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All Catholic commentary from March 2024

Human and Divine Wrath

Anger is an element of our emotional makeup. But as with every other human faculty, we can use it as intended by God or abuse it.

Cabrini secularizes a saint

Something struck me while perusing various Catholic reviews of Cabrini, the new biopic of the great missionary saint who served the immigrant poor in New York. The reviewers seemed to admit, tacitly or explicitly, what I observed in my own viewing: the film contains little about God, prayer, or Catholic spirituality in general. Yet, oddly, many of these reviewers don’t conclude that this is a fatal flaw in a movie about a Catholic saint.

Benedict XVI’s gift of wonder to the Church

A number of writers have attempted to express their thanks for Pope Benedict XVI&rsquop;s remarkable life of service to the Church. The latest effort, by Robert Cardinal Sarah, may well be the best. Sarah’s book is simply titled He Gave Us So Much, and even this title is an understatement when considering the late Pope’s theological and spiritual legacy. That legacy is marked by a depth which matches its enormous breadth, and is undimmed by the passage of time.

The queer pastoral care of the German bishops

Originally a derogatory term, “queer” has now been adopted by the more militant homosexuals (et al.), in defiance of conventional opinion. (“We’re here; we’re queer.”) And now it is this term— the term of defiance— that the German bishops have chosen to use.

The Shepherd of Hermas | Pt. 1 (Visions)

“So I wrote the commands and parables as he bade me. If you hear them and keep them, and walk in them, and fulfill them in a pure heart, you will receive from the Lord what He promised you. But if you hear them and do not repent, or even add to your sins, you will receive the contrary from the Lord.”

Nicodemus Survival Tactics

Unlike the laity smothered by corporate and government political correctness, priests and bishops have no excuse for failing to preach the Gospel.  

175—St. Aldhelm’s Riddles, Poetry & Public Service—A.M. Juster

Today’s guest is a man with two names and two careers. For decades he has been a distinguished poet and translator under the name of A.M. Juster. This is an acronym for his Christian name, Michael J. Astrue, who for many years was a lawyer, biotech executive, and public servant, most notably serving as Commissioner of the Social Security Administration from 2007 to 2013. During this time, his political enemies tried to dig up dirt on him – but all they could find was that he wrote poetry on the side!

Psalm 18: For Christians, a caricature of God’s mercy?

We are, of course, supposed to be very grateful to God whenever He extracts us from harsh human troubles, but the Christian is also supposed to understand that if God chooses to relieve our suffering, it is not owing to our own righteousness. In the first place, it is just as likely—nay, certainly more likely at some point—that He will ask us to bear a cross; in the second place, honesty compels us to admit that it is not only our opponents and our enemies who have sinned.

The welcome message of the Irish referenda

The Catholic social thought that guided the framing of Ireland’s constitution simply recognized the realities of human life, dictated not by the hierarchy but by the natural law.

4.8 Novatian: The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly, Pt 1 (The Good)

Novatian of Rome is an extremely important, but conflicted, character in the early Church. On the one hand, he clarified and helped define the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity, preparing the Church for the ecumenical councils. On the other hand, he was the central figure of a schism in a controversy over the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation. In this first part of a two-part series on Novatian, Dr. Papandrea discusses the positive contributions of Novatian.

Cabrini and the denial that Christ is for everyone

Cabrini's director justifies downplaying the saint's religious identity and Catholic faith by saying he wanted to tell a more "universal" story - one that would "celebrate the power of the woman's voice". But why is “the power of the woman’s voice” more universal than the woman’s relationship with Christ? Is our culture’s inordinate preoccupation with female “firsts” (a preoccupation certainly not shared by St. Frances Xavier Cabrini) more catholic than Catholicism itself?

‘For zeal for thy house has consumed me’

Four hundred assaults on Catholic churches in the US in the past four years. That comes to roughly two incidents of violence or vandalism directed at our churches every week.

On the sacrifice of telling the truth

Surprisingly, one of the biggest sacrifices we can make nowadays is to tell the truth. Consequently, when others assert incredibly stupid or deliberately negative things about God, the Church or morality as known through both Divine Revelation and the natural law, our most common response is likely to be silence.

Controlling Narratives

We can read the four Gospels in an afternoon. But we have the rest of our lives to “connect the dots” with commentary and self-application as we encounter the risen Christ in the Sacraments.

Pope Francis, ‘doctor of the law’

So we are asked to accept a novelty, not because it is clearly based on Scripture or sacred Tradition, not because a logical extension of previous teachings, not because it is universally accepted, but simply because the man who propounds the new teaching holds a high ecclesiastical office. This is clericalism on a grand scale.

A fundamentally sterile papal autobiography?

Surely a papal autobiography is ill-advised if only because it is not a “good look” for a successor of St. Peter: Even if such a step does not infallibly signal hubris, it necessarily raises serious questions about humility. To the best of my knowledge, no other pope has taken such a step, and few bishops or cardinals. At the very least, it is astonishing for a pope to take time away from his extraordinarily heavy responsibilities to write the precious story of his own own life.

The Shepherd of Hermas | Pt. 2 (Mandates)

“Put the Lord in your hearts, then, you who are empty and fickle in the faith. You will then know that nothing is easier, sweeter, or more gentle than these mandates. Be converted, you who walk in the commandments of the Devil, commandments that are hard, bitter, cruel, and foul. And do not fear the Devil either, because he has no power against you. I, the Angel of Repentance, who have overcome the Devil, am on your side.”

In Ireland, a shift in the global political trend?

If my theory is right, and the vote in Ireland represents a shift in the tide of world opinion, Varadkar will not be the last government leader to lose his seat.

Salvation and redemption in the Psalms, and in our hearts

There is a greater emphasis in the psalms on the difference between evildoers and those who keep God’s covenant, with the latter needing rescuing from the former, than there is on the recognition that we all sin and must all repent. Nonetheless, personal responsibility for sin and the need for repentance among all who take God’s ordinances seriously does find sufficient expression to get our attention.

Risking Hellfire

Indeed, many high-ranking Church officials depersonalize traditional Church teaching by ignoring or denying the reality of hell. The denial neglects God’s justice and our personal responsibility for unrepented sins.

176—God and the City—D.C. Schindler

D.C. Schindler discusses his latest book, God and the City: An Essay in Political Metaphysics. In it, he draws an analogy between metaphysics as the most comprehensive science in the theoretical order and politics as the most comprehensive science in the practical order. Examining how in metaphysics, God is necessarily involved, yet without being the direct object of that science, Schindler argues that the same is true of the relationship between God and politics.

Why doesn’t Pope Francis celebrate Mass?

If the Pope is healthy enough to carry out the other aspects of his work, isn’t he able to lead the celebration of the Eucharist, the source and summit of Catholic spiritual life?

Easter volume released: Free ebook

The Easter volume of our ebook series for this liturgical year has been released in our ebooks download area. This fourth volume in the annual series covers the entire Easter season, from the Easter Vigil through Pentecost. It may be downloaded free of charge in the following formats: .mobi (Kindle), .epub (Nook and other standard ereaders), and .pdf (most computer devices).

Liturgical Highlights: Holy Week and the Sacred Triduum

A look at Holy Week and the Sacred Triduum liturgy and celebrating at home. Family liturgical living for Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday.

4.9 Novatian: Part 2 (The Bad and the Ugly)

In this second part of a two-part series on Novatian of Rome, Dr. Papandrea discusses the flawed sacramental theology and ecclesiology of Novatian, which led to a schism that not only lasted for centuries, but created a new situation in which a faction could be orthodox with regard to the doctrine of the Trinity, yet not within the mainstream of the Church and her Tradition (i.e., Christian, but not Catholic).

Better than the movie? A biography of Mother Cabrini

Based on the film controversy, of course, it is Frances Cabrini’s personality which we want to discern here. To begin with, we may note that her health was never good; she was rejected for that reason by the religious community to which she first applied. But her strength of character, perseverance, humility and charm made an extraordinarily successful combination.

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