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Behind the Counter #18 Ralph Martin and Joseph Bottum

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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