Catholic renewal/reform

The Manchester Bomber: Martyr or Murderer?

The most radical part of President Trump’s speech in Saudi Arabia was not the moment when he referred to “Islamic extremism” and “Islamic terror,” but the next moment when he said, “Religious leaders must make this absolutely clear… If you choose the path of terror, your life will be empty, your life will be brief, [...]

Catholic Education at a Crossroads

My friend and former colleague Dr. Jared Staudt recently penned an article “How to Save the Soul of Our Catholic Schools” for Crisis Magazine. Dr. Staudt (as I’ll call him here) made a number of sober and valid points about the need to return to a truly Catholic education. Affirming his belief that “[t]he Catholic [...]

How to Save the Soul of Our Catholic Schools

“How can we make our school more Catholic?” This is a real question schools ask, some with perplexity. Is it a new curriculum? Better religion classes? Having the kids come to Mass? The answer is vital for the future of Catholic education. The sociologist Christian Smith notes, from his extensive research on the life of [...]

Clericalism and the Catholic Refugee

Among the many stories buried in the avalanche of political news in the weeks prior to Election Day was a minor brouhaha in Santa Fe, N.M., where a parish priest had the temerity to encourage his flock to vote pro-life. “We have to insist that any of our representatives (whether Democrat, Republican or Third Party) [...]

What Real Church Reform Looks Like

During my first tentative explorations into Catholicism, some Protestant friends pointed out examples of “bad Catholics” in their attempts to dissuade me from swimming the Tiber. The type is well-represented in literature, of course, including the “here comes everybody” of James Joyce, the Flyte’s of Brideshead Revisited or Crouchback’s of Sword of Honor, and many [...]

Hope in the Eternal Word: The Silence of Cardinal Sarah

Earlier this year I completed another silent retreat at a Trappist monastery. Such is the monastic emphasis on respecting silence that retreatants are surrounded by signs that read “Silence spoken here.” Even the refrigerator magnet I bought at the gift shop is emblazoned with this declaration. My mother remains astonished that her talkative son was [...]

Time for Christians to Unplug from Our Secular Culture

Editor’s note: The following talk, originally titled “Remembering Who We Are and the Story We Belong To,” was delivered October 19, 2016 at the 2016 Bishops’ Symposium co-sponsored by the USCCB Committee on Doctrine and the McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame and is published here with permission of the [...]

Teach the Faith, Please

While I generally find the profusion and milling-around of lay ministers of the Eucharist distracting and unnecessary, I found myself offering prayers of thanksgiving for one this past Sunday. We’ve recently moved and were attending a new and unfamiliar parish with a bewildering process for going forward to receive, including multiple lines of Eucharistic ministers [...]

Cardinal Sarah’s Ambitious Liturgical Reform

“Education,” according to Plato’s Socrates, “is not what the professions of certain men assert it to be”—it is not the putting of knowledge into the soul “as though [one] were putting sight into blind eyes.” Rather, education is the art of turning souls around so that our natural human powers, directed toward “what really is,” [...]

Cardinal Sarah’s Liturgical Reform Meets Resistance

It has been said that Rome thinks in centuries. In the present age, however, it seems that Rome reacts in days. So Cardinal Sarah learned following a July 5 address on the liturgy, as the Vatican issued a clarification meant to quash speculation about the possibility of new enactments from Rome that would affect liturgical norms [...]

On Facing East During Mass

It is very important that we return as soon as possible to a common orientation, of priests and the faithful turned together in the same direction—eastward or at least towards the apse—to the Lord who comes.  ∼ Robert Cardinal Sarah, Prefect, Congregation for the Divine Worship, London, July 5, 2016. Symbols mean something. A nephew of [...]

Courageous Leadership Is Needed to Reverse Secular Trends

However unpleasant this might feel, it’s time for American Catholics to acknowledge that over the past decade, a tsunami wave of aggressive secularism has swept across the United States. This is confirmed both by sociological data, and a disturbing secularist trend in politics in this age of Obama and Obergefell v. Hodges. There is, however, [...]

On the Restoration and Promotion of the Traditional Mass

The third anniversary of the election of Pope Francis seems an apt time to take stock of the state of the Traditionalist movement within the Church. While the term may encompass various goals for the Church, I focus here on its essential aim, namely the restoration and promotion of the Tridentine liturgy. The reign of [...]

Three Liturgical Changes We Need Now

The very goal of the Christian’s life—true worship of God—is a subject too often brushed aside as irrelevant to the question of transmitting the Faith, despite the growing urgency among the faithful to find new ways to catechize. What’s rightly perceived as a catechetical crisis ought to show us the relationship of worship to truth. [...]

Church Reform: An Endless Task

The Book of Gomorrah, written in the eleventh century by St. Peter Damian, has now been published in a modern translation by Matthew Cullinan Hoffman, a journalist and graduate student at Holy Apostles College. To the original book Hoffman has added a useful introduction and copious notes. The book manages to be both scholarly and [...]

A Parish School Turns Failure into Success

A thing of beauty is a joy forever: Its loveliness increases; it will never Pass into nothingness; but still will keep A bower quiet for us, and a sleep Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.
      ∼  John Keats, the opening to Endymion In 1923 Polish immigrants, living in Grand Rapids and earning [...]

The African Church Is the New Champion of Orthodoxy

Europe is the Faith—so Hilaire Belloc declared in 1920. Nearly a century later, the faith burns as bright as it did then, but it is Africa, not Europe, that is carrying the torch of orthodoxy. Such is the unavoidable take-away from last month’s synod on the family. With prominent Western traditionalists like Cardinal Raymond Burke [...]

What Some Synod Fathers Could Learn from St. Charles Borromeo

The Archdiocese of Milan is one of the most ancient and honored in the Latin Christian world. Named the Ambrosian See, it was the seat of St. Ambrose, and possessor of an ancient and venerable western liturgical rite of its own. Milan, the mighty city on the Lombard plain, has ever been at the crossroads [...]

Does Iconoclasm Further the New Evangelization?

“You will know them by their fruit.” Thus says Our Lord, in a guarantee as concise and direct as it is sobering. Catholics today, it seems, hear fairly constant talk of the new evangelization. The word “new” can sometimes be a source of confusion, but it really isn’t so much something new and different, as [...]

Reform and Renewal Starts with Us

Let's get straight to the point. We no longer live in a culturally Christian state. We do not live in a robust pagan state, such as Rome was during the Pax Romana. We live in a sickly sub-pagan state, or metastate, a monstrous thing, all-meddlesome, all-ambitious. The natural virtues are scorned. Temperance is for prigs, [...]

What Prospects for Thought?

Last month I suggested that a one-sided emphasis on will and power over transcendent realities has meant less and worse thought. That problem applies especially to public life, but man is social, so it spills over to private life as well. To respond to the situation, I proposed a renewed emphasis on institutions, like family and church, [...]

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