Lent

Prelude to the Passion

It is only in these last days of Lent—before, that is, the high moments of Holy Week that will mark the earthly end of his life—that the public appearances of Jesus become especially fraught, ever more heightened and dramatic. And it is always a toss-up, given the essential inconstancy of the crowds confronting him (all [...]

Is It Over Yet? Lessons for Lent     

“Teach us to care and not to care Teach us to sit still Even among these rocks…” ∼  Ash Wednesday T.S. Eliot Can you believe it? It’s only the first week of Lent, and I’m already tired of it. When will this ordeal end? Surely there’s a door somewhere leading out of this desert. Does [...]

Lent All Year Round?

For several years, every Ash Wednesday, I witnessed a curious spectacle: an openly dissenting Catholic lesbian teacher I worked with attended her only Mass of the year, early in the morning, and sported her ashes on her forehead all day, in front of her classes. She fasted and abstained, and we noticed, totally confused but [...]

The Three Temptations of Philosophy

The Gospel of the First Sunday of Lent always features one of the Synoptics on the temptation of Jesus in the desert. This year, we read from Luke. Spiritual writers have long reflected on the meaning of the temptations—for bread, for goods, for worship—that those temptations embody. The temptations Jesus faced are temptations we all [...]

Films to Watch During Lent

Lent is a time for taking stock. It is a spiritual workout consisting of prayer, fasting and alms giving. We pray, read spiritual books, and give something to someone in need. But too often we get distracted, we forget to pray, and lose interest in the books we have earmarked for the season whilst suddenly realizing [...]

Lenten Meditations on Politics

Lent is a time of personal transformation, so it is a time of inwardness. It nonetheless has an outward-turning aspect. Man is social, and God is other than ourselves, so in addition to fasting to help us put our attachments in their place, Lent encourages prayer and almsgiving to increase our love of God and [...]

His Resolute Will Should Inspire Us

Pope Benedict XVI has designated 2013 the Year of Faith and this is, no doubt, because we need it. Our faith’s supreme object is, of course, Jesus Christ, and the constant contemplation of his glory will not only sustain our faith as we mourn this Culture of Death, endure the assaults on religious freedom, and [...]

And Also With Your Spirit

Thirty minutes from now I will stop working on this article and, with that strange combination of eagerness and resignation that animates mothers around the globe, prepare to pick-up my children from school.  Forty minutes from now, one of my children will grab their forehead, let out a low moan, and admit to forgetting their [...]

Fasting & The Season the Enemy Calls Lent

The international listening posts of the Central Lack of Intelligence Agency have unscrambled various messages that have been sent electronically from sources unknown to destinations that have yet to be specified. These messages were filtered out from the millions of electronic impulses radiating through the atomosphere. The messages were disguised and coded within the billions [...]

Songs of the Saved and the Bland

This is the third article in a series by Prof. Esolen on the mutilation of hymn lyrics. The edition of "Worship III" referred to throughout is the Canadian one.   To complete my holiday autopsy of the musical corpus left to us after forty years of tinkering, I'll highlight how recent hymnal editors have botched [...]

Why Things Cost Money

God has granted me a reprieve. Seven whole days have passed without a major American state abolishing marriage, or a Catholic hero dying prematurely at 98. That frees me up to return to the happy task of unfolding a layman's understanding of the market economy, viewed through the lens of Christian ethics and prudent political [...]

Like Lambs

I knew I wanted him the minute I laid eyes on him. He was comically rotund, with round, dark, knowing eyes and a fluffy fleece. He was a lamb. Not a real one, of course, but a large stuffed lamb, an Easter decoration or a child's toy. There, in the grocery store, I stopped my [...]

The Politics of Forgiveness

It is about this time in Lent, around halfway through, that one begins to wonder what the point is. Of anything, really. One purpose of the season is just that: to bring us up against impossibilities. Today, I'm thinking particularly of impossibilities in the realm I am compelled to stare into in my daily life [...]

Lenten Musical Themes

Lent is tough -- not so much because of the voluntary deprivations one may undertake, but because of what it leads up to: the Cross. Take a look. Of course, there is the Resurrection on the other side of it. Without that, it would be hard to make it through the day (and I have [...]

Visit the Prisoner

One of the ways we mark Lent is through almsgiving, which doesn't just mean writing checks but engaging in all the Works of Mercy recommended by the Church. One of those that has never really appealed to me is "visiting the prisoner." Maybe I'm wimpier or more worldly than most of you, but I'm daunted [...]

Jesus Recycles

More than any other time, the season of Lent raises for us the question of suffering. Indeed, the great advantage of Christianity over competing faiths is its technology for rendering suffering meaningful. Beginning with the book of Genesis, divine revelation seems to me less an answer to speculations such as, "Where did the world come [...]

Lopsided Lent

I am not a crafty mom, but I sometimes let fantasy and ambition get the best of me. Two days before the start of Lent this year, my oldest daughter reminded me of a family activity we had done together many Lents ago. It was a craft I had read about in one of those [...]

Friday Free-for-All: March 11

Time for a few Friday links: John Allen on Pope Benedict's latest book: "It’s likely to cement the impression that Benedict XVI is his own best spokesperson." Diary of a Part Time Monk: A man decides to fast on doppelbock beer ("liquid bread") and water for the whole of Lent -- just like monks used [...]

The Dachshunds of Lent

I'm starting off Lent this year not in the desert but in my own Jerusalem, New York City -- city of temples and towers, titans and toilers, Rev. George Rutler and the Rockettes. It is here you'll find the best and the worst man has to offer, the supremely serious and the sublimely silly. Here [...]

Peace Be with Me

Oh, the noise! Oh, the noise! Noise! Noise! Noise! That's one thing he hated! The NOISE! NOISE! NOISE! NOISE! Dr. Seuss's The Grinch Who Stole Christmas Mr. Grinch, you and me both. It may very well be the most wonderful time of the year, but it's also the nosiest. All is not calm, no matter [...]

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