Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Way of the Cross (1991-2010)


H/T Vatican Radio: The Vatican website has an index to the Papal Way of the Cross for every year from 2000 through 2010 (plus most of the 1990s, if you speak Italian). Here.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Holy Week through Art


H/T The Anchoress: Archbishop Vincent Nichols presents a meditation for Holy Week through four works of art.



The Anchoress on the Sexual Abuse Crisis


The Anchoress has a very thoughtful piece on the current sexual abuse crisis and the allegations against the pope.

Dan Lipinski


H/T InsideCatholic: Pro-life Democrats do exist.

Red Toryism


I really don't know anything about this, but it might be interesting to look into. Joe Hargrave at The American Catholic has an interesting piece on British political philosopher Philip Blond and "Red Toryism".

Scoundrel Time(s)


George Weigel writes on recent reporting by the NY Times on the allegations against Pope Benedict XVI with respect to the sexual abuse crisis.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Peter Kreeft on Ethics


I've been listening to Peter Kreeft's audio lectures from Recorded Books' Modern Scholar series. I just finished the second set: Ethics: A History of Moral Thought, and thought it was excellent. You can order the course directly from Recorded Books, or you can download it from iTunes.

John Allen on Benedict XVI and the Abuse Crisis


John Allen on the allegations regarding Pope Benedict XVI's handling of sexual abuse cases.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Annunciation


John William Waterhouse - The Annunciation (1914)

Mary, Did You Know




The Angelus




Must...focus...


Really must get head out of health care "reform" debacle. Mmmph.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Escape from Hell


I read Niven and Pournelle's Inferno years ago and never thought of it as particularly religious. Perhaps I'll give it another try. They've written a sequel—Escape from Hell. Robert Chase reviews it on First Things.

The Loser Letters


This looks like a good book. Mary Eberstadt writes on The Loser Letters, her satire about the new atheists.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Virtual Tour of the Sistine Chapel


The next virtual tour is up on the Vatican website, this time of the Sistine Chapel.

(See here for other tours.)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

"Sooner or later God'll cut you down"


Msgr. Pope on the Four Last Things. (Johnny Cash song thrown in for free.)

Friday, March 19, 2010

USCCB Issues Request


The USCCB is requesting that Catholics contact their representatives and senators regarding abortion coverage in the Senate version of the health care legislation. Details here.

Viva San Giuseppe!



Some history and recipes for today's feast.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Joseph's Song




A Hidden Life




Wednesday, March 17, 2010

"Keep before your own eyes that which you would wish to be"


Meditation for St. Patrick's Day from the Anchoress.

St. Patrick's Breastplate




Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Monday, March 15, 2010

Culture of Divorce, Culture of Death


H/T the Anchoress. Heartbreakingly beautiful essay on marriage:

We in a culture of death hunger after life, but on our own terms, and at the expense of others, even at the expense of their lives. But some of us will only begin really to live when we have lost all capacity to pretend that we are our own. That is one of the meanings of Jesus' mysterious saying, that unless we become like little children, we shall not enter the kingdom of God. Esther now entered that childhood, and Herb was there, to feed her, to wheel her about when she could no longer walk, to talk to her even toward the end, when a massive stroke had left her still wishing to speak, but unable to form more than one or two intelligible words.
And he was beside her those last few days, making sure, if by some miracle she regained the ability to swallow, that the hospital staff would not abandon her to starvation. He would not allow them to hasten her death with morphine, prescribed less often to alleviate pain than to soothe the onlookers and free the doctors and nurses from the ennui of a natural death. We watched by turns at the bed of the dying woman, not because we believed there was something magical about squeezing out each breath from the clamp of death, but because it was the right thing to do. She was going to die, but we didn't want her to die alone. The dying life was a mystery. It was not our place to abandon it, to cast it away as inconvenient, as trash, as we are urged to do to so much else in our barren lives.
How can we know what fleeting notes of grace came to her in those last hours? If God wills, who can obstruct Him? After nearly 53 years of struggle and disappointment, yet 53 years of faithfulness and duty, Herb stood by, never divorced. The Lord God, against whom she had sinned the more mightily, never turned from calling her back to Him, and as a child of over 70 years she finally answered that call.
Read the whole piece here.

Solemnities that fall on Friday during Lent


Thought I'd bring this up since St. Joseph's Day, a solemnity, is this Friday.

The Two Great Commandments


H/T Msgr. Pope:

Homily (in two parts) by Fr. Francis Martin, for March 12, 2010. I've added a link on the sidebar (under Resources) to Fr. Martin's Hasneh Media website.

Part 1:



Part 2:



Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Deeps of Time


H/T the Curt Jester:

Interesting-looking blog on science and Catholicism.

Hope


Msgr. Pope explains the theological virtue of hope.

Friday, March 12, 2010

"God does not want ascetic champions; He wants people who love."


Fr. Michael Monshau's homily for Laetare Sunday:

The habit of selflessness is cultivated by acts of penance and expressions of self-denial. When one can pass up something desirable (that tasty treat outside of mealtime; that extra hour in front of the television; the desire to speak unkindly about someone with whom I can interact only with great difficulty; the temptation to judge others), then one can claim a victory in self-discipline. When one has self-discipline, one has achieved self-control. When one enjoys self-control, one is in possession of one’s own self and only then is one able to give one’s self away. In other words, only the person with self-possession has sufficient freedom from being preoccupied with taking care of self first in order to place Christ (and the needs of Christ’s poor) at the center of their life. Penance trains us in the habit of thinking of others first. Every single act of penance helps us to grow in this kind of selflessness, maturity and holiness. Eventually we realize that if we cannot occasionally pass up that tasty snack or that extra stein of beer, there is no way in the world we will ever develop the strength to pass up the temptation to speak uncharitably about another or to commit any number of other sins. Our Lenten acts of penance, then, cultivate within us the strength to be more loving. The Church does not recommend Lenten penance so that each of us can note our capacity for sacrifice. Rather, Holy Mother Church recommends Lenten penances so that we can more easily grow in our capacity to love.
Read the entire homily.

More on the Seven Deadly Sins


Mary Eberstadt concludes her series of articles (which I managed to miss) on the Seven Deadly Sins with an excellent reflection on the sin of pride.

The other articles can be found at these links:

The Seven Deadly Sins


Msgr. Pope (and Fr. Barron) on the Seven Deadly Sins.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

How Should Catholics View the Tea Party Movement?


From The Catholic Thing, some historical context for the Tea Party movement.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Googled "Tired of Lent"...


...and found this. Yup. On the bright side, the Solemnity of St. Joseph is a week from Friday.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Salt Water of Siloe


Brother Stephen of Sub Tuum takes issue with Luke Timothy Johnson on the subject of mysticism in modern religious life:

Bad, bad conservatives. They have no heart. If they did, they would never question the conscience of another and that’s why the Pope is apparently the moral equivalent of a radical mullah in Afghanistan having women stoned. Note how the earlier lip service to the failings of exoteric progressives has disappeared. (And remember that this is an article inCommonweal, not known for being shy about exoteric matters--not that there's anything wrong with that.) It seems that, in reality, the mystic was to be prized not for his complete vulnerability and surrender to the will of God and the union that is born from it, but for his ability to tell the worldly exoterics, “You’re not the boss of me.”
 Read the whole piece.

Cardinal George on Jesus in Public Life


H/T Fr. Z. Cardinal George writes on Lent, the temptation of Christ, and the public life of the Church:

When tempted, Jesus didn’t play games with the devil. He recognized evil, named it and banished it. Sometimes, when people ask what Jesus would do, they con themselves into thinking that he would accept evil out of compassion for people who are tempted or feel themselves victims. Jesus was certainly compassionate, with a love beyond our understanding. But he didn’t cooperate with evil; he died to save us from it.
Read the whole column.

Archbishop Chaput on the Boulder School Controversy


H/T Fr. Z. Archbishop Chaput comments on the controversy over Fr. Breslin and Sacred Heart School in Boulder:

The policies of our Catholic school system exist to protect all parties involved, including the children of homosexual couples and the couples themselves. Our schools are meant to be “partners in faith” with parents. If parents don’t respect the beliefs of the Church, or live in a manner that openly rejects those beliefs, then partnering with those parents becomes very difficult, if not impossible. It also places unfair stress on the children, who find themselves caught in the middle, and on their teachers, who have an obligation to teach the authentic faith of the Church.
Most parents who send their children to Catholic schools want an environment where the Catholic faith is fully taught and practiced. That simply can’t be done if teachers need to worry about wounding the feelings of their students or about alienating students from their parents. That isn’t fair to anyone—including the wider school community. Persons who have an understanding of marriage and family life sharply different from Catholic belief are often people of sincerity and good will. They have other, excellent options for education and should see in them the better course for their children.
Read Abp. Chaput's entire column.

Glenn Beck and Social Justice


Since we don't have cable (and since I find his style a little off-putting), I don't really follow Glenn Beck and so don't have any context for his remarks last week on social justice. (See here for one reaction, also containing a link to the audio.) Taken at face value, it does strike me that at the very least they could have used a little more nuance.

The Church after all does have a certain amount of teaching on the subject of social justice. If (as I suspect) what he really means is a certain politicization of the Christian concept of social justice which puts the Second Great Commandment ahead of the First Great Commandment, and which delegates to the government all of our charitable responsibilities, then I'm inclined to agree with him. Also, there have been certain utopian tendencies in some quarters that seem determined to bring about the Kingdom here and now—even if a few heads have to be knocked to do it—that have caused nothing but trouble in recent history. I'm guessing that's what he's referring to when he picks on progressives.

If all that's the case, I wish he'd been a little clearer, instead of painting with such a broad brush.

Lead us not into temptation...


Lent has actually been going remarkably well this year. Today is the first day that I've been seriously tempted to blow off my Lenten (and dieting) resolutions. I want to go to Panera and get one of their huge sandwiches. I want to kick back and watch TV shows and play mindless computer games all day long.

Not sure what's up with that. Maybe it's the sunshine.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Benedict on Suffering


Sunday's Angelus.

Father Z Issues a Call to Arms


Fr. Zuhlsdorf of What Does the Prayer Really Say? has issued a call to arms in defense of a Boulder, Colorado, priest, Fr. William Breslin, who has come under attack for not allowing a lesbian couple to enroll their child in his parish's kindergarten. This is in obedience to archdiocesan policy, which exists (among other reasons) to protect both the teachers and the child.

Fr. Z's post has all of the relevant links, but in particular, a link to a news story about the controversy is here, and Fr. Breslin's comments on the situation are here and here.

"Avatar" and Acedia


Good article in the National Catholic Register about the sin of acedia:

Many Avatar fans experienced a kind of emotional deflation as they left the cineplex. The blockbuster film, shown widely in state-of-the-art 3-D, portrays a world they found so realistic, so beautiful and so affecting that it made the real world seem dull by comparison.
Is the real world really dull? Only if we’re infected with the quiet-est and the most lethal of the seven deadly sins: a sin that has been mostly forgotten. We call it sloth, but Tradition since the Desert Fathers has called it “acedia” — a kind of melancholy that is closely wed to aversion to effort.
Acedia’s place in the culture of death is often overlooked. How, after all, could a culture obsessed with “efficiency” be a culture afflicted with sloth? Yet acedia is one of the defining vices of our age.
Read the rest here.

Keeping Lent as a Family


Suggestions from Fr. Michael Monshau, O.P., for ways for a family to observe Lent together.

Religion and the Media


Robert Royal comments on media ignorance of religion:

Are Catholics callous fanatics? Do we only care about esoteric moral questions and neglect obvious ways of helping our neighbor?
Before you start laughing, take a second to look at the proposition squarely. Suppose you were a secularist hanging around with like-minded people. The only time you’d hear anything about Catholics, or Christianity, is when a culture war issue erupts, like abortion or gay marriage, or the priestly abuse scandal. The countercultural message on the first two looks connected, in our sex-obsessed world, to the last one.
If you haven’t take the trouble to learn otherwise – and who does these days? – you’d think that these are all indications of hopeless Catholic stick-in-the-mud Puritanism and its evil predatory offspring.
Read the whole piece here.

Learning to Pray from Children


Msgr. Pope observes that children can teach us about prayer:

When it comes to our struggle in prayer there are some things that we need to unlearn. For too many private prayer is often a formal, even stuffy affair that drips of boredom and unnecessary formality and has lots of rules. Perhaps we learned some of our lessons too well. And yet many of the youngest children have not learned these lessons and they seem to pray with great ease. They are unassuming and will say almost anything to God. It is true that children may have a lot to learn about public and liturgical prayer, but when it comes to personal and private prayer they have much to teach us.
Read the whole thing here.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

L-Mart: Your Lent Superstore


The Curt Jester has something for your every Lenten need.

Asleep and Awake at the Same Time


Betty Duffy's blog really is quite good:

In a leap of metaphor, I find myself in a cultural current of late, in which I steadily and absently forge through life on a media-induced soma holiday. Sitting in the doctor’s office I bounce back and forth between the TV screen and the latest People Magazine. Online, I drift through the blogosphere avoiding any reliable news sources. A Valentine’s Dinner date, found my husband and I inadvertently allowing our attention to drift to the E! Hollywood true story taking place on the flat-screen. I have to wonder what the cost of all this complacency will be when we wake up and realize we are off course.
Read the whole thing here.

"We're all wanted by someone"


H/T Msgr. Pope:

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Attende Domine




Latin and English lyrics here.

Peter Hitchens: How I found God and peace with my atheist brother


H/T the Curt Jester:


I am not hoping for a late conversion because he has won the battle against cigarettes. He has bricked himself up high in his atheist tower, with slits instead of windows from which to shoot arrows at the faithful, and would find it rather hard to climb down out of it.
I have, however, the more modest hope that he might one day arrive at some sort of acceptance that belief in God is not necessarily a character fault, and that religion does not poison everything. 
Beyond that, I can only add that those who choose to argue in prose, even if it is very good prose, are unlikely to be receptive to a case which is most effectively couched in poetry.
My brother and I agree on this: that independence of mind is immensely precious, and that we should try to tell the truth in clear English even if we are disliked for doing so. Oddly enough this leads us, in many things, to be far closer than most people think we are on some questions; closer, sometimes, than we would particularly wish to be.
The same paradox sometimes also makes us arrive at different conclusions from very similar arguments, which is easier than it might appear. This will not make us close friends at this stage. We are two utterly different men approaching the ends of two intensely separate lives.
Let us not be sentimental here, nor rashly over-optimistic. But I was astonished, on that spring evening by the Grand River, to find that the longest quarrel of my life seemed unexpectedly to be over, so many years and so many thousands of miles after it had started, in our quiet homes and our first beginnings in an England now impossibly remote from us.
It may actually be true, as I have long hoped that it would be, in the words of T. S. Elliot, that 'the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time'.

Read the whole article here.

"Answer the Question!"


Msgr. Pope on reading the gospel stories as a participant, not a spectator:

True enough, we are reading historical accounts. But, truth be told these ancient stories are our stories. We are in the narrative. You are Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Deborah, Jeremiah, Ruth, Peter, Paul, Magdalene, Mother Mary, and, if you are prepared to accept it, you are also Jesus. As the narrative we read unfolds, we are in the story. We cannot simply watch what others say or do or answer. For what Peter and Magdalene and others did, we do. Peter denied and ran. So do we. Magdalene loved and never gave up, should should we. Magdalene had a sinful past and a promising future, so do we. Peter was passionate and had a temper so do we. But Peter also loved the Lord and ultimately gave his life for the Lord. So can we. Jesus suffered and died but rose again and ascended to glory. So have we and so will we.
The scriptures are our own story. We are in it. To read scripture as a mere spectator looking on is to miss the keynote. Scripture is our story.
He goes on to list one hundred questions that Jesus asks, pointing out that we should be answering them for ourselves. Read the whole piece here.

The Prodigal Son


Rembrandt - The Return of the Prodigal Son

Friday, March 5, 2010

"A 21 Nun Salute"


The Benedictines of Mary, Queen of the Apostles, visit Our Lady of Spring Bank.

Lazarus and the Rich Man


Msgr. Pope draws five lessons from the parable of Lazarus and the rich man.

John Allen on Archbishop Chaput


H/T Catholic News Service:

In a post today on his All Things Catholic blog, John Allen talks about Archbishop Chaput and his recent speeches on health care, Christians in public life, and Catholic public education:

In an era in which institutional authority of all sorts has collapsed, a religious leader who wants to move opinion has to compete in a secular marketplace of ideas. Chaput does, rarely invoking “because the church says so” as an argument. In a brief talk recently on Catholic education, for instance, he never cited Ex Corde Ecclesiae, but rather Francis Fukuyama, Bill Joy and Neil Postman, with Augustine thrown in for good measure. He called on Catholic universities to beef up their religious identity, not because the pope decreed it, but because a society of great technological prowess and a weak moral compass needs it.
Read the whole piece here.

Some Music for Lent


I like listening to Michael Card's music. He has a couple of albums that work well for Lent: The Hidden Face of God and Known By the Scars.

Caravaggio Exhibit in Rome


Caravaggio - The Incredulity of St. Thomas (license)

Art historian Elizabeth Lev reviews a new Caravaggio exhibit in Rome, running until June 13th.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Benedict on St. Bonaventure


Pope Benedict's catechesis on St. Bonaventure.

Stephen Barr's Review of "Faith, Science, and Reason"


Physicist Stephen Barr reviews Christopher Baglow's book Faith, Science, and Reason for First Things. It looks like it might be a good book. The review starts:

A couple of years ago, I received a phone call from a theologian named Chris Baglow, whom I didn’t know. He told me that he had just completed the first draft of a textbook on science and religion for use in Catholic schools and colleges and wanted to know if I’d be interested in taking a look at it. A textbook on science and religion? What a great idea, I thought, and yet how obvious! Why had no one thought of writing such a textbook before? (Or maybe they had, and I hadn’t heard of it.) How badly needed such a book is right now. The world is now awash in propaganda for scientific atheism, and yet virtually nothing is being done to prepare our youth to meet this challenge.


The next thought that occurred to me was that such a book could be worse than useless—could even be a disaster—if not done well. As I talked with Baglow, however, my fears on that score evaporated and my enthusiasm grew. I discussed many issues with him, scientific, theological, and philosophical, and (from my point of view) he was hitting all the nails squarely on the head.

Read the whole review here.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Finding God in the Wilderness


Fr. Longenecker on asceticism, desire and the search for happiness:

What applies to marriage applies to any other desire or any other dream we have. The best career in the world will not make us happy. All the money in the world will not make us happy. The most beautiful body, the most wonderful social life, the loveliest family, the grandest home, the most wonderful food, entertainment and possessions will not make us happy. All of these desires simply point us to a deeper desire, which is the desire for God.

Read the whole thing here.

Russell Shaw on the USCCB Controversy


H/T CNS: Russell Shaw explains what's going on with the recent controversy over the apparent association of the bishops' conference and groups promoting abortion and homosexuality.

Clarifying Moral Reasoning on Torture


I don't really want to wade into the torture debate, as it seems to have a tendency to degenerate into a screaming match among conservative American Catholics. However, I thought that Prof. Reno did a pretty good job of laying out the relevant Catholic moral principles here.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Good As New


H/T the Anchoress. Deacon Greg Kandra's journey back to the sacrament of confession:

I can’t quite explain it. Why does this sacrament exert such force? Some of it, I’m sure, is that it just feels good to let the weight of all our wrongs roll off our shoulders. It is comforting to be told that we are going to be okay and that what was wrong can be set right.
Everybody needs a second chance. Or a third.
Of course, it isn’t easy. It requires reflection, observation, scrutiny. For a few moments we are asked to be moral anthropologists. We seek out our sins. We capture them, name them, tag them and put them under glass to study, like wildly exotic fauna. What on earth is that?
The Chinese have a saying: “The beginning of wisdom is to call something by its correct name.” Perhaps that is part of it, too: we name what we are—proud, greedy, lustful, petty, selfish, untruthful—and become aware. With penance and practice, we strive to be better. Wisdom begins.
Read the whole article here.