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Life presents the oddest contrasts

So far this week, our theme seems to be strange contrasts. For example, considering all the talk about mercy in the Church these days, what are the odds that I would argue that if we understood the first requirements of mercy, we might actually be able to get on with the renewal of the...

$7,236 by the 31st: Lenten Sacrifice?

Thankfully, we knocked $2,100 off our potential March deficit over the weekend. But we must raise $7,236 more in new donations to make ends meet this month. We strive daily to provide the information and formation Catholics need to live their faith fully and confidently in very distressing...

Accentuating the Positive

I guess Bing Crosby had it right in his hit song “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive”. Or perhaps Johnny Mercer had it right, as he wrote the lyrics to this Harold Arlen tune and was the first to record it in October of 1944. But Bing and the Andrews Sisters recorded it again on the...

Hope continues to bloom in Africa

You may have noticed that an African theologian has said that the issue of Communion for the divorced and remarried was settled in the negative there a long time ago: African Catholics reject Communion for divorced/remarried, theologian reports. This reminded me again of how different the...

Struggling with the saints

I was sad to see that L'Osservatore Romano has published another attack on the integrity of those who are confused by the way Pope Francis is handling marriage, divorce, annulment and Communion. Now we are being accused of dissent! I believe it is time to remind everyone of what lies at the...

Catholic news that speaks volumes

Before we get to several highly interesting news stories, let me highlight the intriguing connections Phil Lawler draws in his latest Quick Hits: The EU in crisis, the genocide in the Vendée, the opioid epidemic. Let me also introduce a note of literary criticism. It can be far more...

Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving

Arguably a good Lent involves a personal plan for the three old standbys. We need to spend more time in prayer, discipline our appetites, and increase our generosity to those in need. CatholicCulture.org cannot take food off your table, but this week we do have some advice from Fr. Jerry...

Dissent, Prayer, Hope

Lent is a time for us to reflect on our own resistance to grace, whether a reluctance to commit to greater virtue or, worse, an unwillingness to accept the teachings of the Church Christ founded for our salvation. It is in this spirit that I offer a very serious reflection on Pope Francis...

Food for thought in Lent

OK, maybe the word food shouldn't be stressed during this season! This Lent is likely to be penitential in two ways: Somehow we must turn increasingly bad news about the leadership of the Church into an opportunity for self-sacrifice leading to greater union with God. This is not easy....

Lent is upon us!

I like to joke that Lent is the only liturgical season that is also a four-letter word, but it remains a great spiritual opportunity. Tomorrow, of course is Ash Wednesday. The message I've been hearing from the pulpit is that we need to have a plan. That's Jennifer Gregory Miller's...

A resurgence of infidelity?

Today I took a close look at a serious problem in the Church which some of us are tempted to ignore. That's because the root of the problem is so unsettling. See Why is there a resurgence of infidelity among Catholic leaders? Please note that the importance of our Catholic mission is...

The Church, money and power

This Tuesday message is brought to you by the letter "W" (for Wednesday). My wife, a teacher, had Monday off, so I worked only a half-day. So yesterday, of course, I thought it was Monday. I am mostly focused on two things today. First, after writing about our relationship with Pope...

Roman curiosities?

The Vatican Press has now published a booklet by the head of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts—not writing in his official capacity—which argues that Amoris Laetitia is perfectly clear and then proposes yet another interpretation. It is no wonder that Phil Lawler has had...

From Vatican vexation to Tolkien's talent

I was disturbed yesterday to see the news that Pope Francis' Council of Cardinals had felt the need to give him a vote of confidence. When that sort of thing happens, you know that trouble is brewing in a turbulent papacy. Today Phil Lawler explains: Unrest at the Vatican; reassurances...

Women priests: Really? Again?

As we reported earlier this week, the Vatican-controlled journal La Civilta Cattolica has published an article which attempts to raise once again the question of the ordination of women to the priesthood. I respond in Reopening the question of women priests: A theological travesty and a...

Posters in Rome show discontent with Pope Francis

Perhaps the most interesting news story so far this week concerns the posters critical of Pope Francis that were posted on the streets of Rome on Saturday. These posters clearly represent the views of faithful (and frustrated) Catholics, even if their charity and prudence might well be...

Churchmen: Avoid hasty judgments!

By far the most important Catholic news story this week broke on Wednesday: Cardinal Müller, German bishops clash on interpretation of Amoris Laetitia. Cardinal Müller, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has now stated that Pope St. John Paul II's...

Francis and Trump: Controversial!

The furor is continuing to grow over the way Pope Francis treats those who do not share his pastoral emphasis. Phil Lawler brought us up to date with his latest Quick Hits: New perspectives on the abortion debate and on Amoris Laetitia. Phil is forced to conclude, sadly, that Pope Francis has...

On the affairs of popes and presidents

I do not write on politics very often, but at the beginning of Donald Trump's presidency, I considered whether we would see him rise—or fall: In Potentia: Donald Trump’s Upside, and Donald Trump’s Downfall. Meanwhile, anticipating the March for Life in Washington, DC...

It's time to make...connections

It is a sad fact of our busy lives that we often fail to maintain close connections with others whose lives might be changed significantly if we did. And we often fail to see the logical connections in the many patterns of good and evil with which we are confronted. In today's...

Controlling the narrative

Donald Trump was inaugurated as President of the United States today, with at least the possibility that political correctness will fall on hard times. As we have learned also from Pope Francis, so much of both politics and religion depends on who controls the narrative. It is appropriate,...

Spiritual growth under pressure

Sometimes spiritual growth occurs under pressure from others to become holy, and sometimes it occurs under the pressure to abandon holiness. Once we grow to love God, of course, absolutely everything can spur us to greater holiness. The fallout over Communion for the divorced and remarried will...

The tone of life, and of evangelization

I found myself thinking today about the various ways we speak to people about our faith, and I realized that we don't use any sort of a prophetic voice any longer. That is a style of speech that we have to be careful with, but surely it cannot always be wrong. See Denunciation, condemnation...

Questioning Mary?

We Catholics are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima. Pope Francis has offered special indulgences throughout the entire anniversary year, from November 27, 2016 through November 26, 2017. If you are interested in taking advantage of this spiritual...

Gearing up for the New Year

The Catholic year begins in Advent, but there is something about the rhythm of the Christmas holidays that causes us to feel the need to gear up for the new year in early January. I tried to gear up for 2017 fundraising by improving our pledge-tracking system. That was supposed to take about...

Shifting gears for Christmas

A great Catholic truth is how hard it is to set spiritual priorities in Advent when so many practical matters must be resolved before Christmas. I'm sure Our Lord understands, but Jennifer Gregory Miller is here to help with The Jesse Tree, Part 2: Finding the Essential for the...

Advent: Christ, Hope, Truth

Quite a few people have told me their celebration of Advent has been enhanced by the O Antiphons, which they learned about from Jennifer Gregory Miller. So I consider it a good thing that, as Jennifer wrote today, she is “interrupting her Jesse Tree posts because the O Antiphons begin...

Mary, Advent, Christmas, Marriage, and Hope!

In this season of hope andf joyful expectation, I am delighted that so many readers enjoyed the first installment of my review of Mary of Nazareth. The title has gotten out of hand, but here is Part 2: Sing of Mary, 4b: Everything there is to know about the Mother of God, Part 2. In a...

Thinking about ordination and marriage

As you may know, the Congregation for the Clergy has issued new guidelines for priestly formation. It's a good basic survey of the field, but I did notice a few things of particular interest. See The Gift of the Priestly Vocation: The importance of countercultural formation. In thinking...

Advent opportunities

This is a good time to regain our spiritual focus, especially in such a divisive period of Church history. One way to put stress on hold is to recognize Three things the Pope can't say. Phil Lawler makes it simple and concrete. (Some other writers here can get a little abstract at...

Putting things in (Catholic) perspective

When the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said he cannot answer the cardinals' questions about Amoris Laetitia without the Pope's approval, I took notice. In fact, Cardinal Müller managed to communicate quite a lot, and he did so in a way that is really quite...