Action Alert!
Catholic Culture Overview
Catholic Culture Overview


50—Peter Chrysologus: The Doctor of (Short) Sermons

Peter Chrysologus is known as the “Doctor of Homilies,” and he always preached with brevity. Every word was golden. He was archbishop of Ravenna during that city's brief term as capital of the Western empire. His sermons rang like poems, rich with biblical insight and glimpses of ordinary life in a fifth-century urban center.

Vision Book Cover Prints

Helping the poor, intelligently

The first distinction concerns why we ought to help others. This obligation does not arise by virtue of some ideological vision of the perfect world. We learn from both nature and Christianity that we cannot achieve perfection in this world, and that the effort to fit everyone into some ideological mold in the name of “perfection” is just another way of attempting to remake the world in accordance with our own theories—which we neither have the wisdom nor the ability to do.

118—Music for the Joyful Mysteries—Mark Christopher Brandt

Mark Christopher Brandt returns to the show to discuss his latest album, Joy, which is based on the structure of the Rosary. It features the family choir of Mark and his three daughters, accompanied by Mark on piano. The album has an amazing backstory, involving Mark's decision to end his public career as a jazz pianist to focus on his family, never expecting that he would one day make an album with his chilren.

Seeing the Church and world as they are, short of heaven

Sometimes we catch an unconfused glimpse of reality here on earth, though I admit this is rare. The occasional news story, appearing at precisely the right moment, can speak volumes about the state of the world. Usually we find this in accounts of unprecedented evils which are not even recognized as evils by those doing the reporting. But occasionally a clear-headed report actually rises to the top.

The Electronic Jesus

Our fixation on an easily accessible electronic Jesus – and lust for the religious consolations – threatens to undermine authentic liturgical sensibilities.

Pope Pius XI—Casti Connubii: On Christian Marriage | Pt. 1

“Matrimony was not instituted or restored by man but by God; not by man were the laws made to strengthen and confirm and elevate it but by God, the Author of nature, and by Christ Our Lord by Whom nature was redeemed...”

The scandals surrounding a key papal ally

He is one of the Pope’s most reliable allies, one of the world’s most influential prelates. He has apparently weathered the storm of criticism that battered his reputation a few years ago; the resignation of his auxiliary seemed to sap the energy of investigators. Yet some serious questions remain unanswered.

Does the world want salvation? The victory of faith

In the regions in which Christianity gained the most traction, its very worldly success seemed to breed not an increase but a diminution of the Faith. Christianity frequently expressed itself through, and then degenerated into, a set of cultural identifiers. In time, the spirituality beneath these identifiers could not sustain them. Now, throughout the once-Christian West, the faith is dwindling away. What are those who remain faithful to make of all this?

The bold speech of Bishop Schneider

So today Bishop Schneider speaks with some authority when he says that Catholics should be willing to suffer— at a minimum to risk some adverse consequences— for the sake of the faith. He has walked that walk.

49—Romanus the Melodist: Through Hymns, with Hymns, in Hymns

Romanus looms large from his lifetime in the sixth century. Today he is much sung and little known — at least with certainty. Legends have filled in the cracks of his biography. According to one, he was tone-deaf when heaven granted him the gift of composition. He went on to compose many verse homilies, kontakia, which are still sung in the Eastern churches today. Having lived in Homs, and then Beirut and Constantinople, he introduced Syriac forms and methods into Byzantine liturgical music.

Vaccination vs. treatment: The AMA’s Covid agenda

Efforts are underway to curtail availability of a highly effective and safe treatment for Covid-19. In an apparent attempt to encourage greater use of mRNA vaccines, some medical organizations are strongly urging that Ivermectin not be used at all to treat Covid-19. This seems to be motivated by an ideological hostility to those who either distrust the vaccines, about which the long-term affects are not known, or have moral questions about the origin of the vaccines.

French bishops waffle on the confessional seal

Are the French bishops now saying that they will obey the law, and instruct priests to violate the confessional seal when they hear of sexual abuse?

117—Maritain’s Art and Scholasticism, Pt. 2

This is a crossover episode in which Thomas joins forces with Scott Hambrick and Karl Schudt from the Online Great Books Podcast, to discuss the classic essay Art and Scholasticism by Jacques Maritain. This episode covers beauty as a transcendental and its role in the fine arts, and intuition as the way we experience artistic beauty. The beauty of a work does not depend on the emotional effects it produces, nor can it be proven by analysis.

Prioritizing Our Allegiances and Attachments

The past two weeks have been a little hard on my family. A simple back surgery for my dad has unraveled into life-threatening situations and 3 additional surgeries. He is still in ICU, but seems to be on the right path of recovery. But this will be a long process of healing. This comes on the...

White Knuckles

The papal pilots had a steady hand, keeping the Church on course. But in recent years, the Church has entered into the white-knuckle phase of extreme turbulence.

Vatican smiles on Pelosi, undercuts US bishops

Pelosi’s mission in Rome was to persuade American prelates that they should not take a forthright stand on the abortion issue. And let’s face it: the Vatican gave that mission an enormous boost.

Friendship and evangelization

More than any other topic, the Fathers of the Church constitute Aquilina’s persistent and extensive expertise. This is a happy choice of specialties because we find in the Patristic writings such a wide variety of topics and styles that there is always something available to engage and even captivate readers of almost any background or interest.

St. John Chrysostom—Homily 46 on the Gospel According to St. John: Bread of Life, Mystery of Faith

“He has given to those who desire Him not only to see Him, but even to touch, and eat Him, and fix their teeth in His flesh, and to embrace Him, and satisfy all their love. Let us then return from that table like lions breathing fire, having become terrible to the devil.”

The Chosen, Season 2: characters and controversies

A discussion of Season 2 of The Chosen. The series continues to set a high imaginative standard in its portrayal of the Twelve Apostles, but also ventures into more problematic theological territory.

Questionable statistics in the French abuse report

If roughly 3,000 priests molested roughly 210,000 young people— the numbers given in the report— then the average priest-molester racked up 70 victims. The report insists that this is “possible,” and maybe so. But it certainly is not plausible.

Catholic political influence: The elected…and the elect

Ecclesiastical discipline matters not only to the heath of the Church but also to the Catholic impact on the secular order, including the outcome of political elections. All “progressive” Catholics understand this instinctively, which is one of several reasons they are horrified by discipline. After the inevitable pruning process and some time for new growth, the impact of a well-disciplined Catholic Church would—as it has sometimes in the past—actually make a calculable difference at the polls.

It’s time to abandon the public schools

Spirited public debate is still acceptable, the attorney general tells us. (And isn’t that nice of him, to allow free speech?) But he, and the FBI, will decide what is spirited debate and what is intimidation. Which means that in practice he and his political allies will be able to intimidate you.

The Family Rosary: A Month for Renewal

Updated from the 2015 archives, with a few additions, including further reading at the end of the post. Both of our sons are now teenagers, which makes the Rosary praying even more tricky. As a family we still struggle to find the balance to pray together as a family but also not take away their...

Cardinal Turkson: Biden should not be refused communion. Say what?

I am sick and tired of the theological sleight-of-hand so often practiced by prelates with no discernible counter-cultural Christian commitments. They resort to a kind of verbal trickery to undermine the effort to restore discipline within the Catholic Church, which is vital to forming existing Catholics and to attracting those outside who respond positively to a witness that must be Christian because it cannot be mistaken for anything else.

116—Maritain’s Art and Scholasticism, Pt. 1

This is a crossover episode in which Thomas joins forces with Scott Hambrick and Karl Schudt from the Online Great Books Podcast,  to discuss the classic essay Art and Scholasticism by Jacques Maritain.

My battle cry for Church renewal? Debureaucratization!

With essentially no supernatural tendency to bureaucracy, the Church is so constituted that the pope, bishops and priests ensure the transmission of both sacramental grace and the truths of the Faith within the Church herself, while the laity, by their inescapable presence as leaven through the whole world, act creatively to shape all of human culture in accordance with the light of Christ.

How I learned to mistrust the Synod process

The synod process itself did not lend itself to propositions for dramatic change. The process was controlled by archdiocesan insiders.

Scientists, censors, and scapegoats

Today the most powerful figures in politics, the media, and academe tell us that we cannot, we must not, attempt to move the consensus about Covid vaccination. Nevertheless it moves.

115—A Bishop’s Stand on Gender Ideology—Fr. Stephen Schultz

Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia, recently issued “A Catechesis on the Human Person and Gender Ideology”. The document takes a strong unequivocal stance against transgender ideology, down to practical specifics like telling the faithful we must not use transgender names and pronouns. Beyond that, it excels in showing how the Church’s whole anthropology and theology are at stake in the transgender issue.

Cashing in on the Devil?

We view diabolical special effects with horrified fascination. But mortal sin should terrify us more than any demon or any suffering in this life.

Thankless lepers: On San Marino and the Church today

While San Marino did lag over forty years behind Italy in getting on the abortion train, its bid to “catch up” illustrates very clearly the failure of the Catholic Church in this era of Western civilization’s spiral into paganism. A key feature of this illustration is the ease with which people can self-identify as Catholics while voting to legalize the murder of unborn children.

The Feast of the Archangels, Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, “Michaelmas” for Short

Angels truly exist, but we need to push past the cutesy and cherubic “angel on my shoulder” to recognize the dignity and higher order of these spiritual beings.

48—Leo the Great: Who Roared with the Voice of Peter

Prolific in words and prodigious in deeds, Leo was also self-effacing. He preached with Gospel simplicity. Yet he made history for three world-changing interventions. It was Leo who stopped Attila the Hun's rampage through Europe. It was Leo who put a decisive end to the ancient heresies about the natures of Christ. And it was Leo who kept the barbarian Vandals from murdering the Romans and burning the city. Tradition calls him "the Great." He earned the title.

Want more commentary? Visit the Archives.