John Paul II

I began my seminary studies by flying to Rome the same day Pope John Paul II returned from his first apostolic visit to the United States. Some published reports implied that I had been piled into his craft, but I was on the flight behind his, and I definitely had not been kidnapped. The early [...]

The Joy of Recovery

Recently I had a short contretemps with someone who said that her teenage son had come to a wonderful and intelligent conclusion about Homer's Odyssey. He said that, when you stripped the beautiful language away, what you had left would make a good R-rated quest video game. She agreed with that assessment and grew angry when [...]

Ecstasy and Solitude: Franz Liszt’s Journey of Contemplation

O guiding night! O night more lovely than the dawn! O night that has united, The Lover with his beloved, Transforming the beloved in her Lover. Upon my flowering breast Which I kept for him alone, There he lay sleeping, And I caressing him There in a breeze from the fanning cedars. When the breeze [...]

Vatican’s $1 Million Business Investment

Micro cap NeoStem, Inc (NBS) has been working in the area of adult stem cells, making notable discoveries and picking up acquisitions along the way.  Its business model may have them in the red as of today, but there's something about the company that has attracted the Vatican's attention.  And money.   The Vatican has placed [...]

It’s Time to Get Rid of the Drinking Age

I had my first taste of alcohol on vacation with my parents when I was eight years old. We had just sat down to dinner at a restaurant in Rome, and the waiter came as usual to pour wine for my parents. To my surprise, he didn't pass over my glass. As I looked at [...]

Rome and Moscow

Russian Federation president Dmitri Medvedev's recent visit to the Vatican, which included an audience with Pope Benedict XVI, is being trumpeted in some quarters as further evidence of a dramatic breakthrough in relations between the Holy See and Russia, and between the Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church. While I wish that were the [...]

Is the Vatican rushing JPII’s canonization?

The miracle of a French nun's recovery from Parkinsons through the intercession of Pope John Paul II has been confirmed by the Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Now it must be approved by a commission of bishops and cardinals before a date is set for beatification. But Catherine Pepinster at the Guardian wonders [...]

Report: John Paul II may be beatified this year

John Allen has the scoop: According to a report by veteran Italian Vatican writer Andrea Tornielli, a miracle attributed to the late Pope John Paul II has been approved by both the medical and theological consulters of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. In effect, that clears the path for the beatification of John [...]

Fathers of the Church

My Christmas present to readers of this electronic journal this year will be to tell you to go read the Church Fathers. I should mention that you are getting this advice already "used," or at least secondhand. I already wrote a column saying the same thing in a different way in my (very) secular newspaper [...]

Back to the Woods

The Druids are back. Some may remember the Druids from half-forgotten Dungeons and Dragons role-playing games, or from the description of them in Julius Caesar's De Bello Gallico, where they are portrayed as important religious leaders who engaged in and presided over human sacrifices. Recent archeological findings support the literary evidence of human sacrifice, but [...]

Pompeii building collapse is yet another historical loss

On Saturday, an old stone house collapsed in Pompeii. The building had been closed to the public, but was known for the beautiful gladiator frescos on its interior walls. Historians believe this was the place gladiators trained and relaxed before fighting. According to the Telegraph, the Italian government has been criticized for allowing Pompeii to [...]

Controversial Synod statement on Israel was a “prudential judgment.”

CNA reports that the Synod for the Middle East, a historic gathering of bishops in Rome, ended on October 24 with some criticisms of its concluding statement. The bishops' concluding "Message to the People of God" criticized Israel in detail, but omitted most of the criticisms made against Islamic governments during the synod. Some observers [...]

‘Man Is a Featherless Biped’

This week I will take up the cudgels in defense of G. K. Chesterton, after reading Austin Bramwell's acerbic article that dismissed my beloved bard as philosophically unserious and rhetorically annoying. I'm probably not the man to take up the task, since I'm way too attached. Twenty years ago, I teased Robert Spencer, who wages [...]

‘To Stand Still and to See the Salvation of God’

On May 11, 1879, Rev. John Newman had been in Rome for some weeks when he was called to the Vatican by Pope Leo XIII and was informed that he was to be made a cardinal. It was not a surprise, since then-Father Newman had already been unofficially told the previous year that this great [...]

Selling Confession

While in Rome recently, I went to confession at St. John Lateran. It's the cathedral of Rome, and I'd heard the grace was better there. I got an old Irish priest, soft-spoken, deliberate, patient, and with a habit of sighing frequently as you spoke. He sounded -- and looked, when I saw him a little [...]

I’m fed up with coffee shops

What is it about us that makes us willing to stand in line for an eternity at a coffee shop just to get a cup? Actually, I'm not really sure what to call those establishments, as they're part Internet cafe, part hang-out joint, and part public restroom. It seems that people do everything there except [...]

On the Reading of Books

On Thursday, May 1, 1783, with "the young Mr. (Edmund) Burke" present, Samuel Johnson remarked: "It is strange that there should be so little reading in the world and so much writing. People in general do not willingly read if they can have anything else to amuse them." The word "reading" here does not mean, [...]

Danielle’s Helpful “Goose and Gander” Pieces

The Anchoress is gallivanting around Rome at the moment, but she did not leave us blog-less in her absence. Over at First Things, Danielle Bean, Sally Thomas, and our very own Simcha have been busy writing and posting and creating havoc in Elizabeth's stead. Over the weekend, Danielle had a series of posts that really caught my [...]

It’s Time You People Confronted Your Obesophobia

The other day, I was reading an article on a so-called treatment for infant girls supposedly "threatened" by allegedly "malformed" genitalia due to a rare hormone "disorder." This heterosexually privileged narrative, which hitherto has imperialistically "treated" these children in utero and allowed them to be born with "normal" female genitalia, is now being challenged by [...]

Remembering the Early Church

Lately, I have been hearing a lot about how the primitive Church was not Roman Catholic. I don't know why it is, but this information keeps bursting upon me in the most unlikely settings -- a lunch party near the sand dunes, cocktails on the upper east side -- where a kindly soul informs me [...]