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All Catholic commentary from July 2023

A Concise Introduction to Marriage (with Addenda)

Rules have been given a bad rap since the 1960s. We need reminding why righteous rules are good for us and set us free. Practicing Catholics “play by the rules.”

In a Nutshell: Protecting your children in a digital world

While this article covers the problems presented by cell phones, clearly children should generally not have their own computers; rather, they should be accessing family computers as needed only in a public place in the home. The same goes for any television or other viewing or listening device which allows access to broadcast or online content. These must be password protected, and the passwords must be changed frequently. The parent should be logging in and queueing up whatever is to be viewed!

161—Making Gerard Manley Hopkins Accessible—Holly Ordway

Gerard Manley Hopkins, SJ (1844-1889) is one of the poets best loved by Catholics. Immediately accessible in its abundant musical qualities, Hopkins’s poetry can still puzzle us with its idiosyncratic syntax, elliptical phrasing, and even invented words. Thus the need for an annotated collection of his poems, which, surprisingly, did not exist until the recent publication (by Word on Fire) of As Kingfishers Catch Fire: Selected and Annotated Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins, edited by Holly Ordway.

St. John Henry Newman—The Idea of a University | Knowledge Viewed in Relation to Learning

"I say, a University, taken in its bare idea, and before we view it as an instrument of the Church, has this object and this mission; it contemplates neither moral impression nor mechanical production; it professes to exercise the mind neither in art nor in duty; its function is intellectual culture... It educates the intellect to reason well in all matters, to reach out towards truth, and to grasp it."

Patristics: Fr. Nichols’ astonishing Singing-Masters

The errors these great Catholic thinkers sought to correct—and the opposition they experienced both in the social order and within the Church herself—put our own problems into perspective. Nobody who studies the Fathers can regard the turmoil of the Church in our own time as unique, or even unusually difficult. Nobody who has read the Fathers can for a moment regard our twenty-first century after Christ as unusual in either its propensity for error or its ecclesiastical upheaval and division.

Cultivating Our Personal Relationship with Jesus in Ritual

The rejection of the importance of ritual has dangerous spiritual effects. Priests are susceptible to the narcissistic allure of the stand-up entertainer. The Mass becomes a vehicle of entertainment rather than profound prayer expressed in ritual.

The College of Cardinals: some light-hearted math

In 1970, Pope Paul VI set a limit to the number of cardinals who could vote in a papal conclave: 120. That limit remains in place today. But there are currently 121 cardinals eligible to vote. And Pope Francis has announced his plans to name eighteen more.

3.6 Cities of God: Ephesus, a Church and Its Riots

Ephesus was home to one of the Wonders of the World; and it’s the setting for one of the most dramatic moments in the itineraries of the Apostles: the riot of the silversmiths. It was also the location of one of the most dramatic moments in the age of the Fathers: the riotous council that condemned Nestorius.

Cardinal Dolan’s conscience troubled? Not enough!

Give the affable prelate from New York some credit; at least he asks the question which so many other Church leaders still avoid. At least his conscience is stirring. But isn’t the answer painfully, blindingly obvious?

Earth to WYD: God permits, not desires, many religions

Pope Francis, in speaking so much about the dangers of Christian proselytism, has given Catholics an excuse not to do what they should have all along felt called to do, namely to preach Christ and Him crucified. That this attitude should surface so clearly in the cardinal-designate who is in charge of World Youth Day would be beyond the bounds of belief—if the groundwork for such attitudes had not been so carefully laid over the past ten years.

162—Saints Who Inspired Saints—Kimberly Begg

Kimberly Begg's book tells the story of four saints - St. Joan of Arc, St. José Luis Sánchez del Río, Bl. Jerzy Popiełuszko, and St. Teresa of Calcutta - and for each of those saints, includes the stories of the saints who influenced him or her. The book is intended in particular to convince parents of the importance of making the lives of the saints a part of family life, so that children will be inspired by those who came before.

Asteroid City: delightful, decadent, or despairing?

With the release of Wes Anderson's latest film, Asteroid City, the Criteria hosts look at Anderson's career and try to figure out what he's trying to achieve by making his movies so aggressively, well, Anderson-y.

The Uncomfortable Parable of the Sower

Parents, with little or no regard for Christian education, send their children to government re-education facilities, also called public schools and colleges.

With this appointment, the Pope repudiates his predecessor

The young Father Fernandez did us a favor, actually, by writing that book about kissing. He let us know that we should not take him too seriously

With the Fathers, we are forced into constant battle

St. Jerome was far from perfect. He had to struggle early on against temptations of the flesh. He remained his whole life very caustic in his attacks on those who undermined the Catholic Faith. But for his troubles, not only was St. Jerome constantly attacked and denounced in high places by the confused and frequently heretical writers of his day, but his most beloved achievement—the double monastery named Eustochium—was burned to the ground by his theological enemies.

Passing away, immortality, ourselves and those we love

With opportunities to renew our acquaintance with even natural beauties at intervals, to see them fresh, and so to witness not only to what has been created but to the Creator: This is in fact a human instinct, built firmly into our nature, and it is only through either serious pride, severe confusion, or an enculturated rebellion against being that we succeed in denying what must otherwise be obvious to even the meanest intelligence.

The So-Called Letter of Barnabas

"The helpers of our faith are fear and patience; our allies are long-suffering and self-control."

163—Reconciling Distributism and Economics—Alexander W. Salter

Distributists and economists have often seemed to be natural enemies. As an economist, Alexander W. Salter is not willing to embrace many distributists' skepticism that there can such a thing as economic science. But he also believes it would be a mistake to neglect the powerful social vision of Chesterton and Belloc on account of their shortcomings in economic theory.

Paul the Great and André the Giant

None of us are insignificant members of the Body of Christ.

This week’s installment of Vatican confusion

My prediction: Cardinal Angelo Becciu, the leading defendant in the case, will exploit all the confusion— much of which he painstakingly created— to avoid conviction.

Empires of death: Apocalypto (2006)

Gibson's depiction of Mesoamerican peoples is sensitive and sympathetic but not PC. Rather than a triumphalistic depiction of evil, Gibson wanted this film to make us reflect on the decadence of the modern West and in particular the American Empire. The film is about a culture of death not unlike our own.

How often do bishops hear the truth?

When lay Catholics try to “do things the right way,” and make an appointment to speak with their bishop, they might run into gatekeepers who are determined not to allow any frank criticism of diocesan policy or personnel.

3.7 Cities of God: Edessa Starts with the Abgar Score

In Edessa — the borderlands of the Empire — we make our first encounter with Syriac Christianity. Its origins are shrouded in mist, and within the mist we meet the indistinct figures of heretics, saints, and a king who is both historic and mythic.

Suffering and Death with Christian Dignity

Why do we desire to prolong our lives? Will we serve God and others? Or will the life-sustaining technology extend a living hell of suffering?

Do not panic! God uses evil for good, even in the Church.

We cannot escape the purification of suffering—even as a Church or as an individual soul. The wheat and the tares can be separated only by God, and that at harvest time. Meanwhile, we are called not to reinvent the plan of salvation but to fidelity. We may see evil everywhere, and we must certainly combat some evils, but we are never called to separate from the Church, or to pretend that the Church can be divided into a bad part and a good part, according to our own lights.

Ask the intercession of St. Ignatius to reform the corrupt Jesuit order

With unmistakable evidence of widespread internal corruption on the public record, the Jesuit leadership took action-- not against the offender, but against the whistle-blower.

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