The Antidote to both Clericalism and Nostalgia . . .

. . . is a thorough reading of the lives of the saints.  Don't pick up one of those sweet-tart packets of platitudes people try to pass off as hagiography.  What you want, if you wish to understand the Church and understand the nature of the Faith, is Butler's Lives, the big version.  Here are excerpts from the life St. Beatus of Liebana, who died circa 798, and whose feast came around just recently: . . . there was at Toledo an aged archbishop called Elipandus, who had been infected by that su … [Read more...]

Atheism, Beauty, and the Loss of Penance

My young daughter, whose cuteness makes her look even younger, sat on the stool at the jewelry store, stone still, waiting for the two gloved salesladies to punch holes through her earlobes on the count of three.  Stoic child, but if you can read her you knew she was nervous.  This was something she wanted, very much wanted.  She knew it would hurt, because we all reminded her of that fact, repeatedly.  She also knew two other things: Her older sister had done it and she was just fine now, and th … [Read more...]

Something Beautiful for Lent: Cultivating God’s Garden by Margaret Rose Realy

The book I've just finished reading is Margaret Rose Realy's Cultivating God's Garden Through Lent.  I'm going to concede it took me a long time to open this one, because I had several stupid book-fears:That the book would be tied to the upper Midwest's seasons, and would be all out of sync for a southern gardener. That the book would be too nice for me.  Margaret is a really nice person. That I wouldn't like it, and that would be awkward, since Margaret and I are writing fr … [Read more...]

Why the Bad Music at Mass?

Fr. Longenecker writes here on why Catholics can't have good music, and he makes a decent historical argument:Suddenly we were flooded with new hymns–most of which had banal lyrics, crappy folk music and trite sentiment. The Catholics didn’t sing the old hymns because they didn’t know them. In the meantime they were having lots of awful new songs shoved down their throat and they (quite rightly) didn’t bother singing them because they knew deep down that they were either unsingable or execrab … [Read more...]

Playing with Fire: Christ in the Temple

It's the Feast of the Presentation, the very last day of Christmas no matter how you count.  From today's readings: Because he himself was tested through what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested. Lent is around the corner.  Here's a tip for you, as demonstrated by today's readings and by all the best carols: You'll always do better if you put a bit of Lent in your Christmas, and a bit of Christmas in your Lent.Have a good one!Artwork: Conrad von Soest [P … [Read more...]

So, Mr. Jesus. We Meet Again.

This Sunday's Gospel has Jesus out for a walk on the beach, and he sees these fishermen and tells them to drop everything and come become apostles.  To hear it preached sometimes, you'd think they'd all never met before.  But take a look at last Sunday's Gospel:John was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, … [Read more...]

Christian Community Renewal for Ordinary Moms

This story is for Melanie Bettinelli, who is far more thoughtful than I am, and her house is in better order.So just before Thanksgiving this year, me and another mom got an invitation.  We had a new friend who we'd met because our daughters played sports together and liked each other.  And she said, "I'd like to have you over to do a Thanksgiving craft with us."We said yes, even though we were not really looking for Thanksgiving crafts, but we knew that friendship and community life is i … [Read more...]


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