Spe Salvi

A Pope Turns Ninety

In the long march of the Church’s history, stretching all the way back to a certain failed fisherman called Peter—whom Christ himself caught with the bait of eternal life—few occupants of the papal chair have evinced as lofty a level of erudition, existing in happy combination with ardent and uncomplicated piety, as the Bavarian Pope … Read more

On the Death of a Brother-In-Law

My brother-in-law, Jerome Vertin, died in Chesapeake, Virginia, in hospice care at about five A.M. on February 25. My sister, his wife of sixty-three years, was with him when he died. She said that he seemed most peaceful in death. I thought: “This is the reality that marriage vows prepare a couple for, the ’till … Read more

Why Catholics Celebrate the New Year

We are beginning the Year of the Lord 2016. The marking of the dawn of a new year is no secular holiday, because time and history have been drawn into the coming of God into the world. We keep track of our time as either BC (Before Christ) or AD (Anno Domini) to demonstrate that … Read more

The Lord of the World

In 2001, St. Augustine’s Press published a new edition of Robert Hugh Benson’s 1907 novel, The Lord of the World. A friend of mine in Vermont recently urged me to read it, and I did. Ralph McInerny, in a brief introduction, writes: “The novel wonderfully conveys the flatness and boredom of a world without God. … Read more

The Wrong Road to Cultural Revolution

The title of the sophomoric 1,518-page manifesto is “2083 — A European Declaration of Independence,” and its author, Anders Behring Breivik, is the self-confessed murderer of 93 people by current count. Nothing can justify his Breivik’s cold-blooded brutality, but the concerns that motivated him are both perfectly understandable and shared by many of us. Only … Read more

What Is ‘Roman Catholic Political Philosophy’?

A course in “Roman Catholic Political Philosophy” is rarely found in any academic institution, including those sponsored by the Church. We do find courses titled “Religion and Politics,” “Social Doctrine of the Church,” or “Church and State” — but “Roman Catholic Political Philosophy” is something different. Going back to Plato, it is common to find … Read more

Graduation 2009

To say that a 21- or 22-year-old has “completed” his education seems odd. Several years ago, my brother and his wife invited some guests over. One mistakenly asked me, in my brother’s hearing, about my “background.” I explained that I graduated from high school in 1945, spent a semester at Santa Clara, then a year … Read more

Christmas in Britain

Recently my eye was caught by a news item announcing that teenagers are to be handed “morning after” abortive pills over the Christmas season as they attend clubs and parties. Meanwhile, a firing of muskets in a Christmas tree ceremony in a country town has been banned because people might be frightened by the noise.  … Read more

Justice and Eternal Life

Habitually, I call justice the most terrible of the virtues. It is a virtue; we are to render to another what is due. But by itself, even though rendering justice is an honorable act, it is cold and impersonal. This is why Aristotle always held that friendship was more important than justice. Friendship went beyond … Read more

Peace Research

In Plato’s Republic, soldiers are called “watchdogs.” The military guardians are necessary either to protect one’s city from greedy neighbors or, if the city is itself undisciplined, to assist in conquering the land or goods that are wanted or needed. The watchdog is seen to be someone who attacks an enemy but who is friendly … Read more

The Roots of Terrorism and the Source of Freedom

  In Raymond Arroyo’s fascinating EWTN interview with President George W. Bush before Pope Benedict XVI’s visit, President Bush said some very revealing things about how he views the sources of terrorism and, in general, the world. In two instances, his basically sound instincts led him awry. Both involve issues central to the country’s security, … Read more

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