Interview with Jon at Word on Fire

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Word on Fire is the new apostolate started by Father Baron. The first product from this new effort was the Catholicism series which has been broadcast on PBS and EWTN. Jon talks to us about how to program started and what is part of the program.

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How to Assemble a First Communion Banner Kit

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Our six year old daughter assembled this kit just to make sure that it was really as easy as Illuminated Ink said it would be. Guess what? It is!

Why We Don't and Won't Ever Carry Richard Rohr

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At Aquinas and More we have always had a policy that we will only carry product that is true to Catholic teaching. Why carry product that undermines the Church unless you want to destroy your own business? Could you imagine Coke or Pepsi selling literature or sending out spokesmen that praise the competition as being just as good as their product or mislead people about what their product is? For some reason there are wildly popular authors who do just that within the Catholic Church.

One such author is Richard Rohr. He is a staple for St. Anthony Messenger Press and gives retreats across the country. I’ll be blunt. Fr. Rohr’s ideas about salvation are heretical. He just published a new book, Why Be Catholic, which I spent some time looking through. I may have missed it, but amid all of the talk about the need for community and the Church’s position on social justice I couldn’t find anything about Truth or salvation. It seems to me that any discussion of “Why be Catholic”? needs to start and end with salvation and Truth. Otherwise, the Church is just a social club like the Elks.

Here are some links explaining Father Rohr’s “theology”. Richard Rohr is a new-age heretic who wraps his heresy in biblical quotes. Here are some samples:

 

Motherless Release Date Updated

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Motherless by Brian Gail

Motherless by Brian Gail

Hi Everyone,

We’ve been impatiently waiting for the release of Motherless ever since the great success of Brian Gail’s book, Fatherless.

Today we received this update from the publisher:

Cardinal-elect Raymond Burke has personally endorsed ‘Motherless.’  After his installation on November 22, Motherless will be released with the endorsement from “Cardinal” Burke.  We are all extremely excited both for Cardinal’s-elect latest blessing and for his enthusiastic support of our product.

This is the third delay for the book. Frankly, if I was the publisher I would have gone ahead with the initial release date and put stickers about the Cardinal’s endorsement on the covers until the next print run.

Now, if we could just get a release date for The Bad Catholics’ Guide to the Seven Deadly Sins. We’ve been waiting for this book since June and have received several release postponements but no one, including the author has been able to give an explanation.

Beware of Monastery Icons

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Updated 11/21/2009:

Someone commented below that the website for the Sacred Art Foundation is sacredartsfoundation.org, not sacredartsfoundation.com. The contact information for the group is in Missouri so I did a search for the Foundation on the MO Secretary of State website. The Foundation was dissolved in 2007. So where did they go? My guess is Cedar Crest, NM.

Several weeks ago I called Monastery Icons and asked for contact information for the Sacred Arts Foundation. They were unable to provide it so I sent a request through their website. I’m still waiting for a reply.

Updated 9/23:

We have had a visitor say that he called the Sacred Arts Foundation website owners and that they denied any connection with Monastery Icons. The strange thing is that the website doesn’t provide any phone contact information, Monastery Icons won’t provide contact information and both Sacred Arts Foundations, if separate entities, are located within two miles of each other in New Mexico.

While trying to prove concretely that sacredartsfoundation.com is the website of the Sacred Arts Foundation that owns Monastery Icons, we ran across another interesting connection that directly ties the Sacred Arts Foundation in New Mexico (but not the website) to Monastery Icons.

When you do a Google maps search for Monastery Icons you get an address of 88 Snowline Rd, Cedar Crest, NM. This address is the same address as used by the Registered Agent, John Weber to register the Sacred Arts Foundation in New Mexico. Google maps also provides the phone number (505) 281-2555‎ which when called, goes to a Monastery Icon answering machine.

Original Post

Bear with me, this post is going to get a little convoluted.

I am sure that you are familiar with the work of Monastery Icons. They make the western / eastern looking “icons” of saints. They have been popular because they give a Byzantine flavor to a lot of western saints that have never been written in a real icon.

Back in the 70’s an “Abbot Bishop” George Burke showed up in Oklahoma City and founded a Hindu community. That community became “Christian” and changed its name to “Holy Protection Old Catholic Benedictine Monastery of the Primitive Observance.” In the early 80’s the community “converted” to Orthodoxy and changed its name to Holy Protection Orthodox Monastery. A few years later they decided they were really Coptic Christians. Eventually they left Oklahoma, moved to Nebraska and then to California where they formed the Light of Christ Monastery at 1482 Rango Way, Borrego Springs, CA.  Light of Christ Monastery is the original organization behind Monastery Icons. (source)

On the Monastery Icons website you will find the following information:

Sacred Arts Foundation is a non-profit foundation created to strengthen faith and encourage Christian devotion in churches, schools, and individuals through a ministry of traditional Christian art. As the contemporary iconographer Photios Kontoglou expressed so well, “Icons raise the soul and mind to the realm of the spirit.” Our foundation is a cooperative effort of artisans and craftsmen throughout the United States and the world who strive to make our Monastery Icons products the highest quality available.

The Sacred Arts Foundation acquired Monastery Icons in 2004. This wouldn’t seem very odd except that the Sacred Arts Foundation had  the exact same California address as the Light of Christ Monastery, Monastery Icons and as you will see below, the Atma Jyoti Ashram.

If you look at the address on the Monastery Icons catalog you will find an Ohio address. This is the distribution center that handles fulfillment for their “icons.” Doing a search of the Ohio Secretary of State website shows that Monastery Icons is actually the Sacred Arts Foundation, a foreign (out-of-state) non-profit located at 1482 Rango Way, Borrego Springs, CA. The Sacred Arts Foundation was dissolved in Ohio in August of 2008 for failing to update their records.

The Sacred Arts Foundation filed its 2007 annual registration report in Missouri with a primary business address of 1482 Rango Way, Borrego Springs, CA. The contact email at the bottom of the form is someone at Monastery Icons. The Sacred Arts Foundation was dissolved by the State of Missouri in December of 2008 for failing to file a current registration.

The California address at that time in 2007 was also the home to the Atma Jyoti Ashram, “a spiritual institution devoted to the practice and teaching of Sanatana Dharma, the Eternal Religion, as found in the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and the Sankhya Karika.”

The same California address is also listed as the mailing address for Monastery Icons back in 1999.

Sometime between August and September of 2007 the Ashram moved to  PO Box 1370 Cedar Crest, NM.  If you look at the Q&A on the new Ashram site, the Swami bears a striking resemblance to Abbot George, the founder of the Hindu community and the Light of Christ Monastery back at the beginning of this post.

Remember the dissolved Sacred Arts Foundation from Missouri and Ohio? It pops up again in New Mexico, registered with the Secretary of State as a Missouri Non-Profit doing business in New Mexico at – wait for it – PO Box 1370 Cedar Crest, NM.

You can also see that the Sacred Arts Foundation is listed as a Corporation in California at the 1482 Rango Way, Borrego Springs address with a headquarters in Missouri. This record is current as of 9/2009. The question should be asked, how is it that a corporation can be listed both in California and New Mexico with a headquarters in Missouri when the corporation in Missouri was dissolved in 2008 for failure to file updated records?

A quick perusal of the Sacred Arts Foundation website (the website is registered in the town of Tijeras, two miles from Cedar Crest) reveals:

  • Workshops in “Transformational Movement”, Feng Shui, Yoga and Art of Aware Communication
  • Tutorials on Astrology, Tarot and Feng Shui

It is clear both from the origins of Monastery Icons, its tangled web of corporate arrangements and its ongoing ownership by a completely anti-Christian new-age group that no Christian organization should be giving any financial support to this company by buying its art.

Much of the material for this post was mined from the Byzantine Forum.

If you are interested in purchasing icons from good sources (apart from the icons our site), here are some alternatives:

St. Isaac Skete www.skete.com

Conception Abbey www.printeryhouse.org

Lumen Mundi www.lumenmundi.com

Alexandra International www.alexandraint.net

At Aquinas and More we are committed to educating our customers not only about the treasures that are offered by our suppliers but also about items that we don’t carry and the reasons why.

St. Anthony Messenger Cutting and Clueless

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From The Deacon’s Bench:

The St. Anthony Messenger Press, the Cincinnati-based national provider of inspirational and educational Roman Catholic spirituality resources, announced Monday it is redefining its strategy and reducing staffing.

Father Dan Kroger said the 116-year-old communications company, based in Over-the-Rhine and sponsored by the Franciscan Friars of St. John the Baptist Province, is offering voluntary early retirement to eligible employees, closed its Cincinnati Call Center and will stop using its independent field sales force.

St. Anthony Messenger has long been on our list of publishers to buy very little from because they tend to publish heterodox authors. I have also been pretty leary of their Catholic Update that I frequently see in parish literature racks. I recently found an older edition from several years back that suggested contraception use is a matter of conscience for a couple.

A couple of years ago St. Anthony Messenger purchased Servant Publications, a thoroughly orthodox publisher that we had been working with for a while. I assumed that they did it to put up an orthoodox front for the company. After a single attempt to produce a single mixed catalog for both companies that met with a lot of protest, they went back to separating the two into different catalogs or into completely separate sections of the trade catalog.

I found the end of the article particular telling and it doesn’t bode well for the publisher:

He [Father Dan Kroger] also said the traditional Catholic audience is shrinking and the subscriber base is declining.

It may be that HIS traditional audience is shrinking – the audience that likes dissidents – but the audience that actually appreciates true Catholicism isn’t shrinking. The fact that he can’t see that makes me doubt the company’s ability to adapt to the changing attitudes among Catholics.

Why We Only Carry About 1% of the St. Anthony Messenger Catalog

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Another winning new book:

Latinas treat the sacred in ways that are similar to the ways we treat those we encounter every day: They converse with statues of saints and Mary, leave them flowers and light candles to persuade them to gain favor for us, and become angry when prayers are not answered. These everyday aspects of Latina spirituality reflect a strong sense of family and community that we can embrace as a refreshing spiritual alternative to the individualism that permeats our society.

From the catalog description of Embracing Latina Spirituality – A Woman’s Perspective

Publishers Killing the Faith Example 50,001

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A while back we wrote about a new book from Paulist Press that basically encourages children not to try and be saints.

We just received the Spring release catalog and it contains some great new examples of Paulist Press trying to kill off their market.

The first example is God Goes on Vacation.

Here is the description from their catalog:

God is tired and goes on vacation to Florida with Stardrop, the angel. They meet some new friends and have a great time. When they return to heaven, they are delighted to find that everyone there has found the God in their own hearts.

Apart from the storyline, God looks like a little girl in the illustrations.

A couple of other winning titles:

Abu al-Hasan al-Shushtari: This is a collection of Sufi poems from North Africa.

Farid ad-Din ‘Attar’s Memorial of God’s Friends: A collection of Sufi sayings.

Is it any wonder that this and publishers like it are dying off?

Why We Don't Deal in Unapproved Apparitions

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One of the prime promoters of Medjugorje, Fr. Tomislav Vlasic, OFM, has been censured by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The most troubling thing about the situation, and something that is always absent in approved apparitions, is a lack of obedience to higher authority. It is typical for visionaries to be asked to stop spreading news of their visions while the Church investigates the situation. Those that are authentic comply and in St. Faustina’s case, she was actually told that she had to obey her bishop in a vision even though it meant not talking about the message of Divine Mercy.

At Aquinas and More we have a strict policy that we only carry books about approved apparitions and only carry the writings of visionaries who have at least been named “Servants of God” by the Church.

A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing?

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Note: Before posting this we contacted both the editorial and sales departments of Pauline Book and Media asking for a comment on the problems with this book. That was a week ago and we have not received any reply.

A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing?
“Good Faith. Guaranteed.” This means a lot to us here at Aquinas and More. It is one of the guiding principles of our business.

This week we pulled from the shelves and discontinued selling one of our most popular titles related to the Year of St. Paul. Although we try very hard to evaluate all of our products, sometimes an item slips through and we only catch the problem after the item has arrived at our store – even worse, when we have already shipped the item to some of our customers.

We have contacted all our customers who purchased the book from us, informing them of the problem, and recommending that they return the item to us for an immediate and full refund.

Typically we rely on the expected good judgment of the publisher, and information in their catalog, when we decide to carry an item. We hope that Catholic publishers, at least the ones we have considered to be orthodox, have proper controls in place in their editorial departments to make certain they are publishing books that conform to the teachings of the Church.

The book in question is called “Paul: Least of the Apostles” and it is published by Pauline Books and Media, the publishing arm of a religious order, the Daughters of St. Paul.

Upon closer review of the book, here are just a few of the many problems we discovered – the author, Alain Decaux, states early on that St. Paul was “neurotic”. He quotes Remarius saying Paul “invented” Christianity. He quotes Neitzsche, the atheistic philosopher, saying Paul “imposed” his vision of Christianity on us. On page 106 of the book, the author states that James, not Peter, was the de facto leader of the Christian movement – denying, of course, the Petrine ministry. If one takes a look at the bibliography of the book, 11 of the 13 books listed are from Protestant sources, mostly Calvinists. Its no wonder the author denies the role of St. Peter in the Church. Mr. Decaux is a journalist and an historian in France. We don’t think he is qualified to write a book on Catholic theology or spiritual matters and certainly not one published by a Catholic publisher that purports to support the teaching of the Church as part of their mission. At the end of the book, the author includes a lengthy excerpt from something called “The Acts of Paul” – a work the Church considers to be non-canonical and apocryphal!

If one were to “google” the author, one discovers his background and his qualifications to write this book, presented as they are by Pauline Books, are problematic at best. Very disturbing, at least. Some sites claim he is a leftist/socialist with highly questionable academic judgment. You can find out more online about the author for yourself.

Last year we discontinued another book from Pauline in which the author of the text, a professor of Theology at the Boston University (a non-Catholic institution by the way), stated that some books of the Old Testament are “works of fiction.”

We call upon the Daughters of St. Paul to more carefully evaluate, prior to publication, all prospective titles and to be true to their mission to serve the Church in their media apostolate by insuring their publications are in conformity with Catholic teaching. Perhaps if just one or two people at Pauline Books and Media are involved in the review process, others should participate? In an age when the “Catholic” label gets slapped on all kinds of questionable and even heretical works, the stuff that typically packs the religion shelves at secular bookstores, we all need to be ever more vigilant.