Pope Francis’s Favorite Movie


Habemus Papam; we have a Pope!

We are of course a book club of 10 women who read only Catholic Women Authors, and we’re all very excited by the news of Pope Francis I! 

Celeste got to attend the Denver Rally for the Pope!!

Celeste attended the Denver Rally for the Pope!!

Celeste even made it to the Rally for the Pope even though it was only 3 hours after the Holy Father made his first appearance.

Whatever could we have in common with the new pope?

Why we’re Catholic of course!

Well yeah but beyond that—I found out from NewAdvent that the new Pope’s favorite movie is also a favorite Book & Movie Night combo of ours.

We first read the novella by Karen Blixen (aka Isak Dinesen) and then watched the movie Babette’s Feast, directed by Gabriel Alex.

Truth be told we do not really know for sure if Blixen was Catholic, but we do know from her autobiography Out of Africa that she loved the Mass and attended often while living in Africa.  We hoped she had converted before her death during a long and painful illness.

I’m unfortunately not a movie critic, but fortunately for all of us, Stephen Greydanus is!  And he explains so perfectly that this is a deep and powerful movie full of Eucharistic and sacramental symbols; it is not just a foodie movie about food or an art movie about the sacrifices of artists!

Authored Babette's Feast

Authored Babette’s Feast

I love how the setting of the movie of an isolated protestant sect (now cut off from their founder after his death) in an isolated Danish village conjures up the feeling that outside the Church one can dream up his own religion without limit and yet with each re-invention become increasingly alone; cut off from the Source of Truth.

And then…..how Babette returns with the rich makings of a feast to find the deceased pastor’s daughters alarmed and yet…..willing to allow her to serve them even in their fear.  Also, the movie is funny!  The old spinster sisters nearly faint at the site of the bottle of excellent wine at which Babette gazes longingly.

So, for a celebration of Pope Francis I and a Lenten sense of Christ’s Passion &  Sacramental presence, download Babette’s Feast and watch while you plan your Easter Dinner!

Read more about it at Patheos:


From Riches to Rags

St. Joan of the Cross

Today’s Catholic calendar includes a female saint who would find her pre-conversion self right at home in our consumer driven culture.  She owned and operated a successful family business with an attitude of selfishness and greed.  She was known for turning away beggars and keeping her shop open on Sundays to maximize profits.

One Pentecost she was visited by Francoise Fouchet, a poor beggar who came to St. Joan with a message directly from God.  The tattered, needy messenger predicted that this career shop owner would one day care for the needy with all her heart.

Eventually St. Joan of the Cross went on to care for orphans and found a community of sisters which is now named Congregation of St. Anne of Providence

St. Joan’s story reminds me of the conversion of a career woman who follows the call to religious life by entering a Benedictine convent in In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden.  I am almost 99% sure we have not read this book yet, although we have read titles by Godden.  As it was made into a movie it would surely make an excellent book/movie combo at some future time!

I found this wonderful post about St. Joan of the Cross by Christine McCarthy on a blog called Ladies of our Lady and they are based in Denver!  What a coincidence!

H/T to American Catholic.org Saint of the Day!

Who is Flicka’s Friend?

Our next book seems like an easy Summer reading selection at first glance!  Mary O’Hara’s My Friend Flicka has a been a book club request of Amy’s for a few years.  As many reviewers suggest it is a bit more for mature readers than children.

Well now we are finally reading it due to the fact that O’Hara was a convert to Catholicism from the Episcopalian faith.  This is not an extremely well known fact;  however you may find a quick reference to it if you google Mary O’Hara Catholic convert.

Searching for My Friend Flicka gives a few selections of recently published reprints of popular Western stories,  many copies of the original movie starring Roddy McDowell, several copies of the television series of 1956-57, and a movie from 2006 called Flicka.

On the other hand, there is one book that remains elusive (although a copy remains for sale at $99.99) and it is the autobiography of Mary O’Hara, Flicka’s Friend.  And it is this book that Amy owns and will allow me to borrow for this blog that I will be using for our next post!  Why is Mary O’Hara is Catholic?  I am confident we will find out!

The ripple effect of the Catholic Women reading Catholic Women book club caused by that proverbial stone thrown into the pond lets us see those rings penetrate the water as layer upon layer of conversion, self-knowledge and redemptive truth.  The stories link each female Catholic author one into another until they all tell the One True Story we all seek.  Each one is truly unique and yet part of His One Body.  Our stories and authors always prove this and we love, love and love it!!

Stay tuned.

Book Club Night in June

Everyone showed up last Wednesday for a discussion of Seven Lies About Catholic History by Diane Moczar.   We had an amazing display of potluck dishes including Salmon with a Sour Cream sauce, Marinated Chicken with Mushrooms and Leeks topped with cheese.    Amy treated us to a delicious Ice Wine.  Ice Wine is a very sweet wine made with grapes that have been frozen on the vine.  The grapes must be picked on a certain morning that is just the correct temperature.

After a great deal of eating, sampling the Ice Wine, nibbling chocolates and settling down with coffee we made time to discuss the book.  Believe me there are nights when we barely have time left to get around to that.  Some of the ladies had read the entire book whereas at least one of us didn’t read it and a few had read half or more.

It’s a short book wherein each chapter covers a part of Catholic history that has been misrepresented or mythologized by historians and authors through the centuries.  Chapters cover the so-called Dark Ages, the Inquisition, Galileo, the Reformation, Spanish Exploration and the Conquistadors, the Crusades, and the Church and Progress.  Moczar outlines each legend or myth as it has been handed on and distorted and then she exposes the falsehoods.  One thing I most appreciated about her layout was the fact that she pointed out who the detractors were and how their writings became so widely known and accepted.  For me that was more than half the proof of a falsehood.  When the person writing your history hates you and all you stand for, the resulting book may not be all that credible!

However among the ladies there was a pretty strong consensus that it just wasn’t that strong as a work of apologetics.  For instance Dianne said:  “I found the book interesting in some ways, though I’m not sure it would be helpful to someone who really believed the “lies” as I didn’t feel the information was presented as clearly and fully as it could have been. The most important thought I took from this is that the life of the soul is much more important than the life of the body, since the life of the soul is eternity, and the life of the body is temporal. So it makes sense that the Church would consider it a serious crime if the soul were led into the sin of heresy.”

Comments around the theme that the author was somewhat “sarcastic” were common and some believed that it didn’t speak to the non-Catholic reader who might be searching for a little more substance.  I think the word I would use to describe the tone of the complaints is that it was pat or cavalier.  For instance the author used some reliable sources and recent publications to prove that during the Inquisition the number of deaths was far less than commonly believed.  Her resulting claim that only a few deaths occurred sounded to some like an admission that she felt it was okay.  On the other hand I (and maybe one other) thought that she was just matter-of-factly stating that yes,  it happened and it was all in the context of the times.

Celeste articulated the general feeling “that the author was too sarcastic, rather than dispassionate, when relating the lies, which took away from her credibility and would turn off those who might be marginally hostile to the Faith.”  Like Dianne, Celeste was also impressed by how historically the Catholic Culture took the Faith so seriously as to value people’s souls more highly than is typical today.

Laurence (pronounced Lawrawnce) believed it “Adequately addresses the black spots and blemishes left by history on the face of holy church, arguing that their propagation benefitted enemies of the Church.”

I liked the book and didn’t mind the sarcasm (or perhaps it was just a  sense of irony or just plain pleasure at exposing a liar), nor did I think it was really written for anyone who might already be anti-Catholic and hates the Church.  I got the impression that it was written for the average Catholic layperson who had an average secular university history class and was exposed to all of these lies and falsehoods.   The title is a plain offering of what to expect and a book as short as this should entice many busy readers who might pick it up for a chapter now and then.  I think they’ll learn what they came for.