Lent

The New Secular Puritan Covenant

Thanksgiving brings back memories for Americans of the Pilgrims and Puritans, carrying out their “errand into the wilderness” to build a “city on a hill,” surviving that first bleak Massachusetts winter of 1620-21. As a kid, I remember that cutting out Puritan hats from black construction paper and taping them to the school windows was [...]

A Question of Perspective

I recently took my nine-year-old son, Karol, to the National Gallery of Art here in Washington. I knew that a nine-year-old’s idea of a fun Sunday was not necessarily looking at art, but I thought he needs some exposure to it and we can do it in limited amounts, maybe once a month. Besides, I [...]

The Ballad of Judas Iscariot and the Burden of Lent

Lent is a burden and a blessing. It calls Catholics to crawl beneath the weight of themselves to the Cross of Christ and come face to face with who they are. No one will be content with that vision. Most would rather hide from themselves, burying their being deep beneath distractions and denials. Lent is [...]

It is the Story of Everyone

My grandfather—who loved telling stories and who, in his last years, would endlessly retell the same stories—was particularly partial to the story of the fellow who, condemned to hang for his crimes, was nevertheless permitted a bit of exercise the day before. “In that case,” the prisoner asks the judge, “may I just skip the [...]

A Lenten Meditation on an Unconventional Ash Wednesday

As I went to the local supermarket this Ash Wednesday, I was surprised by a table outside on the sidewalk with two men in clerical collars. The sign said it all: “Ashes to Go.” They were administering ashes to shoppers. I had already received my ashes from the priest at church, but I politely asked [...]

Discovering Our Own Sinfulness

Some people say we never hear about sin any more. Not true. It’s just that they are not the familiar sins listed in the Catechism: stealing, lying, missing Mass on Sunday—and especially nothing about sexual sin. Yet we do hear about sins all the time—in the news, on talk shows, and in every kind of [...]

While Only God is Good, Everyone Can Be Perfect

The sonorous start of Lent jolts with the reminder that man is dust and shall return to dust. It is hardly what we call news: before there were calendars and clocks or Donne’s tolling bell, Abel learned it when Cain struck him. Even the immortals of our civic pantheon and postage stamps were immortalized by [...]

Perfect Lenten Reading

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 [...]

How Little We Know Ourselves

The Lenten and Easter seasons call each of us to renewed reflection on our journey through life. Prayerful reading of Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection is a sure way to strive for something Father George Rutler expressed so well—we are to let Jesus “make of our graves what he made of his own borrowed tomb: [...]

Prelude to the Passion

It is only in these last days of Lent—before, that is, the high moments of Holy Week that will mark the earthly end of his life—that the public appearances of Jesus become especially fraught, ever more heightened and dramatic. And it is always a toss-up, given the essential inconstancy of the crowds confronting him (all [...]

Is It Over Yet? Lessons for Lent     

“Teach us to care and not to care Teach us to sit still Even among these rocks…” ∼  Ash Wednesday T.S. Eliot Can you believe it? It’s only the first week of Lent, and I’m already tired of it. When will this ordeal end? Surely there’s a door somewhere leading out of this desert. Does [...]

Lent All Year Round?

For several years, every Ash Wednesday, I witnessed a curious spectacle: an openly dissenting Catholic lesbian teacher I worked with attended her only Mass of the year, early in the morning, and sported her ashes on her forehead all day, in front of her classes. She fasted and abstained, and we noticed, totally confused but [...]

The Three Temptations of Philosophy

The Gospel of the First Sunday of Lent always features one of the Synoptics on the temptation of Jesus in the desert. This year, we read from Luke. Spiritual writers have long reflected on the meaning of the temptations—for bread, for goods, for worship—that those temptations embody. The temptations Jesus faced are temptations we all [...]

Films to Watch During Lent

Lent is a time for taking stock. It is a spiritual workout consisting of prayer, fasting and alms giving. We pray, read spiritual books, and give something to someone in need. But too often we get distracted, we forget to pray, and lose interest in the books we have earmarked for the season whilst suddenly realizing [...]

Lenten Meditations on Politics

Lent is a time of personal transformation, so it is a time of inwardness. It nonetheless has an outward-turning aspect. Man is social, and God is other than ourselves, so in addition to fasting to help us put our attachments in their place, Lent encourages prayer and almsgiving to increase our love of God and [...]

His Resolute Will Should Inspire Us

Pope Benedict XVI has designated 2013 the Year of Faith and this is, no doubt, because we need it. Our faith’s supreme object is, of course, Jesus Christ, and the constant contemplation of his glory will not only sustain our faith as we mourn this Culture of Death, endure the assaults on religious freedom, and [...]

And Also With Your Spirit

Thirty minutes from now I will stop working on this article and, with that strange combination of eagerness and resignation that animates mothers around the globe, prepare to pick-up my children from school.  Forty minutes from now, one of my children will grab their forehead, let out a low moan, and admit to forgetting their [...]

Fasting & The Season the Enemy Calls Lent

The international listening posts of the Central Lack of Intelligence Agency have unscrambled various messages that have been sent electronically from sources unknown to destinations that have yet to be specified. These messages were filtered out from the millions of electronic impulses radiating through the atomosphere. The messages were disguised and coded within the billions [...]

Songs of the Saved and the Bland

This is the third article in a series by Prof. Esolen on the mutilation of hymn lyrics. The edition of "Worship III" referred to throughout is the Canadian one.   To complete my holiday autopsy of the musical corpus left to us after forty years of tinkering, I'll highlight how recent hymnal editors have botched [...]

Why Things Cost Money

God has granted me a reprieve. Seven whole days have passed without a major American state abolishing marriage, or a Catholic hero dying prematurely at 98. That frees me up to return to the happy task of unfolding a layman's understanding of the market economy, viewed through the lens of Christian ethics and prudent political [...]

Like Lambs

I knew I wanted him the minute I laid eyes on him. He was comically rotund, with round, dark, knowing eyes and a fluffy fleece. He was a lamb. Not a real one, of course, but a large stuffed lamb, an Easter decoration or a child's toy. There, in the grocery store, I stopped my [...]

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