30 April 2023

Hockey Fans Mourn Loss of Their Only Joke

No, here's the joke and it's still good!

Two Maple Leafs fans die and end up in Hell. The devil decides to pay them a visit, so he walks into their room and sees them talking and laughing. Confused, he asks them why they're happy.
They tell him, "Well, we're so sick of the cold where we're from, and this place is nice and toasty."
The devil, annoyed, storms away and goes to Hell's boiler room, where he turns up the temperature. He goes back to the Canadians' room, along the way being begged by all sorts of people to put the heating back down. He enters the room to see the Canadians having a barbecue. Furiously, he asks them what they're doing.
"Well, we can't pass up this wonderful weather without getting out the barbecue!"
The devil realizes he's been doing the wrong thing. He goes to the boiler room and turns it down until it's at a colder temperature than ever seen on earth. He knows he's won now, so he goes back to the Canadians' room, only to see them jumping up and down in excitement. He shouts at them in fury, "WHY ARE YOU STILL HAPPY?!?!?!"
They look at him and shout at the same time, "Hell froze over! That means the Leafs won the Cup!"

(The Leafs last won Lord Stnley's Cup in 1967, when the NHL still consisted of the Original Six!)

By Filipe Dimas

TORONTO – The hockey community is devastated at the loss of their only joke with the Toronto Maple Leafs having advanced out of the NHL’s first round of playoffs for the first time since 2004.

Nearly two decades of variations on “win a round” or “other team in 7” are now lost to time as hockey fans across North America scramble to find originality for the first time in nineteen years. While Toronto fans pour into the streets to celebrate, at least 31 other fan bases are now forced back to the drawing board.

“I mean sure, we could go back to just shouting 1967 every chance we get,” commented Canucks season ticket holder Herbert Moncrest. “But since most NHL players weren’t even alive the last time a Canadian team won a cup, that one feels like it’s lost a bit of its sting.”

Toronto’s win marks the largest sporting plot twist since the Chicago Cubs’ 2016 World Series victory, which caused comedy venues across St Louis to shutter their doors for two weeks as they regrouped. Much of the same is expected from theatres in Ottawa and Montreal, with the entirety of the annual Just For Laughs festival seemingly at risk.

Others however, think this may just be setting up the grand reveal, the kind of tragic punchline that would make William Shakespeare proud.

“This is bad,” muttered Leafs Fan Doug McSamsy. “We can’t have nice things, so what are the hockey gods planning? Oh God, Gary Bettman is going to veto the result and make us play the whole series again isn’t he?”

While the NHL has yet to release its second round schedule as they await the results of the remaining series, referee Wes McCauley has confirmed he will be overseeing every Maple Leafs match going forward to ensure that “such an injustice doesn’t occur again.”

St Catherine of Siena, Virgin ~ Dom Prosper Guéranger

Fiscal Forecast America: Farewell to State Independence

'America's states are supposed to be sovereign jurisdictions.' Hah! They haven't been sovereign since the Union won Lincoln's War of Northern Aggression.

From The European Conservative

By Sven R. Larson

America's states are supposed to be sovereign jurisdictions. Yet when the federal government is their main source of revenue, how independent are they really?

The U.S. government has a debt of $31.5 trillion. This is equal to almost 130% of the country’s gross domestic product, GDP. The federal budget deficit in 2022 exceeded $1 trillion and is widely expected to remain at that level for the foreseeable future. 

With this much debt, and with a trend of unending growth, it is almost self-evident that America is bound for a fiscal crisis. Yet this concept is almost unknown to the political leadership in Washington. Their attitude—judging from my own experience and from what current insiders relay—is that America somehow is immune to the kind of loss of credit worthiness that has sent many other countries into a fiscal tailspin.

This is a dangerous attitude which can only be changed with relentless information—or with a real fiscal crisis. 

Hoping for the former to prevent the latter, we need an all-hands-on-deck attitude to educating the lawmakers and their staffers on Capitol Hill. However, those are not the only ones who need to understand the true threat of a federal fiscal meltdown: the political leaders of all the 50 states will also be faced with major problems of a kind they have not dealt with before.

Most Americans do not know how dependent their states and their local governments are on the federal government. To make matters worse, in my experience, many state legislators are also ignorant of the intricate and substantial fiscal ties between Washington and the 50 states. Those who do understand how much of their state government’s revenue comes from the federal government often convince themselves that nothing will ever happen to those federal funds. 

They are wrong. Fiscal judgment day will come, and when it does, Congress will have to make panic-driven spending cuts. These cuts will put every spending program on the chopping block in the hunt for the biggest possible spending reductions in the shortest possible amount of time. Every year the federal government sends more than $1 trillion to the states and to local governments; with a budget of $6.4 trillion, it is impossible to make real, substantial cuts without also reducing the funds going to the states. 

It is not hard at all to find information on the fiscal entanglements between the federal government and the states. The National Association of State Budget Officers publishes a detailed, annual State Expenditure Report, and the Census Bureau provides detailed data over state and local government spending. Together, these sources tell a grim picture of how exposed the states are to a federal fiscal crisis. 

Of the $1,085 billion that the states got in 2022, $540.1 billion went to Medicaid. This is a health insurance program primarily for families with low incomes (most Americans still rely on private insurance plans), but it also pays for a substantial part of long-term care for the elderly. States are responsible for running Medicaid and, as part of their obligations, they have historically contributed about half of the total funds that go into Medicaid. However, the federal share took a leap upward with the 2020 pandemic: since 2021 the federal government pays for 68% of all Medicaid costs in the country. 

The share varies from state to state, from less than 49% in Connecticut to 84% in Arkansas, New Mexico, and West Virginia. However, no state would escape significant budget cuts if the federal government had to deal with a fiscal crisis. As little as a 10% cut in the federal funds for Medicaid would leave state lawmakers in a serious predicament. They are responsible before their state’s Medicaid enrollees for keeping the program up to shape and in compliance with federal regulations—yet, if the federal government yanks part of the money they provide, the state legislators and the governor are the ones who will have to explain health care cuts to their residents. 

Either that, or raise taxes on their constituents in order to compensate for the federal cuts. Neither option is palatable to the people who are elected to run the states, but they both protect Congress and the president from the wrath of the electorate. 

Federal funds play a smaller role in education funding, with $120.4 billion in 2022. On average, they fund 22.4% of state government spending on elementary and secondary education, or what Americans refer to as K-12 schools. The share shrinks when we take the outlays by local governments into account (school districts count as independent local government entities), but the political fallout from federal spending cuts would likely be just as serious as with cuts to Medicaid. 

Congress also sends money to the states for a host of other programs: in 2022, they paid out $55.8 billion for transportation, which primarily means highways; $37.6 billion for states to run colleges and universities; $20.6 billion for social welfare programs; and a bit over $310 billion for other purposes. In other words, the federal government is deeply involved in states’ finances.

However, their fiscal tentacles do not stop there. 

In 2019 they paid out $70 billion directly to local governments. This accounted for only 3.4% of total spending at the local level, but it was still a substantial increase from only a few years before, when federal funds paid directly to cities, counties, and school districts were almost unheard of. The tradition has been that federal money would always go to the states, which would then decide whether or not to pass any of it on to local governments. 

Federal funds always come with strings attached, in the form of regulations that dictate how states and local authorities are allowed to run the federally funded operations. It does not matter how large or how small the federal share of the budget happens to be—as soon as federal money ‘touches’ an activity, that activity is subject to all the rules that the pertinent federal agency sets up. 

In the case of education, federal funding is increasingly being tied to so-called Title IX regulations. Last summer, the Biden administration moved to tie school-lunch funds to how well school districts complied with Title IX. Specifically, schools would have to allow boys who identify as girls to change in girls’ locker rooms in order not to jeopardize the money that subsidizes school lunches for kids from poor families.

The ideologization of federal funds is a problem for states and local governments, but it is obviously separate from the dangers that come with a federal fiscal crisis. However, it shows that the current president and his administration are willing to unabashedly inject ideological preferences into the disbursement of federal funds, which means that in times of a fiscal crisis, they could choose to cut funding based on the very same criteria. A state like Florida, which is generally opposed to the sexualization of children’s learning in schools, could be treated more harshly than a state like California, which kowtows to the radical leftist president everywhere he goes. 

Constitutionally, it is Congress and specifically the House of Representatives that is responsible for the federal budget. They could deprive the president of the ability to use ideology in coming budget cuts, but in order to do so, they would have to bring the Senate along as well as convince the president not to veto their budget. As things are currently, Congress has delegated considerable authority to the president, allowing him and his administration to use regulatory power where legislation once reigned unchallenged. 

In times of fiscal stringency, this delegation of powers would likely become a problem in the relations between Capitol Hill and the White House, and it would not be limited to education funding. The federal government funds roughly 25% of state transportation budgets; if cuts were to be made, the Biden administration could conceivably agree to make the cuts, provided that Congress did not make any specific demands regarding how those cuts were executed. This would leave the president and his Department of Transportation to, e.g., prioritize funding for charging stations for electric vehicles, and instead let all the budget cuts fall on states that do not go far enough in banning cars with internal combustion engines. 

As mentioned, the share of federal funds in state budgets varies from state to state. As of 2022, these were the federal-funds shares of state budgets:

Table 1

Source of raw data: National Association of State Budget Officers

These numbers are very high by historic comparison. In the first decade of the 2000s, it was close to impossible to find a state where federal funds paid more than 40 cents of every dollar the state spent. Those days are gone, one reason being the expansion of Medicaid in the last few years. Another reason is the growing ambition of the federal government to involve itself in children’s education, a policy area that historically has been stalwartly protected by local governments and states. 

Not only does the growth in federal funds make states vulnerable to a fiscal crisis at the federal level, but when those funds account for more than half of all the money a state spends, it is fair to ask whether or not that state is still effectively an independent entity. The United States constitution unequivocally defines the states as sovereign jurisdictions, and the federal government as a residual power (primarily per the 9th and 10th Amendments to the Constitution). State governors and lawmakers are quick to talk about their independence, and about how they don’t listen to ‘Washington’—yet their desire to accept a seemingly unlimited amount of funding from that same ‘Washington’ really calls into question to what extent they actually understand what it means to be an independent jurisdiction.

The political leaders of America’s 50 states today are more dependent on the federal government than any generation of leaders before them. When a fiscal crisis hits the American economy and the federal government is forced to make rapid, and drastic spending cuts, the reaction in the state capitals could be one of accelerated fiscal panic. 

There is only one way the states can reduce that risk: by starting reforms to reduce their dependence on federal funds. It is not an easy thing to do, but if it were easy, someone would have done it already. 


From St Thomas Aquinas Seminary. You may follow the Office at Divinum Officium. 

The Holy Rosary

Sunday, the Glorious Mysteries, in Latin with Cardinal Burke.

To Surrender Oneself : A Brief Introduction to Saint Thérèse Couderc

Just one of the many Saints France has produced since the development of the French School of Spirituality in the 17th century, which produced such Saints as St Louis de Montfort and St John Eudes.

From Catholic Stand

By Charlie Johnson

The Rev. Mother St. Thérèse Couderc of France wrote one of the loveliest treatises I have read on surrender to God. Not to be confused with our beloved Thérèse of Lisieux, Mother Couderc lived in France for eighty years before her death in 1885. She lived a simple and hidden life, often accused of indiscretions she did not commit and suffered it all for Jesus, a familiar story for many of God’s dear saints.

The Rev. Mother Thérèse Couderc had an understanding of life with God, which she sums up in a phrase: “the surrendered soul has found paradise on earth since she enjoys that sweet peace which is part of the happiness of the elect.” 

Do you remember the parable of the rich young ruler? The man came to Jesus and said he did everything required by the law, so what must he do further to obtain eternal life? Jesus, seeing through to the heart of the matter, was moved with pity and told the man to go and sell everything he owned and follow Him. Our blessed Lord could see through the clutter of religious observation what the man was attached to. He had his religion, but he did not have a surrendered soul.

We may also remember the beginning of our own Christian life, the “hour we first believed,” and go back to that time and place when we had lost our sense of self, maybe for the very first time, and therein found ourselves in the gaze of a loving God. Things were much simpler back then, for we had nothing but God. And indeed, some of us have not yet truly believed at all. God – His Beloved Church and these sacraments we practice dutifully – are not more than a checklist to us. We imagine that someday we will approach the gates of heaven with our checklist complete, and God will swing the gates open wide.

But checklists, while helpful for staying organized, do not produce conversion. To be converted, we do not need to lend ourselves to polarizing ideologies – we must surrender ourselves to God. A surrendered soul is a docile soul. A docile soul is an obedient soul. An obedient soul is a holy soul. And a holy soul is a living flame of wonder, burning out the darkness around it. Could this be a sturdy remedy for our time?

To Surrender Oneself

I was preparing to begin my meditation when I heard the pealing of the church bells calling the faithful to attend the divine Mysteries. At that moment, the desire came over me to unite myself with all the masses which were being said, and to that end, I directed my intention so that I might participate in them.

Then I had an overall view of the whole Catholic world and a multitude of altars upon which at one and the same time, the adorable Victim was being immolated. The blood of the Lamb without stain was flowing abundantly over every one of these altars, which seemed to be surrounded by a light cloud of smoke ascending toward heaven. My soul was seized and penetrated with a feeling of love and gratitude on beholding this most abundant satisfaction that Our Lord was offering for us.

But I was also greatly astonished that the whole world was not sanctified by it. I asked how it could be that the sacrifice of the Cross, having been offered only once, was sufficient to redeem all souls while now being renewed so often, it was not sufficient to sanctify them all.

This is the answer I thought I heard: The sacrifice is without any doubt sufficient by itself, and the Blood of Jesus Christ more than sufficient for the sanctification of a million worlds, but souls fail to correspond, they are not generous enough. Now the great means by which one may enter into the path of perfection and of holiness is to surrender oneself to our good God.

But what does it mean to surrender oneself?

I understand the full extent of the expression to surrender oneself, but I cannot explain it. I only know that it is very vast and that it embraces both the present and the future.

To surrender oneself is more than to devote oneself, more than to give oneself, it is even something more than to abandon oneself to God. In a word, to surrender oneself is to die to everything and to self, to be no longer concerned with self except to keep it continually turned toward God.

To surrender oneself is, moreover, no longer to seek oneself in anything, either for the spiritual or the physical, that is to say, no longer to seek one’s own satisfaction, but solely the divine good pleasure.

It should be added that to surrender oneself is also to follow that spirit of detachment which clings to nothing, neither to persons nor to things, neither to time nor to place. It means to adhere to everything, to accept everything, to submit to everything.

But perhaps you will think that this is very difficult to do. Do not let yourself be deceived. There is nothing so easy to do, nothing so sweet to put into practice. The whole thing consists in making a generous act once and for all, saying with all the sincerity of your soul: “My God, I wish to be entirely thine; deign to accept my offering.” And all is said. But from then on, you must take care to keep yourself in this disposition of soul and not to shrink from any of the little sacrifices which can help you advance in virtue. You must always remember that you have surrendered yourself.

I pray to our Lord to give an understanding of this word to all souls desirous of pleasing him and to inspire them to take advantage of so easy a means of sanctification. Oh! If people could just understand ahead of time the sweetness and peace that are savored when nothing is held back from the good God! How he communicates himself to the one who seeks him sincerely and has known how to surrender herself. Let them experience it and they will see that here is found the true happiness they are vainly seeking elsewhere.

The surrendered soul has found paradise on earth, since she enjoys that sweet peace which is part of the happiness of the elect.

Saint Thérèse Couderc, June 26, 1864

St. Thérèse Couderc, pray for us!

St Edward's Chair - A History of the Medieval Coronation Chair and the Stone of Scone

There is one item of furniture that we will see prominently during the coronation next May and that is St Edward’s Chair, the Coronation Chair. Commissioned by King Edward the First to contain the Stone of Scone, the Stone of Destiny, most English and later British sovereigns have been anointed and crowned while seated on it. In this video I will look at the history and the significance of the chair, before moving on to look at the elaborate (mostly now lost) decoration of this iconic piece of seven-hundred-year-old furniture, focusing on the symbolism of it and how the chair and its decoration relates to a particular aspect of the wider furnishing of Westminster Abbey – and what that says about English kings conception of their office.

Solemn II Vespers - 3rd Sunday after Easter

From St Thomas Aquinas Seminary. You may follow the Office at Divinum Officium. 

Crisis Series #1 With Fr. McFarland: Is There a Crisis?

Spiritual Conference: The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass Part 38

From the SSPX District of Asia by Fr. Lawrence Novak, SSPX.

The Time Of The AntiChrist According To Ancient Wisdom | Fr R Gerald Culleton

The Raccolta - Section XXVII - Divine Office and Office of the B. Virgin


Pope Leo X. granted to all persons under obligation to recite the Divine Office, or the Office of the Blessed Virgin. provided that, kneeling, and with devotion, they say after it the following prayer, Sacrosanctae, composed by Saint Bonaventura, Doctor of the Church, together with one Pater noster and one Ave Maria, the remission of all defects and faults committed through human frailty in reciting it. And as this grant is not properly an Indulgence, but rather a compensation for, or a supplying of the defects committed in the recitation of the Office, it follows that it is not suspended during the Holy Year like the other Indulgences.


Sacrosanctae et indviduae Trinitati, Crucifixi Domini nostri Jesu Christi humanitati, beatissimae et gloriosissimae semperque Virginis Mariae fecundae integritati, et omnium sanctorum universitati sit sempiterna laus, honor, virtus, te gloria ab omnia creatura; nobisque remissio omnium peccatorum, per infinita saecula saeculorurn. Amen.

V. Beata viscera Mariae Virginis, quae portaverunt aeterni Patris Filium.
R. Et beata ubera quae lactaverunt Christum Dominum.

Pater nosterAve Maria.


To the most holy and undivided Trinity, to the Humanity of our Crucified Lord Jesus Christ, to the fruitful virginity of the most blessed and glorious Mary ever Virgin, and to the whole company of saints, be for ever praise, honour, power, and glory from every creature; and to us be remission of all our sins, world without end. Amen.

V. Blessed is the womb of Mary the Virgin, which bore the Son of the Eternal Father.
R. And blessed are the breasts which gave suck to Christ the Lord.

Pater nosterAve Maria.

Now Call It the Synod of Bishops and Selected Others

Dr Lawler looks at Francis's decision to allow laymen and laywomen to participate, with voice and vote, in the so-called Synod of Bishops.

From Catholic Culture via the WayBackMachine

By Phil Lawler, PhD

Question: When is a Synod of Bishops no longer a Synod of Bishops?

Answer: When the participants are not bishops.

This year Pope Francis will appoint 70 non-bishops to participate, as voting members, in the October meeting of the Synod of Synodality. These lay participants will represent only slightly more than 20% of the Synod’s voters. Still their involvement raises the question. If it is a Synod of Bishops, why are lay people voting?

The involvement of non-bishops in a Synod of Bishops is not entirely new. At past meetings a few priests were appointed, to represent male and female religious communities. But this year the representation of non-bishops will be much greater, including lay people as well as priests. And the Vatican is anxious to tell us that half of the non-bishops will be women.

What is the significance of this change? Vatican officials boast that this year will see a much broader consultation with lay Catholics. But of course bishops have always been free to consult with anyone whose views they deem worthwhile. And for that matter the Synod itself is a consultative body; its product is not legislation, but a set of recommendations that the Pontiff may or may not endorse.

Nevertheless the Synod of Bishops is an important expression of collegial government— a recognition that all bishops, as successors to the apostles, have a special charism that enables them to lead and guide the Church. The Second Vatican Council, which called for a revival of the Synod, taught (in Lumen Gentium 23) that every bishop, “as a member of the episcopal college and legitimate successor of the apostles, is obliged by Christ’s instruction and command to be solicitous for the whole Church…” This is a duty proper to bishops, who have a corresponding grace of state to carry out that duty. In a hierarchical Church it is bishops— not priests, not religious, not lay people— who participate in the collegial decision-making process.

Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich of Luxembourg, the Jesuit prelate who as relator-general will chair the meetings of the October session, insists that the bishops have not given up their distinctive role. Questioned by Vatican News whether this meeting will truly remain a Synod of Bishops, he responded emphatically: “Yes, it remains so because the bishops are the majority!”

True, but anyone who has participated in a democratic process knows that a minority can constitute a decisive voting bloc, and with 20% of the votes, the lay participants will certainly be an important influence on the Synod’s outcome. Moreover, Cardinal Hollerich remarked, in the same interview: “We do not have a synodal parliamentarianism, where the majority decides and everyone follows.” So which is it: a majority decision, which bishops control, or a free-wheeling process, in which lay participants have equal voice?

And who will these lay voters be? The Pope will choose their names from lists provided by the world’s bishops, on the basis of several rounds of local meetings leading up to the worldwide session. Two points should be noted here. First, the lay voters will be chosen by the bishops— in the end, by Pope Francis. Second, they will be selected from among the participants in the preparatory meetings. So it is a considerable stretch to suggest that they represent the views of ordinary lay Catholics. On the contrary, they represent those Catholics who have already been involved in the bishops’ discussions. Do you feel confident that your views will be represented, simply because a lay participant will be allowed to speak? Should a Catholic woman feel that she has a voice, simply because another woman— who may or may not agree with her views— will have a chance to speak?

The participation of 70 non-bishops may be nothing more than window-dressing for the Synod. Or it may provide Pope Francis with the opportunity to ensure, by careful selection of those voters, that his favored initiatives will win approval. But the fundamental problem here is that the Synod of Bishops will become the Synod of Bishops and Selected Others.

Back in January, three top Vatican officials— Cardinal Pietro Parolin (Secretary of State), Cardinal Luis Ladaria Ferrer (Prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith), and Cardinal Marc Ouellet (Prefect of the Dicastery for Bishops)— wrote to the leaders of the German bishops’ conference, warning them that they “are not empowered to create a governing or decision-making synodal assembly” that included clergy and laity as well as bishops. The three cardinals made a point of saying that their letter had the explicit approval of Pope Francis. Granted, the Synod of Bishops is not a governing body, and technically not a decision-making body either, since the Pope makes any final decisions. But doesn’t the same logic—about the role and charism of bishops as leaders and teachers— still apply?

Unfortunately the German bishops’ conference has airily dismissed the Vatican warning, and plunged forward with its plans for a Synodal Council. Now it seems that Pope Francis, too, has set aside his own concerns, to head down the same path.

Camarón Day - The French Foreign Legion

Today is Camarón Day, on which the Legion parades Captain Jean Danjou's wooden hand.

From Foreign Legion Info

The Battle of Camerone (also Battle of Camarón) was an important action during the Second French intervention in Mexico. It occurred in late April 1863. In the eight-hour battle, a company of 65 men of the French Foreign Legion faced almost 2,000 Mexican infantrymen and cavalrymen. This action is portrayed as a pure example of bravery and determination of fighting to the finish.

Full article from Foreign Legion Info

Vive la Légion étrangère!

Camerone Day Parade, 2022

"If You Don't Believe in the Devil, Declare War on Him and Find Out What Happens."

There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight. - C.S. Lewis

From Catholic World Report

By Jim Graves

Writer/director Cary Solomon and priest/theological advisor Fr. Darrin Merlino talk about the making of the film Nefarious.

The writing and directing team of Chuck Konzelman and Cary Solomon (God’s Not Dead, Do You Believe?, Unplanned) released their new movie Nefarious on April 14.  It tells the story of a mass-murdering inmate (Sean Patrick Flanery) who is slated to die for his crimes in the electric chair but not before a visiting psychiatrist (Jordan Belfi) determines if he is sane.  The inmate is possessed by a demon, Nefarious, who tells the psychiatrist that he is going to commit three murders of his own.

CWR spoke with Cary Solomon and Fr. Darrin Merlino, CMF, who was priest-theological advisor to the film (and also played a prison guard in the movie) about the challenges faced in the making of Nefarious, the reality of demonic activity, and what they learned through the experience.

CWR: How did you get the idea to do the film Nefarious?

Cary Solomon: Chris Jones, a friend who had produced a movie for us, showed us A Nefarious Plot by Steve Deace.  In it, a demon talks about how he destroyed America.  We knew Steve, and we knew the book would make a good movie.  Steve’s story had no story or structure, but just a demon ranting, so we contacted Steve and asked his permission to write a story with a beginning, middle and end, and a couple of twists along the way.  He agreed, and we got started.

CWR: Much of the movie centers around the dialogue between Nefarious and the psychiatrist.  How did you develop it?

Cary Solomon: Chuck and I can take no credit for that.  We’re just a couple of guys from New Jersey; we don’t talk like that.  We watch the movie and hear the dialogue and are shocked.  Did that come from us?  We believe it came from the Holy Spirit.  We did our research, talked to Fr. Darrin Merlino and Fr. Carlos Martins, one of the world’s premiere exorcists.

We’re also devout Catholics, fanatical Catholics.  We love Jesus and the Virgin Mary.  Chuck is a cradle Catholic, and I’m a convert.  We do what we do because Jesus tells us to do it.  We also know how to tell a story and figure out what a character might say in a scene.

In this movie, we also wanted to take on certain issues of the day, like with the abortion sequence.  It was a tremendous opportunity to make a statement there. … We also wanted to make a movie that was entertaining.  No one wants to watch a movie that is a sermon.

CWR: Sean Patrick Flanery as Nefarious, the demon, really made the movie.

Cary Solomon: We had worked with Sean about twenty years ago, making a secular movie.  He is a phenomenal actor, the greatest I’ve ever seen.  He’s probably best known for The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles and The Boondock Saints.  We called him up to be in the movie, and he replied, “If you write it, I’m in.”

Our psychiatrist, Jordan Belfi, was a last minute find.  He’s smart, good-looking, and looks like a psychiatrist.  The Holy Spirit told us, “That’s your guy.”

CWR: And Glenn Beck?

Cary Solomon: Mr. Beck helped us on our movie Unplanned.  He showed us he had courage, which I admired.  He’s the man he says he is, which impresses me.  We wanted a media personality, like a Glenn Beck or a Ben Shapiro, to interview our psychiatrist.  We didn’t think anyone on the liberal side would want to do it, and we knew Steve Deace works at TheBlaze, so Steve asked Mr. Beck and he said yes.  Glenn Beck was amazing; he did his scene in one or two takes.

CWR: Fr. Merlino, how did you get involved with this film?

Fr. Darrin Merlino: I’ve been friends with Chuck and Cary for more than a decade now.  In fact, they were the first people I interviewed for my program, Hound of Heaven.  I had a Mass at my mother’s home in Huntington Beach for family and friends, and they came by and told me they were working on the script for Nefarious.  I told them I’d like to read it and serve as the theological consultant.

When it came time to film the movie I asked to play the part of the priest, Fr. Louis, but they told me I didn’t look the part.  They offered me the role of an extra instead.  I would also be on hand to celebrate Mass, bless the set, and pray with people.

CWR: You experienced demonic harassment while making the film?

Cary Solomon: Yes.  Ever since Unplanned, it’s been a battle.  This movie pulls the devil out of the darkness into the light; he works best when no one believes in him. We had eight or nine car crashes in about 13 days.  The cars were destroyed, but the drivers and passengers unhurt.  The building in which we shot our scenes about the devil groaned due to one of the worst wind storms in Oklahoma history.  But, whenever we paused filming the scene, the wind eased.  When we started filming again, it came back.  Our equipment often seemed not to work.

We had our premiere with many big names in attendance, such as Glenn Beck and Senator Ted Cruz, and the lights in the room started flickering.  The video we shot got corrupted.  Fr. Carlos Martins was there, and he said, “I know what this is.”  He gets his holy water and starts doing the rite of exorcism for a place that is possessed, praying his prayers in Latin.  Behind him he can hear the demonic chanting of a female voice.  He gets to the part of the prayer that commands the demon to bow down to the great and terrible name of Jesus, and the chanting stops, the lights start working, and the video is no longer corrupted.

There’s a lot more. Steve Deace got an infection and almost died.  Chris Jones is putting his little boy in a car seat and an SUV drives by going 45 mph and hits the car, narrowly missing Chris and his son.  John Sullivan, our marketing guy, gets out of his car and a woman driving by had fallen asleep at the wheel and crashed into the car.  He was okay, but the car was destroyed.

Newsweek calls to interview us about the film and 45 minutes into the interview our interviewer apologizes and says, “I’m sorry, but my battery is dead.  Can we re-do the interview?”  He re-tapes the interview, but calls back later and says, “I’m sorry, but the tape is blank.”  He emails us some questions to which we respond in writing.  We try to email back our responses, but the email won’t work.  We can email other people, but not Newsweek.  We got smart, though, and prayed to Jesus, the Blessed Virgin, St. Joseph and St. Michael and suddenly the email went through.

At one point, nine of our 15 key personnel come down with COVID; I was in the hospital for eight days.  Then three days into filming we were struck by a union strike, no strike vote taken or grievances listed, just a strike.  They then tried to get the federal government to shut down our production with an injunction.  We went to court, and won on 29 of 30 counts.  We’re appealing the final charge.

I could go on for an hour about all the demonic harassment we’ve had.  When we do the DVD release of the movie, in the bonus materials, we’ll be talking about this.  We experienced demonic interference on Unplanned, but it was nothing like this.  If you don’t believe in the devil, declare war on him and find out what happens.  But the Lord told us to put on his armor and he is with us; I want you to do this.

Fr. Darrin Merlino: The devil tried to take me out!  I had appendicitis during the filming in Oklahoma, and when I went in for the operation, my appendix burst.  The doctor said had I waited another hour I could have died.  God really protected me; it happened on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, so I also think the Blessed Mother had my back.

Also, when we were filming the scene in which the devil shares his dark gospel, Oklahoma had it most sustained wind storm in history.  Every time the director would yell action, the wind would blow so hard it caused the metal on the roof to bend.  It sounded like the Titanic ripping in half.  Then the director would yell “cut”, and the wind would die down.  It was like that all day for 12 hours.

But the most startling thing to me happened one night when I said Mass at an Airbnb in which we stayed.  First off, it was December, and the house was decorated for Christmas.  When we came into the home in the evening, all the religious-themed decorations had been thrown down and damaged.  The secular decorations were untouched.

I set up a table with an altar cloth and corporal for mass.  I left the room and came back, and discovered an entity had urinated on the upper right and lower left of the corporal, and defecated on the exact spot where I would have put the host.  It was as if the devil had marked the spot … There was no person or animal in the room that could have done it.  It was the craziest day of the whole shoot, and the most demonically attacked I have ever been.

CWR: What impact did participating in this movie have on your faith?

Fr. Darrin Merlino: I had never seen God and the devil “play tennis” like this before.  The devil didn’t want this movie to happen.  The amount of supernatural energy he spent trying to stop the movie was quite remarkable.

CWR: What reaction has the film had?

Cary Solomon: We’ve have a very small marketing budget, so it has been hard to get the film out there.  We’ve worked with the Catholic media, we’ve reached out to Evangelicals and conservative personalities, such as Glenn Beck.

Of those who have seen the film, 99 out of 100 are flattened, stunned.  They are aware of the devil in their lives and want to be free of him.  Women who have had abortions are regretting their decision and coming to the Lord.  People are coming back to see the film two and three times, and are bringing their family and friends.  Priests are telling me the film is spectacular, and the Evangelicals are saying the same thing.  And, this is in a film in which there is no spectacle.  Much of it depicts two guys talking in a room.

A 16-year-old kid told me it was the greatest movie he’s ever seen.  He’s fired up with his faith, and said it made him believe in God even more.  This is the generation we need to reach—we did the poster as we did to bring in non-believers age 15 to 25—which is obsessed with the occult.  This is why the devil is trying so many things to stop this movie.

You have to admit that there is something dark going on in the world like never before.  Evil is running amok.  But there is a merciful, caring, compassionate God who wants us to turn away from evil.

Fr. Darrin Merlino: We priests are really critical of religious films, but I can say that my fellow priests who I’ve spoken to, as well as exorcists, have been shocked how good it is.

You can watch this film two or three times and not pick up on everything.  It is a classic that you can watch over and over, and use it as a basis for discussion about moral and societal evils.  It is a great catechetical tool.  Despite its intense moments, I very much enjoyed the experience.

CWR: What is the best way to see the film, and how can people follow your work?

Cary Solomon: Check and see where it is playing in a movie theater in your area and go.  If you want more movies like this, please patronize it.  It will be available for streaming, and we’ll be coming out on DVD as well. To follow our work, you can look us up online, or visit www.believeentertainment.com.