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All Catholic commentary from April 2024

Metaphysical Malick: The Thin Red Line (1998)

The Thin Red Line is arguably Malick's first masterpiece - and his first film focused on metaphysical themes, or as James Majewski says, a "preamble" to the more explicit Christian faith found in his later work, using voiceover extensively to ask questions about the origins of good and evil, the unity of human experience, and most of all, how one can maintain faith in the transcendent in the midst of evil, ugliness and disorder.

The Elusive Spirit of Forgiveness

1) List the top five grievances of your life; 2) List five – or two or three -- conscious acts of you granting forgiveness. Which of the two is easier?

Fidelity through time: “Apostles are harbingers of popes”

Along with the authoritative terms in which a Divine Revelation was of necessity expressed, there must be a corresponding Divinely-established authority to ensure that, in response to the different human insights and pressures characteristic of changing times and places and conditions, our understanding of the same doctrine would be sure to develop in ways which clarify and corroborate the original teachings rather than undermining and corrupting them.

Liturgical Highlights: Octave Day of Easter through the Third Week of Easter

Discussion of the Easter Octave, Divine Mercy Sunday, Solar Eclipse and the Annunciation.

Reflections on the Resurrection from St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI

Our library also includes an interesting reflection by the second-century apologist Athenagoras of Athens On the Resurrection of the Dead. And of course you can find other works of interest in our collection of the Fathers of the Church. But here are seven brief homilies and general audiences reflecting on the Resurrection by Pope St. John Paul II and fifteen by Pope Benedict XVI—ideal for reading, reflection and prayer as part of your routine for the Easter Season.

Dignitas Infinita: Not a perfect text, but a strong one

The text concludes with the cry of Pope Francis in his 2015 encyclical Laudato Sí: “I appeal to everyone throughout the world not to forget this dignity which is ours. No one has the right to take it from us.” Moreover, the full text has happily avoided the common contemporary mistake of downplaying the Christian realities which are so critical to a full grasp of this truth. While recognizing sound natural and philosophical insights, it has not pretended that these will ever be sufficient for the kind of conversion which alone makes a coherent commitment to human dignity possible.

Distracted, Dishonest, or Insufferable?

The forgiveness of sins in the Sacrament of Penance destroys the instruments of the crucifixion of Jesus in those modest confessionals in every Catholic church. But forgiveness is not cheap.

Why ‘Infinite Dignity’ falls short

Cardinal Fernandez cannot find a way to say, in charity, that homosexuals should resist their disordered impulses— as every sinful person should resist the disorder of temptations. Instead he can only say that an act that cries out to heaven for vengeance falls short of the “immense beauty” of the marital act.

4.10 The Heresies — Rebaptism and the Donatists

In the aftermath of the persecutions, controversies arose over the sacraments, which required clarification of the Church’s sacramental theology. The significance of these schisms cannot be overstated, since it is still true to this day that the practice of rebaptism is one of the most prevalent acts of schism against the universal Church, and one of the greatest barriers to unity.

The Shepherd of Hermas | Pt. 3 (Parables 1-8)

“You who repent must cast off the wickedness of this world which wears you down; if you put on every excellence of justice, you can observe these mandates and keep from committing any additional sins.”

Wait: Is human dignity NOT infinite?

It is a serious problem of the current pontificate that we must take so much trouble to distinguish between those occasions when Pope Francis seems to recognize our radical dependence on God and those when he seems to bless the rejection of that dependence—either by criticizing those who insist upon it very strongly in the moral sphere or by affirming those who patently redefine it to allow for certain culturally-approved sins.

Infinite dignity and its enemies

The weakness of Dignitas Infinita lies its failure to distinguish between the infinite dignity that Christ offers us, insofar as we participate in the life of the Trinity, and the very limited store of dignity that we accumulate and/or squander by ourselves.

Penguins and the Puzzle Palace

Penguins risk their lives to care for their young. The entire drama is a lesson of triumph and tragedy. Our life is like that. Those comical creatures help us understand the enigma of our existence.

Studies of ambition: All About Eve, The Bad and the Beautiful

Thomas and James discuss two classic Hollywood films dealing with the moral problems of overweening ambition - specifically in the context of show business. All About Eve (1950), which won six Oscars and features razor-sharp dialogue and an unforgettable performance by Bette Davis, is set in the world of the theater, while The Bad and the Beautiful (1952) is a (perhaps more honest) self-examination of Hollywood itself.

Catholicism Everywhere:

You may well know of the Catholic origins of hospitals, but did you know that April Fools Day originated from the persistence of certain “April Fools” who insisted on continuing to celebrate the new year on April 1st even after Pope Gregory had promulgated the Gregorian Calendar that we still use today?

Trust the science, not the scientists

But as John Adams memorably observed, “Facts are stubborn things.” The facts cannot be reconciled with a purely materialistic understanding of how our universe and our lives. Today the theory of intelligent design is not deemed acceptable, but then Galileo’s theory was not readily accepted in his day.

What is truth? A journalist asks Pilate’s question

Up until recently every respectable journalist at least claimed that his goal was to convey the truth. And every respectable American journalist paid tribute to the freedoms promised by the First Amendment. Now the CEO of a major broadcasting network— a network supported by the American taxpayers— has cast aside both of these venerable commitments, in favor of “getting things done.”

In the Psalms: A peculiar argument to win God’s favor

The deeper reality is that without having suffered, it is very difficult to learn to praise God, for it is suffering that teaches us we are not self-sufficient. It is suffering that forces us to reflect on the the ultimate meaning of human existence. And it is suffering that makes us realize how much we need help.

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