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Behind the Counter #18 Ralph Martin and Joseph Bottum
Posted by Ian on 16 January 2013 05:32 AM

Today I'll be speaking with Joseph Bottum about his new book The Christmas Plains that is a kind of a memoir about Christmas growing up in South Dakota. I'll also be speaking with Ralph Martin about his new book Will Many Be Saved?

This show is pre-recorded but you can still leave comments about this and upcoming shows on our comment line at 719-235-5045

You can also subscribe to our show on iTunes. Just search for the Behind the Counter under podcasts.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and enjoyed the Story of the Other Wiseman on our radio show. We had company and family over which meant that there were about 20 people in the house and everyone was having a great time until our three year old threw up in the living room. Then one of my daughters decided that she didn't want dessert and went to bed. Then one of our visitors said she didn't feel well and Father drove her home. Oh, boy.

So instead of having a nice peaceful night on Christmas we got to deal with four cases of stomach flu and several loads of laundry. While cleaning up a set of sheets I looked up at the bathroom mirror and saw that one of our kids had stuck a window cling of the crucifixion on it. I know that some people see signs from God regularly. I don't, but that night I was clearly reminded of the saying “no creche without the cross”.

Today is January 5th, the Feast of St. John Neumann. John Neumann was born in Bohemia in 1811. In 1835 John Neumann expected to be ordained but his bishop decided that there were too many priests in the diocese so he halted all ordinations. Wouldn't it be nice to be faced with that problem today?

John Neumann searched all over Europe for a bishop to ordain him and was turned down everywhere. While waiting for ordination John worked in a factory with workers who spoke English and learned it in the process so he sent letters to all the bishops in America asking if any would take him. The bishop of New York agreed and ordained him for the diocese of New York in 1836. At the time the diocese had 36 priests serving 200,000 Catholics. Fr. Neumann's parish stretched from Lake Ontario in the North all the way to Pennsylvania in the South. His parish church didn't have a steeple or a floor but he spent most of his time traveling between towns saying Mass in kitchens and sleeping in taverns.

Because of his isolation from the rest of the diocese he joined the Redemptorists with his bishop's permission. In 1848 he became the Provincial Superior of the United States and was appointed the bishop of Philadelphia in 1852. He was the first bishop in the United States to organize a diocesan school system and during his time in Philadelphia he doubled the number of schools to 200. In order to help with a huge influx of immigrants he also embarked on an extensive church building project that produced about one new parish a month for the city.

If you sometimes think that the Catholic Church is besieged in this country today, in bishop Neumann's time he had to contend with the Know-Nothings – a violent anti-Catholic political party that set fire to convents and churches. Because of the violence, he petitioned Pope Pius IX to let him resign but the pope refused.

In 1854 he was present in Rome of for the proclamation of the Immaculate Conception.

In 1860 at the age of 48 Bishop Neumann dropped dead in the street while running errands. He died from a stroke.

He was beatified during the Second Vatican Council by Pope Paul VI in 1963 and was canonized in 1977.

You will usually see St. Neumann pictured in art wearing a red cape and sometimes holding a church or school.

This show is pre-recorded but you can still leave comments about this and upcoming shows on our comment line at 719-235-5045

Will Many Be Saved?

Will Many Be Saved?


The Christmas Plains

The Christmas Plains


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Behind the Counter #16 - Pearce and Longenecker
Posted by Ian on 15 January 2013 12:07 AM

This week I interviewed Joseph Pearce about his new book, Bilbo's Journey, and Fr. Dwight Longenecker about Catholicism Pure and Simple.

Catholicism Pure and Simple

Catholicism Pure and Simple


Bilbo's Journey

Bilbo's Journey

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Behind the Counter # 15 - The Complete Thinker with Dale Ahlquist
Posted by Ian on 06 December 2012 12:12 PM

On today's show I interview Dale Ahlquist, Chesterton expert and author of the new book, The Complete Thinker (also available as an e-book).

Today is December 8th, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception which is in a way really too bad for St. Romaric whose feast shares this day. Why is this a problem? Have you ever heard of St. Romaric? Obviously, saints are supposed to be humble so he probably doesn't mind but wouldn't it be nice to at least get a mention at Mass? St. Romaric was a Merovingian nobleman who lived in the 7th century. Queen Brunehilda had Romeric's father killed and Romeric became a homeless wanderer for a time. St. Amatus converted Romaric who then became a monk and founded a monastery called Remiremontin 620. St. Amatus was the first abbot but Romaric soon took his place and served for thirty years. He died in 653.

Okay, now that we've given due recognition to St. Romaric we can talk about the reason you're going to Mass today. Don't forget – you have to go to Mass today, it's a holy day of obligation. And for those of you who think you can be sneaky by going to an evening Mass and make it count for both, your wrong. According to Canon Lawyer Edward Peters, you have to go to two Masses to satisfy two obligations to attend Mass. You aren't required to attend a Mass celebrated specifically for the feast but you do have to go to Mass on the specific day.

The feast of the Immaculate Conception actually originated long before the dogma was proclaimed in 1854. For several hundred years there was a feast celebrating Mary's conception and in the Eastern churches the feast is still called the Child-begetting of the Holy Anne, mother of the Mother of God. The feast was first celebrated in monasteries before spreading to the general church.

On December 8th, 1854, Pope Pius IX promulgated the dogma of Mary's Immaculate Conception which stated that Mary was granted a unique grace from God to be free from the stain of original sin. Mary confirmed the title when she appeared to St. Bernadette in 1858.

The devotion to the Immaculate Conception is especially strong in the United States. The council of Baltimore – of catechism fame – declared Mary under the title of the Immaculate Conception the patroness of the United States in 1846 – 8 years before the dogma was officially declared.


National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

Back when I was in high school we lived near Washington DC for a year while my dad completed a tour at the Pentagon. One of the most incredible places to visit, apart from the Smithsonian and the main post office where you could buy EVERY stamp in circulation – yes, I collected stamps and still have my albums – was the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. The Shrine sits on the campus of the Catholic University of America and is the largest Catholic church in North America and one of the top ten in the world.

This show is pre-recorded but you can still leave comments about this and upcoming shows on our comment line at 719-235-5045

The construction of the church was approved by St. Pius X in 1913 who personally contributed to its construction. In 1915 the first model of the future church was created by architect Burrall Hoffman, Jr. in a gothic style that looks nothing like the finished church. The church took almost 40 years to complete and was finally dedicated 1959 by Cardinal Spellman.

The church is built in a Romanesque style so instead of the pointed arches and almost lace-like stone work that you find in Gothic churches, the arches are rounded, the windows are smaller and the structure has a much more substantial presence. One of the reasons that this style was chosen was to distinguish it from the National Cathedral which was being built at the same time. I've been in both churches and the National Shrine is much more breathtaking, especially because of the mosaics that cover the inside of the domes.

The most impressive one, and one that must give folks like Fr. Richard Rohr and Fr. Keating the shakes is the Christ in Majesty mosaic that covers the dome above the altar. I recommend that you save a copy of this image somewhere in case you ever start to believe that getting into Heaven is a cake walk. The mural is 3600 square feet of “don't mess with me Jesus” looking like he's ready to do some serious smiting. Flower power Jesus isn't anywhere to be found. Actually, Fr. Rohr, who is really big on man retreats where guys act primitive and dance around fires may like the art, but not the connotation.

The crypt church is impressive in its own right. There is a chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes and dozens of other chapels surround the perimeter. You may have heard that one of the chapels is dedicated to Our Lady of Hope and was donated by Bob Hope's family. Fortunately, Bob Hope's reputation as a comedian is solid because his taste in architecture isn't.

Getting back to the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, if you've ever mentioned this to a Protestant you've most likely received criticism for it. There are three main points about this dogma that need to be explained clearly so both sides start from the same point. As a side note, what I'm saying here isn't coming from my own minimal apologetics skills, I'm just stealing from the Beginning Apologetics Series published by San Juan Seminars and available at For only $54.95 you too can sound as smart as Patrick Madrid, Dave Armstrong, Scott Hahn or any other Catholic apologist with facial hair. This special package includes all nine Beginning Apologetics books and even though it's always included, we'll pretend we're giving you an extra great deal by throwing in the Beginning Apologetics I study guide. But wait, there's more! For a limited time, defined as “as long as the books are in print” we'll also through in the place-mat scripture cheat sheet so you can covertly defend the faith during meals with non-Catholics. Facial hair not included.

As I was saying, there are three main parts of the dogma. First, Mary was preserved from original sin and the effects of original sin from the moment of her conception. Second, Mary didn't receive this gift as a result of any action of her own. She was redeemed by Christ just like everyone else but instead of receiving the gift of redemption after baptism she received it proactively to preserve her from original sin. Finally, Mary still had free will. Just like Adam and Eve who also didn't have original sin but had free will, Mary could have chosen to sin or to even refuse to be the Mother of God but didn't.

If you want details including scripture verses, quotes from Church Fathers and other explanations of this doctrine and other Marian questions, you should really get the 6th Beginning Apologetics book. Each of these books is only about forty pages long and the easiest way to learn how to explain Catholic theology to non-Catholics and to Catholics who don't know or believe their Faith.

The Complete Thinker




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On today's show I'm interviewing Margot Davidson, founder of a new Mass missalette called Laudamus Te and Fr. Mitch Pacwa about his Bible study for the Year of Faith. If you are familiar with the Magnificat Magazine, then Laudamus Te will be familiar. It's a missalette shipped every couple of months that is for use at the Extraordinary form Mass. I think this is a great idea and something that Latin Mass parishes should probably subscribe to in bulk because not everyone can afford a missal.

Welcome to the the Behind the Counter Catholic radio show where we take a “No Bull, just the truth” approach to the Catholic Faith. I'm Ian Rutherford, founder of Thank you for taking the time to listen in today.

This show is pre-recorded but you can still leave comments about this and upcoming shows on our comment line at 719-235-5045

You can also subscribe to our show on iTunes. Just search for the Behind the Counter under podcasts.

Today is November 17th, feast of St. Elizabeth of Hungary or November 19th on the Extraordinary Form calendar. St. Elizabeth was born in Presburg, Hungary in 1207, the daughter of King Andrew II. When she was four she was sent to Thuringia, a province in Germany for school and was betrothed to the infant prince of the country. The prince died as a child but Elizabeth stayed and eventually married prince Louis of Thuringia at the age of thirteen. She was a very devout child and after her marriage her husband supported her charitable activity and religious devotions even though her relatives disapproved. The couple had three children but Louis was killed in battle during the crusades. St. Elizabeth's inlaws basically disowned her and she left the court. After securing care for her children she became a tertiary Franciscan and dedicated herself to caring for the poor including the building of a hospital in Marburg and donating a large supply of grain to German farmers during a famine. She died at the age of 24.

St. Elizabeth is the patron of bakers, charities, exiles, hospitals and beggars among others. She is usually shown in art as being dressed as a princess while carrying a basket of bread. She was the great aunt of St. Elizabeth of Portugal.

Other upcoming events and feasts include

If you would like to leave comments about the show, you can call our comment line at 719-235-5045

During the month of November our family tries to make it to a cemetery to fulfill the requirements for a plenary indulgence for souls in Purgatory. This year we decided to go to our neighborhood cemetery instead of driving all the way into town. We live in a development on what used to be cattle grazing land far north of Colorado Springs and there is a small abandoned cemetery on the edge of the property fenced in by barbed wire. I assume that it houses the graves of the original ranching families but I haven't actually trespassed to see who is buried there.

Typically we would go to the cemetery during the day but we couldn't make it on the weekend so we were left with weekday evenings as the only option. Unfortunately, in Colorado Springs the mountains make the early sunsets of winter begin about an hour earlier than other places so by 6 it is already dark.

So how hard is it to sell “Let's to to a cemetery and pray for the souls in purgatory. In the dark.” to ten kids? Surprisingly, not very. So we all bundled up and drove over to the cemetery. Fortunately, the folks who live in the house by the fence weren't home or we'd probably have had the sheriff out there. A dozen people standing by a cemetery at night silhouetted by the high beams of van probably looks a little too horror movie-ish for the average bystander.

If we had tried for Halloween atmosphere, we really couldn't have done any better. Dark night, wind, a moon mostly hidden behind clouds, and of course, a partial cow skull hanging on the cemetery fence. Spooky. Except that it wasn't. Since we live out in the country the kids have gotten used to hearing coyotes and they actually enjoy sleeping out in the prairie grass during the summer without tents.

Anyway, we said our prayers for the dead including a litany of saints, adding all of the kids' patrons and then bundled back up into the van. They'll probably remember this November for a long time if not for the cemetery than for the Halloween cookies they ate on the way home.

Laudamus Te

Year of Faith Bible Study - by Father Mitch Pacwa

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Welcome to the the Behind the Counter Catholic radio show where we take a “No Bull, just the truth” approach to the Catholic Faith. I'm Ian Rutherford, founder of Thank you for taking the time to listen in today.

This show is pre-recorded but you can still leave comments about this and upcoming shows on our comment line at 719-235-5045

Randy Hain and I at the Rocky Mountain Men's Conference

You can also subscribe to our show on iTunes. Just search for the Behind the Counter under podcasts.

Today is November 10th, feast of St. Leo the Great. St. Leo was born in Tuscany in the late 300's. He was ordained a deacon in his 30's and because of his eloquence and the respect everyone had for him, he was sent to Gaul to mediate a dispute between the two highest officials in the country. While he was in Gaul, Pope Sixtus III died and proving that you always get volunteered for things when you aren't at the meeting, he was elected pope in 440.

During his papacy there was a dispute over the church in Gaul where Bishop Hillary refused to submit to the Pope's authority. The pope appealed to Emperor Valentinian who in 445 issued a decree reasserting that the Pope in Rome held primacy in the Church based on his succession to Peter and the decrees of the First Council of Nicea. Bishop Hillary relented after the decree of Valentinian was issued.

During his reign, he combated several heresies including Pelagians, Manicheans and wrote a letter, called the Tome of Leo – Tome here being the word letter in Latin, not to a massive book - on Christology which was presented at the Council of Calcedon ending a dispute over Christ's nature.

In 452, Attila the Hun invaded Italy and at the gates of Rome demanded the Emperor's sister Honoria for his wife. The emperor sent three representatives including Pope Leo to negotiate with Attila and Pope Leo is credited with convincing Attila to withdraw without Honoria or any payment. No record of what agreement was made exists but tradition tells that Attila reported that a giant holding a bare sword stood behind Pope Leo during the negotiations and threatened to kill Attila and his entire army if he didn't retreat.

Unfortunately, this was really the last gasp of the failing empire. In 455 the Vandals invaded Rome and started slaughtering the citizens and burning the city. Leo again went to negotiate with the invaders and convinced them to stop the destruction. Leo died in 461 on November 10th. He was the first pope to receive the title “The Great”.

St. Leo the Great is pictured in art holding his “Tome” and sometimes shown with Attila kneeling before him.


Other upcoming events and feasts include


St. Martin of Tours traditions

While I was growing up, every year in November we would brave the cold, and sometimes snow, to attend a St. Martin's Day party at a friend's home. Typically this involved a house packed with people, a huge potluck dinner and a bonfire. All of the kids would get slips of paper about the life of St. Martin and some of the traditions associated with the season and would read them around the bonfire.

Some traditions your family can do:

  • Serving roast goose – legend has it that when Martin found out he had been named a bishop, he tried to escape the people by hiding with a flock of geese which didn't appreciate the intrusion.
  • Make paper lanterns for a procession
  • Give away unneeded clothes to the St. Vincent dePaul Society or other organization.
  • Drink wine! St. Martin is patron of wine makers and in France the tasting of the first wine of the year is traditionally held on his feast.

If you would like to leave comments about the show, you can call our comment line at 719-235-5045

Even though it's still a few weeks away, you should start preparing for Advent now. Advent is supposed to be a time of preparation for the coming of Christ – both His first AND last coming. This year, make plans ahead of time to celebrate the Advent season with your family and not to get carried away with the commercial buy, buy buy of the Christmas season. Get your advent candles and wreath and possibly an Advent calendar for the kids from your local Catholic store or ahead of time. I know that we typically sell out of candles shortly before the seasons starts.

Also, now is a good time to order new guides for Christian Prayer or your St. Joseph missal if you haven't already. Remember, the new church year starts on the first day of Advent.

Over the next few weeks I have several great interviews lined up. First, I'll be speaking with Dale Ahlquist about Chesterton, Dale's new book and, in light of an election season where the two major parties spent months and millions of dollars branding each other's ideas about government as anti-Catholic, Chesterton's view on government.

I will also be interviewing Matthew Bunson about St. Kateri. He and Margaret Bunson wrote the definitive biography of the new saint which includes a wonderfully complete look at the history and culture around her.

Father Pacwa will be on in a couple of weeks to talk about reading the Bible during the year of faith and kicking heretics with his cowboy boots.

I also have an interview with the Pope about his new Jesus of Nazareth book. Actually, no. I'm trying to get an interview with someone but even the publisher doesn't think the pope is available.

Finally, during one or two of the shows at Christmas time I'll be reading the story of the Other Wise Man. My great-grandmother gave me a copy of the book when I was a kid and I think it is one of the best Christmas stories ever. Martin Sheen played in a tv movie version called the Fourth Wiseman back in the 80's.

Okay, changing gears a little, I'm sure some of you out there remember the Carol Burnett show. I'm too young to remember it on tv but thanks to Speech competitions during high school I was introduced to her writing. It's really unfortunate that hilarious, mostly clean comedy of people like Bill Cosby and Carol Burnet has been replaced by the cesspool of what passes for funny today. Here's a sample from the classic “The Wind Done Gone.” I only bring this up because my guest today is Randy Hain, a businessman from Atlanta who thinks that Carol Burnett took her role in the show much more seriously than Vivian Leigh.

Apart from Miss Leigh's questionable acting chops, Randy Hain and I spoke about his latest book, The Catholic Briefcase. Stay with me after the break for the full interview.

The Catholic Briefcase

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Today I spoke with Stephanie Mann, author of Supremacy and Survival about Catholic life during the English Reformation and Andrew Jones, product manager for Catholic products at Logos Bible software about Verbum, the new Catholic version of their famous software package.

Verbum Catholic Bible Study software from Logos Bible Software

This show is pre-recorded but you can still leave comments about this and upcoming shows on our comment line at 719-235-5045

You can also subscribe to our show on iTunes. Just search for the Behind the Counter under podcasts.

Today is November 3rd, feast of St. Martin de Porres. Juan Martin de Porres was born in the city of Lima, in the Viceroyalty of Peru, on December 9, 1579, the illegitimate son of a Spanish nobleman and a black former slave. He had a sister, Juana who was born three years later. His family lived in poverty and his mother sent him to school for a couple of years before he was sent to work for a surgeon / barber (if he cut your throat shaving you, he could sew you up after) to learn medicine.

When he was 15 he applied for entry to the Dominican Convent of the Rosary in Lima as a servant and eventually entered the Dominican order as a tertiary. His holiness and miracles convinced his superiors to drop racial limitations to entering the friars and he became a full Dominican.

When he was 34 he was assigned to work in the infirmary where he would spend the next 25 years caring for the sick and working many miraculous cures. During an epidemic, Martin brought so many sick to the convent for care that the superior forbade him from bringing any more victims for fear of spreading illness to all of the brothers. His sister offered her own house to help care for the overflow of patients.

During his life St. Martin founded a home for orphans and abandoned children as well as a hospital for animals. He dreamed of being a missionary his whole life but never left Lima. In spite of this, he seems to have had the gift of bilocation, being seen all over the world during his lifetime as far away as Africa and Japan.

He was friends with St. Rose of Lima and St. John de Massias and upon his death on November 3, 1939, was already considered a saint by those in Peru. He was beatified by Pope Gregory XVI in 1837 but wasn't canonized until 1962 by John XXIII.

You can typically recognize St. Martin de Porres in art because he wears a Dominican habit, holds a broom and is also surrounded by animals.

Other upcoming events and feasts include

  • Daylight savings ends (11/4)
  • Election Day (11/6)
  • Dedication of St. John Lateran (11/9)
  • St. Leo (11/10) OF
  • Veterans' Day (11/11) - St. Martin of Tours

I mention at the beginning of our show that we take a “no bull, just the Truth” approach at our store. This has been our unofficial slogan since we first opened for a couple of reasons. First, because we want our customers to actually trust that what they get at our store will help them learn the Catholic Faith. Secondly, St. Thomas Aquinas was a very large, quiet student in school and his peers referred to him as a “dumb ox”. One of his professors, St. Albert the Great, is famed for saying that “This dumb ox will one day make a bellow that will be heard around the world.”

The reason I mention this today is because of a book. For some reason, finding the documents of Vatican II in print is kind of like looking for orthodoxy in the pages of the National Catholic Register – fabled to exist, almost impossible to find.

The Daughters of St. Paul used to produce booklets with each of the documents and at one point had them all in one volume. All of those are out of print. There was also a collection edited by Austin Flannery that was the only game in town for many years but the collection was not the official translation of the texts.

Now, Image books has released a new book called Vatican II the Essential Texts. We were happy to see that someone was bringing out a collection in time for the Year of Faith and started selling it. Unfortunately, we found out today that the introduction was written by James Carroll, a dissident priest who left the priesthood to get married back in the 70's and has spent the last forty years criticizing anything orthodox about the Church. I don't know why Image Books, which is producing so many good titles these days, couldn't find a Faithful Catholic to write the preface. Anyway, the upshot is that we won't be carrying this collection and recommend that you go download the documents from the Vatican website for free.

In recent years we've seen an explosion of great resources for Catholic Bible study, from the group Great Adventure series with Jeff Cavins to the comprehensive Navarre Bible and the popular Ignatius Study Bible. The one thing that has been lacking is a software program that can put a huge amount of Bible study resources in one place in an easy to use format.

I have several customers who have told me about Logos bible software over the years and wished that there was a Catholic version of the product. About a year ago, Logos realized that there was a Catholic market and launched the Catholic version of the Logos software.

The software package is really incredible and far more than just a Bible study. I've asked Andrew Jones, Catholic Products Manager for Logos, to come on the show and talk about Logos and the brand new version of the Logos software for Catholics released this week called Verbum.

Typically, I'll interview authors about new books but I think that the current conflict between church and state over what the state can force the church to do is actually a very old conflict. In Supremacy and Survival, Stephanie Mann tells the story of how the Catholic Church dealt with the English Reformation and in spite decades of efforts to completely destroy the Catholic Church, the English Catholic Church not only survived but today has more adherents than the state church of England.

I'm also partial to the history of the Reformation because I chose St. Thomas More as one of the patrons for our store.


Supremacy and Survival


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