Catholic Culture Resources
Catholic Culture Resources

Commentary

5 things I regret that went uncorrected in 2020

It is hard to know how to handle a rant. As a general rule, I am convinced that it is better to use bad news as a motive to deepen our commitment to Christ, grow spiritually, and engage more fully in Catholic mission. That’s true even if mission depends increasingly on prayer as our public opportunities for success become more and more constricted.

Vision Book Cover Prints

Discernment’s Fourth Rule: Learn from your preferences

What is to stop you from continuing to discern God’s will by trying various things—perhaps various organizations in your parish devoted to different apostolic works, or various other forms of volunteer activities—in order to learn by experience whether you can combine genuine Christian service with genuine joy of serving in a particular way? This is a perfectly reasonable pattern of discernment, by trial and retrial.

What if everyone will eventually be Covid-positive?

Catholics boldly proclaim that every human being has the right to life. But no one has a “right” to escape death.

Bishops’ acquiescence makes restrictions on worship possible

If you believe that the emergency restrictions in place where you live constitute a violation of your right to worship freely, don’t be too quick to blame the civil authorities. The blame might lie with your bishop.

31—Gregory of Nyssa: Zero to Hero

Gregory of Nyssa was born into a family of high achievers. His brother was Basil the Great; his sister was the eminent Macrina. In Gregory’s young life, however, he was a disappointment. It’s not that he was a sinner, but he seemed to lack the ambition and drive that were characteristic of his family. At Basil’s death Gregory suddenly emerged as a major player on the world scene — a master of theology, a leader at councils, a healer of divisions in the Church.

The Pope’s video on fraternity? Let’s go deeper.

A video promoting universal fraternity, posted by the Vatican on Pope Francis’s Twitter account (Pontifex), has raised more than a few eyebrows. Because the video continues Pope Francis’ now common emphasis on reciprocal respect and charity among people of all religions, the video has prompted fresh discussions of the growing problem of universalism, or the idea that there are many paths to God, and all of them are valid.

The best books we read in 2020 (plus films, music, etc.)

It’s time for the annual article in which some of the Catholic Culture staff look back on their reading in the past year and recommend the best - plus films, podcasts and music.

Liturgical Year Volume 2 Released: Ordinary Time before Lent

This liturgical year ebook includes all the liturgical day information for the period of Ordinary Time before Lent just as it appears on CatholicCulture.org. It offers a rich set of resources for families to use in living the liturgical year in the domestic church. Resources include biographies of the saints to match each feast day, histories of the various celebrations and devotions, descriptions of customs from around the world, prayers, activities and recipes.

In Belarus, Vatican diplomacy fails a religious-freedom test

In this pontificate, in Belarus as in China, Vatican diplomats seem anxious to preserve amicable relations with a repressive regime, even it means sending loyal prelates out to pasture.

Discernment: The third rule is prayer

I daresay it is even important to learn to slow down and effectively listen in our discussions with those we regard as wrong or even sinful. Every form of listening is an act of humility, which leads to insight that reaches beyond ourselves. Bringing this back to prayer, silences in which we truly listen will become more frequent, and more fruitful for discernment over time.

Mass in time of Covid: what 2020 revealed

The keepers of fashionable public opinion have encouraged us obsessively to put our trust in flimsy face masks, our hope in the pharmaceutical companies working to produce vaccines. What might happen if we put the same communal energies into prayer?

No Sympathy for the Devil

Can there be anything more maddening for an evil spirit than Transubstantiation?

Mel Gibson’s Santa dispenses justice in Fatman (review)

In Mel Gibson's countercultural Chris Cringle we have a father figure who understands and compassionates the childhood wounds of his adversaries, yet insists that wicked deeds require retribution both for justice's and for the evildoer's own sake.

St. John Henry Newman—On the Name of Jesus

“Consider what it is you mean by praying, and you will see that, at that very time that you are asking for the coming of His kingdom, you are anticipating that coming, and accomplishing the thing you fear.”

Celebrating the conception of Jesus?

But as a matter of significant human reality, the birth of a child is the natural and normal time for celebration, the first moment in which we can at last see the child and begin to get to know the child: The moment of that child’s emergence onto the human stage, the beginning of the baby’s interaction with a human family and with all who will come to know him and be influenced by him.

The Church’s Policies on Families

We need care, compassion, and understanding— Gospel teaching and the sacraments. We need the hard work that comes with imitating the virtues of the Holy Family. But let’s not try to redefine reality.

30—Gregory Nazianzen: Greatness in the Passive Voice

All Gregory wanted was a quiet place where he could relax with his books. But history kept dragging him into its current. First he was coerced him into priesthood, then into the episcopacy. Both times he put up little resistance, but later resented the actions as violence. Both times he fled the demands of his office. Eventually he became bishop in Constantinople and led the ecumenical council in 380. Along the way he wrote the best Trinitarian theology of his time — and reams of great poetry.

On the limitations of episcopal poachers

In the tenth point in my recent corrective to the Schneider statement on the COVID vaccines, I outlined one of the limits of the episcopal teaching authority: “[B]ishops have no teaching authority outside their own dioceses, and it is an abuse of their office to make individual or joint statements pretending to answer critical moral questions for the whole Church.” I can see how this can be read as too sweeping. Therefore, I want to make sure here that my intended meaning is not misunderstood.

94—Understanding Postmodern “Social Justice”—Darel Paul

"Woke" ideas that were only a few years ago complacently dismissed as the perennial agitation of a few campus loonies are now pervasive in the corporate world, mass media and pop culture. This is a discussion of the book Cynical Theories, a very helpful primer on the development of modern radical left activism from 1960s postmodernist philosophy.

St. Augustine—De Doctrina Christiana | Book 4 (Ch.1-16)

“Thus, in praying for himself and for those whom he is about to address, [the orator] should be a suppliant before he is a speaker… Who can make us say what we should, and say it in the way we should, except Him in whose ‘hand are both we and our words’?”

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) w/ Patrick Coffin

James and Thomas discuss Catholic director Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life with popular podcaster and writer Patrick Coffin.

A corrective to the Schneider statement on the COVID vaccines

Let me address the statement promulgated a week ago by five bishops insisting that it is in all cases immoral to allow oneself to be vaccinated with any vaccine which has been tainted by the use of fetal cell lines. There are two aspects or levels to this debate, and these two aspects or levels are necessarily in tension with each other. I don’t want to write a book on this subject, but let me just make ten points, each brief enough in itself to prevent overload.

Just how important is Joe Biden’s faith really?

Whatever “faith” may be important to Joe Biden, it is not the Catholic faith. It is a mockery of God to try to convince others to the contrary—and a mockery of the Blessed Virgin Mary to let it be known that you carry a Rosary, as if this too is very important. There is a huge disconnect concerning religion in the modern secular world. We tend to regard it as a sentiment, and rely on it only insofar as we are successful and pretending it is a sentiment which justifies whatever we think and do.

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