Church

We need a new Counter-Reformation in sacred art and architecture. What was the Reformation’s effect? First, it preached iconoclasm, the rejection of the human figure in religious art. Second, it reoriented worship, so that people gathered round the pulpit rather than the altar and the baptismal font became more important than the tabernacle. At the [...]

We need a new Counter-Reformation in sacred art and architecture. What was the Reformation’s effect? First, it preached iconoclasm, the rejection of the human figure in religious art. Second, it reoriented worship, so that people gathered round the pulpit rather than the altar and the baptismal font became more important than the tabernacle. At the [...]

One of the oddities of the Bible is how little it reveals about the life of Jesus. All we know of Jesus prior to age thirty are a few sketchy accounts by Matthew and Luke, with gospel writers Mark and John completely silent on his early life. While the omission has piqued the interest and [...]

Two young Scandinavian women who were hiking in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco were found dead in mid-December in their tent. The ISIS terrorists later posted a video of themselves decapitating one of the victims. The mother of one of the women told reporters, “Her priority was safety. The girls had taken all precautionary measures [...]

I was privileged recently to go on a pilgrimage with Fr. Dwight Longenecker and forty-eight other pilgrims to the Holy Land. We were retracing the steps of the Magi from Jordan into Israel. The pilgrimage was based on the historical detective work that Fr. Longenecker produced in his book Mystery of the Magi: The Quest [...]

In a recent article in The Federalist regarding the current sex abuse scandal rocking the Catholic Church, Dr. Korey Maas, a Lutheran and professor of history at Hillsdale College, asks, “Is there any church abuse too far for the Catholic faithful?” The answer, quite simply, is no. Elsewhere, Maas presses, “What abuses, both physical and spiritual, might the [Catholic] hierarchy not [...]

I often hear that since most of what is produced in any age is garbage, the quality of the hymns in a compilation such as the Hymnal 1940 is partly an illusion, because the earlier bad stuff would have been tossed aside. This observation is by way of excusing the bulk of church songs composed since 1965; time [...]

Mandated under an Obama-era broadening of Title IX, the federal law that governs gender equity in education, colleges, and universities has created an elaborate bureaucracy replete with lawyers, investigators, case workers, survivor advocates, and peer counselors to protect the students from sexual abuse and harassment on their campuses. Unfortunately, none of the campus bureaucracy that has [...]

I’m sometimes accused, when I write about bad hymns, of wanting to impose a single style upon everyone. I find this strange. It’s like saying that all classical music sounds the same, and that Bach, Brahms, Dvorak, and Debussy are all the same. I point out that the hymns in a good hymnal were composed [...]

Adultery is sinful, marriage is indissoluble, and divorce is forbidden. Let us assume that we accept the validity of these precepts in principle—but is it possible to apply them in practice, without committing a serious injustice to individuals in difficult cases? Every statement only covers a limited part or aspect of reality, and in this [...]

In the American Catholic Church and in the Church worldwide under the Francis papacy, we’ve entered the Cupich Moment. With his appointment to the Archdiocese of Chicago, and with his being selected as the primary American organizer of the gathering of bishops this coming February for the purpose of addressing the sexual abuse crisis (which [...]

In Plato’s Republic, Socrates leads a group of ambitious young Athenians on a search for the best way of life. Their verbal construction of a perfectly just regime is not motivated by idealism, real or feigned, but by genuine perplexity about the one thing human beings cannot help desiring: happiness. Glaucon, Adeimantus, and their companions [...]

Despite his penchant for theological innovation, Pope Francis seems to hold some fairly traditional beliefs about the devil. Here’s an example from Gaudete et Exsultate: It is precisely the conviction that this malign power is present in our midst that enables us to understand how evil can at times have so much destructive force… Hence, [...]

Dear Swillpit, The next best thing to a religion that is ignored or marginalized is one that is found useful, i.e., a means to some practical end. Thus, the minute a creature is drawn into religion, help him to see its utility in something important to him. This something can be as personal as self-improvement [...]

“Will you walk into my parlour?” said the Spider to the Fly, “'Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy; The way into my parlour is up a winding stair, And I've a many curious things to show when you are there.” Mary Howitt wrote 180 books with her husband, and was a [...]

Last Sunday I was away from home; this normally means trouble. It means I do not attend Mass at the chapel of Saint Thomas More College, which is where I teach, nor at Northeast Catholic College, which is in the town where we live. It means I must hear Mass, or have Mass drummed into my [...]

“Woe to the world because of scandals. For it must be that scandals come: but woe to that man by whom the scandal cometh” (Mt. 18:7). Once again we must endure a period of shame in the Church, much to the pain of all believers. Our Lord had predicted the inevitability of scandals, so we [...]

Watchdogs and Wolves

“Do you not know,” says Saint Paul to the lax and factious Corinthians, “that we shall judge angels?” For they had ceded to the unbelievers around them the authority to judge a controversy between Christian brothers. But Jesus says, “Judge not, lest you be judged,” because the criterion by which we measure others will be [...]

In this present crisis in the Church, with more and more revelations of a “sodomitic filth that insinuates itself like a cancer in the ecclesiastical order” (St. Peter Damian), and the subsequent cover-ups and payoffs, the Body of Christ is pierced again with new thorns and nails, and the Mother of God is pierced again [...]

Hating Sin

It is Passover, and Jesus has gone up to Jerusalem with his disciples. He has come to the Temple, where he finds people “selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the moneychangers at their business.” It is interesting to note what he does then, and what he does not do. He does not engage the [...]

Why Divinize the Pope?

Last month, I discussed the tendency among prominent supporters of Pope Francis to speak as if he had very special and even divine qualities. Where does it come from? Some possibilities seem obvious. Any argument looks good if it favors the desired outcome, meaning that people who are convinced the pope’s new initiatives are right [...]

“Cometh the hour, cometh the man.” The saying means that a time of crisis invariably brings forth the man to meet the challenge. Well, the hour is here, but where’s the man? That’s what many Catholics must be wondering. The Church is in the midst of what may be the worst crisis of its existence, [...]

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