Action Alert!
Catholic Culture Overview
Catholic Culture Overview


What should be at issue now in the COVID-19 restrictions?

The current, widespread, cultural secularization of Catholics in our time has led to a situation in which strongly committed Catholics become understandably nervous when Church leaders do nothing but follow State recommendations, mounting no resistance to bureaucratic overreach, and claiming no ultimate authority for themselves. Even in legitimate cooperation between Church and State, it must be clear that a bishop is willing to make his own decisions, with the good of souls in mind.

Vision Book Cover Prints

28—Ephrem, Symbolist

As a theological poet, he is peerless but for Dante. Yet Ephrem's fame rests not only on his words, but also on his heroic deeds. He lived almost his entire life in a war zone. He helped invent the hospital and the women's choir. He served tirelessly in times of famine and natural disaster — and he died caring for the sick during a pandemic. More than 500 of his hymns have survived into our time.

Archbishop Cordileone responds: the debate continued

Meanwhile a precedent has been set. When the next confrontation comes (and does anyone doubt that it is coming?), government officials can say to Church leaders: “You accepted the state restrictions; why can’t you accept these few new rules?”

History’s Queen: Mike Aquilina does it again!

In a fascinating, inspiring and entertaining new book, Mike Aquilina has hit the target once again with a look at the importance of the Blessed Virgin Mary throughout history. The title is History’s Queen: Exploring Mary’s Pivotal Role from Age to Age. Mike’s treatment of his subject is light and even breezy at times, but that just means this spiritually deep book is meant to be read, not stored on a book shelf.

The Communist-Diabolical Conspiracy

The Devil’s purpose is to replace the sacramental life and parish life with new structures of centralized power, with Church teachings presented as mere policy statements, responsive to the winds of cultural change.

Fantasia (1940) w/ animator Tim Reckart

James and Thomas discuss an animated classic, Walt Disney's Fantasia (1940), with Oscar-nominated animator and director Timothy Reckart ("Head Over Heels", The Star).

Is the lockdown costing more lives than it saves?

Bad news sells, and Covid has provided editors with a bonanza of bad news. It’s clickbait. It’s panic-porn. It’s obsessive.

On COVID-19 and Help needed!

The Barque of Peter carries a crew eager to pound holes in her hull, so that all might drown together in a sea of confusion. In the midst of all this, seeks to foster good, seamanlike habits, providing the information and formation needed to live the Faith wisely and confidently, while contributing significantly to authentic renewal for individuals, families and the Church as a whole.

From the Archive: St. Augustine—Letter to Honoratus, On Keeping Sacraments Available

“Because of something uncertain, there should not be a definite abandonment of duty — for, in that event, there is certain ruin for the people, not only in things pertaining to this life, but also in those of that other life which must be cared for with incomparably greater attention and anxiety.”

When the time comes for civil disobedience...

I was stunned and dismayed earlier this year, when one diocese after another shut off access to the sacraments. If it happens again I want to be ready. Who’s with me?

Happy birthday to Jacques Maritain!

Today is the birthday of the great 20th-century Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain. Maritain contributed to virtually every subfield of philosophy, was a major influence on the second Vatican council, and his legacy continues to be appreciated (and debated). This post will feature some of's Maritain-related resources.

Making room for the common good

It is one of the great weaknesses of the Church in recent generations that there has been so much emphasis on Catholic social teaching and so little on Catholic morality. “Helping the materially marginalized” has often been proposed as a substitute for “helping the spiritually marginalized”. Dubious governmental action has often been portrayed as not only absolute in character but as far more important than any serious engagement with personal and familial responsibility.

Advent-Christmas Ebook released for new liturgical year

Our free liturgical year ebooks offer 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.

The Vatican Christmas Cookbook

A review of "The Vatican Christmas Cookbook" by David Geisser and Thomas Kelly, published by Sophia Institute Press.

No Exit

Death, than which nothing is more certain. Judgment, than which nothing is more strict. Heaven, than which nothing is more delightful. Hell, than which nothing is more terrible.

Public pressure or civil disobedience: a conversation with Archbishop Cordileone

If he defied the restrictions, political leaders would have condemned him for endangering the public, thus strengthened public opinion in their favor, and made it even harder to win a political campaign against the restrictions.

On the need for care in talk about Hell

The generation before mine was deaf to talk of human brokenness—Catholicism as therapy. But how quickly things can change! My own distrust of this model is not shared by the bulk of people my age, and this is still less true of the generation after mine. On the other hand, is it not true that our very departure from our social commitment to Christ has led to a culture in which one evil after another, especially in families, is precisely of that kind which creates especially deep wounds?

Quick hits: When state power threatens the Church

Hamburger goes on to explain how “the administrative state” harbors an inherent bias against religious institutions— and why that is not a mere happenstance but the result of deliberate policy decisions.

Francis Thompson—The Hound of Heaven

"Is my gloom, after all, / Shade of his hand, outstretched caressingly?"

91—The Temptation of St. Anthony—Elizabeth Lev

The trials of St. Anthony the Great (251-356 AD), as described in St. Athanasius's Life and the medieval Golden Legend, have been a favorite subject of Western artists since the Middle Ages.

The McCarrick Report: the cover-up continues

Insofar as it is true that cash gifts from one bishop to another are “customary,” that custom is an invitation to corruption and it should be abolished.

Mapping the Crisis: Ralph Martin’s blockbuster of a book

The book is a powerful witness to the destruction all around us. Moreover, Martin remains sound and balanced throughout; he is never tempted by the need for Catholic renewal to fall into ideological solutions or any sort of Traditionalist separation. He is able to look at matters reasonably and objectively. For example, realizing that Pope Francis has both weaknesses and strengths, he does not feel the need to reject everything just because he finds fault with some things.

27—Aphrahat: Parsee Sage Primary in Time

Aphrahat "the Persian Sage" is the first in our series to live outside the Roman Empire. He wrote in a dialect of Aramaic, the language spoken by Jesus. He maintained close contact with Judaism and demonstrated a profound knowledge of Hebrew Scriptures and Jewish customs. He wrote in prose that reads like poetry. His is a most unusual voice. The modern rabbi Jacob Neusner called Aphrahat a model of Jewish-Christian dialogue.

My action items for the US bishops’ meeting

#1. Establish policies, procedures, and protocols to prevent the worship of false gods from ever happening again.

The End is Near—Maybe

It’s not “the economy, stupid.” It’s our culture, and our sloth.

Cardinal Pell vindicated, Cardinal Parolin rebuked

Only rarely does the Secretariat of State lose internal battles at the Vatican, and this is unquestionably a loss.

Pope St. Leo the Great—Tome of Leo

“This is the faith by which the Catholic Church lives and progresses, namely, that humanity is believed to exist in Jesus Christ not without real divinity, and divinity, not without real humanity.”

Are Catholic scientists a blessing or a curse to mankind?

Even among Catholics, far too many people live in the hope that Catholic scientists won’t let their Faith bias their research. The convictions and even fears which lead the contemporary world to question the scientific competence and veracity of Christian scientists are enormously widespread. But they arise from the materialist reductionism which so severely limits our contemporary cultural worldview.

State power, State idolatry

But once we understand the principles at stake, further prudential analysis is needed: Supposing X is a worthy goal, what are the consequences of attempting to implement X through government control? There is always a danger that no matter what the theoretical capabilities of government might be, the practical results of a particular effort will fail or even do more harm than good.

Helping Our Faithful Departed—A Bonus for November 2020

A positive for the COVID year. A description of the adjustments to plenary indulgences gained in November for the Poor Souls in Purgatory.

A plebiscite on persecution?

When candidates promise to put pressure on the Catholic Church to ordain women, to employ active homosexuals as youth ministers, and to silence priests who oppose abortion, you can safely believe them.

The UK lockdown: where are today’s Maccabees?

In the eyes of Her Majesty’s government, some “support groups” must be exempted from the lockdown, but not groups that derive support from communal prayer.

Pope Leo XIII—Immortale Dei: On the Christian Constitution of States

"Since, then, no one is allowed to be remiss in the service due to God, and since the chief duty of all men is to cling to religion in both its reaching and practice-not such religion as they may have a preference for, but the religion which God enjoins, and which certain and most clear marks show to be the only one true religion -it is a public crime to act as though there were no God."

90—Leo XIII on the State’s Duties Toward the Church—Thomas Pink

Vatican II’s Declaration on Religious Freedom, Humanis Dignitatae, begins by noting that its discussion of religious liberty “has to do with immunity from coercion in civil society” and so “leaves untouched traditional Catholic doctrine on the moral duty of men and societies toward the true religion and toward the one Church of Christ.” This episode is about discovering what that traditional doctrine was and is.

Evangelization and conversion: The keys to civic virtue

The problem is that, as far as Christ and Christianity are concerned, fundamental human progress—whether for our earthly sojourn or our supernatural destiny—simply cannot be made without a radical conversion to Jesus Christ. For this reason, all human progress is illusory unless it is motivated by and oriented toward Jesus Christ. In other words, it will never work for the Church simply to piggyback onto the causes that the dominant secular culture believes in.

Reverence and the Occult: Nosferatu (1922/1979)

A discussion of horror and treatment of the occult in movies, leading into a discussion of the classic vampire film Nosferatu.

26—Hilary of Poitiers: Exile and Understanding

He is called the Athanasius of the West — and the two had much in common. Both defended the Council of Nicaea and suffered exile for it. But Hilary's approach to controversy differed from that of Athanasius. He listened to his opponents and found common ground when he could. When he couldn't, he addressed their concerns clearly and directly. He was even willing to work with heretics as they opposed more radical heresies. He wrote on the Trinity and composed hymns that are still sung today.

Realism, the Pope, and the case for civil unions

It is possible to square what the Pope said with the Catholic tradition. But it isn’t easy— particularly when the Pope and the Vatican let the widespread misinterpretation of the remarks stand uncorrected.

Want more commentary? Visit the Archives.