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All Catholic commentary from May 2022

Peter’s Tumultuous Vocation and Ours

During the Passion, Peter’s crash-and-burn is complete: his cowardly threefold denial; his bitter sorrow; indeed, his self-loathing.

The scandal of Russian Orthodoxy, and our own scandals

There can be no true religion that does not incarnate within itself the authority of Christ. Here we find the correction of a misguided territorial Orthodoxy, the correction of Protestantism’s dependence on private and personal judgment, and even the correction of Catholics—when we listen to our own “interpretations”, forgetting that not a single one of us has merited the promises of Jesus Christ.

Apocrypha Now! On the Myth of the Lost Gospels

Why is it big news when someone claims to find a fragment of a lost "gospel"? Why do people say that these ancient apocrypha threaten to overturn everything Christians believe? In the second century, some of these pseudonymous books appeared and quickly landed in the remainder bin, called into question by giants such as Irenaeus and Tertullian. They're news today because of a modern myth, crafted by one of the renowned literary critics of the 20th century.

How NOT to respond to a Roe reversal

A Supreme Court reversal of Roe does not hand the pro-life movement a victory; it only allows pro-lifers a fighting chance in what will be a bruising political battle.

Rolling your own understanding of Revelation? Don’t.

It is the Magisterium of the Catholic Church which infallibly protects us against the arbitrary “choices”, by which, in rejecting the richness of the whole, we can and do distort the mystery of Christ. Like undisciplined children, we proceed even to the point of using our own opinions as reasons to reject the ecclesiastical authority Our Lord established to help us! The result is always either our own peculiar ideas or a slavish adherence to fashion.

Liturgical Living: Part One, Liturgical 101

"Liturgical living” or “living the Liturgical Year” are unofficial labels of popular piety, which are ways of living the liturgy and feasts of the Liturgical calendar in ways that might be more tangible and accessible, incorporating the different senses. It's a popular trend, but becoming a little too commercial and materialistic. Why do we try to live the liturgical year in the domestic church?

St. John Henry Newman—Knowledge of God’s Will without Obedience

"If you hate your own corruption in sincerity and truth, if you are really pierced to the heart that you do not do what you know you should do, if you would love God if you could, then the Gospel speaks to you words of peace and hope. It is a very different thing indolently to say, "I would I were a different man," and to close with God's offer to make you different, when it is put before you. Here is the test between earnestness and insincerity."

On the sad—but inevitable?—demise of the Catholic News Service

The world of Catholic news coverage has changed enormously in the past generation, and CNS is a victim of the changes. But the need for a distinctive Catholic perspective on current events is greater than ever. I shall be sorry to see CNS leave the field.

Non-Conformists

The Gospel provides the pithiest of organizational mission statements: “Go forth and baptize all nations.”

Natural piety: The Burmese Harp (1956)

Kon Ichikawa's 1956 classic The Burmese Harp is, oddly, a World War II film from the Japanese perspective. It's an anti-war film, and a film about piety toward the dead, but it's also about vocation and how it relates to membership in a community.

The most astonishing item in the Sermon on the Mount

Throughout the sermon, a positive spirituality eclipses (without minimizing) avoidance of the most obvious sins: “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder... But I say to you that everyone who is angry with this brother will be liable to judgment’” (5:21-22). And so it goes throughout the text. But there is a glimpse of something far more dramatic than that.

Through Hymns, With Hymns, In Hymns: The Fathers & Music

Music formed the early Christians in faith. It catechized them. Inspired them. Unified them. Healed them. The Fathers — from Ignatius of Antioch to John of Damascus — testify to this fact. Many of them wrote music. Augustine wrote a book about music. At a time when most people could not read, music was the most effective delivery system for doctrine. The decisions of the councils would have been dead letters apart from their placement in musical settings.

Red flags in the Vatican financial trial

Even on the most benign reading, the story that Cardinal Becciu told the Vatican tribunal is a tale of unsupervised, even reckless investing, without even a hint of proper accountability.

132—Technology and the Artist: Glenn Gould in the Studio

"The justification of art is the internal combustion it ignites in the hearts of men and not its shallow, externalized, public manifestations. The purpose of art is not the release of a momentary ejection of adrenaline but is, rather, the gradual, lifelong construction of a state of wonder and serenity."

The Vatican’s craven response to Cardinal Zen’s arrest

Rather than denouncing the unjust arrest of a Prince of the Church, the Vatican complimented the security forces for the way they had treated him!

The decline and fall of the bureaucratic state

The denial of reality is the operational mode not only of government but of academia, the mass media, and corporate life. And if the simple repetition of abject nonsense is not sufficient to brainwash everybody, then everybody must be subject to increasing bureaucratic control, so that independent speech and independent action are regulated out of existence, leaving an ever-narrowing space even for critical thought.

A French Vatican observer ponders the ‘end of the regime’

“The Vatican is buzzing with the most alarming rumors” about the surgery last July, from which the Pontiff recovered slowly.

When the party replaces the sacrament

If the party is the only reason for scheduling the sacrament, and if Church leaders meekly surrender when civic leaders proclaim that the sacraments are not essential, sooner or later apathetic Catholics are bound to realize that they can skip the ceremony and move straight to the party.

In the Catholic campaign, something extraordinary

The Christian life is a great paradox of suffering and joy. I don’t mean to claim that I have suffered a great deal—certainly not very much in comparison with many others! But the “triumph of the cross” is always on display in Catholicism, the power of resurrection shining through shortcomings and setbacks. Those who take Christ and the Church seriously nearly always have to experience the threat of failure before they can work at making things better for another season or so.

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