04/01/1998

Our Man In Havana

A dissident labor leader, a faithful Cuban Catholic, said it best. Speaking with a group of Americans at a Havana hotel during the pope's trip this past January, he explained, "What has Castro got on his side? La fuerza (force). That's it." Anti-Communists everywhere routinely make such statements, but this was not abstract talk. The [...]

Our Man In Havana

A dissident labor leader, a faithful Cuban Catholic, said it best. Speaking with a group of Americans at a Havana hotel during the pope's trip this past January, he explained, "What has Castro got on his side? La fuerza (force). That's it." Anti-Communists everywhere routinely make such statements, but this was not abstract talk. The [...]

Siren Song

On any given Sunday, many Catholics leave Mass with more vivid memories of the music than of the preaching. That's not necessarily a bad thing; remember St. Augustine's saying, "He who sings, prays twice." Liturgical music is currently the subject of some debate in Catholic circles. Here in the United States, that debate has appeared [...]

Ideally, liturgical music reinforces prayer. Good music alone holds many layers of associated meanings; when combined with sacred text and integrated within larger liturgical action, the musical experience can transform the soul at its deepest level. Given the importance of music, it is not surprising that liturgical hymnody is a source of endless debate. In [...]

It hardly requires the Delphic Oracle to predict that a day of reckoning is fast approaching for the much-criticized American tax system. Whether the long-awaited change takes the form of a more-or-less dramatic overhaul of the present system of graduated income taxation or its complete replacement by one of the schemes being proposed—the flat tax [...]

We are approaching the season of fundamental tax reform. The lobbyists for corporations and publicly funded organizations feel it, and their efforts to insulate themselves from reform were clearly reflected in the thousand pages of minute changes that masqueraded last year as the Taxpayer's Relief Act of 1997. The president senses the growing call for [...]

The Fair Tax, as proposed by the Americans for Fair Taxation (AFT), proposes to eliminate our current income tax system, including all payroll taxes, death and gift taxes, ordinary income taxes (including capital gains taxes), and self-employment and corporate taxes. In place of all these taxes, a single 23 percent national sales tax will be [...]

Contested Will

Luisa Piccarreta lay confined to bed for more than sixty years, each day recording in her notebooks all that Jesus revealed to her. The notebook entry for January 29, 1919, reads: My beloved daughter, I want you to know the order of my Providence. In every 2000 year period I have renewed the world. In [...]

Silent Sojourn

Not until the international hit recording of Gregorian chant sung by the monks of Santo Domingo de Silos in northern Spain were many people, even Catholics, fully aware of the beauty of the plainsong named for Pope Gregory the Great. Now you can hear it everywhere, even in Spanish discotheques. The popularity of Gregorian chant, [...]

I never thought I would be part of a cheering, waving crowd. After all, I was too old, too sophisticated. Then John Paul II walked out on the stage. It was his Wednesday public audience, and together with my family and six friends I sat only a few rows from the stage of an enormous [...]

Men are fitted for civil liberty," Edmund Burke once wrote, "in exact proportion to their capacity to place chains upon their own appetites. . . . It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things that men of intemperate minds cannot be free; their passions form their fetters." This pithy reflection, although penned at the [...]

Miss Adelaide, in Guys and Dolls, tells her boyfriend, Nathan Detroit, that the doctor thinks her cold is "chronic." "I don't know about that," says Nathan, "but it sure hangs on." I don't know whether Bill Clinton's condition is chronic, but he sure hangs on. Lifewatch began in the first months of what we have [...]

Historians seeking to understand the mind of Bill Clinton will surely make much of the fact that just three days after the White House found itself engulfed in sexual scandal, the president of the United States was conspicuously in attendance at a screening of The Apostle, a film about a Pentecostal preacher from Texas who [...]

A year ago this column was dedicated to a survey of the great Stabat Maters composed over a period of 400 years. For my own Lenten edification, I most often return to two 20th century Stabat Maters, very different in character but equally affecting—those by Francis Poulenc and Arvo Part. Here I offer a number [...]

Any normal teenager who daydreams of becoming a famous feuilletonist will find no theme more promising than the coincidence of men and birds. Wild or domesticated or table fare, there has never been a high achievement without birds in bush or sky above. Keats' fleet nightingale and Coleridge's fetid albatross conspire and never go away. [...]

"The salvation of the West must come, if it is to come, from the United States. The salvation of the United States, if it is to come, must come from the Republican party. And the salvation of the Republican party, if it is to come, must come from the conservative movement within it. And the [...]

Easter is this: Christ, true man, crucified under Pontius Pilate, a Roman governor in Palestine, died, was buried, and rose again on the third day. Several identifiable, credible witnesses saw him, ate with him. He was the same Jesus from Nazareth who died, not some other man. This man, Jesus, in fact, was executed in [...]

In a two volume collection of Robert Louis Stevenson's Letters to His Family and Friends, published in 1900, I find correspondence with Henry James and C. W. Stoddard, among many others. My children remember when we read Treasure Island and Kidnapped together. They have all grown up and gone, the shadows lengthen, but I go [...]

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