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Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary

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All Catholic commentary from November 2022

St. John Henry Newman—The Idea of a University | Bearing of Other Branches of Knowledge on Theology

"If you drop any science out of the circle of knowledge, you cannot keep its place vacant for it; that science is forgotten; the other sciences close up, or, in other words, they exceed their proper bounds, and intrude where they have no right... no science whatever, however comprehensive it may be, but will fall largely into error, if it be constituted the sole exponent of all things in heaven and earth, and that, for the simple reason that it is encroaching on territory not its own, and undertaking problems which it has no instruments to solve."

The Church: Mere exclusion, or inclusion through mission?

We are baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection as priests, prophets and kings. Baptism is not only the conferral of a Divine benefit but a personal immersion into the saving work of Jesus Christ—that is, an immersion into Christ’s mission. Insofar as the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ are obscured in the life of the Church through worldly aspirations, the missionary nature of each Catholic’s configuration to Christ is obscured, sometimes to the point of becoming barren.

Apologizing for hard truths

A priest condemned abortion, said that homosexual acts are mortally sinful, and added that that the distribution of free contraceptives is “promoting promiscuity” and that it is “lunatic” to encourage children to question their sexual identity. “The views expressed do not represent the Christian position,” the bishop said... They don't?

Highlights: music & spirituality, the common good, Mary’s river

This episode contains clips of highlights from episodes 33, 56, and 57 of the Catholic Culture Podcast.

The reception of mercy begins with repentance

All the blather about cheap salvation without an interior change of heart is damaging. At the same time, we need to understand that the primary motive for growing constantly closer to God ought not to be fear but love. If we think we may be damned, that is a motivation to overcome evil habits. But a far greater motivation is love of God because He created us and destined us for eternal glory if we would but accept it. Love leads to a far greater share in the Divine life, both now and forever.

Amnesty after the lockdown? For Whom?

For the Church, after the Covid lockdown, “moving forward” entails asking how our pastors came to believe that our physical health was more important than our spiritual health, so that for months they denied us the sacraments. That was not a failure of scientific judgment; it was a failure of faith.

The Iron Triangle of Revelation

Theological studies that expand our understanding of doctrines are helpful. But theological judgments require our faithful assent only when the Church recognizes them as doctrines rooted in Tradition and Sacred Scriptures.

The moral beauty of Catholicism: Reversing the perspective

Considering the motives of credibility that might attract others to the Church before they accept her doctrines, is it possible that those who have sought to live an authentically Catholic life now for many years can see within themselves something mysteriously compelling that they could not possibly wish to be without? This question may produce genuine insights into the nature of the dreadful chasm that separates the way of Christ and the Church from every other possibility.

The Gentle Intervention: Frontline Church Discipline

Many ideas that seem peculiarly modern actually have deep Christian roots. This is true of much of the terminology of addiction and recovery. Today we look for the roots of "intervention" in the Gospel and the works of the Fathers — and find applications for ordinarily life, even beyond the orbit of addiction.

Fame kills: Sunset Boulevard (1950)

A discussion of Billy Wilder's acerbic and vastly entertaining critique of Hollywood avarice and vanity, Sunset Boulevard.

Pope Pius XI—Casti Connubii: On Christian Marriage | Full

“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...”

Quick hits: tough talk about Vatican II and the aftermath

“Let’s be plain: the Church has been in schism since 1968, if not earlier."

147—The World Is Falling Away—Jane Greer

Catholic poet Jane Greer joins the podcast to read from her third collection, The World As We Know It Is Falling Away. She discusses the spiritual challenges that came with the great success of her previous book, Love Like a Conflagration, which connects to a major theme of her new book: fallen man’s thwarted desire to exceed divinely ordained limits to earthly delights, in the face of death and apocalypse – along with the real beauty of the gifts God has given us to enjoy in this life.

What ‘active participation’ really means

Our goal is active participation; yes. But active participation in what?

The Art of Killing a Conscience

If you plan to kill your conscience, do NOT read Psalm 51. Ever.

The single-issue newspaper?

What would you say about the competence of a journalist who headlined a story: "New York Times chooses new editor for pro-abortion propaganda campaign?”

Even Catholic social transformation must be rooted in prayer

In a culture with the intensely secular first rule that religious belief is merely a personal sentiment, so shut up about it, the plush slipper is always on the other person’s foot. Granted that it is also dangerous when the plush slipper is on the Catholic foot, our own battered and uncomfortable boots today appear to be good only for walking away, or perhaps occasionally stomping away. We wonder in every aftermath whether our ineffective witness is worthy of anything but the Confessional.

148—Being Is Better Than Not Being—Christopher Mirus

How does Aristotle identify goodness with the ability to be contemplated – even in the sphere of ethics? What is the relation between friendship and contemplation? How can we call “beautiful” things as different as a morally virtuous human action, the parts of animals, the orbits of the heavenly spheres, and God Himself? What does Aristotle mean when he says that being is better than not being?

A Congressional assault on religious freedom

The Act promises to respect my beliefs as long as I respect same-sex marriage. But believing as I do, I cannot recognize same-sex marriage. So the legislation requires me either to renounce my beliefs or maintain my silence.

War Dispatches from the Incredible Shrinking Man and the Good Thief

Death is inevitable. But is death a dead end?

Religious liberty: A bad political tactic?

The thing that bothers me is that arguing adherence moral issues on the basis of religious liberty is already a concession to those who deny reality.

John Dryden—Two Poems in Honor of St. Cecilia’s Day

But bright Cecilia rais'd the wonder high'r; / When to her organ, vocal breath was giv'n, / An angel heard, and straight appear'd / Mistaking earth for Heav'n.

Neutrality is not an option

Recently I heard a conservative television commentator say of the sexual revolutionaries that “they’re coming for your children.” That, I think, was a particularly dull observation. They came for your children years ago; did you only just now notice?

Confession and the Art of Boiler Maintenance

Saint Thomas teaches that the Sacrament raises imperfect contrition – fear of punishment – to perfect contrition and provides a clear and serene conscience.

The Vatican, China, and the ‘spirit of dialogue’

"I swear to... abide by the national constitution, safeguard homeland unity and social harmony, love the country and religion, and persist in the principle of independent and self-managed churches, adhere to the leadership of the Catholicism of my country in China, actively guide Catholicism to adapt to socialist society and contribute to the realization of the Chinese dream of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation."

St. Paul Center: Impressive, spiritually nourishing new books

Here is a winning list of books published by the St. Paul Center over the past couple of months.

Citizen Kane (1941)

For decades critics said Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane was the greatest film ever made. Unfortunately, that intimidating label sometimes keeps people from sitting down and watching the thing. It needn’t be so. Kane is eminently watchable and entertaining. It also definitely isn’t the greatest film of all time, but it’s one of the most technically impressive, especially considering it was directed, producted, co-written and starred in by a 25-year-old who’d never made a movie before.


The questions arise every few years, and each time they're news. Who were the "deaconesses" in the early Church? What was their role? Why did the role vanish in the first millennium? Should the role be revived? The questions are never answered to everyone's satisfaction. Why must that be so?

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