I am a consecrated man who follows the spirituality of Blessed Charles de Foucauld. I live on my own, in the world, in Biloxi, MS. My goal with this site is to provide resources and reflections for others.
God bless you, Matthew Manint

A Reflection on Pilgrimage


I recently returned from a young adult pilgrimage to Italy with the Apostles of the Interior Life in celebration of the 25th anniversary of their founding in Rome (I was given a waiver since I’m no longer a young adult.) While I had lived in Italy for several months and had visited it a few other times, this pilgrimage was especially meaningful. Like Dante in the opening line of his great pilgrimage, the “Divine Comedy,” I found myself “midway upon the journey of (my) life,” having just turned 39.

After several days, I soon began to see that being immersed in the physical locations of pilgrimage, and even viewing the physical remains of the saints, brought home that they, just like me, had to choose the good each and every day, no matter what happened. And yet, the pilgrimage of life is not walked alone, for all of these saints are alive in the Body of Christ, offering support and encouragement.

Before speaking about this physicality, it’s important to know that in both Catholicism and Orthodoxy there is an ancient practice of displaying the bodies and bones of the saints for the purpose of veneration and remembrance. In the United States, largely formed by the philosophies and practices of post-Enlightenment Protestantism, this practice of veneration might seem strange. The purpose of this little essay is not so much to explain the reasons the ancient apostolic churches do this, but to reveal its effect on me in my pilgrimage. However, for those wanting to know more about the history of this veneration, especially in the very early Church, this link is quite good:

There is something to be said about walking in the footsteps of the saints, but it is something else entirely to see them face to face. The picture above was taken at The Hermitage of St. Catherine on Lake Maggiore in northern Italy. It was founded by a merchant named Alberto Besozzi of Arolo, who in the 12th century found himself in a violent storm while he was in a boat on Lake Maggiore. Seeing his situation was desperate, he vowed to God that, should he live, he would spend the rest of his life in solitude and prayer. His lifestyle soon attracted others, and a complex of buildings was built on the shore of the lake, including an atmospheric, frescoed church. Within that church, his body lies within a glass casket, dressed in the habit of a religious.

Standing before his remains, I looked upon the thin, desiccated lips that had, nearly 900 years ago, sputtered and gasped out his vow in the midst of the storm. His feet and his hands carried his work and his prayer in fidelity to his promise each day of his life. “He was a real man; he truly existed,” I thought. He had to face temptation and struggle, and he had to choose to be faithful to God every day.

This physicality of pilgrimage can reveal lessons and feed meditation in nearly every circumstance. On the last day of the group pilgrimage, I was able to help out by giving some commentary and history on such sights in Rome as the Coliseum, the Forum, and various churches. Standing near the Roman Forum, I said, “This is the very heart of ancient Rome. If we walked towards that arch you see, the Arch of Titus, you would find reliefs showing the Romans carrying away the riches of the Temple of Jerusalem after they sacked the city in AD 70. Their empire was the most powerful in the known world, powerful enough to spare the time, money, and men to utterly crush the last remnants of the Jewish rebellion at Masada. At the time, it was inconceivable that anything would bring the Roman Empire to its knees. And what do you see now?”

“Nothing…ruins,” they answered.

In my last 2 days of solo pilgrimage in Rome, I meditated on how soon earthly nations and empires crumble and that even the most powerful men fade into the past. Walking rather aimlessly towards the Tiber River, I happened to go into St. Agnes’s Church at Piazza Navona. The piazza is built on the former Stadium of Domitian, which was used for such events as footraces and gladiatorial combats. It was a smaller stadium, and seated perhaps 15,000 to 20,000 spectators. The arcades around the stadium were often used as brothels, and it was to one of these that the young St. Agnes was condemned in the reign of Diocletian for being a Christian. Preserved by God from being raped at the brothel, the exasperated Romans finally killed her by the sword.

I walked into her church and went into a side chapel. There, I was stunned to see the small, delicate skull of a girl of perhaps 12 years of age – St. Agnes. Her skull rested in a rectangular silver reliquary. At the center was a wreath of green enamel that recalled the evergreen wreaths that were often laid at the graves of virgin martyrs in the early Church. The wreath framed the clear, circular portal through which her little skull could be seen.

It was a moment of such tenderness, intimacy, and beauty. Her life and witness seemed to echo there with her mortal remains. This pure, brave girl, condemned by Rome to be murdered in obscurity before her life had even bloomed, was still alive, still known. Even though she died over 1,700 years ago, she was alive in the same Body of Christ as myself, and there did not seem to be any barrier of time or death to keep us from each other. In the presence of this “dead bone,” there was a torrent of life that would never fade into a lifeless, forgotten past.

Seeing this skull of a mere child who gave her life because of her faith, I meditated on the contrast of Agnes and the Empire that murdered her in the days that followed. When I was speaking to the pilgrims at the Forum, I said, “Yes, only the ruins of the Roman Empire remain. And yet, look at what is still alive and here today—the Church and the witness of the saints. This mighty empire, like all others, did not last. But Christ remains.”

The saints, even those who perished over a millennia ago, have a freshness, a newness that transcends the dust of the years to inspire us to imitation. It is this newness that I experienced in the ability of St. Agnes to transfix my heart and speak across the centuries, seeming to say, “You can do this! I will pray for you and walk with you the rest of your pilgrimage.”



C.S.-Lewist-Forgiveness-482x600(The following is a brief meditation that I gave for a parish mission in May 2015 at Navarre, Florida. The mission was led by the Apostles of the Interior Life.)

“Now the serpent was more subtle than any other wild creature that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree of the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons.
And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.” (Genesis 3:1-8)

In this brief reading from Genesis, we can see the entire arc of sin and its effects. We, like Adam and Eve, are tempted to do something that God forbids, hoping that it will bring us happiness. And what happens as soon as the sin is committed? We are ashamed, and we want to hide from God. Continue reading

Another Visit to Beulah Cemetery

A line of little metal grave markers, none of which had any identifying information intact.

A line of little metal grave markers, none of which had any identifying information intact.

On March 7, I was again in Vicksburg and had a chance to go to Beulah Cemetery, the burial place of Claude Newman and so many others. I had been emailing a woman who is helping to oversee the cemetery. Her own grandparents are buried there, but she does not know where their graves are located. I had also called various funeral homes to see if I could locate the one given in Claude’s obituary: “People’s Undertaking Company of Jackson.” I finally contacted that particular funeral home, but they said that funeral homes do not keep records of burial locations. I also attempted to find out if there were others who were volunteering to locate graves and do cleanup, but didn’t make much headway.

I stopped by Walmart and bought a “grabber” and some trash bags to do some cleanup while I was visiting. The cemetery had remarkably little trash to gather, perhaps because the entrance is cordoned off to vehicles. In fact, I had to put a note on my windshield saying I was a volunteer doing cleanup, as there were “no parking” signs in the only area open for parking. It seems the dead at Beulah don’t get many visitors.

I came to the conclusion that Claude is most likely buried in an out of the way place that is not marked. If so many people who were not executed criminals don’t have headstones or markers, it’s difficult to believe that Claude would be an exception. Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace.


Grave with a broken statue.

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Like a Dove in the Cleft of the Rock


My second book is finished – the PDF is free!

I’ve finally completed a book that is based on a retreat that I preached for the Apostles of the Interior Life in 2013. The book is about the climb of holiness viewed through the lens of the Song of Songs and the life of St. Mary Magdalene.

You can order a paperback or hardback (or Kindle for $0.99!) copy here:

Or, if you’d like to read it for free as a PDF file, just click here:


Heart and Cross Pins for Sale

I wanted to find a nice red lapel pin of the heart and cross, but did not have any success. I decided to create a design and have them made.

I would like to make the extra pins available for sale. They are cloisonne enamel with a nickel border and a polished finish. The color is a true red–the color you see on the jacket photo is more accurate than the close up.The back is a standard military clutch. They are 0.75in/1.9cm tall. They look especially nice on a jacket lapel, ballcap, or bag.

They are available for $6.50 for the first pin, $4.00 for each additional pin (the cost includes shipping within the United States – we can work out something if you’re outside the US). Please send me a message through this site if you’d like to order one or more!


The Search for the Grave of Claude Newman

Blessed Claude Newman and Our Lady

Claude Newman and Mary

(Nota bene: when sending out this link, I mistakenly gave Claude the title of “Blessed.” Somewhere along the line of investigating his life, I had heard him referred to as Bl. Claude Newman. He does not appear to be formally enrolled in the list of the Church’s blessed and saints, but his repentance and love would certainly be strong arguments for his inclusion!)

In Vicksburg, Mississippi, there is a cemetery that is on the National Register of Historic Places. Beulah Cemetery was founded in the 1880s, and it has served the black population of Vicksburg. Somewhere within it lies the remains of Claude Newman, an executed murderer and saint.

In 1943, Claude Newman was sentenced to death by the electric chair for the murder of Sid Cook. One night, he was awakened in his cell by a touch on his wrist. When he awoke, he saw “the most beautiful Woman that God ever created.” She said, “If you would like me to be your mother, and you would like to be my child, send for a priest of the Catholic Church.” Claude received instruction in the Faith, and was executed on Feb. 4, 1944. He was 20 years old.

Before he was executed, Claude had been offering his prayers and sacrifices for a fellow white criminal, James Hughs. James was described by the priest who knew Claude (and who also knew of Claude’s secret intercession for James) as the most immoral man he had ever met. James was scheduled for execution on May 19, 1944. As he was asked by the sheriff if he had any last words, James began to blaspheme. Suddenly, he began shrieking and asked for a priest. James told the priest that he had seen Claude in the corner of the room with Mary’s hands on each of his shoulders. James was shown a vision of his place in Hell. He confessed with deep repentance and was executed.

I had the chance to visit Beulah Cemetery on March 1, 2014. I knew that finding the grave of Claude would be nearly impossible. Back then, executed criminals’ final resting places were not a top priority. Perhaps a “good riddance” was murmured as the disturbed soil was scraped over the casket. A grave marker would most likely be cheap, easily overturned, and prone to leave the body in anonymity.

Beulah Cemetery lies at the end of the road of one of the most depressed areas of the city. I have seen cemeteries that were in disrepair, especially in the South. Crypts that are collapsed inward, leaving the bones in full view. Headstones that are knocked to the ground. What I would see at Beulah was so heartbreaking that I still can’t honestly believe that the dead would be so forgotten.

The gnarled hills of Beulah had some marble headstones, but these were a minority. Small metal frames littered the rotting leaves. Most of these frames were simply scattered on the ground; very few of them were upright. At first, the lack of any names or dates on the frames made me wonder what they were for. As I looked closer, some of the frames revealed their purpose: a paper form was filled out with the name, birth and death dates, and age of the deceased, and then slid behind the glass of the frame. My heart broke at the number of these frames the bore no paper.

Did the cemetery have records of those buried? Were these dead now consigned to an anonymous resting place? I looked over the hills of Beulah, and saw perhaps four or five plastic bouquets of flowers. How can a loved one visit a grave that has lost its marker?

I wandered the lonely grounds, praying that I might know where to go to find Claude’s grave. “Don’t you see,” he seemed to say, “the vast number of these unknown children of God? Who remembers them, and who visits them now?” I realized that finding his grave really didn’t matter. I had brought a bouquet of roses for him, but I saw a grave with one of the metal frames that had no paper. The ground was soft and sunken; perhaps the family could not afford a proper vault. This anonymous grave was as good a place as any to pay my respects. I asked Claude Newman to pray for me as he had prayed for James, and I’m sure we both were praying for that poor soul in its unmarked Mississippi grave.

For a more in-depth biography of Claude and his conversion, please visit

Beulah Cemetery is not forgotten. A movement is underway to try and restore markers and clean the grounds. Please visit to assist with these efforts.