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All Catholic commentary from May 2024

Mike Aquilina hits the road, on a pilgrimage—with you?

Mike Aquilina’s pilgrimage to Rome and Assisi is being offered by the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology through the services of the experienced Catholic pilgrimage company 206 Tours. While Mike, who is the executive vice-president of the St. Paul Center, will serve as Group Leader, the Spiritual Director for the tour will be Fr. Jihoon Kim of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

A study of pastoral prudence: Léon Morin, Priest (1961)

In occupied France, a Communist woman named Barny enters a confessional for the first time since her first Communion - not to confess, but to criticize the Church. To her surprise, Fr. Léon Morin offers a compelling response to each of her points. Barny starts to see Fr. Morin regularly for a mix of intellectual tête-à-tête and spiritual counsel, and is gradually drawn back to the Church – but mixed in with her spiritual attraction to the Church is a romantic attraction to the man.

Mounting frustration in the twilight of the pontificate

When the conclave of 2013 selected Cardinal Bergoglio, it gave him a mandate to eliminate corruption at the Vatican. And that mandate has not been fulfilled.

Enriching Dinner Conversations with the Commandments

Gossip feels nice for a time because we convince ourselves our chatter serves a good purpose – and elevates our stature above that of our neighbor. A single disparaging remark can ruin a man’s reputation for years.

Nullifying differences
(Part 1 of Thinking it through: The Church and “gender change”)

One is reminded of the story about a thoroughly modern woman who proudly told her four-year-old daughter that she “could be anything she wants to be when she grows up”. The daughter blurted out, “I think I would like to be a horse.” The great problem with this totally arbitrary approach is that it denies the fundamental reality of God’s creation—that our sexuality (including our often loose and wayward concept of “gender”) is determined by our embodiment as demonstrably either male or female.

Male and female He created them
(Part 2 of Thinking it through: The Church and “gender change”)

All of mankind has recognized maleness and femaleness as a fundamental pattern of nature, and for the Christian, and especially for that Church which was intended by Christ to teach the truth about what it means to be human, the fundamental goodness of the distinction between male and female can neither be ignored nor treated as a flaw in the human design.

The Church and the transgendered
(Part 3 of Thinking it through: The Church and “gender change”)

Since gender change is typically an objectively serious public sin, regardless of the degree of personal culpability, the Church might well deal with it as she deals (or is supposed to deal with) divorce and remarriage without an annulment—that is, by exclusion from the reception of Communion until such time as the person repents of the change and does as much as possible to restore himself or herself to the Divinely-willed condition.

178—Flannery O’Connor’s Why Do the Heathen Rage? w/ Jessica Hooten Wilson

A new book presenting material from Flannery O’Connor’s unfinished third novel shows the great Catholic writer pushing beyond her established fictional territory. Jessica Hooten Wilson returns to the podcast to discuss her book, Flannery O’Connor’s Why Do the Heathen Rage? A Behind-the-Scenes Look at a Work in Progress.

4.12 The Heresies—“Spirit-fighters” & the Aftermath of Nicaea

After the Council of Nicaea, all the same questions that had been asked of the Son of God, were now asked of the Holy Spirit. Is the Holy Spirit divine, and worthy of worship? Does worship of the Holy Spirit compromise monotheism? Some who reluctantly accepted the divinity of the Son still refused to accept the divinity of the Spirit, and so they continued to reject the doctrine of the Trinity - these were called “Spirit-fighters.”

Did Egyptian monks pave the way for St. Patrick?

Connie Marshner assembles an enormous amount of circumstantial evidence to suggest that the spectacular spread of the faith in Ireland—and eventually from Ireland back to continental Europe and across the world— was strengthened by the earlier presence there of communities of monks who came across the Mediterranean from Egypt.

Superheroes and Heroes

Like the Apostles, we want our leaders to overthrow abusive authorities, keep us safe, and protect our communities from lawlessness.

Now Available: Liturgical Year Ebook for Ordinary Time after Easter

We have just released the fifth volume in the 2023-2024 Liturgical Year series of ebooks. Volume five covers the first half of the long stretch of Ordinary Time between the close of the Easter Season on Pentecost and the beginning of Advent. Like all ebooks, this volume is downloadable free of charge.

Which “spirituality” is for you? A place to start

Everyone ought to commit to certain types of corporate prayer, and certainly it is not possible to set that aside as a Catholic. But each one needs to cultivate private prayer as well, and the exact pattern of fruitful private prayer will vary widely. It will generally be a combination of standard structured elements (prayers and spiritual reading) and at least some effort to place oneself in the presence of God through a paradoxical combination of interior relaxation and interior focus.

Be prepared for another ‘long hot summer’

In any major conflict, true believers on both sides will fear that their hard-line opponents are deliberately escalating the tensions, exploiting the confrontations for their own political purposes. And you know what? They’re right.

The Pope’s pose as scientific ‘expert’

There was a time— any time, really, before 2013— when one would expect the Roman Pontiff to focus on spiritual rather than climatological questions. But that time is long gone, and no one is surprised today when Pope Francis speaks at length without touching on any distinctively Christian theme, except perhaps when he says that the destruction of the environment is “an offense against God.”

Malick’s humble camera: The New World (2005)

Terrence Malick's The New World is an underrated masterpiece about Pocahontas and the founding of Jamestown in 1607. It remarkably combines realism and historical accuracy with poetry and romance, as all three protagonists explore not just one but multiple new worlds, geographical and interior. We discuss Malick's style extensively and make the case for why Catholics studying or making art should not focus only on "themes" to the neglect of form, because style itself conveys a vision of reality.

The ten commandments of Catholic apostolic work

Here are my Ten Commandments for those who claim to engage in Catholic apostolic work.

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