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All Catholic commentary from February 2022

The Silent Compliant Majority

The national debt rarely attracts the attention for the injustice that it is. Yet it remains the outward sign of the devastating bureaucratic top-down American economic and cultural restructuring.

Catholic reinterpretation: From fruitfulness to sterility

The the world, the flesh and the devil are defended and advanced always in the same way: By enlisting the schools, the media, and the law to inculcate, publicize, and justify the worldview of those who control prosperity, position, and power. As a general rule, only those who are willing to decline in prosperity, position, and power will follow Christ honestly in thought, word and deed.

Rediscovering human mortality in an epidemic

You do all “the right things,” according to the latest theories, and yet you remain conscious of your own weakness, your failures, your vulnerabilities.

Ersatz Prayers of the Faithful

Sometimes liturgical petitionary prayers can miss the mark. They can be ill-conceived—perhaps trivial, offered for the wrong things, influenced by contemporary fashions, spiritually shallow, or even an apparent effort to instruct God.

124—Culture Warrior, Culture Nurturer—Maggie Gallagher

Maggie Gallagher, once the public face of opposition to gay marriage, now runs the Benedict XVI Institute for Sacred Music and Divine Worship. She discusses her history in the marriage wars, and her current efforts helping Archbishop Cordileone to build culture for the future.

The Scandal of Church Abuse

Not all cultures and behaviors have equal dignity. Some of our differences are rooted in sin. Some cultural patterns are degrading. Need evidence? Turn on the television.

Why there is no obedience crisis with your (bad) bishop

Regardless of our state in life, we may have good reason to believe that a religious superior—a priest, a bishop, even a pope—has placed a restriction on us for very bad reasons, or has even denigrated the service we hoped to perform. But the bare fact of the matter is that in this and a million other cases, the superior in question has not commanded us to do something evil; he has simply indicated that, for whatever reason, he does not want us to do one particular good thing, but something else.

Quick hits: bishops violating religious freedom, the media narrative on Benedict XVI

So the vaccination passport is intolerable, it is a violation of religious freedom, the bishops insisted that it should not be imposed on churches. Can you guess how the next paragraph begins? “However,…”

Women and Children First: Reconfiguring the Roman Family

The Empire faced a crisis in the year 9 A.D. Romans were not reproducing. They weren't even marrying. Caesar Augustus recognized that this posed a dire threat to the Roman way of life — the empire's cultural and intellectual heritage, and its homeland security. He made new laws to encourage fertility. He even proposed a pagan "theology of the body." His successors made more laws. All failed, and eventually it was Christianity that restored and revived the Roman family and Roman world.

Screwball comedy and The Awful Truth (1937)

A married couple divorces over mutual suspicion of infidelity - but the two can't seem to leave each other alone, hilariously interfering with one another's attempts to find someone else. Leo McCarey's classic "comedy of remarriage" starring Cary Grant and Irene Dunne is notable, among other things, for its joyously frank yet appropriately veiled treatment of marital eros - an artistic triumph spurred by the salutary censorship of Hollywood's Production Code.

A Lenten reading list

These recommendations are listed in alphabetical order by the last name or the saint name of the author. I provide a link to the web page where each item is thoroughly described and available for purchase (or, in the case of one video series, for streaming). By following these links you can get full details and decide whether or not to place an order. Plan ahead to get some extra spiritual sustenance for Lent!

St. Bernadette Soubirous—My Name Is Bernadette

“Holiness and prayer are simple. God's Mother taught me so."

Spy vs. spy at the Vatican

Maybe I shouldn’t assume that the Vatican Secretariat of State was worried about illegal surveillance. If it was being done by agents of the Vatican gendarmerie, investigating illegal financial activity, then it wasn’t illegal. You may recall that in October 2019, the offices of the Secretariat of State were raided— by officers of the Vatican gendarmerie.

125—St. Joseph in Art History—Elizabeth Lev

Art historian Elizabeth Lev joins the show to discuss her new book, The Silent Knight: A History of St. Joseph as Depicted in Art. The book offers not only a history of sixteen centuries of art featuring St. Joseph, but also an account of the development of devotion to St. Joseph over the past two thousand years -from the old man sitting overlooked in the corner of early Nativity scenes to the glorious Patron of the Univeral Church.

The Opium of the People

“We are going to establish policies, procedures, and programs to ensure that [fill in the blank] never happens again.” The promise is unrealistic – with a subliminal denial of Original Sin -- and dangerously expensive.

Synodality: A coming tribulation?

There can be no question, of course, that the response to the call for synodality ought to be a missionary response by Catholics, on every level, both to the larger society and to the non-believers who choose to remain within the Church. Such a response would clarify matters almost immediately, since so many who seek to remake the Church in their own worldly image would be prompted to either convert or depart.

A Synod ‘process’ that only liberals could love

Some people are happy to discuss the _process_ of establishing a _process_ by which the Church should be directed. Others, impatient for actual _solutions_ to the problems that plague the Church, will be frustrated by round after round of inconclusive discussions.

Do we need a new Council?

Pakaluk must be thinking of a Council that we need, but probably cannot have, until some measure of clarity is restored. Or, better, a Council that we could have, if a critical mass of the world’s bishops agreed with the premise that clarity must be restored.

Traditionis Custodes: a needless extension of papal power

For any bishops who saw traditionalists undermining the unity of the faithful, the solution was always close at hand. So why did Pope Francis, who so often speaks of decentralizing the Church’s decision-making process, seize on this alleged problem as a reason for Roman intervention?

The Lenten Cookbook: the Joy of Cooking and Fasting

Review of "The Lenten Cookbook" by David Geisser and Dr. Scott Hahn. Simple and beautiful recipes for fasting during Lent.

St. Peter Damian—The Lord Be With You

"Holy Church is both one in all its members and complete in each of them."

Pope Francis on the Priesthood: True or false closeness?

Moreover, since we are all baptized priests in the universal sense, every lay person should also be able see the importance of these patterns of “closeness”—to God, to our bishop, to our priests, and to others for whom we bear responsibility—and apply them to his or her own life. We must make no mistake about this: Such closeness, in all four aspects, is an essential component of what it means to be not only a priest but a Catholic.

How Canada’s policies imitate the Berlin Wall

Church leaders who have been quick to decry efforts to keep illegal immigrants _out_ of their countries would do well to recognize the dangers of fencing people _in_, and to sound the alarm as Canada slips off the list of free societies.

Could charges be dismissed in Vatican’s landmark finance trial?

In no other legal system— at least, none that honors the rule of law— would the victim of a crime have the authority to set new rules of the prosecution.

Caught: one red herring

See the non sequitur? "The Catholic Church, which forbids priests from marrying, has been repeatedly rocked by child sex abuse scandals around the world over the last three decades."

Arriving at St. Joseph

It is not too much to say that my own pilgrimage to Joseph was similar to that of the whole Church, which came only slowly to develop a strong devotion to Our Lady’s protector and Our Lord’s foster father—and has remained a little confused about how best to portray Joseph in both prayer and art.

The Healing Imperative: How Christians Invented the Hospital

The hospital arose as a Christian institution, dependent on the Christian principles of charity and hospitality. There were no pre-Christian hospitals. This episode tells the story of how the early Church changed the practice of medicine forever.

Brain damage feared: not from Covid itself, but from the lockdown

"...their research suggests that the brain inflammation might have been caused not by the disease, but by the lockdown."

The truth about our present crisis: Providence then and now

The Book of Lamentations teaches us one of the primary ways in which Providence works. God can bring it about that any person or group should experience any kind of good—or any kind of evil—in order that this person or group should have the maximum opportunity to turn to the Lord and be saved. But there is an inescapable connection between succumbing to worldly temptations and drifting away from God. As societies decline spiritually, rebellion and a corresponding desolation increase.

Anti-clerical cinema: Nazarin (1959)

Nazarin does not seek to discredit the Church by portraying an obviously hypocritical, venal or sensual priest. Rather, protagonist Fr. Nazario is a Quixote figure, unable to make any difference in this miserable world no matter how strictly he follows his religious code. For director Luis Buñuel, whatever moments of human kindness we may encounter along the way cannot change the fact that life is hell.

Putin has alienated Ukraine’s powerful Orthodox community

Bear in mind that the Byzantine-rite Ukrainian Catholic Church was brutally suppressed the last time Moscow gained control over Ukraine, during the bloody Stalin years.

A type of Catholicism the Washington Post could love

No doubt the _Post_ editorial writers thought that they were offering a compliment, since “comfort, good works and education” are the greatest benefits they expect from any institution.

Surveillance Spirituality

Our excessive responses, sarcastic quips, and uncharitable remarks have dangerous ripple effects.

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