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All Catholic commentary from May 2020

Sr. Mary Ada, OSJ—Limbo

Happy feast of St. Joseph the Worker!

John: Christ’s message is self-evidently true

John’s letters are thought to have been written during the last fifteen years of the first century, almost two generations after the death and Resurrection of Christ. They capture John’s reflections on the Faith as an old man, not removed from the conflicts of the day (he died in exile on the island of Patmos), but having meditated for decades on the meaning of Christ and His Church. Awareness of this lifetime of spiritual development is essential to a fruitful understanding of the letters.

Two crucial tests for home schooling

The idea that parental authority is subject to State control is repugnant to the common sense, to Christian teaching, and to American law.

St. Athanasius—Life of St. Anthony | Pt. 6

“Do not lose heart, children, for as the Lord has been angry, so will He heal again and the Church shall quickly recover her own good order and shall shine as she has shone.”

Ep. 74—What Is Classical Christian Education?—Andrew Kern

Andrew Kern leads us through the profound basics of classical Christian education—offering a radically different view of the human person and of reality itself from that which predominates today.

Still no transparency in Vatican financial investigations

So we know that something has been done to some employees, because of something those employees had done. And that’s all we know— or rather, all we would know, if we relied on official Vatican sources for our information.

Why we believe: Knowledge through love

Both our faith and the strength of our faith depend to a considerable degree on our purity of heart—the openness with which we receive Christ, the willingness with which we respond to the Good as brought to perfection in Him. Part of this willingness is reflected in the desire to learn more about Christ, the Church He has established for our benefit, the means of grace He offers, and the truths He reveals, not only through Divine Revelation but through the whole of creation from His bounty.

Introducing Criteria: The Catholic Film Podcast

Introducing Criteria: The Catholic Film Podcast! This is a show dedicated to exploring films of significant artistic merit and Catholic interest, starting with the Vatican’s 1995 list of "Some Important Films".

An Artist Is Never Poor: Babette’s Feast (1987)

James and Thomas discuss Babette's Feast, an Oscar-winning religious classic directed by Gabriel Axel and based on a short story by Karen Blixen.

Cardinal Pell does not deserve scapegoat status

“I heard that there were problems at St. Pat’s College,” Cardinal Pell recalled in his 2016 testimony. He chose to keep his silence about those problems. In much the same way, in the 1980s and 1990s, dozens if not hundreds of informed Catholics (myself included) “heard that there were problems” with “Uncle Ted” McCarrick’s handling of seminarians in the Newark archdiocese. We had no direct evidence, and the problem was not our direct responsibility, so we too kept our silence.

The German Synodal Path: Noteworthy or not worthy?

We now know a good deal about what is advocated in the draft documents arising from the so-called “Synodal Path” in Germany. Of course it is all predictable, because it is all simply a summary of the points on which secularists and the Catholic Church disagree, with the Synodalists on the side of the secularist cultural mainstream. Applied to any number of issues, this self-absorbed mode of analysis leads to absurd conclusions, none of them ascertained either by faith or reason.

St. Cyril of Jerusalem—Mystagogical Lectures on the Eucharist

“When the Master himself has explicitly said of the bread, ‘This is my body,’ will anyone still dare to doubt? When He is Himself our warranty, saying, “This is my blood,” who will ever waver and say it is not His Blood?”

Reverence for the body (with notes on cremation)

What attracts Hahn’s and Stimpson’s undivided attention in this book is modernity’s disregard and even contempt for the human body along with the need for a Christian understanding precisely to overcome this disregard and contempt. In our technocratic era we tend to see all matter, including bodily matter, as something to be manipulated in accordance with our own desires, and we tend to regard our desires as independent of and somehow superior to our bodies.

Quick Hits: More Vatican financial woes; and when will churches reopen

The Vatican needs money. The donors need answers. If the Vatican doesn’t give, the donors won’t, either.

Ep. 15—Perpetua: A Rare Female Voice from Antiquity

Perpetua is almost unique in the literature of her time. She stands alone as a witness to women's experience in the third century — and the changed status of women in the Church. A Christian martyr, she kept a diary while in jail. There she wrote of pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, and weaning. In prison she emerged as a charismatic leader of her fellow Christians. Her diary is an extraordinary record, and it is a beautiful meditation on Christian life.

Vatican finances: the fox in the henhouse

There is a clear and obvious explanation for the drop in contributions to the Peter’s Pence collection, quite apart from the worldwide recession. Prudent donors are leery of sending high-dollar contributions to the financial equivalent of the Keystone Kops.

When people suffer disease or disaster, and do not change

We know that some people do turn to God under duress, and especially under the duress of illness and death. That is fairly easy to explain in purely human terms. What is not so easy to explain is that many people do not. Instead they seem to grow more determined to resist the Christian understanding of God just when it could help them most. This ought to give us pause, for it suggests that our human refusals become, over time, not so much inadvertent as obdurate.

Pope Leo XIII—Rerum Novarum: Rights and Duties of Capital and Labor | Pt. 1

Hence, it is clear that the main tenet of socialism — community of goods — must be utterly rejected, since it only injures those whom it would seem meant to benefit, is directly contrary to the natural rights of mankind, and would introduce confusion and disorder into the commonweal.

The dangers of proliferating Communion services

The response by many bishops to encourage brief Communion services instead of Masses in response to the Covid-19 pandemic may accelerate liturgical practices that have long-term deleterious doctrinal implications on the nature of the priesthood and the Mass

Church and State in the Pandemic: Benefit of the doubt?

We should be aware of the dangers, of course. They plagued us on every side before, and it is only natural and preternatural that they should plague us on every side now. But this is no time for rash judgments. When people are navigating confusedly through a crisis for which they have no blueprint, they deserve the benefit of the doubt. And that goes double for the pope and the bishops who—from Catholics, at least—always deserve the benefit of the doubt.

Improving the odds for an ethical vaccine

Would you be comfortable taking a vaccine that was derived from placental cells? tobacco leaves? bone marrow? insects? or the dismembered bodies of aborted children?

Rendering to Caesar in an epidemic: the limits of authority

For the past forty years liberal Catholics have told us that the pro-life cause is not sufficient reason to deny anyone the Eucharist to prominent Catholics. Yet for the past forty days we have been told that the pro-life cause IS sufficient reason to deny the Eucharist to everyone.

Ep. 75—Don’t Scapegoat the Nouvelle Théologie—Richard DeClue

A broad-brush approach to the nouvelle théologie has resulted in injustices, perhaps as much to theology itself as to some good Churchmen whose reputations have been tarnished.

Robots Don’t Matter! 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

James and Thomas discuss 2001: A Space Odyssey, the classic science fiction film directed by Stanley Kubrick.

Bishops and the secular order: Seek first the kingdom of God

The problem is not that the bishops have generally accepted the universal pandemic restrictions. The problem is that they too often appear to be more concerned with maintaining their image as respectable “players” in the larger socio-political order, where they have approximately zero influence and certainly zero control, than they are with putting God’s house in order, where they still (even after decades of general incompetence and neglect) have nearly complete control.

Pope Leo XIII—Rerum Novarum: Rights and Duties of Capital and Labor | Pt. 2

Let the working man and the employer make free agreements, and in particular let them agree freely as to the wages; nevertheless, there underlies a dictate of natural justice more imperious and ancient than any bargain between man and man, namely, that wages ought not to be insufficient to support a frugal and well-behaved wage-earner.

Getting in touch with the Saints

Studying the saints ought not, I suppose, to be undertaken primarily for consolation, even if there is plenty of consolation to be found. But the saints usually teach us that consolations, important as they can be, are for beginners. They are a means to a higher end, not an end in themselves. To put it another way, reading about he saints can be immensely enjoyable. If that’s all it ever is, we have missed the point of sanctity—yet consolation remains an important part of spiritual development.

After the lockdown, a great Catholic revival?

Then something happens. Something that brings things back into perspective. Something like the Eucharistic famine of the past few months. Suddenly the provision of manna is no longer routine; suddenly attendance at Mass is exceptional. We reach what catechists today call “a teachable moment.”

Ep. 16—Clement of Alexandria: The Teacher in a New Kind of School

As the second century turned to the third, Alexandria, in Egypt, emerged as an influential center of Christian thought. Its first impression was spectacular — and it came from a teacher named Clement. He had traveled the Mediterranean to study under the greatest Christian teachers and finally settled in Alexandria. Eventually he came to lead the city's catechetical school. Any Christian who has pursued a life of prayer in the Christian tradition has encountered ideas developed by Clement.

No Mass and Communion? Let faith trump feelings.

Feelings are never good or evil in themselves; they become so only through our unfaithful resistance or indulgence. It is their assessment in the light of faith, and the corresponding exercise of our wills conformed to God, that turns feelings to good account, no matter what they are.

Church leadership: managing the decline?

During the past several weeks loyal Catholics that there is a tension— at the very least— between the edicts of public-health officials and the independence of the Catholic Church. The USCCB apparently hasn’t noticed.

St. Thomas Aquinas—Send Out Your Spirit

“Love  gives life to the soul, for just as the body lives through the soul, so the soul lives through God, and God dwells in us through love.”

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