about suffering and adversity, they know it far too well, but they are often introduced to how to overcome it and turn it into something beautiful on the colourful pages awaiting them at a comic shop.

Read the rest at Ignatius Press Novels…

Black Dog Days: How to Deal with Depression


My latest piece is over at The Catholic Gentleman, wherein I try to actually use my depression for some modicum of good. I have a lot of gratitude for Sam Guzman for giving me the opportunity to reach another audience and help spread awareness about mental illness.

Recently, I’ve been going through what the great Winston Churchill called “black dog days.” These days are defined by an overall low mood, inability to cope with basic things like getting out of bed, or finding enjoyment in my usual passions. Do not fear, reader, this is actually normal for me.

You see, I have something called Major Depressive Disorder, which was in previous times called clinical depression. In the ancient world, the Greek physician Hippocrates labeled it melancholia. It is something I’ve dealt with for some time now, and my family has a long history of it. My family tree is full of folks who either ended up in the mental ward or at the bottom of a bottle due to this condition. A few, sadly, found more permanent ways of dealing with it.

Read the rest at The Catholic Gentleman…

The Pope and Fortitude (On Catholic Lane)


I’m over at Catholic Lane today, discussing the Pope’s latest words on fortitude. This was strangely tough to write, but hopefully worth it.

“Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die.” –GK Chesterton, Orthodoxy

Continuing his Catechesis on the gifts of the Holy Spirit, Pope Francis used this week’s lesson to discuss the gift of fortitude. When we consider the Gifts of the Spirit, fortitude is rarely one that any of us would call to mind. It is an interior virtue that is only manifest during times of trial.

Read the rest at Catholic Lane.

Mission accomplished: Avengers fight cancer!


M. Jordan Lichens:

Wow, what an adventure! Sophie is an amazing woman who did something beautiful for her father with her sisters and mothers support. I couldn’t have dreamed of this but it all warmed my heart to watch so many folks come together for a man that has meant a lot to me.

I told my dear friend Mac that this week made me a little less cynical, which is quite the feat. All these folks, some famous and a few complete strangers, made a viral hashtag just to make a man’s last moments a bit more joyful.

Praise be to God for He is good and He loves mankind.

Originally posted on Something for a rainy day:

CapForStrat

Well, this has been an adventure and a half. When we started out on Monday evening, all we wanted to do was to make it possible for my father to see The Winter Soldier and maybe to get a few superhero selfies to make him chuckle. In under 48 hours our mission was accomplished, and then… we kind of went viral. I have to admit something right now: as a bit of perfectionist, it really bugs me that I can’t stay on Twitter all the time and thank each and every one of you who has tweeted the Marvel actors for us, sent messages of love and support, and sent us your sweet pictures for dad. But please know that our family are so very grateful, and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts, even if I haven’t said so directly.

You have certainly succeeded in cheering us all…

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We Did It! Marvel Gives Strat a Kind Gift


I just checked my twitter feed, and what do I see? Some good news. I am absolutely stunned by the goodness of people when a man who has touched so many people is able to have this kind of comfort.

Stratford Caldecott has meant the world to me, and our world has not been thankful enough for him.  I’m glad that Sophie, his beloved daughter, could mobilize such an army and that Marvel was kind enough to give him some joy in his final moments.

Please keep Mr. Caldecott and all his family in your prayers. I’m still asking Chesterton to give us a miracle.

Avengers assemble take 3: Selfies for Strat


M. Jordan Lichens:

Mark Ruffalo joins in #CapforStrat! Come on, guys, we got this! Stratford Caldecott, here we go!

Originally posted on Something for a rainy day:

“It’s time to call for backup!”

CapForStrat

CapForStrat

CapForStrat

Team #CapForStrat, you have been doing such a wonderful job of cheering on dad and requesting encouraging selfies from the Marvel actors for him. Such a great job, in fact, that the lovely Mark Ruffalo aka The Incredible Hulk sent us a picture and message for dad this morning. We are beyond thrilled! Dad was having a rough morning at the hospital, so we went in to see him and told him about what we’ve been up to.

Mark Ruffalo Incredible Hulk Marvel CapForStrat selfie for Strat

Mark Ruffalo Incredible Hulk Marvel CapForStrat selfie for Strat

This is kind of how we all felt this morning:

Dad said that seeing Mark Ruffalo and his message of support felt like a dream. He has always loved the character of the Hulk, and in fact the Hulk might as well be the superhero for cancer patients; he was exposed to too much radiation, and his superpower/giant green problem is due to his cells multiplying out…

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Avengers assemble take 2: Real life heroes


M. Jordan Lichens:

We’re still going strong. Help Mr. Caldecott and tweet #CapforStrat!

Originally posted on Something for a rainy day:

#CapForStrat Avengers assemble prostate cancer

So in less than 24 hours the number of tweets and retweets we’ve had for mission #CapForStrat has been amazing, and I’ve been truly overwhelmed with your support – thank you so much!

Through the wonders of the six degrees of separation phenomenon (though we have found it to be less than six degrees) that social media is so good at facilitating, our message has got through to the people at Disney and Marvel, and we’re waiting to hear back about whether they’ll be able to help us make it possible for dad to see The Winter Soldier before he dies.

I know that they get plenty of requests like this all the time, and it must be impossible to answer them all, so I am very grateful that they are even considering the options for us here. Thank you so very much to everyone who tweeted, emailed, and otherwise found us…

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Avengers assemble!


M. Jordan Lichens:

I’m reblogging this in toto. Stratford Caldecott was one of the first academic heroes I got to meet. Heck, we saw The Dark Knight together. So, do this for him and his lovely family and all Catholic comic geeks out there.

Originally posted on Something for a rainy day:

Captain America original comic

My father, Stratford Caldecott, was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer in October 2011. I wrote about what that was like at the time in a piece for Verily Magazine. Life since then has been very strange. He has bravely, patiently tried every treatment available to slow down the progress of the cancer, and we have been blessed with some good – almost normal – times together, amongst the bad.

The doctors now say that dad is into the final stages of the disease, the part where your bones fracture under the slightest impact, and swelling around vital organs starts to happen for no apparent reason. They say that we only have around 12 weeks left. We have to make these 12 weeks count, and I have an idea about how we can do that.

Superhero comic book themed party We had a comic book themed party for dad for his 60th birthday last November – dad was Tony Stark…

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