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My ‘granddaddy’ John Wayne, actor and Catholic Convert by David Kerr

Rome, Italy, Oct 1, 2011 / 12:29 pm (CNA/EWTN News).-

John Wayne, for many, was a Hollywood legend who symbolized true masculinity and American values. To Fr. Matthew Muñoz, though, he was simply “granddaddy.”

“When we were little we’d go to his house and we’d simply hang out with granddaddy and we’d play and we’d have fun: a very different image from what most people have of him,”  Fr. Muñoz told CNA on a recent visit to Rome.

Fr. Muñoz was 14 years old when his grandfather died of cancer in 1979. In his lifetime, “The Duke” won an Oscar, the Congressional Gold Medal and was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Of all those achievements, though, Fr. Muñoz is most proud of just one – his grandfather’s conversion to the Catholic faith.

“My grandmother, Josephine Wayne Saenz, had a wonderful influence on his life and introduced him to the Catholic world,” said 46-year-old Fr. Muñoz, a priest of the Diocese of Orange in California.  

“He was constantly at Church events and fundraisers that she was always dragging him to and I think that, after a while, he kind of got a sense that the common secular vision of what Catholics are and what his own experience actually was, were becoming two greatly different things.”

Fr. Muñoz’s grandparents married in 1933 and had four children, the youngest of whom – Melinda – is his mother. The couple civilly divorced in 1945 although, as a Catholic, Josephine did not re-marry until after John Wayne’s death. She also never stopped praying for her husband’s conversion – a prayer which was answered in 1978.

“He was a great friend of the Archbishop of Panama, Archbishop Tomas Clavel, and he kept encouraging him and finally my granddaddy said, ‘Okay, I’m ready.’”

As a result of a change in Panamanian leadership, Archbishop Clavel was exiled from his native land in 1968. Three years later, Cardinal Timothy Manning, then the Archbishop of Los Angeles, invited Archbishop Clavel to Orange County, where he served as pastoral leader to half of Orange County’s 600,000 Latinos. Continue reading

Prayer is best source of courage for facing hostile world, Pope says. by David Kerr

Prayer is best source of courage for facing hostile world, Pope says.
 
by David Kerr

Castel Gandolfo, Italy, Aug 29, 2012 / 10:39 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Benedict XVI says the heroic sanctity of St. John the Baptist proves that a solid life of prayer is the best source of courage for Christians facing a modern world that is hostile to God and those who love him. 

“The martyrdom of St. John the Baptist reminds us, Christians of our time, that we cannot stoop to compromises with the love of Christ, his Word, the Truth. The Truth is the Truth and there is no compromise,” the Pope stated in his Aug. 29 general audience address at Castel Gandolfo.

Christian life, he said, requires a “daily martyrdom of fidelity to the Gospel” which can be defined as the “courage to let Christ grow in us and direct our thinking and our actions” and can only occur through a “solid relationship with God.” 

Pope Benedict also reflected on the contribution of prayer.

“Prayer is not a waste of time, it does not rob much space from our activities, not even apostolic activities, it does the exact opposite: only if we are able to have a life of faithful, constant, confident prayer will God Himself give us the strength and capacity to live in a happy and peaceful way, to overcome difficulties and to bear witness with courage,” he said.

The Pope’s words were part of his ongoing weekly catechesis on the theme of prayer, with today’s focus being on the prayer life of Saint John the Baptist.

Since Aug. 29 is the liturgical memorial of the martyrdom of John the Baptist, Pope Benedict noted that he is the only saint whose birth and death are celebrated on the same day.

St. John the Baptist was martyred following his denouncement of King Herod’s incestuous marriage to Herodias, who was his brother Philip’s former wife and also King Herod’s niece.

“For the love of truth, he did not stoop to compromises with the powerful and was not afraid to use strong words with those who had lost the path of God,” said Pope Benedict. 

“Where does this life of rectitude and coherency, this interior strength, completely spent for God and to prepare the way for Jesus, come from?” asked the Pope. 

“The answer is simple: from his relationship with God, from prayer, which is the main theme of his whole existence.”

Reflecting upon the life of St. John the Baptist, Pope Benedict observed that since his conception the prophet’s existence was underpinned by prayer, beginning with his father Zechariah’s song of praise, the “Benedictus,” which is now recited by many Catholics during the early morning prayer of the Church.

His example of a prayerful life is so significant, suggested the Pope, that when the disciples asked Christ to teach them the Our Father, their request is formulated with the words “Lord teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.”

“St. John the Baptist intercedes for us, so that we always maintain the primacy of God in our lives,” concluded the Pope, before leading the faithful in the singing of the Our Father in Latin.

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