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All Catholic commentary from October 2021
How I learned to mistrust the Synod process
The synod process itself did not lend itself to propositions for dramatic change. The process was controlled by archdiocesan insiders.
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My battle cry for Church renewal? Debureaucratization!
With essentially no supernatural tendency to bureaucracy, the Church is so constituted that the pope, bishops and priests ensure the transmission of both sacramental grace and the truths of the Faith within the Church herself, while the laity, by their inescapable presence as leaven through the whole world, act creatively to shape all of human culture in accordance with the light of Christ.
116—Maritain’s Art and Scholasticism, Pt. 1
This is a crossover episode in which Thomas joins forces with Scott Hambrick and Karl Schudt from the Online Great Books Podcast, to discuss the classic essay Art and Scholasticism by Jacques Maritain.
Cardinal Turkson: Biden should not be refused communion. Say what?
I am sick and tired of the theological sleight-of-hand so often practiced by prelates with no discernible counter-cultural Christian commitments. They resort to a kind of verbal trickery to undermine the effort to restore discipline within the Catholic Church, which is vital to forming existing Catholics and to attracting those outside who respond positively to a witness that must be Christian because it cannot be mistaken for anything else.
The Family Rosary: A Month for Renewal
Updated from the 2015 archives, with a few additions, including further reading at the end of the post. Both of our sons are now teenagers, which makes the Rosary praying even more tricky. As a family we still struggle to find the balance to pray together as a family but also not take away their...
It’s time to abandon the public schools
Spirited public debate is still acceptable, the attorney general tells us. (And isn’t that nice of him, to allow free speech?) But he, and the FBI, will decide what is spirited debate and what is intimidation. Which means that in practice he and his political allies will be able to intimidate you.
Catholic political influence: The elected…and the elect
Ecclesiastical discipline matters not only to the heath of the Church but also to the Catholic impact on the secular order, including the outcome of political elections. All “progressive” Catholics understand this instinctively, which is one of several reasons they are horrified by discipline. After the inevitable pruning process and some time for new growth, the impact of a well-disciplined Catholic Church would—as it has sometimes in the past—actually make a calculable difference at the polls.
Questionable statistics in the French abuse report
If roughly 3,000 priests molested roughly 210,000 young people— the numbers given in the report— then the average priest-molester racked up 70 victims. The report insists that this is “possible,” and maybe so. But it certainly is not plausible.
The Chosen, Season 2: characters and controversies
A discussion of Season 2 of The Chosen. The series continues to set a high imaginative standard in its portrayal of the Twelve Apostles, but also ventures into more problematic theological territory.
St. John Chrysostom—Homily 46 on the Gospel According to St. John: Bread of Life, Mystery of Faith
“He has given to those who desire Him not only to see Him, but even to touch, and eat Him, and fix their teeth in His flesh, and to embrace Him, and satisfy all their love. Let us then return from that table like lions breathing fire, having become terrible to the devil.”
Friendship and evangelization
More than any other topic, the Fathers of the Church constitute Aquilina’s persistent and extensive expertise. This is a happy choice of specialties because we find in the Patristic writings such a wide variety of topics and styles that there is always something available to engage and even captivate readers of almost any background or interest.
Vatican smiles on Pelosi, undercuts US bishops
Pelosi’s mission in Rome was to persuade American prelates that they should not take a forthright stand on the abortion issue. And let’s face it: the Vatican gave that mission an enormous boost.
The papal pilots had a steady hand, keeping the Church on course. But in recent years, the Church has entered into the white-knuckle phase of extreme turbulence.
Prioritizing Our Allegiances and Attachments
The past two weeks have been a little hard on my family. A simple back surgery for my dad has unraveled into life-threatening situations and 3 additional surgeries. He is still in ICU, but seems to be on the right path of recovery. But this will be a long process of healing. This comes on the...
117—Maritain’s Art and Scholasticism, Pt. 2
This is a crossover episode in which Thomas joins forces with Scott Hambrick and Karl Schudt from the Online Great Books Podcast, to discuss the classic essay Art and Scholasticism by Jacques Maritain. This episode covers beauty as a transcendental and its role in the fine arts, and intuition as the way we experience artistic beauty. The beauty of a work does not depend on the emotional effects it produces, nor can it be proven by analysis.
French bishops waffle on the confessional seal
Are the French bishops now saying that they will obey the law, and instruct priests to violate the confessional seal when they hear of sexual abuse?
Vaccination vs. treatment: The AMA’s Covid agenda
Efforts are underway to curtail availability of a highly effective and safe treatment for Covid-19. In an apparent attempt to encourage greater use of mRNA vaccines, some medical organizations are strongly urging that Ivermectin not be used at all to treat Covid-19. This seems to be motivated by an ideological hostility to those who either distrust the vaccines, about which the long-term affects are not known, or have moral questions about the origin of the vaccines.
49—Romanus the Melodist: Through Hymns, with Hymns, in Hymns
Romanus looms large from his lifetime in the sixth century. Today he is much sung and little known — at least with certainty. Legends have filled in the cracks of his biography. According to one, he was tone-deaf when heaven granted him the gift of composition. He went on to compose many verse homilies, kontakia, which are still sung in the Eastern churches today. Having lived in Homs, and then Beirut and Constantinople, he introduced Syriac forms and methods into Byzantine liturgical music.
The bold speech of Bishop Schneider
So today Bishop Schneider speaks with some authority when he says that Catholics should be willing to suffer— at a minimum to risk some adverse consequences— for the sake of the faith. He has walked that walk.
Does the world want salvation? The victory of faith
In the regions in which Christianity gained the most traction, its very worldly success seemed to breed not an increase but a diminution of the Faith. Christianity frequently expressed itself through, and then degenerated into, a set of cultural identifiers. In time, the spirituality beneath these identifiers could not sustain them. Now, throughout the once-Christian West, the faith is dwindling away. What are those who remain faithful to make of all this?
The scandals surrounding a key papal ally
He is one of the Pope’s most reliable allies, one of the world’s most influential prelates. He has apparently weathered the storm of criticism that battered his reputation a few years ago; the resignation of his auxiliary seemed to sap the energy of investigators. Yet some serious questions remain unanswered.
Pope Pius XI—Casti Connubii: On Christian Marriage | Pt. 1
“Matrimony was not instituted or restored by man but by God; not by man were the laws made to strengthen and confirm and elevate it but by God, the Author of nature, and by Christ Our Lord by Whom nature was redeemed...”
The Electronic Jesus
Our fixation on an easily accessible electronic Jesus – and lust for the religious consolations – threatens to undermine authentic liturgical sensibilities.
Seeing the Church and world as they are, short of heaven
Sometimes we catch an unconfused glimpse of reality here on earth, though I admit this is rare. The occasional news story, appearing at precisely the right moment, can speak volumes about the state of the world. Usually we find this in accounts of unprecedented evils which are not even recognized as evils by those doing the reporting. But occasionally a clear-headed report actually rises to the top.
118—Music for the Joyful Mysteries—Mark Christopher Brandt
Mark Christopher Brandt returns to the show to discuss his latest album, Joy, which is based on the structure of the Rosary. It features the family choir of Mark and his three daughters, accompanied by Mark on piano. The album has an amazing backstory, involving Mark's decision to end his public career as a jazz pianist to focus on his family, never expecting that he would one day make an album with his chilren.
Helping the poor, intelligently
The first distinction concerns why we ought to help others. This obligation does not arise by virtue of some ideological vision of the perfect world. We learn from both nature and Christianity that we cannot achieve perfection in this world, and that the effort to fit everyone into some ideological mold in the name of “perfection” is just another way of attempting to remake the world in accordance with our own theories—which we neither have the wisdom nor the ability to do.
50—Peter Chrysologus: The Doctor of (Short) Sermons
Peter Chrysologus is known as the “Doctor of Homilies,” and he always preached with brevity. Every word was golden. He was archbishop of Ravenna during that city's brief term as capital of the Western empire. His sermons rang like poems, rich with biblical insight and glimpses of ordinary life in a fifth-century urban center.
Pope Pius XI—Casti Connubii: On Christian Marriage | Pt. 2
“The family is more sacred than the State... men are begotten not for the earth and for time, but for Heaven and eternity.”
Social media constrict the public square
In theory the internet, by making it possible for anyone to find a worldwide audience for his thoughts, should have expanded the dimensions of the public square. But in practice, because the most powerful instruments of online communication have fallen under monopolistic control, our public conversation has become severely stunted.
Hollywood’s infamous birth: Birth of a Nation and Intolerance (1915-16)
D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation is a landmark of world cinema said to have established the grammar of cinema. It is also an astonishingly racist film, portraying black people as subhuman and the Ku Klux Klan as civilization-saving heroes. Griffith's next film, Intolerance, included on the Vatican's 1995 list of important films, is less morally objectionable and even more artistically ambitious - but is a thematically incoherent failure.
Extending the extension: Praying for the dead all through November 2021
November is upon us. It is the liturgical time of the year when we are made more aware of “the Last Things” through the focus of the Communion of Saints—the Church Triumphant in heaven, the Church Suffering in Purgatory and the Church Militant (ourselves) on earth. This is the...
Pope Francis urges Biden to receive Communion
Joseph Biden felt free to report that Francis had called him a “good Catholic” and encouraged him to keep receiving Communion. Many hoped, perhaps, that the deliberate Vatican privacy imposed on the meeting indicated the Pope’s willingness to offer hard sayings for the President’s serious consideration. But there have been no precedents in this papacy which could have led anyone to that conclusion.
A Little Catechism on Politics and So-Called Catholic Pro-Abortion Politicians
There should be no objection to public opposition to the pro-abortion views of politicians such as President Biden, House Speaker Pelosi, and Virginia Gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe.
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