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Catholic Culture Podcasts
Catholic Culture Podcasts

By Dr. Jeff Mirus

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History’s Queen: Mike Aquilina does it again!

In a fascinating, inspiring and entertaining new book, Mike Aquilina has hit the target once again with a look at the importance of the Blessed Virgin Mary throughout history. The title is History’s Queen: Exploring Mary’s Pivotal Role from Age to Age. Mike’s treatment of his subject is light and even breezy at times, but that just means this spiritually deep book is meant to be read, not stored on a book shelf.

Vision Book Cover Prints

On COVID-19 and CatholicCulture.org: Help needed!

The Barque of Peter carries a crew eager to pound holes in her hull, so that all might drown together in a sea of confusion. In the midst of all this, CatholicCulture.org seeks to foster good, seamanlike habits, providing the information and formation needed to live the Faith wisely and confidently, while contributing significantly to authentic renewal for individuals, families and the Church as a whole.

Making room for the common good

It is one of the great weaknesses of the Church in recent generations that there has been so much emphasis on Catholic social teaching and so little on Catholic morality. “Helping the materially marginalized” has often been proposed as a substitute for “helping the spiritually marginalized”. Dubious governmental action has often been portrayed as not only absolute in character but as far more important than any serious engagement with personal and familial responsibility.

Advent-Christmas Ebook released for new liturgical year

Our free liturgical year ebooks 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.

On the need for care in talk about Hell

The generation before mine was deaf to talk of human brokenness—Catholicism as therapy. But how quickly things can change! My own distrust of this model is not shared by the bulk of people my age, and this is still less true of the generation after mine. On the other hand, is it not true that our very departure from our social commitment to Christ has led to a culture in which one evil after another, especially in families, is precisely of that kind which creates especially deep wounds?

Mapping the Crisis: Ralph Martin’s blockbuster of a book

The book is a powerful witness to the destruction all around us. Moreover, Martin remains sound and balanced throughout; he is never tempted by the need for Catholic renewal to fall into ideological solutions or any sort of Traditionalist separation. He is able to look at matters reasonably and objectively. For example, realizing that Pope Francis has both weaknesses and strengths, he does not feel the need to reject everything just because he finds fault with some things.

Are Catholic scientists a blessing or a curse to mankind?

Even among Catholics, far too many people live in the hope that Catholic scientists won’t let their Faith bias their research. The convictions and even fears which lead the contemporary world to question the scientific competence and veracity of Christian scientists are enormously widespread. But they arise from the materialist reductionism which so severely limits our contemporary cultural worldview.

State power, State idolatry

But once we understand the principles at stake, further prudential analysis is needed: Supposing X is a worthy goal, what are the consequences of attempting to implement X through government control? There is always a danger that no matter what the theoretical capabilities of government might be, the practical results of a particular effort will fail or even do more harm than good.

Evangelization and conversion: The keys to civic virtue

The problem is that, as far as Christ and Christianity are concerned, fundamental human progress—whether for our earthly sojourn or our supernatural destiny—simply cannot be made without a radical conversion to Jesus Christ. For this reason, all human progress is illusory unless it is motivated by and oriented toward Jesus Christ. In other words, it will never work for the Church simply to piggyback onto the causes that the dominant secular culture believes in.

Science meets secular mythology—and loses, again

Dr. Fauci commits intellectual fraud in an attempt to make environmental opinions scientifically plausible. To prove pandemics have been getting worse, Fauci claims 50 million deaths from the Bubonic Plague of the 14th century. The real number is about 136 million, and adjusted for population, in today’s numbers it would be about 2.7 billion. It is an irresponsible stretch of the imagination to claim that bad environmental practices are increasing the severity of worldwide disease.

How long, O Lord? Praying about Pope Francis

There are many kinds of prayer, and the model for one of them is found in no fewer than four different psalms along with a heartfelt question offered by the remarkable prophet Isaiah. The form of this prayer is expressed in the recurring words: “How long, O Lord?” We can and should use the “How long” form of prayer, applied to the vexing question of how long Pope Francis will remain in the Chair of Peter. We have been given too many legitimate occasions to experience his leadership as a cross.

Science always points to God

As Newman argued over a hundred years ago, no discipline can usurp the place of another without darkening the human mind. Science, philosophy, theology and every other branch of study ought not to quarrel, but work in harmony to see each aspect of reality more clearly, so that all can better grasp the whole.

Little delights in Scripture, for the superior modern mind

All this comes from the account of Jewish life some 3,300 years ago. We tend to dismiss much of the Old Testament as coming from a very primitive time. And yet here we are: At list six highly significant insights from which all of us, including our whole culture, could benefit enormously today. And all are within the space of a thousand words in a single chapter of the second oldest book of the Bible.

Catholic mission: Properly shaped through our humanity

The idea of extending what we perceive as a Divine calling through the action of a number of persons operating in a well-ordered manner—that is, the idea of developing an organization—is often foreign to the lone apostle. But it is not at all foreign to human work, and when we look more closely, we will find that an assessment of the human components appropriate to any particular Catholic mission is of vital importance.

Pro-Bomb? No, morality entails sacrifice and trust in God.

Morality is not simply a series of ends and means to which we adhere by virtue of our perception of the natural law when it seems reasonable and within our abilities. It is much more than that, but this “much more” is clearly visible only in the light of Revelation and Catholic teaching. Moral behavior is a participation in the life of God and, ultimately, a willingness to recognize that God is God, that we are not, and that God’s will is not only theoretically sovereign but always best.

Fratelli tutti: Pope Francis’ new social encyclical

Fratelli tutti is devoted to “solidarity”, especially as the bond of genuine solidarity reaches across lines of division, such as those of class, geography, and ethnicity. It is a fairly straightforward examination of the tendencies in our world that engender division and the attitudes and approaches we must adopt to build genuine community, both locally and globally, through an authentically human culture—a culture which takes its inspiration from the parable of the Good Samaritan.

Pope calls Catholics to read Scripture regularly

The Pope offers St. Jerome’s example of constant reading and study of Scripture, along with devoted acceptance of the authority of the See of Peter as the rule of Faith, to encourage a greater devotion to the Bible at every level of the Church.

You, the Church, God: Ratzinger’s sacramental homilies

This collection presents two homilies on each of the seven sacraments, book-ended by homilies which express more fully the essential sacramentality of the Church. These are not scholarly texts but real words spoken to real congregations on real sacramental occasions. They communicate their wisdom through specific moments in time, and at what we recognize as a genuinely human length. They are marked by a profound simplicity from which we can all benefit as participants in the sacred.

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.

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.

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”.

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.

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.

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”.

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.

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”.

Archbishop Paglia buries the abortion issue…again

Paglia essentially resorts to the “seamless garment” tactic, which takes the truth that all problems adversely affecting the human person are issues of “human life”, and then emphasizes that very marginal insight to the point where it becomes immoral to prioritize these issues.

Increasing concern about government and the social order

I hope that the bug for rethinking the nature of religion, politics, government and mercy is thoroughly mixed into the air we breathe and the water we drink. The Western world is well into a personal spiritual and moral collapse, with a corresponding social collapse that starts with the family and ends in government and law. Change must necessarily begin with thought, and perhaps even with imagination. We cannot believe we have unlimited time to right the ship.

Final Liturgical Year volume for 2019-2020 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.

Arguments and Faith: Why do we believe?

Someone once objected to my arguments for the Resurrection by pointing out that Christians frequently believe without requiring or depending upon particular arguments. I see the point of the objection, but the issue here is very complex, and we must consider the different factors involved. These factors depending not only on the personality of each Christian but also on the degree of commitment to the Faith reflected by the culture in which each Christian lives.

Pressure for enforced COVID vaccination (and more?)

But there is a peculiar thing about governmental controls: They always tend to serve the interests of a culture’s elites. In the COVID era, this is already playing out in America in efforts to discourage religious worship while permitting many other kinds of gatherings, and in efforts to force religious schools to adopt the same problematic and expensive policies as public schools, which are funded by enforced taxation. God forbid that any “counter-cultural” group should succeed in an activity for which failure has been mandated!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

“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 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.

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.

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.

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.

Dramatis personae: The Book of Revelation, Part 3

The pivotal chapter in the Book of Revelation is the middle chapter, chapter twelve. This chapter combines with the two immediately following to give us the most information about the characters at the very center of the struggle between good and evil represented by the entire Book. In addition to the angels and saints taken generally, who are present in various ways throughout, I am referring to the figures of the Woman, the Dragon, and the Lamb.

Lay Catholic social action: The bishops must have our backs.

Our bishops need not only to cease staking out prudential positions on one social issue after another. They must also exercise vigorously two of their central responsibilities. First, they must teach Christ’s truth to the laity without shaving it to fit the perceptions of the dominant culture. Second, when we as lay faithful engage the issues according to the best prudential decisions we can make, the bishops must encourage us in Christ in Christ.

The Seven Seals: The Book of Revelation, Part 2

Here we have St. John’s visions of the warfare between earth and heaven which characterizes the time remaining before Christ returns in glory. The Book of Revelation describes this in eschatological language, symbolic of the battle between good and evil, God and Satan which fulfill and conclude our history. In this installment, John begins to learn of these things through the opening of seven seals by the Lamb of God, seals which conceal the secrets of the times which lead up to the end.

On Synodality and the German call to expand it

Synodality is a far superior operational model for the Church than the model of a modern corporation, but by its very nature synodality requires each member of the Church to take true responsibility for the role he has been assigned by Divine Providence within the Body of Christ. The fundamental “givenness” of the Body must be kept firmly in mind, and no member can engage effectively for the good of the Church without understanding his own God-given role.

Apocalypse Now: The Book of Revelation, Part 1

Penned by St. John near the end of his life, the Book of Revelation is the final piece of Divine Revelation, which closed with the death of this last of the apostles. As the name suggests, this revelation to St. John for the Church concerns itself with the consummation of all things, including the end of the world. It is therefore a prolonged exhortation to prepare for God’s judgment.

No Mass and Communion? Let faith trump feelings.

Feelings are never good or evil in themselves; they become so only through our unfaithful resistance or indulgence. It is their assessment in the light of faith, and the corresponding exercise of our wills conformed to God, that turns feelings to good account, no matter what they are.

Getting in touch with the Saints

Studying the saints ought not, I suppose, to be undertaken primarily for consolation, even if there is plenty of consolation to be found. But the saints usually teach us that consolations, important as they can be, are for beginners. They are a means to a higher end, not an end in themselves. To put it another way, reading about he saints can be immensely enjoyable. If that’s all it ever is, we have missed the point of sanctity—yet consolation remains an important part of spiritual development.

Bishops and the secular order: Seek first the kingdom of God

The problem is not that the bishops have generally accepted the universal pandemic restrictions. The problem is that they too often appear to be more concerned with maintaining their image as respectable “players” in the larger socio-political order, where they have approximately zero influence and certainly zero control, than they are with putting God’s house in order, where they still (even after decades of general incompetence and neglect) have nearly complete control.

Church and State in the Pandemic: Benefit of the doubt?

We should be aware of the dangers, of course. They plagued us on every side before, and it is only natural and preternatural that they should plague us on every side now. But this is no time for rash judgments. When people are navigating confusedly through a crisis for which they have no blueprint, they deserve the benefit of the doubt. And that goes double for the pope and the bishops who—from Catholics, at least—always deserve the benefit of the doubt.

Now Available: Liturgical Year Ebook for Ordinary Time after Easter

We have just released the fifth volume in the 2019-2020 Liturgical Year series of ebooks. Volume five covers the first half of the long stretch of Ordinary Time between the close of the Easter Season on Pentecost and the beginning of Advent. Like all CatholicCulture.org ebooks, this volume is downloadable free of charge.

When people suffer disease or disaster, and do not change

We know that some people do turn to God under duress, and especially under the duress of illness and death. That is fairly easy to explain in purely human terms. What is not so easy to explain is that many people do not. Instead they seem to grow more determined to resist the Christian understanding of God just when it could help them most. This ought to give us pause, for it suggests that our human refusals become, over time, not so much inadvertent as obdurate.

Reverence for the body (with notes on cremation)

What attracts Hahn’s and Stimpson’s undivided attention in this book is modernity’s disregard and even contempt for the human body along with the need for a Christian understanding precisely to overcome this disregard and contempt. In our technocratic era we tend to see all matter, including bodily matter, as something to be manipulated in accordance with our own desires, and we tend to regard our desires as independent of and somehow superior to our bodies.

The German Synodal Path: Noteworthy or not worthy?

We now know a good deal about what is advocated in the draft documents arising from the so-called “Synodal Path” in Germany. Of course it is all predictable, because it is all simply a summary of the points on which secularists and the Catholic Church disagree, with the Synodalists on the side of the secularist cultural mainstream. Applied to any number of issues, this self-absorbed mode of analysis leads to absurd conclusions, none of them ascertained either by faith or reason.

Why we believe: Knowledge through love

Both our faith and the strength of our faith depend to a considerable degree on our purity of heart—the openness with which we receive Christ, the willingness with which we respond to the Good as brought to perfection in Him. Part of this willingness is reflected in the desire to learn more about Christ, the Church He has established for our benefit, the means of grace He offers, and the truths He reveals, not only through Divine Revelation but through the whole of creation from His bounty.

John: Christ’s message is self-evidently true

John’s letters are thought to have been written during the last fifteen years of the first century, almost two generations after the death and Resurrection of Christ. They capture John’s reflections on the Faith as an old man, not removed from the conflicts of the day (he died in exile on the island of Patmos), but having meditated for decades on the meaning of Christ and His Church. Awareness of this lifetime of spiritual development is essential to a fruitful understanding of the letters.

Coffee Table Catholic: Vatican Secret Archives

This book provides a light history of the Vatican Archives while surveying some of the more interesting chapters of the Church’s history: The Patristic era, the trial of the Knights Templar, the Crusades, the Inquisition, the conquistadors and missionaries in the New World, the Galileo Trial, the French Revolution, the Spanish Civil War, and the famous (and often exaggerated) silence of Pope Pius XII.

Our lack of horror for sin and heresy

The word “heresy” comes from the Greek verb “to choose”, as in choosing some part over the whole, and so distorting the truth. The word “sin” most likely derives through Old English from the Latin word for “guilty”. We need to recover our horror of heresy and sin, and to become jealous once again for adherence to what is true, so that we do not prefer pleasing men to pleasing God.

Peter’s letters proclaim the Faith

In his first letter “to exiles of the Dispersion”, Peter begins with praise to God, through whose mercy “we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and to an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading kept in heaven for you”. The entire letter is an exhortation to live in a manner worthy of so great a mercy and so great an inheritance.

Beware: Sacramental Presence is always person-to-person

Let us remember what sacraments are and how they work. I do not say that we receive no benefit from distant celebrations of Mass in rectories and closed churches, because we do, in common with the whole world, whether we watch the videos or not. But these Masses do not encompass our own active participation in the liturgy, nor our own personal engagement with the sacrament of the Eucharist.

A different sort of Easter: Christ in disguise?

The homeless lady asked for a ride and gave us each a plastic Easter egg with some candy in it. On this friendly basis, we all clambered into our car and pointed it in the direction she needed to go. On the way through our town, she mentioned that she had not had much to eat lately, and asked if we could stop at McDonald’s to get her something, so we turned around and got her lunch from the drive-through.

Pandemic or pandemonium: The first priority is Christ’s life within us.

The Church’s first priority—and this goes for each one of us who claim to members of the Body of Christ—is never to avoid catching a disease, or even to avoid spreading a disease. Please: It just isn’t. Without diminishing the true spiritual wisdom involved in reasonable precautions, this avoidance simply is not the first priority for any child of God, let alone any Catholic, all of whom should know better.

Salvation by faith or by works? James and Jude speak

In my commentary on the books of the Bible, we now turn to the brief letter of St. James and the even briefer letter by his brother, St. Jude. After spending so much time with St. Paul, this makes for a healthy combination. For if Paul repeatedly emphasizes the necessity of faith in Christ, both James and Jude warn us not to forget the importance of the works that we do.

One more CO-19 truth: People usually run true to type

It has been not only distressing but entertaining and instructive to see how much our actions and statements in response to the current pandemic run along in the same old groove. The greatest proof of my thesis comes through a simple survey of the news over the past two days. We should probably examine our own responses just as carefully, just as critically.

Rejoice always (or) Adjusting to the order to stay at home

We must all grow in the ability to be aware that God is with us always, to consult Him in each course of action as we seek to act rightly and wisely, to rely on His grace in every present moment, and withal to learn to be more secure in trusting His presence and providence than in all the apparent human certainties within which we do live and move but do not have our being (cf. Acts 17:28). This is the work of a lifetime. But at every stage it becomes a fresh source of incomparable peace.

Easter volume released: More important than usual!

Easter falls on April 12th this year, and so the Easter volume of our ebook series for the 2019-2020 liturgical year has been released in our ebooks download area: Easter. This fourth volume in the annual series covers the entire Easter season, from the Easter Vigil (April 11th) through Pentecost (May 31st). It may be downloaded free of charge in the following formats: .mobi (Kindle), .epub (Nook and other standard ereaders), and .pdf (most computer devices).

Hebrews: Old covenant fulfilled and eclipsed by the New

The Letter to the Hebrews is a sustained argument about the fulfillment and replacement of the Old Covenant through the institution of the New Covenant. Addressed to those who were well aware of the conflict between the covenants, the text is crafted to prove that the Old Covenant was a shadow of the New, and has found its decisive, permanent and complete fulfillment in the New, which must not be abandoned.

What Fr. John Gerard’s escape teaches us now

I do not say this this is an accurate physical description of our lives today, and I certainly think the example of Fr. Gerard and all the English martyrs ought to inspire and strengthen us to do more and to do better. But taken as a metaphor, it is not at all a bad indicator of the kind of public life we have thrust upon us today, which can be extraordinarily discouraging.

Today’s Heresy: Questioning the response to the Coronavirus

Economies are being destroyed around the world, including in the United States. This is happening not because of the devastation of the Coronavirus but because of government fear that the virus might be devastating if extreme anti-plague measures are not adopted. As the prevention measures become more and more stringent, most of the public assumes they are more and more necessary—that COVID-19 must really be a very serious threat. Is this prudence, or its lack?

On the Coronavirus and public Masses

We have no way of knowing that God will not permit any disease to spread among those who are gathered in a Catholic Church for Mass, or that He will prevent contagion and illness through reception of the Eucharist. This has not been revealed to us, and so each bishop, like the Pope, must pray for sufficient light to follow a prudent course. Moreover, the conclusions of good pastors can differ without proving anyone unfaithful or unholy.

The ITC: An enriched grasp of sacraments and their nullity

There is a crisis today in how the sacraments are perceived and received. The modern mindset does not lend itself to a sacramental vision of reality, and the number of Catholics who receive the sacraments with little or no formation is large. We can see how frequently the sacraments must be received not only without a clear understanding of what they signify, but even with little personal understanding of or commitment to the Faith itself.

MyCatholicDoctor.com: This may be your solution.

If you live in the United States but have had difficulty finding good doctors who both practice medicine morally and address patient concerns in the context of sound Catholic spirituality, then MyCatholicDoctor might be an excellent solution for you. The organization uses video-based consultation, maintains a referral network of “faithful healthcare professionals”, and offers a financial model which accommodates a significant variety of healthcare payment methods.

St. Paul warns bishops: Letters to Timothy and Titus

Any objective observer of our own trials in the Church today cannot help but realize how the Body of Christ has been betrayed precisely by religious, priests, bishops, teachers and theologians who constantly distort the teachings of Christ in order to seek favor, position and a good name in our secular culture.

Our real pandemic is the loss of Christian identity

I find it highly suspicious that opponents of national identity never seem to spare any concern for far greater and more widespread dangers like sexual license, divorce, the breakdown of the family, the redefinition of gender, the loss of reverence for both God and human life, the implosion of all sense of community (which requires a shared view of reality), and the universal condemnation of all moral judgment beyond the privileged platitudes of our dominant culture.

Against Reality: Why our culture wars against the light, and why it will never win

The vagaries of paganism are strange and horrifying. Once we forget that we do not belong to ourselves, it becomes all too easy to protect legally every form of “self-determination”. Still, it is a strange exaltation of the individual human will that coerces the rest of us to play along. Clearly, the deeper purpose here is to destroy the rights of those who believe there is an objective difference between good and evil, and that nobody may be legally forced to cooperate in evil.

On the art of exhortation: St. Paul’s short letters

These shorter letters reveal the common structure of all Paul’s writing simply because they are so brief. Paul’s standard format begins with a very Christian greeting, then expresses his prayers and thanksgiving for the faithfulness of the community, then offers encouragement and a little basic instruction to keep them on the right track, and finally mentions something of his present circumstances, before closing with particular greetings (if any) and a final blessing.

How the arts can help form us for Faith

Too often in our modern sterility, art has degenerated into a habit of making explicit statements, or of striving aimlessly for individual difference, or of shocking, of novelty, of pretense in either artist or owner. Such choices also reveal something about the soul. But the soul is Catholic territory. It is ours not to impoverish, but to enrich in every way.

Rethinking Pope Francis even as Pope Francis rethinks?

Pope Francis has been seriously burned over the last couple of years for decisions he has made and positions he has taken. He has supported the wrong people in cases of sexual abuse and lived to regret it deeply. He has set his hand to the plow of Curial reform, and though he has apparently looked back often enough that scandals continue to proliferate, we are now beginning to see the Vatican uncovering problems before they are widely reported elsewhere, particularly in the financial sector.

Doesn’t matter how long Lent is, don’t start your spiritual reading late: 10 books

I frequently do not figure out what special spiritual reading I will do in Lent until after it starts. Even in the days of speedy delivery, this often leads me to find something on the shelf that I can read again. That’s not a bad practice—I mean reading great books repeatedly, especially in the Bible—but if you are looking for something brand new, you might find one of the following to be just what you need.

Does consecrated life trump marriage? Can the married change their minds?

There are three caveats to consider. First, the motives for entering upon a particular way of life can be mixed. That decision does not tell us anything about the person’s holiness. In the end we will be judged not by the “vocation” we happen to “be in” but by our conformity to Christ. Second, it is the essence of having “a vocation” that it is the way of life to which God has called us. Not all receive the same call. Third, when it comes to vocations which demand a vow....

Free Liturgical Year Volume 3 Released: LENT

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.

Ephesians: The remarkable letter that just happens to mention husbands and wives

We cannot avoid endless wrangling over the thirteen verses in Ephesians that deal with the relationships between husbands and wives. We ignore the 118 verses which precede St. Paul’s comments on it (1:1 – 5:21), along with most of the small number of verses in the conclusion which follows (cf. 6:10-20). This is a huge mistake. The whole point of the letter is to explain that the Gentiles have been incorporated into God’s eternal plan and made heirs of His kingdom in Christ.

Quick Hits: Elections, Newman, Augustine, Media, and more on Rose Hawthorne

This collection of meditations can be used in almost any reading pattern and during any season of the year. Each of Newman’s thirty-eight meditations has been whittled to just over three pages in length. Topics covered include worship, reverence, the glories of Mary, dispositions for faith, the mystery of Godliness, martyrdom, love of friends, affliction, and a great many more, including love itself. Newman is always fresh, deep, astonishing, and in his sermons, accessible.

Lead us not into temptation: What can this possibly mean?

Now we may well wonder at these passages which portray temptation as very valuable, when in fact St. Paul claims that God does not tempt us beyond our strength. Does this mean temptation is easy? And again Our Lord tells us to pray not to be led into temptation, not to be put to the test. Is that not even easier? Finally, how are we to reconcile all of this with our own experience of temptation, and of the number of times we succumb to it?

Ecclesiastical judgment: Saints who left spouse or children for consecrated life?

None of this is cookie-cutter material. Men have long been permitted to absent themselves from their spouses and children almost as a matter of course for reasons of war, or even business, without the consent of their wives, though this is a different matter which does not involve the judgment of the Church. It is also true that parents or single women can give up their children for good reason, without any dispensation from the Church. But to enter religious life? Ecclesiastical judgment!

Galatians: The radical shift from Judaism to Christianity

Going in standard Biblical order, Paul’s letter to the Galatians begins a series of ten shorter letters in which the Apostle to the Gentiles sought to meet the specific needs of a variety of groups and persons. But some of these letters are very rich theologically. Moreover, the main problem...

Do we all worship the same God?

The furor over the Pachamama figure at the Amazon Synod raises several questions about the tension between evangelization and religious unity today. It raises questions about shared religious ceremonies, the repurposing of pagan images for Christian worship, and commonalities in religious belief. The one that interests me most here is whether it is right for Christians to attempt to strengthen bonds with non-Christians by claiming that both groups worship the same God.

We must stop running from reality. But how to begin?

Today it is not uncommon for the younger generation to spend large amounts of time within alternative “realities” generated and controlled by computers. The point is simply that we tend to be divorced from nature and, through the confluence of a number of different circumstances, we find it easy to conceive of nature not as something “given” with a “purpose” but as accidental material to be manipulated in accordance with our own desires.

Catholicism is even more local than politics

The Church’s job is not to change the world through political advocacy at the macro level. The Church’s job is to make her members holy, so that in all their interactions they live and act as Christ has called them to do. It is in this way that her members will form, in many places, local Catholic cultures—vibrant cultures tangibly different from the surrounding wasteland.

On funding (or dissolving) episcopal conferences

Too frequently, the bureaucratic methods chosen serve to address generalities. The bishop does not personally ignite the purifying flame of the Spirit (“I came to cast fire upon the earth and would that it were already kindled!” (Lk 12:49). Nor does he personally and publicly address scandal (“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea” (Mt 18:6, Mk 9:42).

St. Paul tries everything in Second Corinthians

In this second letter, St. Paul tries nearly everything he can think of to induce the Corinthians to make further spiritual progress. Once again he has postponed visiting them in person, in the hope that he will not have to exercise a harsh judgment when he comes. The apostle employs one rhetorical technique after another to prompt change. Interspersed with these various commendations, accusations and exhortations, Paul also teaches a great lesson about the Christian life.

Being Single: State of life, vocation, or both?

Some are being called by God to commit themselves permanently to the single state in order to serve Him as He wishes them to serve, but without switching over to long-established vocational categories like priesthood, religious life, or even any organized form of consecrated life.

A Eucharistic miracle when Bergoglio was an auxiliary bishop

Two aspects of this Eucharistic miracle have immediately caught my attention. The first is merely tangential, a matter of current interest: The future Pope Francis initiated the investigation. The second is more significant: According to the report I received, it has been scientifically established that the heart tissue from the Buenos Aires miracle belongs to the same person as the flesh and blood at Lanciano

New Free Ebook: Practical Theology, Essays on Going Deeper as a Catholic

To me, practical theology refers to the basic theological understanding one ought to have in order to grasp firmly the principles of the Catholic Faith and to make orderly progress in the spiritual life. It is not at all uncommon that a faulty understanding of Divine Revelation or Catholic teaching on faith and morals can interfere with our growth in love of God and neighbor and our proper response to the challenges of our culture and our personal lives.

Toward a deeper understanding of Vatican II

Every Catholic who has struggled to understand the nature and the importance of the Second Vatican Council owes an enormous debt to Aidan Nichols for this book. It is one of the best books of 2019, clarifying many of the human questions surrounding the Council and certainly increasing my respect for the Council’s achievement. The documents should have enabled the whole Church to grow in faith and love—without in the least justifying the widespread errors which followed.

A gift to all: Pope Francis’ Apostolic Letter on the Nativity Scene

The Pope wishes to encourage the family tradition of setting up a nativity scene and “also the custom of setting it up in the workplace, in schools, hospitals, prisons and town squares.” In this simple wish, the Pope acknowledges that he has ignored the memo from our increasingly secular culture and its leaders. Instead, he begins with St. Augustine’s observation about the birth of Christ: “Laid in a manger, he became our food”.

First Corinthians: Paul’s insistence that we really must grow up

In the first part, Paul rebukes and warns the Corinthians for their worldly Christianity. In the second, he offers spiritual advice on matters that could easily be genuinely perplexing. And in the third, he teaches them about spiritual gifts, including the charismatic gifts, but in a way that sheds further light on what is really the main point throughout: The Corinthians wear their Christianity like spoiled children, and it is time to grow up.

Sedevacantism: An attack on the Church’s Authority Principle

For one reason or another, we conclude—based on our own purely private judgment of a pope’s character or impact on the Church or faith or morals—that this person who calls himself “the pope” has either ceased to be the pope or must never really have been the pope. We decide this, then, not by the historical fact of his election, but based on our own understanding of faith and morals, and of what God will or will not permit to happen in his Church.

Church troubles: What good Catholics may and may not do

The time is ripe because, at least in my opinion, too many ostensibly “good Catholics” are going to extremes in what they mistakenly believe is a service to orthodoxy, extremes that are now becoming mirror images of what has long been advocated on the side of heterodoxy. So let me make some distinctions.

Influencing the Church, monetarily

As the spiritual stability of the Church has been undermined by the current papacy, a number of groups have engaged in the spiritual work of counseling the doubtful while consistently ignoring the spiritual works of bearing wrongs patiently and forgiving offenses. Some are also more prone to condemn than to instruct, counsel, admonish and comfort. This can never foster authentic Catholic renewal; all it can do is make angry Catholics feel better about themselves without spiritual growth.

The mystery letter of St. Paul to the Romans

You can imagine the importance of this truth in a period in which God’s chosen people, the Jews to whom Christ came, thought of themselves as a people set apart and made righteous by the Law. But Paul explains that the Law, while good in itself, actually awakens us to sin, and so the Jews turn it into an occasion of sin, even while the Gentiles, who do not have the Law, actually know the moral law through nature, and likewise are guilty of transgression.

How to explain Pope Francis without making things worse

Commentators must strive for a consistency of analysis of this pontificate: Justifying each response in terms of each particular incident; exhibiting a deeper understanding of the whole problem which leads to reasoned commentary, without emotional outbursts. Now, anybody who talks to anybody else has, in this sense, a public persona. Regardless of the mood of the moment, all should maintain a consistent wisdom—a wisdom that fully admits all aspects of the truth.

One good thing about all these synods…

What one cannot debate, however, is that the best scholarship on the many complex topics addressed at these synods is produced by scholars whose Catholic identity is very firmly rooted, who are deeply committed to authentic renewal of the Church.... It is not only the best publishers and the best authors who are willing to step into the breach and do the necessary work, instead of merely going with the flow. This is what all seriously-committed Catholics do, each in his or her own sphere.

On purpose: Four blows against scientism to lift your spirit

The so-called scientific experts are fond of telling us that the world and all that is in it are not the result of an intelligible process caused by an intelligent agent but rather the result of random combinations of elements. These people think that God creates as we do, by recombining elements to make new things. But that is not at all what they must explain. What they must explain is why there is something rather than nothing at all.

Synod hopes and fears: The difference that matters

We will urge married clergy on the Amazon not primarily because they cannot understand sexual abstinence but because the secularized affluent West as a whole cannot understand it. We will urge some form of formal female ministry in the Amazon not because it would be impossible to call, inspire and send zealous males but because the secularized affluent West demands—even as it insists on sexual activity—the obliteration of distinctions between male and female.

Robert Cardinal Sarah’s dilemma, and our own

Cardinal Sarah works hard at creating the illusion that he is following up lines of thought proposed by Pope Francis himself.... But in fact, the grand alliance of what we might call “The Friends of Pope Francis” constantly tries to bring against Cardinal Sarah this charge of opposition to the Pope, precisely because it is so obvious that Sarah’s constant recommendations are seriously at odds with much of what Pope Francis says.

The Acts of the Apostles are for the whole world

The main reason the Holy Spirit inspired St. Luke to write the Acts of the Apostles is crystal clear in the pages of that book. But I wonder how many of us who have read and listened to readings from the Acts have realized what that purpose is. Things can be missed when we hear them piecemeal, and...

Pressures on the Faith in the American Civil War. And now?

In an intriguing new book by Fr. Charles P. Connor, the Catholic position on slavery leading up to and during the American Civil War (1861-1865) is explored in considerable depth. What we learn from it is how much cultural conditioning and competing interests can modify or “slant” the...

Revised: Non-ordination of women: Not a dogma?

[October 4, 2019: In response to many questions from those who had trouble with the argument, I have revised this essay from earlier in the week. If you found it confusing, I hope you will read it again.] One of the key drafters of the working document for the Amazon Synod, Bishop Erwin...

What’s wrong with popular causes (and with clerics who ride them)?

Let me speak frankly. It is a symptom of flabby, secularized Christianity to witness primarily in favor of popular and prudential causes. Yet from Pope Francis on down, this symptom is widespread among Catholic leaders today. Five significant mistakes are made by Christians whose witness in favor...

Spiritual Growth vs. Spiritual Consolation

Think about it: We are absolutely obliged by God to grow into union with Him as far as possible—using the fullness of the means made available through the Church established by His Son. But at the same time, we have absolutely no claim to spiritual consolations. We have no right to...

No Offense Intended: A new, and critical, free ebook

I am happy to announce a new (and always free) ebook: No Offense Intended: Essays on wrong-headed Catholics. These essays, written between early 2017 and early 2019, are my most strongly-worded commentaries on the troubles created for the Church by wrong-headed Catholics, especially those in high...

Fighting addiction with the blood of Christ: The Calix Society

In a world awash in both addictions and addiction programs, it is genuinely inspiring to see an organization helping people to conquer their addictions in Christ, through the Sacraments of the Catholic Church. That’s the methodology of the Calix Society, which was founded originally in 1947...

John’s Gospel: Answering questions for the Church

It is commonly said that the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke are “synoptic” (providing a synopsis of the life of Christ) but that the gospel of John is “theological” (probing important questions about the Christian Faith). In earlier installments of this series, I have...

True Synodality: A missing ingredient in renewal?

Recently I had an interesting discussion with a frequent visitor to our website about the potential benefits to the Church of being without a pope for an extended number of years. In part the discussion was prompted by the deleterious impact the current pontificate seems to have on Catholic...

Discipleship: The worldly don’t get it. But are we all worldly?

The Sunday before last, the Gospel reading (Luke 14:25-33) was that strange passage about the king who should sue for peace before throwing his ten thousand troops against an opposing force of twenty thousand; and about the builder who should not risk mockery by failing to make sure he has...

Pope Francis answers: Part inspiration, part frustration, so how can we grow spiritually?

On the whole, I recommend to pope-watchers a close reading of Francis’ responses to questions raised by journalists on his flight from the capital of Madagascar back to Rome. These informal exchanges often present challenges, because Pope Francis has great difficulty speaking precisely. But...

Quick Hits: New podcast targets the Equal Rights Amendment

Readers may recall that last year we reviewed Robert G. Marshall’s extraordinarily useful book, Reclaiming the Republic: How Christians and other conservatives can win back America. Now Marshall returns with the Reclaiming the Republic Podcast—an incisive nine-episode presentation...

Knights of the Holy Eucharist

Our readers frequently seek to identify good religious communities, especially if their children are considering a vocation to religious life. This puts me in mind of the Franciscan community of men founded by Mother Angelica in 1998, The Knights of the Holy Eucharist. The Franciscans as a...

Hearts and minds: Next generation changes to CatholicCulture.org

I have done a good deal of soul searching about the future of CatholicCulture.org, as is only appropriate for a 71-year-old founder. Some of this involves adding appropriate expertise to our staff as my own ability to wear multiple hats diminishes. For example, we need to add a social media...

Cardinal control: Is the Church’s future at stake?

Not being God, my interpretation of what God Himself is accomplishing through the current pontificate may at the very best illuminate a tiny portion of the Divine plan, and could well be utterly worthless. Nonetheless, I am moved to this exercise by a desire to offer consolation in the wake of...

Luke’s Gospel: The Radical Challenge of Jesus Christ

As I mentioned in treating Matthew and Mark, it is difficult to say something truly original in a commentary on the Gospels. Consequently, I have tried simply to highlight an overall theme for each one: For Matthew, Jesus as the Messiah; for Mark, Christ as Son of God; and now, for Luke, the...

On Providence (or) Reflections on a trashed cookie

Two of our children with young families gave us a “Frameo”. It is one of those electronic picture frames which displays a sequence of images that can be updated easily from smart phones wherever our children happen to be. At last count, my wife and I have fifteen grandchildren, which...

Shredding the working text for the Pan-Amazon synod

The annual Synod of Bishops will meet from October 6 to October 27 this year to examine the problems of the Pan-Amazon region in South America. From the first, the Instrumentum Laboris (working document) for the Synod has been criticized as a destructive exercise in the religious and cultural...

Conversion: Intellectually satisfying, spiritually overwhelming

A short time ago, Ignatius Press published an extraordinary book—well done in every conceivable respect—entitled Faith and Reason: Philosophers Explain Their Turn to Catholicism. Edited by Brian Besong and Jonathan Fuqua, also both philosophers, the book naturally promised to be a...

Catholic Quagmire: The Latest eBook from CatholicCulture.org

I have just generated and posted a new (and, as always, free) ebook: Catholic Quagmire: Essays on How the Church Bogs Down. This is a collection of my essays, written between early 2017 and early 2019, which focus on the many ways in which Catholics and their leaders tend to reflect the thought...

Seven things you should know about global population trends

Today our news team highlighted a report in Foreign Affairs which argues that the world is on the verge of a population bust. Here are seven things you need to know about current demographic trends: 1. Both population growth and the impact of population growth are hard to predict: Population...

Sing of Mary, 5: The Assumption is the Crown

Yesterday was the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, so it seemed fitting to spend part of the day adding to the reflections on the Mother of God which make up our Sing of Mary series. Since the Catholic dogma of the Assumption of Mary body and soul into heaven was not...

Apologetics vs. evangelization? Argument and witness for the sake of others

The purpose of evangelization is to make Christ and the Church known to others so that they might receive the gift of faith and choose to convert to Christianity. It is a work accomplished in close collaboration with the Holy Spirit. The purpose of apologetics, on the other hand, is to clear away...

Our One and Only God

Being away this week, I decided to repost some thoughts I had while on vacation nearly ten years ago. I was on vacation last week, so I deliberately avoided controversy. But I did plenty of meditating on what it means to be a Christian. As it happened, I did much of this meditating while...

Yearning to Escape Ourselves

I am on vacation, so I have cheated and re-posted a commentary I wrote a little more than five years ago about our desire to “get away”. The point, I think, is still valid. Pope John XXIII, whose example I cite below, has of course since been canonized. I can relate to Pope...

The makings of a good harvest: Argument is never enough

I have been a practitioner of apologetics since somewhere around the age of ten, though the pattern must have been well-established even earlier, because I can remember from an early age my mother describing me as the child “who loves to argue.” It is also true that I had been arguing...

The Angelus (Jean-François Millet, 1857-59)

“The Angelus” is one of the most famous devotional paintings of the nineteenth century, portraying two peasants bowing in a field as they pray the Angelus, presumably in response to the tolling of the evening bell from the church shown against the horizon. There is something...

Pilgrimage for Newman’s Canonization

The Priestly Society of Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman is hosting a ten day pilgrimage to Rome for Newman’s canonization on October 13th. The flight to Rome will depart Newark on the evening of Wednesday, October 9th and return to Newark on Saturday, October 19th. Leadership and...

Getting all that smoke out of your eyes: Six reviews

I freely admit it. While popping a hard-boiled egg into my mouth for lunch about a minute ago (lunch now done, thanks), I told Alexa to play a song. “She who must not be named” complied with Jerome Kern’s hit from the forgotten 1933 musical Roberta. I mean, of course,...

St. Mark insists that Christ is the Son of God

In my commentary on St. Matthew’s gospel, I emphasize Mathew’s central theme of establishing, point by point, that Jesus Christ is the Messiah expected by the Jewish nation. In sharp contrast, St. Mark insists from the very first that Jesus is the Son of God. Thus Mark largely bypasses...

Self-serving apologies: Not the Catholic way

If you want to seize the contemporary moral high ground, I suggest you apologize for something your ancestors or your organization or your country did hundreds of years ago, checking first to ensure that the behavior in question is universally excoriated in our own more enlightened times. Above...

The diplomat and theologian: On the Truth and the limits of inclusivity

Two headlines in last Friday’s news caught my attention precisely because of the potential for contradiction in the treatment of the principles they represent. The first, “Vatican diplomat: Foster tolerance, inclusivity to counter attacks on religious believers”, favors the...

The Peña Parra case: An excellent test of Archbishop Vigano’s credibility

The latest disclosure of claims by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano should provide a welcome test of his credibility. The New York Times reports that Vigano has named the assistant Vatican Secretary of State, Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra, as credibly accused of sexual abuse of seminarians since...

In York with a martyr: The challenge of Margaret Clitherow

The Shambles, a narrow street housing butchers where the Clitherow family lived The exterior designation of the shrine in (or at least very near) St. Margaret’s home

When is religion OK in America? When it is no longer religious.

The recent US Supreme Court decision permitting a cross to remain on public land in Bladensburg, MD is a peculiar one, to say the least. It demonstrates the kind of convoluted reasoning that must characterize justices who have reservations about public expressions of religion but do not wish to...

On raising our voices in and for the Church

In his commentary “Exit, voice, and loyalty in the Catholic Church” (with which I completely agree), Phil Lawler applies to the Church the three basic responses people make when they are dissatisfied with any institution of which they are a part. Phil concludes: If you, as a morally...

Taking a risk with Pope Francis; avoiding a risk to ourselves

I think it is time to remind ourselves once again of what we might call the other side of the Pope Francis coin. Back in 2013, when we were first adjusting ourselves to this Pope’s “all over the map” style of leadership, including his apparent lack of doctrinal precision and his...

The CCE on gender theory: Strengths and weaknesses of a Catholic position

The text of the statement on gender theory by the Congregation for Catholic Education is excellent, but the approach it proposes demonstrates both the strengths and weaknesses of the Catholic position today. This is reflected in the full title/subtitle: “Male and Female He Created Them:...

On the difficulty of knowing whom to believe, and what to do

If the furor over Taylor Marshall’s book does not tell us how hard it has become to know whom to believe and/or what to do, then I can point to two other contemporary issues (among many) which present the same problem. Whom to believe First, on the problem of whom to believe, let me...

“I spit on your evil!” (or) The joy of rational discussion

The last few days have been amusing, as I’ve fielded comments on my review of Taylor Marshall’s book. For example: I learned that Taylor Marshall, during the run-up to the publication of his book, claimed to have a mystical experience, a vision, concerning its contents. I...

Infiltration: An idiot’s guide to the problems of the Church

To my great sadness, Sophia Institute Press has just published Taylor R. Marshall’s Infiltration: The Plot to Destroy the Church from Within. The publisher is offering it under its “CRISIS Publications” imprint, designed to address problems “with clarity, cogency, and...

Pope Saint Paul VI: Hope in the desert of Catholic renewal

The very first feast of Pope Saint Paul VI was yesterday, May 29th, and his canonization late last year ought to be taken as a sign of hope for the rest of us. Yes, I know that some Catholics think this pope was a weak, imprudent and ineffective man who should never have been canonized, but...

How do we really know God is a Trinity of Persons?

Or audio track only: Your browser does not support the web audio player. In this presentation, Dr. Jeff Mirus explains how we know that God is a Trinity of Persons (three...

Modern culture in denial: Nothingness reigns in Argentina, too.

It is not news that those who are in favor of abortion—and especially those who regard it as a human right—are living in denial. You can always tell this is the case whenever deliberately deceptive language is reflexively adopted to obscure reality. “A woman’s right to...

Phil Lawler’s superb commencement address

Do yourself a favor and take a little over twenty minutes to listen to Phil Lawler’s superb commencement address, given at Thomas More College of the Liberal Arts last Saturday, May 18, 2019 (linked at the bottom). Phil delivered the address immediately after receiving an honorary doctorate...

Starting the New Testament, with St. Matthew on the Messiah

Having finished my brief commentaries on the books of the Old Testament and wrapped them up into a cozy (and free) ebook, I find that I am ready to begin a similar series of reflections on the books of the New Testament, beginning with the Gospel according to Matthew. But while I can foresee...

A touch of whimsy for Catholics

I don’t know about you, but there are days when I just want to enjoy myself. It is unhealthy to spend all of our time moaning about the state of the Church and the world when so many other pursuits are possible. There was once a young priest in our parish who, according to legend at least,...

German Catholic women, in thrall to the world, boycott Mass

This may be stating the obvious, but there is a great deal wrong with the widely-supported decision of German Catholic women’s groups to boycott Mass and refuse Church work in order to protest episcopal inaction on (a) sex abuse, and, wait for it, (b) women’s ordination. It is one more...

New ebook collection on the books of the Old Testament

In the Spring of 2017, I began to reread the Old Testament in order to note down the particular insights about each book which occurred to me as I entered the fullness of what Scripture calls man’s three score and ten. As the task unfolded, I began to write up these reflections and post them...

Cardinal Müller on the Truth

Gerhard Cardinal Müller, who served as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith from 2012 to 2017, has sometimes been compared with his great predecessor, Joseph Ratzinger (Benedict XVI), who not only appointed him but filled that position himself from 1981 until his election...

Once the crazy talk starts, it is hard to stop

The pope who took office in 1958 when I was ten was Pope Saint John XXIII. He died when I was in high school and so, understandably, he was the first pope whom I considered at all in relationship to the tensions in the Church of which I was slowly becoming aware. I remember that some people...

On saving the Church by breaking the tensions intrinsic to the Church’s life

The furor over the question of how we should respond to Pope Francis’ alleged heresies reminds me of the tensions between the human and the Divine which run all through the Church, and the Faith, and Christian thought. In nearly every case, it is a refusal to be willing to live with this...

His Excellency Theodore Hesburgh

If you received a review copy of the impressive new biography of the famous Theodore Hesburgh of Notre Dame—the university president who firmly set this Catholic university on the spiritually devastating road to secular prominence—you may have hesitated to expend the effort to read...

Theories that Francis is not the Pope (or can be deposed) destroy the credibility of the Church

This essay, originally published on November 7, 2017, explains why any effort to depose the pope or declare that he has automatically been deposed through heresy is not only untenable but fundamentally damaging to the Church. It is possible, of course, to advocate that a particular pope should...

The Pontifical Academy’s assessment of the “growing threat of a nationalist revival”

It is interesting that the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences is hosting a three-day conference designed to shed light on what it sees as a growing nationalist revival throughout the world. The Academy’s announcement discusses various forms of national identity and the rise and potential...

Even at Easter? On spiritual fasting, according to St. Francis de Sales

At the very end of Lent I discovered the sermon given on Ash Wednesday of the year 1622 by St. Francis de Sales. Better late than never! This sermon was given as part of a series to the religious women in the Order of the Visitation, or the Visitandines, which St. Francis founded with St. Jane...

The tragic hope of the flames of Notre Dame

Even I was saddened by the fire at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. I say “even I” because I am utterly unable to escape the symbolic density of a cathedral burning in the midst of Europe’s profound loss of Faith—a cathedral that has been maintained for centuries more...

Benedict’s Analysis: What impressed me most

There are several things which I found particularly intriguing about Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s analysis of the roots of the contemporary Church’s problem with clerical sexual abuse. And there is one thing that I found most impressive going forward. First, it was both intriguing...

Imperative for Renewal: Our next free ebook

I have begun to collect my (still relevant) essays over the past couple of years into ebooks. These ebooks enable those new to CatholicCulture.org to acquaint themselves more easily with the commentary we have published over the years that remains relevant to our present situation. For those who...

Feedback time (Yes, if possible, this means you!)

It is time to ask for feedback on three of our initiatives. The insights and opinions of our users are very important to getting things right. To offer your ideas on these three topics, simply click the email link at the top of this commentary, to the left of my name. This will open our contact...

Unbelievable category mistakes

It is difficult to know how best to review Michael Newton Keas’ new book, Unbelievable, published by ISI Books. Subtitled “7 myths about the history and future of science and religion”, the book very successfully debunks the following myths: Christians traditionally...

2 Maccabees: Judaism in readiness

As I mentioned previously, 2 Maccabees does not extend the history of Jewish resistance to Greek conquest recorded in 1 Maccabees. Instead, it focuses more tightly on one portion of that history. While the second book provides additional details, its chief merit is an exploration of the motives...

How do we really know the pope has Christ’s authority in the Church?

Or audio track only: Your browser does not support the web audio player. In this presentation, Dr. Jeff Mirus explains how Jesus Christ gave Peter special powers to...

Ten steps every bishop can take to renew the Church

Everyone has a role in Catholic renewal, but there can be no question that the greatest spur to an authentic renewal of the Church is episcopal leadership. If results throughout the long history of the Church are any guide, however, even bishops often do not know the concrete steps they should be...

Redeeming the time: Christianity for knaves and fools like me

I don’t know about you, but I frequently flash back to particular times in my life when I behaved foolishly or even sinfully. I’m pretty sure I remember every moment of youthful arrogance in which I treated others badly, and perhaps it goes without saying that I still have skeletons...

1 Maccabees: A shift in understanding salvation history

The two books that close the Old Testament, 1 and 2 Maccabees, are among the most enjoyable to read and the most difficult from which to draw lessons. They are enjoyable because they are all action adventure, covering the remarkable exploits of a priest named Mattathias, along with his sons and...

Bent on evil: How do we explain human culture run amok?

The other evening on our (almost) daily walk, my wife mentioned a recent talk given by a public librarian who was expert on fiction for teens. One of the points made by the speaker was that the overwhelming majority of the books that came across her desk featured gender-confused young people who...

Four late minor prophets, plus Jonah as a bonus

Wrapping up the so-called minor prophets in rough chronological order, we will now look at those who prophesied after the Babylonian Exile. Ranging from about 520 BC into the 300s, these prophets tend to be more specifically Messianic. It is almost as if the pre-Messianic time is growing short. As...

Life Is Worth Living: The Message of Fulton Sheen

In the mid-1950s, Bishop Fulton Sheen became the Catholic voice of America with his groundbreaking television series, Life Is Worth Living. But there was a second series with the same title, recorded only in audio in 1965 and released just after the close of the Second Vatican Council. The...

Churchmen, out on a limb again, defy the world

It is one of those days. I am finding it difficult to get excited about much of anything, and I am not sure what the problem is. After all, just look at the dramatic news stories from the past three days: First, on the matter of the common good: In a stunning statement on Wednesday from the US...

The minor prophets: Varied voices, including our own

In discussing the twelve “minor prophets”, I began last time by treating the three who were active in the eighth century before Christ. This time I will take up what I call the four “exilic” prophets, that is, those whose mission fell during the period just before or during...

How do we really know Jesus Christ founded a specific Church?

Or audio track only: Your browser does not support the web audio player. In the second video in the How do we really know? series, I examine the evidence for Christ’s...

Are those who experience same-sex attraction prone to abuse?

I noticed on our Facebook page that there was a brief discussion of whether or not those who experience same-sex attraction are predisposed to sexual abuse. Without considering the distinction between abuse that is legal and abuse that is illegal, the answer is “yes” of...

The Orchestra Analogy: One Divine symphony, no restarts

That great twentieth-century evangelist, Bishop Fulton Sheen, had a brilliant ability to come up with examples and analogies to make Catholic teaching easier to understand. One example is the analogy of the orchestra that he used to explain Original Sin. We all understand that the sins of Adam and...

The Church and ourselves: Changes for a more effective mission

The year of Our Lord 2019 promises to be momentous for the Catholic Church. My goal is to make it also the most effective year yet for CatholicCulture.org’s mission of fostering authentic Catholic renewal. What do I mean by both of these statements? 1. The Church I am under no...

What is missing in the Church today? What we brag about most: Mercy

Writing about the minor prophets on Tuesday, I mentioned this famous passage from Hosea: “I desire mercy and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God, rather than burnt offerings” (Hos 6:6). Now I am wondering why mercy is so conspicuously absent in the Church today. This may astound my...

The “minor” prophets: Highly relevant today

The twelve so-called “minor prophets” under the Old Covenant are traditionally grouped at the end of the prophetic books, even though they range chronologically from the 8th to the 4th century before Christ. This is probably because they are short, anywhere from one to fourteen...

Should pro-abortion Catholic politicians be excommunicated?

When Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York spearheaded the successful change to the State Constitution in January, guaranteeing abortion up to and even beyond the moment of birth, many wondered why he was not immediately excommunicated. Admittedly, the same question has been raised for years, but this...

How do we really know Jesus Christ rose from the dead?

Or audio track only: Your browser does not support the web audio player. In the first of a potential series answering key questions about Catholic faith and life,...

Daniel: Champion, visionary, man of prayer

The Babylonian Empire extended from the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea to the western end of the Persian Gulf in the period between the fall of the Assyrian Empire in 612 BC and its own conquest by Cyrus the Great in 539. It was during this period that Daniel was active as a source of wisdom...

Sin Taxes: Is pornography next?

It has long been common in the United States to single out products regarded as “sinful” or “addictive” for higher taxes. The logic is that consumers who lack self control are a good source of government revenue. Classic examples include alcohol and cigarettes. Closely...

Final Document for Youth Synod: A typically uneven and often vague exhortation

Documents arising from the Synod of Bishops are a bit of a slog. They typically attempt to cover a tremendously broad array of concerns grouped around the Synod’s theme, which makes them long. They typically lack differentiation when it comes to the relative importance of the various...

Sanctity under fire: Fr. Willie Doyle and the rest of us

Sometimes we benefit from practical examples of how to grow in holiness. That’s why we turn to the lives of the saints. But one drawback is that so many of those who are canonized followed particular paths of life to which the vast majority of us are not called. A gap in understanding arises...

Prolife Miracle: Mother of Mercy Clinic displaces abortion mill

For twenty-seven years an abortion clinic plied its grisly trade in Manassas, Virginia. Shortly after it got started, a pro-life counseling center called AAA Women for Choice opened up next door to intercept and help pregnant women. Peaceful demonstrations, along with prayer and fasting, became...

Beyond abortion: Responding to the deeper crisis

The day of the March for Life in Washington, DC always prompts reflection. While the grave evil of abortion is an important civilizational rallying point, the recognition that abortion is wrong does not begin to exhaust the moral crisis of our time. Our civilization was once rooted in an...

The Catholic Faith: Are we looking for challenge or change?

I admit it: I am getting so jaded that I initially misread one of yesterday’s Catholic World News headlines: CDF, Asian bishops to discuss challenges to Catholic doctrine. I thought it said “CDF, Asian bishops to discuss CHANGES to Catholic doctrine”. Perhaps this suggests a...

Love of God is known by the courage of correction, against the world

In his homily at daily Mass today, Pope Francis preached on the reading from the first Letter of John which emphasizes that whoever loves God must also love his neighbor. He contrasted genuine love with the spirit of the world, which creates division, and he offered three signs of a lack of such...

Pope Leo XIII’s ten encyclicals on the Rosary

Did you know that Pope Leo XIII, whose pontificate lasted from 1878 until 1903, issued no fewer than ten encyclicals on the Rosary? Some others mention the Rosary, such as his encyclicals on devotion to St. Joseph and on the Confraternity of the Rosary. But these ten actually have the Rosary...

Modern Popes on the Rosary

In addition to the ten encyclicals Pope Leo XIII wrote on the Rosary, six twentieth-century popes have issued documents specifically on the Rosary, plus two major texts on devotion to Mary in general. All are in our library, and listed below. LINKS: Benedict XV, Fausto Appetente Die (On...

Ezekiel the Watchman: Terror, and Hope

The ministry of the prophet Ezekiel overlapped that of Jeremiah, and his Book is the last major prophetic work in the Old Testament—unequaled until St. John’s Book of Revelations. It begins with apocalyptic visions and offers throughout a dramatic denunciation of the Israelites for all...

Liturgical Year Volume 2 Released: Ordinary Time before Lent

This liturgical year ebook includes all the liturgical day information for the period of Ordinary Time before Lent just as it appears on CatholicCulture.org. It offers 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.

Eleanor Nicholson drives a stake through Bram Stoker’s heart

Since gremlins are currently inhabiting my computer, I’m willing to believe just about anything. I’m using an old light-duty laptop to limp along without most of my software until a stake can be driven through the stony heart of my usual machine. Or at least that is what I expect...

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