mercy

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 [...]

Impurity and the Lie

The plague of pornography and the abuse of sexuality, compulsions that enslave so many souls, begin with a lie that must be unmasked and cast out if ever we are to regain our freedom as sons and daughters of God. After years of hearing litanies of confessions on this subject, and upon reflection of my [...]

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 [...]

When Love, Mercy, and Dignity Lose Their Meaning

Love, mercy, and human dignity are all wonderful things, and it's right for the Church to emphasize them. It's also right to take them seriously, and try to understand what they are, what's behind them, and where they point. To do that we need to remember that on the Christian view—indeed, on any sane view—we [...]

Chestertonian Common Sense on “Uncommon” Adultery

In The Superstition of Divorce, G.K. Chesterton notes the absurdities of transfiguring marriage into an “ideal,” a “counsel of perfection” akin to monastic life. “A man might be reverently pointed out in the street as a sort of saint, merely because he was married,” Chesterton says. “A man might wear a medal for monogamy; or [...]

Mercy: A Call to Repentance

As the Year of Mercy nears completion, I find myself bewildered by mercy’s many faces. I have listened to nearly a year’s worth of homilies and proclamations exhorting me to a life of mercy. If mercy is love, as I have heard repeatedly, one would think its renewal should address that which destroys love. But [...]

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 [...]

More Thoughts on a Pastoral Church

Theory and practice are never exactly the same, in the Church or anywhere else, but they're not separable either. So what is pastoral depends on what God and the world are like. That issue, the nature of things, is always the great dispute in religion. It usually takes the form of a dispute over God's [...]

A Traditional Society of Priests That Practices True Mercy

If I remove the central reason for a thing to exist, it will slowly cease to exist, and even what it had will be lost. On the other hand, if I proclaim and reinforce that central reason, the thing will not only continue to exist, but will likely even increase and bear fruit in due [...]

Have We Forgotten the Hard Sayings of Christ?

“If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed than with two hands to go into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire.” (Mk. 9:43) It requires no great insight in order to discern what the modern world would make of such a statement had it [...]

Warping Words: On “Hate” and “Mercy”

When words lose their distinct meanings, they no longer sound clearly in our ears. They dissipate and fade. They buzz—and hence, they become "buzzwords." This occurs most often to words that initially have powerful meanings. But the desire to harness the power of these words leads to their abuse, their twisting and mangling to suit [...]

Amoris Laetitia: The Key to the Francis Pontificate

By now many hundreds if not thousands of commentaries have been penned on Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia (AL). They range from condemnations to lavish welcomes and then those analysts somewhere in the middle who praise the good and hold back criticism. In this mix there are the particularly odd responses as the one [...]

First Mercy: A Reflection on Adam’s Fall

Researching a college essay on mercy, my daughter recently asked me about the seeming absence of God’s mercy at Adam’s fall. Certainly, it is a query worth considering. In the Year of Mercy can we see God’s mercy in the fall of Adam and Eve? Can a world that equates love with good feelings begin [...]

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 [...]

The Role of Catechist in the Year of Mercy

As we await the beginning of the Year of Mercy on December 8, I was asked to speak to fellow catechists regarding the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Of the two groups (each comprising seven acts or works) my fellow catechists were more familiar with the former. This is perhaps because of Christ’s words [...]

Recalling the Central Gospel Message

I recently read an article in New York Magazine lauding Pope Francis in anticipation of his visit to the United States. Amongst the many typical inanities and ignorant statements one finds in such pieces was the following quote: “The pope’s religious message—that the Gospel should be joyful, merciful, and embrace everyone, especially the poor—is plain [...]

Saint John Paul II and Cardinal Kasper on Mercy and Holiness

With the Year of Mercy just around the corner, it is fitting to return to what is perhaps the greatest explication of the doctrine of mercy in recent years, that of Pope, now Saint, John Paul II in his encyclical Dives in Misericordia. Like Pope John Paul II before him, Pope Francis has made mercy [...]

Waiting: A Concept Applied to the Divorced and Remarried

The concept of waiting is central to Christianity, but only a few have devoted much thought to it, most notably the French philosopher Simone Weil. In the famous Gospel parable, the servants are judged on whether or not they have waited through the night for the arrival of their Master. It shouldn’t be so very [...]

Advice for the Pope in Light of the Synod

The Holy Father has been very good in lecturing priests and telling us what to do. We are to go out into the world and “make a mess.” We are to “smell like the sheep.” We are to welcome all with compassion, forgiveness and mercy. We are to be good and kind pastors who administer [...]

Kasper versus Kasper

Book-tours can be risky affairs. There’s always the chance you’ll say something during your tenth radio interview of the day which you retrospectively wish you’d phrased differently. Then there’s the possibility you’ll play up to a live audience and make some truly imprudent comments. In a few short May days in New York, Cardinal Walter [...]

Pope Francis on the True Meaning of Poverty

“How I long for a poor Church for the poor!” With these words spoken after being elected pope, Jorge Bergoglio underscored a theme that continues to be front-and-center of his papacy. Not surprisingly, many have concluded such statements demonstrate that Pope Francis wants Catholics to devote greater attention to poverty-alleviation. In one sense, this is [...]

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