Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas Greetings

Christmas Greetings,
I am so thankful to all of you for watching The World Over for being so attentive all year. Last week we aired a pretty special show that touched a lot of people. The email and calls about this show have been really overwhelming. But it is not surprising. Since the subject of the show was the legendary Jerry Lewis, such a reaction only stands to reason. I wanted to make sure that you saw the program. Below is a link which I hope you’ll share with others and watch if you happened to miss our airings:

I wish you and yours a blessed Christmas and a wonderful New Year. There is so much I have to share with you in it… Until then, be sure to tune in for our World Over Christmas Special on Christmas Eve until the New Year on EWTN. Merrily

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Will Wilder Offficial Cover Release

kermancoverToday is the official cover release of my new book, Will Wilder: The Relic of Perilous Falls.  I am just crazy about Jeff Nentrup's incredible cover.  It captures the spirit and wonder of my first book for young readers (and the young at heart).  It will be published by Random House Kids/Crown on March 8, 2016. To PRE-ORDER click HERE or go to your favorite retailer.

GALLEY GIVEAWAY: If you go to my Twitter or Facebook accounts and repost or retweet the image of the book cover to your friends, you will be instantly registered to win one of 10 preview copies that I am giving away.  (Make sure to retweet or include @RaymondArroyo in your tweet so I know what you did). On July 9th I will announce the 10 winners’ which I will select at random, and send them a signed edition.  It is the perfect summer read for any adventurer 8 to 80 (and beyond).  Can't wait for you all to read the whole book this March.  In the meantime, here is some background on this first book in the Will Wilder series, Will Wilder: The Relic of Perilous Falls.

Will Wilder is a mischievous, headstrong twelve-year-old with an otherworldly gift—he alone can see the nefarious creatures encroaching on Perilous Falls. For nearly a century, a sacred relic has protected his hometown from the raging waters surrounding it. But when Will “borrows” the relic for his own purposes, he accidentally unleashes an ancient evil.

As boats sink and hideous creatures crawl from the rising waters, Will must set things right before it is too late. With the help of his sweet (if lethal) Great Aunt Lucille, the curator of a museum of powerful artifacts, Will proves that the actions of one twelve-year-old boy can change the world.

Fans of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians and Peter Lerangis’s Seven Wonders series will embrace this first epic adventure in a rollicking new series by this New York Times bestselling author.

Praise for Will Wilder: The Relic of Perilous Falls

“Suspense, adventure, humor, a compelling story, and characters that fired my imagination. Great fun and great frights.”
—Dean Koontz
, #1 New York Times bestselling author “

Will Wilder is a brand-new, refreshing, entertaining, intrepid young hero who magically combines humor and genuine suspense. And I love Great Aunt Lucille!”
Mary Higgins Clark, New York Times bestselling author and “Queen of Suspense”

“Laugh-out-loud humor, palpitation-inducing suspense, and cliffhangers galore await readers young and old. Who knew the battle between good and evil could be so much fun?” —William Peter Blatty, author of The Exorcist

“Monsters! Prophecies! Ancient relics! This is a wildly inventive book, and Will Wilder is just the kind of hero you want when the small town of Perilous Falls turns out to be the most important place in the universe.”
Frank Cottrell Boyce, author of Millions and Cosmic

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Gentle Revolution of Pope Francis

Here is my piece on Pope Francis as it appeared in today's Wall Street Journal:

And here is the longer, unedited version: 

The last twelve months has featured unrelenting coverage of his tiny car, his forsaking of the Papal palace, his gentle touch and his controversial (if artfully edited) sound bytes. Far less attention has been paid to the deep spiritual and temporal marks Pope Francis has left on the church during his first year as pontiff—and what could lie ahead.

Overall, Pope Francis has coined a new type of encyclical (a document of papal teaching)-- the encyclical of the image. Among the 85 % of Catholics who hold a favorable view of Francis in a recent Pew survey, one wonders how many have read a complete homily or watched the pope for more than a minute and a half on a nightly newscast. My guess is: darn few. But they have absorbed his message via the images he conveys. The warm embrace of the severely disfigured man or the children with disabilities. The washing of the Muslim girl’s feet on Holy Thursday. Dining with the homeless and laughing with the Harley riders surrounded by their hogs. What do these captured moments convey? Here is a church of charity and mercy—a joyous “field hospital” for sinners. Welcome home. Francis has made the world feel good about Catholicism again. Given the tumult of recent years, this is no small accomplishment. Like Blessed John Paul the Second before him, Francis not only understands the power of images, but has the ability to deploy them when necessary.

Pope Francis is no less expert at drawing media attention with his public utterances. The provocative, if oblique, straight talk has generated global headlines, perhaps by design. Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison Wisconsin suggested to me months ago that the Pope might just be “a crafty old Jesuit… who is using the press to elicit a discussion about issues at a very serious level.”

From his comments on divorced and remarried Catholics to civil unions; each time the pope has thrown a verbal grenade, clarification, debate, and a healthy discussion has followed. In retrospect, despite the temporary agita experienced by some (including my own), the pope’s outspokenness has been a net positive. Francis made everyone sit up and take notice, while creating new public space to examine Church teachings. The only possible drawback is the media fixation with stray papal comments like those on economic theories or the Pope’s unwillingness to judge gay priests. The over the top attention to these selective quotes has blotted out coverage of the crucial and oft-mentioned themes of this pontificate. Two particularly stand out.

The Pope has repeatedly, almost weekly, decried what he calls our “throw away culture, according to which everything can be discarded.” This climate has led to a rampant disregard for the elderly, the pope charges, endless consumerism, an economy that ignores the poor, and the disposal of innocent human life. His disgust of the throw away culture and all it implies will continue to be a central complaint of this pontificate. Then there is Satan.

During his very first homily in the Sistine Chapel, Pope Francis said, “He who doesn’t pray to the Lord prays to the devil.” Over these many months he has spoken of the devil as a person, a distinctive being bent on man’s destruction. Francis credits the devil with Christian persecutions from Christ’s time to the present. On May 4th he said, “With the prince of this world, you can’t have dialogue. Let this be clear.” And just this last weekend he urged those gathered in St. Peter’s Square, “Let us renounce Satan and all his works and seductions because he is a seducer…” His full throated warnings about Satan are rarely covered, but they reveal a spiritual understanding that informs all he does, including the reform that consumes his days.

Francis’ mandate coming out of the conclave was to reform the Church—particularly the curia and the administrative ways of Rome. Step by step he is making good on that mandate. Cardinal Sean O’Malley, a member of the Pope’s cabinet of eight Cardinal consulters says the Pope wishes to create “a central government at the service of the universal church…and he is worried about the spiritual care of the people working in the curia.” Francis knows that any reform must start in the heart of his collaborators or all the administrative tinkering in the world will never succeed. He has called out “careerism” in the clergy and gone so far as to describe the Vatican court as the “leprosy of the papacy.” He has abolished the honorific title of “monsignor” and routinely encourages his co-workers to go out to the people on the periphery, to those who have been forgotten. Just so they don’t forget, he models that behavior at his weekly audiences and during parish visits.

Substantively, the Pope has made one major change that has set teeth a chattering in Vatican offices. Cardinal George Pell of Sydney, Australia, a former rugby player not adverse to public combat, has been appointed to lead the newly formed Secretariat for the Economy. This new body will have dominion over all the financial, economic, and administrative affairs of the Vatican. The office seems to occupy the same plane of power as the Secretariat of State, marking a critical change at the very heart of the Holy See’s organizational structure. To execute it, Francis could not have chosen a churchman better versed in economics, the culture, or faith than Cardinal Pell. I am told it is but the first of many such bold moves.

As Pope Francis begins his second year, only a madman would forecast where this unpredictable pontiff is headed. But it is a safe to assume that pastoral mercy, a preferential option for the forgotten, and an aversion to rigidity will distinguish the days to come—to say nothing of that tiny Ford Focus.

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Best and Worst of 2013

The Best and Worst of 2013

The start of a New Year is a wonderful time to consider the best and worst of the year that was… At first glance 2013 was not such a great year. But there were a few bright spots. First, the best:
POPE FRANCIS: Clearly Pope Francis was one of the outstanding figures of 2013, but not for the reasons we’ve been led to believe by the media. The media meme from the beginning posited that the new Pope was a “revolutionary” who meant to upend long-standing Church traditions. Esquire Magazine just named Pope Francis “Best Dressed Man of the Year” for his sartorial “progressive orthodoxy” (even though he dresses exactly like any pope of the last century and most Dominicans). None of this is why Francis is significant. In reality, the Pope has popularized what it means to be fully Catholic. Francis has made the deposit of Faith accessible and fun again. Coming out of the sex abuse crisis and the horrible press received by the Church, this is a staggering accomplishment in less than a year’s time. The photographic images of a Pope who cares for the disadvantaged and poor explains much of his popular appeal. (Newsflash: most people are not sitting around reading his encyclical or exhortations.) What the public knows of Francis is confined to these images and the snippets of interviews he granted in 2013. There is a line common to fiction writers that is applicable here: what is not explicitly described the reader fills in with their imagination. This is what I believe has happened with Pope Francis. Endearing snapshots and headlines have created a Pope in each individual’s mind that may or may not conform to reality. The new year will reveal much about who Francis truly is and what he means to do in the Catholic Church.

Doctrinally Pope Francis has changed nothing—and I am doubtful that he will. Thus far it is his common man approach and simple enunciation of the Faith that has powerfully resonated in the pop culture. That will continue. But my guess is the positive press coverage may not. Like his predecessors, the moment that Francis begins to clearly defend the unpopular facets of the Faith that he is bound by his office to defend, Palm Sunday will draw to a close and the secular Sanhedrin will rise up to decry this Pope they had such high hopes for. Whatever Francis does it will be fascinating to watch together.

POPE BENEDICT XVI: The most significant and slighted figure of 2013 is without a doubt Pope Benedict. Without his historic resignation of the papal office in February, there would have been no Pope Francis. The gifts of Benedict to the Church will not be transparent for decades, but his theological clarity and supreme humility are already manifest. While Pope Francis is often cited for his humility, contrasted with a media caricature of Benedict, the former Pope’s witness should not be forgotten. The professorial Benedict, put aside his natural shy tendencies to embrace the global office thrust upon him eight years ago. He extended himself beyond his comfort zone for the good of the Gospel, which is what humility is all about, yes? He too embraced the disfigured and prayed with the disabled, though he never received the glowing press coverage of his successor. In fact Benedict was as attentive to the forgotten and pronounced a nearly identical message on the economy, migrants, and life. Not that you would know any of that from the media accounts.

THE BIBLE MINI-SERIES: It was a good year for religion in America. Shattering all expectations, the highest rated miniseries of the year was Mark Burnett and Roma Downey’s “The Bible.” The success of the miniseries convinced Hollywood that there might be an audience for religious epics again. In 2014, be on the lookout for Noah, Moses, the Virgin Mary, and assorted apostles at a cinema or plasma screen near you. As I recently told the Burnetts: “the tribe has spoken” and they want more religious stories, not less. Downey and Burnett have now extracted the Jesus’ story from their mini-series to create a two-hour theatrical release called “Son of God” scheduled to hit theatres in late February of 2014. It might be called the second coming of “The Bible”…

DUCK DYNASTY: Part of the allure of one of the most watched reality shows ever, Duck Dynasty, is it’s religious spine. Yes, the Robertson clan are uproariously funny, they are Louisianians (which makes them instantly lovable in my book), and, hey, Jack, Uncle Si is worth the price of admission alone. But it is the unity of this family and their deeply held beliefs that have drawn millions to this A&E series. Their family unity was on display when the patriarch, Phil Robertson recently ran afoul of some gay groups for an outspoken interview he granted to GQ. In reaction to Robertson’s colorful explanation of biblical teaching, A&E suspended him from the series. The family stuck together, threatening to pull the plug on the show if the network did not reinstate Phil. Viewers rallied to the Robertson’s side, protesting the censure, which many considered an attempt to stifle religious expression. As the year ended, A&E reversed itself, as did Cracker Barrel (which had pulled Duck Dynasty products from their shelves for a whole day), and the show goes on. Everyone is “Happy, Happy, Happy.”

THE ROYAL BABY: As dismissive as I usually am of all coverage of the royals, one story proved an exception. The birth of George Alexander Louis offered us with a nice summer diversion and focused the whole world on the wonders of a new life for a married couple. Mother Teresa once said that children are evidence that God has not abandoned us. The royals should take comfort in their latest addition…

BREAKING BAD: The “Breaking Bad” finale was a stunner. The series is to be saluted by showing the true wages of sin and unflinchingly demonstrating that bad actions lead to bad ends-- no matter how much we may be pulling for a flawed protagonist. Great TV and masterful performances.

And now to the worst of 2013:

THE UNREPORTED SLAUGHTER: From Iraq to Sudan to Nigeria to Korea to Egypt to Syria, Christians were destroyed by the tens of thousands this past year. Yet their deaths barely made a dent in the news cycle. John Allen in his book on Christian persecution estimates that more than 150,000 Christians are martyred each year. And the slaughter continues. It is an ongoing tragedy that the Pope has called our attention to; urging all people of good will to petition their governments to end the bloodshed. You can count on the World Over to continue our 17 year tradition of covering religious persecution in the new year.

LOSING GIANTS: The worst part of any year are the great people that we lose in its passing. 2013 took some incredible people of talent, vision, and faith including: Dame Margaret Thatcher, James Gandolfini, Jean Stapleton, Annette Funicello, Jonathan Winters, Peter O’Toole, Nelson Mandela, and Mother Antonia Brenner, a Catholic nun who founded a ministry to prisoners in Tijuana. Their leadership and example will be missed…

MILEY CYRUS: She was the “Wrecking Ball” of the American cultural scene in 2013. Watching a young celebrity desperate for notoriety is always a painful pastime. But Miley has taken things to a new low. From her twerking to her ridiculous tongue thrusts, Miley Cyrus is clearly the worst celebrity of the year. She not only shocked sensibilities, but scandalized so many girls who grew up with her Hannah Montana persona. The good news is: she made Taylor Swift look really good. Runner ups for worst celebrity of the year: Lady Gaga feeling up Muppets during her low rated “holiday” special and anyone named Kardashian.

OBAMACARE: From the moment the Affordable Health Care Act was passed into law, the problems were obvious to those of us who had read the monster of bill. But it was the flawed rollout of the website, the private health insurance cancellations, and the registration deadlines that gave the general public their first true taste of just how painful the road to universal health coverage might be. That pain will likely continue into 2014 and profoundly shape the midterm elections.

Please go to my Facebook page at and leave your “Best and Worst of 2013.” Would love to hear what you think I omitted. As we step into 2014, I am so thankful to all of you for your time and attention. I can’t wait to share my first book of fiction, “Kerman Derman and the Relic of Perilous Falls” with you in the new year. I have been working at it for a long while and think you and your family will love it. I have a few other surprises in store as well... New Years blessings to you and yours.


Monday, July 8, 2013

What the Dickens Happened to Us?

A simple, small wooden desk, topped by a sloped, leather writing panel. It is not at all the type of thing upon which one would expect greatness to appear. But appear it did.

dickensdeskI spent a good ten minutes studying the writing desk that served Charles Dickens for so many years. It was on this self-designed desk where he scratched out Great Expectations and The Tale of Two Cities. Within the walls of his Doughty Street house in London, now occupied by the Charles Dickens Museum, he wrote Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby by hand. To stand in his office and spend some time near that tiny desk was humbling and a little sad.
Just think of his legacy: A Christmas Carol, The Pickwick Papers, The Old Curiosity Shop... All of it coming from time he spent alone shaping the raw material he gathered from the teeming city around him. Dickens wrote "I never could have done what I have done without the habits of punctuality, order, and diligence, without the determination to concentrate myself on one subject at a time." Dickens routine was to write undisturbed between breakfast and lunch. He would then spend the afternoon attending to his philanthropic work and later honing dramatic readings of his masterpieces.
But this enduring output was reliant on the life and culture around him. He took time to wander the streets of town picking up story ideas, cadences and the passions of his era. Dickens attended everything from public hangings to grand theatre premieres. Today one wonders what Dickens would find on those same streets were he to wander them today. I just went for a stroll myself (in the DC area admittedly) and found a menagerie of loners: People entirely cut off from one another--tethered to ear buds, trapped in an audio universe of their own construction. When they do look up it's usually to avoid walking into an oncoming vehicle or to check a text on their smart phones. The only dialogue I heard on my 20 minute walk were either people cursing each other out, or people cursing loudly into cell phones. Not exactly the raw matter of the next David Copperfield...

For all our connectivity we are more isolated today than at any time in human history. The recent book Going Solo cites the staggering statistic that in 1950 22% of American adults were single, today that number has risen to 50%. 31 million Americans are soloists. We are (to borrow that old song title) alone together. Without real interaction--the human clash-- drama, music, film, television and literature withers. It leads to a pop culture and arts scene drained of life-- tired and recycled. It falls back on what was and what worked before. Is it any wonder that our cineplexes are featuring yet another Lone Ranger reboot, after another Superman reboot, after another Star Trek reboot, all overwhelmed by one more sequel appropriately called: Despicable Me 2!

The arts are usually an accurate reflection of where we are as a people. And it seems a pretty Bleak House from this vantage point. Culturally speaking you might even call it Hard Times. Perhaps Dickens' captured it best in 1842, following his first tour of America, when he wrote to his friend William Macready: "This is not the republic I came to see; this is not the republic of my imagination." I think we all know how he must have felt.
Original Oliver Twist

Friday, May 3, 2013

A Cautionary Tattoo Tale

Came across a story the other day that underscores the permanence of the decisions we make in our youth. It is a wry piece with a hint of sadness. In a book I co-wrote with Laura Ingraham, Of Thee I Zing, we opined on the tattoo fad writing: "Please don't call it 'body art.' Tattoos are not only disgusting, but they change shape as you age. That cool eagle tattooed on your shoulder at age eighteen, by forty-five looks like a seagull with leprosy."
What follows is the tale of a deflated unicorn and the lasting mark of the choices we make on a whim. For those with friends or kids contemplating marking themselves with a tattoo or in more profound ways, read this and be warned:

Friday, April 12, 2013

Mother Angelica's 90th Birthday

April 20th will mark the 90th birthday of dear Mother Angelica. To commemorate the occasion, my publisher, Image and I are giving away 90 copies of my biography of Mother throughout the month. To qualify, go to the top of my homepage (above) and click on the "Happy 90th Birthday Mother Angelica" banner. There you can sign up to enter yourself in our giveaway. Additionally, I am giving away some copies of the audio version of the Mother Angelica biography. To get one of those, send me an e-mail at Tell me how Mother has changed your life or the life of someone you know. Put Mother Angelica in the subject line. Keep your story pithy and I may read a few of the letters on air next week and share the best ones with Mother and the nuns.

Remember the entire Mother Angelica canon of books (the biography, Mother Angelica's Little Book of Life Lessons, Mother Angelica's Private and Pithy Lessons from the Scriptures, and the Prayers and Personal Devotions of Mother Angelica) are available online and at bookstores everywhere. Click "Books" to the left to get your own copies. Thanks for visiting and Happy Birthday Mother!