Action Alert!

Commentary

Christmas can’t come before Advent

The Advent season builds up naturally toward the explosion of joy on Christmas Day. But when the bright lights go on in early December, Advent fades into the background.

One more damaging blow to the Pope’s credibility

If you can concoct an innocent explanation for Pope's involvement in the Zanchetta case, please let me know. I can’t.

Church troubles: What good Catholics may and may not do

The time is ripe because, at least in my opinion, too many ostensibly “good Catholics” are going to extremes in what they mistakenly believe is a service to orthodoxy, extremes that are now becoming mirror images of what has long been advocated on the side of heterodoxy. So let me make some distinctions.

Episode 55—The Hundredfold—Anthony Esolen

Having honed his skills translating Dante, Tasso and Lucretius, well-known Catholic cultural commentator Anthony Esolen has now published his first work of original poetry. The book-length poem The Hundredfold: Songs for the Lord is centered around twelve dramatic monologues set during and shortly after the time of Christ, complemented and illuminated by dozens of lyric poems and hymns.

St. John Henry Newman—Martyrdom

“The unseen God alone was their Comforter, and this invests the scene of their suffering with supernatural majesty, and awes us when we think of them.”

This week: The US bishops test relations with Rome

So clearly there IS some resistance in the US hierarchy— if not to the Pope’s leadership, at least to the rhetoric being churned out by papal supporters.

Influencing the Church, monetarily

As the spiritual stability of the Church has been undermined by the current papacy, a number of groups have engaged in the spiritual work of counseling the doubtful while consistently ignoring the spiritual works of bearing wrongs patiently and forgiving offenses. Some are also more prone to condemn than to instruct, counsel, admonish and comfort. This can never foster authentic Catholic renewal; all it can do is make angry Catholics feel better about themselves without spiritual growth.

Episode 3—Clement of Rome: The Earliest Christian Author after the Apostles

Clement of Rome led a church in turmoil. And it was only 67 A.D. His letter is the earliest piece of literature outside the New Testament whose author we can name with confidence. Clement knew both Peter and Paul and carried their mission forward. His letter gives a snapshot of earliest church life and reveals the origins of apostolic succession, Roman primacy, and the unity of the Old Testament and the New. It was considered Scripture in some ancient churches.

One year later, still no answers from Vatican on McCarrick scandal

We know where to look for the documents in question. They’re in the files of the apostolic nuncio in Washington, and/or the offices of the Roman Curia. It shouldn’t take a year to dig them out.

Episode 54 —Fostering Responsible Elites —Jonah Bennett

Today’s guest is Jonah Bennett, editor-in-chief of a fascinating new online magazine called Palladium which is devoted to constructing what could be called the post-liberal synthesis. Palladium Magazine seeks to foster the perspective of a responsible elite, with high-quality, non-ideological coverage of everything from geopolitics to video-game addiction to the crisis in Ivy League institutions.

The mystery letter of St. Paul to the Romans

You can imagine the importance of this truth in a period in which God’s chosen people, the Jews to whom Christ came, thought of themselves as a people set apart and made righteous by the Law. But Paul explains that the Law, while good in itself, actually awakens us to sin, and so the Jews turn it into an occasion of sin, even while the Gentiles, who do not have the Law, actually know the moral law through nature, and likewise are guilty of transgression.

The Martyrdom of St. Polycarp

"The uproar in the stadium was such that nobody could be heard at all."

Does Pope’s representative hope to silence US bishops’ questions?

If the papal nuncio convinces American bishops to swallow their concerns and stifle their questions, that would be a grave disservice both to the Pope and to the faithful Catholics of the US.

How to explain Pope Francis without making things worse

Commentators must strive for a consistency of analysis of this pontificate: Justifying each response in terms of each particular incident; exhibiting a deeper understanding of the whole problem which leads to reasoned commentary, without emotional outbursts. Now, anybody who talks to anybody else has, in this sense, a public persona. Regardless of the mood of the moment, all should maintain a consistent wisdom—a wisdom that fully admits all aspects of the truth.

St. Polycarp—Letter to the Philippians

"The letter of Ignatius sent to us by himself and all the others we have here we send you... and from them you will greatly profit."

German bishops leading the Church—over the cliff?

But what if your goal is to spread the Catholic faith? Then the German bishops are, as a group, miserable failures. Mattingly notes that 216,078 Germans formally renounced their Catholic faith last year.

Know when to ask for help. Often.

Prayer brings us together, in ways that we do not fully anticipate or understand. So I conclude that we should all be asking for prayers more often.

Unfinished Business

The world is going to laugh at us anyway. So it’s better to be laughed at for what seems (to the unbelieving world) an excess of piety or compunction or zeal, than for leaving the one truly important project undone.

One good thing about all these synods…

What one cannot debate, however, is that the best scholarship on the many complex topics addressed at these synods is produced by scholars whose Catholic identity is very firmly rooted, who are deeply committed to authentic renewal of the Church.... It is not only the best publishers and the best authors who are willing to step into the breach and do the necessary work, instead of merely going with the flow. This is what all seriously-committed Catholics do, each in his or her own sphere.

Self-Esteem

It’s hard to “like ourselves” in a morally healthy way without the guidance of a few basics of the Catholic faith.

St. Ignatius of Antioch—Letter to Polycarp

"Copy the ways of God in speaking to each as an individual person... Not every wound is healed by the same salve."

On purpose: Four blows against scientism to lift your spirit

The so-called scientific experts are fond of telling us that the world and all that is in it are not the result of an intelligible process caused by an intelligent agent but rather the result of random combinations of elements. These people think that God creates as we do, by recombining elements to make new things. But that is not at all what they must explain. What they must explain is why there is something rather than nothing at all.

St. John Henry Newman—Use of Saints’ Days

"We crowd these all up into one day; we mingle together in the brief remembrance of an hour all the choicest deeds, the holiest lives, the noblest labors, the most precious sufferings, which the sun ever saw."

Keystone Crooks: the Vatican’s latest financial scandal

Is it possible that the Vatican’s financial affairs could be so chaotic, so imprudent, so palpably corrupt? The entire story offers a portrait of blundering, amateurish crooks.

Episode 2—The How & Why of Studying the Fathers

What drives people to read the Fathers? They’re delightful to read. They fill us with hard-won wisdom. They’re apologetically useful. They inspire conversions. They tell riveting, dramatic stories. They teach us how to keep a good sense of humor. Best of all, they draw us closer to Jesus Christ. Over the centuries they've changed the lives of Christians as great as John Henry Newman, Erik Peterson, Louis Bouyer, Robert Louis Wilken. Hear about it in this podcast.

Episode 53—God Made Us For Order and Surprise—John-Mark Miravalle

A conversation on our moral obligation to delight in beauty, why we are moved by the combination of order and surprise, and the proper way to delight in the beauty of the human body.

Synod hopes and fears: The difference that matters

We will urge married clergy on the Amazon not primarily because they cannot understand sexual abstinence but because the secularized affluent West as a whole cannot understand it. We will urge some form of formal female ministry in the Amazon not because it would be impossible to call, inspire and send zealous males but because the secularized affluent West demands—even as it insists on sexual activity—the obliteration of distinctions between male and female.

Clerical secrets

From a Gospel perspective, there is little incentive to enter into a “holier than thou” contest.

The Didache—Teaching of the Twelve Apostles

"Do not abandon the commandments of the Lord, but keep what you have received, without adding or subtracting."

Quick Hits: After the Synod, praying for a miracle

“Faced with such an evident scandal, it is impossible that a Catholic bishop would remain silent,” he writes. Yet most bishops ARE silent.

A noisy minority with an outsize influence

If I could call on dozens of tenured professors from Notre Dame, Georgetown, Fordham, and Villanova to defend me at a moment’s notice— with all the PR machinery of their schools behind them— I wouldn't worry too very much about the “outsize influence” of some lone critic with a blog.

This week: Pachamama and other scandals

Yet again the Amazon Synod— controversial though it is— has been bumped off the top place in our list of the week’s headline stories by a stunning and scandalous development at the Vatican. In fact, two stunning and scandalous developments.

St. John Henry Newman—Hope in God, Creator

"God has created me to do Him some definite service; He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another."

Conversion: of the Amazon, or of the Church?

"If God’s dream is the redemption of humanity,…" Thus begins a telling sentence in a semi-official Vatican journal. God's dream??

The subversive ambiguity of Father Martin and friends

Father Martin is consistent in his own way: always challenging the Church’s authoritative teaching obliquely, always encouraging others to question or to ignore that teaching, yet always innocently protesting that he is merely raising “interesting” questions, not answering them. He uses studied ambiguity to undermine orthodoxy. And now, when challenged, he takes refuge behind the authority of other, more powerful prelates— who are using the same subversive technique.

Pagan idols aren’t harmless, and ‘dialogue’ is not an absolute goal

If the Pachamama images were pagan idols— set up before the altar of a Catholic church— then it was right and just to destroy them.

Robert Cardinal Sarah’s dilemma, and our own

Cardinal Sarah works hard at creating the illusion that he is following up lines of thought proposed by Pope Francis himself.... But in fact, the grand alliance of what we might call “The Friends of Pope Francis” constantly tries to bring against Cardinal Sarah this charge of opposition to the Pope, precisely because it is so obvious that Sarah’s constant recommendations are seriously at odds with much of what Pope Francis says.

Want more commentary? Visit the Archives.