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All Catholic commentary from August 2022

Déjà vu All Over Again

At a minimum, we need not treat the crude paradigm shift opinions of the Pontifical Academy of Life with respect.

The grim realities behind barring Nancy Pelosi from Communion

In what is surely an American First, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of San Francisco, His Excellency, Salvatore Cordileone, informed Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and third in line to be President, that she is not to receive Communion, “until such time as you publicly repudiate your advocacy for the legitimacy of abortion and confess and receive absolution of this grave sin in the sacrament of Penance.”

The Kansas vote: a sobering reality for the pro-life movement

Too often the cautious rhetoric of the pro-life movement suggests that abortion is unnecessary, or unseemly, or unwise, or all of the above. We need to drive home the message that it is unconscionable.

Contraception and the doctrine of discovery

What St. Vincent was getting at is what St. John Henry Newman spelled out. Newman’s point was that each legitimate doctrinal development will tend toward greater precision. In other words, while this may sometimes serve to correct what some erroneously thought the doctrine to imply, it will do so by corroborating, confirming and more fully explicating the truth of the Church’s authoritative earlier form of expression.

Did the Pope really say the Church ceased to exist?

The Pope said that “the Church is either synodal or it is not Church.” Then just a few moments later: “Certainly, we can say that the Church in the West had lost its synodal tradition.” So it follows that the “Church in the West” was not Church.

We’re now reliving the Lincoln-Douglas debates

Poverty and trust: Bicycle Thieves (1948)

Bicycle Thieves, the most beloved classic of Italian neo-realist cinema, would be too easily explained as depicting the crushing pressures of poverty and societal dysfunction in Rome immediately following World War II. But the film transcends any sociological analysis: it has something spiritual to say about how those in poverty can respond to their situation: about trust, and about how quickly things get worse when we act as though we are in control of our circumstances.

St. Francis de Sales—Introduction to the Devout Life | Pt. 1 (Ch.19-24)

"There is no disposition so good but it may be made bad by reason of vicious habits, and neither is there any natural disposition so perverse but that it may be conquered and overcome by God's grace primarily, and then by our earnest endeavor."

Editing the Declaration of Independence

The dogma of the founding fathers that God "created all men equal" is a recipe for perpetual turmoil. The disdain for inequality fuels endless attempts to achieve equality: a fool’s errand.

Aidan Nichols on Sigrid Undset: Readers of the heart

Undset saw the spiritual disease of the modern period very clearly. For her, conversion entails a deliberate embrace of reality, and the rejection of Satan’s pomps, or empty promises, which are quite simply the antithesis to what is real. This perverse pattern of diminishing reality led Undset to disdain not only overt secularism but even Protestantism, which Undset saw as a vain effort to flee from reality in such a way that Christianity could mean whatever people wanted it to mean.

Another red hat for a McCarrick ally

Even on the very best reading, Bishop McElroy’s actions (or rather his inaction) have contributed to a climate of scandal that still afflicts our Church, and to the cynicism of lay Catholics who question whether our bishops are ready to police themselves.

2.5 Chalcedon: Firm Foundation for the Doctrine of Christ

What happened when God took flesh? A simple question roused hundreds of speculative answers, most concerning the "person" and “nature” (or natures) of Jesus Christ. But the philosophical terms themselves were slippery, and mistranslations made matters worse. The wild speculation came to a stop at the Council of Chalcedon, thanks to the Tome of Pope Leo the Great.

Going the Wrong Way with Studied Ambiguity

The cardinal said it was time for a fundamental revision of church teaching, and suggested the way Pope Francis had spoken about homosexuality in the past could lead to a change in doctrine.

The Ravages of Sin

Our Guardian Angels can be of enormous help. We can pray to our angels, asking them to allow concern about any sin we have not yet confessed to come through and prick our consciences, and also to make us see anything we have already confessed as a cause to renew our joy in the surpassing mercy of God.

Pondering the First Fruits of the Assumption and More

The Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary on August 15 brings the pondering of "first fruits" which is a term used in the Old Testament, New Testament and all through the Liturgy.

139—Response to Fr. Gregory Pine: Movies, Music & Contemplation

Gregory Pine, O.P. recently voiced his concern that mass entertainment, particularly music and movies, is often an obstacle to achieving the heavenly end of contemplation for which we are made. This discussion inspired by Fr. Pine’s points specifies some elements of music and film which are obstacles to the contemplative life, but also suggests how, rather than simply eschewing music and movies, we can engage with better art in a deeper way which serves the contemplative end of man.

A Little Catechism to Fortify Our Faith in Troubled Times

The Magisterium cannot be disassociated from Scripture and Tradition. There can be development of doctrine and deeper understanding of doctrine but not contradictions of doctrine.

Synodality: A Church “Too harsh and out of step”?

The Church may have many members or few; she may have great worldly influence or almost none. That is largely hidden in the Providence of God. But to the degree that she is not significantly distinguishable from the larger human culture that surrounds her, she is burdened by a depressing human baggage which has blurred her essential identity, undermined her essential claims, and subverted that synodality which is the very strength of her mission in the world.

Admit it: the Rosary IS a threat

Panneton is right about one thing: in the battle that really matters, the Rosary is more powerful— and therefore more dangerous to the liberal hegemony— than an AR-15.

Not quite dead?

This sad case should confirm the enduring strength of the layman’s instinctive understanding that if a person is breathing, moving, heart beating, responding to stimuli— even with the help of machines— that person is not dead.

US Supreme Court—Majority Opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health

"The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe and Casey are overruled; and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives."

Wormtongue in Times Square: Sweet Smell of Success (1957)

A discussion of the classic film noir Sweet Smell of Success. "Success" is one of the great American idols, and the two acid-tongued protagonists of this film entertainingly embody the dark side of success in the seeking and the finding, as desperate publicity man Sidney Falco (Tony Curtis) eats dirt instead of gravy from the train of ruthless gossip columnist J.J. Hunsecker (Burt Lancaster).

On the restoration of poetry: In Church, in life, in Christ

Gioia is correct that Christian poetry can make a comeback. First, “it never entirely went away. Although its role in worship and education was curtailed and its music flattened…, there was simply too much of it to vanish.” Second, the necessary change in attitude has already gotten slowly underway: a growing “conviction that perfunctory and platitudinous language will not suffice, an awareness that the goal of liturgy, homily, and education is not to condescend but to enliven and elevate.”

140—Let’s Get Real—Joshua Hren

Joshua Hren returns to the podcast to discuss his essay, Contemplative Realism: A Theological-Aesthetical Manifesto: "In our present age of raging post-truth unreality, we ought to heed Pope Benedict XVI’s summons to 'ask rather more carefully what 'the real' actually is.' So-called 'realism,' when relegated to material tangibilities, can blind us—instead of binding us—to things as they are."

Pas d’ennemis a gauche at the Vatican?

Pope Francis is not shy about promoting his favored political causes, such as immigration and climate-change action. But he has been remarkably quiet about overt repression of Catholicism, and even assaults on Catholic prelates, by certain regimes.

Dabbling with the Devil

Follow your dreams and self-identify as you will.” Alas, some dreams are nightmares.

Renewal and Restoration: That nothing may be lost

There seems to be a presumption among our advanced modern thinkers that nobody before the late twentieth-century understood natural law, temptation, sin and rationalization; and that nobody could make distinctions between inclinations and acting on those inclinations. And yet if you read even very ancient literature, we find that, in truth, people had at least as thorough an understanding of these deeply human issues two or three thousand years ago as we have today.

An epidemic of false witness

A wedding is a public act, at which both the couple and their guests are testifying to something. Are they testifying to the truth? It matters.

2.6 Second Constantinople: The Emperor and the Waffling Pope

Every council represents a crisis — often provoked by strong and eccentric personalities. But Constantinople II, in 553 AD, may have been the strangest of all. At the center of the drama were an imperial power couple, Justinian and Theodora, and a weak pope who vacillated between cowardice and duty.

God-talk in a culture without clothes

It reveals a great deal about the materialist prejudices and desires of our intellectual “elites” that the discoveries of modern science over the past century have not driven the “intellectual establishment” back to an apprehension of the existence of God in the same way that the nineteenth-century theory of evolution was, in its very under-developed infancy, used to help drive the “intellectual establishment” into the denial of God.

The Hubris of a Tax-Code System of Morality

The authoritative decrees of a papal document could not substitute for a healthy Catholic conscience formed in a Catholic culture, nor could it heal consciences deformed by moral expedience.

Tom Hiney: Raging toward stillness in God

His accounts of the various figures—the “lives of rage and stillness” in which the purifying work of the Holy Spirit burns—make for an immensely dramatic and entertaining book. Tom Hiney is now preparing for ordination as a Catholic priest.

St. John Henry Newman—The Idea of a University | Preface

"The view taken of a University in these Discourses is the following: That it is a place of teaching universal knowledge."

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