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All Catholic commentary from March 2021

99—Ashes and Elitists—Gail Finke

There is a certain spiritual elitism which regards concern for the external rite, including the rare opportunity to explicitly witness to the faith in a public way, as the province of those of little or superficial faith, or even of the vain.

From feckless episcopal leadership, Lord save us

This year’s budget for the Archdiocese of Washington includes $2 million for the “continuing ministry” of Cardinal Donald Wuerl— who resigned from active ministry nearly two years ago amid what polite people call “questions” about his role in the McCarrick scandal.

Waiting for episcopal reform? Nighty-night, baby.

All the other calls for investigative commissions and policies and forced resignations of Wuerl and McCarrick miss the point. As long as Nighty-Night Baby is kept on his feet by his brother bishops, they are all still playing "let's pretend."

Statistics and lies in the flight from Christ

As a second and even more important step, we need to recognize that the solution to alarming “statistics” is not a mathematical solution or even its political equivalent, an ideological solution. Neither throwing numbers around nor simply changing “systems” can ever solve human problems.

Episode 0—The Nightingale—Mark Christopher Brandt

Catholic composer and pianist Mark Christopher Brandt joined Thomas Mirus to discuss his classical album and suite The Nightingale, inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's story "The Emperor and the Nightingale".

Cancel culture comes to Catholics and all Christians

The Equality Act would mandate that those who follow the moral teachings of Moses or Jesus must be excluded from the Public Square, excoriated or penalized for expressing and defending First Amendment protected religious beliefs and practices. Basic procedural fairness requires, at a minimum, that no vote should take place until those with opposing views have had an opportunity to be thoroughly and fairly heard in the same public venue as those who support the Equality Act.

Ethics and Public Policy Center: COVID vaccination not sinful

I want to emphasize that the EPPC statement does not contradict anything taught on this matter by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and, through that Congregation, authorized by the Pope. The purpose of the EPPC statement is to emphasize how very remote is the material cooperation with evil in the decision to use one of these vaccines.

Don’t try to put Jesus on Valium

The moral integrity of Christian character reconciles our internal disposition to outward words and appearances. Keep this in mind the next time a Catholic holds up his rosary and claims he’s a devout Catholic.

35—Epiphanius of Salamis: A Passion for Pure Doctrine

Epiphanius had a passion for pure doctrine — and a loathing for error in all its forms. He labored to root heresy out of the Church. He distrusted classical literature because of the taint of idolatry. He compiled a "Medicine Chest," a reference work diagnosing errors as "snakebites" and then prescribing cures from the pharmacy of true doctrine. In pursuing clarity, he forced Christians to take sides. He sometimes brought on divisions that weren't altogether healthy.

The paradoxes of nonjudgmentalism

Those who start the history of nonjudgmentalism in the last century begin their accounts six to eight thousand years too late—depending, that is, on when a Biblical historian of the strictest literal school would date the creation of Adam and Eve. The deliberate weakening of our desire and ability to make moral judgments can be traced back to the famous quip of Satan Himself in Genesis: “You will not die...your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen 3:4-5).

‘A more radical public witness’ on the Covid vaccines

What does it say about our society when the Covid vaccines— and other vaccines, and popular medications, and processed foods, and cosmetics— are prepared with the use of abortion-tainted cell lines?

Gutting female athletics: An “Equality Act” tragedy

“Equality” in sports for President Biden and Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi means allowing a 260 pound male high school football lineman to ram any 118 pound Sally Smith flat on her back on the Soccer field.

The Martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicity

“Possibly such a woman could not have been slain unless she herself had willed it, because she was feared by the impure spirit.”

Identity politics as a (neo-pagan) religious phenomenon

“Are these activities not the ones that Tocqueville more or less predicted would characterize the kinder and gentler despotism that awaits us at the end of history?”

Sanctification of an Icon Painter: Andrei Rublev (1966)

"The aim of art is to prepare a person for death, to plough and harrow his soul, rendering it capable of turning to good."

Christ’s miracles tell more than those of the Old Testament

We are wise to reflect on the difference in what we might call the quality of the miraculous. Are the results obtained by the Divine manipulation of human emotions, of fear or courage? Are the results obtained through real human effort, either in response to specific instructions from God or through strenuous prayer? Or are the results far beyond the human mode, effortless, effected through the simplicity of a genuine personal authority—as with Jesus Christ.

The silence of Ireland’s Catholics: a St. Patrick’s Day lament

Did St. Patrick wait for the permission of the druids before he lit the Easter fire on the hill of Slane?

Recapturing Catholic poetry

One reason modern poetry is often very difficult to appreciate is that it draws so often only from the peculiar imagination of the poet, employing only symbols invented for the particular context of a particular poem. This arises partly from an unfortunate thirst for intellectual cleverness, but it owes much also to the breakdown (and deliberate repudiation) of our Western Classical and especially Christian worldview, which embodied a strong symbolism that once resonated through our entire culture.

On the Good: Catholic webinar on Equality Act, March 22

Since the Equality Act is directly aimed at the destruction of distinctions between male and female and restrictions of the liberty of Christians who must uphold the fundamental realities of God’s creation, welcomes this important initiative to inform everyone of the problems with this Act, advanced by those in the United States, including the Biden Administration, who deny not only Divine Revelation but the natural law which is knowable by all.

Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet—St. Joseph: A Man after God’s Own Heart

“Joseph merited the greatest honors because he was never touched by honor. The Church has nothing more illustrious, because it has nothing more hidden.”

100—The Singular—Samuel Hazo

We celebrate our 100th episode with the return of former Pennsylvania Poet Laureate Samuel Hazo. At 92, Sam remains prolific. In this episode Sam reads and discusses poems from his new collection, The Next Time We Saw Paris, a recurring theme of which is how each experience in time passes away, yet in passing away it becomes a singular whole which remains present as such in memory.

The Ten Commandments and Systemic Clericalism

Bishops often distance themselves from aggressive Catholic lay endeavors (such as pro-life groups), effectively undermining the rightful role of the laity in the political arena. The general impression is that chanceries, not the laity, orchestrate Catholic political action.

On the frequent fatuity of scholarship

The danger of scholarship lies not so much in the intelligence and diligence of scholars as in the bully platform which society affords them as “voices” on radio, “talking heads” on television, and “quotes” in newspapers and magazines—not to forget, of course, the rights of the fraternity to pass along its strictly uniform values and theories to countless students. There is nothing, for sheer intellectual conformity, like the modern university.

The outrage of the activists, the silence of the hierarchy

Liberal Catholic activists can always summon up the energy to profess surprise that the Church teaches what the Church teaches. But I confess that I am not at all surprised by the silence of the bishops who have sworn to uphold the Church’s teachings. The pattern is all too familiar.

36—The Luminous Vision of Didymus the Blind

Didymus lost his sight at age four, and yet he became one of the most respected theologians on earth. This was in the fourth century, more than a millennium before Braille, audio tech, or other accommodations. Among his renowned disciples were Jerome, Rufinus, and Palladius. His life was long and full, intensely engaged in the controversies surrounding the doctrines of the Trinity and Incarnation. His story should inspire anyone who hears it. And the story isn't over yet.

Biden, Pelosi seek to close Christian adoption agencies

President Biden and Speaker Pelosi want adoption and foster care agencies shut down if they follow the teaching of Moses and Christ which embraces the truth that marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman. They support HR 5, the so-called “Equality Act,” which manipulates the meaning of the word “discrimination.”

St. John Henry Newman—On the Annunciation

“How, and when, did Mary take part—and the initial part—in the world's restoration? It was when the Angel Gabriel came to her to announce to her the great dignity which was to be her portion.”

Celebrating Holy Week in the Home

Holy Week traditions for the home, 2021 Preparation for our home and the liturgical celebration of Holy Week.

The Chosen, an Education in Meditation

In anticipation of Season 2 of The Chosen, the popular TV series based on the Gospels, Thomas and James take a look back at Season 1 and what made it so remarkable. They are joined by Oratorian Br. Joshua Vargas. The show’s two greatest strengths are its writing, which James calls “an education in meditation on the Gospels”, and Jonathan Roumie’s outstanding, childlike yet masculine performance as Jesus, which Joshua considers “equally as compelling” as Jim Caviezel’s.

The financial scandal now infects the Vatican judicial system

Everywhere but in Rome, responsible officials have learned that the cover-up only compounds the crime. Unfortunately, while we still know very little about the financial machinations that provoked that astonishing police raid, we now know that Vatican officials have gone to great lengths to conceal the truth.

101—The Non-Reactionary Tolkien—Holly Ordway

J.R.R. Tolkien is commonly perceived as a reactionary who totally rejected the modern world, and whose literary influences began and ended with the Middle Ages. Holly Ordway's new book, Tolkien's Modern Reading: Middle-earth Beyond the Middle Ages, debunks that view of Tolkien's life and work.

Easter in lockdown: ‘How can I keep from singing?’

If you are an adult, raised in the Catholic Church, you can remember the splendor of the liturgical traditions. But a young child cannot; those precious memories have not been formed, thanks to the Covid lockdown. The child has been taught to be docile, to be withdrawn, to avoid strangers (and even friends), perhaps even to stay away. Isn’t that roughly the opposite of the message we want to convey to our children during the Easter season?

St. John Henry Newman—Mental Sufferings of Our Lord in His Passion

"... as His atoning passion was undergone in the body, so it was undergone in the soul also."

Equality Act trashes truth and crushes conscience

President Joe Biden and Speaker Nancy Pelosi want doctors and health care establishments to perform abortions and sex change operations, provide puberty blockers for minors, and assist at suicides even if private conscience and religious rights are violated. Presently, federal and state conscience laws protect doctors, nurses and health care establishments from having to comply with these immoral practices.

Taking offense at Christ: Must we explain Him away?

Suppose instead that we stop playing games with the Christ of our own imaginings. Suppose we really do place Christ in His own concrete, human historical context. Suppose we figure out what the Jews of the first century understood Him to do and to say and to mean, and why their leaders were so sure they had to crucify Him. Suppose we find Him thus, receive him thus, recognizing rightly that it is the shoddiest of all methodologies to refabricate Him as a myth in order to explain Him away.

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