John Jalsevac

‘Mystery priest’ at near-fatal crash steps forward

John Jalsevac

The identiy of the "mystery priest" who showed up at a crucial moment to minister to a 19-year-old girl trapped in her car after being hit head-on in Missouri last week has been solved. The Diocese of Jefferson City has identified the priest as Father Patrick Dowling. 

In a statement released today (Source: The Blaze), the diocese said:

The Diocese of Jefferson City has identified the priest who assisted at the site of the Sunday morning, August 4, 2013 auto accident near Center, Mo. He is Rev. Patrick Dowling, a priest of the Jefferson City Diocese. Fr. Dowling was travelling Hwy 19 between Mass assignments that morning in northern and central Missouri.

Fr. Dowling said that he is pleased that he was able to help by performing his ministry and noted that that he was just one of many who responded to assist the victim at the accident. He and the Diocese wish to acknowledge and thank the first responders, medical team and law enforcement personnel for their efforts that morning in aid of the young woman injured in the accident.

Fr. Dowling, a native of Kilkenny, Ireland, was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Jefferson City, Mo., in 1982. He has served at parishes in Moberly, Monroe City, Indian Creek, Milan, Unionville and Eldon, Mo., and in the diocese’s mission parishes in Marcona and Nasca, Peru.

He is currently serving in prison ministry and in parish ministry to Spanish-speaking Catholics.

The priest first identified himself via a comment on an article by the Catholic News Agency.

“I thank God and the amazingly competent rescue workers,” Fr. Dowling said. “I thank them for making me welcome in such a highly charged situation and allowing me to minister as a priest.”

The feel-good story of Fr. Dowling's seemingly miraculous intervention has rocketed around the globe and sparked a huge amount of speculation as to his identity. Some have even sugested that he may have been an angel.

"Where did this guy come from?" Lentz's friend Travis Wiseman asked, according to KHQA. "We're looking for the priest and so far, no one has seen him. Whether it was a priest as an angel or an actual angel, he was an angel to all those [he ministered to], and to Katie."

According to first responders, Fr. Dowling showed up about an hour after Katie Lentz's Mercedes was hit head-on, and at a point when rescuers had begun to despair of extracting her from the mangled wreckage of the vehicle. Because of the hard body of the Mercedes, their cutting equipment wasn't working, and Lentz's condition was continuing to worsen, to the point paramedics thought she wasn't going to make it.

However, after the priest arrived, he annointed Katie and prayed with her. According to rescuers at the scene, he also told them that their equipment would work. Shortly thereafter, a nearby department arrived with new eqipment, and they successfully removed Katie from her vehicle. She is now in hospital recovering.

Rescuers at the accident were puzzled about where the priest came from, given that the road was blocked for some two miles. They also said that he disappeared without anyone seeing him leave and didn't appear in any of the 80 photographs taken at the accident.

However, Fr. Dowling told CNA today that he was simply performing the normal duties of a Catholic priest, but admitted: "There was something extraordinary it sounds like, in the sequence of events that coincided in time with the Anointing.”

“You must remember, there were many people praying there, many, many people…and they were all praying obviously for healing and for her safety.”

The priest denied that he had ever told the rescuers that their equipment would begin to work.

Patheos Catholic blog editor Elizabeth Scalia responded to the news that the priest had been identified, saying that the event, while apparently not "miraculous" in the strict sense, was, "what some Catholics call 'the usual supernatural' in the sense that God had placed Father Dowling at that place, at that time, and of course, for the use of the sacrament of anointing (and the prayers of those in attendance, and whatever Guardian Angels were around)…"

Read the CNA article here.

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As I write, the headlines and my various news feeds are filled with images of some of the most loathsome barbarities we have seen since the end of World War II.


Pope Benedict was right about Islam at Regensburg. The world owes him an apology.

Hilary White Hilary White Follow Hilary
By Hilary White

As I write, the headlines and my various news feeds are filled with images of some of the most loathsome barbarities we have seen since the end of World War II. The horrific images invading our internet space from Syria and (the country formerly known as) Iraq: Mass murders, crucifixions, beheadings – even of tiny children – torture, and systematic gang rapes; women and girls abducted en masse and sold into slavery; thousands chased out of their homes in terror, allowed to carry nothing with them; homes, ancient churches, monasteries and shrines looted and burned…

Beyond horrific, the images and the news they depict are bizarre and surreal, as though the violent chaos of the 7th century had burst insanely into a quiet Midwestern suburb. We are being shown, in graphic detail on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Google, some hint of what the Islamic conquest of those ancient Christian lands we now call the Middle East must have looked like. We are reminded now of the long centuries of darkness, of misery and oppression of non-Muslim indigenous populations by their Islamic overlords, that spurred Christendom to attempt their rescue in the Crusades.

We are close today to the 8th anniversary, September 12th, of the address given by Pope Benedict XVI at the University of Regensburg in 2006, in which he quoted a long-dead Christian emperor who was facing similar reports. About a week ago, an editorial writer for the Catholic Italian newspaper Il Foglio, Camillo Langone, wrote that the world owed Pope Benedict – and Emperor Paleologus – an apology over their reaction to that speech. 

“Today, when the news from ex-Iraq is once more making history, and is showing to anyone who has eyes to see what the Koran translated into action truly is, they need to apologize to both of you.” But, Langone said, with obvious disgust, the modern secularized European “won’t do it”. Such a man, he wrote, “doesn’t believe in sacred texts…doesn’t believe in the Gospel.”

“For a European to believe that someone believes in religion is impossible… One who is no longer able to believe in God is not even capable of believing in reality, [and] does not even recognize a sword when it is pressing into his neck.”

Returning to that address with our current more graphic knowledge, it is hard to imagine a more mild response to Islamic extremism. Pope Benedict spoke about a discussion, a dialogue, “carried on - perhaps in 1391 in the winter barracks near Ankara - by the erudite Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus” on the subject of Islam, the threat of which, in the form of the Ottoman Empire, was forcefully before him.

It is recorded that the Emperor, whom Pope Benedict described as “an educated Persian on the subject of Christianity and Islam,” asked, “Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”

The pope noted that the comment was recorded sometime “during the siege of Constantinople between 1394 and 1402.” The pope also noted that the Emperor spoke with “startling brusqueness, a brusqueness that we find unacceptable.” But it is obvious that the emperor was also a man in a position to speak from personal experience.  

Since his talk, Pope Benedict has heard the constant accusations, endlessly repeated by the western press, that his “offensive” remarks, his “blunder” about Islam, caused the violence that followed.

But what did he say? He called quietly for a return to the supremacy of reason in religious discourse, and he politely asked Muslims to abjure violence.

The smug western secular media, busy with their attacks on one of their favorite targets, failed to quote the rest of the paragraph. But there can be found the thesis not only of Pope Benedict’s lecture, but of Christianity’s real response to both the uncontrolled violence of Islamism and to our own intellectually impoverished pleasure-obsessed libertinism: reason and faith, “fides et ratio” and their harmonious collaboration to create a moral and just civil order.

“The emperor, after having expressed himself so forcefully, goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul,” Pope Benedict said.

How can this be happening in a “globalized” world? What has happened to our “global village”? Hasn’t modernity, with all its comforts and distractions, friendly, western secular Coca Cola imperialism, succeeded in civilizing everyone and taming the whole world?

He quoted Paleologus: “God…is not pleased by blood - and not acting reasonably (σὺν λόγω) is contrary to God’s nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats... To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death...”

Given the images burning like acid into our minds now, how mild, how utterly calm and reasonable do the words now seem. And how plainly wicked the demands that he retract and apologize because of the “offence” they had caused Muslims: how feigned and deceitful, how self-serving the manufactured “outrage”.

When we can work up the nerve to look at these images coming from the new Islamic State, the new “Caliphate”, we are stunned and overwhelmed, and wonder if indeed this could possibly be happening in the age of near global market saturation of western consumables. How can this be happening in a “globalized” world? What has happened to our “global village”? Hasn’t modernity, with all its comforts and distractions, friendly, western secular Coca Cola imperialism, succeeded in civilizing everyone and taming the whole world?

One photo stands out this week, of a boy, about eight years old, reported to be the young son of one of the “Islamic State” terrorists, dressed in a blue Polo For Kids t-shirt, plaid checked summer trousers, what look like Birkenstocks and baseball cap, proudly holding up a decapitated head. Heads must be heavy, since the little boy needs two hands to hold it up by the hair. The Sydney Morning Herald, that carried the photo, with the boy’s face pixeled out, ran the caption, “A boy believed to be Australian Khaled Sharrouf’s son holds the decapitated head of a soldier.  From Khaled Sharrouf's Twitter account.” One does not usually imagine an apocalyptic dystopia featuring so many name brands.

In the face of this terrifying modern resurgence of the ancient threat, of such gross and unnatural barbarities, it is getting harder for western intellectual liberals to continue echoing the old mantras. The hard truth must be faced eventually, even by the most determined; not everyone in the world thinks the same way we do, holds the same values, has the same goals. Not every culture is of equal value. Not all men are equally “right” in what they believe.

And if the message of the photos and videos were not getting through our thick western skulls, we have today a direct warning from the leader of the ancient Christian community that has been decimated by ISIS. The Chaldean Catholic Church traces its heritage to St. Thomas, the doubting Apostle of Christ. A few days ago, we all saw the headline saying that, for the first time in 1600 years, Mass was not being said in the ancient Christian town of Mosul because all the Christians, all the Chaldean Catholics, had been either killed, expelled or kidnapped, to be sold later into chattel slavery.

Speaking from his exile in the dubious and perhaps temporary safety of the northern Iraqi town of Erbil, the head of this lost and grieving community, Archbishop Amel Nona, the Chaldean Catholic Archeparch of Mosul, told us quite bluntly, and without the niceties required by Pope Benedict’s civilized academic audience, that the time for indulging our comfortable liberal fantasies is over.

“Our sufferings today are the prelude of those that you, Europeans and Western Christians, will also suffer in the near future,” said the archbishop in an interview with Corriere della Sera. “I lost my diocese. The physical setting of my apostolate has been occupied by Islamic radicals who want us converted or dead. But my community is still alive.

“Please, try to understand us. Your liberal and democratic principles are worth nothing here. You must consider again our reality in the Middle East, because you are welcoming in your countries an ever growing number of Muslims.”

He warns us, “Also, you are in danger. You must take strong and courageous decisions, even at the cost of contradicting your principles.”

Erbil is 55 miles east of Mosul, in territory currently holding off IS attackers, but it is certainly in their path. Corriera della Sera reports that the bishop has asked for material aid for the exiles huddling in shock there. “8,000 people, many elderly, a disproportionate number (for us Westerners) of children, babies of a few months, many dehydrated with diarrhea. A septuagenarian asks for insulin. Others write on scraps of crumpled paper the names of medicines that nobody knows where to find. 

“Tens of rusty wheelchairs were donated by humanitarian organizations for the sick and are used as chairs for the old. The local Christian organizations together with UN agencies have improvised a canteen service that distributes white rice, bread, bottled water. The toilets are almost useless.”

The archbishop continues: “You think all men are equal, but that is not true: Islam does not say that all men are equal. Your values are not their values. If you do not understand this soon enough, you will become the victims of the enemy you have welcomed in your home.”

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The Giver gives us the secret to fighting the Culture of Death

Melanie Pritchard Melanie Pritchard Follow Melanie
By Melanie Pritchard

I remember reading The Giver in junior high school and even as a child I knew there was something wrong with living in a world with no freedom. The main character in the story named Jonas empowered me as a youth to have courage and be protective of my free will.

It is many years later and the message of The Giver seems ever so relevant. The threat of a totalitarian society never seemed so imminent as it does today. As Christians, we are in a constant battle fighting for our freedoms.

I had the great opportunity to attend a pre-screening of the movie The Giver, starring Brenton Thwaites, Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep and even a short appearance by teen icon Taylor Swift. This dynamic cast made my childhood memories reading The Giver come alive.

In case you are unfamiliar with the book and film, the movie’s plot summary reads

The haunting story of THE GIVER centers on Jonas, a young man who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Yet as he begins to spend time with The Giver, who is the sole keeper of all the community's memories, Jonas quickly begins to discover the dark and deadly truths of his community's secret past. With this newfound power of knowledge, he realizes that the stakes are higher than imagined - a matter of life and death for himself and those he loves most. At extreme odds, Jonas knows that he must escape their world to protect them all - a challenge that no one has ever succeeded at before.

Each member of the society is protected from the truth and reality of history, yet one person in the community is chosen to receive the memories of the past in order to inform the elders in their decisions. The society uses compulsory morning medication to numb the feelings and emotions of their people. Infanticide and euthanasia are how they maintain “sameness” and a “perfect” society.

That is until one person has courage to expose the truth.

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This perfect society demands that no one ever tell a lie, but the method they use to get their people to conform is through a series of lies; at best, willful ignorance.

One of the lines in the movie that stands out to me is when Jonas, the main character, says, “We haven’t eliminated murder, we just call it by another name.”

Is all of this sounding familiar? We live in a world where, although information is at our fingertips, people don’t seek to know the truth about our history in order to inform their decisions. News programs and politicians saturate us with lies in order to get people to conform to their biases. In the United States of America, for example, our government has just taken our choices in healthcare away and is chipping away at our other freedoms of choice and conscience. Yet, they continue to defend the choice of abortion. They haven’t eliminated murder; they just call it by another name….CHOICE. And, abortion/infanticide and euthanasia are how our culture weeds out the unwanted as well just like in The Giver.

One of the other restrictions of freedoms in the movie requires the characters to speak with “precision of language.” I imagine a pro-abortion person seeing this film and clinging to the story of the main character fighting for the freedom to choose, and naively thinking this movie supports their agenda. They will most likely miss the fact that the word “choice” has been hijacked and robbed of its actual meaning and purpose. Abortion advocates have successfully contorted that word to mask what they are really asking for in this so-called freedom of choice. Pro-abortion leaders have mastered the art of using “precision of language” to convince people that abortion is about choice rather than about a mother killing her unborn child.

So how do we turn this around? The answer is in The Giver. We think for ourselves. We allow love to guide us; instead of selfishness and false compassion. We seek truth in the past and do not be afraid of knowledge. We stop allowing people to distort our language and demand that people call things by what they really are. And, we have the courage to stand up against our friends and even family members who have been brainwashed into conforming to a type of “sameness” that is destructive to democracy.

This movie opened on August 15th and I imagine some people will walk out missing the point, but I hope it will be an awakening to what happens when we give others too much power over our freedoms and our thoughts.

Check out the trailer and information about the movie here.

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To play or sing real music, good music, not music to cut your throat or curdle your soul by, is like playing ball in the fresh air with friends, only better. Shutterstock

Why doesn’t anyone play music any more?

Anthony Esolen Anthony Esolen Follow Anthony
By Anthony Esolen

“I am never merry when I hear sweet music,” says the sprightly Jessica to her husband Lorenzo. They are young and wholly in love with one another. It is night, and they're waiting on a balcony for the return of their friends, including the noble lady of the house. Lorenzo has called for music to welcome her back.

Jessica doesn't mean that sweet music is a damper upon her soul. She means that when she hears it, she no longer feels like jesting; it is too moving for that. Lorenzo replies, “The reason is, your spirits are attentive.” Music in its “touches of sweet harmony” raises a sympathetic resonance within. But be wary, says Lorenzo, of “the man that hath no music in his soul,” because his imaginations are dark, and he is fit only for stratagems and spoils.    

For Shakespeare, music has a healing power. The doctor orders soft music to be played while Lear, the “child-changed king,” comes back to consciousness, his loving daughter Cordelia looking on in prayer. Paulina orders music to strike when she commands Hermione, or is it a statue of Hermione, to “be stone no more,” to descend, for dear life has redeemed her from death. The good old loyal servant Adam, dying of hunger in the forest of Arden, is restored to life with food and wistful music.  

I have seldom seen anything so lovely, and so normal and healthy, than a family of young children playing Celtic music together on their fiddles, enjoying one another's company, and for that time separated from, or elevated above, all the crass stupidities of the world about us.  

Shakespeare did not invent the notion that music helps to tune and order the soul. It's something we all know, deep down. Plato says that a true education for youths is a musical one, in the broadest sense: an education in harmony, decorum, and beauty. Bad music, at its most innocuous, is background noise that trains the ear in not hearing; the best you can say about it is that you learn to ignore it. At its most noxious, bad music corrupts the soul; its rhythms, not to mention its lyrics, may be those that submerge us in brutality. I see in my mind's eye a young man, lonely, angry, shooting pool at a drinking hole, listening to that dark genius Jim Morrison singing about a woman, not in love but in furious desire to possess and consume.

But if you wish to form a sweet and wholesome imagination in your children, music, good music, is one of the mightiest allies that nature and human ingenuity can provide. 

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This is especially true when children learn to play music. I've heard that 1961 was the first year in which sales of records in the United States outpaced sales of sheet music. I'm surprised it took that long; but if you rummage about in antique shops, you'll see that there used to be many companies whose sole business was to print sheet music, not usually in books, but rather by the song.

There's all kinds of indirect evidence to suggest that every family had somebody who played an instrument, in school, for a local band, in church, or for family gatherings. Perhaps a majority of these music-makers were self-taught and played by ear, as did Laura Ingalls Wilder's father, Charles. They played folk songs like “Old Dan Tucker” and “Loch Lomond,” the works of folk-style composers, like “I Dream of Jeannie” (Stephen Foster), and folk hymns, like “In the Sweet By and By.” They played hundreds of melodies, and people who didn't play might sing along. They often did so in harmony. For Protestants had long experience of singing harmony parts in their churches, since their hymnals were scored for soprano, alto, tenor, and bass.  

Sometimes a whole community would come together to make music. I have in front of me a little book, by no means unusual for the time, called Twice 55 Community Songs, published in 1917 and probably reprinted fairly regularly; my copy, an edition especially for Canada, is no earlier than 1924. What's in it? Jaunty patriotic anthems: “The Maple Leaf Forever,” “Men of Harlech,” “Rule Britannia,” “The Marseillaise.” Sweet love songs: “Juanita,” “Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes,” “Flow Gently, Sweet Afton,” “Annie Laurie.” Songs of faraway places: “Aloha Oe,” “The Volga Boatman.” Spirituals: “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” “Steal Away.” Hymns: “Lead, Kindly Light,” “Nearer, My God, to Thee.” Silly songs and rounds: “Reuben and Rachel,” “Alouette.” Dvorak and Mendelssohn are next to “Carry Me Back to Old Virginny.”    

There's something for every sort of mood or whimsy, and every sort of love and loyalty for things dearly held or fondly remembered. The songs no more sound all alike than the steppes of Russia look like the hills of Scotland, or a lullaby sounds like a march to battle. They are songs meant for everyone, men and women, old people and young parents and small children.

Why do I write about this? To play or sing real music, good music, not music to cut your throat or curdle your soul by, is like playing ball in the fresh air with friends, only better, because it sends its roots far more deeply down into the memory. I have seldom seen anything so lovely, and so normal and healthy, than a family of young children playing Celtic music together on their fiddles, enjoying one another's company, and for that time separated from, or elevated above, all the crass stupidities of the world about us.  

Such music is more akin to the gentle silences of nature than to the noise of airports, television commercials, and mass-produced auditory jitters. It is more akin to laughter than to shouting, to the natural movement of an animal in its home than to the rattle and rasp of a machine. It is a prelude to love, not a lubricant for dispirited fornicators. When it is not at the threshold of the church, it is still within sight of the steeple.

It is our friend, because it is natural and therefore aims ultimately toward God Himself. Mark the music.

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