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All Catholic commentary from June 2020

Preparing for a Shift in the Liturgical Year

Originally written for 2019, updated for 2020: The Church is nearing the end of the Easter season. Depending on where you live, the Solemnity of the Ascension will be celebrated last Thursday or Sunday, and this Sunday closes the Easter season with the Solemnity of Pentecost. The next day...

Is Catholicism an ideology?

Many think Catholicism imposes an ideal system on the life of the faithful. According to this ideological view, for Church teaching to remain relevant, it must continually evolve to keep up with human progress.

It’s an issue

“The men that came to the program were there because they had sexually abused young boys,” the psychiatrist said. He didn’t say they abused young people. He said young boys.

Apocalypse Now: The Book of Revelation, Part 1

Penned by St. John near the end of his life, the Book of Revelation is the final piece of Divine Revelation, which closed with the death of this last of the apostles. As the name suggests, this revelation to St. John for the Church concerns itself with the consummation of all things, including the end of the world. It is therefore a prolonged exhortation to prepare for God’s judgment.

Ep. 76—Playing Jesus on The Chosen—Jonathan Roumie

Catholic actor Jonathan Roumie plays Jesus in The Chosen, the first multi-season TV series about the life of our Lord. He joins the podcast to discuss his approach to playing the God-Man, the spiritual impact of the series, its groundbreaking approach to funding and distribution—and his devotion to the Divine Mercy.

Baffling and reprehensible

Do you want to know what I find baffling and reprehensible, Archbishop Gregory?

What does ‘always’ mean? A reflection on the rights of the faithful

Was it explained to the lay faithful, in terms that they could understand, why they could not enjoy their rights? Absolutely not. Apparently no one has felt it necessary.

On Synodality and the German call to expand it

Synodality is a far superior operational model for the Church than the model of a modern corporation, but by its very nature synodality requires each member of the Church to take true responsibility for the role he has been assigned by Divine Providence within the Body of Christ. The fundamental “givenness” of the Body must be kept firmly in mind, and no member can engage effectively for the good of the Church without understanding his own God-given role.

St. Dorotheus of Gaza—On Self-Accusation

"The man who thinks that he is quiet and peaceful has within him a passion that he does not see. "

Faith seeking understanding

Try as we might, we cannot improve by adding to, or subtracting from, the precepts of the Ten Commandments. “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple….”

Stagecoach (1939) w/ Anthony Esolen

James and Thomas discuss Stagecoach, the classic American Western directed by John Ford.

Ep. 17 —The Long, Strange Trip of Hippolytus of Rome

He started as a papal critic, became history's first antipope, and today is honored — with the pope he rejected — as a saint whose feast day is universal. Go figure. Hippolytus of Rome is one of the great curiosities of early Christian history. In ancient times he was known for his encyclopedic books of theology, which became standard reference works in the centuries to follow. The Church revived his Mass prayers in the last century, and they're still in use today.

Why do Americans fear their children?

Children are a product of love, a sign of hope, an indication of faith in Providence. To fear children is to succumb to the culture of death.

Ep. 77—Gene Wolfe, Catholic Sci-Fi Legend—Sandra Miesel, Fr. Brendon Laroche

After much popular demand, Thomas pays tribute to legendary Catholic sci-fi writer Gene Wolfe, who passed away last year. Though not known to the general public, Wolfe is a sci-fi author’s sci-fi author—a number of his contemporaries considered him not only the best in the genre, but in American fiction at the time (Ursula Le Guin said “Wolfe is our Melville”). Among today’s writers, one of his biggest fans is Neil Gaiman.

St. Augustine—Letter to Honoratus: On Keeping Sacraments Available

“Because of something uncertain, there should not be a definite abandonment of duty — for, in that event, there is certain ruin for the people, not only in things pertaining to this life, but also in those of that other life which must be cared for with incomparably greater attention and anxiety.”

Bostock: living a lie

Here's the most important argument against the Bostock decision: not that it is a usurpation of Congressional authority (although it is), nor that is will produce disastrous public policy (although it will), but that it is patently false.

Contact tracing vs. the rights of the faithful

If you went to Mass last Sunday, or visited Grandma in a nursing home, and now you’re worried about a persistent cough, you can be tested— at your own expense. The results will NOT be confidential.

Censorship and the future of e-readers

Suppose, at some future date, the panjandrums of public opinion decide that certain books should no longer be available. With a few keystrokes, Amazon (or its competitors) can make that happen. Is there anything about the recent behavior of large tech companies that gives you confidence this could never happen?

Ep. 78—Three Marks of Manhood, Pt. 1: Patriarchy Purified—G.C. Dilsaver

In his 2010 book The Three Marks of Manhood: How to Be Priest, Prophet, and King of Your Family, the “father of Christian psychology” G.C. Dilsaver upholds the natural and supernatural basis of male headship while describing how it must be purified of pagan, dominating and selfish elements.

A Man for All Seasons (1966)

James and Thomas discuss A Man for All Seasons, the film adaptation of Robert Bolt's award-winning play about St. Thomas More.

First they came for Father Moloney...

The chaplain didn’t say that Floyd’s death was NOT prompted by racism. He simply remarked that the evidence is not conclusive. For that he was banished from the campus. For that he was given a public reprimand by his own archdiocese, which announced to the world that his statements “were wrong.”

Robert Bolt’s Man for All Seasons: Christian saint or “hero of selfhood”?

In this bonus episode of Criteria, Thomas asks Louis Karlin whether Robert Bolt’s play and film A Man for All Seasons accurately depict St. Thomas More’s views on the rights of conscience, and his motives for martyrdom.

St. Thomas More—Dialogue on Conscience

“Mistrust Him, Meg, I will not, even if I feel myself faint."

The Seven Seals: The Book of Revelation, Part 2

Here we have St. John’s visions of the warfare between earth and heaven which characterizes the time remaining before Christ returns in glory. The Book of Revelation describes this in eschatological language, symbolic of the battle between good and evil, God and Satan which fulfill and conclude our history. In this installment, John begins to learn of these things through the opening of seven seals by the Lamb of God, seals which conceal the secrets of the times which lead up to the end.

Ep. 18—The Short, Happy Life of Cyprian of Carthage

Before his conversion, Cyprian had been wealthy and successful, but miserable and addicted to drink. With his baptism came a complete transformation. Within a year he was ordained a priest. In two years he was bishop over all of North Africa. His years in office were a time of unprecedented crisis. His Church faced persecution, pandemic, catastrophic climate change, and famine. He managed all with grace and won his prominent place in history before dying as a martyr.

It’s Religious Freedom Week. Do you know where your bishops are?

Would you like to hear what the US bishops’ conference has said about the most immediate threats to religious freedom?

Perilous quest to fast-track a Covid-19 vaccine

Governments worldwide are considering the following to address Covid-19: Mandatory vaccination of every person in the world with fast-tracked, never-before-approved vaccines that can alter genes; vaccines using tissue from aborted children; vaccines developed without animal testing prior to human trials; and more. Concerned citizens can still weigh in to affect the outcome!

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn—A World Split Apart

"But the fight for our planet, physical and spiritual, a fight of cosmic proportions, is not a vague matter of the future; it has already started."

Ep. 79—Three Marks of Manhood, Pt. 2: Scepter, Crosier, Cross—G.C. Dilsaver

This is the second half of an interview with G.C. Dilsaver on his book The Three Marks of Manhood: How to be Priest, Prophet and King of Your Family. Dr. Dilsaver discusses how the Christian husband and father must wield three staves: the scepter of authority, the crosier of co-episcopacy, and the cross of redemption.

Archbishop Vigano’s challenge on Vatican II

So today the “spirit of Vatican II”— which may or may not reflect the teaching of the Council, but is certainly not in continuity with perennial Catholic doctrine— is in the ascendant. But this situation could not have arisen if the defenders of Catholic tradition had not failed to insist on authentic Church teaching.

Lay Catholic social action: The bishops must have our backs.

Our bishops need not only to cease staking out prudential positions on one social issue after another. They must also exercise vigorously two of their central responsibilities. First, they must teach Christ’s truth to the laity without shaving it to fit the perceptions of the dominant culture. Second, when we as lay faithful engage the issues according to the best prudential decisions we can make, the bishops must encourage us in Christ in Christ.

Dramatis personae: The Book of Revelation, Part 3

The pivotal chapter in the Book of Revelation is the middle chapter, chapter twelve. This chapter combines with the two immediately following to give us the most information about the characters at the very center of the struggle between good and evil represented by the entire Book. In addition to the angels and saints taken generally, who are present in various ways throughout, I am referring to the figures of the Woman, the Dragon, and the Lamb.

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