Confession

Do-It-Yourself Biology

The bromide of “being true to yourself” has found new life in gender studies, in the vertiginous celebration of the Supercilious Self, and in the concomitant denial of the “permanent things.” For example, Mount Holyoke College, in Massachusetts, proudly announces that “it welcomes applications for its undergraduate program from any qualified student who is female [...]

The Spiritual Roots of the Church’s Crisis

In the midst of moral and sacramental debates in the Church, it is easy to focus on ecclesial politics and to look there for solutions. Without denying the importance of such debates, it is also helpful to take a step back and to examine the roots of the crisis. The Church’s Cross: A Crisis of [...]

A Tsunami of Mercy

Two stories come to mind when thinking about a Christian’s protracted struggle with sin. One is about a woman who goes to Confession, and, with frustration tells her priest, “Well, Father, I feel a little bit embarrassed. I’m here again to confess the same three sins.” Without pausing the good reverend replies, “Would you feel [...]

The Curate’s Egg: A Reflection on Amoris Laetitia

There was a Victorian member of the Royal Academy who boasted that his paintings were the best because they were the biggest.  More perceptively, Cicero and Pascal and Madame Recamier and Mark Twain made opposite apologies:  each had written a long letter because they did not have the time to write a short one. Not only is verbosity [...]

Pope Francis on Reconciliation for Abortion

Abortion has long sat in the middle of a three-street ecclesial intersection, namely, those of Sin, Crime, and Sanction. The meeting of any two of these factors would make for a perilous perch but the confluence of all three is fraught with opportunities for confusion. At the risk of serious over-simplification, let me sketch the [...]

Seek Forgiveness from Christ in Confession

We humans can be a bit fickle sometimes. What we choose to do with our time often depends directly on how the people and places with which we associate ourselves make us feel. If we don't feel welcome in a place, we probably don't stay long. If we try a place or organization out on the [...]

Rediscovering the Pleasures of Penance

Growing up Catholic at a time when everything you needed to know to save your soul was presumptively understood by everybody, there was never any excuse for those of us who fell short or missed the mark.  Having been carefully coached by legions of dedicated priests and nuns, where would the wiggle room be when [...]

The Blessings of Sin

When asked once about a sermon he’d just heard, the legendarily laconic Calvin Coolidge managed to summarize its theme in a single word:  “Sin.”   Pressed for details concerning the preacher’s views on the subject, President Coolidge added four more:  “He was against it.”  Where Coolidge himself stood on the matter, the record does not show.  [...]

The Nation at Princeton’s Service

One of the many forms of self-promotion, at my old mater ferox, was a regular bulletin called “Princeton in the Nation's Service,” detailing the many ways in which Princetonians past and present were making the world a better, that is a more Princetonian, place to live.  I suspect that, after the ordinary fashion of human [...]

Unaccomodating

Two millennia into the Christian era, the niceness of Christians is on the way to becoming the biggest threat to Christianity. “I came to cast fire upon the earth,” Jesus famously said. The characteristic gesture of our religiosity may be the limp handshake of peace. “God doesn’t need ‘nice’ Christians,” Archbishop Charles J. Chaput writes [...]

An iPhone App to Take to Confession

Recently I paid my $1.99 and downloaded the new iPhone app for confession. Seeing the app was subtitled “a Roman Catholic App,” I figured it wasn’t going to suffer from “Catholicism Lite.” (Whether the new app would meet the demanding standard of John Allen’s “Taliban Catholicism,” I was about to find out.) Since its release, [...]

Is it Time to Rethink Confession for Minors?

In confronting the present crisis, measures to deal justly with individual crimes are essential, yet on their own they are not enough: a new vision is needed, to inspire present and future generations to treasure the gift of our common faith. -- Pope Benedict XVI, "Letter to the Irish People" "Tell me the details," I [...]

Behold the Spam of God!

Do "Godspammers" who write converts to the Catholic faith honestly believe that they are the first people in the universe to ever suggest reading the Bible? If not, then what are they thinking? Almost every other day, it seems, I will open my e-mail and find something like this specimen (culled from my "deleted" file): [...]

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