Catholic Culture Dedication
Catholic Culture Dedication

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All Catholic commentary from February 2021

The Pope’s misplaced sympathy for fathers who leave home

In a remarkable example, Pope Francis reveals his sympathies. The abandoned mother who is “not willing” to remarry— in other words, the woman who holds fast to her marital vow even at sacrifice to herself— is the villain of the piece.

Ben-Hur (1959) w/ Elizabeth Lev

There is only one American film in the "Religion" section of the Vatican film list: William Wyler's 1959 epic Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ. Its epic scale and its astonishing set pieces such as the sea battle and the chariot race make the small, understated moments when Jesus enters the story all the more striking. Thomas and James are joined by Catholic art historian and Rome tour guide Elizabeth Lev to discuss the film.

96—Hillbilly Thomists—Joseph Hagan, O.P.

The Hillbilly Thomists, a bluegrass group entirely composed of Dominican friars, have just released their second album, Living for the Other Side. Percussionist Fr. Joseph Hagan, who happens to be a priest at Thomas's parish, joins the show to talk about the new album, the connections between bluegrass and the Apocalypse, and music as an expression of the Dominican mission of preaching.

Key changes here at

It is vitally important to have younger staff involved in these operations, so that we can bring new ideas and a more energetic engagement to all our communications with our users, from responding to inquiries and solving problems to shaping and executing more effective development campaigns.

What big teeth you have! Why abortion IS a defining issue

When we elect someone to public office, we are not hiring unskilled labor to complete a particular task for us, like polishing our shoes or running errands. We are commissioning someone to superintend a wide range of issues in ways that best serve the common good—against which the taking of innocent human life is the most fundamental of all crimes. What could possess any sentient and moral voter to entrust the commonwealth to a person devoid of the most fundamental moral understanding?

Coming soon: a necessary showdown in the US bishops’ conference

“The tweets [by Cupich] were a call to arms for his brother bishops, but no other US bishops took up the gauntlet, at least not publicly.”

97—The Hierarchy of Being in Natural Science—Daniel Toma

Catholic geneticist Daniel Toma is the author of Vestige of Eden, Image of Eternity: Common Experience, the Hierarchy of Being, and Modern Science. He joins the podcast to discuss what natural science, including the fossil record, can teach us about the hierarchy of being and the liturgical structure of reality.

The strangeness and wonder of Scriptural inspiration

The problem is that we do not always benefit from inspiration, partly because our hearts are not disposed to listen to what will truly train us in righteousness, and partly because we sometimes find ourselves in the position of the eunuch to whom an angel sent St. Philip. Here, if there ever was one, is a caution about our own spiritual sterility.

Paul Mankowski, S.J.—Tames in Clerical Life

“The tame commitment to the noncommittal is the engine that powers gay progress in the Church.”

33—Ambrose of Milan: How the Church Regards the State

Ambrose of Milan, more than any other figure, is invoked in the West as the model for church-state relations. He’s the one who said: “The emperor is within the Church, not above the Church.” And he said it with deeds as well as words. He said it in private letters and public demonstrations. He said it through direct confrontation and civil disobedience. A former politician himself, he had a keen understanding of the game — and in the late fourth century the stakes were very high.

Remembering the day when lightning struck at the Vatican

The sedate atmosphere in the room changed radically when one reporter— more alert than others, no doubt, and more comfortable with the Latin language Pope Benedict used— let out a gasp. The Holy Father had delivered a thunderbolt of his own.

Quick Hits: Newman’s argument, Balthasar revisited, Lenten reading

Von Balthasar very helpfully conceived of God’s plan of salvation as a great drama, which led to many fruitful insights in his vast theological work. The main line of this work was developed in some fifteen volumes, five in his Theo-Drama series, three in his Theo-Logic series, and seven in his Theological Aesthetics series (The Glory of the Lord). But who will read all this? Hardly anyone. And most of us are certainly not called to do so, even in Lent!

Our Lenten Journey: What Would Saint Joseph Do?

Preparing Lenten plans by following Saint Joseph: What Would Saint Joseph Do? W.W.SJ.D. by Jennifer Gregory Miller

Ash Wednesday: Memento Homo

Change of Collect prayers and Ash Wednesday ash imposition.

Pulses and Impulses: The world as God’s theater

Perhaps it is time for Catholic parishes to become centers of public, outdoor events to serve those in need, with occasional rallies and parades devoted to the kind of evangelization and service that not only draws the needy into seeking help, but draws an ever growing number of inspired onlookers to join in helping them. We need, if you will, a bit of Catholic theater in all of our communities.

Wild Courtesy: Dersu Uzala (1975)

Dersu Uzala is a heartwarming adventure tale about the unlikely friendship between a man of civilization and a man of the wilderness. On a mission to map the Russian Far East, Arseniev encounters Dersu Uzala, a hunter and member of the Goldi people, from whom he learns much about the strange courtesies of life in the wild, based on a respect for all beings. But while this heartfelt friendship is not defeated by profound cultural differences, neither can it fully overcome them.

Defining Racism

A vicious racial slur is racist. Attacking police because they are white (or black) is racist... Suggesting that racism is everywhere, like the air we breathe, is racist

Why I won’t take a job at the Vatican

No one will be fired for declining the vaccine, the update assured us; no one would be punished for conscientious objection. But for those interacting with the public, “alternative work solutions” would be found. In other words you would be removed from your job.

St. John Henry Newman—Moral Consequences of Single Sins

“Day and night follow each other not more surely, than punishment comes upon sin… just as a stone falls to the earth, or as fire burns, or as poison kills, as if by the necessary bond of cause and effect.”

98—An Anglo-Saxon Bard—Benjamin Bagby

Famous for his chanted performances of Beowulf in the original Old English, Benjamin Bagby is the closest thing you'll find today to an Anglo-Saxon bard. Bagby joins the show to describe how he reconstructed Beowulf as a sung tale, giving a demonstration of his Anglo-Saxon harp which is modeled on harps found in burial sites from over a millennium ago. He also discusses the recordings of the complete works of St. Hildegard of Bingen made by his ensemble, Sequentia.

34—Cyril of Jerusalem: Mystery and Mayhem

Cyril served as bishop during ugly times. The Church was divided, and suspicion was universal. He suffered false accusation, conspiracy, and exile. Yet he was able to see supernatural beauty shining through natural signs in the Church’s liturgy: bread and wine, oil and water, breath and gesture. His lectures, in fact, cover all the basics of Christian life: creed, commandments, prayer, and sacraments. Eyewitnesses tell us that his hearers applauded when he taught.

Prepare to be cancelled

How do Facebook and Twitter and Google thrive? How do they generate revenues? The superficial answer is that they sell advertising space. The more accurate answer is that they are selling you, the user— selling you to those advertisers.

In Gratitude for Joe Biden

Biden’s insistent claim that he is a devout Catholic forces an unavoidable choice. We either: stand with the Church and her sacraments and reject Biden’s iconic culture-of-death policies, or we join those who celebrate Biden’s flouting of Church teaching.

Free will: Being human is not easy

Every healthy person perceives the existence of his or her own free will. We all have the experience of making choices, sometimes even difficult choices, between two or more options. These choices may be value-neutral, such as what color shirt to wear today; or they may be strategically different, such as choosing the best way to reach a particular goal; or they may be morally crucial, such as whether or not to cheat on a spouse, betray a friend, or compromise our moral principles to gain advancement.

Joseph Ratzinger—What Will the Church Look Like in 2000?

"The real crisis has scarcely begun. We will have to count on terrific upheavals. But I am equally certain about what will remain at the end: not the Church of the political cult, which is dead already… but the Church of faith."

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