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All Catholic commentary from January 2023

Divine circularity in the first letter of St. John, and in us

This is why theologians differ on the question of how many will be saved—that is, they differ because there are unseen realities behind both the profession of faith and its denial, behind both living in accordance with the truth and falling short of that. I have often proposed an analogy with the problem of piercing the corporate veil when there is wrongdoing in a business. The key questions for the board of directors are: What did you know? When did you know it? And what did you do about it?

Holy Curiosity and Our Heavenly Double

The Magi's philosophy was deficient, but their curious inclination and honesty expanded their spiritual horizons.

Theology of the body shop—Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Animation director Timothy Reckart (The Star) joins Criteria to discuss his thesis that the greatest action movie of recent years, Mad Max: Fury Road, is best viewed in light of Pope St. John Paul II's theology of the body.

Ordinary Time, again: 10 questions, or maybe 5, and 1 rule

In other words, it is we who ought to be grateful, not God.

The African Roots of Western Christianity

Western Christianity is fundamentally African in the way that Eastern Christianity is fundamentally Greek. It was in Africa that a vigorous Christian Latin culture first developed. Carthage had a Latin liturgy for a full century before Rome switched over from Greek. Africa gave the Church great saints and Fathers such as Tertullian, Cyprian, Arnobius, Lactantius — and the greatest of all: Augustine. For a Western Christian, to know early African Christianity is to know one's own roots.

Cardinal Pell’s long shadow

Australia’s top court ruled that Cardinal Pell could not possibly have done what he was accused of doing; it was physically impossible.

Request for feedback: Use of photos to grab attention

We are considering changing our home page design to emphasize a few key news stories, commentaries and podcasts with accompanying photos. Most websites do this today, in order to draw more attention to featured items. But it means there would be a smaller number of links to our news stories, commentaries, podcasts and liturgical day material on our home page, and it would not be as convenient to scroll down to see all recent material. We would appreciate your feedback on this possibility!

Clerical Gossip

"They say he preaches something like, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord.” Nice thought, that."

151—Liberal Women & Drag Queens—Darel Paul

What's behind the increasing popularity of drag queens and drag shows in America? Why is half the audience of RuPaul's Drag Race now composed of young liberal women? Attempting to answer these questions brings forth insights about the relation between the LGBT movement, "wokeness", and America's largely female-driven therapeutic culture.

St. Francis de Sales—Introduction to the Devout Life | Pt. 2 (Ch.10-15)

"Now, in the practice of this spiritual retreat and of these brief prayers the great work of devotion lies: it can supply all other deficiencies, but there is hardly any means of making up where this is lacking."

Rooted in Christ: It starts with conversation.

I’ve set hourly chimes on my clock or phone to pull me out of my daily routine and remind me to think of God, to consider Him present, to say something—that is, to raise my mind and heart to God in a very human way. And I have also failed even to hear the chimes when they ring, forcing me to set them louder or come up with other techniques. But if we persevere, awareness of God will become a habit. This is the practice of the presence of God.

Our rivals may not be as powerful as we think

Let’s be honest. The terms “Catholic” and “efficiency” do not pop up frequently in the same sentences. Our rivals are probably no better organized than we are.

Our favorite books and films of 2022

It’s time for the Catholic Culture staff’s annual roundup of our favorite books (and other media) of the past year.

When the law punishes prayer...

The language may suggest fairness, but the law is a one-way street. Only opponents of abortion are subject to punishment.

Voice of America on female ‘priests’

The settings don’t look like churches, the participants don’t look like worshippers, and the ceremonies don’t look like a Catholic Mass. Which of course they aren’t.

The Sanhedrin Intelligence Agency

"Fishermen, tax collectors, and several other no-names. Almost all of them are those awful Galileans. Rough, ill-educated -- hardly revolutionary timber."

Following the German bishops’ lead—to disaster

So if your goal is to empty out the Catholic churches of the world, by all means take your cues from the Synodal Path. But if the goal is evangelization, beware of German leadership.

Pope Benedict XVI—Regensburg Address: Faith, Reason and the University

"The courage to engage the whole breadth of reason, and not the denial of its grandeur - this is the programme with which a theology grounded in Biblical faith enters into the debates of our time."

Without marriage and family, no better world

Where that bond of love is continually chopped up into pieces that are either scattered or deliberately thrown away, not only do those who were once a family become deeply scarred but society as a whole begins to crumble. When people lose the nurture of the family that makes them whole—whether grandparent, mother, father or children—they are prone to find inadequate substitutes, and they have an ineluctable tendency to be overcome by sadness, anger, a sense of failure or worthlessness, and despair.

Denis & the Menaces: 3rd-century Pandemic, War, Climate Change

Denis (aka Dionysius) the Great, in the years he was bishop, faced many of the terrors of the ancient world, all while the empire was persecuting Christians to the death. He saw his congregations reduced by death and defection. He saw the ranks of the clergy reduced to just a handful of priests. Yet he lived to see the day when the Church of Alexandria in Egypt revived to become a world leader once again.

The Sacrifice (1986)

A middle-aged Swedish man realizes that he must make a sacrifice to God in order to avert the onset of nuclear war. The Sacrifice deals, in director Tarkovsky’s words, with "the theme of harmony which is born only of sacrifice, the twofold dependence of love. It's not a question of mutual love: what nobody seems to understand is that love can only be one-sided, that no other love exists, that in any other form it is not love. If it involves less than total giving, it is not love."

The next pope’s dilemma—and ours

When those who reject or hate what we might call the revealed reality of the Church approve of the Pope (and those who embrace and love the revealed reality of the Church typically do not), we know that the Church is, humanly speaking, undergoing a severe crisis. So let’s say that you really are looking forward to the next papal election, at the very least because it is exceedingly unlikely that things at the top could be worse than they are now. What is the next pope’s great dilemma?

New Year, New Podcast: The Catechism in a Year

Father Mike Schmitz's Catechism in a Year and Bible in a Year podcasts are a great new habit to begin the year. has the Catechism of the Catholic Church online to use as a tool, and it's a good personal exercise to expand one's knowledge of the Catholic Faith and deepen one's prayer life.

The Mystery of Sleep

Children in their simplicity are particularly susceptible to religious and mystical experiences as they sleep.

Upcoming Calendar Highlights: First Week of February

Information about the February feasts of Presentation of the Lord, St. Blaise, and St. Paul Miki, and beginning Black History Month.

McElroy: Communion for ideological sinners in denial?

We should all be extremely tired by now of the constant disingenuous verbal game-playing, and particularly tired of those ecclesiastical figures who use loaded language, worthless theological arguments, and even contrived ecclesiastical processes to advance agendas at odds with the grace and teaching of Christ.

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