Search or Browse Commentary

All Catholic commentary from December 2017

A priest’s #1 distraction at Mass—and how to avoid it by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Dec 1, 2017

In the Memoriale of St. Pierre Favre (aka Peter Faber), I happened across this startling entry: During Mass on the day of St. Clare, I felt myself somewhat distracted by my desires; one was to edify those present, the other to obtain devotion for that purpose. In the past I have often...

The sadness of all apostasy—and the modern scandal by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Dec 1, 2017

I explained yesterday why, regardless of the motives and the naysayers, apostasy is always wrong, even under the circumstances depicted in the novel and film Silence. As a postscript, I believe the following two observations will be found quite apt: First, in a certain sense there is...

Advent: Focusing on the Essential with Expectant Delight by Jennifer Gregory Miller in "Liturgical Year Blog" - Dec 2, 2017

Advent begins this Sunday. December 3 is the latest date that Advent can begin, which also makes it the shortest Advent possible. The Fourth Week of Advent is only one day. We are beginning a new Liturgical Year. Happy New Year! It is a human tendency to look forward to seasonal or time shifts...

Anticipation by Fr. Jerry Pokorsky in "On the News" - Dec 4, 2017

Advent is a time of anticipation, looking forward to the birth of Jesus on Christmas. Of course the anticipation is a liturgical fiction. Jesus was born into the world over 2,000 years ago. Are we playing childish games by entering into such a fictional season of anticipation? No! On the contrary,...

Ezra and the exiles: Teaching them—and us—to put God first by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Dec 5, 2017

When it comes to recounting the post-exilic period in Jewish history—the period during which the temple was restored and worship began again in Jerusalem—there is endless confusion over the naming of the various books that cover it. Ezra, Nehemiah, 1 Esdras, 2 Esdras, 3 Esdras, 4...

The Colorado baker’s case: it’s not about gay rights by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Dec 6, 2017

Pay attention to the language used in headlines about this week’s crucial argument before the Supreme Court. Reuters said it was a “gay wedding case.” The New York Times called it a gay rights case.” CNN reported a

On Freedom and Progress and...Vulgarity by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Dec 7, 2017

Writing in the December issue of First Things*, Matthew Rose explains the quasi-theological character of what we might call the ideology of progress. Rose entitled his essay “Our Secular Theodicy”. He argues that modern secularism has coopted a deeply Christian principle: Human history...

Advent is the restless season by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Dec 7, 2017

Last week a spectacularly tasteless ad arrived in my In box, from a firm that promised me a brilliant new Christmas-gift idea. (If you read on, you’ll understand why I will not identify either the firm or the gift. This misbegotten idea will receive no publicity—not even negative publicity—from...

Advent Reading: The Last Battle by Jennifer Gregory Miller in "Liturgical Year Blog" - Dec 11, 2017

Several years ago my sons and I listened quite slowly to the whole series of Narnia by C. S. Lewis on audio in our car. It was a delightful journey. We really enjoyed the British readers for the series. I’m usually hesitant to buy audio cds, but this was an excellent investment. My sons are...

Spiritual abandonment in human care: The “differences” fallacy by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Dec 12, 2017

I am blessed with a nephew who counsels those who suffer from various psychological and emotional ills. His wife is in the same line of work, and both of them have a deep appreciation for the role of the spiritual life in every aspect of personal health. During their visit over the Thanksgiving...

Oh sure, blame celibacy by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Dec 15, 2017

An Australian government commission has called for an end to clerical celibacy. Right. Because if the headlines of the last few weeks have taught us anything, it’s that celibacy is the main cause of sexual misconduct. If only politicians, Hollywood executives, comedians, and TV network...

Nehemiah’s rightly ordered government by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Dec 15, 2017

In my previous commentary, I noted that the books of both Ezra and Nehemiah were a continuation of the Old Testament Chronicles, summarizing the principal developments in the restoration of Jerusalem following the Babylonian Exile. In Nehemiah, who was named governor of Jerusalem some years after...

Wanted: ministry to priest-abusers by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Dec 15, 2017

Throughout the sad history of the sex-abuse scandal, the main focus of public concern has understandably been the victims: both the real victims who have suffered and the potential victims who must be protected. But what about the perpetrators? We can say that they are guilty of serious crimes,...

On the Pope, the Argentine bishops, and the meaning of ‘magisterial authority’ by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Dec 15, 2017

Several readers have written in recent days to question why this site has offered no editorial commentary on the Vatican announcement that the Pope’s letter to the Argentine bishops on the implementation of Amoris Laetitia should be regarded as magisterial teaching. Two or three readers, going...

‘Magisterial authority’ in Argentina but not in Rome? by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Dec 18, 2017

Credit Sandro Magister of L’Espresso with this observation: According to a Vatican announcement earlier this month, the Argentine bishops’ interpretation of Amoris Laetitia has “magisterial authority,” by virtue of the Pope’s endorsement and the...

The Acta Apostolicae Sedis is not an exercise of the Magisterium of the Church. by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Dec 19, 2017

Recent claims that the publication of a papal letter in the Acts of the Apostolic See elevates that letter to the level of Magisterial teaching should not confuse anyone. When this claim was first made, I did not consider it worth comment. But since it has in fact caused confusion, a clarification...

Don’t look now, but that special papal commission on sexual abuse has ceased to exist by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Dec 19, 2017

As of yesterday, the Pope’s special commission on sexual abuse formally ceased to exist. The Commission for the Protection of Minors was established by Pope Francis in 2013, for a four-year term that began on December 17 of that year. That term has now officially...

Vatican enforcement: Why does the Church lack teeth? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Dec 20, 2017

It’s just not the thing. It just isn’t done. The Catholic Church does not enforce its own laws. This is, of course, the mark of a very badly run institution. It isn’t clear to anyone in the Church—priest or layman, bishop or religious, cardinal or deacon—what it...

Cardinal Bernard Law, RIP: seeking a balanced perspective by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Dec 21, 2017

The late Cardinal Bernard Law was not the ogre that his many detractors make him out to be. It is appalling to see abuse victims celebrating his death and cursing his memory, with the gleeful encouragement of the Boston media. Nor was he the stalwart Church leader his remaining defenders would...

Encountering the Heart of Jesus, Now by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Dec 21, 2017

In her Liturgical Year commentary on Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Jennifer Gregory Miller identified Tim O’Donnell’s Heart of the Redeemer as “one of the best books” on the subject—as indeed it is. That’s why Trinity Communications published the book...

A preview of the next big scandal? by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Dec 22, 2017

Eighteen months have passed since I predicted that the next Vatican scandal would involve financial affairs. Is this it? Too soon to tell. But it’s coming. Pope Francis reportedly learned in May about Cardinal Maradiaga’s high-flying financial affairs. Also in May, the...

The Octave of Christmas by Jennifer Gregory Miller in "Liturgical Year Blog" - Dec 26, 2017

(From the archives: This post was originally written in January 2016. It is updated to reflect the Christmas 2017-18 season.) “On the 8th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...“ Everyone is familiar with the carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” And although some...

Another topless demonstration for women’s dignity? by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Dec 26, 2017

Are you puzzled by the women who run around topless in public, saying that they are doing it to promote the cause of women's dignity? Let's try to understand. If a woman, normally dressed, tried to steal the Baby-Jesus figure from the crèche in St. Peter's Square, what would you think of her. Be...

The Francis effect? by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Dec 26, 2017

How popular is Pope Francis? With the public? With bishops and priests? With young seminarians? Ask different people, and you’ll get different answers. It’s hard to gain an accurate reading. But here’s a remarkably revealing clue, nearly hidden in a feel-good story about an...

Cardinal Maradiaga’s explanation does not compute by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Dec 26, 2017

A Catholic university in Honduras has been sending $40,000 or more monthly to Cardinal Maradiaga, who chairs the Council of Cardinals. Hmmm. Don’t worry; the archdiocese explains; the funds were not intended for the cardinal’s personal use; they were for the general needs of the...

A prayer for Europe by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Dec 29, 2017

In the Memoriale of St. Pierre Favre, I recently came across the passage below. The great Jesuit saint (considered by St. Ignatius himself to be the best director for the Spiritual Exercises) was apparently writing about the people of Speyer, having just left that city for a new assignment. But he...