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All Catholic commentary from June 2024

Personal Encounters

Technological gimmicks – such as those ubiquitous live-streaming liturgies-- cannot substitute for trusting give-and-take of personal relationships:

Teach your children well

The first thing one noticed was that there were nine priests concelebrating the graduation Mass, each of whom had spent time over the past six years helping to form the graduating students in their Faith. For the students, this was a leave-taking from a spiritually formative school environment, and at least to some extent a parting from close friends who had played their own role in that formation.

AI, its capabilities and threats

Artificial Intelligence has become a catch-all phase that sums up belief in the power of machines. The thrust is that computers can now do many things formerly reserved to humans alone, thus duplicating and exceeding human intelligence, allowing AI systems to “take over”. But the real danger lurks in the complexification of society. As computer-based systems are used to operate functions spanning more components of society, the dangers associated with malfunction increase.

The Fauci narrative, undermining science and democracy

For months we were exhorted to “trust the science.” Now it is abundantly clear that the “science” with which the American people were presented was not immunology or virology. If that “science” were given its own name, the appropriate name would be “Anthony Fauci.”

Summer: Come and Rest a While

Summer season is a time to physically rest and be with family. The Feast of the Visitation and Mark 6:30-31 “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.”

A Tocqueville for today

Csak realizes that the American Founders, in their determination to preserve and protect human freedom, were influenced by the understanding of “liberty” expressed by John Winthrop as well as John Locke, by the Christian moral tradition as well as the Enlightenment.

The Blasphemy of Self-Worship

Who among us are not distressed by the Godless moral madness that suffocates the culture? But the temptation to abandon all hope is also a component of the sin against the Holy Spirit.

179—Catholics create huge new ballet: interview with producer, composer, and choreographer of Raffaella

On June 29 and 30, in South Bend, Indiana, there will be a major and even unprecedented event in the history of American Catholic art: a new, full-length classical ballet production with a new story, new music, new sets and costumes, and nationally known dancers - with a cast of about fifty. This fairytale ballet, Raffaella, was commissioned by Duncan and Ruth Stroik in honor of their daughter Raffaella Maria Stroik, a dancer with the St. Louis Ballet who passed away tragically in 2018 at the age of 23.

So who owns the Catholic ‘brand’?

Is it a bad thing that lay people are raising money for Catholic causes? That donors are enthusiastically supporting new initiatives?

A new—and potentially explosive—dubium

A clear official declaration about the possible lack of validity of ordinations between partners in sin against the Sixth Commandment would benefit the Church and ensure the integrity of Holy Orders. It would help to curb abuse of authority and homosexual acts in seminaries if the abuser and the abused know that his ordination would be invalid.

4.14 The Heresies—Apollinarius & Monothelitism: A Human Suit

Apollinarius tried to say that Jesus could not have sinned because his human nature had no will of its own. In doing this, he stumbled onto a heresy called Monothelitism (“one-will” christology), which would become a huge controversy later. But a Christ without a human will would be a Christ who is not fully human. He would only be wearing a human body like a costume, but he would not be truly human.

In the midst of confusion: Rethinking the “synodal way”

This is why I describe a proper concept of synodality as the Church firing on all cylinders. That’s a modern and mechanistic image, of course, but despite this deficiency it implies that the Church runs most smoothly when each member understands his or her proper role and assumes the responsibilities proper to that role in obedience and service to Christ the head—who in turn is most perfectly represented in the universal Church by the successor of Peter, and in each local church by the bishop.

Diabolical Marks of Self-Inflicted Violence

The IVF industrial complex violates God’s law, deforms the natural relations of men, women, and children, disposes of unwanted babies, and treats humans as animals. Some suggest that IVF technology is “pro-life.” If so, Doctor Frankenstein’s techniques are also pro-life.

Just beachy—and the gift of friendship in families

To brag about blessings is to suggest they are of our own making, when typically all they require is our cooperation. Each member of a joyful Catholic family knows he has received more than he has given. After all, ultimately in our human weakness we can only do so much, and the rest must come from our bountiful Father in Heaven in accordance with the particular plan by which He chooses to draw each and all of us to Himself.

The Shepherd of Hermas | Pt. 4 (Parables 9-10)

“Keep his commandments, and you will have a cure for sin.”

A new offensive in the war on traditional liturgy

Even if Grillo were right, and tradition meant whatever the future says it means, then the Church of the future could discard the liturgical fashions of today. If Pope Francis suppresses the TLM, some future Pontiff will restore it.

The AI paradigm of knowing and its problems

In order to do things that manifest “intelligence”, any AI system has to be based on a paradigm of knowing. How does the computer “know” about its task or subject? This is something about which AI engineers and theorists do not think, because there isn’t much choice. AI is perforce based on algorithmic processes that utilize inputs (data or sensors) and output instructions or text. Essentially, modern AI is based squarely on ideas that stem from the British empiricist tradition.

God Knows We Exist

Children love the comedy and playful absurdities of God’s handiwork! What more evidence do we need?

180—Saint Thomas and the Forbidden Birds & the tradition of English verse w/ James Matthew Wilson

Poet & philosopher James Matthew Wilson rejoins the show to read poems from his new collection, Saint Thomas and the Forbidden Birds, published by Word on Fire, and to discuss the tradition of English poetry and, in particular, meter. Don't miss the title poem, a verse setting of a passage from Aquinas's Summa Theologiae!

Decisions, decisions…and the strenuous art of making good ones

Merely by looking at yesterday’s news—in this case the news reported on the Solemnity of the Nativity of John the Baptist, who so courageously decided to bear an unceasingly provocative witness to Christ—we see immediately that, even in Catholic affairs, good decisions can be thin on the ground.

When marriage is not ‘for better’ but ‘for worse’

What does “worse” mean in a marriage? It may mean living together in illness or poverty. But it may also mean living together in a difficult relationship; the romance itself may become “better or worse.”

4.15 The Heresies—Nestorianism: Two People in One

The pendulum swings again as Nestorius overreacts against Apollinarius, and emphasizes the distinction between the two natures in Christ, to the point of describing a radical separation of natures. It was as if Nestorius was saying that Christ is not one Person, but two - a divine Person and a human Person, united only as long as the human will submits to the divine will.

Church Teaching on Cinema: Pope Pius XI

In 1936, Pope Pius XI published his encyclical on the motion picture, Vigilanti cura. The encyclical deals with the grave moral concerns raised by the cinema, which had by then become a ubiquitous social influence. Vigilanti cura was ghostwritten by the American Jesuit Fr. Daniel Lord, who wrote the original Motion Picture Production Code and helped to found the Legion of Decency. This is the first of three episodes surveying the body of magisterial documents related to cinema.

Welcome budget cuts for the US bishops’ justice-and-peace office

Because— here is the important point— setting public policies is not the responsibility of a Catholic bishop, much less of an episcopal conference.

Culturally punished into the light of Christ

Most of us can still remember (or are aware of) the massive public shift that occurred in the 1960s when Western public cultural habits were still largely and fairly frankly oriented toward Christian principles, even if they were overwhelmingly honored in the breach. And most of us are still bewildered by the rapidity of the cultural shift away from any public approval of these principles. This bewilderment has left us grasping at straws, and at theories.

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