Catholic renewal/reform

When Suns Collide

Americans like to think of themselves as living in a classless society, and historically this is largely, but not entirely, true, with a large middle class dominating the country’s economic, political, and social life. In the traditional social model, there was a small and moneyed upper class above the middle class, typically marked by its willingness [...]

Millennials, Authenticity and the Latin Mass

My wife and I have recently started regularly attending our local Latin Mass in the Extraordinary Form. We took our two young boys one Sunday in July, shortly after the news of ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s sins jumpstarted the current round of clergy sex scandals. We had previously attended about once a year just to mix [...]

Longing for Eternal Presence

It is this silent swerving from accuracy by an inch that is the uncanny element in everything.  ∼ G.K. Chesterton In the digital age of LED lighting, we risk losing all sense of the uncanny. Of course, in the age of science in general, we tend to grow numb to the mystery that calls us [...]

Time to Rediscover the Idea of the Soldier of Christ

Blessed be the Lord, my rock who trains my arms for battle, who prepares my hands for war (Psalm 144). During the 1970s, the United States Army descended into chaos. Discipline, tradition, morale—all were lost during, after, or because of the Vietnam War. I do not mean to argue here for or against the justice [...]

Restoring Sacred Architecture Will Reaffirm Theological Truth

This past spring, a marvelous new cathedral was dedicated in Knoxville, Tennessee. The dedication of Sacred Heart Cathedral is certainly a sign of the return of traditional architecture in sacred buildings. The cruciform cathedral was designed in a classical style, featuring arches and Corinthian pilasters in the nave. With a traditional long nave and cruciform [...]

Church Scandal Through the Eyes of St. Thomas More

And he said, “Sit down here while I go over there to pray.” And he took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee with him. He began to feel sorrow and grief and fear and weariness. Then he said to them, “My soul is sad unto death. Stay here and keep watch with me” (Matt. [...]

Restore or Rebuild the Church and the Mass?

Our youngest daughter and I recently found ourselves at a Latin High Mass at the beautiful Oratory of St. Francis de Sales in St. Louis. It had been a few years since I had been there; while my attraction to Mass in the old “extraordinary” form has been strong, and opportunities abound in St. Louis, [...]

Running the Church on Hail Marys

“This attitude of resignation with regard to truth lies at the heart of the crisis in the West, the crisis of Europe.”  ∼ Pope Benedict XVI "You can’t run the Church on Hail Marys.”  ∼ former Vatican Bank president Archbishop Paul Marcinkus As jarring revelations about the contemporary episcopacy continue to come to light, it [...]

Strengthening Faith in a Time of Crisis

A crisis that strikes so centrally at the integrity of the Church necessitates a response from each one us. There must be general reform in the Church, but I’d like to explore how each one of us can respond to the Church’s crisis with a commitment to stronger faith and personal reform. In focusing on [...]

The World Has Little of Value to Teach the Church

I recently commented on the signs of the times, and noted that they tell us to pay more attention to eternity. The topic deserves further discussion. In the 1960s, it became common for Catholics to look to the world for guidance. This attitude inspired the widespread false belief that Saint John XXIII said the Second Vatican [...]

Restore Liturgical Beauty with Chant and Polyphony

The tragedy of the loss of beauty in liturgy is not something which we should dismiss lightly, for if there is one thing we can glean from Scripture, and from the Church's two millennia of Tradition, it is that we should offer the very best to God in our worship of him; yet what we [...]

Anniversary Reflections on the Last Days of King Louis XVI

Early on the morning of January 21, 1793, King Louis XVI heard his last Mass. Following Mass, the king was taken from his prison to the Palace Louis XV, where he would suffer the same fate on the same date as Agnes of Rome, the ancient martyr commemorated in the Mass of the day. This [...]

7 Reasons I Love My Urban Parish

The answer to the question “What parish do you belong to?” is important where I live. Cincinnati is a town in which until the recent past “parish” was included on real estate listings. It was something most buyers wanted to know. My answer brings responses ranging from “You drive that far?” to “Isn’t that downtown?” [...]

Horror Stories Abound in Shuttered Sanctuaries

This month in Northern Ireland, the Belfast Film Festival included a screening of the classic 1973 horror film The Exorcist at a venue that used to be a Catholic church. The venue in question, Holy Rosary in South Belfast, has been empty and closed since 1980, when the parish outgrew it and moved to the [...]

What’s Missing in the New Evangelization

With great interest, I listened to the upbeat homilies and presentations online from the U.S. Bishops’ July Convocation on Evangelization. Everyone seemed to be on the same page by emphasizing our call to share the joy of the Gospel; welcome our immigrant brothers and sisters; tend to those in the periphery; accompany people one on [...]

The Church in the Wilderness

When looking at the American Catholic Church and the surrounding culture, the honest, orthodox Catholic is left with at least two sobering conclusions: we are losing the culture war both outside the American Catholic Church and inside its precincts. The Obergefell v. Hodges decision (same-sex “marriage”) by the SCOTUS put an exclamation point on the [...]

Catholic Education at a Crossroads

My friend and former colleague Dr. Jared Staudt recently penned an article “How to Save the Soul of Our Catholic Schools” for Crisis Magazine. Dr. Staudt (as I’ll call him here) made a number of sober and valid points about the need to return to a truly Catholic education. Affirming his belief that “[t]he Catholic [...]

How to Save the Soul of Our Catholic Schools

“How can we make our school more Catholic?” This is a real question schools ask, some with perplexity. Is it a new curriculum? Better religion classes? Having the kids come to Mass? The answer is vital for the future of Catholic education. The sociologist Christian Smith notes, from his extensive research on the life of [...]

Clericalism and the Catholic Refugee

Among the many stories buried in the avalanche of political news in the weeks prior to Election Day was a minor brouhaha in Santa Fe, N.M., where a parish priest had the temerity to encourage his flock to vote pro-life. “We have to insist that any of our representatives (whether Democrat, Republican or Third Party) [...]

What Real Church Reform Looks Like

During my first tentative explorations into Catholicism, some Protestant friends pointed out examples of “bad Catholics” in their attempts to dissuade me from swimming the Tiber. The type is well-represented in literature, of course, including the “here comes everybody” of James Joyce, the Flyte’s of Brideshead Revisited or Crouchback’s of Sword of Honor, and many [...]

Hope in the Eternal Word: The Silence of Cardinal Sarah

Earlier this year I completed another silent retreat at a Trappist monastery. Such is the monastic emphasis on respecting silence that retreatants are surrounded by signs that read “Silence spoken here.” Even the refrigerator magnet I bought at the gift shop is emblazoned with this declaration. My mother remains astonished that her talkative son was [...]

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