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All Catholic commentary from November 2023

168—Tolkien’s Hard-Won Faith—Holly Ordway

Holly Ordway continues to break new ground in Tolkien scholarship with her latest book, Tolkien's Faith: A Spiritual Biography. This work sheds important light on the experience of Catholics like Tolkien and his mother in the hostile Anglican establishment of their time, on the crucial influence of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri on the young Tolkien, and more.

Synod Fatigue

Then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio captured the attention of the last papal conclave with a talk in which he lamented “self-referential” attitudes within the Church. Ironically this Synod— which might be seen as the crowning achievement of his pontificate— is arguably the most self-referential event in Catholic history.

The Remedy for World Weariness

Occasionally placing God first requires that we fail in politics. God is eternal; our country is time-bound.

Ultimate clericalism: Not what you think

The greatest of all the sins under the heading of “clericalism” is any abuse of office which deliberately undermines confidence in what the Church teaches about Christ, about Christ’s continued ministry to us through the Church, and about the manner of life He calls us to live.

The future of Way of the Fathers: Mike Aquilina and Jim Papandrea in conversation

After 99 wonderful episodes by Mike Aquilina, Way of the Fathers is getting a new host! We are sad to see Mike go, but excited about his hand-picked successor, Jim Papandrea. In this conversation, Mike introduces Jim to the listeners and these two friends and collaborators talk about their love for all things Patristic.

Another mixed message from Rome on sexual morality

The new statement from the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith does not directly contradict prior authoritative statements of Church doctrine or discipline. But it gives every indication that pastors who ignore the rules will have nothing to fear from Rome.

Is there a Providential trajectory in the last seven popes?

Pope Francis is indeed a massive failure, a failure seemingly designed to increase the secularism of the remaining susceptible clergy and laity throughout the Church. But whereas the leadership at the top under John Paul II encouraged a new generation of priests and bishops, the failure of leadership under Francis has made a great many bishops recognize that they are not called to be branch managers of a multi-national corporation, but to be vicars of Christ in their own dioceses.

Advent-Christmas Ebook released for new liturgical year

Our free liturgical year ebooks offer a rich set of resources for families to use in living the liturgical year in the domestic church. Resources include biographies of the saints to match each feast day, histories of the various celebrations and devotions, descriptions of customs from around the world, prayers, activities and recipes.

Visible Members of the Divine Vocabulary

The People of God express and multiply His creative Words by honoring His Covenant.

When Vatican PR makes the Pope look bad

The Pope does not owe me any explanation for his decision not to read a speech. My point is that by offering an implausible explanation, when no explanation was necessary, the Vatican press office created a problem.

Providential prospects for Christian unity

While the Catholic Church has been rocked by secularistic infidelity at every level in a host of distressingly human ways, many of the old Protestant churches are no longer recognizable, or are dramatically reduced in size, or have all but disappeared. As Christian bodies go, if you think the Catholic Church has problems, you haven’t seen anything yet. The Catholic Church is still receiving large numbers of converts from the levelled trenches of Protestantism: Providence, I believe, at work.

Review: Killers of the Flower Moon

Thomas and James review Martin Scorsese's new film, now in theaters: Killers of the Flower Moon, a tragic retelling of the conspiracy in which many Osage Indian women were murdered in 1920s Oklahoma. What moral insight is Scorsese trying to communicate by telling the tale from the murderers' perspective, does he succeed in this, and does the choice make the film less dramatically compelling?

St. Francis de Sales—Introduction to the Devout Life | Part 3 (Ch.23-35)

"Great occasions for serving God come seldom, but little ones surround us daily... If you do all in God's name, all you do will be well done."

EEOC: Denying reality to punish Christians?

Attorneys for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops wrote to the EEOC regarding Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The Bishops’ attorneys rejected the notion that the EEOC has the authority to penalize the exercise of the First Amendment’s Freedom of Speech and to redefine as “sexual harassment” speech in opposition to abortion, birth control or gender identity.

Welcome candor from the US bishops’ conference

In the 1990s, American Catholics who cherished the perennial teachings of the Church looked to Rome to correct centrifugal tendencies within the American hierarchy. Now the roles are reversed, and we count on our American bishops to protect us from the confusion spreading across the Atlantic.

On distinguishing temptation from personal identity

In other words, our desires and reflexive behaviors are not definitive of who we are, precisely because we are actually persons with powers of both intellect and will by which we may, astonishingly, control and guide both our desires and our behavior in accordance with our evaluation of the good.

Synodality and the Strickland case

On rare occasions Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI had removed bishops who broke ranks with the College of Bishops by questioning fundamental points of Catholic teaching. In this case it seems that Pope Francis removed Bishop Strickland because he was too clamorous in his defense of Catholic doctrine.

169—The Good Death of Kate Montclair—Daniel McInerny

Daniel McInerny joins the podcast to discuss his novel, The Good Death of Kate Montclair, the modern cult of authenticity, the desire for control that tempts people to euthanasia, and what it truly means to accept your death.

The Ark is Not the Covenant

We cannot ignore the turmoil, injustice, evil, confusion, and clericalism throughout the Church over her history. But the Ark besmirched by sin is not the Covenant.

Conversion to end child sacrifice: In ancient Israel and now

“The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.” This seems to be the hallmark not only of William Butler Yeats’ early twentieth-century world but of our world today. We look to media and find that the most aggressive and widespread presentations merely purvey the values of a corrupt human culture. We look to politics or we look to business and we find pressure from both to extend that corruption. The list goes on, and the only solution is conversion of heart.

4.1 The Heresies—Introduction to the Series

I am honored to be taking up The Way of the Fathers podcast where my good friend, Mike Aquilina, left off. In season 4 of The Way of the Fathers, we’ll be looking at the heresies of the early Church, and how the Church fathers confronted and refuted them.

Thanksgiving: another sort of ‘holy day’

The secular celebration of the “holidays” has becoming increasingly toxic, and the observance of Halloween— also now divorced from its Christian origins— is now even more troubling, with the intimations of Satanic activity more and more evident. Somehow Thanksgiving has escaped the corrosive effects of a consumer culture.

Tangible Lifelines to God’s Strategic Plan for Our Salvation

Just as the marital embrace is necessary for the expansion of families and the growth of populations, the laying on of the hands is the tangible Apostolic lifeline of grace that protects the integrity of the Church’s Sacraments. The requirement is so strict that any break renders Holy Orders invalid and (like contraception in marriage) frustrates the Church’s grace-filled expansion.

If your only tool is a hammer: A problem of focus

Most of our preoccupations are colored not only by our own faulty commitments but by the unrecognized temptations which too often affect our goals and our behavior. Or, to approach this from a different point of view, the combination of our preoccupations and our gifts may make us either suitable or unsuitable for the accomplishment of particular goals which require, for success, abilities which go beyond mere spiritual commitment or holiness.

Fool me once...

Twice, then, I have been late to an interesting story because I underestimated how rough Pope Francis can be on those who oppose or annoy him.

170—Art Participates in God’s Governance—Bradley Elliott, O.P.

Fr. Bradley Elliott, a professional drummer turned Dominican friar, joins the podcast to discuss his book, The Shape of the Artistic Mind: A Search for the Metaphysical Link Between Art and Morals in the Thought of Thomas Aquinas.

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