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All Catholic commentary from July 2020
Gone with the Wind (1939) w/ Stephen M. Klugewicz
James and Thomas take a momentary departure from the Vatican Film List to discuss the classic and controversial film, Gone with the Wind.
The Supreme Court decision could end the government-school monopoly
After Espinoza there’s no longer an excuse. Educational choice is an issue whose time has come.
St. John Henry Newman—The Danger of Accomplishments
“It is beautiful in a picture to wash the disciples' feet; but the sands of the real desert have no lustre in them to compensate for the servile nature of the occupation.”
Ep. 80—Bring Out Your Dead—Scott Hahn
The incarnation, death and resurrection of the Son of God changed how our civilization viewed the body, death and the afterlife. Unfortunately, even Catholics today treat dead bodies in a way that does not convey this reality.
Archbishop Viganò’s comments on Vatican II
Clarifying the issue is sufficient. There is no need for me here to belabor the various points at which I personally disagree with opinions that are not errors in faith, though I expect to write more about the issues surrounding Vatican II in the very near future. The Catholic reception of the Second Vatican Council is clearly an important topic—a rocky topic, in truth, which has frightened many incautious mariners into abandoning the barque of Peter, only to sink and drown.
Quick Hits: American society in disarray
Sohrab Ahmari (who knows something about the topic, having lived through the Islamic revolution in Iran), charges that today’s leftist activism is not really a revolution at all, but “a reactionary putsch.”
Ep. 19—Origen: The Most Controversial Christian Ever?
Origen of Alexandria was one of the most important figures in Christian antiquity — and also one of the most complicated. He was widely influential and widely despised. He wrote thousands of books and invented several academic disciplines, including scientific biblical studies, fundamental theology, and spiritual theology. Toward the end of life he endured tortures rather than deny the faith; and he died a hero’s death. This is the first of two episodes on his life and work.
The best book (by far) on the scandal of clerical abuse
Here we have a stunning publishing achievement. When the Church suffers under the weight of the sins of her members, it is always her most devoted sons and daughters who do the heavy lifting. What is truly remarkable about this book is the breadth and depth of the analysis of the entire sex abuse crisis, from men and women possessed of deep Catholic identity and firmly committed to authentic Catholic renewal.
St. Ignatius: When are pious thoughts not from God?
There are many things that go into this, including attentiveness to the teachings of the Church, sound Catholic education and spiritual formation, the cultivation of humility and the recognition of habitual faults, a clear apprehension of one’s duty, constant prayer, frequent confession, a willingness to take spiritual advice, and more. Perfect discernment does not comes “naturally” to anyone. Strong opinions driven by personal piety may or may not be the fruits of sound discernment.
Those Who Make Them Are Like Them —Dekalog: One (1988)
James and Thomas discuss Krzysztof Kieślowski's DEKALOG, a series of 10 short-films inspired by the Ten Commandments.
The divorced Catholic’s guide to parenting
You are not going to get through post-divorce problems by reading a 200-page book. But under each heading, Lynn orients the reader to the dimensions of the problem, offers clear suggestions on what to do and (often even more important) what not to do in helping your children, and explains the ways in which the teachings of the Catholic Church bear directly on our understanding of these complex issues, enabling you to address them faithfully.
Catholic nudism, the USCCB, and bid to ‘eradicate’ evil
So here’s a good rule of thumb: When activists want to “eradicate” a problem, they’re likely up to no good.
“I make all things new”: The Book of Revelation, Part 4
In surveying the last eight chapters of St. John’s Book of Revelation, I am concluding a long series of commentaries on all the books of the Bible by taking a look at God’s final victory. To understand this victory, we need to remember once again that the apocalyptic style of the book portrays a series of snapshots of the battle between good and evil. While in some ways generally chronological, in other ways this is simply a way of looking at the drama as a whole from multiple angles.
The ‘respectable’ sponsors of anti-Catholic violence
There’s a strong tang of anti-Catholic bigotry in the air these days. The hostility can take overt and brutal forms (beating people as they pray), or it can take subtle and sophisticated forms (issuing regulations that effectively prevent public prayer). The one nourishes the other.
St. Augustine—De Doctrina Christiana | Book 1 with Prologue
“Whoever, then, appears in his own opinion to have comprehended the Sacred Scriptures, or even some part of them, yet does not build up with that knowledge the two-fold love of God and his neighbor, has not yet known as he ought to know.”
Learning from the saints: Jane de Chantal revisited
We may be surprised by the remarkable similarity between problems faced in previous times and problems we are facing today. The Bubonic Plague fiercely returned to Jane de Chantal’s region of the world in 1629, and though men and women of that time would think it foolish to compare even this diminished version of the Plague with our own relatively feeble pandemic, it is interesting that people knew enough about contagion even then to make special provisions for the reception of the sacraments.
Ep. 81—Love Like a Conflagration—Jane Greer
Jane Greer’s poetry is musical, fiery and accessible, and has received high praise from many of today’s foremost Catholic poets
On toppling statues and reading the riot act
I find myself ambivalent on the subject of tearing down statues erected to honor famous persons. But then I am ambivalent on the subject of erecting statues as well. My own admittedly narrow preference would be to establish no statue to anyone until he or she is canonized by the Catholic Church. But take warning: Even the lives of the saints are only very rarely so free of blame that nothing can be said against them.
Quick Hits: On law and metaphysics; discovering the TLM; overcoming a pandemic of fear
This judicial logic scoffs not just at the Arkansas law, “but at what nature and nature’s God have wrought.” Pay careful attention to that phrase: nature and nature’s God. Because it’s a reminder that this legal madness strikes at the very foundation of the American Republic.
An answer to Catholic critics of the American Founding
This is a very important discussion for American Catholics during a time of national crisis, and America on Trial is a very important book. It belongs on the syllabus for any source about the American Founding.
New free eBook on the New Testament
This free ebook covers the Biblical books written as the direct Revelation of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. There are twenty-seven of them in all, but only twenty essays in the collection. The discrepancy is predictable: On the one hand I have included more than one of the shorter letters in each commentary that dealt with those writings; on the other hand, I thought the Book of Revelation sufficiently difficult to be covered in four separate parts.
Spiritual Communion: The real thing?
We must again grasp the main point—that our own “spiritual” impetus in the reception of Communion is most important only when considering our own part in the sacrament. But our part is by far the lesser part when it comes to any of the sacraments, and that is what makes loose talk about spiritual communion so potentially confusing. The objective element of a sacrament is what carries its true power, by which I mean the active Presence, specific to each sacrament, of Jesus Christ Himself.
A shocking Vatican perspective on the pandemic
Despite stretching to well over 4,000 words, the Vatican document does not mention God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Church, the sacraments, prayer, or even charity; even the word “Christian” does not appear in the text.
Wild Strawberries (1957) w/ James Matthew Wilson
James and Thomas discuss Ingmar Bergman's WILD STRAWBERRIES, one of his greatest and most moving films.
The Fisher who fished for men, and died for it
It is remarkable that Fisher and More were executed two weeks apart in 1535—Fisher on June 22nd at age 65 and More on July 6th at age 57. They knew each other well and respected each other immensely. Fisher was the only bishop in England to stand firm for the Church founded by Jesus Christ. The sadness now, perhaps, is that so few in most Western countries would find this remarkable. For that reason alone, St. John Fisher is particularly relevant to our time.
Ep. 20—Origen, Part 2: Hero, Heretic—or Hybrid?
It's hard to be an intelligent Christian without handling Origen's ideas. He set the ground rules for scientific study of the Bible. He wrote foundational works in spirituality, apologetics, and fundamental theology. In this episode we look at those big accomplishments, but also examine the ideas that got him into trouble. Do souls exist before they get bodies? Does Satan get saved in the end? Does allegory trump history when we read the Bible? And did Origen really say all these things anyway.
Models of Political Meddling by Clerics
From an orthodox Catholic point of view, intrinsically evil actions are mortal sins. So it’s fair game for a priest to play the part of John the Baptist and identify the proponents— including Catholic politicians who promote these evils— for the brood of vipers they are.
Ep. 82—A Habitual Counterculture—Brandon McGinley
Brandon McGinley calls for Catholics to return to the essence of the faith, rather than to a previous era of Catholic "success", and so find creative ways to restore a robust and evangelical Catholic culture in the unknown years to come.
On textbooks, the academic process, and things that last
The problem with contemporary materials from major publishers is that they tend to be ideologically driven. This is true not only in the sex-and-gender area but with respect to many other intellectual, social and religious problems which are rapidly destroying modern culture. Indeed, Western culture is pretty much in unbridled rebellion against both God and nature.
Practicing Catholics without the faith
Years ago, a friend who is a priest explained why he had run into difficulties with the archbishop in a different diocese. “If he’s a Catholic, I’m not,” my friend said. “And if I’m a Catholic, he’s not.”
Origen of Alexandria—Homily I on Genesis
“In accordance with the view of the apostle Paul, let us give attention to the text - that we can, as he himself says, receive ‘the mind of Christ’ and know ‘the things that are given us by God.’”
The English bishops’ pre-emptive surrender on Covid vaccine
When a Covid vaccine becomes available, this statement by the English bishops will be quoted by zealous lawmakers campaigning to make the vaccine mandatory—and thus to deprive the English people of the freedom to make their own medical decisions for themselves and for their children.
St. John Fisher against heresy
The need for an authority principle in any religion which claims to be based on a Revelation of God is crystal clear by now. Indeed, the situation is so bad that, as soon as our secular culture goes through a moral shift—such as approving abortion or homosexuality or gay marriage—just as quickly do various churches, having illogically appropriated the name of Christ, begin to change their tenets of faith and morals to suit their own worldly comfort and satisfaction.
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