Incarnation

The Sexual Revolution Turns Ugly

How many intellectuals have come to the revolutionary party via the path of moral indignation, only to connive ultimately at terror and autocracy? ∼ Raymond Aron The Sexual Revolution is now out of control. Initially promising freedom, like all revolutions, it has entered something like its Reign of Terror phase and is devouring its own children. As with [...]

What Peace Really Means

Another day in the aftermath of an attack that left behind many dead, many wounded and countless people confused. Minutes after the allegiance of the culprit became known, the media downplayed the likelihood that the attack had anything to do with Islam. He was probably mentally ill or maybe poor, but surely his motivation was [...]

Creation of Man in Islam and Christianity

It has been much harder than I expected to explain to Westerners why Muslims, even the moderate ones, behave the way they do. How does one describe the trees to a kid who only ever saw the desert? Even though it is fading, Christianity has been in the very fabric of the West, making all [...]

Paganism Redeemed

Lord Dunsany has written a charming short story about two "local gods" obliged to share the same temple. Every Tuesday the priests enter the inner sanctum, praise and sacrifice to the elder idol, Chu-bu, until one day they bring a fresh-carved "usurper," Sheemish. "There is none but Chu-bu … there is also Sheemish," they intone. [...]

The Splendor of the World Redeemed

The aroma was transporting: the familiar smell brought me back to childhood, to being in the kitchen with my mom, as her banana cake baked in the oven, promising sweet and banana-ish goodness. To this day, the aroma of a well-made banana cake (and, you’ll allow me to aver, my mother’s was the best) brings [...]

The Christmas Triad: Christ, Church, Eucharist

As a cradle Catholic long accustomed to the rituals and feasts of faith, the earliest memories I have coincide, most happily, with membership in what the comedian Lenny Bruce used to call the only the Church. And so there was never a time when Christmas was not an occasion for sheer wonderment and joy, an [...]

The Look of Logos

Not having seen the recent Ben-Hur, I can only imagine how excruciatingly awful it must have been for audiences to have to sit through this latest box office bust. I say that, not because I possess clairvoyant powers, but because I’ve seen too many reviews predicting the movie would almost certainly go into the tank, [...]

When Lady Day Falls on Good Friday 

Sad and rejoiced she’s seen at once, and seen At almost fifty and at scarce fifteen; At once a Son is promised her, and gone; Gabriel gives Christ to her, He her to John… ∼ John Donne, Upon The Annunciation and Passion Falling Upon One Day (March 25, 1608) There is a charming and instructive tradition [...]

On Gratitude, Grapes, and God

Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine, There’s always laughter and good red wine. At least I’ve always found it so. Benedicamus Domino! ∼ Hilaire Belloc When my wife and I were first married—oh, about half a lifetime ago—there was no wine for us to drink at our reception. It was not that others had depleted [...]

Religious Joy: A Christmas Sermon

"And the angels said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." (Luke ii. 10, 11.) There are two principal lessons which we are [...]

Only God Could Tell This Tale

When our children were very young—full of beans and wonder—I would often tell them the story of young Henry, whose mother had wisely packed him a sandwich and apple before sending him and his little dog off to explore a distant and dangerous world. His travels took them as far as the backyard where, encircled [...]

God is With Us

Near the end of a long and distinguished life, spanning nearly the entire nineteenth century, John Henry Cardinal Newman (declared Blessed by Pope Benedict in 2010), was asked about something he’d written. Now Newman, who was no slouch by any standard, had written a great many things, all of them of a very high order, [...]

Easter and Zombies

Zombies have been making the rounds lately. Not real ones, of course, because there are no real ones. It is to their great disadvantage that they do not exist, considering how popular they are. But then, they would have no great advantages in existing, either. While they may experience a certain brute satisfaction, their intellectual [...]

And the Word Became Flesh…

God loves stuff. Things. Matter. We can tell that God loves stuff because he made so much of it. From the dust of the Horsehead Nebula to the sand of a Pacific beach to the granite of the Rocky Mountains, God made it all, and, according to its own proper nature, loves it all. He [...]

On the Fundamental Goodness of Being

Years ago while living in Rome I made my first Jesuit retreat, a memorably intense affair, presided over by a priest so long in the tooth that I naturally assumed he knew St. Ignatius himself.   It was there that I learned the practice of Composition of Place, an exercise central to Ignatian spirituality, in which [...]

The Gift

 Show forth, we pray thee, Lord, thy power and come, and with thy great strength assist us, so that by the aid of thy grace, the work that is hindered by our sins may be hastened by thy merciful forgiveness: who art God, living and reigning with God the Father in the unity of the [...]

The Christmas Miracle

I picture him as a tall Texan, his outsize appearance easily eclipsing everything in sight, save only the immense shrine that he and a busload of tourists have come to Rome to see.  And then, throwing up his hand at the end of an exhausting exploration of the world’s most beautiful basilica, I hear him [...]

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.  [...]

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