Catholic Intellectual / Literary Tradition

What Ireland’s Abortion Referendum is Really About

This year Ireland will hold a referendum on the issue of abortion. The date has not yet been set but the vote will probably take place in May. Since 1983, enshrined in the Eighth Amendment to the Irish Constitution, there has been a constitutional ban on abortions taking place in the Irish Republic. This prohibition [...]

James Joyce, John Senior and the Quest for Realism

John Senior is known as a cultural warrior for his books on Christian culture and as a pioneering educator for his role in the Integrated Humanities Program at the University of Kansas. As an English professor, his spiritual odyssey took him through the literature of East and West. His doctoral dissertation focused on the role [...]

When the Church Thrives, Cultures Thrive

The current controversy over Pope Francis's apostolic letter on marriage highlights several realities in the Church and the world that are not always so clear. As is widely known, Amoris Laetitia, published last year, seems to leave open the possibility that couples who are divorced and remarried civilly be admitted to the sacraments in the absence of a declaration [...]

The Spirit of Michael Novak

One of the most brilliant, influential Catholic intellectuals of the past half century has died at age 83. He was Michael Novak, theologian, philosopher, and gentleman—truly, a gentle man. I had the privilege to know Michael well. One of the great, undeserved honors of my life was sharing the stage with him at Franciscan University [...]

Memories of Michael Novak

In 1992 I read a column in Crisis by the magazine publisher who warned, “no one should doubt that ... this election is a choice between two radically opposite national directions. The outcome will deeply affect the public life of Catholics.” The author of that column, Michael Novak, will be remembered for his stellar achievements. He [...]

Beguiled by Balthasar

The light of divine glory Shines in the breast of night: Who can see it? A heart Whose eyes keep watch, e’er bright. ∼ Angelus Silesius Years ago when I was a student in Rome finishing up a dissertation at the Angelicum, I needed to schedule a formal defense of my thesis, which centered on [...]

The Miracle of the Bells: A Forgotten Catholic Novel & Film

Back in 1947 it was possible for a Catholic novel to shoot to the top of the national bestseller list in the U.S.A. That's exactly what happened to Russell Janney's The Miracle of the Bells. Janney (1884-1963), a theatrical producer by trade, produced Miracle as his first novel at the mature age of 62 and [...]

A Catholic Satirist at Work: Evelyn Waugh’s Helena

This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Evelyn Waugh (1903-1966), Catholic convert and novelist. I had never read anything by Waugh and thought it was time I gave him a go, especially since I love English Catholic literary figures. Problem is, Waugh specialized in fiction and I don't. So I decided to [...]

Seeking the Truth with Orestes Brownson

Historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr., among others, thought highly of Orestes Brownson—indeed, Russell Kirk, who led the Brownson revival in the last century, placed him “in the first rank of American men of ideas,” and his work is of more than historical interest. Reflections on American society as good as Tocqueville? Check. Addressing a devastating critique [...]

Catholic Intelligence in a Time of Chaos

Egyptian embalmers attributed all emotive response and intelligence to the heart, and so they threw the brain away, assuming that it would not be needed in the afterlife. That life to come was not at all like the Heavenly City that was shown to Saint John, with no need for sun or moon in the [...]

Three Paths to Rome

Once asked what book he’d like to be stuck with on a desert island, G.K. Chesterton reportedly responded in the way one would expect of him: Thomas' Guide to Practical Shipbuilding. He was being facetious, and his real answer was The Pickwick Papers. The question is a fun one to consider, but frankly, I’d beg [...]

Léon Bloy’s Role in the Catholicism of Jacques and Raissa Maritain

The world in which Raïssa Oumançoff and Jacques Maritain began life at the university was a spiritual desert. In a horrifying pact, they swore together to give themselves one more year to find some meaning in life. If that search failed, they promised to commit suicide together. The Maritains seem to have argued themselves into [...]

On Catholic Intelligence

Catholic intelligence is not ordinarily focused on what a given pope might think, affirm, or write, however wise this source may prove to be. Catholicism has a many-faceted tradition that includes what is true while it carefully wrestles with what is not true. During the more recent pontificates of Popes Wojtyla and Ratzinger in particular, [...]

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