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All Catholic commentary from January 2019

Chastity: Cornerstone of holiness and happiness

Chastity is a way of life. Guidelines, codes of conduct, policies, and procedures governing interpersonal behavior may be useful in communicating acceptable workplace boundaries and defining legally abusive behavior. But the virtue of chastity cannot be reduced to a collection of rules and...

A new—and illegal—attempt to pass the Equal Rights Amendment

One cost, surely, of Donald Trump’s consistently ungentlemanly behavior was the loss of the Republican majority in the US House of Representatives in the November elections, which will take effect later this month. It is possible to affirm this judgment whatever one thinks of Trump’s...

Eleanor Nicholson drives a stake through Bram Stoker’s heart

Since gremlins are currently inhabiting my computer, I’m willing to believe just about anything. I’m using an old light-duty laptop to limp along without most of my software until a stake can be driven through the stony heart of my usual machine. Or at least that is what I expect...

Pope’s message to US bishops: what NOT to do

In November, Pope Francis instructed the Catholic bishops of the US to table their plans for new responses to the sex-abuse scandal. Now, in his letter to the American bishops who are on retreat at Mundelein seminary this week, the Pontiff exhorts them to take action—but not, apparently,...

Quick Hits: Important background on Vatican-China accord and Press Office turnover

The Vatican has struck a deal with China, which—although we still don’t know any details—apparently gives Beijing the power to nominate new bishops. Is there any precedent for such an agreement? Yes, there is. Writing for AsiaNews, Li Ruohan compares the Vatican-China accord with...

Liturgical Year Volume 2 Released: Ordinary Time before Lent

The second volume of our ebook series for the 2018-2019 liturgical year has been released in our ebooks download area. This volume covers the initial period of Ordinary Time between Christmas and Lent, from January 14th through March 5th. It may be downloaded free of charge in the following...

Ezekiel the Watchman: Terror, and Hope

The ministry of the prophet Ezekiel overlapped that of Jeremiah, and his Book is the last major prophetic work in the Old Testament—unequaled until St. John’s Book of Revelations. It begins with apocalyptic visions and offers throughout a dramatic denunciation of the Israelites for all...

Msgr. John Sanders, the priest who played with Duke Ellington

Update Jan. 8, 2019: Msgr. Sanders’s nephew wrote to me to let me know that his uncle has died. This article was first posted on Sep. 13, 2018. May God grant him eternal rest. Earlier this week, I made a visit to Our Lady Queen of the Clergy Retirement Home in Stamford, CT to interview...

Pope Leo XIII’s ten encyclicals on the Rosary

Did you know that Pope Leo XIII, whose pontificate lasted from 1878 until 1903, issued no fewer than ten encyclicals on the Rosary? Some others mention the Rosary, such as his encyclicals on devotion to St. Joseph and on the Confraternity of the Rosary. But these ten actually have the Rosary...

Modern Popes on the Rosary

In addition to the ten encyclicals Pope Leo XIII wrote on the Rosary, six twentieth-century popes have issued documents specifically on the Rosary, plus two major texts on devotion to Mary in general. All are in our library, and listed below. LINKS: Benedict XV, Fausto Appetente Die (On...

A bad day’s lament

Yesterday was “one of those days”—a day that found me hating my work, wishing I had some other sort of job. The first blow, and by far the worst, came with the news, released by the Washington Post Monday evening, that an old friend, Father C. J. McCloskey, had been...

Love of God is known by the courage of correction, against the world

In his homily at daily Mass today, Pope Francis preached on the reading from the first Letter of John which emphasizes that whoever loves God must also love his neighbor. He contrasted genuine love with the spirit of the world, which creates division, and he offered three signs of a lack of such...

The Zanchetta case: a fatal blow to the Pope’s reputation as a reformer

Last week the Vatican acknowledged that an Argentine bishop working at the Vatican faces sex-abuse charges. The story drew little attention from American media outlets, and understandably so: just one more in a long line of complaints against clerics, in this case involving a bishop whose name...

Baptism is a New Beginning

I’ve been distracted this weekend by several inches of snow. It has been a few years since Virginia has gotten measurable white stuff! The snow days gave me some extra time to test out new recording software and equipment for our multimedia interface. I’m not quite ready to unveil an...

Please, bishops: act now; you’re running out of time!

The statement from Archishop Vigano, pleading with McCarrick to make a public act of repentance, was a dramatic—and sadly rare—display of bold pastoral leadership. God bless Bishop Strickland for joining in that plea. I hope and pray that other American bishops will...

The Catholic Faith: Are we looking for challenge or change?

I admit it: I am getting so jaded that I initially misread one of yesterday’s Catholic World News headlines: CDF, Asian bishops to discuss challenges to Catholic doctrine. I thought it said “CDF, Asian bishops to discuss CHANGES to Catholic doctrine”. Perhaps this suggests a...

Beyond abortion: Responding to the deeper crisis

The day of the March for Life in Washington, DC always prompts reflection. While the grave evil of abortion is an important civilizational rallying point, the recognition that abortion is wrong does not begin to exhaust the moral crisis of our time. Our civilization was once rooted in an...

Prolife Miracle: Mother of Mercy Clinic displaces abortion mill

For twenty-seven years an abortion clinic plied its grisly trade in Manassas, Virginia. Shortly after it got started, a pro-life counseling center called AAA Women for Choice opened up next door to intercept and help pregnant women. Peaceful demonstrations, along with prayer and fasting, became...

In abortion debate, Washington Post wants to talk science. Good. Let’s.

The Washington Post (which publishes an awful lot of op-ed pieces in the “News” section) today features this interesting headline: Thousands flock to March for Life that bills its anti-abortion stance as ‘pro-science’ The thrust of the story is that while pro-lifers...

They came for Covington Catholic; next will they come for you?

It’s time for the pro-life movement to grow up. The disgraceful treatment of students from Covington Catholic—and by that I mean the pell-mell rush of pro-life “leaders” to condemn innocent young men—illustrates a potentially fatal flaw in the movement. For much...

Ending rule by the ‘McCarrick Doctrine’

It cannot be denied that a large number of Catholic bishops and their vicars lied, covered up, and abused their positions and faith. The sexual abuse and exploitation of children and young people were not only the result of the dereliction of duty of bishops in governing but in several cases...

Sanctity under fire: Fr. Willie Doyle and the rest of us

Sometimes we benefit from practical examples of how to grow in holiness. That’s why we turn to the lives of the saints. But one drawback is that so many of those who are canonized followed particular paths of life to which the vast majority of us are not called. A gap in understanding arises...

Episode 26: The Arts, Contemplation and Virtue—Basil Cole, O.P.

Fr. Basil Cole returns to discuss what he has been teaching the student brothers at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C., in a course on the arts, contemplation and...

Final Document for Youth Synod: A typically uneven and often vague exhortation

Documents arising from the Synod of Bishops are a bit of a slog. They typically attempt to cover a tremendously broad array of concerns grouped around the Synod’s theme, which makes them long. They typically lack differentiation when it comes to the relative importance of the various...

Sin Taxes: Is pornography next?

It has long been common in the United States to single out products regarded as “sinful” or “addictive” for higher taxes. The logic is that consumers who lack self control are a good source of government revenue. Classic examples include alcohol and cigarettes. Closely...

The real reason why Cuomo won’t be excommunicated

“The last temptation is the greatest treason: To do the right deed for the wrong reason.” T.S. Eliot, Murder in the Cathedral As the Washington Post (!) reported on calls for the excommunication of New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo, who had strongly backed and applauded the...

Spin doctor, heal yourself

Andrea Tornielli, the new spin doctor for the Vatican’s communications team, has harsh words for some Catholic media outlets. Cindy Wooden of CNS captures the gist of Torniell’s complaint: The rise of media that call themselves Catholic but seem to exist only to judge others is less about...

Candlemas: The Feast of Light and Hope

From the Archives, originally published in 2014: This Sunday, February 2, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, forty days after Christmas. In the 1962 Extraordinary Form Calendar the feast is the “Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary” and commonly...

Presentation of the Lord: A Light for the Nations

From the Archives, originally published in 2016: February 2nd, in the Ordinary Form, is the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord; in the Extraordinary (1962) Calendar the feast is known as the Purification of Mary. This is traditionally called “Candlemas” because of the blessing of...

Daniel: Champion, visionary, man of prayer

The Babylonian Empire extended from the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea to the western end of the Persian Gulf in the period between the fall of the Assyrian Empire in 612 BC and its own conquest by Cyrus the Great in 539. It was during this period that Daniel was active as a source of wisdom...

Episode 27: Always Wanted to Study the Great Books? Here’s How You’ll Actually Follow Through—Scott Hambrick

Many people want to study the great books of the western world in a group setting, but are unable to study at a Great Books college like St. John’s, and it’s not easy to find people willing to commit to read and meet to...

How the new NY abortion law doesn’t change things, and how it does

Would it be much better, really, if the new law in New York—and similarly ghoulish legislation now advancing in Virginia and Rhode Island—allowed for legal abortion only up until childbirth? The internet has lit up this week, with anguished laments from pro-lifers, appalled by the...

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