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All Catholic commentary from February 2020

Behind the European bishops’ reluctance to acknowledge Brexit

Having been joined to the EU since its creation, COMECE takes that the existence of that political body for granted, and any suggestion that the EU should be abandoned is, implicitly, a suggestion that COMECE might be disbanded as well.

Quick Hits: Elections, Newman, Augustine, Media, and more on Rose Hawthorne

This collection of meditations can be used in almost any reading pattern and during any season of the year. Each of Newman’s thirty-eight meditations has been whittled to just over three pages in length. Topics covered include worship, reverence, the glories of Mary, dispositions for faith, the mystery of Godliness, martyrdom, love of friends, affliction, and a great many more, including love itself. Newman is always fresh, deep, astonishing, and in his sermons, accessible.

St. Athanasius—Life of St. Anthony | Pt. 3

“It is possible, with the help of God, easily to distinguish the presence of the good and the bad: a vision of the holy ones is not agitated.”

Ep. 65—Reason With Stories, Philosophize With Your Life (Vision of the Soul Pt. III)—James Matthew Wilson

Human life is imbued with an intelligible, narrative form, and we are capable of telling true stories about ourselves that reflect the actual story-form of our lives and history as a whole.

Archbishop Gänswein, ‘redistributed’ out of the picture

Welcome to the new, transparent Vatican regime, the regime of dialogue, the regime of accountability.

Ephesians: The remarkable letter that just happens to mention husbands and wives

We cannot avoid endless wrangling over the thirteen verses in Ephesians that deal with the relationships between husbands and wives. We ignore the 118 verses which precede St. Paul’s comments on it (1:1 – 5:21), along with most of the small number of verses in the conclusion which follows (cf. 6:10-20). This is a huge mistake. The whole point of the letter is to explain that the Gentiles have been incorporated into God’s eternal plan and made heirs of His kingdom in Christ.

Our bishops cannot be trusted with a ‘yellow-check’ system

Under Bishop Barron's proposal, the bishop is not asking: “Does this site contradict established Catholic doctrine?” Instead he is asking: “Do I approve of this site’s approach?” The difference is enormous.

St. Justin Martyr—Dialogue with Trypho (excerpt)

“I will prove to you, here and now, that we do not believe in groundless myths nor in teachings not based on reason, but in doctrines that are inspired by the Divine Spirit, abundant with power, and teeming with grace.”

Does consecrated life trump marriage? Can the married change their minds?

There are three caveats to consider. First, the motives for entering upon a particular way of life can be mixed. That decision does not tell us anything about the person’s holiness. In the end we will be judged not by the “vocation” we happen to “be in” but by our conformity to Christ. Second, it is the essence of having “a vocation” that it is the way of life to which God has called us. Not all receive the same call. Third, when it comes to vocations which demand a vow....

Episode 9—Justin Martyr: Everything Good Is Ours

"Whatever things are rightly said are ours." Justin looked at creation and saw Christ. He looked into the mind of Plato and found a Christian, born centuries before his time. Speaking with Romans, speaking with Jews, he sought the good in his adversaries’ best ideas and showed that the good belonged properly to Christ and Christians. He showed us how to be fearless in the face of ideas, and fearless even in the face of death.

Pope has spoken, but celibacy debate is not finished

In short, Pope Francis did not, as some journalists reported, “close the door” on the possibility of ordaining married men. He left the door precisely as it was: ajar.

Ep. 66—Christopher Tolkien, 1924-2020—John Garth

This is a tribute to Christopher Tolkien, who passed away on Jan. 16, 2020. Without Christopher's decades of dedicated scholarship, most notably his editing and publication of The Silmarillion, our knowledge of J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional world and very real genius would be considerably disadvantaged. Tolkien scholar John Garth, author of the acclaimed biography Tolkien and the Great War, joins the show to discuss a father-son collaboration unique in literary history.

Doesn’t matter how long Lent is, don’t start your spiritual reading late: 10 books

I frequently do not figure out what special spiritual reading I will do in Lent until after it starts. Even in the days of speedy delivery, this often leads me to find something on the shelf that I can read again. That’s not a bad practice—I mean reading great books repeatedly, especially in the Bible—but if you are looking for something brand new, you might find one of the following to be just what you need.

Of aircraft safety and Catholic doctrine

Boeing fired an executive whose subordinates apparently took the company's mission lightly. If only Catholic bishops were held-- or, better, held themselves-- to the same standard!

What Is Septuagesima? (And Why It’s No Longer in the Current Calendar)

The number of liturgical seasons in the 1962 and current Liturgical Calendar differ only by one season. The Extraordinary Form follows the 1962 calendar which includes a Pre-Lent season called Septuagesima. What is it? How do you pronounce it? Is it a day or a season? What does it mean? What is its history and significance? Why did this liturgical season disappear in the 1969 Calendar Reform?

St. Robert Southwell—3 Poems: The Burning Babe, A Child My Choice, I Die Alive

"Not where I breathe, but where I love, I live."

Rethinking Pope Francis even as Pope Francis rethinks?

Pope Francis has been seriously burned over the last couple of years for decisions he has made and positions he has taken. He has supported the wrong people in cases of sexual abuse and lived to regret it deeply. He has set his hand to the plow of Curial reform, and though he has apparently looked back often enough that scandals continue to proliferate, we are now beginning to see the Vatican uncovering problems before they are widely reported elsewhere, particularly in the financial sector.

Want a liturgical revival? Start with repentance.

Every believing Catholic recognizes the Eucharistic liturgy as the source of his spiritual life. But do we think of the Sunday Mass in our parish as the summit of our spirituality? Is this the best we can do? Really?

St. Athanasius—Life of St. Anthony | Pt. 4

“I am a servant of Christ. If you have been sent against me, here I am.”

Ep. 67—“Why I’m No Longer A Catholic Feminist”—Melody Lyons

After growing up immersed in feminism and a dissident parish that left her deeply unhappy, Melody Lyons found truth and healing in the fullness of Christ's teaching on man and woman. Yet after decades of no longer considering herself a feminist, she started describing herself as a "Catholic feminist" in order common ground with secular women. Melody has recently realized that this strategy is counterproductive.

This week: the confessional seal; the Pope and progressives; and more

A frontal assault on religious liberty, and a grave challenge for Australian priests.

How the arts can help form us for Faith

Too often in our modern sterility, art has degenerated into a habit of making explicit statements, or of striving aimlessly for individual difference, or of shocking, of novelty, of pretense in either artist or owner. Such choices also reveal something about the soul. But the soul is Catholic territory. It is ours not to impoverish, but to enrich in every way.

Seven lessons in forgiveness

Our capacity to forgive depends upon the totality of Christian virtue, and forgiving enemies is the crown jewel of martyrdom.

Episode 10—Irenaeus of Lyons: Putting the Smack Down on Heresy

In the late second century the Church suffered an infestation of heresies — many of them, and they kept changing their claims. Into the fray God sent the great pioneer of anti-heretical literature, Irenaeus of Lyons. The title of his best known work says it all: Against Heresies. Irenaeus’s tools range from logic to parody. He put the smack down on some strains of heresy, and they stayed down for centuries.

Living Our Lent: Adjusting to Different Seasons of Life

With different seasons of life in the home, the Lenten journey also looks different. Jennifer Gregory Miller looks at ways of allowing one's teenager to prepare personally for Lent.

On the art of exhortation: St. Paul’s short letters

These shorter letters reveal the common structure of all Paul’s writing simply because they are so brief. Paul’s standard format begins with a very Christian greeting, then expresses his prayers and thanksgiving for the faithfulness of the community, then offers encouragement and a little basic instruction to keep them on the right track, and finally mentions something of his present circumstances, before closing with particular greetings (if any) and a final blessing.

Escape from the flames

Having escaped from a self-destructive lifestyle, a former homosexual asks why the Church did not help him earlier-- and why priests still encourage other young men to explore the same perilous path.

St. Augustine—Two Lenten Sermons

“Do you hate your brother and walk about free from care? Are you unwilling to be reconciled, although God is giving you an opportunity for that purpose? Behold, you are a murderer and yet you live.”

Ep. 68—What I Learned From Making Music With Mark Christopher Brandt

Thomas recently had the privilege of playing piano on the latest album by Catholic composer Mark Christopher Brandt.

Finding the True Lenten Focus on Penance

Despite complaints that Church needs to return to stricter fasting rules, the current regulations implemented through Vatican II reflect more freedom for interior conversion and choosing penance.

This week: Should clerics vote? Is bankruptcy a disgrace? And more.

It’s theoretically possible that some energetic researcher could search the voter rolls and determine which percentage of the local clergy chose to participate in the primary of a party whose leadership is firmly committed to legal abortion on demand, same-sex marriage, and gender ideology.

Against Reality: Why our culture wars against the light, and why it will never win

The vagaries of paganism are strange and horrifying. Once we forget that we do not belong to ourselves, it becomes all too easy to protect legally every form of “self-determination”. Still, it is a strange exaltation of the individual human will that coerces the rest of us to play along. Clearly, the deeper purpose here is to destroy the rights of those who believe there is an objective difference between good and evil, and that nobody may be legally forced to cooperate in evil.

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