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
(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 →
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.
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.
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!
(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.