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All Catholic commentary from April 2020

Act now to ensure a morally acceptable CO19 vaccine

There is no scientific reason why we can’t have a morally acceptable vaccine. The question is: Will we demand it?

Ep. 71—Thick Skin, Weak Stomach—Timothy & David Gordon

Rules for Retrogrades is a reverse-Alinskyan playbook for conservatives and Christians who are sick of being outmaneuvered at every turn by the forces seeking the destruction of the Christian faith and the natural foundations of the social order.

When our churches open again...

Just a few months ago, at the Amazon Synod, we heard pleas for the ordination of married men, based on the argument that the faithful must have access to the sacraments. Why wasn’t the same imperative felt during the pandemic: the need to take special measures to ensure that the sacraments were available?

The night Pope John Paul died, and the crowd kept vigil

And when that announcement finally came, another unique response: a ripple of somber applause ran through St. Peter’s Square. Applause for a life well lived.

One more CO-19 truth: People usually run true to type

It has been not only distressing but entertaining and instructive to see how much our actions and statements in response to the current pandemic run along in the same old groove. The greatest proof of my thesis comes through a simple survey of the news over the past two days. We should probably examine our own responses just as carefully, just as critically.

This week: Canonical conflicts over access to the sacraments

Another conflict of authority has arisen: a conflict between the undoubted authority of the bishop to set standards for ministry in his diocese, and the equally certain right of the laity to have access to the sacraments.

Holy Week in the Home During Quarantine

Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week. This year will be completely different for most of us who cannot attend any religious services or Masses during this time. Our reality is that as a family we generally will have more time preparing and entering into Holy Week. This is an overview of preparation and liturgical celebration of Holy Week, but also add some alternatives for supplementing at home since we cannot attend Mass or services in church.

St. John Henry Newman—The Cross of Christ the Measure of the World

“What is given us by revelation to estimate and measure this world by? The event of this season—the Crucifixion of the Son of God.”

Salvation by faith or by works? James and Jude speak

In my commentary on the books of the Bible, we now turn to the brief letter of St. James and the even briefer letter by his brother, St. Jude. After spending so much time with St. Paul, this makes for a healthy combination. For if Paul repeatedly emphasizes the necessity of faith in Christ, both James and Jude warn us not to forget the importance of the works that we do.

Ep. 72—Stabat Mater—Francesco Cotticelli

This episode explores the most famous and influential setting of Stabat Mater, completed by the 26-year-old Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (1710-1736) as he was dying of tuberculosis.

The dangers of live-streaming Masses

The growing recourse to live-streaming Masses may, at first, appear as a reasonable interim means to keep parishioners connected to their pastor and the daily celebration of the Mass. But there are distinct dangers.

Silence: closed churches and mixed messages

In a typical parish church dozens of people could attend Mass without violating “social-distance” guidelines, and in some of our cavernous cathedrals that number could safely be multiplied.

Pandemic or pandemonium: The first priority is Christ’s life within us.

The Church’s first priority—and this goes for each one of us who claim to members of the Body of Christ—is never to avoid catching a disease, or even to avoid spreading a disease. Please: It just isn’t. Without diminishing the true spiritual wisdom involved in reasonable precautions, this avoidance simply is not the first priority for any child of God, let alone any Catholic, all of whom should know better.

Ep. 13—Tertullian and the Theology of Sarcasm

Sarcastic, bombastic, and brilliant, Tertullian of Carthage may be the most entertaining of the Church Fathers. He also did more than anyone else to launch theology in the Latin language. His life and his work were provocations to his opponents — who included many pagans and more than a few Christians. Learn about him (and the fascinating world of early North African Christianity) in this episode.

The ideology that favors a long national shutdown

Michael Pakaluk notices that political leaders, if they follow fashionable opinions, will have a strong inclination to continue the national shutdown indefinitely.

A different sort of Easter: Christ in disguise?

The homeless lady asked for a ride and gave us each a plastic Easter egg with some candy in it. On this friendly basis, we all clambered into our car and pointed it in the direction she needed to go. On the way through our town, she mentioned that she had not had much to eat lately, and asked if we could stop at McDonald’s to get her something, so we turned around and got her lunch from the drive-through.

Why the ban on the parking-lot Mass?

Archbishop Listecki has said that since it's impossible to distribute Communion in parking lots with appropriate safety and reverence, parking-lot Masses should not be celebrated. That's a non sequitur.

Beware: Sacramental Presence is always person-to-person

Let us remember what sacraments are and how they work. I do not say that we receive no benefit from distant celebrations of Mass in rectories and closed churches, because we do, in common with the whole world, whether we watch the videos or not. But these Masses do not encompass our own active participation in the liturgy, nor our own personal engagement with the sacrament of the Eucharist.

This week: Vatican ambitions, Vatican vulnerabilities

Cynics might question why the Vatican would be offering proposals to restructure the global economy, at a time when the Vatican is having so much trouble putting its own financial affairs in order.

St. John Henry Newman—Keeping Fast and Festival

“None rejoice in Easter-tide less than those who have not grieved in Lent.”

Podcast Highlights: Music and morals, Tolkien and more

A look back through the Catholic Culture Podcast archive.

In this epidemic, what we don’t know is killing us

On the basis of our pitifully inadequate knowledge of this disease, we have embarked on the most radical set of public policies—apart from all-out war— in the history of the human race.

Peter’s letters proclaim the Faith

In his first letter “to exiles of the Dispersion”, Peter begins with praise to God, through whose mercy “we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and to an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading kept in heaven for you”. The entire letter is an exhortation to live in a manner worthy of so great a mercy and so great an inheritance.

The bitter fruit of the secret Vatican-Beijing accord

That “fruit of friendly encounter” that Cardinal Parolin cited may taste sweet for Communist Party officials— and for Vatican officials intent on pursuing the same policy— but for many thousands of Catholics it is bitter.

Our lack of horror for sin and heresy

The word “heresy” comes from the Greek verb “to choose”, as in choosing some part over the whole, and so distorting the truth. The word “sin” most likely derives through Old English from the Latin word for “guilty”. We need to recover our horror of heresy and sin, and to become jealous once again for adherence to what is true, so that we do not prefer pleasing men to pleasing God.

Ep. 73—St. John Henry Newman’s Aesthetics—Fr. Guy Nicholls, Cong. Orat.

An overview of the role of beauty in St. John Henry Newman's life and thought.

Raïssa Maritain—We Have Been Friends Together (excerpt)

"I would have accepted a sad life, but not one that was absurd."

Ep. 14—Tertullian: Who Forged Words and Invented Freedoms

Thank Tertullian of Carthage for his role in forming a distinctively western Christianity. He gave us words in our own language to express the inexpressible: words like Trinity and Sacrament. He also introduced the world to the idea of freedom of conscience. Our civilization rests on his ideas.

Coffee Table Catholic: Vatican Secret Archives

This book provides a light history of the Vatican Archives while surveying some of the more interesting chapters of the Church’s history: The Patristic era, the trial of the Knights Templar, the Crusades, the Inquisition, the conquistadors and missionaries in the New World, the Galileo Trial, the French Revolution, the Spanish Civil War, and the famous (and often exaggerated) silence of Pope Pius XII.

‘Social distance’ between husband and wife?

Is the bishop serious? Does he expect husband and wife to remain a sterile 2 meters apart? Does he know what marriage is?

No, bioethicist did NOT approve a vaccine using fetal tissue

The OSV headline conveyed the impression that a bioethicist had given the green light for Catholics to use a CO19 vaccine derived from fetal tissue. That that is not what the bioethicist said

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