I Confess (but not frequently enough)–UPDATED

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Over at The Deacon's Bench, Greg Kandra has shared a piece by John Cornwell from The Tablet on the decline of confession among Catholics worldwide. It's a fascinating article, reflecting the research Cornwell has done for a forthcoming book. For reverts of a certain age, like me, there's much that resonates.Among the reasons Cornwell posits for the decline (which in itself is more a presumption than a matter of fact, as statistics aren't tracked for confessions the way they are for Baptisms, … [Read more...]

Sex and the Singular Woman: The Assumption and Helen Gurley Brown

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When I was exactly three weeks old, Pope Pius XII proclaimed the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary to be a truth of the Catholic faith. The year I turned 12, Helen Gurley Brown published Sex and the Single Girl. I have to admit that for most of our lives, women my age---Catholic or not, for good or for ill---have been more influenced by the latter event than by the former. Today, on the Vigil of the Solemnity of the Assumption, as the mainstream media fill with tributes to the late Gurley … [Read more...]

Can the Catholic Church Survive? (You Betcha!)

Fr Angelo Anthony, C.PP.S., celebrates the annual Gaelic Mass at the Dayton Celtic Festival

 Two weeks ago, in the New York Times, Ross Douthat stirred up a bit of an ecclesial ruckus by asking "Can liberal Christianity be saved?" Douthat was moved to ask by viewing the news out of the then recently concluded General Convention of the Episcopal Church---news that confirmed the markedly liberal social and ecclasiastical turn the denomination has taken in recent years---alongside recently released statistics on the precipitous decline of membership, financial support, and … [Read more...]

Bright Lines

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You know when you hear a word or phrase you've never encountered before, and suddenly it's everywhere? While listening to the SCOTUS arguments on the health care case, I first heard the phrase a bright line used in its legal definition: "a clearly defined rule or standard, leaving little room for varying interpretations," as Wikipedia has it. I liked that notion, and could even visualize it. In the months since, it seems I'm hearing it used by news commentators in a slightly different sense, to … [Read more...]

Ever Ancient, Ever New

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One of the first churches I visited in Rome was San Paolo fuori le Mura, the Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls. I was there for the Papal Vespers celebrated on the Vigil of the Solemnity of Sts Peter and Paul in 2010. It was my first taste of the zoo that is a liturgy celebrated by the Holy Father. I was astonished to see that as soon as the entrance procession was signaled, the standing-room-only congregation who had been so reverently prayerful up to that moment suddenly leaped, as one, … [Read more...]

Philomena, the Most Powerful Saint Who Never Was

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When the Vatican Congregation of Rites revised the liturgical calendar in 1961, removing a whole list of saints from universal commemoration, it hit my little corner of the world pretty hard. There was the demotion of Mr Christopher, valued among us preteens not as the patron of motorways but because the giving of his St Christopher medal by a boy to a girl was the Catholic sixth-grade mark of Going Steady. ("He LIKES me likes me!") St Vibiana, patroness of the Los Angeles cathedral, suddenly … [Read more...]

Anticipating Heaven

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After listening to (and participating in, God help me) the dissonant chorus of response to this morning's Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act for 6 hours, I need to go Somewhere Completely Else. It's my contention---though I've been called today, so far, morally reprehensible, ignorant, a socialist, and a cricket(!) for holding to it---that the ship of state and the barque of Peter are in no worse state now than before the decision came down, and that Chief Justice Roberts, writing … [Read more...]

Hope in the Heartland

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New York is where I'd rather stay! I get allergic smelling hay! I just adore a penthouse view! Darling, I love you, but give me Park Avenue . . .Like Eva Gabor's Lisa on the TV series Green Acres, I've always preferred the penthouse to the henhouse. A cornfield is a place that creepy Twilight Zone kid played by Billy Mumy will wish you into if you cross him. I've camped twice, once at Big Sur and once in Yosemite and both out of love for someone I was camping with, not for the … [Read more...]


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