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All Catholic commentary from October 2023

Who Will Go to Heaven?

Sin confuses us. We have difficulty thinking clearly and making the right choices. Sin distorts our conscience and garbles the authentic voice of God.

On Catholics speaking truth to power

Wherever Catholic leaders claim to be emphasizing the Church’s “closeness” in “accompanying” others in acts, associations and organizations which are formally sinful in their purposes, the leaders in question do an immense disservice not only to those they bless but to those who witness or learn of this blessing, and to the Church as a whole. Even if they are so clueless as not to intend it, they are engaging in a witness against Christ and the Church, a witness which wounds rather than heals.

St. John Henry Newman—The Idea of a University | Knowledge Viewed in Relation to Professional Skill

"If then the intellect is so excellent a portion of us, and its cultivation so excellent, it is not only beautiful, perfect, admirable, and noble in itself, but in a true and high sense it must be useful to the possessor and to all around him; not useful in any low, mechanical, mercantile sense, but as diffusing good, or as a blessing, or a gift, or power, or a treasure, first to the owner, then through him to the world."

Dopamine Deprivation

We “don’t feel close enough to God.” Neither did Mother Teresa.

Synod: The Church’s being is Christ, her ecology the Gospel

In the initial Synod addresses, too much is about having an “acceptable” attitude on random contemporary hot-button issues, such as ecology, homosexuality, racial prejudice, and religious hostility regardless of content, as if the Catholic Faith really is, as Western governments now believe, merely a sentiment, and not something that inescapably fosters the divisions which Christ Himself predicted.

3.12 Cities of God: Carthage, African Christian Genesis

Western Christianity — Latin Christianity — began in Africa and made its way across the sea to Italy. All the great orthodox Latin writers of the first through third centuries were African. The distinctive western liturgy was likely a product of Roman Africa. Christianity came to Africa at a time of literary renaissance, and the Church is still the beneficiary of that particular Christian culture.

Catholic India’s ‘Master of Chaos’

Introducing one of India's most prominent young film directors, all of whose stories are set in Indian Catholic or Orthodox communities. Within the Malayalam film industry, Lijo Jose Pellissery is known as the "Master of Chaos", presumably due to the spontaneous feeling of his scenes, often featuring large, rambunctious crowds. His films keep you riveted in a way that is not manipulative, and they are unpredictable without being dependent on contrived twists.

Responding to Hamas: a just-war perspective [Part I]

Pope John Paul II, in that World Day of Peace message, was outlining the circumstances in which it would be “legitimate and even obligatory” to use military force: to wage a just war. Hamas has created just such circumstances.

Extrapolating God from Science

Fr. Spitzer knows that the physical sciences cannot prove the existence of God, because the physical sciences can study only material things. He also knows that we must beware of the “God of the gaps” fallacy—that is, the fallacy that if we do not know how something in the physical universe came about, then we can conclude that God must have intervened directly to make that something happen. This understanding explains the author’s choice of his title: Science at the doorstep of God.

Responding to Hamas: a just-war perspective [Part II]

Hamas bears sole responsibility for the blood shed in its raids into Israel. But Israel will not be solely responsible for civilian casualties in Gaza; that responsibility is shared by the Hamas leaders who insisted that civilians remain in place.

The Parable of the Wedding Banquet and the Third Commandment

In the generations ahead, we may see “Holy God, we praise Thy name” replace “Allahu Akbar.”

On our cheerful “descent” into apostolic Christianity

Few bishops are remembered at all (and most of these are martyrs commemorated in the liturgical calendar); few religious orders have been established without significant controversy; and no religious order has ever survived long after its founding without periods of significant infidelity and decline. We might also recognize that only a handful of the nearly 270 popes leading the Church since Jesus Christ have ever been called “the great”. When, we may well ask, was the Christian life not a struggle?

Highlights: Esolen in the Wild West, Thomas More’s conscience, and more

Looking back at highlights from past episodes of the Catholic Culture Podcast and Criteria: The Catholic Film Podcast.

Popesplaining and New Ways Ministry

With prodigious effort one can still defend the position that the Pope supports the traditional Catholic teaching. But is it really worth the effort— when the Pope does not defend that position himself?

St. Philip Howard—A Fourfold Meditation: On the Four Last Things

"Thou findest here what thou wilt wish at last, / And that account which none can ever shun; / Then frame thy life before thy time be past, / As thou wilt wish that thou in time hadst done..."

Pastoral practice must foster Faith, not split hairs

One question we might also ask is whether the Church’s ministry has tended to expand when her teachings have been presented precisely or when her teachings have been blurred. As a case in point, we might ask whether her ministry has expanded under John Paul II or under Pope Francis.

The Sacred Vessels of the Word

The lexicon of God’s Revelation is rooted in Tradition and Scriptures. But the Scrabble of Faith does not allow changes that misspell or misrepresent the words of Revelation.

Cardinal Schönborn on changing the Catechism

Pope Saint John Paul II incorporated what he regarded as improvements in the Latin typical edition, a clear indication of the proper understanding of the text as a “sure guide” only in this more general sense, especially compared with the rampant publication of various catechisms throughout the world which more or less deliberately distorted Catholic doctrine in the years between Vatican II and the publication of this official text.

3.13 Cities of God: Last and Lasting Lessons

Christianity conquered cities one by one, not by arms or propaganda, but by the quiet witness of ordinary lives well lived. Worldly power yielded before the prayers of the saints and the blood of the martyrs. What can we learn from the first evangelization as we work our witness today?

Is “listening” overrated? (or, Are we all second-graders?)

The most disturbing aspect of this year’s Synod is the puerility of its ecclesiastical posturing. The post-synodal Letter reeks of a childish self-congratulation in its testimony to a magnificent experience of mutual sharing and listening that has made the Synodal process so deeply meaningful, and in its tendentious assurance that each participant feels—oh, so very, very deeply—that he or she has “lived this blessed time in profound communion with all of you”, the People of God.

All About Advent and Christmas: Review

Advent book review by Katherine Bogner illustrated by Shari Van Vranken by Emmaus Road Publishing. All About Advent and Christmas. Includes Advent Wreath, Liturgical year, Jesse Tree, O Antiphons, St. Nicholas and St. Lucy.

The Virtue of Hope (or, Thoughts While Shaving)

I look again in the mirror and see the face of a man who can do nothing to alter his mortality. This is an unsatisfactory state of affairs. I want to live forever.

Wise Blood (1979): John Huston’s film adaptation w/ Katy Carl

Katy Carl, fiction writer and editor-in-chief of Dappled Things, joins the show to discuss the 1979 film adaptation of Flannery O'Connor's novel Wise Blood, directed by John Huston and starring Brad Dourif.

A Potpourri of Confusion About Catholic Teaching

Mega-churches usually become mini-churches when their powerful preachers move on.

Spitzer in One: Scripture, History, Science, Reason, Faith

This book covers a lot of the same ground as his previous studies, but with two differences. First, it is organized primarily around questions that arise specifically in relationship to our reception of the Bible and the realities which the Bible recounts. Second, it is presented in question-and-answer form, which makes it easier and quicker to find succinct treatments of the particular issues which may be of greatest interest. This also makes the book more accessible to the general reader.

Honoring our heroes

William Fahey, the president of Thomas More College, observed that Ambassadors Flynn and Glendon reflected something of the character of the school’s patron saint; they have both proven to be “unambiguous in their principles, very much like Thomas More.”

November: Praying for the Faithful Departed

Halloween, All Saints Day, Commemoration of the Faithful Departed or All Souls Day--all mark days for praying for the Faithful Departed or Souls in Purgatory for November, how to visit the cemetery and earn a plenary indulgence from November 1-8, with special other indulgences for All Souls Day.

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