Saturday, December 19, 2015

Items of Interest: Week of Dominica III Adventus

Please: Don’t Respect My Beliefs
by Marc (Bad Catholic). «Respect for other beliefs, tolerance of other religions, acceptance of other cultures — these doctrines are usually sugar-sweet forms of violence. This seems to me the only adequate explanation as to why our age is simultaneously respectful and racist; liberal and segregated; proud of diversity and incapable of actually enjoying diverse company outside of mandatorily diverse institutions — a schizophrenic personality that imagines itself open to the Other in all her differences while fearing, more than most things, any actual contact with the Other.»

The Synod’s Final Report is Out in English, and It’s Remarkably Strong
by Glenn Stanton (National Catholic Register). «The world was gleefully told by the enlightened—again and again and again—that it looked as if the Church was finally going to join the modern age by surrendering to the self-evident verities of the sexual revolution. Giddy at the prospects of Pope Francis’ supposed reforming spirit, the gay community’s leading magazine canonized the Holy Father as their “Person of the Year” before the Synod even started. While this chatter of reformation made the heterodox hopeful, it made the orthodox anxious. But all that is over now and there’s a very good reason that you’ve not been blasted with the news of the synod’s conclusions. It not only dashed the hopes of those who hoped the Church would jettison its historic and biblical teaching on sexual ethics, it blew them to hell.»

Abortion, Murder, and the Law
by Christopher Kaczor (The Catholic Thing). «Like laws against illegal drugs, the law should focus on the drug dealers who profit from endangering others rather than on drug users who often suffer from their use. Similarly, laws against abortion should focus on abortionists who profit from killing, rather than women who often suffer from abortions.»

The O Antiphons in Middle English: ‹To þe we clepe with alle owre hert and brethe›
by A Clerk of Oxford. «In medieval England, 16th December was the first day of the O Antiphons. (In other parts of the church they began on 17th December, but they lasted eight days, rather than seven, in English tradition.) Every day between now and Christmas Eve, at Vespers, in the early dusk of a midwinter evening, the antiphon would be one of these ancient songs of longing and desire, which address Christ by a series of allusive titles drawn from scriptural tradition and appeal to him: Come. So memorable was the beginning of these antiphons that it was marked on 16th December in calendars like the one above, almost as if it were a saint's day - not an honour often accorded to liturgical antiphons.»

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Items of Interest: Week of Dominica II Adventus

Guadalupe and God’s Word: A Biblical-Theological Interpretation of Her Apparition
by Paulino Forte (Homiletic & Pastoral Review). «When Miguel Sánchez published Imagen de la Virgen María in 1648, he did more than document the first apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the New World. Scholars agree that his account became a lens through which clergy and faithful interpreted Our Lady of Guadalupe by promoting a set of Marian themes that explained the significance of the apparition. In the pages that follow, I will present the key interpretative elements of Sánchez’s book—primarily, Mary as the Woman from Revelation 12, the New Eve and the New Ark of the Covenant—and examine how his Patristic-influenced theology made a compelling argument for the uniqueness of her apparition. This will include a brief review of the liturgical readings from her feast day that reflect the typological interpretation employed by Sánchez.»

Our Lady of Guadalupe & the Renaissance of Civilization
by Peter Howard ( «The global significance of Mary’s appearances in Guadalupe cannot be underscored enough. What took place in 1531, and the Marian revolution which followed for the next eight years, is a message for all the world! Let’s briefly look at the history of this event in order to appreciate its more important spiritual significance. It is a history contextualized between the seemingly endless conflict between Christianity and Islam and, more broadly, the culture of life versus a culture of death.»

Nican Mopohua: Here It Is Told
by Antonio Valeriano. The original source document on Our Lady of Guadalupe, in parallel English and Nahuatl versions.«Here it is told, and set down in order, how a short time ago the Perfect Virgin Holy Mary Mother of God, our Queen, miraculously appeared out at Tepeyac, widely known as Guadalupe.»

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Items of Interest: Week of Dominica I Adventus

The Desire of Nations
by David Bentley Hart (First Things). «Some Christians, it is my experience, become terribly anxious when confronted by the similarities between the language of Christianity in the early centuries and that of many of the pagan devotions of late antiquity (just as certain of Christianity’s cultured despisers rejoice in them). And, of course, some of the more primitivist strains of Protestantism have historically take these similarities as proof of something corrupt and even perhaps diabolical in the Catholic forms of Christian belief and observance. Whatever the case, it is simply a fact that neither in the intensity of its piety, nor in the spiritual longings it answered, nor even in its liturgical and sacramental conventions, did Christianity bring something entirely novel into the world. As early as the late first century, Christianity was in very many places—morphologically, but also in its dogma—a ‹mystery religion› of a sort known throughout the empire, offering salvation through sacramental initiation into a corporate association and sacramental devotion to a savior deity. And it would be pointless to deny that, say, the iconography of Isis and Osiris might conceivably have influenced later Christian iconography of Mary and Christ, or that something of the ancient reverence for the Magna Mater deorum lived on in Christian veneration of the Mater Dei—radically transformed perhaps, redeemed if one likes, flowering into a new kind of devotional beauty, but springing up from the same roots of spiritual longing and imagination.»

Calculating Christmas: The Story Behind December 25
by William J. Tighe (Touchstone). It's that time of year again... «Many Christians think that Christians celebrate Christ’s birth on December 25th because the church fathers appropriated the date of a pagan festival. Almost no one minds, except for a few groups on the fringes of American Evangelicalism, who seem to think that this makes Christmas itself a pagan festival. But it is perhaps interesting to know that the choice of December 25th is the result of attempts among the earliest Christians to figure out the date of Jesus’ birth based on calendrical calculations that had nothing to do with pagan festivals. Rather, the pagan festival of the ‹Birth of the Unconquered Sun› instituted by the Roman Emperor Aurelian on 25 December 274, was almost certainly an attempt to create a pagan alternative to a date that was already of some significance to Roman Christians. Thus the ‹pagan origins of Christmas› is a myth without historical substance.»

On Shooting Abortionists
by Mark Shea (Catholic and Enjoying It). «We know in our bones–if we are not crazy–that murdering abortionists is not the way to demonstrate an authentically prolife position. And so we recognize the sanity of saying, as our very first response to such killings, ‹All truly prolife people denounce this wanton act of cold-blooded murder, re-affirm the right to life for *all* human beings, pray for the victims, demand swift judgement for the shooter, and offer ourselves in service to all those suffering from this crime.› But then the questions crowd in.»

Is Robert Dear Another John Brown?
by Jamelle Bouie (Slate). «Speaking to BuzzFeed News, Eric Scheidler of the Pro-Life Action League voiced his dismay with accusations of blame. ‹It’s extremely frustrating, and I don’t see anything we could possibly do,› he said. ‹Like anyone, he’s going to pick up on the news of the day but what he does with the news is beyond our control. I don’t know how we’re going to fight abortion without talking about it.› He continued: ‹Should William Lloyd Garrison have kept quiet about slavery because of madmen like John Brown?› That’s a big question. And an important one. Even if it’s an idle comment, by raising the specter of John Brown, Scheidler sheds light on the key tension in this discussion, which goes beyond — but is tied to — the question of rhetoric.»

Orthodox Rabbinic Statement on Christianity — To Do the Will of Our Father in Heaven: Toward a Partnership between Jews and Christians
by The Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation. «After nearly two millennia of mutual hostility and alienation, we Orthodox Rabbis who lead communities, institutions and seminaries in Israel, the United States and Europe recognize the historic opportunity now before us. We seek to do the will of our Father in Heaven by accepting the hand offered to us by our Christian brothers and sisters. Jews and Christians must work together as partners to address the moral challenges of our era.»

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Items of Interest: Week of Domini Nostri Jesu Christi Regis

Mission abandoned: did we betray John XXIII’s vision for Vatican II?
by George Weigel (Catholic Herald). «[As] John XXIII understood it, the purpose of Vatican II was to renew the Church’s understanding of the patrimony of truth it bore as a gift from Christ himself. Why? So that the Church might become a more effective witness to the truth about humanity...Vatican II was intended as a call to unity and evangelism, but its legacy has been an escalation of intra-Catholic wars. It is time to embrace John XXIII’s original vision.»

Sartre and the Christmas of Jesus
by Massimo Borghesi (30 Days). «Christmas 1940: Sartre, interned in a German prison camp, composed a story to be recited in a hut. It was the play text Bariona, ou le Fils du tonnerre. From it emerges an unfamiliar Sartre who seems touched for a moment by the stunned affection of Mary, Josephs’s gaze and the hopes of the Magi and the shepherds in front of the God child. ‹They have joined their hands and are thinking: something has begun. And they are wrong…›»

Abortion in/as a Consumer Structure
by Matthew Tan (Solidarity). « is article argues that the contemporary acceptability of abortion is not solely due to the Liberal imperative to exercise individual choice. Rather, abortion's acceptability needs to be explained with reference to the techniques of consumer culture. is article will begin by explaining how practices in general predispose one to gravitate towards one form of practices rather than another. It will then look at how consumer practices generate a biopolitics of economic e ciency and corporeal commodi cation which culminates in a politics of visibility. Under such conditions, even basic categories like mere existence is dependent on its ability to be displayed for public view. is article will conclude by re ecting on the necessity of forging the Church not as a subsection of a public framed by consumerism, but as an alternative public in its own right.»

Laudato si’ Invites You: An Economy Beyond Capitalism
by Keith Michael Estrada (Proper Nomenclature). «It is crucial to understand the encyclical as it is written. Reading commentaries or quick news bits that include a few quotes and mesh it together either with an ideological attack or an ideological defense, whether left or right, typically seems to reinforce and rationalize a comfortable embrace of various brands of cafeteria Catholicism, for some, and à la carte reasoning, for others. In other words, Laudato points out and rebukes various brands of the same relativism in today’s society.»

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Items of Interest: Week of Dominica XXV Post Pentecosten

The Plot to Kill Hitler and the Vindication of Pius XII
by Fr. George W. Rutler (Crisis Magazine). «The relative passivity of people in the West in the face of genocide of Christians by Muslims in the Middle East and elsewhere is neither edifying nor encouraging. As for espionage, when representatives of Live Action, and the Center for Medical Progress more recently, filmed undercover interviews with Planned Parenthood functionaries, there were academics, even pro-life ones, who called these “sting operations” unethical for lying about the investigators’ identities. What would they say about Pius XII and his undercover agents? For that matter, what would those who absolutely oppose capital punishment with no mitigating circumstances say about the urgent appeal of Pius XII to hang those found guilty at Nuremburg? When a systematic moral calculus rooted in natural law gives way to the vagaries of sentiment, the antinomianism that results often becomes enmeshed in its own contradictions.»

Habetis Papam
By David Bentley Hart (First Things). «Far be it from me — not being a Roman Catholic — to tell Catholics what they should think of their pontiff. But, just as a brief amicus curiae (so to speak), I want to note that I feel a wholly unqualified admiration for Francis; and nothing he has done, said, or written since assuming office has had any effect on me but to deepen that esteem. I have to say also that I am utterly baffled by the anxiety, disappointment, or hostility he clearly inspires in certain American Catholics of a conservative bent (using “conservative” in its distinctly American acceptation). And frankly I find it no more inexplicable in its most extreme expressions—which at their worst verge on sheer ­hysteria—than in its mildest—an almost morbid oversensitivity to every faint hint of hidden meanings in every word, however innocuous, that escapes the pope’s lips or pen.»

Pope Halts Canonization Process in Move «Without Historical Precedent»
by Deacon Greg Kandra (Aleteia). «The Pope has halted the canonization process for Aloysius Stepinac, the Croation Catholic Archbishop of Zagreb from 1937 until his death in 1960. Pope John Paul II had beatified the fiercely anti-communist archbishop, who spent many years in prison and under house arrest in Communist Yugoslavia, in 1998. The archbishop’s actions during World War II, however, especially his ties to the Nazi-aligned, murderous Ustaše regime, have raised criticism not only from the Serbian Orthodox Church but also from other victim groups.»

The Apophatic Quality of Speaking About God
by Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon (Preachers Institute). «It is always a good thing, surely, to examine the meanings of the words we speak, but when we speak about God critical reflection is downright imperative.»

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Items of Interest: Week of Dominica XXIV Post Pentecosten

The Errors of the Militant Atheist
by Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry (National Review). «[W]e have arrived at a peculiar moment when our elite institutions and discourse seem to be utterly ignorant of their own philosophical and cultural legacy. The institutions we live in and through, whether the scientific revolution or liberal democracy or the concept of human rights, were built and explored by great thinkers, who in turn were grounded in great traditions of rational speculation (that is to say, of philosophy), and it is mystifying and, frankly, very scary that we have arrived at this moment of what can only be called cultural amnesia — an amnesia so profound that we have not only forgotten, we’ve forgotten that we’ve forgotten.»

The Medieval Mind and the Modernist Error
By Thomas McDonald (National Catholic Register). «The great modernist error is that these people were less intelligent than we are today. That is, their minds were simply weaker than ours, or mired in superstition, or shackled by a dictatorial Church. None of that has any roots in actual history. It's simply the bias of modern man--and the progressive in particular--who believes his forebears were dumber than he.»

Patriarchal villains? It’s time to re-think St Paul and St Augustine
by Rowan Williams (The New Statesman). «Paul and Augustine are blamed for any number of historical outrages. But on questions like slavery and empire, they were more progressive than many credit.»

Bridging a False Divide: Systematic Theology & Scriptural Exegesis Belong Together
by Bishop Robert Barron (First Things). «Thoroughly understandable is N. T. Wright’s dry remark that most of the Christology of the last two hundred years, both Protestant and Catholic, has been Marcionite in form, that is, developed in almost complete abstraction from the Old Testament. Thus it appeared to me that there was indeed a gulf between the Bible and theology, and that I had placed myself squarely on one side of it.»

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Items of Interest: Week of Omnium Sanctorum

The Unexamined Assumptions of the Skeptic: Alison Gopnik’s Trade of Hard Atheism for Soft Atheism
by Fr. Patrick Irish (American Orthodox Institute). «Gopnik, and by extension every post-Russell skeptic has done (logically), is an attempt to shift away human consideration of any unprovable It (God, Self, a Purple Dragon or Russell’s Teapot) to an unexamined acceptance of unprovable metaphysical notions like numina. She sets forth an irrational analogical propaganda of human skepticism versus Aristotelian metaphysics, one that she does not test, honestly as a skeptic.»

Recovering Lincoln’s Teaching on the Limits to the Courts--and Giving the News to David Blankenhorn
By Hadley Arkes (Public Discourse). «History clearly demonstrates that the legislative branch can legitimately act to counter the rulings of the judicial branch. This is as true for marriage as it was for slavery.»

The Synod’s Fundamental Issue: The Legacy of St. John Paul II
by Fr. Raymond J. de Souza (National Catholic Register). «How much of John Paul’s vast teaching and witness will remain of guiding importance and what aspects, if any, will be left aside?»

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Items of Interest: Week of Dominica XXII Post Pentecosten

Amid calls for reform, a look at stats – and stories – from the US prison system
by Matt Hadro (Catholic News Agency). «We need to move away from this mentality of punishment for its own sake and look at smarter sentencing, smarter ways of doing incarceration that in the end, not only protect society, but also lift up human life and dignity.»

Under the radar: The Democratic Party is in dire straits
By Stephen Schneck (U.S. Catholic). «The crisis facing the Democratic Party is real. Current party leadership is hardly reassuring. Unless the party can develop new leaders able to rise above the temptations of identity politics and base-mobilizing campaigns, unless it can reorient itself to its roots in the working class, immigrants, and needs of the economically disadvantaged, unless it can free itself from the chokehold of its own special interests and become again the party of the public interest and effective governance, then the future for the Democratic Party in America is pretty bleak.»

The Text and the Context
by Robert Royal (The Catholic Thing). «The Final Report is a tolerable text, especially for something produced by a committee of 270. If it had been passed under the papacy of John Paul II, it would have raised little, if any, alarm. But in a context of mutual suspicion and anger, what is tolerable may become intolerable.»

Divorce is not a mortal sin
by Fr. Paul Keller, C.M.F. (U.S. Catholic). «Looking back at all the debates that took place before, during, and after the Synod on the Family, the most serious and most common misrepresentation of Catholic Church teaching is the claim that those who have divorced and remarried are not allowed to receive communion because they are in a state of mortal sin.»

Porn for the Privileged
by Melinda Selmys (First Things). «[M]any feminists who enter the sex industry do so out of a sincere desire to enter into solidarity with their stigmatized, marginalized, and exploited sisters. The problem is that, in the process, they end up appropriating for themselves the right to tell the sex-worker's story—and the story that they tell comes from an atypical experience of sex work that is voluntarily undertaken, relatively sanitized, and easily abandoned...Men don't go to peep shows so that they can self-critically reflect on women's sexuality and the politics of desire. To ignore this is not an act of radical female autonomy, it's an act of dangerous and narcissistic irresponsibility.»

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Items of Interest: Week of Dominica XXI Post Pentecosten

Doctor Zhivago and American Conservatism
by Benjamin Musachio (National Review). «Pasternak’s novel played a role in sorting out Birchers from mainstream conservatives.»

The Truth about Mass Incarceration
by Stephanos Bibas (National Review). «American criminal justice has drifted away from its moral roots. The Left has forgotten how to blame and punish, and too often the Right has forgotten how to forgive. Over-imprisonment is wrong, but not because wrongdoers are blameless victims of a white-supremacist conspiracy. It is wrong because state coercion excessively disrupts work, families, and communities, the building blocks of society, with too little benefit to show for it. Our strategies for deterring crime not only fail to work on short-sighted, impulsive criminals, but harden them into careerists. Criminals deserve punishment, but it is wise as well as humane to temper justice with mercy.»

Catholic Integralism and the Social Kingship of Christ
by Gabriel Sanchez (The Josias). «Contrary to popular belief, Catholic integralism—or what I shall refer to simply as “integralism” for the duration of this essay—is not first and foremost a political program. For the integral understanding of Christianity begins first with the supernatural society established by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, namely the Corpus Mysticum, the Holy Catholic Church, which transcends the temporal sphere and has for its end the salvation of souls. By carrying out its mission in the world, the Catholic Church possesses indirect power over the temporal sphere which is exercised for the good of souls. This indirect power in no way sullies the Church’s divine mission nor dilutes it by way of overextension since the civil authority retains at all times direct power over temporal matters.»

Christianity and the West
by Wolfhart Pannenberg (First Things). «Contrary to what some Protestants had thought, a Christian culture is not a plausible alternative to the ecclesial form of Christianity. If it ever was, it is no longer. There is no alternative to the Church. The further the secularist dominance of the general culture advances, the more clearly the Church, in clear distinction from that culture, emerges as the reference point of Christian existence. The Church takes the form of particular local congregations and of the universal communion of all Christians. These forms of ecclesial allegiance are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, only as they strengthen one another can the Christian community face with confidence the challenges that are ever more strongly posed by both the secular culture and the competing claims of other religions. Thus have we been brought by an ambiguous past to face with confidence an uncertain future.»

What’s the Real Problem with Payday Loans?
by Joe Carter (Acton Institute). «If you’re middle class and think of it in terms of interest rate, that repayment cost sounds appalling usurious. And it is. But as the poor will tell you, man does not live on APR alone. Having to pay an extra $120 was cheaper than having to find a new place to live. Yes, it was a bad deal. But it was better than all my other choices. I didn’t agree to the loan because I was bad at a math; I did it because I was desperate. And the payday lending company was more than willing to take advantage of my desperation.»

Friday, October 16, 2015

Items of Interest: Week of Dominica XX Post Pentecosten

Social Deviancy: A Medieval Approach
by Guy Geltner ( «Between the twelfth and fourteenth centuries, European cities witnessed a growth of what are sometimes called marginalizing institutions and spaces – hospitals, brothels, leper-houses, prisons, and Jewish quarters. Historians have often cited this development in order to illustrate the persecuting mentality that allegedly characterized a Europe coming into its own: an increasingly introspective society seeking self-definition and, so the arguments runs, closing its ranks to religious outsiders, such as Jews and heretics, as well as to internal Others, from homosexuals and lepers, to prostitutes, to the physically and mentally ill. Seen in this light, medieval society appears to have failed yet another moral test set to it by its modern heirs. The available evidence supports a different reading, however, one that stresses the semi-inclusiveness of institutions benefiting those at the dawn, twilight, and shadow of life. From this revised perspective, the choice to create facilities such as brothels and prisons within cities and to govern them responsibly constitutes a high – rather than low – benchmark of medieval adaptation to social and religious heterogeneity and the growing presence of at-risk populations. In the parlance of modern public health, medieval city councils adopted a strategy of harm reduction.»

Power in the Church? Women Have Always Had It
by Elizabeth Scalia (Aletia). «The fact is, for all of the talk about how oppressive the church has been for women, there has been no other institution in history which has given women such free reign to create, explore, discover, serve, manage, build, expand, usually with very little help from the coffers of the diocese in which they worked, and largely without intrusion on the part of the male hierarchy...Almost from its inception, the church has been a force and fomenter of feminine self-actualization. One is hard-pressed to name a single institution on the planet, other than the Catholic Church, which would have allowed women to simply run with their heads, be who they were born to be, and accomplish great things.»

Science is Often Flawed. It's Time We Embraced That.
by Julia Belluz and Steven Hoffman (Vox). «‹We need to change what the starting assumption ought to be. If it's provisionality rather than truth, we need to build in the checks and balances around that.› As such efforts — like the reproducibility projects, or post-publication peer review — gain traction, the scientific community is waking up to that fact. Now the rest of us need to.»

The Color of Debt: How Collection Suits Squeeze Black Neighborhoods
by Paul Kiel and Annie Waldman, ProPublica (Truthout). «[W]hen ProPublica attempted to measure, for the first time, the prevalence of judgments stemming from these suits, a clear pattern emerged: they were massed in black neighborhoods. The disparity was not merely because black families earn less than white families. Our analysis of five years of court judgments from three metropolitan areas - St. Louis, Chicago and Newark - showed that even accounting for income, the rate of judgments was twice as high in mostly black neighborhoods as it was in mostly white ones. These findings could suggest racial bias by lenders or collectors. But we found that there is another explanation: That generations of discrimination have left black families with grossly fewer resources to draw on when they come under financial pressure.»

«Spiritual Friendship» and Ministering to the Same-Sex Attracted
by Rachel Lu (Catholic World Report). «The ‹Spiritual Friendship› bloggers are the most visible spokesmen for what it means to be orthodox Christians and gay, but elements of their approach are inconsistent, and can hamper those genuinely anxious to help.»

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Items of Interest: Week of Dominica XIX Post Pentecosten

When Is It Okay to Disobey? Catholics and Civil Disobedience
by Fr. Frank Pavone (Catholic Answers). «How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. . . . One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.»

On Resistance: What are the Options?
by James Kalb (Crisis Magazine). «So we shouldn’t burn incense to Caesar, and we shouldn’t participate in abortion or solemnization of same-sex ‹marriage.› But what else shouldn’t we do? The scope of government is much broader than in the past. How far does the right or duty of conscientious objection go when an activist government—and all Western governments are activist—attempts to remake society down to the level of the family in ways at odds with natural law and the common good? To what extent should we treat not just specific acts but large parts of a system designed to advance ‹social reform› as something we must reject and resist?»

The Catholic Church Will Survive: Putting Crises in Perspective
by Thomas L. McDonald (National Catholic Register). «The Church is always in some form of turmoil or another; sometimes great, sometimes minor. Powerful people may try to drive us to the very edge of schism. The faithful will continue to be confused. It was ever thus, from the first day James and John argued about who got to sit in the places of privilege. We were given a divine institution, and we handled it with our usual mix of glory and corruption...Relax. The Church has been through worse.»

Prescience in Morris West’s Vatican Trilogy
by F. J. Rocca (Crisis Magazine). «I was startled to find that, while Morris West had no delusions about the church, which he saw not so much as the representative of, but the incarnation of, his Roman Catholic faith, he spelled out in clear and vibrant terms how faith was not in conflict with the human intellect, but was in fact an integral part of its processes on a very high and complex level. It was then that I began to see the light of my religion and the Church’s value as nothing less than the greatest agent of civilization in all of known history. I still occasionally wandered from the path of my faith, again out of intellectual confusion, but I always returned to it. I attribute that return in part to what I got from Morris West’s books and can attest to the effectiveness of his intellectual and religious authority to influence me in a spiritually salvific way.»

The Remarkable Life of Dorothy Day
by Mike Aquilina (OSV Newsweekly). «She has been called ‘a saint for our time’ — here is the story behind the writer, activist and candidate for sainthood.»

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Items of Interest: Week of Dominica XVIII Post Pentecosten

Is the Latin Mass the Magic Bullet?
by Fr. Dwight Longnecker (Standing on My Head). «The problems in the Catholic church are not due to lack of reverence at Mass. The lack of reverence at Mass is due to the problems in the church.»

On Abstaining from Communion
by Max Lindenman (Diary of a Wimpy Catholic). «It might also be emphasized that abstaining from Communion needn’t represent a complete severance of a Catholic’s relationship to the parish, or the Church as a whole. Non-communicants are welcome to attend Mass, hear the Word and adore the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle. My Aunt Betty spent years out of Communion while waiting for the Diocese of Trenton to annul her first marriage. During that time, she continued singing in the choir, and even switched parishes when she determined that her pastor was an idiot – a fairly full ecclesial life.»

Through African Eyes: Resisting America's Cultural Imperialism
by John A. Azumah (First Things). «The African understanding of biblical authority, sex, marriage, and sin may strike my American liberal colleagues as backward and superstitious. Reflecting on the fact that the PC(USA)’s approval of homosexual practice puts her at odds with her African brothers and sisters in Christ, Susan R. Andrews, moderator of the 215th General Assembly of the PC(USA), observed, ‹They [African Christians] are kind of in their adolescence/young-adult stage of moving out into their own independence, yet still figuring out how to be in relationship with us as their parent church.› This paternalism is sadly typical. The ‹inclusive› West operates with an invincible belief in its superiority. Africa is ‹behind.› It’s not coincidental that ‹Westernize› is often used as a synonym for ‹modernize.› We are accustomed to such condescension. We have a great deal of experience with the white man’s burden of telling the whole world what counts as ‹progressive,› ‹advanced,› and ‹modern.› But we have our own judgments of the West and liberal American Christians. Most African Christians acknowledge the church in the West as their ‹parent church.› But we also see it as a dying church.»

The Pope’s Confounding Consistency
by Peter Manseau (The New York Times). «Francis has said he sees the devil at work in the question of marriage equality; Ms. Davis has said her refusal to grant marriage licenses was ‹a heaven or hell decision.› Whatever sets them apart, what the pope and the county clerk ultimately have in common is more than a few moments together in Washington. As his papacy continues, Francis will likely infuriate people on both sides of our political divide, but it won’t be because he’s fickle. Cool or uncool, the pope is consistency itself.»

Friday, September 25, 2015

Items of Interest: Week of Dominica XVII Post Pentecosten

Entranced by Reality
by Ian Marcus Corbin (The American Conservative). A review of Robert Zaretsky's A Life Worth Living: Albert Camus and the Quest for Meaning. Camus' Le Chute was one of the major influences in my initial conversion.

A first and second look at «Mitis Iudex»
by Dr. Edward Peters (Catholic World Report). «I think these five canons and the official explanation that accompanies them raise several serious questions for ecclesiastical marriage law.»

Full Text Of Pope Francis’ Address To Congress
(uCatholic). «A nation can be considered great when it defends liberty as Lincoln did, when it fosters a culture which enables people to “dream” of full rights for all their brothers and sisters, as Martin Luther King sought to do; when it strives for justice and the cause of the oppressed, as Dorothy Day did by her tireless work, the fruit of a faith which becomes dialogue and sows peace in the contemplative style of Thomas Merton.» Watch the video.

The Decline And Fall Of American Political Debate
by John Daniel Davidson (The Federalist). «[Camille Paglia said] ‹But here’s my point: it is everyone’s obligation, whatever your political views, to look at both liberal and conservative news sources every single day. You need a full range of viewpoints to understand what is going on in the world.› That Paglia would say this at all is a sign that most Americans no longer read news sources that span the ideological spectrum. This is of course part of a larger problem... [We're] separated, increasingly, by the news and commentary we read and watch. To the extent that it informs us of what’s going on, and why, and what to expect, our fragmentation and insularity has reached a dangerous tipping point: we no longer agree on what’s real...What this means in practice is that we tend to seek out news and commentary that more or less reflects our own opinions back to us. Reading the news becomes an exercise in confirmation bias.»

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Mass Propers for the Solemnity of International Talk Like a Pirate Day

Let them that sail on the sea, tell the dangers thereof: and when we hear with our ears, we shall admire. Ps. There go the ships: there is that leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein. Glory be…

Disturb us, Lord, when we are too pleased with ourselves, when our dreams have come true because we dreamed too little, when we arrived safely because we sailed too close to the shore. Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly, to venture on wilder seas where storms will show Your mastery; where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars. Through the same…

Epistle - a Reading from the Acts of the Apostles:
Ye brethren, when the ship was caught, and could not bear up against the wind, giving up the ship to the winds, we were driven. And we being mightily tossed with the tempest, the next day they lightened the ship. And the third day they cast out with their own hands the tackling of the ship. And when neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small storm lay on us, all hope of our being saved was now taken away. And after they had fasted a long time, Paul standing forth in the midst of them, said: You should indeed, O ye men, have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and have gained this harm and loss. And now I exhort you to be of good cheer. For there shall be no loss of any man's life among you, but only of the ship. For an angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, stood by me this night, saying: Fear not, Paul, thou must be brought before Caesar; and behold, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee. Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer; for I believe God that it shall so be, as it hath been told me.

Again, another designing to sail, and beginning to make his voyage through the raging waves, calleth upon a piece of wood more frail than the wood that carrieth him. For this the desire of gain devised, and the workman built it by his skill. R. But thy providence, O Father, governeth it: for thou hast made a way even in the sea, and a most sure path among the waves, shewing that thou art able to save out of all things, yea though a man went to sea without art.

Alleluia, Alleluia. Fine broidered linen from Egypt was woven for thy sail, to be spread on thy mast: blue and purple from the islands of Elisa, were made thy covering. Alleluia.

The Holy Gospel according to St. Luke: 
And it came to pass on a certain day that he went into a little ship with his disciples, and he said to them: Let us go over to the other side of the lake. And they launched forth. And when they were sailing, he slept; and there came down a storm of wind upon the lake, and they were filled, and were in danger. And they came and awaked him, saying: Master, we perish. But he arising, rebuked the wind and the rage of the water; and it ceased, and there was a calm. And he said to them: Where is your faith? Who being afraid, wondered, saying one to another: Who is this, (think you), that he commandeth both the winds and the sea, and they obey him? And they sailed to the country of the Gerasens, which is over against Galilee.

And they cried to the Lord, and said: We beseech thee, O Lord, let us not perish for this man's life, and lay not upon us innocent blood: for thou, O Lord, hast done as it pleased thee. And they took Jonas, and cast him into the sea, and the sea ceased from raging.

Thou thyself, O Lord alone, thou hast made heaven, and the heaven of heavens, and all the host thereof: the earth and all things that are in it: the seas and all that are therein: and thou givest life to all these things, and the host of heaven adoreth thee, singing the triumphant hymn...

Communion: O God of the heavens, creator of the waters, and Lord of the whole creation, hear me a poor wretch, making supplication to thee, and presuming of thy mercy.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Items of Interest: Week of Dominica X Post Pentecosten

Why Our Children Don’t Think There Are Moral Facts
by Justin P. McBrayer (Opinionator NYT). «What would you say if you found out that our public schools were teaching children that it is not true that it’s wrong to kill people for fun or cheat on tests? Would you be surprised?»

Is a New Political System Emerging in This Country?
by Tom Englehart (TomDispatch). «Out of the chaos of this prolonged moment and inside the shell of the old system, a new culture, a new kind of politics, a new kind of governance is being born right before our eyes. Call it what you want. But call it something. Stop pretending it’s not happening.» The question becomes one of how well we, as Catholic and Orthodox Christians, are going to step into the fray.»

Liberal Christians try to Nuance Abortion
by Rachel Lu (Crisis Magazine). «People who think they have reasonable, moderate views on abortion should consider how honest they are really being with themselves. This choice is starker than they want to believe. If we accept the bonds of natural obligation as binding, then people will sometimes be pressed into service without their consent. If we don’t, we will sometimes find it “necessary” to kill our own children. No amount of social tinkering will make this problem go away.»

Thanks Bunches, Techie Pagans!
by Doug Wilson (Blog & Mablog). «When Roe was first decided, the national dialog was dominated and controlled by the big three television networks, and by the old guard print media. If they wanted to bottle up a groundswell opposition movement to anything, it was the easiest thing in the world for them to do so...We are living in a time that is remarkably, strikingly different. A cynical and world-weary response on the basis of how it used to go for us back in the dinosaur days is a remarkably short-sighted response.»

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Calls ‹Choice› An Empty Concept For Poor Women
by Samantha Lachman (Huffington Post). «Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the concept of ‹choice› is an ephemeral one for low-income women who live in states that pass laws limiting access to abortion, as they may not be able to afford to travel to a state with less onerous restrictions.» Thanks be to God.

Planned Parenthood Videos: What You Need to Know
by Sam Sawyer, S.J. (America). A remarkably fair assessment, considering the liberal Jesuit source.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Items of Interest: Week of Dominica III Post Pentecosten

Information Theory And The Origin of Life
Published in the Physics arXiv Blog. «The nature of information places important new limits on how the first living things must have emerged.»

Humor in Defense of Virtue
by Kaye DeMetz (First Things). «Hrosvitha of Gandersheim wrote her six short comedies in a German convent. An educated woman, she constructed the theatre pieces in response to the ‹licentious› women depicted in the plays of the Roman playwright Terence. By her own admission she imitated his style: ‹I ... have not hesitated to imitate in my writings a poet whose works are so widely read, my object being to glorify ... the laudable chastity of Christian virgins in that self-same form of composition which has been used to describe the shameless acts of licentious women.›»

De Montfort: Mary in the Struggle Against Satan
by Kathleen Beckman (Catholic Exchange). «It is to our purpose to explain this here for the glory of the most holy Virgin, for the salvation of her children and for the confusion of the devil: ‹I will put enmities between thee and the woman and thy seed, she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel› (Gen. 3:15).»

This Flowchart Will Tell You When Cooperation with Evil is Immoral
by David Rummelhoff. «Imagine you own a custom t-shirt shop, and you are approached by a customer asking you to print her shirts that say “LEGALIZE GAY MARRIAGE”. What would you do? What are you obliged to do, if anything? Or perhaps you really like a particular web browser, but then the company that built that browser starts to publicly advocate for no limits on abortions. What do you do? What should you do? Maybe your buddy has asked to borrow your car after he received a suggestive txt from his girlfriend. Can you give him the keys? Should you refuse? These are all questions related to the concept of cooperation with evil, and the graphic below is meant to help you understand how a Catholic moral theologian would begin to answer these questions.»

Red State Families: Better Than We Knew
by W. Bradford Wilcox & Nicholas Zill (Institute for Family Studies). «The conventional wisdom among scholars about family in America suggests the red state family model has failed to deliver the stability that boosts children’s odds of thriving in today’s world. But we find that the reddest states in America are more, not less, likely to raise their children in a stable, married home, other things being equal.»

Catholic Education and the Cult of Theistic Evolution
by by Thaddeus Kozinski (The Imaginative Conservative). «The movement to accommodate traditional Catholic doctrine, as well as the traditional interpretation of the accounts in Sacred Scripture, to the supposed ‹fact› of the evolution of man from primitive matter by a relentless process of spontaneous transformations of species over an enormous period of time has become so widespread in Catholic intellectual circles that it has now assumed the appearance of a ‹mainstream› point of view. The assumed ‹fact› of biological evolution, as pictured in contemporary biological theories, has moved in our time from a far-out to a central theological position and is now threatening to become a supposition of the updated ‹teaching of the Church,› with all the inevitable consequences of such a development, not only as regards the two-thousand-year-old teaching of the Church on such issues as Original Sin, but also as regards the very credibility of Church teaching as such. At this moment in the historic assault of modern secular humanism upon Catholic belief, we are witnessing to our dismay more and more heretofore ‹solid› defenders of Catholic tradition ceding to Darwinism and its progeny ground without which they cannot survive for long as orthodox thinkers.»

Does It Matter If Medjugorje Is Real or Not?
by Simcha Fisher (National Catholic Register). «Those are the fruits of Medjugorje: disobedience, a disregard for legitimate authority, and -- possibly most shocking of all -- statements like what my Facebook friends made: that it doesn't even matter if it's true or not, because look at the good fruits! Well, the Holy Spirit can bring good fruits out of any situation, no matter how rotten. Auschwitz produced converts and repentance, too. Good fruits alone are no sign that God's will is being done. When we're willing to disobey, when we're willing to say, "Why does the truth matter?" then these are fruits of Medjugorje, as well.»

Silent Action of the Heart
by Robert Cardinal Sarah (Catholic World Report). «Fifty years after its promulgation by Pope Paul VI, will the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy finally be read? Sacrosanctum Concilium is actually not just a catalogue of “recipes” for reform, but a veritable Magna Carta of all liturgical action.»

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Items of Interest: Week of Dominica Post Ascensionem

Contraception and Chastity
by Elizabeth Anscombe ( «Roman Catholic thinker Elizabeth Anscombe relfects on the theological implications of contraception and chastity. Writing as a Roman Catholic, Anscombe offers a penetrating moral analysis of marriage and sexuality that will benefit any reader who rejects the secularist reduction of marriage as merely a union that sanctions sexual activity between partners.».

How to Drink Like a Saint
by Michael P. Foley (Crisis Magazine). «With the age of post-modern nihilism upon us, the question is not whether Christians should enjoy a drink festively; the question is whether they will be the only ones left capable of doing so.»

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Items of Interest: Week of Dominica V Post Pascha

Light from the Christian West: Aquinas and Eastern Orthodoxy
by Robin Phillips (Unpragmatic Thoughts). «Modern theologians, Orthodox and Catholic alike, have tended to take this disintegration of Christian universalism as a given, reading back into the last years of Byzantium a theological gulf that is simply not in evidence at the time. The Byzantine reception of Thomas must prompt us to seriously reconsider the whole issue of theological incompatibility between East and West.».

Love as Magic vs. Love as the Center of Life
by Roger Thomas (Ignatius Press). «All around us we have seen the tragic aftermath of the seductive tales whispering to us that love is a magical force, and will obviate the need for proper choices, perseverance, and moral effort. Perhaps part of the reason the lie is so effective is that it skates so close to the truth. Love is powerful, and it does lie at the center of life. But love in a fallen and sin-damaged world is a dicey thing, and it needs to be informed and guided by deeper, more stable things like moral laws, family responsibilities, and cultural traditions.»

The Power Elite
by Patrick Deneen (First Things).  «Today’s cultural power elite is entirely aligned with the economic power elite, and they’re ready to steamroll anyone in their way. In the case of Indiana’s RFRA, corporate and gay activists combined to bring to heel conservative Christians in a rural, Rust Belt state that struggles at the margins of America’s global economy. The threat to demolish Indiana’s economy is only a more explicit expression of a project that corporations like Apple and Walmart have been carrying out with the ­assistance mainly of Republicans (as well as free-trade Democrats) for a generation.»

The Atheist IQ: Why St Thomas Wouldn’t Approve
by John Clark (Seton Magazine). «Not only do today’s geniuses lack an exclusive or special aptitude for determining whether God exists, they can expect a celebrity status if they deny Him. What I have discovered is that the most interesting truths about God have nothing to do with whether He exists, but Who He Is. Because once you reason to the idea that God exists, you can then explore ideas like what it means that God loves us infinitely and how His love makes us happy.»

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Items of Interest: Week of Dominica IV Post Pascha

Junipero Serra and God’s Tender Mercy
by Kathryn Jean Lopez (National Review). Encountering the founding father of the California missions.

Thomas Aquinas Tells a Joke
by Matthew Schmitz (First Things). A delightful example of St. Thomas’ sense of humor, from Quaestiones Quodlibitales.

Synod. The Proposal of a “Third Way”
by Sandro Magister.  «Unbending against divorce, merciful with sinners. Suggested by a Thomas Michelet, of the theological faculty of Fribourg, Switzerland. It is a new form of the sacrament of penance, following the example of the ancient Church »

Beyond Our Ken: Henri de Lubac's Paradoxes of Faith
by Thomas Van ( «Love of truth never goes without daring. And that is one of the reasons why truth is not loved.».

Archbishop Romero and Liberation Theology
by Filip Mazurczak (National Catholic Register). «As May 23 approaches, we can expect a flurry of commentary about how the Vatican was hostile towards Archbishop Romero’s cause until the “enlightened” Francis took over and that Rome has now exonerated liberation theology. We will also likely hear of Archbishop Romero as a “leftist” prelate... These claims are unfounded. They are but myths that have been propagated by Catholics of a certain ideology, who, paradoxically, have dragged out Romero’s cause in time by politicizing and distorting his legacy.»

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Items of Interest: Week of Dominica III Post Pascha

The two faces of tolerance
by Edward Feser. Marcuse: «What is proclaimed and practiced as tolerance today, is in many of its most effective manifestations serving the cause of oppression.» Or as Mencken said, «Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.».

Stories of Death, Exile and Miracles Mark 40th Anniversary of Saigon’s Fall
by Joan Frawley Desmond (National Catholic Register). Catholic survivors of the chaotic event recall how their faith was formed and strengthened, amid the maelstrom of the communist takeover of South Vietnam.

Henri de Lubac's fascinating notes on Vatican II
by Dr. Jeff Mirus (  «By the time Henri de Lubac, SJ was made a cardinal by Pope John Paul II in 1983, the great theologian had charted a truly ecclesial course between the Scylla and Charybdis of the modern world.»

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Items of Interest: Week of Dominica II Post Pascha

Cultural Conservatives Have Barely Begun to Fight
by David French (National Review). A response to Rod Dreher’s “Benedict Option” for cultural retreat.

The Legacy of the American Ratzinger
by Thomas Kirchoff (Ethika Politika). «Cardinal George’s vision was of a Church that actively reaches out to society, that constantly, consistently, and courageously puts Herself forward to share her wisdom, even at the cost of persecution.»

Why Atheists Change Their Mind: 8 Common Factors
by Matt Nelson (Word on Fire).  «Conversions from atheism are often gradual and complex, no doubt. For many converts the road is slow and tedious, tiring and trying. But in the end unbelievers who find God can enjoy an inner peace that comes from a clear conscience in knowing they held to truth and followed the arguments faithfully.»

The first genocide of the 20th century happened in Namibia
by Dennis Laumann.  «[April 24th] marks the 100 year anniversary of the Armenian genocide. Media coverage has focused on the refusal of Turkey to acknowledge the genocide. It is indisputable Ottoman Turks carried out genocide against the Armenians in 1915. But the oft-repeated assertion that it was the first genocide of the 20th century is wrong: it was the attempted annihilation of the Herero by the Germans in South-West Africa (present-day Namibia) from 1904 to 1907.»

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Items of Interest: Week of Low Sunday 2015

The DeBoer Tendency: How Progressives Belittle Violence Against Jews
by John-Paul Pagano (Tablet Magazine). The five stages of anti-Semitism denial, as it relates to racism and the concept of ‘privilege’.

Why Religious Liberty Arguments Aren’t Working
by Jennifer Roback Morse (Crisis Magazine). «Religious liberty arguments are not compelling enough to induce our fellow citizens to sacrifice something they value, namely, sexual liberty...We need a different strategy: argue against the Sexual Revolution because it has hurt people.»

A scientific look at the damage parents do when they bully their gay kids
by Jennifer S. Hirsch (Washington Post).  Just what are the policy prescriptions this writer is endorsing? She doesn't actually enumerate them, but if this is a common view, parents should be very afraid.

The Seraphim above: Some Perspectives on the Theology of Orthodox Church Music
by Fr. Ivan Moody.  Abstract: Some outstanding contributions notwithstanding, much recent scholarship in Western European languages concerning art and the sacred has been quite prolific but has generally avoided discussion of specifically liturgical music, a particular problem when dealing with the sacred music of the Orthodox Church. The present discussion aims at establishing some bases for furthering this discussion, drawing not only on recent commentators but especially commentary on the question of liturgical singing by the Fathers of the Church.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Ladymass - The Annunciation

The angel to the vergyn said,
Entreng into here boure,
Fore drede of quakyng of this mayd
He said, «Haile» with gret honour;
«Haile be thou, quene of maidyns mo!
Lord of heven and erth also
Consayve thou schalt, and bere withale the Lord of myght,
Hele of al monkyn.
He wil make the thee gate of heven bryght,
Medesyne of al our syn.»

«How schuld I consayve and get?
No syn never I knew.
How schuld I breke that I have forehete
Of thoght stedfast and trewe?»
«The grace al of the Holé Gost
Schal bryng ale forth, without boost;
Ne dred thou tak, bot joy thou make, serten and sere.
This message he send to thee
To dwel withyn thee ful pere
Throgh myght of his Fader fre.»

[From Middle English Marian Lyrics (ed. Karen Saupe)]