Is There a List of Mortal Sins?


One of the strengths and weaknesses of the internet age is that people write to strangers with personal problems which are often complex, but there is no context or background. So I’ll get an email out of the blue from someone I don’t know asking “What is the meaning of life? Why are we here? [Read More...]

I’ll Be Back


I’ve had a lot of other stuff to think about the last few days, and the head that usually thinks about churchy blog type stuff has been otherwise occupied. I haven’t given up though. I’ll be back. [Read more...]

Life is a Casting Off


What is it in me that likes the difficult sayings of Jesus more than the easy sayings? Everybody loves Jesus who says, “Let the little children come to me” and “Neither do I condemn you” But have you read the gospels lately?  Jesus’ teaching is much more forceful and strident than we like to remember. [Read More...]

Old Monk on Stability

Novice: I think God is calling me to join a different community Old Monk: As you go you will be taking the problem of this community with you. [Read more...]

The Vulnerability of Beauty

The Abbey of St Antimo, Tuscany, Italy

A friend of mine once exclaimed, “Oh, the vulnerability of beauty in a world of useful things!” What he was observing is the fact that beauty cuts across utilitarian and economic ideals. Of course a thing that is efficient and useful might also be beautiful, but something which seeks to be beautiful first of all [Read More...]

Tolkien and the Great War


In honor of Armistice Day my article for Imaginative Conservative this week explores the influence that World War I had on Tolkien and his writing. It is from these first hand experiences of war that Tolkien was to find the ground and content for a fantasy that was empowered by vivid realism. Writing in his [Read More...]

One of God’s Little Women Warriors

St Frances Xavier Cabrini

Mother Cabrini was frail and tiny of body but strong of soul. Read about her here. Cabrini was born July 15, 1850, in Sant’Angelo Lodigiano, in the LombardProvince of Lodi, then part of the Austrian Empire, the youngest of the eleven children of Agostino Cabrini and Stella Oldini, who were wealthy cherry tree farmers. Sadly, only four of the eleven [Read More...]

Hate the Sin Love the Sinner – How Do I Do That?


It’s a typical Christian bromide: “Hate the sin. Love the sinner.” The problem is–how do I do that? The sinner sins. How do you separate the sin from the sinner, and to be honest, at the final judgement it is the sinner who is condemned for his sin. It’s not like Jesus says, “There, there, [Read More...]

Is There a Burke-Francis Feud?

Raymond Cardinal Burke

  This week’s article for Aleteia analyzes whether there is a personal feud between Cardinal Burke and Pope Francis There is gossip galore in the little world of the universal church. American Cardinal Raymond Burke has been transferred from his powerful post as Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura to an honorary post of Patron of [Read More...]

The Ancient Radical Vision of the Family

Extended happy family standing in the park.

Here is an article/interview on marriage for Georgetown’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs: I have a very subversive and radical vision for Christian marriage. It is just as radical as it was when it first hit the scene in the Roman Empire in the first and second centuries. It is this: that one [Read More...]

Women Priests: A Mini-Debate


Here is a debate between Mary and Jerry about women priests. Mary and Jerry are not real people. MARY: I don’t see why the church forbids women from being priests. Women have entered every other profession. We have women doctors, lawyers, politicians, soldiers and entrepreneurs. Why not a woman priest? JERRY: Being a priest is different than those other [Read More...]

Disneyland, Desire and Destiny


In re-reading C.S.Lewis’ wonderful  sermon The Weight of Glory he begins with comments on the nature of desire. Christianity is known by those outside for it prohibitions. It seems to be a religion of “Thou shalt not.” Lewis reminds us that desire is good because it is a desire for the good. Even when the desire is [Read More...]

A Journalism Job in Rome!


I’ve had an email from my friends at the news agency Rome Reports about a job opening for a journalist in their department. The Rome Reports offices are at the top of the Via della Conciliazione right on the edge of St Peter’s Square. Imagine turning up for work just under the shadow of St [Read More...]

Old Monk on Do Gooders

Novice: I have done everything you commanded. Now what? Old Monk: Did you think your obedience would make you good? Those commandments were not to make you be good, but to make you become Good. [Read more...]

The Warrior Rosary

The Warrior Rosary

Last time I was at EWTN I met Tom Sullivan–a former Marine who has a passion for the rosary and spiritual warfare. Tom’s an extraordinary guy. He thought up the idea of the “warrior rosary” for men. This is not some sort of girlie plastic rosary that smells of flowers and falls apart in a [Read More...]

Good Bye To Burke?

Cardinal Raymond Burke

Cardinal Burke’s transfer from being the Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura to be patron of the Knights of Malta is a startling move which will almost certainly prove to be disastrous for Pope Francis. Whether he likes it or not, Cardinal Burke has emerged from the recent synod on the family as the figurehead for the conservative [Read More...]

Celebrating Cyrano


My essay this week for Imaginative Conservative is a celebration of one of my heroes– Cyrano de Bergerac. Did you know Rostand’s character is based on a real person? Until recently I did not know that the knight with the nose was an actual historical figure. Rostand based his amusing musketeer on a genuine character from [Read More...]

Retreat Forward

The blog is a hungry beast

That hungry beast called a blog has not been fed this week because I have been on retreat. He is very hangry…(that’s the combination of “hungry” and “angry” I did not have WiFi. What did I do on retreat? Slept, read, prayed, looked at the sky, slept, read, prayed and looked at the sky. It [Read More...]

Pope Francis: An Evangelical Charismatic Catholic?

Is the Pope an Evangelical Charismatic Catholic? Here is an article I have written for Catholic World Report. Is Pope Francis an Evangelical, Charismatic Catholic? Three other signs indicate that this is the best way to understand him. First is his repeated discussion of the reality of Satan and the need for spiritual warfare. This [Read More...]

Why I’m Writing for CRUX

Last week CRUX columnist Margery Eagan asked the question why we disregard St Paul’s teaching on slavery, but do not feel free to disregard his condemnation of homosexuality. I attempted to answer Margery’s question on my blog and the CRUX editor offered to publish my response. It is published today here. Which leads me to [Read More...]

Old Monk on How God Answers Prayer


Novice: How can God possibly hear and respond to everyone’s prayers? There are so many! Old Monk: That’s easy. He gives everyone the same answer. [Read more...]

The Joyful Pains of Purgatory

  Here is my article for National Catholic Register on purgatory for All Souls’ Day When we pray for the “repose of the souls” of our departed loved ones, it sounds like a passive activity. It sounds like we are merely putting them to bed and praying for them to rest in peace. However, our [Read More...]