HDYGH – Episode 12 Show Notes

In today’s episode, I sit down with Ruth Baker, a new friend from Lancaster, England–all the way across the internet (and the Atlantic Ocean). Ruth is a writer, part-time lay chaplain at Lancaster University, and an admin worker for Aid to the Church in Need. I ask her, “How Did You Get Here?”

Displaying Photo on 15-05-2020 at 16.47.jpg
Ruth Baker of Lancaster, England. And the Internet.
It’s more than our time zones that differ.

In the show notes for Episode 11, I included a link to an article about St. Therese and encouraged readers to petition its author to be on my show:

Here is a great blog post on the subject: I Didn’t Like St. Therese of Lisieux… Until I Learned These 8 Little Known Facts About Her. Tell the author of that post I sent you. I want her to be on the podcast. Here’s a bonus post from her that is just lovely: A Love Story In The Time Of Quarantine.

It worked! Today’s guest is Ruth Baker (soon to be Ruth Kennedy) and she was a delight to interview. Before the interview I got this text from my wife, who knows how much I like English culture and how excited I was to interview Ruth:

Genesis 2:18

When I insisted that being overwhelmingly excited was part of my charm, she made it clear that I was incorrect: “No. It is not.”

Who has a better wife than I do? No one, that’s who.

Meanwhile, you can find Ruth on the internet at Catholic-Link.org or at her new blog / lockdown project about the beauty of English Catholicism, Lingering Echoes.

Note: Links to books theoretically earn me money at Amazon. I’m still waiting for this to happen.

Show Notes (more or less in order of appearance)

Castlerigg Manor played a huge role in Ruth’s story. It is much lovelier than its website, which could very well be the worst site I’ve ever seen on the internet. If you think I’m kidding, click that link. It will make you want to bleach your eyes.
  • God, like Genie in the clip below, goes more than halfway to save us.
  • Keswick, Cumbria. Some people believe the name of this town means “farm where cheese is made,” which is a perfect segue into this:

Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.

Cheese” by G. K. Chesterton, published in Alarms and Discursions (1910)
Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Lampeter, Ceredigion, Wales (Image from explorechurches.org)

The Welsh Blues

Displaying Hiraeth..jpg
An untranslateable Welsh word with a reasonable number of consonants. Translated.
  • Longing for Narnia, Yearning for the Good
  • The poem Ruth mentioned was “Barbed Wire.”
  • I mentioned a song called “Let Them In.” That link includes this (evidently erroneous) backstory on the song:
    Let Them In was made into song by John Gorka from a poem found in a hospital in the Philippines during World War II. The nurse that found the poem kept it all these years until the recent war brought out all the memorabilia. Luckily, her daughter sent a copy to John.
  • The truth is–and I just learned this today–that the original poem was a sonnet penned by a woman named Elma Dean. The poem was read into the Congressional Record of the Senate on June 12, 1944.
“A Letter to St. Peter” by Elma Dean
  • Here is the cover version of Gorka’s song by David Wilcox that I like. Loads of hiraeth in this song.

The Usual Links

Special Thanks:

  • To COVID-19, for making this interview possible.
  • To Ruth Baker for coming on the show (and not writing me off as a cyber-stalker).
  • To the English Jesuits, St. John Fisher, and St. Thomas More who gave all to preserve the Faith of Our Fathers in theLand of Our Mother Tongue.
  • To BPD for producing the show. How are we ever going to top this?

HDYGH – Episode 11 Show Notes

In today’s episode, I sit down with my friend Liz Perry, a teacher and writer who currently works at Saint Mary’s High School, but will one day be known far and wide as a comedy writer on a famous TV show.

Liz “Lemon” Perry

Show Notes (in order of appearance)

Heads up: Links to books theoretically earn me money at Amazon. This has never actually happened.

  • Windsor, Ontario vs. Detroit, Michigan. This blog post supports what I heard, but, based on all the other results I found online, it is entirely possible that, a) I have no idea what I’m talking about and/or b) both towns suck.
The Black Madonna of Częstochowa
  • Our Lady of Częstochowa. Click here to learn how to pronounce it properly, as Liz did and not like some rube, as I did.
Polish breaks Speech-to-Text software.
  • I learned something cool about this image on Wikipedia:
    “The Virgin Mary is shown as the “Hodegetria” (“One Who Shows the Way”). In it the Virgin directs attention away from herself, gesturing with her right hand toward Jesus as the source of salvation. In turn, the child extends his right hand toward the viewer in blessing while holding a book of gospels in his left hand.” 
  • Hodegetria is a fitting title for Mama Mary (see here) and a great Scrabble word.
  • Wikipedia also confirmed something truly weird that I knew, but that, you, dear reader/listener, may not have known.
  • Rev. Jesus Urteaga is an incredible author who will kick your lukewarm a$$. He wrote two excellent books. An English copy of his book Los defectos de los santos (The Defects of the Saints) is harder to find than the Holy Grail* (and more expensive). I got my copy from the Philippines via my ex-sister-in-law’s visiting aunt who saved me the $40 shipping fee.
    His book El valor divino de lo humano was originally published in English as Man, the Saint and was a bare-knuckled tune-up for your pathetic excuse for a spiritual life. It was later renamed Saints in the World, toned down a bit, and given an incongruously milquetoast cover. It’s still totally worth reading, especially if you’re in a men’s group. Here’s Chapter 1. You’re welcome.
    * Every chalice at every validly celebrated Mass is a Holy Grail. [drops mike]
  • St. Thérèse of Lisieux wasn’t everyone’s cup of “T.” The release of her unaltered autobiography made her a lot more relatable. Here is a great blog post on the subject: I Didn’t Like St. Therese of Lisieux… Until I Learned These 8 Little Known Facts About Her. Tell the author of that post I sent you. I want her to be on the podcast. Here’s a bonus post from her that is just lovely: A Love Story In The Time Of Quarantine.
  • St. Philomena. Not my jam.
  • My jam. Also, what the wha…?
Teachings of Jesus 39 of 40. the rapture. one at the mill. Jan Luyken etching. Bowyer Bible
The Rapture. This is why we need the authority of the Church.
  • I was pretty sure St. Josemaría had this to say about praying the Rosary, but I only found it in one place–with no citation–on the internet. The INTERNET. Weird, right? I think it means he probably didn’t say it, but it sounds like him, so here:

    “If you get distracted in spite of your good will, don’t worry. Keep praying, for that prayer is like the strumming on the guitar by a lover singing to his beloved. Even though the thoughts might be elsewhere, your good desires and your vocal prayer will be there as a present to the Lord and his Mother, in a song of love.”
  • Praying the Rosary be like… (until 1:00).


The unaltered version of St. Thérèse’s autobiography reveals a more relatable Little Flower.

“One evening, not knowing in what words to tell Our Lord how much I loved him, and how much I wished that He was served and honoured everywhere, I thought sorrowfully that from the depths of hell there does not go up to Him one single act of love. Then, from my inmost heart, I cried out that I would gladly be cast into that place of torment and blasphemy so that He might be eternally loved even there.”

St. Therese of Lisieux, Story of a Soul
  • Undercover Boss cleans portable toilets. His trainer thinks of his job as an adventure. Amazing.
  • Josh Hartnett. Do you remember him now?
  • Saint Genesius. He’s the patron saint of actors, comedians, clowns, and lawyers, among others.
  • Missed opportunity. I should have shared this Chesterton quote from his book Heretics with Liz. But I didn’t. D’oh! “Mr. McCabe thinks that I am not serious but only funny, because Mr. McCabe thinks that funny is the opposite of serious. Funny is the opposite of not funny, and of nothing else.”
  • Stephen Colbert gave a great interview that goes nicely with Chesterton’s quote.

“The times are never so bad but that a good man can live in them.”

Saint Thomas More
  • Saint Thomas More was also funny. On his way up to the scaffold where he was to be beheaded, he asked for assistance. “I pray you, master Lieutenant, see me safe up and [for] my coming down, let me shift for myself.” As he placed his head on the chopping block, he carefully positioned his beard so that is would not be cut. “This hath not offended the king,” he said.
  • I’m quite sure Hilaire Belloc would’ve thought my Lorenzo story was hilarious (no pun intended). He wrote these quarantine-must-read classics.

Jim: Who Ran Away from His Nurse and Was Eaten by a Lion is a delightful pop-up book based on Belloc’s Cautionary Tales for Children. It is one of my soon-to-be-six-year-old daughter’s favorite books. Delightful.

  • Watch The Chosen. Low budget. High impact. Here’s an article about how it’s the largest crowdfunded amount ever raised for a movie.
  • Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead
  • Speaking of booze and Catholicism… Pints with Aquinas is a great podcast. Matt, if you trackback links to your page, hi. Please be on my show. Not to brag, but Trent Horn could pick me out of a lineup and not for the usual reasons people pick other people out of lineups.

The Usual Links

Special Thanks:

  • To Liz Perry for coming on the show.
  • To Canadia for sharing its Native Daughter.
  • To Mr. & Mrs. Perry for sharing their actual daughter. (Well done, Mom and Dad!)
  • To Gary Somers, ERP Analytics, and the Los Angeles Community College District for making delays of this podcast possible. (My wife and our creditors thank you, too!)
  • To BPD for producing the show. You are extra, double-plus awesome, mate. Innit though?

HDYGH Episode 10 Show Notes

In today’s episode, I sit down with one of my good friends, Ryan Ayala. Ryan and I used to work together at Saint Mary’s Catholic High School in Phoenix, where he is the school’s campus minister. I ask him, “How Did You Get Here?”

That’s not Diego standing next to me. That’s this week’s guest, Ryan Ayala!

Zélie is a lovely name for a daughter (or a mother).

Zélie Martin 1
The mother of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, Marie-Azélie “Zélie” Guérin Martin

Shows I Mentioned (Don’t Judge)

  • The Tiger King – Watching this is like watching a car accident on the freeway, but the freeway is a circus-themed gay rodeo with big cats and meth-heads and the highway patrol work has been outsourced to disgruntled Wal-Mart employees who are missing any number of teeth and/or limbs.
  • McMillions – An incredibly compelling documentary series about the McDonald’s Monopoly scandal. Who knew McDonald’s was so bingeable? (<—a joke?)

Visual Confirmation that I Talk too Much

“Talking to Rob is a lot like listening…” — Cory W.

Unsolicited Domestic Advice

Always assume your spouse has had a worse day than you did.

–Attributed to Ryan Ayala’s hero/mentor, Rob Drapeau

Pius XI. Imagine being as cool as Ryan, who was reading something this guy wrote “just the other day.” Millennials, amirite?

Pope Meme: Hit or Miss?

  • Pat Metheny “Two Folk Songs” – My college roommates (and Pat Metheny) persuaded me of this song’s excellence.

The Usual Links:

Special Thanks:

  • To Ryan Ayala for coming on the show.
  • To Zoom for existing (and making this episode possible / passable).
  • To BPD for producing the show.

HDYGH – Episode 9 Show Notes

In today’s episode, I sit down (virtually)  with one of my all-time favorite singers and storytellers, Michael John Poirier. Michael is a dear, old friend and fellow paterfamilias. I ask him, “How Did You Get Here?”

Singer, Songwriter, Storyteller, and Sixty-year-old Husband, Father, and Catholic Evangelist, Michael John Poirier

Pachabel Rant

Want to Learn about the Men’s work Michael was Talking About?

Click here.

Michael’s Podcast

Michael’s Website: Prayer Breaks

  • All of his music is amazing–and FREE!
    • Homeschooling little ones? Check out his Storyteller CD.
    • My favorite album is Ocean of Mercy.
    • This one is for you guys who want to draw near to God, but don’t know why or how. You know who you are…

Special Thanks:

  • To Michael John Poirier for coming on the show.
  • To Zoom for existing (and making this episode possible / passable).
  • To BPD for producing the show.

HDYGH – Episode 8 Show Notes

In today’s episode, I sit down with Cindy Montanarella, another fellow St. Thomas parishioner and former student from the Kino Catechetical Institute. Cindy is also the sister of one of my oldest friends (and an old friend in her own right). I ask her, “How Did You Get Here?”

Cindy “Cinderella” Montanarella

Note: some links lead to my Amazon affiliate page, which has generated precisely zero dollars in the 10+ years I’ve had it.

Ss. Ambrose, Monica, and Augustine

“Speak less to Augustine about God and more to God about Augustine.”

St. Ambrose to St. Monica

Leila Miller’s books on divorce:

Psalm 131

1 O Lord, my heart is not lifted up,
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.
2 But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a child quieted at its mother’s breast;
like a child that is quieted is my soul.
3 O Israel, hope in the Lord
from this time forth and for evermore.

King David

Special Thanks:

  • To Cindy Montanarella for overcoming her shyness and coming on the show.
  • To Zoom for existing (and making this episode possible).
  • To BPD for producing the show.

HDYGH – Episode 7 Show Notes

In today’s episode, I sit down with Mark Rothermel, a friend, fellow St. Thomas parishioner, and former student from the Kino Catechetical Institute and ask him, “How Did You Get Here?”

Mark Rothermel, ex-donuteer, grammar descriptivist, man for all seasons.

Note: some links lead to my Amazon affiliate page, which has generated precisely zero dollars in the 10+ years I’ve had it.

Avocado Green Bathroom

Avocado Green Bathroom | That Mitchell and Webb Look

On the Revival of the Gaelic Language (not Welsh)

The Gaelic Language | David Mitchell’s SoapBox

Hoodwinked!

Hoodwinked: Twitchy Slowed Down (2005)
  • Hoodwinked! is a great family movie that spoofs Akira Kurowsawa’s classic film Rashomon. It is well worth a watch.

Shakespeare and the Bible

King Richard
“A horse, a horse! My kingdom for a horse!”

Catesby
Withdraw, my lord; I’ll help you to a horse.

King Richard
Slave! I have set my life upon a cast,
And I will stand the hazard of the die.
I think there be six Richmonds in the field;
Dive have I Slain today instead of him.
A horse, a horse! My kingdom for a horse!

Richard III, Act-V, Scene-IV, Lines 7-13

17 An horse is a vain thing for safety: neither shall he deliver any by his great strength.

Psalm 33:17 King James Version (KJV)

Grammar Goofiness

Grammar Nazi
The grammar meme I murdered.
  • Here is a great resource for anyone wanting to learn the lost art of diagramming sentences.
  • My favorite book on the subject of diagramming is Rex Barks.

World War II Clips

RAF Pilots
Bridge on the River Kwai

St. Ignatius Loyola: Enter his door, come out yours.

Whenever we wish to win someone over and engage him in the greater service of God our Lord, we should use the same strategy for good that the enemy employs to draw a good soul to evil. The enemy enters through the other’s door and comes out his own. He enters with the other, not by opposing his ways but by praising them. He acts familiarly with the soul, suggesting good and holy thoughts that bring peace to the good soul. Then, little by little, he tries to come out his own door, always portraying some error or illusion under the appearance of something good, but which will always be evil. So, we may lead others to good by praying or agreeing with them on a certain good point, leaving aside whatever else may be wrong. Thus after gaining his confidence, we shall meet with better success. In this sense we enter his door with him, but we come out our own.

Letter of St. Ignatius Loyola to Fathers Broët and Salmerón

Special Thanks:

To Mark Rothermel for being a fascinating guest.

To BPD for producing the show.

To my very generous in-laws for the use of their home once again.

The Last Word

Matthew 12:36 Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (RSVCE)

36 I tell you, on the day of judgment men will render account for every careless word they utter;

HDYGH – Episode 6 Show Notes

In today’s episode, I sit down with Maria Gilicinski, someone I’ve never met before, but who comes highly recommended by my producer, who is also her former thesis advisor at Thomas Aquinas College. Maria is currently an Assistant 5th  Grade Teacher at Archway Veritas Academy, mere feet from my home. I ask her, “How Did You Get Here?”

Episode 6 Guest Maria Gilicinski
Maria and her roommate joined us for rice and beans, tostones (fried plantains), pork chops, calabasitas, and Puerto Rican coleslaw. They loved it. It could’ve been you…

Note: some links lead to my Amazon affiliate page, which has generated precisely zero dollars in the 10+ years I’ve had it.

Note 2: My old college roommate says, “Talking to Rob is a lot like listening.” In this episode, I once again prove him right.

13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near in the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall  of hostility,

Ephesians 2:13-14 Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (RSVCE)

17 But Sis′era fled away on foot to the tent of Ja′el, the wife of Heber the Ken′ite; for there was peace between Jabin the king of Hazor and the house of Heber the Ken′ite. 18 And Ja′el came out to meet Sis′era, and said to him, “Turn aside, my lord, turn aside to me; have no fear.” So he turned aside to her into the tent, and she covered him with a rug. 19 And he said to her, “Pray, give me a little water to drink; for I am thirsty.” So she opened a skin of milk and gave him a drink and covered him. 20 And he said to her, “Stand at the door of the tent, and if any man comes and asks you, ‘Is any one here?’ say, No.” 21 But Ja′el the wife of Heber took a tent peg, and took a hammer in her hand, and went softly to him and drove the peg into his temple, till it went down into the ground, as he was lying fast asleep from weariness. So he died.

Judges 4:17-21 Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (RSVCE)
  • Don’t forget to pray for Jake (Episode 3) and his fiance (also Maria) who are getting married on Saturday, March 14, 2020!

  • RCIA at St. Thomas the Apostle: http://staphx.org/becomingcatholic
  • Pray for Us!

Special Thanks

To BPD for producing the show and procuring our guest.

To Maria’s roommate Kathryn, for almost keeping the dog from barking.

To my very generous in-laws for the use of their home.

Cut for Time

The Cave. Watch to remember that humanity is fallen and unbelievably noble at the same time. If this story doesn’t move you to empathy, you’re probably one of those lizard people. The movie is gut-wrenching and free on Hulu.com.
Summary from Amazon:
The Cave paints a stirring portrait of courage, resilience and female solidarity inside a subterranean hospital in Syria run by a young, female pediatrician.

The Last Word

8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Philippians 4:8 Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (RSVCE)

HDYGH Episode 5 Show Notes

In today’s episode, I sit down with Simone Rizkallah, Catholic writer, speaker, and feminine genius and ask her, “How did you get here?” Simone is the Director of Program Growth for Endow, an apostolate that unites the Catholic intellectual tradition with intentional community by creating study guides and organizing women into small groups. Apostolate is a $10 Catholic word for “lay ministry.” 

Ms. Riz

Lots of notes this week. N.B.: some links lead to my Amazon affiliate page, which has generated precisely zero dollars in the 10+ years I’ve had it.

Lord, teach me to seek you, and reveal yourself to me when I seek you. For I cannot seek you unless you first teach me, nor find you unless you first reveal yourself to me. Let me seek you in longing and long for you in seeking. Let me find you in love, and love you in finding. Amen.

Saint Ambrose
  • More about Saint Ambrose and the Emperor Theodosius. Here is the picture of Saint Ambrose and Theodosius that my college roommate gave me.
  • The Internet remains tight-lipped about the origin of the “even the Catholics are Protestant” quote. If you know, let us know.
  • Info about The Fellowship and the National Prayer Breakfast. The Netflix hit piece is called The Family. It’s garbage; I don’t know why I even mentioned it. Here is an interesting read about the movement behind The Fellowship from a Catholic perspective.
  • More on Communion & Liberation, the group that Simone mentioned.
  • More on the Charismatic Renewal in the Catholic Church.
  • Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s quote on shepherds is from his book The Priest Is Not His Own can be found here and bought here.

The shepherd’s primary duty is to search out the lost sheep and stay with it once found.

Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen
  • Pray for Amanda Bynes and all the other entertainers we forget are humans like the rest of us slobs.
  • Leave us a message here.
  • Ora pro nobis!

Special Thanks

To BPD for producing the show.

To Jon Cline and Andrew Mayer who tried to salvage the audio from my estupidez.

To Simone for being our First Lady!

-34- Crooked Lines

My father wanted to retire young and rich. He almost made it.

When Dad was 37 years old, he decided not to re-enlist in the Air Force after 20 years of service because doing so would have meant moving to Panama and being away from home for three weeks of the month. Instead, he chose to leave the military in the middle of the Reagan recession and try his hand at civilian life.

Through contacts he’d made in the service, he persuaded someone at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs to create a position for him as a civilian contractor. Everything was in place for him to start at the Academy as soon as he retired from the service. The only thing left for him to do was sign the contract and seal the deal.

This was before fax machines were commonplace, so Dad arranged to drive out to Colorado from California and sign the papers in person. He loved road trips and the Rocky Mountains, and didn’t think twice about heading for the hills in the family’s Ford Fairmont station wagon. I can picture him cruising through the columbines, singing songs of praise at the top of his lungs like one of the carolers in A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Little did he know that in the midst of his revelry, Congress was passing a law requiring military retirees to wait six months before returning as civilian contractors. When he arrived at the Academy, it was to the sad news that he no longer had a job offer and none would be forthcoming. He had done such a good job convincing them of the need to hire him, that they couldn’t leave the position unfilled for the six months to pass before he became eligible for employment again.

So, instead of moving to cool and colorful Colorado Springs, Colorado, my mom, twin sister, and I moved into a dusty, old double-wide with Dad’s parents–my Memere and Pepere–on Patricia Ann Lane in Peoria, Arizona, where we waited for two months for Dad to join us.

Living in a double-wide trailer is exactly as glamorous as it sounds. My “room” was a twin bed hidden behind the bookshelf that separated the formal dining area from the penetralia of my grandparents’ home where Memere kept her extensive collection of seasonal decorations and back issues of Reader’s Digest. My sister’s room was real–girls need their privacy, after all–but not much bigger than a closet. We took baths (not showers) in an avocado green bathtub and used an old Cool Whip container to rinse our hair.

Our quarters were cramped, but my sister and I were blissfully unaware of the life we might have been living in the shadow of Pikes Peak. We thought it was normal to sit on beach towels on (plastic-covered) car seats as Memere drove us to school and normal to pull over multiple times on the way home to pick up aluminum cans when Pepere drove us back. We loved that we got Nilla wafers and a bowl of ice cream every day as a treat when we got home. (Pepere was an ex-dairyman and had his priorities straight.)

As far as we knew, life was going according to plan, but knowing what I know now about in-laws and domesticity, I suspect my mother did not share our conviction. It’s hard to believe that Peoria, AZ was what she had in mind when she abandoned her island paradise of Puerto Rico for a blue-eyed gringo. For her, our circumstances were less than ideal. I’m sure my father felt at least a little like a failure when he couldn’t find work as a hospital administrator (his line of work in the Air Force) and went to work instead as a janitor at the VA.

As children we think, the expression “the Lord works in mysterious ways” is just one of those grown up things people say when they don’t know what’s going on. As adolescents, we’re quick to dismiss it as a cliche, but, after 40 or so circuits around the sun, you come to regard it as a fact as plain as plantains.

God draws straight with crooked lines. He just does. When you’re in the thick of things, you don’t always think God’s got the best grip on the situation, but when you look back on all the times that He zigged when you would have zagged, you’ll see that He knew what He was up to.

Times were trying for my parents in that trailer, but in retrospect, it’s clear that they were good. If it weren’t for those tough times, my dad wouldn’t have learned how to walk by faith and not by sight. My mom might never have been inspired by his example to come into the Catholic Church. My sister and I might not have come to love the Lord at a young age.

If fax machines were more widespread in the ’80s, I might not have gone to grade school and high school in Arizona, and I wouldn’t have gone to college in Arizona. I would never have met my wife. Or my children. And where would all the stories of God’s miraculous intervention in our family’s life that I pass on to my children have come from?

It turns out my sister and I were right after all–life had been going according to plan, just not ours. I am so grateful that my dad didn’t get that job at the Air Force Academy. Every good thing in my life is the result of that one seemingly bad thing that brought us where we didn’t want to go.

-33- I’ve Started a Podcast

If a thing’s worth doing, it’s worth doing badly.

G. K. Chesterton

I’ve started a podcast called, How Did You Get Here? I think it’s worth doing badly. After listening to the first episode, I’m very proud of the production value that my bosom chum Beepy D. Silverose brought to it. You almost can’t tell we’re making it up as we go along. I’m also impressed with my first guest Yancy Evans’ mellifluous baritone. But I’m terrified that my friend Patrick will make up a drinking game based on how often I mumble / say “um” and destroy his already well-worn liver. Please, please, please, People: take to heart Nancy Reagan’s admonition, “Friends don’t let friends make drinking games based on Rob Drapeau’s speech patterns.” (I can’t find the exact citation, but she definitely said that. Really.)

So, what motivated me to do this now? I’m glad you asked.

For years now, I’ve worked with the RCIA program at my parish, helping loads of lovely people come into full communion with the Church. Their stories are always inspiring and I frequently get things in my eyes hearing them (I’m not crying. YOU’RE crying!). Anyway, it occurred to me that many of the people in the pews on Sunday have grown up taking the Faith for granted, in much the same way people born American citizens take our country for granted.

When I’m doing the intake interviews for RCIA, I always start with the same question: How Did You Get Here? Hence, the title of the podcast. I know why I need Jesus–as my former boss Scott Whitfield was fond of reminding me, I’m the worst sinner I know–but I’m always curious to learn why the articulate / well-dressed / financially-solvent / physically fit / insanely talented person sitting in front of me thinks they need Jesus. From my perspective, they’ve got their poop in a group, so how did they get here? Attractive women and strapping men don’t have problems, right?

Nope.

They’ve got the same holes in their souls as the rest of us. And it is always moving to hear someone tell you that they’ve fallen in love with your True Love and want to surrender themselves to Him. Their humility is humbling and their ardent desire for what I too frequently treat with casual indifference increases my own ardor.

I’m such a narcissist that I vacillate between thinking too highly or too little of myself. But when I’m listening to these stories of people responding to their Father’s call, I am reminded that, whatever I may think of myself, I am blessed and privileged to play some role in these stories. God knows exactly who we are and wants to draw near anyway. That’s good news. To paraphrase the Graham Kendrick song, “he paid what he thought we were worth.” Domine non sum dignus.

I am starting this podcast because I think other cradle Catholics will benefit from hearing these stories as well. It also occurred to me that the people entering the Church might want to know why we cradle Catholics stick around, so you can expect to hear from some natives as well.

I’ve grown weary of the division and discord I come across on social media. There might be a ton of things to be legitimately outraged about, but all the shouting hurts my ears. I love Jesus. I love His Church. I love everybody. I have heard good news and I want to pass it on.

Catholics are notoriously bad at sharing their faith, but it’s not brain surgery. As the Psalmist says, “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!” (Psalm 107:2) Tell your story. Don’t be assive-aggressive. Easy. People love stories, especially love stories and stories with lots of twists. It’s my hope that this podcast will be a platform for sharing the stories of how God draws straight with crooked lines.

Please subscribe and spread the word, etc., but most importantly, please pray that God will bless this humble project. And, for Patrick’s liver’s sake, please pray that I get better about the “um’s” and “ah’s.”

Peace!