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News coverage in the whirlwind, or theater of the absurd?

This was an important clarification by Cardinal Fernéndez, given the steadfast omission of any moral judgment on homosexual activity in Fiducia supplicans.

Wildcat does justice to Flannery O’Connor’s faith (w/ Joshua Hren)

Wildcat is a respectful and nuanced portrayal of Flannery O'Connor, her faith, and her art. The film's portrayal of the relationship between artistic ambition and faith is deeply relevant to Catholic artists. It should inspire them to find creative ways of dealing with the pressures that would subvert their God-given gifts, whether those pressures come from other Catholics, family, or the art world.

Why doesn’t Pope Francis Celebrate Mass? Part II

Wouldn’t it be easy for non-Christians—even for Catholics who are not properly formed in their faith— to fall into the belief that this is the most important function of the Sovereign Pontiff: giving speeches?

4.13 The Heresies—Pelagianism and the Seeds of Calvinism

Pelagius was so optimistic about human nature and the freedom of the will that he went so far as to deny the reality of original sin and the need for infant baptism. Saint Augustine corrected Pelagius and his followers, but in the heat of the debate he went a bit too far in in the opposite direction, and proposed a doctrine of election that the Church ultimately did not embrace.

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy

I suspect that even most believing Christians somewhat undervalue the importance of keeping the Sabbath, or more than a few special Christian feasts. This widespread neglect has even been officially reflected in the deemphasis of pre-Communion fasts, the reduction of Friday penitential practices, the increasing emphasis on Saturday evening Masses (so that Sunday can be a “day off”), and the reduction of Holy Days of Obligation (and their frequent conflation with the Sundays that follow them).

How scientific is the theory of man-made global warming?

In conclusion, we can say that the theory of anthropogenic warming is based on rather long-range extrapolation from a data set much shorter than known climate cycles. The basic assumption of the theory is very problematic and not reflected in the historical record.

When “staying informed” becomes an illusion

I had been following the obscure impulse that if I just scrolled long enough to wrap my head around the situation, I might find the magic words to say so that error would be dispelled and charity reign. Absurd, obviously. Even serious reading and deep reflection wouldn’t accomplish that, so why would scrolling Twitter do it?

The Scourge of Adjectival Proliferation

After Pentecost, the mission of the Church is to repair, reunite, and save a fallen humanity dispersed when the Tower of Babel collapsed. But this time, our unity is based on God and His grace as we receive it from the Church and her sacraments.

The ten commandments of Catholic apostolic work

Here are my Ten Commandments for those who claim to engage in Catholic apostolic work.

Malick’s humble camera: The New World (2005)

Terrence Malick's The New World is an underrated masterpiece about Pocahontas and the founding of Jamestown in 1607. It remarkably combines realism and historical accuracy with poetry and romance, as all three protagonists explore not just one but multiple new worlds, geographical and interior. We discuss Malick's style extensively and make the case for why Catholics studying or making art should not focus only on "themes" to the neglect of form, because style itself conveys a vision of reality.

The Pope’s pose as scientific ‘expert’

There was a time— any time, really, before 2013— when one would expect the Roman Pontiff to focus on spiritual rather than climatological questions. But that time is long gone, and no one is surprised today when Pope Francis speaks at length without touching on any distinctively Christian theme, except perhaps when he says that the destruction of the environment is “an offense against God.”

Be prepared for another ‘long hot summer’

In any major conflict, true believers on both sides will fear that their hard-line opponents are deliberately escalating the tensions, exploiting the confrontations for their own political purposes. And you know what? They’re right.

Which “spirituality” is for you? A place to start

Everyone ought to commit to certain types of corporate prayer, and certainly it is not possible to set that aside as a Catholic. But each one needs to cultivate private prayer as well, and the exact pattern of fruitful private prayer will vary widely. It will generally be a combination of standard structured elements (prayers and spiritual reading) and at least some effort to place oneself in the presence of God through a paradoxical combination of interior relaxation and interior focus.

Now Available: Liturgical Year Ebook for Ordinary Time after Easter

We have just released the fifth volume in the 2023-2024 Liturgical Year series of ebooks. Volume five covers the first half of the long stretch of Ordinary Time between the close of the Easter Season on Pentecost and the beginning of Advent. Like all ebooks, this volume is downloadable free of charge.

Superheroes and Heroes

Like the Apostles, we want our leaders to overthrow abusive authorities, keep us safe, and protect our communities from lawlessness.

Did Egyptian monks pave the way for St. Patrick?

Connie Marshner assembles an enormous amount of circumstantial evidence to suggest that the spectacular spread of the faith in Ireland—and eventually from Ireland back to continental Europe and across the world— was strengthened by the earlier presence there of communities of monks who came across the Mediterranean from Egypt.

4.12 The Heresies—“Spirit-fighters” & the Aftermath of Nicaea

After the Council of Nicaea, all the same questions that had been asked of the Son of God, were now asked of the Holy Spirit. Is the Holy Spirit divine, and worthy of worship? Does worship of the Holy Spirit compromise monotheism? Some who reluctantly accepted the divinity of the Son still refused to accept the divinity of the Spirit, and so they continued to reject the doctrine of the Trinity - these were called “Spirit-fighters.”

178—Flannery O’Connor’s Why Do the Heathen Rage? w/ Jessica Hooten Wilson

A new book presenting material from Flannery O’Connor’s unfinished third novel shows the great Catholic writer pushing beyond her established fictional territory. Jessica Hooten Wilson returns to the podcast to discuss her book, Flannery O’Connor’s Why Do the Heathen Rage? A Behind-the-Scenes Look at a Work in Progress.

The Church and the transgendered
(Part 3 of Thinking it through: The Church and “gender change”)

Since gender change is typically an objectively serious public sin, regardless of the degree of personal culpability, the Church might well deal with it as she deals (or is supposed to deal with) divorce and remarriage without an annulment—that is, by exclusion from the reception of Communion until such time as the person repents of the change and does as much as possible to restore himself or herself to the Divinely-willed condition.

Male and female He created them
(Part 2 of Thinking it through: The Church and “gender change”)

All of mankind has recognized maleness and femaleness as a fundamental pattern of nature, and for the Christian, and especially for that Church which was intended by Christ to teach the truth about what it means to be human, the fundamental goodness of the distinction between male and female can neither be ignored nor treated as a flaw in the human design.

Nullifying differences
(Part 1 of Thinking it through: The Church and “gender change”)

One is reminded of the story about a thoroughly modern woman who proudly told her four-year-old daughter that she “could be anything she wants to be when she grows up”. The daughter blurted out, “I think I would like to be a horse.” The great problem with this totally arbitrary approach is that it denies the fundamental reality of God’s creation—that our sexuality (including our often loose and wayward concept of “gender”) is determined by our embodiment as demonstrably either male or female.

Enriching Dinner Conversations with the Commandments

Gossip feels nice for a time because we convince ourselves our chatter serves a good purpose – and elevates our stature above that of our neighbor. A single disparaging remark can ruin a man’s reputation for years.

Mounting frustration in the twilight of the pontificate

When the conclave of 2013 selected Cardinal Bergoglio, it gave him a mandate to eliminate corruption at the Vatican. And that mandate has not been fulfilled.

A study of pastoral prudence: Léon Morin, Priest (1961)

In occupied France, a Communist woman named Barny enters a confessional for the first time since her first Communion - not to confess, but to criticize the Church. To her surprise, Fr. Léon Morin offers a compelling response to each of her points. Barny starts to see Fr. Morin regularly for a mix of intellectual tête-à-tête and spiritual counsel, and is gradually drawn back to the Church – but mixed in with her spiritual attraction to the Church is a romantic attraction to the man.

Mike Aquilina hits the road, on a pilgrimage—with you?

Mike Aquilina’s pilgrimage to Rome and Assisi is being offered by the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology through the services of the experienced Catholic pilgrimage company 206 Tours. While Mike, who is the executive vice-president of the St. Paul Center, will serve as Group Leader, the Spiritual Director for the tour will be Fr. Jihoon Kim of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Thinking it through: Francis on “false human securities”

Sometimes we cling directly to the false human securities of our own sins. But anyone who has sincerely sought spiritual growth in Christ has learned that the very greatest impediment is our tendency to reject the good because the world labels it as a false human security. Immense numbers of Catholics down through history have clung to genuinely false human securities initially because the world taught them that the true Christian securities were as false as pipe dreams.

Our Lady of Guadalupe: the stories behind the story

The Gonzalez book introduces the possibility that the old myths had been planted in the culture of the Mexican tribes long ago, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to prepare them for the Gospel message:

177—“The Catholic Bach”: Jan Dismas Zelenka

Jan Dismas Zelenka was a Bohemian Catholic baroque composer who has at times been called "The Catholic Bach" because his best compositions are on par with those of J.S. Bach, who indeed knew and esteemed Zelenka. This episode covers Zelenka's career at the Catholic court chapel in Dresden with its grand liturgies inspired by Habsburg piety and Jesuit aspirations to evangelize the Protestants of Saxony.

The Bonds of Blood

We may trace the modern breakdown in patriotism to the rejection of legitimate family and tribal bonds in favor of the pursuit of money, power, and ideologies.

The Pope says you’re welcome. But are you interested?

For every cradle Catholic who left the Church because of a grumpy pastor, there are a dozen who left because they no longer saw any particular reason to get out of bed on Sunday morning.

Mothering Sunday: The baptismal holiday we missed in America

In the recollection of particular sacramental events in our lives, we are reminded to give thanks to God and pray for those who started and led us along the Catholic way. This itself is an important way of “going home again” to our baptism, precisely because it is a way of “going to God” through the blessings He has bestowed, not only in the sacraments themselves but in every good thing which has enabled us to love God and serve His Church.

Time to resist the ‘gender-affirming’ juggernaut

No, Your Excellencies, you certainly “cannot encourage” gender-altering surgery, because it is an offense against human dignity. But you could forthrightly oppose it. And you didn’t.

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