Herman Goodden

With the death of Bishop John Michael Sherlock on Aug. 12 at the age of 93, I expect that I am not the only member of the sprawling Diocese of London whose sense of bereavement is mixed with bursts of jubilation at a race that was so well run. 

Published in Guest Columns

A mere 35 years after my Catholic conversion, I suppose I should be a little embarrassed that it is only now that I am finally getting the hang of the rosary and finding it a very powerful devotional instrument in the way that it commands and directs and focuses my prayer. What took me so long? 

Published in Guest Columns

Though my legs and lower vertebrae sympathetically throbbed at the prospect of spending another 16 out of 24 sleep-deprived hours sandwiched into a chartered bus barreling back and forth between London and Ottawa for the National March for Life, I thought it was important to support the largest annual protest in our nation’s capital each year. 

Published in Guest Columns

The Catholic Register won 15 awards and was named the No. 1 Christian newspaper in Canada at a gala banquet to recognize excellence in Christian journalism.

Published in Canada

London Ontario’s only candidate for sainthood, Henry Edward Dormer (1844-66) was a 21-year-old British Army ensign who only lived in London for a grand total of 220 days — the last seven months of his life — but left an indelible impression that still inspires his adopted townspeople a century and a half later. 

Published in Guest Columnists

Canadian Catholics and Christians generally are not paranoid if they harbour suspicions that their governmental overlords are unsubtly trying to control their rights of free speech, religion and assembly. 

Published in Guest Columnists
I’ve never had much enthusiasm for New Year’s celebrations. Partly this is because of the utterly perverse timing of the holiday.
Published in Guest Columnists

A flowing white wedding gown is not an everyday sight along the busy streets of Rome.

Published in Features

My wife and I, in our 40th year of married life, are renewing our vows this month at a special Mass in the Marian chapel of our home parish at London’s St. Peter’s Cathedral Basilica.

Published in Guest Columns

With the secularization of our culture galloping away on all fronts,  Advent and Christmas can be haunting and haunted times of year.

Published in Christmas

If you think of artists as strange, unbalanced, complicated personalities whose natural habitat is somewhere on the margins, Herman Goodden is not about to change your opinion. But if you think books about art and artists are dull, academic, jargon-laden wastes of time, paper and ink, Goodden wants you to think again.

Published in Book News

Catholic Register reporters, editors and designers were recognized for another year of outstanding achievement by taking home 14 awards, including eight first-place honours, at the annual Canadian Church Press gala dinner April 29 in Toronto.

Published in Canada: Toronto-GTA
December 6, 2015

My encounter with Dante

When the 750th birthday of Dante Aligheri (1265-1321) was celebrated in Italy in May, Pope Francis invited Catholics all over the world to take up and read one of the cornerstone works of Western and Christian civilization, The Divine Comedy, as an act of preparation for the extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy which launches Dec. 8.  Francis says Dante “is a prophet of hope, herald of the possibility of redemption, liberation and the profound transformation of every man and woman, of all humanity.”

Published in Year of Mercy

LONDON, ONT. - My friend Jane Loptson died in the hallway outside of her subsidized apartment in the early afternoon of Dec. 27.

Published in Canada

I recently returned from my triumphal 60th birthday tour of the UK and Europe, which included visits to London, Paris and Milan.

Since I first started these transatlantic treks more than 20 years ago, I find that the older I get, the more I become a Catholic tourist, adding churches and cathedrals to book and music shops, museums and theatres on my itineraries. Whether you’re attending Mass or just checking out the ecclesial digs and saying a prayer, the universality of the Catholic Church means that, regardless of the language spoken, you always feel at home in a very profound sense.

The only impediment this eager Catholic tourist ever comes up against is when the touristic component at one of these sites starts to outweigh the Catholic. I used to worry that my aversion to crowds was a kind of snobbery. Isn’t it an unadulterated good thing to see swarms of people piling into a church even if they aren’t the kind of people who would ordinarily be drawn to attend a church in their hometown? Who am I to sit in judgment of the purity of their motives in coming here? Clearly, it’s a delicate business.

When I visited the Vatican in 2005, it was in late October, which happily turned out to be (not, I assure you, as the result of any shrewd planning on my part) about as close as you’ll ever get there to an off-season. Yes, there were thousands of other people but unlike some of the horror stories I’ve heard, I wasn’t held to a time limit while viewing the Sistine Chapel, in spite of the crowds there was a quiet and prayerful atmosphere inside St. Peter’s and the weather wasn’t so clammy and hot that I thought I’d pass out. Except for a brief altercation with a pickpocket on the packed Rome subway, I had a wonderful visit to the Eternal City.

My visit to Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris wasn’t so blessed. While the wait to get in only took about 10 minutes, the place was packed with tourists who brazenly ignored the multilingual sign at the door to keep quiet. I suppose they were at least making an effort to “keep it down,” filling the air with a constant buzz of whispered ooh’s and aah’s.

Every second one of them wielded a camera device of some sort, contorting or stretching their bodies as they held their infernal image-snatchers aloft. This only confirmed me in my lifelong decision to never pack a camera when travelling. It’s the same maddening, focus-busting behaviour one encounters at so many weddings when the need to document a special occasion elbows aside the original experience and cruelly renders it less memorable.

In Milan we toured that great sprawling city (with the immense Gothic cathedral, the Duomo di Milano, at its centre) and making excursions out to nearby towns. We visited Pavia, where the mortal remains of St. Augustine of Hippo (who died in 430) are contained in an exquisitely carved marble ark which dominates the presbytery of the Basilica of St. Pietro in Ciel d’Oro.

Despite the renown of its permanent saint-in-residence, St. Pietro is sufficiently “out of the way” that its sacred aspects are not overrun by its secular appeal.

There has been a church at this site since the early 600s. Though it was substantially rebuilt in 1132, the “new” building was designed to conform to the old levels and lines with the result that when you come in from the street today you take a few steps down to get onto the floor which used to be level with the small piazza outside.

It is another one of those sublime instances when you suddenly apprehend what the poet/priest Gerard Manley Hopkins was getting at when he wrote that, “Time has three dimensions.”

My general advice to the aspiring Catholic tourist would be to approach the more world-famous churches with, if not caution, then with a layer of armour to help you deflect the many distractions that will assail you when you find yourself in the company of people who come to gander rather than to worship.

(Goodden is a writer in London, Ont. His latest book is No Continuing City.)

Published in Specials
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