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All Catholic commentary from September 2020

The Illusion of Choice —Dekalog: Two (1988)

James and Thomas discuss Krzysztof Kieślowski's DEKALOG, a series of 10 short-films inspired by the Ten Commandments.

Mercy, revisited by useless servants

Fr. Moloney treats many things in exploring the meaning of mercy, including: Mercy as a political virtue, justice-only politics, solidarity and mercy, the role of mercy in civil and ecclesiastical punishment, mercy in the sacraments of the Church, mercy and the nature of God, God’s merciful discipline, mercy and the Fall of man, Our Lord’s covenant of mercy, our own devotion to mercy, works of mercy, and a last chapter on Mary which is brilliantly entitled “Mother of Mercy, Mirror of Justice”.

Farewell, Uncle Di: Father Paul Mankowski, RIP

He was unimpressed with academic colleagues who, he chuckled in wonderment, “wouldn’t even know how to change a shock absorber.” Then again he was also unimpressed with his own academic achievements, and congenitally incapable of self-promotion.

The frequency problem in liturgical translations

The most underrated problem with new liturgical translations over the past few generations is not that they are no longer Latin, and not that they have taken certain liberties with the Church’s official Latin text, and not even that they have sometimes been tendentious and even puerile. All these are worth discussing, but the biggest problem has been their frequency.

Paul Mankowski, S.J.—What Went Wrong?

"Deviant sexual assault has accomplished what liturgical abuse never could: it has generated secular media pressure and secular legal constraints so overwhelming that the apparat was forced to make its files public."

Fear drives votes in this year’s presidential contest

Every four years partisans SAY they are frightened by the possibility that their rivals might come to power. This year I think they mean it. For faithful Catholic Americans, at least, there is reason to be fearful.

Christian results flow only from Christian faith

Cardinal Hollerich (a Jesuit) does say that “We must always think about the evangelization of Europe”, but this is presumably to be effected through the abandonment of the “Eurocentrism present in our thoughts” as the Church is “inspired by a humility that allows us to reorganize better” in order to create all those “new missionary structures”.

84—Disobey Lockdown Now—Douglas Farrow, Andrew Busch

Catholic theologian Douglas Farrow and Lutheran political scholar Andrew Busch join the show to discuss their recent essays on the coronavirus lockdown, and assess the reasons and prospects for civil disobedience.

The prophet who foretold Christianity

Mike Aquilina’s presentation of the “forgotten” prophecy of Malachi, though grounded in his thorough study of the Fathers, succeeds where a more academic approach would fail. His book expands our vision, teaching us once again to take Malachi seriously—in other words, to recognize an eternity already present on earth, in which we are called to participate ever more fully.

Ep. 23—Alexander’s Lagtime Stand

Alexander can't say he wasn't warned. His predecessor as bishop of Alexandria, Peter, had told him not to trust Arius. But Alexander ignored the advice. Then Arius went into open rebellion, and then his heresy spread throughout the world. And then Alexander had to act decisively, arguing strongly against the Arian heresy and prevailing at the Council of Nicaea in 325.

Reckless transparency

What began as episcopal mendacity and patterns of cover-up, has led to a transparency that we should more accurately describe as “systemic detraction.”

Will Catholics go back to Mass on their bishops’ orders?

Just a few weeks ago the archbishop effectively ruled that everyone had a rational basis for fears. Now he says that rational basis is gone. But it isn’t that simple. Many Catholics are still afraid, and the archbishop can’t flip a switch to turn off their fears.

Malpractice in translation

The compleat contemporary liturgist is faced with a choice: He can use the words “thee” and “thine,” or he can suck the beauty out of the poetry. It’s no contest.

New takes on old issues: Catholicism, history, biology

Among the few very interesting and worthwhile books that have come across my desk recently are one on “the secret history of Christianity” and one on “the first humans”, back in the days before we had a historical record to consult. In conception, both books are quite complex. In execution, both provide what I would call permanent insights to readers willing to hear out the authors’ extended arguments.

St. Cyprian of Carthage—Letter to Donatus

“While I was lying in darkness and in the obscure night, and while, ignorant of my real life, I was tossing about on the sea of a restless world wavering and doubtful in my wandering steps… I thought it indeed difficult and hard to believe... that divine mercy was promised for my salvation.”

85—Three-Fifths of Our Band Got Ordained—Luxury

There are many strange stories in rock history. But Luxury is surely the only band in which three out of five members ended up becoming Orthodox priests. Combining a hard-edged instrumental texture with sweet, melodious vocals and literary lyrics, Luxury has continued to record and perform sporadically since their beginning in the mid-1990s Christian punk scene. They have retained a loyal following and their latest album, Trophies, was released last year to much acclaim.

Courts give Congress a license to be reckless

At a time of deep national divisions and high political tensions— a time when teenage boys can become the objects of a nationwide hate campaign— the courts have given Congressmen a dangerous license to be reckless.

Vie et Passion du Christ (1903)

Vie et Passion du Christ (Life and Passion of the Christ) is is one of the earliest feature-length narrative films, produced and released in 1903. The film portrays the events of the Gospels - from the Annunciation to the Ascension - employing only visual language (it is a silent film, with inter-titles used only to introduce the scene titles).

On politics, the Church, and Satan

Recent news confirms deep flaws in the Catholic Church’s practical commitment to objective moral norms. By “practical commitment”, I do not mean official Church teaching but practical decisions by huge numbers of Catholics, both high and low, to favor and support social movements and political platforms that advocate objectively immoral laws. Again, these decisions are typically based not on Church teaching but on culturally-borrowed perceptions of which causes and candidates are “humane”, or “caring”, or “nice”.

Ep. 24—Athanasius against the World

The world awoke to find itself heretic, but one man would not accept the situation. Athanasius stood fast against emperors, bishops, and even synods of bishops. He reigned as bishop for 45 years, but 17 he spent in exile. He was exiled five times at the orders of four different emperors. As the fortunes of Nicaea waxed and waned, he had many close calls and brushes with death. His life was a breathless adventure for orthodoxy’s sake. And he prevailed.

Avoiding political labels

As the old joke has it, do not allow 95% of lawyers (or doctors, politicians, or clergymen) to give the rest a bad name.

Two cheers for Archbishop Cordileone

The apostles didn’t stop celebrating the faith, despite threats of legal punishment. Insofar as they are our models, neither should we.

St. Augustine—De Doctrina Christiana | Book 2 (Ch.19-42)

“Whoever does not refer everything to the praise and love of the one God... may seem to be erudite, but he can by no means be considered wise.”

Understanding Providence in peace and joy

If God’s Providence includes everything, then it includes even everything that happens within the Church, where we are right to think that evil is particularly abhorrent. But we are just as right to recognize that God permits evils to beset the Church for one reason and one reason only: His thirst for souls. A smoothly running Church is no guarantee of the salvation of individual souls, and a Church in need or reform is no guarantee of their damnation. Either way, God calls us Providentially.

Cardinal Becciu departs—only after ousting would-be reformers

In many respects the Becciu case mirrors the case of Theodore McCarrick, the last prelate to be stripped of his privileges as a cardinal. In both cases the Vatican’s disciplinary action leaves the Catholic world wondering: Who were his sponsors and protectors? And when will we know the full truth about his use and abuse of ecclesiastical power?

86—Karl Marx, “Monster of Ten Thousand Devils”—Paul Kengor

There is the distinct sense of something demonic in Marx’s personal life. Those who knew him most intimately consistently described him in demonic terms: His son wrote to him as “my dear devil”, his father suggested that he was “governed by a demon”, and Engels referred to him as a “monster of ten thousand devils”.

Our Church: How should the watchman of Israel act?

It ought to be extraordinarily easy to see that it is self-defeating for the Church to avoid taking any public stand which requires the use of heavy artillery with no guarantee of success, not to mention bad press. For there are two huge problems with this reluctance. The first is that it has ruled now almost exclusively for at least two generations and things have only gotten worse. The second is that it is difficult to find a strategy more at odds with the word of God.

Are heist films moral? The Lavender Hill Mob (1951)

Alec Guinness stars in this 1951 heist-comedy that stands apart as perhaps the most purely entertaining film included on the Vatican Film List.

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