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All Catholic commentary from March 2020

Our real pandemic is the loss of Christian identity

I find it highly suspicious that opponents of national identity never seem to spare any concern for far greater and more widespread dangers like sexual license, divorce, the breakdown of the family, the redefinition of gender, the loss of reverence for both God and human life, the implosion of all sense of community (which requires a shared view of reality), and the universal condemnation of all moral judgment beyond the privileged platitudes of our dominant culture.

On a threat to leave the Catholic Church

Ireland’s former president, Mary McAleese, has written to Pope Francis, warning that she will leave the Catholic Church if she finds that the Vatican failed to warn the world about abuses at the L’Arche community. Her threat prompts several thoughts.

Ep. 69—Poetry of the English Martyrs—Benedict Whalen

The 16th and 17th centuries produced a number of men whose courageous faith was accompanied by prodigious learning and literary talent. he poetry of the English martyrs has been collected in an anthology called Lyra Martyrum.

St. John Henry Newman—Fasting a Source of Trial

"Perhaps this is the truest view of such exercises, that in some wonderful, unknown way they open the next world for good and evil upon us..."

Pope prays Chinese Catholics will be ‘good citizens’—by Beijing’s standards?

Why make it so easy for the Beijing regime to turn a papal prayer into a propaganda tool?

How Mary crushes the head of Satan

The Magnificat, recited every evening in the Divine Office, continues to crush the head of the Devil.

St. Paul warns bishops: Letters to Timothy and Titus

Any objective observer of our own trials in the Church today cannot help but realize how the Body of Christ has been betrayed precisely by religious, priests, bishops, teachers and theologians who constantly distort the teachings of Christ in order to seek favor, position and a good name in our secular culture. This may be your solution.

If you live in the United States but have had difficulty finding good doctors who both practice medicine morally and address patient concerns in the context of sound Catholic spirituality, then MyCatholicDoctor might be an excellent solution for you. The organization uses video-based consultation, maintains a referral network of “faithful healthcare professionals”, and offers a financial model which accommodates a significant variety of healthcare payment methods.

St. Athanasius—Life of St. Anthony | Pt. 5

“For when did the knowledge of God so shine forth? When did chastity and the virtue of virginity so manifest itself, or when was death so despised, as since the Cross of Christ appeared?”

Just don’t take away the Mass

The role of the Church is to remind a confused and panicky population that the Lord is in charge— that our encounter with Him is infinitely more important than a possible encounter with a virus.

The ITC: An enriched grasp of sacraments and their nullity

There is a crisis today in how the sacraments are perceived and received. The modern mindset does not lend itself to a sacramental vision of reality, and the number of Catholics who receive the sacraments with little or no formation is large. We can see how frequently the sacraments must be received not only without a clear understanding of what they signify, but even with little personal understanding of or commitment to the Faith itself.

Podcast Highlights: Native saints, Operation Rescue and more

A look back through the Catholic Culture Podcast archive.

Episode 11—Melito and the Parting of the Ways

He was a prophet living altogether in the Spirit. He was a second-century apologist, able to elucidate the doctrine of Christ for the understanding of strangers. He was a bishop, so he spoke with hierarchical authority. For us, though, Melito of Sardis is most valuable for the Paschal liturgy he left us. It is an important witness to Jewish-Christian relations at a crucial time in their development. His Peri Pascha serves well for the Lenten-Easter seasons and for a lifetime.

Pondering the Pandemic

Sorry, Governor. Regrets, Your Honor. The celebration of the Mass is non-negotiable and none of your business.

On the Coronavirus and public Masses

We have no way of knowing that God will not permit any disease to spread among those who are gathered in a Catholic Church for Mass, or that He will prevent contagion and illness through reception of the Eucharist. This has not been revealed to us, and so each bishop, like the Pope, must pray for sufficient light to follow a prudent course. Moreover, the conclusions of good pastors can differ without proving anyone unfaithful or unholy.

St. Cyril of Jerusalem—Catechesis I

"Sustain the struggle for your soul, especially in these days!”

In a crisis, our odd priorities show a lack of faith

Day-care centers-- very efficient mechanisms for spreading infection-- are expanding services, while churches are closed. Thus we show our priorities.

Today’s Heresy: Questioning the response to the Coronavirus

Economies are being destroyed around the world, including in the United States. This is happening not because of the devastation of the Coronavirus but because of government fear that the virus might be devastating if extreme anti-plague measures are not adopted. As the prevention measures become more and more stringent, most of the public assumes they are more and more necessary—that COVID-19 must really be a very serious threat. Is this prudence, or its lack?

Following a Rhythm of Prayer in the Domestic Monastery

Living in Quarantine brings us together as a domestic church or domestic monastery. Opportunities online for Mass, rosary, Stations, are now given a plenary indulgence from the Apostolic Penitentiary.

Wanted: spiritual leadership during a medical crisis

Why is it that at a time when many pious Catholics are begging for a chance to participate at Mass, and many conscientious pastors are willing to oblige them, our bishops are steadily pumping the brakes?

Blind fear of death should not guide policy

Even as we make sacrifices, even as we fight to ward off a deadly epidemic, we should bear in mind two essential truths. First, all of us will die. Every victory over death is only a temporary one. Death is a part of life. Second, there are things worse than death.

What Fr. John Gerard’s escape teaches us now

I do not say this this is an accurate physical description of our lives today, and I certainly think the example of Fr. Gerard and all the English martyrs ought to inspire and strengthen us to do more and to do better. But taken as a metaphor, it is not at all a bad indicator of the kind of public life we have thrust upon us today, which can be extraordinarily discouraging.

St. Romanos the Melodist—The Akathist Hymn

"Rejoice, O Bride Ever-Virgin!"

Ep. 70—The Flannery-Haunted World—Joshua Hren, John Emmet Clarke

This episode features two young Catholic publishers who are doing cutting-edge work to preserve and carry forward the Catholic literary legacy, building on the accomplishments of the great Catholic writers of the 20th century in particular.

Ep 12—Minucius Felix and the Great Novel of Antiquity

Marcus Minucius Felix is one of the greatest writers you never heard of. His “Octavius,” written in the late second century, is a work of fictionalized memoir set in the resort town of Ostia. Three friends go to the beach, and in a day of walks and conversation one of them leads another to conversion. It is the most deeply human study we have of the  early Christians, describing the feel of the ocean breezes and the sand between their toes — and the best arguments for believing.

Hebrews: Old covenant fulfilled and eclipsed by the New

The Letter to the Hebrews is a sustained argument about the fulfillment and replacement of the Old Covenant through the institution of the New Covenant. Addressed to those who were well aware of the conflict between the covenants, the text is crafted to prove that the Old Covenant was a shadow of the New, and has found its decisive, permanent and complete fulfillment in the New, which must not be abandoned.

The US bishops’ weak defense of their overseas-charity agency

Bishop Strickland: “This report by the Lepanto Institute must be proven to be false. If what Lepanto says is accurate then we should call for a thorough investigation of CRS.”

This week: Astonishing responses in a time of crisis

In a climate of hysteria, a fresh and balanced perspective— in particular, a distinctly Catholic perspective— is especially valuable. So I’m pleased to pass along something from Thomas More College.

When the lights go on again

Did the external structure of the Faith collapse because too many people abused or obstructed God’s grace?

St. Cyril of Jerusalem—Catechesis II: Repentance, Strong Weapon of Salvation

“Would you know the power of repentance? Would you understand this strong weapon of salvation and the might of confession?”

Rejoice always (or) Adjusting to the order to stay at home

We must all grow in the ability to be aware that God is with us always, to consult Him in each course of action as we seek to act rightly and wisely, to rely on His grace in every present moment, and withal to learn to be more secure in trusting His presence and providence than in all the apparent human certainties within which we do live and move but do not have our being (cf. Acts 17:28). This is the work of a lifetime. But at every stage it becomes a fresh source of incomparable peace.

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