Paul Joseph Prezzia

Paul Joseph Prezzia received his M.A. in History from the University of Notre Dame in 2012. He now teaches at Gregory the Great Academy and lives in Scranton with his wife and child.

recent articles

The Seven Ages of Man in the Pasture—You Come Too

While I write this review, I am going to read the good poem I am reviewing. You come too. “The Pasture” by Robert Frost I’m going out to clean the pasture spring; I’ll only stop to rake the leaves away (And wait to watch the water clear, I may): I sha’n’t be gone long. – … Read more

Doing Justice to Good and Evil: Barnaby Rudge by Charles Dickens

There are not many things more enjoyable than opening up a book and finding a character named Simon Tappertit. One will only encounter this joy, however, if the book he picks up is Barnaby Rudge by Charles Dickens. He will find there, indeed, not only joy, but sorrow. He will find gallantry, loyalty, simple goodness, … Read more

Glory to You, Love: Puccini’s Turandot and the Triduum

Old Mother Goose, When she used to wander, Would ride through the air On a very fine gander. This poem, along with all the other “Mother Goose” poems, was extremely important to John Senior, the Catholic educator who inspired the creation of The Civilized Reader column you are reading now. He was especially enamored with … Read more

A Review of Robert Frost’s “In Neglect” for Lent

When Robert Frost forswore both academic degrees and farm life to write poetry, he wrote a poem about himself and his wife as a response to the disappointment of his family. The poem is called “In Neglect,” and it describes well anyone who spent their Lent in a worthy manner. “In Neglect,” both brief and … Read more

Stubborn Roots: A Review of Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

To know and love one other human being is the root of all wisdom.  ∼ Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited Wisdom is indeed a wonderful thing, but the knowledge and love that produce it are, like roots, usually better left underground. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh is a story of the cultivation of wisdom and even salvation. Where it … Read more

Highest-Stakes Fishing: “God Made Sunday” by Walter Macken

At the conclusion of his encyclical Caritas in Veritate, Pope Benedict XVI makes a striking statement about “authentic human development”: Development requires attention to the spiritual life, a serious consideration of the experiences of trust in God, spiritual fellowship in Christ, reliance upon God’s providence and mercy, love and forgiveness, self-denial, acceptance of others, justice … Read more

Herodotus and the Gospel of History

Almost twenty-five hundred years ago, a Greek decided that his era was so unique and exciting that he was going to learn as much as he could about it by any means that he could. He would travel to where the great events of the age had occurred, learn about the cultures of all the … Read more

Christmas and its Consequences: A Review of Puccini’s La Bohème

Christmas has been the backdrop to many beautiful stories from the Second Shepherds Play to O. Henry’s “Gift of the Magi.” Given the charm and beauty of Christmas, this is no surprise. Many of “Christmas” stories, if we pay careful enough attention, are valuable meditations on the love and self-forgetfulness taught best by God himself. … Read more

A Story of the Soul: On George MacDonald’s Lilith

The soul is a dangerous place, it is the most dangerous place, and in the perspective of eternity, it is the only dangerous place. As Our Lord said, “There is nothing from without a man that entering into him, can defile him. But the things which come from a man, those are they that defile … Read more

Dealing Life: A Review of Manalive by G.K. Chesterton

“What does ‘literature’ have to do with saving one’s soul?” This question surely has a long and distinguished lineage, all the way back to the Church Father Tertullian, who asked a similar question about the value of pagan philosophy for Christian study: “What does Athens have to do with Jerusalem?” Far from being an obstacle to … Read more

Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc by Mark Twain

We do a necessary disservice to children when we explain to them the difference between the land of Fancy and the Real World. It is necessary because there is a difference, practically speaking. Yet, it is a disservice, because it is not true, really speaking. In the land of Fancy, the sun shines every day … Read more

The Noblest Roman of Them All? On Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar

What is most tragic in tragedies is that everything falls apart. Tragedies are always concerned with fate of a community, and a community cannot fall until its building blocks, individuals, have already begun to tumble themselves. Tragedies often seem inevitable from the their very beginning, and the reason for this is that we arrive at … Read more

Shane by Jack Schaefer

Of all genres of writing, one of the most elusive is the Western. It is a genre that always makes its readers aware of a violence ever brooding in the background. Yet when the form rises towards its own excellence, the hot burst of color expected by the reader, may be said to be lurid, … Read more

George Macdonald’s The Princess and Curdie

Nothing is stranger than the holy Catholic Faith. Its scriptures speak of its God variously as a mother hen, a cuckolded husband, and a worm—in addition to the mighty images and titles that comfort us. Its God turns water into wine and terrifies men of corrupt finance with a whip, only end His life seemingly … Read more

Father Brown and the Mystery of Lent

Lent is a detective story. It is the detective story in which the soul is investigator, victim, and culprit all at once. Out of the entire year, it is during Lent that the Church demands that we confess our sins, and confession requires a full inquiry. This is just one aspect of the call to … Read more

Georges Bernanos, The Diary of a Country Priest

Literature is sometimes thought of as a treat, as a dessert, as a delicacy. The Diary of a Country Priest, by Georges Bernanos, is instead like a carrot, eaten whole, raw, and unwashed. But as a wise priest says in the book, “Man can’t live on jam.”  This book is a book that can be … Read more

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