Catholic Living

A young girl reading by Michael Peter Ancher

Lent is the best time for spiritual reading focused on self-improvement, especially for those who have promised to give up or cut back on sports or entertainment, freeing up time in the process. For us who consider ourselves bad Catholics—or at least not-good-enough Catholics—there is always room for improvement. What sort of books make good [...]

Lent is the best time for spiritual reading focused on self-improvement, especially for those who have promised to give up or cut back on sports or entertainment, freeing up time in the process. For us who consider ourselves bad Catholics—or at least not-good-enough Catholics—there is always room for improvement. What sort of books make good [...]

Six days before the Passover, one day before Palm Sunday, and not long before Holy Week, Jesus came to Bethany to where Lazarus was with his siblings, Martha and Mary (John 12:1-8). Parallel accounts in Matthew (26:6-13) and Mark (14:3-9) tell us that they were at the house of Simon the leper. While Martha served [...]

The Ardor of Agnes  

I have known only two women named Agnes in my life. One of them was my grandmother who, having died two years after I was born, I could hardly be expected to remember. But since I was often told things about her—for instance, that she was beautiful and pious and went to Mass every morning—I [...]

More than 70 years ago, the English satirist Aldous Huxley wrote that modernity is the “age of noise.” He was writing about the radio, whose noise, he said “penetrates the mind, filling it with a babel of distractions—news items, mutually irrelevant bits of information, blasts of corybantic or sentimental music, continually repeated doses of drama [...]

Over the years, I have become acquainted with various logical arguments for the existence of God—some I find more convincing than others. Of course, the strongest evidence comes from direct experience, for God is a person to be mystically encountered, not an abstraction to be logically deduced. This should not be taken to imply that [...]

In years past, the advice given by doctors to “cut down on the calories” or “go out for a walk more often” was just that: a friendly instruction delivered more or less earnestly depending on the situation. Nowadays, “Thou Shalt Exercise More” and “Thou Shalt Eat Healthy” have become such forceful exhortations that one would [...]

Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves...” (Gen 11:4) As a small child the tale of Babel’s tower seemed a large story, one filled with men who were wicked and a god who was powerful. [...]

David Leonhardt, in the January 18 New York Times, asked whether the “heyday of the colleges that serve[d] America’s working class is over.” He reminisces about the City College of New York, which used to cost only a few hundred dollars a year but was the “Harvard of the proletariat.” He laments the fact that good, [...]

Upon arriving in Lourdes on pilgrimage on a cold, rainy winter day, I was feeling very much the pilgrim. I was cold, tired, and wet. The long trip had been exhausting and the walk in the drizzling rain from the train station to the hotel had drained me of energy. As I headed to the [...]

On January 6, the traditional date for the celebration of the Epiphany, a celebration that includes the miracle at the wedding at Cana, Crux posted an article by Fr. Paul Keller presenting “A case study in communion for the divorced/remarried.” The case study gave a hypothetical example that Fr. Keller thought would justify admitting a [...]

The other day on an obscure channel on TV I saw a fundamentalist preacher interviewing two young Catholics at the Minnesota State Fair. The two Catholics were utterly unable to match wits with the Protestant old-time-religion preacher. It was painful to watch, almost as painful as reading Vatican press releases over the last several years [...]

In a post-Christian world, ancient wisdom is all the more impressive. It isn’t difficult to see why Dante referred to the ancients as “noble pagans.” Today the noble pagans have been supplanted by militant technocrats. Perhaps our touchscreen techno-culture atrophies our imaginative faculty, which C.S. Lewis believed was the seedbed of faith. We have little [...]

Several years ago, I had a student in my English class who was blind from birth—Charlie had lost his eyesight due to oxygenation at his premature delivery, weighing less than two pounds when he came into the world. We were reading Shakespeare’s King Lear that day. Not an easy thing to do with a class [...]

It may strike many Catholics as odd, improper, even irreverent, that there would be a patron saint of hangovers. We know from personal experience that through the prayers of the saints we are healed of serious ailments, protected in our travels, find stuff we’ve lost, and are granted a host of other graces. Why, then, [...]

“Can you drink the cup that I will drink?” (Matt 20:22). This is the question Jesus posed to St. John the Evangelist and his brother, James, as they and their mother petition for seats on his right and on his left. Though not a martyr, several traditions affirm that John did suffer from persecution, though [...]

First consideration is due to the offspring, which many have the boldness to call the disagreeable burden of matrimony.  ~ Pope Pius XI, Casti Connubii If someone says “practicing Catholic,” what do you think of? If your first thought it involved Mass attendance, you’d be in good company. Pollsters and pundits tend to clump Catholics into [...]

Anyone coming upon Dietrich von Hildebrand’s Liturgy and Personality (Hildebrand Press), who thinks it will be a manual on how to imbue the liturgy with one’s personality, or how not to do so, is in for a surprise, unsettling and salutary. The work is in the first instance metaphysical: we cannot discuss the relationship between [...]

If you live in a state that has not taken up legislation on physician-assisted suicide (PAS), beware. It is coming. PAS has become a volatile issue in state legislatures and the media. Advocates for PAS typically present three arguments to promote its legalization: (1) to relieve the suffering patient of pain, (2) to relieve the [...]

There was a time, and perhaps there still is in some settings, which the English call, as compliment and not as a pejorative, “homely, ” when families would gather around a piano to sing. Therapists and family counselors would be less in demand if that were more a part of our domestic vernacular. Enough of [...]

Thanksgiving is rapidly becoming runner-up to Christmas as poster child in the “holiday wars.” Christmas remains the feast that dare not speak its name, re-(de)christened as “winter holiday.” (What do politically correct Aussies call it?) Thanksgiving has kept its name but been hollowed out. Do we have any communal answer to the question “to whom/what [...]

A friend shared a story with me about shopping for a birthday present for his wife. He wasn’t sure what to buy for her. She dropped some subtle hints a few weeks before her birthday that failed to bring much clarity. Then she dropped some not so subtle hints and he ended up getting her [...]

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