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EPISODE#215
OC CATHOLIC RADIO: A NEW BOOK ABOUT ST. MICHAEL THE ARCHANGEL

Host Rick Howick welcomes back a good friend to the program: James Day. James is, among other things, the Operations Manager for the EWTN west coast studios on the campus of Christ Cathedral in Garden Grove, CA. He is also quite the prolific author; and, he has recently written a fascinating book about St. Michael the Archangel.

Give us a listen.. you will be fascinated by the discussion that takes place. You will no doubt want to SHARE this podcast!

 

 

 

Originally broadcast on 11/14/20

EPISODE#188
OC CATHOLIC RADIO: GUEST JAMES DAY ON THE SISTINE CHAPEL EXHIBIT

Host Rick Howick interviews guests on a variety of topics. On this week’s program, Rick welcomes James Day as our in-studio guest.

James is literally our “next door neighbor” at OC Catholic Radio, as he is the Operations Director for EWTN’s west coast studios.

He is also quite a prolific writer, having recently penned a book about the transformation of Christ Cathedral and what this means for the Diocese of Orange.

Today, James shares about a fascinating series of articles that he has written about the Sistine Chapel Exhibit at Christ Cathedral. It is a must see!

 

 

Originally broadcast on 1/11/20

EPISODE#179
OC CATHOLIC RADIO: GUEST IS JAMES DAY, AUTHOR OF NEW BOOK ABOUT CHRIST CATHEDRAL

Host Rick Howick interviews guests on a variety of topics. On this week’s program, Rick welcomes James Day as our in-studio guest.

James is literally our “next door neighbor” at OC Catholic Radio, as he is the Operations Director for EWTN’s west coast studios.

He is also quite a prolific writer, having recently penned a book about the transformation of Christ Cathedral and what this means for the Diocese of Orange.

Join us for this compelling conversation!

 

 

 

 

Originally broadcast on 8/17/19

SMILE A LITTLE SMILE FOR ME, ROSEMARIE

My aunt, Rosemary Day, died recently at the age of 62. These immediate days of processing her passing kindle both sadness and joy. It is a unique sensation. There is often the temptation to canonize someone immediately upon death, but Rose—Miss Rose Marie, as she would clarify—truly touched the hearts of all who met her. Now, though Rose is physically gone, the memories and the laughter and that melancholic clash of the inevitable end of earthly life and hope in eternal life play out among us the living, charged with keeping the light of her life aflame. 

Rose was special, suigeneris, one of a kind. She was the twelfth child of fourteen to my grandparents, Joseph and Madeline Day, themselves exemplary models of living and teaching a Catholic worldview. The extended family is now sprawled across the nation and world, but everyone across the generations knew Rose. She was a light. And she probably didn’t even know the extent that the ripples of her love emanated. 

Rose had Down syndrome. One in 700 babies are born with Down syndrome in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is the most common chromosomal disorder. Caregiving is not without challenges. Despite a gradual acceptance in the mainstream, a lingering stigma remains, fed by ideas of being “different,” if not “disposable.” 

Anyone thinking as such would be converted after meeting Rose. Every human life is encased in an immortal soul like a mandorla, the shell-like design that surrounds holy figures in Christian art. Rose had the lumen fidei, the light of faith. Though she could not read or write, she knew her prayers, and could respond to the Mass orations. She made her First Communion, and was widely known throughout the parish and community with her friendly handshake and smile. One of the most touching scenes for me was at my grandmother’s wake when Rose approached the casket, knelt at the prie-dieu, and made the sign of the cross before praying. She lived with my grandparents her whole life to that time. 

I was 12 then, watching Rose say goodbye to our Ma, only six months after the family patriarch, my grandfather, passed away. My own father, Rose’s older brother and himself now deceased, mentioned at the time Rose’s life expectancy was age 18—at most. In a great act of wisdom shortly before their deaths, my grandparents invited my aunt and uncle and their young family to live with them in the family home and become the caregivers for Rose. That family eventually expanded to five children of their own, my cousins, and so Rose was part of two families throughout her life: the original fourteen, and that of her sister, Barbara, and brother-in-law, Don. 

Rose was showered in affection by her many brothers and sisters. A working member of the nuts-and-bolts workshop where she drew a modest paycheck, in her vacation time family members would take her around the country; she busied herself with endless coloring books and Go Fish card games; she relaxed drinking coffee, and she loved her local pizza parlors. She cherished her rock-and-roll music, led by The Boss—Bruce Springsteen. There was a time when I was in high school when Rose could name every hit playing on the oldies station. Her favorite movie star was Tom Selleck, the mustachioed leading man of Magnum, P.I., so much so a poster of him hung in her room. For Rose’s 60th birthday, I contacted Selleck’s agent for a customized autographed picture from Selleck addressed to Rose. He duly complied. 

Where would we be as a people without the kind of love and kindness Rose and so many others express by just being themselves? When it is understood the world is shaped by love, that we are only here for a finite time, and made to enter the life hereafter united with God, will the world change for the better? Could it reach an understanding that “human dignity” is not a mere idea but a definition of humanity itself? Rose was special because her love was entirely free, without subterfuge, without expecting something in return [albeit, on (many) occasion, a cookie or warmed-up cup of coffee].  

Rose’s earthly life has ended, but the light has not gone out. Now it is clear what that light has been doing all along: it has left her and has splintered across the ether, like light refracted from a stained glass rose window, into each one of us who hold her in loving memory, and now she hovers over us with her joy, humor, and laughter. In this way, even those who will never know her can be impacted positively, for the better. That is how ancestors deep up the family tree can still say something through us today. That is the power of familial love, enveloped in its own identity, but poured out to the rest of the world.  

Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord. 

And let perpetual light shine upon her.  

 

CALL ME CATHOLIC: GUEST IS JAMES DAY

Our guest today, author and journalist James Day, challenged us to live out the message of advent more authentically as do the four women he profiled in his series of articles titled, “Go Boldly in Love,” published by OC Catholic. How inspiring to see strong women featured in the headlines as role models respected for their brave humanitarian work. Thank you, James. You can find his excellent work at occatholic.com. And, thanks to the second graders at Holy Family parish in Orange for sharing with us their thoughts on being a figure in the nativity story.

 

 

 

Originally broadcast on 12/02/17

EPISODE#121
OC CATHOLIC RADIO: GUEST IS JAMES DAY

Host Rick Howick interviews guests on a variety of topics. On this week’s program, Rick welcomes James Day back to the program. James is literally our “next door neighbor” at OC Catholic Radio, as he is the Operations Director for EWTN’s west coast studios. He is also quite a prolific writer, having recently penned a book about Pope Benedict called “Father Benedict – The Spiritual and Intellectual Legacy of Pope Benedict the 16th.”

Today they discuss an article that James wrote entitled “From Bukowski to Benedict.” Join us for this compelling conversation!

 

 

 

 

 

Originally broadcast on 11/09/17

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY, FATHER BENEDICT

Last month I was riding my bicycle around our neighborhood on a Sunday afternoon. The late spring afternoon sunshine cast a golden hue on the green shrubbery. I was thinking about the usual things—work, home, family, God. My book about Benedict XVI, Father Benedict, had been out now for a few months, and following the diocesan book club event featuring it in April, it was time to look for a new project. But when you love someone, how can you simply excise them from memory?

There had been some minute controversy about what to call the first pope to resign in 600 years. Officially, it’s Pope Emeritus. But there exists an interview in which the retired pope said that if we had more strength he would have pushed the name “Father Benedict.” I don’t think he meant it literally, only to indicate that he was once again what he always had been—a priest, just like any parish priest in your hometown. Popes aren’t kings or presidents. They are not immortal or immune to human frailties. They are priests.

They are fathers.

How often are priests wished a “Happy Father’s Day” on the annual Sunday holiday in June? But as their title indicates, that’s exactly what they are—fathers to those entrusted to them. I believe this is what Benedict XVI meant when he suggested “Father Benedict”—I am and always have been a priest. I don’t need a fancy title. Just call me “Father.”

This Father’s Day marks the seventh without my own father. It dawned on me while biking the deceptively hilly Yorba Linda streets in May—two years after finishing the first draft of Father Benedict—that the title I chose for the book was two-fold: Benedict XVI as priest, but also Benedict XVI as father.

For it was holding vigil in the final days of my own father’s life at his hospital bedside in March 2011 when I broke open Benedict’s Light of the World, which my mother had on loan from the library. “Yes, I heard about this,” I thought, vaguely remembering the resounding negative reviews it got in the press—and yet in those days between the wrenching witness of suffering—a tangible encounter of crucifixion—and discovering the wisdom of Benedict XVI, reflecting the wisdom of the Church, something of a resurrection materialized: Catholicism suddenly became less a parallel abstraction to the realities of my everyday life than, simply, life itself.

My father’s final earthly gift when he died on March 19 was to introduce a new spiritual father—Joseph Ratzinger, Benedict XVI, whose namesake is that day’s feast—the Feast of St. Joseph. The personhood of St. Joseph as a foster father, living as a good father does by example became real: the hard working carpenter, obedient to the will of the Father, trusting his spouse, loyal to the Torah, and open to divine creativity, so influenced he was by his dreams (Mt. 1:20-21, 2:13, 2:19-20, 2:22).

Speaking that very day to at the conclusion of the annual Lenten retreat in the Vatican, Benedict XVI told the Roman Curia, “St. Matthew describes St. Joseph with one word: he was a ‘just’ man, dikaios, who lives in the word of God and does not experience the Law as a ‘yoke’ but rather as a ‘joy.’

“When one has experienced a great joy,” Benedict said elsewhere, “he cannot keep it to himself, he must pass it on to others.” That, in essence, is the theme of fatherhood: from earthly fathers who have guided us in our own life to spiritual fathers who offer us the Sacraments, each pass on the joy of life—zoë, as Benedict XVI pointed out in Jesus of Nazareth, Part Two—real life, life itself.

“Eternal life’ is life itself, real life, which can also be lived in the present age and is no longer challenged by physical death,” he writes in that masterpiece.

There is a line in the recent blockbuster, Wonder Woman, that struck me. Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) hands Diana (Gal Gadot) his wristwatch. “I wish we had more time. I love you.” Too often we relegate our life to the bios—the period of physical time on this earth rather than the zoë, and suddenly what we thought was “all the time in the world” has vanished. “This is the point: to seize life here and now,” Benedict writes.

May we embrace the transcendent around us waiting to be discovered, in gratitude for the fathers in our lives—and those awaiting us in the life of the world to come.

DIVE DEEPER INTO FAITH, THROUGH READING AND COMMUNITY

Book club is in session. The first meeting of the new OC Catholic Book Club took place at Christ Cathedral’s Freed Theater recently—where all were invited to learn and discuss the legacy of Pope Benedict XVI, just over a week after his 90th birthday.

“How can we take what we discuss here back to our communities, families, and parishes? That’s the goal of this inaugural book club session,” said theologian Dr. Pia de Solenni in her opening remarks. “It’s a way to develop the intellectual life of the diocese, here together. It’s a time to really enter into the book world.”

That night, the inaugural book discussed was “Father Benedict: The Spiritual and Intellectual Legacy of Pope Benedict XVI.”

The author, James Day, is operations manager of EWTN Studios at the Tower of Hope. Day’s aim in his debut work is to bring people to the understanding and knowledge of the former Pope—who admitted to wanting to be called “Father Benedict” after his resignation in 2013—and his devotion to the faith, to knowing the face of Jesus Christ.

“The book is intense, because Joseph Ratzinger is intense…he challenges you as an intellect to become better than you are,” Day told the audience at the Freed Theater. “So if you’re up for the transformation of intellect; it will transform you as he transformed me.”

At the event, Day gave a compelling presentation on Father Benedict, highlighting his major works and accomplishments throughout history, even before he became Pope in 2005.

He also shared his personal discovery of the words and theology of Father Benedict, all of which eventually led him to write his book—from stumbling upon his Light of the World interview in 2011, to reading through his Jesus of Nazareth series; and later, penning an article for Catholic Exchange that talked about his five must-reads from Benedict’s anthology.

“Benedict brings it back down to the basics, [of] going down into the smallness of faith, in order to renew it. I chose him because he’s seen as a regal figure, but he’s a priest at the end of the day…and what is a Pontiff but a bridge-builder,” Day said.

Panelists joined Day onstage to continue discussing the book, personal musings and anecdotes, and the overall legacy of Father Benedict: a man whose entire life was founded on the theme that God is love.

Moderated by Dr. de Solenni, the panelists included Katie Dawson, director of Parish Faith Formation in the Diocese of Orange; radio personality (and former Catholic Answers Live host) Patrick Coffin; and Fr. Robert Spitzer, head of the Magis Institute.

The speakers shared a lively discussion on the catechesis of Benedict—his emphasis on fighting relativism, understanding of the joy of the Gospel, and forming a good Catholic education for today’s youth.

“Benedict really articulated the truth of Christianity and the core teachings of the faith. While the secular world tries to reduce us to rules and regulations; saying ‘no’ to fun is in fact saying yes to love. And [Father Benedict] was really emblematic of that message,” said Dawson.

Added Fr. Spitzer, “James Day gives the portrait of a man [Benedict] who is deeply in love with the faith, with the core reality of who people could be…to bring them to the very heart of Christ, whom he loved in such a poetic and theological way.”

A lively Q&A followed the panel discussion. Audience members also had a chance to get their books signed, and the evening concluded with cake to celebrate Pope Benedict XVI’s birthday.

“I was particularly struck by how prophetic [Benedict] is—with his intellect, he saw what was to come, with relativism and so much of our culture stepping away from faith,” shared Deborah Faris, a book club member and parishioner at St. Anne’s in Seal Beach. “I feel like he is sandwiched between two figures that the secular world has put on a pedestal, and [the media] has vilified him. And this book does a great job of bringing him out to the light as the person he really is.”

The next book in the book club meeting will feature “When Women Pray: Eleven Catholic Women on the Power of Prayer,” by Kathleen Beckman.

Each quarter, members of the OC Catholic Book Club will receive a faith-themed book that has been read, reviewed and hand selected by Bishop Kevin Vann and Dr. de Solenni.

With this inaugural meeting, the Diocese of Orange hopes to form theological, formative and inspiring readings to help support parishioners’ journeys of faith, and their overall relationship with Christ.

Each quarter, there will also be an opportunity to meet the author and discuss the book in a forum setting—cultivating a real “book club” community, where all are welcome to discuss findings and share stories.

Membership costs $80, and includes the quarterly books and panel-style open forum at Christ Cathedral.

“There are so many people who are looking for more than going to Sunday masses. With technology, we don’t take time to just be together anymore,” Faris added. “We need to be able to communicate with one another, as one church family…and how wonderful and important this [book club] is, under the umbrella of our diocese and our faith. It’s educational, fun, and a great value!”

GETTING TO KNOW ‘FATHER BENEDICT’

Not enough people know about Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger—also known as Pope Benedict XVI.

That apathy and a lack of understanding is what OC-based author and EWTN operations manager, James Day, aims to change with his first book, titled “Father Benedict: The Spiritual and Intellectual Legacy of Pope Benedict XVI.”

An entire generation is in danger of missing Pope Benedict’s value to the spiritual life, Day believes. “I discovered Pope Benedict not long after he was elected, but I never imagined I would be writing about him,” Day tells OC Catholic. “I never had a personal connection with him, but I respected him as a Pope.”

Everything changed when Day stumbled upon Pope Benedict’s Light of the World in 2011, a book-length interview with journalist Peter Seewald. “He was talking about how being a Christian isn’t something that is parallel to your life; it needs to be one and the same…and it really hit me,” Day says. “He was more of an impetus for the rediscovery of my faith.”

Day read and studied Benedict for several more years, even after the Pope’s resignation in 2013, and became engrossed in Benedict’s theology and writings. Benedict’s Jesus of Nazareth trilogy series also moved Day to go to Confession, he says, for the first time in three years. “[Pope Benedict] spoke so accessibly to the average person, when the media and secular culture will tell you he is way above his head,” Day says.

In 2015, Day penned an article for Catholic Exchange, sharing his five must-reads from the brilliantly written works of Benedict.

The article was a huge hit, and Day soon had the idea to write a full book about the Pope—who admitted to wanting to be called “Father Benedict” after his resignation two years earlier.

Catholic publisher Sophia Institute Press picked up his offer and Day soon got to work, reading and researching for his new book. He studied and was inspired by the work of other Catholic writers, including Seewald, Paul Badde, and Father James V. Schall, S.J.

He says the writing process for ‘Father Benedict’ took him just four months. “It’s journalistic, but written from a Catholic writing for Catholics. It sets up who Benedict is, his vision for the Church and the world, and the big thing he was always up against—relativism—within the Church, doctrine, clericism, and society. It was counter-cultural.”

Addressing misconceptions between the Vatican and the modern church of the people, Day’s book takes a look at the life of a “prophet from Bavaria” who challenged secularism and promoted the New Evangelization, the Marian Way, and emphasized sacrament and scripture.

“Pope Benedict has one of the deepest and most extensive visions of God’s love and providence, which is illuminated by a philosophical and theological background unrivaled by most theologians today,” comments Rev. Robert J. Spitzer, S.J., president of the Magis Institute. “It seems that Popes are politicized, and as such, they are seen from either an ecclesiastical or political viewpoint, instead of a theological and spiritual one…defining his pontificate. People are simply not aware of what a deep guy he was,” he says.

Fr. Spitzer also believes that those who read Benedict’s encyclicals, homilies, and other written works will experience his incredibly deep spiritual vision and grounding—as well as his hopes for the universal Church.

“He had an unparalleled relationship with God. Benedict has given us a deep theological groundwork and vision…from which our Pope Francis, scholars, church leaders and us can articulate practically,” Spitzer says. “It is truth, beautiful, spiritual, and aesthetic—all of these are what Pope Benedict brings to the table.”

Both Fr. Spitzer and Day agree that Benedict also appeals to the younger generations of today, with his deep theological insight and contemplation.

“In order for young people to see the richness of Benedict, they have to value depth, to understand truth over facts, to see past the sound-byte, Instagram aesthetic world of today,” says Spitzer. “We need to appreciate a single, beautifully deep, and virtually mystical vision of God.”

All people should read Benedict because he “challenges us to be better than who we are,” Day says. The Pope’s words invite believers to look beyond their own visions and misconceptions of faith, as Day was challenged during the writing process.

Sponsored by OC Catholic Book Club, a presentation on Father Benedict, with a panel discussion and audience Q&A, will take place at Christ Cathedral’s Freed Theater on Thursday, April 27.

Panelists Fr. Spitzer, theologian Dr. Pia de Solenni, associate dean at the Augustine Institute, and author James Day will host a lively discussion on Pope Benedict XVI’s works and contributions to the enrichment of the Catholic Church.

Details of the event can be found at bit.ly/2nDt3NK.

“Benedict lives in total confidence and faith, and it was so reassuring to me. It was like having my grandfather around,” Day says. “I just want to share with people what I had learned myself—Benedict was a believer for an unbelieving world.”

MEL GIBSON BRINGS WORLD WAR II HEROISM TO CHRIST CATHEDRAL

“We live in some pretty rugged times right now,” filmmaker Mel Gibson told EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo in front of a full audience at Christ Cathedral’s Freed Theater on Thursday, Oct. 20. “Anyone who is sane hates war, but we are all incumbent to our warriors,” he added. Gibson’s appearance, recorded for Arroyo’s ongoing “Storyented” series, held monthly in the Freed Theater at Christ Cathedral, followed an advance screening of his first directorial effort in 10 years, the World War II film “Hacksaw Ridge,” which opens worldwide on November 4.

The event was hosted by the Diocese of Orange, supported by Catholics at Work OC and emceed by its founder and president, Mark McElrath. “Hacksaw Ridge” tells the true story of United States Army medic Desmond T. Doss (Andrew Garfield), whose commitment to his faith as a Seventh-day Adventist compels him not to bear arms, even amid the horrors of the Battle of Okinawa. Instead, Doss embodies a heroism that rallies the troops around him—while saving, single-handedly, at least 75 of his fellow comrades. “That doesn’t happen by your own power,” Gibson noted. For such bravery, Doss became the first conscientious objector awarded the Medal of Honor.

“I admire heroes and what they tell us about who we could be,” Gibson related, whose depiction of Doss is the latest heroic character Gibson has brought to life on the big screen. The two-time Oscar winner’s best known directorial works, “The Passion of the Christ” and “Braveheart,” are both spiritually evoked in Doss’s own story. “You can’t get much more Christ-like [than Desmond Doss],” Gibson said, quoting John 15:13, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

“It’s an amazing film,” Joe Avalos, a member of St. Joseph in Placentia, commented. “[Doss] stood up for what he believed in and followed through with it.” Joe’s wife, Joanne, took inspiration from Doss’s conviction. “Today, faced with so many issues to stand up against,” noting topics such as abortion and euthanasia, “Desmond’s extraordinary story showed how his faith drove him to be who he was,” she said.

Garfield is also surrounded by a strong supporting cast, including Vince Vaughan as Sergeant Howell, Hugo Weaving as Doss’s father, and Teresa Palmer as Doss’s anchored wife, Dorothy. Doss, who died in 2006, was reluctant to ever speak of his own display of courage, and the story took 14 years to reach production. Once Gibson became involved in director, things moved fast. It was shot in only 59 days in Australia. When premiered at the Venice Film Festival in September, the film received a 10-minute standing ovation. Lionsgate is handling U.S. distribution rights.

While the film is rated R for depictions of war, Gibson and his collaborators avoided gratuitous violence and language, keeping in line with Doss’s own beliefs. But Gibson did not sanitize the desperation and horrors of what was endured. It was necessary, he believed, “in order to understand the sacrifice,” he told Arroyo. The full conversation between Arroyo and Gibson will air on EWTN November 3.