Henri DeLubac, the French Jesuit theologian and historian of Christian thought, is best known to Americans through his two books published by Herder and Herder in the 1960s: The Mystery of the Supernatural and Augustinianism and Modern Theology.  These books dealt with the supposed Thomistic idea of a “State of Pure Nature." In his earlier [...]

Henri DeLubac, the French Jesuit theologian and historian of Christian thought, is best known to Americans through his two books published by Herder and Herder in the 1960s: The Mystery of the Supernatural and Augustinianism and Modern Theology.  These books dealt with the supposed Thomistic idea of a “State of Pure Nature." In his earlier [...]

In the midst of all the shouting it can be extremely difficult to hear the voices of spiritually powerful women who have come to terms with the Holy Mother Church. Such women have found in the Church, in their own femininity as well as in hers, a deep and satisfying sacramentality.  One such voice is [...]

The students, born in the 1970s, had little prospect of answering a query about a film made in the early 1950s. Still, there was a point to be made in putting the question: who had played the lead in the Jackie Robinson story? My students knew the legend of Jackie Robinson, but of course I [...]

There is a Catholic crisis among Evangelicals.  Some Evangelicals believe their brethren should be converting Catholics, not collaborating with them.  The signing of Evangelicals and Catholics Together: The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium in March, 1994 has revealed deep divisions in the evangelical movement, and among the dissidents, a strong disregard for Catholic faith. [...]

Grace Alone

As one who was born and raised a Protestant and became a Southern Baptist minister before entering the Roman Catholic Church, I am perplexed by the evangelical Protestant charge that Catholics misunderstand salvation. The constant teaching of the Catholic Church throughout the ages has been that salvation is bestowed alone by God's grace. This was [...]

Scripture, our Evangelical friends tell us, is the inerrant Word of God. Quite right, the Catholic replies; but how do you know this to be true? It's not an easy question for Protestants, because, having jettisoned tradition and the Church, they have no objective authority for the claims they make for Scripture. There is no [...]

In the summer of 1969 I delivered an evening lecture in Caldwell Hall at the Catholic University of America on the topic, "The Transcendence of God." I had not published the title beforehand.  My audience listened with puzzlement, disappointment and even hostility. The applause at the end was light and half-hearted. After the speech I [...]

Modern Individualism

On the last page of the final chapter of Democracy in America, Tocqueville summarizes the comparison he has just drawn between the new democracy and the old order as follows: "They are like to distinct humanities." This is very much the feeling experienced by the partisans as well as the opponents of the modern democratic [...]

A friend of mind, a cradle Catholic who doubts her faith, asked what she should teach her four-year old about religion. “Everything,” I said, “Heaven, Hell, God, Angels, Sin, Grace, Forgiveness, don’t leave anything out.” “How can I do that,” she responded “When I’m not sure myself.” Such attempts at parental honesty can leave a [...]

The fraudulence of much that currently masquerades under the name “multiculturalism” results from gross perversions of what, in 1972, in called the new ethnicity. Multiculturalism is a profound betrayal to the fundamental principles of the new ethnicity.  In the current culture wars on campus, however, an explicit indictment of the perversions of multiculturalism may be [...]

In the nineteenth century Charles Eliot, president of Harvard, said that the reason the university had so much knowledge is that freshmen bring so much more in and senior take so little out. Today most students and SAT scores reflect a somewhat different reality in which freshmen know very little, yet think they know a [...]

The news came in the first days of August, as a group of Diocesan pro-life leaders were assembling in Orlando: a federal judge had struck down a “ballot initiative”, approved by the voters of Oregon last November, the so-called Death with Dignity Age. The promoters of euthanasia had suffered a dramatic defeat in 1992, with [...]

Mickey Mantle, who played baseball for the Yankees, and Jerry Garcia, who played guitar for the Grateful Dead, died within a few days of one another last August.  Both had become certified cultural icons, and in death each was washed with the kind of bathos usually spoken by party hacks at the funerals of fallen [...]

Films which directly attempt to be religious, holy, or edifying tend to become sentimental, banal, or mediocre. The best religious films, and therefore the best Catholic films, convey the great truths of Christianity implicitly rather than explicitly, like the mystery of incarnation itself, in which the word became flesh in the person of an obscure [...]

Reflecting on Larry Clark's Kids and Edward Burns' The Brothers McMullen I keep thinking of author/director Jean Luc Godard's statement that every camera angle involves a moral judgement. It is the weakness of moral vision at the center of these two interesting films that accounts for their serious cinematic faults. Written by the then 19-year-old [...]

Dialogues des Carmelites by Francis Poulenc is an opera for those who hate the French Revolution. I am among them. As I discovered during my journeys through France over the past thirty years, the destruction still most present to the modern-day traveler resulted from neither world war, nor from any of the calamities of the [...]

Flip through almost any airline magazine and you can find pages of ads for books, cassettes, and video-tapes aimed at helping you create positive images which will assure personal success and a prosperous, flourishing business. If you are channel-surfing, you'll almost inevitably alight on some attractive guru or other who has discovered that he or [...]

It’s safe to say my daughter attended more Masses in three weeks abroad with me this summer than she had before we left.  For reasons coincidental or supernatural, her tourist’s timing twice delivered us to special circumstances: Once we heard Mass celebrated by a Cardinal in his cathedral, and at another time, by a priest [...]

On July 3, 1778, Samuel Johnson wrote to James Boswell at Auchinleck, his home in Scotland.  Boswell had evidently been complaining that Johnson had not replied to his precious letters.  Johnson responded to Boswell by saying, in effect “Look, Sir, stop complaining.” Johnson then proceeded to give Boswell a memorable lesson about good correspondence and [...]

Catholic colleges and universities are now opened for the beginning of a new academic year and all the other private and public institutions have done the same.  The academic year has always rivaled the calendar year for primacy, at least for much or our lives. On campuses, a year bridges calendar years, we begin in [...]