It is not always easy getting children (or adults) excited about history or religion. That’s why its important to “seize the day” when a major movie like Star Wars creates buzz about a real location that has a rich spiritual history behind it. However, it is not always easy to manage and it can take an educator hours to find all the right materials.
That is, until now.
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With the release of latest Star Wars films, the ancient monastery atop Skellig Michael has enchanted the world with its beautiful vistas and mysterious history. While much has been written about the architectural feats achieved by the monks on the lonely island, little has been discussed about the daily life of the religious hermits.
What was it like 1,000 years ago?
Why did the monks choose Skellig Michael?
What was their spirituality like? Why did they leave and never return?
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The life of J.R.R. Tolkien has always been an inspiration to me. Throughout all of the suffering he endured in life, he kept close to his Catholic faith and wove a majestic tapestry of beauty in his imaginary world of Middle-Earth.
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Check out my interview with John Rhys-Davies at Aleteia:
Award winning actor John Rhys-Davies, best known for his role as the dwarf Gimli in the highly successful Lord of the Rings trilogy, recently shared with Aleteia his admiration for Saint Patrick after working on the audio drama, The Trials of Saint Patrick.
He explained how for him, “[Saint] Patrick is giant. I am honored to have had a little part of bringing him to life.”
Far from being an outdated life that has no relevance, Rhys-Davies believes Saint Patrick’s story is an inspiration and can teach us many things in the 21st century.
“I think that what [he] teaches us is resolution and courage. The discovery of that little fire of belief in oneself. By study, by intention, by prayer, by the blessing of the Holy Spirit; it can change a man’s life into such a positive agent for the common good.”
“Of course, [at first] Patrick has ego, yes. But what Patrick does is, through being a slave, he becomes a master of men. He leads those in the darkness to light. Perhaps in our own, maybe smaller way the demons and the idols that he overthrows are some of the demons and the idols we all have to find a way of confronting and overthrowing ourselves.”
I bet you didn’t learn this at school! Check out the full article at Aleteia:
Did you know that the first “thanksgiving” meal in the United States was not celebrated by the Pilgrims in Plymouth, but by Spanish settlers, in what became Florida? And that first “Thanksgiving” was Eucharistic!
Historian Dr. Michael Gannon narrates the events that took place on September 8, 1565.
“When the first Spanish settlers landed in what is now St. Augustine on September 8, 1565, to build a settlement, their first act was to hold a religious service to thank God for the safe arrival of the Spanish fleet… After the Mass, Father Francisco Lopez, the Chaplin of the Spanish ships and the first pastor of St. Augustine, stipulated that the natives from the Timucua tribe be fed along with the Spanish settlers, including Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles, the leader of the expedition. It was the very first Thanksgiving and the first Thanksgiving meal in the United States.”
Here is my latest article on Aleteia regarding the use of Ouija boards and the upcoming movie Ouija: Origin of Evil:
….What is so sinister about the Ouija board?
The premise of the Ouija board is that a living person can communicate with a soul or spirit and the spirit will communicate back by spelling out answers on the board. Many children (and adults) will play this game saying they don’t “believe” in it and think that one of their friends is playing a joke on them when the pieces move on the board. It is often viewed as a “spooky” game to be played in a dimly lit room in the basement during a teenage sleepover.
On other occasions adults, unable to deal with the departure of a loved one, use the game in hopes of communicating with a deceased relative.
While someone using the board may not have the intention of calling a demonic spirit, the act of using the Ouija board is a form of divination (discovering hidden knowledge through supernatural means) and is very real.
To make an analogy, you may not “believe” there is someone on the other line of the telephone and may talk in it, thinking no one is listening, but the fact is that someone is listening and can communicate back.
We too often forget that there is much more to this world than meets the eye. There do exist angels, demons, spirits and souls and they can have an impact on our life. It is simply not possible to use the Ouija board as a game, as the very action of using it has profound spiritual consequences beyond our control.
One example of how this game can invite an unwanted spiritual presence is the case of a 13-year-old boy who was introduced to the Ouija board in 1949. This boy became possessed by a demon and underwent a month-long exorcism by Father William Bowdern, SJ. These events inspired the 1971 book, The Exorcist, which was put on screen in 1973. The current Fox miniseries is also inspired by the book and film adaptation.
Unfortunately, this case is not isolated and there have been countless others over the years. Exorcists have repeatedly warned against using Ouija boards, and explain how “demons will masquerade as departed loved ones as a means of gaining possession.” Even paranormal investigators are leery about using them, knowing what kind of spirits can be invited into a person’s home.