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All Catholic commentary from November 2021
The Ultimate Clericalism
How could Biden (or anyone else) be expected to know that it is a grave matter to receive the Eucharist while supporting abortion, if the Vicar of Christ tells him not to worry about it?
Quick hits: more thoughts on the Pope-Biden meeting
"Whether Francis is personally plugging a book he hasn’t read (yet), or expecting the press to do his dirty work for him, or fudging on what he knew about a high-profile abuse case and when he knew it, or doubling down on incendiary remarks he made off the cuff, he is pretty consistently to be found playing the angles."
Coherent Eucharistic discipline: An unfathomable mercy
Ever since politicians began to commit themselves to both the expansion of the “right” to abortion and enforced financial support for it, the bishops in the afflicted countries have, with very rare exceptions, lacked the courage to withhold the Eucharist. Political leaders who self-identify as Catholics while publicly advocating and enacting into law such grave moral evils have almost always been able to present themselves for Communion without fear of refusal. Our reaction ought to be that of St. Paul.
119—Gilson on the One Secular World Order—Peter Redpath
Gilson's Metamorphoses of the City of God traces the quest of philosophers for a universal human society, as it gradually degraded from the heavenly city of which Augustine wrote.
Dune: Part One with Fr. Brendon Laroche
Fr. Brendon Laroche joins Thomas to review Denis Villeneuve's film Dune: Part One. Fr. Brendon. who knows the original novel by Frank Herbert well, gives his thoughts on how the film fares as an adaptation, and on what Catholics ought to make of the religious elements of Herbert's novel.
So the best we can offer is “encounter” and “dialogue”?
Nobody would argue that courtesy and an effort at mutual understanding, along with an emphasis on our common humanity, should be ignored in the relationships we attempt to develop with others, regardless of their background. But it is interesting to note that the very age in which Catholic mission work has rapidly declined, and in some places disappeared, is the age in which all we can find to emphasize to each other is humanistic ideas which may not even rise above the level of human platitudes.
Ransoming our children: Church-subsidized education
Our Lady of Ransom Scholarship Fund sets an important precedent. This approach to Catholic education, along with many variations, needs to be followed everywhere. Parishes are the logical centers for this dynamism, though they are not the only possibility. There may be many communities that do not have an existing Catholic school and cannot start one, but can still support parents in the decision to home-school their children, and to help form a home-schooling association.
The Widow’s Almsgiving Budget
The sort generosity displayed by the widow— generosity that exceeds the requirements of justice— is far more common among the poor and in concentration camps
Forty Hours’ Devotion
The Forty Hours is similar to a parish renewal or retreat, but with more time for mental and personal prayer, and fewer talks. Often a visiting priest celebrates the Masses and gives the homilies and meditations. It is a time to be alone in prayer with Jesus but also for the community to come together for liturgical prayer.
When a bishop plays public-health bureaucrat
When the bishop refers to the Catholic faithful as “these people,” and sees no reason for the diocese to accommodate them, something has gone profoundly wrong— something that will not be fixed by a vaccine.
Pope Pius XI—Casti Connubii: On Christian Marriage | Pt. 3
“As history testifies, the prosperity of the State and the temporal happiness of its citizens cannot remain safe and sound… where the very fountainhead from which the State draws its life, namely, wedlock and the family, is obstructed by the vices of its citizens.”
51—St. Patrick: Paternal and Patristic
Forget the shamrocks. Pour the green beer down the sink, and drive the snakes from the Emerald Isle of your imagination. Listen up and encounter the real St. Patrick, author of two passionate, fascinating Christian works — deserving of a place with the Church Fathers. Patrick arrived in pagan Ireland in the fifth century, first as a slave and then as an itinerant bishop. By the end of his life, Ireland was a Christian nation.
Love and Sex Separated—Dekalog: Nine (1988)
After being diagnosed with permanent impotence, a husband begins to suspect his wife is having an affair. Dekalog: Nine asks whether love and sex can be separated in marriage - as well as sex and procreation. It suggests that when a married couple chooses not to have children, the door is opened to other kinds of selfishness as well.
Stating the obvious, with some help from grace
What struck me most forcefully during my current re-reading is the advanced understanding reflected in the text of key matters which we regard as having been fully clarified only in the light of Christ. Yet here, even before Christ, we see an inspired Biblical text expressing the amazing depth of the Jewish understanding of the moral life and of the glorious destiny of the righteous for all eternity with God.
Banning (or allowing) religion-related groups? Not so fast!
Unfortunately, the same social pressures which led to religious liberty in modern Western circumstances also led to widespread religious indifference. Intractable religious disagreements seemed to “prove” any or all of the following: (a) that any authoritative establishment of religion is presumptuous and damaging; (b) that religious or spiritual truth really cannot be known; and (c) that, in any case, religion is irrelevant (at best) or even damaging (at worst) to public peace and security.
The Jesse Tree Redux
The Jesse Tree is a beautiful Advent devotion that goes deep into Old Testament typology and salvation history. This is Catholic Culture's version.
Silenced but Unquiet: a Faithful Jesuit’s Witness
I’d argue that those who have not discovered the work of this remarkable man need the book, as an introduction to one of the best writers in the contemporary Catholic world: a faithful priest, an incisive analyst, and an extraordinary prose stylist.
120—Maximilian Kolbe in Japan—Kevin Doak
Miracles is a semiautobiographical account of the author’s personal investigation into the miracles approved by the Vatican for Kolbe’s canonization. Her ambivalence towards her Catholic faith is challenged as she traces Kolbe’s steps from his childhood to his self-sacrifice in Auschwitz, with his time in Japan standing in between as the ascetic crucible which made him a saint.
The US bishops’ statement: an invitation to disobedience
But while they rightly remind us all to examine our consciences before receiving Communion, in this document the bishops do not examine their own consciences, and ask themselves how well they are fulfilling their sacred duty to protect the Sacrament from sacrilege and scandal.
COVID ebook (free): A chronicle of Catholic catastrophe
So many Catholic leaders have used the threat to physical health safety as an excuse to minimize spiritual health and spiritual safety.
RC Branding is BAAAACK!
The original developer of the RC brand has decided to create a new set of merchandise to be sold through CatholicCulture.org, so you will see RC-branded items advertised once again on the website. You can purchase them through one of the “print on demand” services which have been developed over the years to provide branded merchandise to organizations of all kinds. Trinity will get a percentage of the proceeds to plough back into the work of CatholicCulture.org.
St. John Henry Newman—The Patristical Idea of Antichrist | Pt. 4: The Persecution of Antichrist
"Here then we have a sign of Antichrist's appearance—I do not say of his instant coming, or his certain coming… still, so far as it goes, it is a preparation, a warning, a call to sober thought..."
Highlights: Authority in marriage, anti-libertarianism, the scapular and more
This episode contains clips of highlights from episodes 45 and 47-49 of the Catholic Culture Podcast.
Christ, the Great King
Herod the Great is the very model of a modern tyrant. He spent a lot of taxpayer money, generally abused his subjects, and left a historical legacy uniquely his own. His example inspires us to pray: “God, save us from great leaders.” But Jesus is also a great King -- the King of kings.
Guidelines for episcopal investments: Too much of a good thing?
Should the Church have investments at all? Ideally, or so I suppose, the Church would collect contributions more or less continuously for its Catholic spiritual and material purposes, and regularly use up all it collects for these purposes. One does not make investments, after all, unless one has a surplus, and there is an important sense in which the Church ought not to have a surplus. As important as this question is, however, it offers a warning more than a definitive answer.
Celebrating Advent Essentially
Happy New Year! The new Liturgical year 2021-2022 begins with the First Sunday of Advent on November 28, the second to longest possible Advent. The Advent season begins on the Sunday nearest to the Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle on November 30, and always includes four Sundays. The earliest date...
The Seventh Seal (1957)
A knight returning home from the Crusades gets into a chess match with Death. Ingmar Bergman's most famous film, The Seventh Seal, is a searing meditation on death, faith, and the silence of God. But it's far more colorful and entertaining than you might expect from that description.
52—Benedict of Nursia: The Elusive Man Behind the Rule
Benedict was not the first monk to compose a rule for living in community — but he's certainly the most influential. He wrote the Rule that the Emperor Charlemagne would propose as guidebook for all monks in the West. Yet Benedict himself was self-effacing in the extreme, and he remains elusive for historians. Lately, he has emerged as a patron and model for people whose civilization could be entering a Dark Age. Know anybody like that?
Anticipating Christmas, Beginning with Saint Andrew and the Immaculate Conception
November 30, the Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle and is the pivotal date for the beginning of Advent, starting the Sunday closest to November 30. Also on November 30 starts the tradition to pray the Christmas Anticipation Prayer fifteen times each day before Christmas. The origins of this prayer are unknown, but it is older, at least a hundred years old. It is known as the "St. Andrew Novena" or "Christmas Novena" or just "Hail and Blessed" for the first words of the prayer.
Catholicism and sanctity: Jumping to the bottom line
If the contemplation of the four last things—death, judgment, heaven and hell—does not press us toward a deeply Catholic outlook on life, it is doubtful that anything can do so short of a spontaneously grateful participation in Divine love. Fortunately, that possibility remains up to the point of death, and it typically requires very little more than a genuine humility. We must all recognize our extreme human poverty, a poverty that can be eliminated only by a Divine gift.
Permission to Drop the Catholic Christmas Guilt
It seems as Catholics we like to pile on extra guilt and stress. Some even label it as “Catholic guilt.” I just want to give you permission to put aside that guilt this Advent. There is no rule regarding decorating for Christmas. Nor is there any guideline regarding listening to...
Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet—St. Joseph: Guard What Has Been Entrusted to You
An Advent meditation on the hidden life of St. Joseph.
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