Bringing it all back to Jesus

Writer (and former Paulist priest) James Carroll offers his thoughts on what’s ailing the Catholic Church in Sunday’s New York Times: Sometimes, when I kneel alone in a pew in the far back shadows of a church, face buried in my hands, a forbidden thought intrudes: You should have left all this behind a long time [Read More...]

Flannery O’Connor added to American Poet’s Corner at Episcopal cathedral

Details:  The writer Flannery O’Connor was inducted into The American Poet’s Corner at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City on Sunday, November 2nd, 2014. The induction ceremony included a traditional Choral Evensong featuring excerpts from O’Connor’s writing and reflections on the religious implications of her work. A procession led the assembled congregation, [Read More...]

All That Jazz: How F. Scott Fitzgerald Wound Up in a Catholic Cemetery

Some days back, I wrote about the Fitzgerald grave, which rests just outside the church where I was married 27 years ago. The Washington Post recently revisited the churchyard, and offers more about the fabled author’s final resting place: Things have changed for Scott and Zelda. “We usually see a handful of people visiting the cemetery [Read More...]

The peculiar Catholicism of Roger Ebert

The Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic takes note of recent papal news, waxes nostalgically about his Catholic upbringing (complete with Dominican nuns) and then concludes: I consider myself Catholic, lock, stock and barrel, with this technical loophole: I cannot believe in God. I refuse to call myself an atheist, however, because that indicates too great a [Read More...]

What about the pope’s last, unfinished encyclical?

His planned trilogy on the theological virtues will remain, it seems, incomplete.  Catholic News Service has some interesting background:  In December, the Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, said that Pope Benedict’s fourth encyclical would be released in the first half of 2013. Treating the subject of faith, the encyclical would complete a trilogy on [Read More...]

“We must aspire to the life of perfection”

“When God the Creator made all things, he commanded the plants to bring forth fruit each according to its own kind; he has likewise commanded Christians, who are the living plants of his Church, to bring forth the fruits of devotion, each one in accord with his character, his station and his calling. I say [Read More...]

Victor Hugo: miserable Catholic?

As I mentioned, the movie of “Les Miserables” is teeming with Catholic references.  It lead me to wonder about the background of the novel’s author, Victor Hugo. From Wikipedia:  Hugo’s religious views changed radically over the course of his life. In his youth, he identified himself as a Catholic and professed respect for Church hierarchy [Read More...]

Has fiction lost its faith?

That’s the provocative and sobering question that headlines this essay by Paul Elie in the New York Times Book Review this weekend: If any patch of our culture can be said to be post-Christian, it is literature. Half a century after Flannery O’Connor, Walker Percy, Reynolds Price and John Updike presented themselves as novelists with [Read More...]

How Charles Dickens saved Christmas

The story behind the most famous Christmas story since the Nativity, from the Capitol Hill Times: When Charles Dickens wrote “A Christmas Carol” in 1842, the holiday was nearly dead in modern England. Christmas was celebrated by the rural and poor, but frowned upon by employers. It took an American, Washington Irving, to praise Christmas [Read More...]

Obama, Palin, Jobs and the Beach Boys enter Bartlett’s—and there’s an app for that

Check it out: The 18th edition of the venerable reference work has just been released, the first for the electronic age and a chance to take in some of the new faces, events and catchphrases of the past 10 years. General editor Geoffrey O’Brien says he has expanded upon the trend set by his predecessor, [Read More...]