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All Catholic commentary from February 2023
"Therefore, my child, communicate frequently, as often as you can, subject to the advice of your spiritual Father... and by reason of adoring and feeding upon beauty, goodness, and purity itself in this most divine Sacrament you too will become lovely, holy, pure."
Robert Reilly joins the podcast to discuss Francis Poulenc’s 1957 opera Dialogues des Carmélites. Based on the true story of sixteen Carmelite nuns who were martyred in the French Revolution (famously singing the Salve Regina as they went to the guillotine). With outstanding spiritual realism, Dialogues dramatizes the inner struggle of a soul. Its examination of the complex blend of motives for pursuing a religious vocation, the fear of death, and the transference of grace.
There I was, kneeling before Jesus, and doing all the talking. Dumb. Shut up, Phil. You might learn something.
Today’s news illustrates the increasing trend toward stories which, did they not reveal such a degree of tragic human failure, would be absolutely hilarious. The news today must invariably cover stories of the “You will never believe this!” variety.
Too often the narcissism of the priest smothers generosity and eclipses the light of Christ…. Mass versus populum (facing the people) is lawful and far more common today but requires the effort to avoid the absurdity of clerical celebrity narcissism
No matter the discouragement we may occasionally feel, we can offer it to Our Lord and Savior, and hear Him reply that He too has, in his human nature, felt just as we do. Wildly tempted? The Devil toyed with Him as if he were a fool. Humanly ineffective? The scoffers had Him enormously outnumbered. Exhausted? He preached and healed so incessantly that he fell asleep in a tossing boat....
As long as there’s been Christian faith, there have been ascetics—athletes of prayer—and these athletes, both female and male, have sought ways to live in intentional community. Experiments in communal life went on in every corner of the Empire—in Egypt, Palestine, Rome, Cappadocia, Athens, Antioch, Africa—and involved the greatest names in the early Church.
“There is no other precedent for the publishing of lists of the accused in society,” Bishop McManus said.
The Leopard, one of Italy's most beloved novels, was an historical epic about a Sicilian prince who must navigate the social upheaval that came with Italy's unification in the mid-19th century. Written by a real-life Sicilian aristocrat, it was adapted by Luchino Visconti (himself a descendant of Milanese nobles) into a classic film starring Burt Lancaster. It was included on the Vatican film list in 1995.
A preview into the Liturgical Calendar for February 10-22, including St. Scholastica, Our Lady of Lourdes, Cyril and Methodius, St. Valentine's Day, Mardi Gras / Carnival and preparing for Lent.
Without Operation Rescue, the pro-life movement as we know it wouldn't exist. OR was the largest peaceful civil disobedience movement in US history, with 75,000 activists arrested between 1987 and 1994 - that's ten times as many as in the entire civil rights movement. Randall Terry, who ran OR for its first few years and was arrested 50 times for his pro-life activism, is producing a documentary series which will tell the history of OR using many hours of amazing footage that exists from the time.
Francis and Ganswein are squabbling about what he might have said, if he had said anything. But the salient point is that he didn’t say anything,
"The artist puts before him beauty of feature and form; the poet, beauty of mind; the preacher, the beauty of grace: then intellect too, I repeat, has its beauty, and it has those who aim at it."
Pope Francis has spoken frequently about the need to decentralize Church authority, to listen to the voices of the faithful, to empower diocesan bishops, to develop a “synodal” style of governance. But there is no decentralization, no listening, no synodal style— and now certainly no desire to empower diocesan bishops— in his campaign to suppress the traditional Mass.
Although Baptism washes away the stain of Original Sin, the effects continue, just as genetic predispositions continue.
If in significant doubt about the implementation of curial policy, a diocesan bishop might appeal directly to the pope. Or he might discern that he is within his rights in following the letter of what the Pope has promulgated, regardless of the interpretations of curial officials. And of course he might use his legitimate authority to suspend or modify disciplinary laws for the good of his own diocese, recognizing rightly that this is a decision with which a pope ought not lightly to interfere.
This column by Cardinal Cupich is astonishing because he so blatantly misrepresents the thoughts of those who do support the perennial Catholic tradition— in particular, the late Pope Benedict XVI.
Preparing for Lent with reading suggestions, podcast and website links, looking at saints' feast days and how they are treated in Lent, looking ahead to St. Joseph and St. Patrick, cookbook and decluttering ideas.
Our eternal destiny is no longer of the world because, after the fall, it is under the rule of the demonic Prince of the World.
In the face of the paltry character of our own interventions, we are forced to take prayer more seriously, along with resignation to God’s will. These are two excellent lessons which may not seem to do much here and now, but can make all the difference in eternity. Nonetheless, we have both a natural and a spiritual yearning for something that will be effective in this world: One of those things may be a pilgrimage to Lourdes.
To Plato it was an island paradise. To Cicero it was the beginning of the Roman Empire. To Basil it was a name synonymous with luxury. To Augustine it was a place of natural marvels: a mountain that burned perpetually, but was never consumed. To Gregory the Great it was a shrine to his favorite martyrs. Modern Christians know Sicily mostly from the Godfather movies, so they know nothing of its rich Christian history. Till now. Listen up.
Today’s document says that the Pope has “confirmed” the restrictions that Cardinal Roche announced in December (claiming that the Holy See has sole authority to issue dispensations, and thus stripping diocesan bishops of that right), but the rescript looks very much like a new piece of canonical legislation, imposing those restrictions.
You may (for now, in some places, under certain conditions) be comforted, strengthened, and enriched by the traditional Mass. But you cannot promote it. The Eucharistic sacrifice, in any valid form, is the “source and summit” of Catholic spiritual life. But if the Mass is in Latin, don’t tell anyone about it.
We are navigating through a time of widespread secularization and even apostasy right within the Church. Sometimes the strain of swimming against this powerful current can make us forget that there are still plenty of other currents within the Church that we can swim with. There are a great many things wrong, and we have to know what is wrong. But if we do not also immerse ourselves in what is good, we risk becoming cranks or slipping into disillusion and despair.
Ordet can be viewed as a provocative critique of a modern Christianity that no longer believes in miracles. Its astonishing onclusion throws down the gauntlet, forcing us to consider what it really means to have faith. It centers on the Borgen family, land-owning farmers in a small village in Denmark. The patriarch, Morton Borgen, is a religious man, but his oldest son Mikkel has lost his faith, while his second son Johannes has gone mad and believes he is Jesus Christ Himself.
Our efforts to evangelize— to bring more people into the Church, and recapture those who have drifted away— is undermined by the reluctance to speak boldly about sin and redemption, damnation and salvation.
Jane Clark Scharl discusses her play Sonnez les Matines, in which a young Ignatius of Loyola, Jean Calvin, and Francois Rabelais, together in 1520s Paris, find themselves implicated in a murder.
Turn those stones into bread, he demands of Jesus. The Devil hates nature, God’s handiwork. But the miracles of Jesus do not violate nature.
Modern politics, as brilliantly exemplified in the Equal Rights Amendment, is radically influenced by the tendency (derived in part from a woefully incomplete Personalism) to believe that we must be forever rebuilding our “thought world” from our own personal subjectivity—a process which, given ever-shifting cultural pressures and the difficulty we find in conforming our impassioned minds to reality, makes us prey to one ideology after another.
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