Charlottesville and America’s Original SinAug 22, 2017 5 Comments
I vividly remember my first visit to the home of Thomas Jefferson in Charlottesville, Virginia. The splendid Monticello estate with its sordid slave-quarters underground. One could literally see at this great American house the divide, the original sin, that has bedeviled our nation from its inception to the present day.
The Mysterious Church on the Edge of the WorldAug 08, 2017 0 Comments
It is practically impossible to gaze at Mont Saint-Michel without falling into mystical reverie. But to understand this sacred place, we should remember its name and the figure who stands on the pinnacle of the spire, namely, Michael the Archangel.
Musing on the Teeth of St. AmbroseAug 01, 2017 12 Comments
While filming for our “Pivotal Players” series, I had the chance to view the skeletal remains of St. Ambrose, the great fourth-century bishop of Milan. However, when I posted pictures on social media, many people were a bit put off. Why do Catholics venerate dead bodies and relics? Answering this question throws light on some pretty interesting issues in Catholic theology.
A Bride and Groom; The Bride and The GroomJun 27, 2017 4 Comments
Two weeks ago, I had the great good pleasure of presiding at the wedding of my niece, Bryna and her now husband, Nelson. While we rejoice in their love for each other, the fact that they have now become living symbols of Christ the Bridegroom’s ecstatic love for his Bride, the Church is reason, in the very deepest sense, to give thanks.
Pope Francis Speaks to PriestsJun 20, 2017 6 Comments
The theme that I have chosen for a retreat I'm hosting in Dublin is “Pope Francis Speaks to Priests.” I have culled a number of motifs from the Pope’s numerous talks, sermons, and lectures to priests, seminarians, and bishops. Allow me, in the course of this brief article to say just a few words about each one.
Looking at Luther with Fresh EyesJun 13, 2017 22 Comments
With great profit and pleasure I’m currently reading Alec Ryrie’s new book “Protestants: The Faith that Made the Modern World”. Ryrie’s characterization of Martin Luther offers fresh insights on how the great “Solas” of the Reformation can be both celebrated and legitimately criticized.
Kathy Griffin and the Vanishing of ArgumentJun 06, 2017 40 Comments
I would like to situate what Kathy Griffin did in a wider context, for it is but a particularly brutal example of what is taking place throughout our society, especially on university campuses, namely, a deterioration of rational argument.
Silence and the Meaning of the MassMay 30, 2017 13 Comments
Robert Cardinal Sarah’s recent book “The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise” centers around the unhappy role that noise has come to play in our culture and more specifically in the Church. As I read the sections of his book dealing with the importance of silence during Mass, I often found myself nodding vigorously.
Our Lady of Fatima and a Theological Reading of HistoryMay 16, 2017 30 Comments
This past week, we celebrated the one hundredth anniversary of the first apparition of Our Lady to a group of shepherd children near the Portuguese town of Fatima. The series of Fatima appearances—lasting from May until October of 1917—is one of the most extraordinary in the history of the Church. It has also beguiled political and cultural commentators outside the ambit of the Church, and it is this wider implication that I would like to explore.
How to Preach Like the ApostlesMay 09, 2017 14 Comments
A twentieth century Anglican bishop memorably expressed the following insight: “When Paul preached, there were riots; when I preach, they serve me tea.” To all preachers, I might recommend a careful consideration of the kerygmatic sermonizing in the Acts of the Apostles. If you preach like Peter, they might not serve you tea after every homily, but they will know that they’ve been cut to the heart.
Pride, Humility, and Social MediaMay 02, 2017 8 Comments
A recent article reminds us that social media can be a breeding ground for the unique type of spiritual distortion and dislocation that we traditionally call pride. What made all the difference for her was the arrival of her baby, in all of his densely-textured reality—a reality that she could appropriate only through humility.
The Benedict Option and the Identity/Relevance DilemmaApr 18, 2017 27 Comments
Rod Dreher’s “The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation” has certainly emerged as the most talked-about religious book of 2017. There is a widely-felt instinct that something has gone rather deeply wrong with the culture and that classical Christianity, at least in the West, is in a bit of a mess. So, do we need the Benedict Option now?
“The Case for Christ” and a Stubbornly Historical ReligionApr 11, 2017 15 Comments
The new film “The Case for Christ” is interesting for any number of reasons, but I think it is particularly compelling for its subtle portrayal of the psychological, spiritual, and intellectual dynamics of evangelization.