sin

Temperance: The Sixth Lively Virtue

Temperance, alas, is a virtue with a bad reputation.  It calls to mind photographs of the flint-jawed Carry Nation, crusading against alcohol, until finally her cause carried the day and Prohibition, speakeasies, bootlegging, and organized crime swept the land. I’m not being quite fair to that old temperance movement.  Drunkenness was a scourge for a [...]

Liberality: The Fifth Lively Virtue

When Jesus first sent forth his disciples to preach that the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand, he did not advise them to take provisions.  “Heal the sick,” he said, “cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.”  They had, in Jesus, entered into a relationship of giving.  [...]

Zeal: The Fourth Lively Virtue

When Dante and Virgil enter the fourth ring of the winding path up Purgatory Mountain, they meet a band of souls weeping and racing at once, “galloping for good will and righteous love.”  Before they can ask a single question, they hear these heartening words: “Come on, come on, don’t let time slip away for [...]

Sin and the Decent Chap

A lot of people are mad about the new translation of the Mass. For my part, I have always had a phobia of debates about liturgical arcana, which somehow seem to sap the vitality of my liturgical fervor as fast as you can say Summorum Pontificum, and I will not pronounce on the goodness or [...]

What Makes Norman Rockwell Possible?

I must confess to an intellectual sin. I delight in the paintings of Norman Rockwell. I know I’m not supposed to do this. As a college professor, I have a duty to pretend to others that I derive real satisfaction from poems whose sentences cannot be parsed, from sculptures that look like green blobs from [...]

A Calm and Cheerful Frame of Mind

This essay originally appeared in the October 1998 edition of Crisis Magazine.   In the Fifth Sermon, entitled “Equanimity,” in the fifth book of his Parochial Sermons, delivered mostly in the 1830s, Newman speaks of the preparation for Christmas. Sometimes in Scripture, Newman points out, Christ’s coming seems a fearful thing. A “holy” fear or [...]

Shrugging Before the Manger

The problem many of us have with Christmas isn’t that we expect too much of it but that we expect much too little. My Christmas wish for all of us, myself included, is that we raise our sights and ask for all that God really wants to give us. If we can open ourselves to [...]

Hollywood’s Soda-Pop Statism

  The Hollywood elite's concern for the children stops at the water's edge of physical fitness. They simply do not touch the subject of moral fitness. On The Huffington Post, former entertainment executive Laurie David offered this pre-holiday piece of encouragement: "Thanksgiving Conversation Starter: Is It Time to Ban Soda Ads on Prime Time Television?" [...]

The Theology of Thanksgiving

People are sometimes confused by my accent. “Are you English?” they ask. Not with a name like mine! No indeed. I am a Yank through and through. I was brought up in Pennsylvania and went to college in South Carolina, but the English accent thing is because I overdosed on C.S. Lewis and T.S. Eliot [...]

Another Sin We Don’t Want to Hear About

  This piece is paired with another view of usury from an Austrian economics perspective, also running today. The Catholic Church is always condemned for condemning sins. Since we are all sinners, sin is the last thing we want to hear about. But of course, if we don’t confess our sins and flee from our [...]

Country Music’s Raye of Hope

  About a decade before he began a Nashville recording career that has included five platinum albums, Collin Raye was singing at a nightclub in Beaverton, Ore., when he experienced something he would later recognize as an act of Providence. There was a couple that came every weekend to see him perform. "As I was [...]

Satanism: A Primer

L’Osservatore Romano's English edition (Jan. 29—Mar. 5 1997), ran five essays on “Satanism.” Reference was made there to an earlier study written by an unnamed French theologian entitled “Faith and Demonology,” published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in 1975. The latter document covers the history of papal and Church thinking on [...]

Don’t Trade Halloween for Reformation Sunday

Last October, my 12-year-old son stood in the aisle of our local pharmacy and held up a life-like foam replica of a human skull. “How about this one?” I winced. My son rolled his eyes. “Come on!” he coaxed. “St. Francis had one!” Of course he did. I placed the skull in our cart, along [...]

Losing the Faith

Estimates vary, but as much as 25 percent of the American populace is Catholic -- though that number is falling. Islam is on the rise in Europe and America, if its members simply continue reproducing (which they are not doing in some countries). Europeans and Americans continue their population decline. We see many conversions to [...]

A Eucharistic Prayer

This prayer, offered quietly by the deacon or priest at Mass, often goes unnoticed. It is the prayer said in preparation of the cup of wine that will soon become the cup of the very blood of Jesus. This simple prayer expresses succinctly our Catholic belief concerning the Real Presence of Jesus in the sacrament [...]

Love Is Not Feelings

Last week, we talked a bit about the meaning of concupiscence in the Church's moral tradition. The good news about concupiscence is that it is not sin but merely the "tinder for sin," and therefore temptation is not a revelation of what a disgusting disappointment we are to God, but is in fact the field [...]

The Price Is Right

Last week I outlined just how complicated the economy really is. Society is confronted with the almost incalculable problem of how to meet the indefinite needs of a massive and diverse population. Anyone who has raised a decent-sized family knows just how hard it is to satisfy even a small group of people whom you [...]

Concupiscence Is Not a Sin

A reader wrote in to ask what I think about this story, where a young boy underwent monstrous "reparative therapy" because he exhibited feminine behavior, only to end up killing himself at 38. As you may have gathered, I think it monstrous. This will no doubt confuse people who have noted that I think homosexual [...]

On Giving Scandal

A reader writes: I was recently thinking about the prayers for Bin Laden -- and felt I had butted up against the scandal of the Gospel. Specifically, I found it difficult to pray for Osama Bin Laden after his death, because I felt that lots of people would, and why should this mass murderer who [...]

There Ain’t No Pure Church

Some people become Catholic because the Church is a communion of sinners and slobs who are losers, oddballs, factory rejects, and broken dunderheads who can't tell their butt from a hole in the ground and who have messed up their lives so badly that they know only God can save them. They don't know from [...]

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