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All Catholic commentary from June 2021

Lust kills art: 8 1/2 (1963) w/ Katy Carl

Federico Fellini's 8 1/2 is widely considered to be the best film ever made about filmmaking, but it's about much more than that. Ingenious cinematography and surreal images convey the experience of a man who is increasingly lost in his own memory and fantasy, and so finds himself unable to have real relationships with the people in his life or to bear fruit as an artist.

Why (and how) did God inspire Sacred Scripture?

If you are looking for a way to understand the Bible better, and to make the Word of God more fully your own, I recommend a careful reading of Jeremy Holmes’ new book, Cur Deus Verba: Why the WORD became Words. Holmes, who is Associate Professor of Theology at Wyoming Catholic College is a highly credentialed theologian who has put his wisdom at the service of helping us to understand Sacred Scripture, and what it means to incorporate it into our lives.

Faith is Personal, not Ideological

Secular religions also use prayers that summarize their ideologies. But the slogans are manipulative with a fearful symmetry.

Disaster looms if Pope Francis restricts the traditional Mass

If it is released in anything like its current form, the document now circulating in Rome would be a pastoral and doctrinal disaster. It would thwart a powerful movement for reform in the Church, and it would— paradoxically— undermine the Pope’s own authority.

St. Ephrem the Syrian—Hymns on Faith | Hymn Ten: Fire and Spirit

“In your bread is hidden the Spirit which cannot be eaten. In your wine dwells the fire that cannot be drunk. Spirit in your bread, fire in your wine: It is a distinct wonder that our lips have received!”

Contra ambiguity: Francis, Biden, and the US bishops

It is not a priority of any kind for Catholics to eliminate sinners from the Church; we are all sinners. Nor is it a top priority to eliminate suffering for Christ; we are all called to carry the Cross. But it is a very high priority indeed to eliminate ambiguity; for we are also called to let our yes be yes and our no be no—simply because anything else comes from the Evil One (Mt 5:37).

Agent Provocateurs for the Unborn

In the coming months, many Catholics and non-Catholics alike will be refusing vaccines on prophetic moral grounds. Is there a better way of expressing horrified disapproval of the immorality of human vivisection and using aborted remains for medical research and development?

107—Prayer as a Political Problem w/ Brandon McGinley

Brandon McGinley joins the show to discuss an interesting little book from 1967 that has re-entered the discourse, Prayer as a Political Problem by Jean Danielou, SJ. Danielou insists that prayer forms a constitutive part of the temporal common good. Governments, therefore, have a responsibility to create conditions making it easy for the common people to conduct a spiritual life.

Selective indignation: Canadian calls for a Vatican apology

The schools were administered by churches, but the government was ultimately responsible. So if conditions were substandard (which they were) and abuse occurred (which it did), the blame should not fall exclusively on the Church.

Confused about public apologies for the past? I’m not.

It seems that an apology is demanded whenever some horrendous wrong is discovered to have been committed in the distant past by Catholic priests and religious, on the one hand, and/or agents of the State, on the other hand. By distant past, I mean a period of time far enough back that nobody in the present Church and/or government is responsible for it.

Term limits for Church leaders: a policy created to be ignored?

A solid majority of the Vatican’s top officials— appointed and retained by the Pope— remain in office despite the fact that their tenure seems to violate the general rules that Pope Francis himself has set in place.

Highlights: How men can help the angry feminist in their lives, and more

This episode features clips from episodes 34-37 of the Catholic Culture Podcast.

Ida Friederike Görres—Trusting the Church

“What is up to us is to plead without ceasing for discernment and love, for justice and patience—and for unshakable love for the Church. Because only the lover discerns. And what people who do not love her, maybe secretly hate her, tell us about her need not frighten us.”

41—Chrysostom (Part 1): Golden Mouth & Golden Mysteries

Chrysostom means “golden mouth,” and only one man has credibly borne the title. John Chrysostom may have been the greatest pulpit preacher in Church history. In his lifetime he was also renowned for his asceticism and spiritual counsel In recent years, however, he’s been maligned — and mischaracterized — for his views on marriage and sex. Here we set the record straight with an account of his developing understanding of the one-flesh union and its particular graces.

Five years later: the mounting costs of a stalled Vatican audit

Answering the key questions will require some tough questioning of several influential prelates. To date, Vatican prosecutors have shown no interest in pursuing such an aggressive investigation.

What justifies withholding the Eucharist?

The point of the lockdown was to keep people healthy. But the point of “Eucharistic coherence”— the point of withholding the Eucharist from people in a manifest state of grave sin— is to keep people _spiritually_ healthy. And isn’t that the first duty of the Church’s pastors?

Patron Saint of Boomers: Gandhi (1982)

There are a few films on the Vatican film list James and Thomas haven't been looking forward to watching. Among them is Richard Attenborough's Gandhi, and our dread was due to the suspicion that this film, certainly negligible in its historical importance as a work of cinema, was included mainly because Vatican bureaucrats of a certain age are apt to confuse Mohandas K. Gandhi with a Catholic saint.

St. Thomas More and the Masterpiece Cakeshop

As St. Thomas More learned, the promoters of the new faith are not satisfied with mere acquiescence; they demand that we not only accept their creed but endorse it, even proclaim it.

The likelihood of a “Eucharistically coherent” Church

Those whose consciences are malformed or dead do not recognize grave sin. They are intellectually and morally enslaved to the dominant culture. They are (often willfully) blind to reality—even in flight from reality—and they are seeking to strengthen what we might call an anti-culture to shield them from uncomfortable reminders of the true and the good. The Church must make clear that their advocacy of evil is an attack on the Good, on Christ, on His Church and on the souls entrusted to her care.

108—Walker Percy’s Moviegoer w/ Nathan Douglas

Thomas is joined by Catholic filmmaker Nathan Douglas to discuss Walker Percy's first novel, The Moviegoer. They also look at how Binx searches for a deeper connection with reality through his moviegoing habits. Percy has some interesting descriptions of his characters finding moments of transcendent beauty in films, given that this novel was written just before the notion of "cinephilia" developed by French critics made its way to the United States.

When Jesus asks for silence

After raising the daughter of Jairus from the dead, Jesus “strictly charged them that no one should know this.” Now how could the people of that household possibly carry out the Lord’s orders?

Churches burning, Satan out in the open: Overplaying his hand?

We are entering an historical cycle—indeed, we have already entered it—in which the most outrageous anti-social and anti-religious attacks can be launched against Catholics, and indeed against society itself, because the diabolical hatred of the Good has been able to come out in the open and reveal itself in all its ugliness.

How to Conquer the World

That all politics is local is generally true, at least during an election year. But the works of mercy that conquer the world are always personal

New Lourdes documentary shows a miracle of mercy

A new documentary on Lourdes, originally released in France in 2019, is now in theaters in the US. It is intensely moving and one of the best religious films in recent years. Written by a Catholic who used to care for the sick at Lourdes, it is an inside look at the spiritual but also deeply human needs and aspirations that lead people to this place of miracles.

42—Chrysostom (Part 2): Triumph, Tragedy & Glory

No sane person ever proposed John Chrysostom as a model of diplomacy. His name means "Golden Mouth" and reflects his eloquence. His words, however, proved his undoing when he chose to preach a word of criticism against the Empress Eudoxia. He soon found himself battling for his position as bishop and then for his life.

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