Early Church

The Virtue of Piety: The Catholic Response to the Alt-Right

Last week, in the pages of Crisis, Jerry Salyer diagnosed the pagan roots of the growing movement known as the “Alternative” or “Alt-Right” in the writings of French political theorist Alain de Benoist. Salyer’s implication that Catholics should avoid the Alt-Right because of its paganism and innate hostility to Christianity is correct. Moreover, his call [...]

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 [...]

The Tradition Speaks With One Voice on Divorce & Remarriage

The vocation of the Church historian and historical theologian is similar to that of the Catholic philosopher: to serve as a handmaid to theology, the queen of the sciences. Church history is distinct from secular academic history in that—as a subset of theology—it has the ability to incorporate the insights of revelation. In Church history [...]

Deaconesses and the Dangers of Antiquarianism

“Huge news: The female diaconate is not only an idea whose time has come, but a reality recovered from history.” ∼ Father James Martin, SJ With one “tweet” celebrating the new commission appointed by Pope Francis to study the possibility of the ordination of women to the diaconate, Father James Martin, SJ managed to perfectly encapsulate [...]

Why the Church Needs a Commission on Deaconesses

The openness of Pope Francis to create a committee on deaconesses has been met with another uproar from traditionalists in the Church, many with the eye-rolling Reagan-esque response: “There he goes again.” Meanwhile the theological dissidents in the Church see the commission as another opportunity for women’s ordination. Both the traditionalists and the dissidents seem [...]

Saint Nero, Patron of Gay Marriage

Regard this essay as a qualified mea culpa. I have long maintained that there is no point in arguing against “gay marriage,” because there are no arguments for it. To argue that a “homosexual” has no right to marry another man is not unlike arguing that a unicorn has no right to be a computer [...]

The Soul of a Gibbon

In the center of Rome stands the Capitoline Hill: the heart of the ancient city, where the temples of Jupiter, Juno, and Virtus once dominated the skyline. It was the site of the treachery of Tarpeia, and the settlement of the Sabines. It was the one part of the city that did not fall to [...]

St. John Chrysostom: The Golden Voice of Love

The days around September 14 are filled with celestial graces for those who can perceive and receive them. It was on September 14 that one of the most celebrated martyrs of the African church offered up his life for Christ, for his gospel, and for his church. On that day St. Cyprian of Carthage died [...]

Reflections on the Feast of Saint Symphorian

In a chapel of the great Romanesque cathedral of Autun in Burgundy hangs a monumental painting depicting a curious and compelling scene from antiquity. An eclectic and agitated crowd has gathered in the shadow of an imposing stone gate. At the head of this assembly, a fair-skinned young man stands draped in a white toga, [...]

Give Me Back My Valentine!

 I claim there ain't Another Saint As great as Valentine.      —Ogden Nash On Sunday, February 9, the Catholic Church celebrated World Marriage Day. This Friday, February 14, the universal Church will not celebrate St. Valentine's Day, even though everybody else will. This even though he has been venerated by Catholics for about 1,700 years [...]

Jesus of Egypt

 “Out of Egypt I called my son.” — Hosea 11:1 In the Gospel of Matthew, the advent of the Messiah is followed by an abrupt departure. Almost immediately after the Magi visit them, the Holy Family takes off forEgyptbecause Joseph has been warned in a dream that King Herod would kill the infant Jesus. The [...]

The Face of Jesus

We know very little about Christian imaging before the fourth century. Persecutions and other upheavals have erased all but traces, making the tantalizing remnant all the more fascinating. Anyone searching for images of Christ is struck by an astonishing fact: There are hardly any direct representations of Him. Those one finds are bare sketches, focused [...]

Five Myths About Worship in the Early Church

As the forthcoming new translation of the Roman Missal debunks the myth that liturgical language must be so banal that even the muppets on Sesame Street can understand it, it’s a good time to examine five other untruths that have been wreaking havoc on the Church’s worship in recent decades.   1. Mass facing the [...]

Remembering the Early Church

Lately, I have been hearing a lot about how the primitive Church was not Roman Catholic. I don't know why it is, but this information keeps bursting upon me in the most unlikely settings -- a lunch party near the sand dunes, cocktails on the upper east side -- where a kindly soul informs me [...]

Remembering the Early Church

  Lately, I have been hearing a lot about how the primitive Church was not Roman Catholic. I don’t know why it is, but this information keeps bursting upon me in the most unlikely settings—a lunch party near the sand dunes, cocktails on the upper east side—where a kindly soul informs me between sips of [...]

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