Catholic Culture Overview
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All Catholic commentary from August 2023

A multi-generational defense of the Mass

Nor is it spiritually healthy for any soul deliberately to disobey the Church’s duly promulgated liturgical norms. In a priest, this is always a violation of the rights of the faithful, whatever the faithful’s preferences may be. We do not have the right to the form of the ritual that we prefer. What we have a right to is what the Church currently prescribes or permits.

Good vacation, bad liturgy: the Catholic dilemma

Unfortunately, for many Catholics, when we are on vacation (or, more generally, when we are traveling), the experience of attending Sunday Mass in an unfamiliar parish church robs us of the serenity that a vacation should provide.

Pope St. John Paul II—Veritatis Splendor (The Splendor of Truth) | Ch. 1

“No damage must be done to the harmony between faith and life: the unity of the Church is damaged not only by Christians who reject or distort the truths of faith but also by those who disregard the moral obligations to which they are called by the Gospel.”

Not Mere Cogs in the Divine Wheel

The Transfiguration puts a heavenly exclamation point on the teaching and healing ministry of Jesus. Absent the Transfiguration, we easily mistake Jesus for a functional rabbi, miracle worker, and even the promised messiah – on human terms.

How not to let go…

I do not need to tell any of my readers that frustration is a universal experience in our highly-impersonal big-corporation and big-government bureaucratic culture. Indeed, almost every change we make with any major organization is like pulling teeth, taking time and attention that far exceeds the energy it took to set up the commercial or governmental relationship in the first place. This makes letting go very hard to do.

Did I mislead my readers?

If the bishop is not listening to the lay people, shame on him. But if he is willing to listen, and he isn’t hearing the truth, shame on us.

Highlights: Cultural appropriation, ugly beauty, English poet-martyrs, Polish cinema

Looking back at highlights from past episodes of the Catholic Culture Podcast and Criteria: The Catholic Film Podcast.

Pope St. John Paul II—Veritatis Splendor (The Splendor of Truth) | Ch. 2

"Circumstances or intentions can never transform an act intrinsically evil by virtue of its object into an act subjectively good or defensible as a choice."

The Treason of the Professions

So when they arrive on campus, at an institution created to serve the truth, young scholars would be required to assent to the falsehood that a man can become a woman, or a woman a man. They would then be bearing false witness, C observes— in a clear violation of the Decalogue that has become so unfashionable in academe.

Mary’s coffee table: Intelligent, beautiful and inspiring

Of all the very recent Catholic books, perhaps the broadest appeal belongs to a new, lavishly illustrated coffee table book from Gazegorz Górny and Janusz Rosikoń: Mary, Mother of God: In Search of the Woman Who Changed History, jointly published by Rosikon press and Ignatius Press.

Awesome and Extraordinary

The Mass elevates ordinary encounters and lessons to the domain of heavenly glory.

Sing of Mary, 6: Mary’s song is…not about Mary

Our loving Father works always through this law of the gift. His gifts are always for others. And the gifts we receive are always for others as well. Christ is of course the Father’s supreme gift and so His supreme sacrifice. Every gift Mary received demanded an assent to sacrificial love. Every gift we receive makes the same demand.

3.8 Cities of God: Lugdunum, the French Connection

Faith came to France very early and very strong. It seems likely that traders brought the Gospel from distant Smyrna (modern Izmir in Turkey) to Lugdunum (modern Lyon). The blood of martyrs was seed. Blandina, a sickly slave, emerged from her trials an epic hero, honored forever. Irenaeus, the globetrotting scholar-bishop, arose as the second century's greatest theologian.

164—When “engaging the culture” means loving mediocrity—Joshua Gibbs

Today it’s taken for granted that we as Christians are called to “engage the culture” in order to evangelize. Often “engaging the culture” means paying an inordinate amount of attention to popular commercial entertainment in order to show unbelievers how hip we are, straining to find a “Christ-figure” in every comic book movie, and making worship music as repetitive and emotionalistic as possible. “Cultural engagement” begins to seem like a noble-sounding excuse to enjoy mediocrity...

Rejoice in the truth, not in the scandal

My journalistic sense tells me that people might be interested to know about a bishop who: - no longer wants to act as a bishop, or even as a priest; - wants to marry, even at an advanced age; and -is undaunted by the fact that he will be “marrying” outside the Church. There’s a story there, don’t you think

“Well-versed” in Patristic preaching? Look again.

It was frequently the case that deacons were the preferred material for the episcopate (or even for the papacy). Sometimes early ordination as a priest was a signal that a candidate lacked the administrative ability to run a diocese. In St. Ephrem’s case this took a strange turn: He did not want to be a bishop, but he had to feign madness at one point to escape selection.

Pope St. John Paul II—Veritatis Splendor (The Splendor of Truth) | Ch. 3

“While exchanges and conflicts of opinion may constitute normal expressions of public life in a representative democracy, moral teaching certainly cannot depend simply upon respect for a process: indeed, it is in no way established by following the rules and deliberative procedures typical of a democracy... Opposition to the teaching of the Church's Pastors cannot be seen as a legitimate expression either of Christian freedom or of the diversity of the Spirit's gifts.”

Just-war theory allows for no blank checks in Ukraine

Without the discipline imposed by those moral considerations, the ius ad pacem could be invoked to justify an unrestrained military campaign, based on the often illusory (but always seductive) promise that military victory will bring a brighter future— in other words that the end justifies the means.

Independent Catholic schools foster Catholic communities

I am sure our readers can alert me to (and remind me of) other successful foundations which have stimulated the development of healthy Catholic communities. It wouldn’t hurt in the least to make a list of those that get several reliable recommendations.

The Bishop Perceiver Interview

Bishop Dolan’s promotion of the “LGBTQ Community” logically denies the bodily Resurrection of Jesus and the Resurrection of the Dead. His view of the Catholic faith is an ideology embedded in a religious bureaucracy.

Please, bishops, promise not to lock down churches again

We, as a society, have not learned our lessons. And now we are being groomed for another set of mandates, perhaps even another round of lockdowns, prompted by inordinate fears.

Rigidity in reality: On Pope Francis’ use of the term

The main issue here is that the worldly way of assessing the tendency toward rigidity means that those who defend what is now out of favor culturally are routinely condemned as inflexible or rigid (in other words, “closed”), while those who change their spots with every cultural shift are praised as flexible or responsive (in other words, “open”).

165—Gifts of the Holy Spirit w/ John of St. Thomas and Cajetan Cuddy, O.P.

Anyone who went through confirmation prep at some point learned the list of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. But most would struggle to define the gifts, especially the ones that sound a bit similar, like wisdom, knowledge, and understanding? The great 17th-century Thomistic commentator John of St. Thomas discoursed on the gifts of the Holy Spirit with not only technical precision, but spiritual insight and fervor. Fr. Cajetan Cuddy joins the podcast to explain his Dominican brother's insights.

Final Liturgical Year volume for 2022-23 available now

Our liturgical year ebooks include all the liturgical day information for each season just as it appears on CatholicCulture.org. These offer a rich set of resources for families to use in living the liturgical year in the domestic church. Resources include biographies of the saints to match each feast day, histories of the various celebrations and devotions, descriptions of customs from around the world, prayers, activities and recipes.

‘No one’ supports abortion up until birth? In a twisted sense, true

“No one” supports abortion up until birth, in the same sense that “no one” believes the earth is flat and “no one” support slavery. There are, regrettably, people on the extreme fringes. On the abortion issue, sadly, the extremists control a major political party.

Shifting my Dislike of August and September

Hate or dislike of August and September, but Our Lady's Thirty Days with 5 feasts of Mary, Assumption, Nativity of Mary, Most Holy Name of Mary, Queenship, and Our Lady of Sorrows. How to shift carrying all the burden and sharing it with Jesus and Mary.

Papal Participation Trophies

The Chair of Peter reminds popes of the parameters of their authority. Should they remove themselves from the Chair and depart from the teachings of Jesus, they relinquish their God-given papal delegation.

A sin today, but not tomorrow: the curious doctrine of Pope Francis

When Pope Francis questions traditional teachings— and mocks those who see the magisterium as a “monolith”— he undermines all teaching authority, including his own.

True Renewal: Why is it so hard to grasp?

But the stakes are far higher for those who see in the Church the fullness of Christ’s Presence in this world and the source of the grace they need for themselves and their children to know, love and serve God now and forever. These, in growing desperation, may be so appalled by the tepid contemporary institutional presence of the Church as to seek refuge in allegedly Catholic alternatives which are prepared to adopt a more militantly counter-cultural profile. This is extraordinarily dangerous.

3.9 Cities of God: Ejmiatsin and Christian Armenia

We come to the ancient city of Ejmiatsin — leaping over the barriers of language (and even alphabet) to encounter the heroes too often neglected in the histories. This is the story of St. Gregory the Illuminator and his contemporaries, and the Church they founded. Armenia also became a great center of learning and so houses translations of many Greek and Syriac works that would otherwise be lost.

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