Crisis of Faith

Crisis of Faith October 26, 2023

One of the great trends among Catholic writers on social media is to find other fellow baptized Catholics or groups online, pick out something they have said or written about the faith and then proceed to pick them apart like a lion eating a zebra. The unquenchable desire to admonish the perceived heretic is as strong as the force is in Anakin Skywalker. I sometimes feel this hunger myself when I see other Catholics uncharitably critiquing Pope Francis, frowning on the Novus Ordo Mass or totally dissing the 2nd Vatican Council. One such website that partakes in these topics on a regular basis is the Catholic website Crisis.

They have plenty of articles and authors ripe for harsh rebuke including a writer who puts more stock in what demons have said during an exorcism under the command of Christ then all the bishops united with the pope in an authoritative ecumenical council and would rather skip out on mass if it is not the TLM. But I’m not planning on going on a Crisis witch hunt in this article. The goal of this blog post is to share with you the articles I found in Crisis that are worth reading and thinking about.

Crisis has been around since 1982 and has featured a variety of different Catholics wielding their words for their publication through the years including some excerpts from well known protestants and some Rabbis.  Not all authors are dedicated to bashing the pope and have written about a variety of topics that any sincere Catholic could most likely agree with. One particular individual, Matt Kappadakunnel, is not only an author at Crisis but also an author at the Pope Francis defence site Where Peter Is, in which I’m also a contributor.

Crisis also unequally sometimes offers two sides to a particular topic.

PRO-SANTA

Keeping Christmas well, therefore, should include things wild and wonderful; things like elves, fairies, ghosts, and, yes, Bishop Staglianò, Santa Claus; things that reflect and recall that time when Heavenly nature took on earthly nature; and “doing” Santa Claus is preeminently one of those things. If children are deprived of wonder, their path to cynicism, virtual reality, pornography, and addiction is that much shorter. This Christmas, let us find the beauty in those invisible realities that include Santa Claus so that they can sustain us and our children through the fake world that lurks at our door.
,Yes, Bishop Staglianò, There Is a Santa Claus (December 16, 2021) Crisis Magazine

ANTI-SANTA

There are many other things a family could do to get their children excited for Christmas and to instill wonder, awe, thanksgiving, and love for the gift that the Christ-Child has given to us with His birth in a manger. And belief in Santa is not one of them. Christmas does mean more. Don’t lessen it by bringing an imaginary magical man and his pointy-eared elves into the story. They don’t matter. They do not exist. Christmas does not need anything else to make it the greatest event in human history. Celebrate that, and be happy.
, We Don’t “Do Santa Claus”—We “Do Christmas” (December 20, 2021) Crisis Magazine

Two Sides of American Monarchy

  • Crisis Magazine@CrisisMag (May 6, 2023) The most powerful attraction of monarchy today is leadership above politics, which is something that a critical mass of the body politic can rally around. A Case for American Monarchy Crisis Magazine
  • Crisis Magazine@CrisisMag (May 6, 2023) Monarchy does not fit within the American political tradition, nor is it the only form of good government, as some traditionalists suggest. A Case Against American Monarchy  Crisis Magazine

Crisis might bash Pope Francis on a regular basis but they also have publicly stated this…

Crisis Magazine@CrisisMag:  (Jul 12, 2022) Those who deny that Francis is pope diametrically oppose the fundamentals of Catholicism and thus are on a spiritually dangerous path.

They might not be too fond of the NO Mass but have published this article…

For the traditional Catholic, involve yourself somehow in the liturgical or communal life of your local parish. For the non-traditional Catholic, find out where the Latin Mass is locally celebrated and attend it at least once, if not more. The Church in the West is not growing but shrinking, and faithful Catholics cannot afford to be segmented and at odds with one another. We must be one united body, regardless of which liturgical expression we attend. We must endeavor to hold on to the beauty of what has been passed down to us, the shoulders upon which we stand, without cutting ourselves off from communion with the whole of Holy Mother Church.
A Case for Liturgical Crossover (March 9, 2023) Crisis Magazine  

Vatican 2 is not written about in great love by Crisis writers, yet in their vault is this gem from the co-founder of Crisis Michael Novak (1933-2017).

The mood at the Second Vatican Council, however, during its four hectic and exciting autumns from 1962 through 1965, was focused not on martyrdom and death but on buoyant hope.

My final point is to underline how redolent with memory this work of my youth still is to me. I can remember the smells of burning chestnuts in the streets of Rome, the taste of Sambuca after dinner with Karen, the excitement of the press conferences every early afternoon, the perfect October air in St. Peter’s Square with the great dome glinting in the sunlight. It was a wonderful time to be alive. Since an ecumenical council happens only once in a century, I am glad to have been present at this one, a great and history-changing outpouring of the Spirit, and just plain fun.
Reconsidering Vatican II – Crisis Magazine

Mr. Novak founded the magazine with Catholic fiction writer Ralph McInerny who gave us the character Father Dowling in which the books were translated to the small screen in the Father Dowling Mysteries (January 20, 1989 – May 2, 1991) and stared Jewish actor Tom Bosley from Happy Days.

Many Catholic writers have balked at being called that. They were Catholic and they wrote, all right, but they didn’t want to be read as if the point of their fiction was a religious message. As if you could earn an indulgence by reading them.
My characters were Catholic. They saw what they were doing through the lens of their faith; success and failure finally was a matter of grace or sin. Catholic fiction in this sense is not a matter of lore or the settings but of the nature of the eye through which the action is seen. J. F. Powers is an exquisite writer about Catholic things, and Flannery O’Connor, equally good, mentions things Catholic in only one of her short stories—but the sensibility of all her fiction is Catholic.
Ralph McInerny, On Being a Catholic Writer (September 3, 2012) Crisis

Fr. James Martin is often written about with contempt at Crisis. But yet one of his harshest critics wrote this…

Fr. Martin, I know you are aware of my work, as for years I’ve called out the pattern of ambiguity, confusion, and error that I believe you deliberately embrace relative to the Church’s teaching on homosexuality. I’ll never waver in challenging that pattern, now or in future. But I ask your forgiveness for those times I’ve written about your work in ways that you found personally wounding and for any lack of charity or respect I’ve shown you in past. Perhaps you and I could one day “reason together” about such things, as brothers in Christ. I’d gladly do so cordially and charitably in private. I pledge that in future I’ll assiduously avoid similar pitfalls.

Let us all work together to “write the good fight” with both truth and charity, and in a way that lets us finish the race knowing we’ve led others to the same glorious finish that is our deepest aspiration.
Deacon Jim Russell Writing the Good Fight (February 17, 2020 ) Crisis 

At Crisis past, present and probably future you’ll find articles about the arts…

Literature

J.R.R. Tolkien said of his magnum opus, The Lord of the Rings, that it was “of course, a fundamentally religious and Catholic work.” The same could be said of his earlier work, The Hobbit.

Although The Hobbit can be seen as a prequel, of sorts, to The Lord of the Rings, its relative levitas stands in idiosyncratic contrast to the gravitas of the latter work. This is due to the fact that The Hobbit was written specifically as a children’s book, whereas The Lord of the Rings outgrew its originally intended role as a sequel. As Tolkien wrote the latter book, it took on epic and mythic proportions, “growing up” into adulthood with respect to genre.
The Hobbit in a Nutshell  (October 22, 2022) Crisis  

Film

The characters in The Sound of Music became perfect examples for our daughters of the need for courage to be witnesses to the truth in today’s wounded world. Captain von Trapp displays that courage several times. Max Detweiler, a money-hungry yet loyal friend, ultimately helps the von Trapps escape at terrible personal risk. Maria’s former mother abbess and the other sisters in the convent also risk their lives to help her and her new family hide from a Nazi search party. These characters personify the truth either in word or deed.
Forming Our Kids Through Movies  (June 2, 2023) Crisis  

Music and Culture

Sure, I know that the aboriginal tribes of North America had no great architecture.  There was no Salisbury Cathedral on the Missouri River. If you wanted a marble statue of Hiawatha, you had to wait until the classically trained Augustus Saint-Gaudens made one for you. But the natives, like the people of all human cultures before our time, had song and poetry, the fundamental and universal human art; and they took their ornaments of dress seriously; and they lived outdoors, in that world of great beauty—sometimes subtle, sometimes spectacular, sometimes terrifying. We live indoors—and we have no songs passed down from one generation to the next.
Heap Songs Upon Their Heads – Crisis Magazine  (December 27, 2021) Crisis  

Recreation and Writing

Until yesterday afternoon, I’ve never been tempted to kiss a fish. But then again, I’ve never caught such a beautiful rainbow trout as the one I landed yesterday. In that moment, the glory of “rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim” came alive for me, “fickle, freckled.”

There was a mysterious elation, quiet and yet so strangely tingling that I honestly felt like reverencing this fish. I had caught a wild and beautiful thing. In the end, though, I didn’t kiss it; I firmly pierced its head with my knife, the blood running over my hand. I cut a thin willow branch, stripped the leaves off of it, and, passing it through the gills of the fish, formed a secure holder on which to keep the fish fresh in a shallow eddy.

There are several reasons I tell you of my fishing exploits. Firstly, because earlier this year I promised I would more fully explore some of the activities that are timelessly human. Secondly, because I feel like writing of the things that I love. Only the lover sings, St. Augustine famously quipped, and for me, writing is sometimes a song. In this way, I share the beauty that I stumble on from time to time in the hopes that others may find similar joy and life.

Why I Fish for Fickle, Freckled Things (October 21, 2023) Crisis  

On Crisis You also get articles on

How to Treat Others Not of Our Tribe

In God’s Divine Providence, we can just never know how our actions or interactions might affect another. Everyone is created by God and loved infinitely by Him, and we are called to be examples of His love in the world—even to the tattooed skinheads of the world, even when they look to be hostile to the true, the good, and the beautiful. This I have learned and I encourage my children to look past some of the outlandish antics of people and to judge them for who they are—children of God who are in need of our prayers and good example.
Skinheads, Nose Rings, and Tattoos, Oh My! (JANUARY 20, 2022) (crisismagazine.com)

Moral Theological Questions

When Christ is alive in us, we love as He loves. And, hard as it is to believe, Jesus loves Putin. He died for Putin, just as surely as He died for you and me. He wants nothing more than for Putin to repent, confess his sins, and end this war. That’s what we should want, too.

Of course, if we ask God to strike him down, He doesn’t have to do it. There’s no risk of that. The point is to put on the mind of God. The point is for us sinners to desire the good of our fellow sinners—just like God does.

St. Augustine, expanding on Jesus’ teaching, declared that a Christian “loves his very enemies, and so loves them that he desires that his haters and detractors may be turned to righteousness, and become his associates, not in an earthly country, but in a heavenly country.”

That’s what we should want for Putin. If we can’t muster that kind of charity, that’s okay. We’re none of us perfect. But it’s something to which we might aspire.
  Can We Pray for Putin’s Death?  (March 11, 2022) Crisis  

 How to Cure the Ills of Youth

What young people need most right now is not so much understanding, compassion, antidepressants, or therapy; they need a good belly laugh, preferably at their own expense. A good start would be for them to watch the skit “Stop it” by Bob Newhart, one of the last of that tradition of great comedians. Check it out on YouTube; it’s a good laugh and good therapy.

Innocent laughter, or mirth, is also related to innocence. As Josef Pieper said, “Only the pure of heart can laugh freely and liberatingly.” We see this in children, and this may be one meaning of our Lord’s warning that unless we become as children we cannot enter the kingdom of God. A child of four will laugh at a clown being hit in the face with a pie because he, too, having no dignity to stand upon, would like to get hit in the face with a pie. It is only as we grow older and assume our dignity that we want to hit the other person in the face with a pie.

Why So Serious?   (March 22, 2023) Crisis Magazine

How To Deal With Anger

We can be angry about TLM restrictions, but if our anger leads us to calumny or detraction, we are choosing to hurt in response to being hurt. If we truly believe Jesus is our Lord, then when we are hurt, we will go to Him for healing as opposed to taking the matter we are angry about into our own hands.

Bringing Christ into the pain allows us to respond more graciously. We can acknowledge the injustice while choosing a Spirit-led response.

I reached out to Crisis editor-in-chief Eric Sammons shortly after the release of Traditionis Custodes to express my prayers for him and all TLM devotees who have experienced pain and frustration with this motu proprio. I was moved by his response: Sammons acknowledged that it is hard to not give into anger, but he put his faith in the prayers, fasting, and sacrifices that many in the Church are doing in response to this decision. Turning to Jesus amid pain and frustration is always the right decision.

Be Angry, but Do Not Sin   (August 5, 2021) Crisis Magazine

Crisis also delves into the Spiritual with

A Plea For Unemployed Saints

Think about St. Anthony running morning, noon, and night. He is called upon almost constantly by millions of the faithful who have a devotion to him. The same with St. Francis, St. Benedict, St. Josemaria, St. Ignatius Loyola, St. Thomas Aquinas, Mother Cabrini. Then there are the newer saints, like Gianna Molla and John Paul the Great. Because they are so recent, people know them and have vigorous devotions to them. They are busy. And we know the Blessed Mother is the busiest saint of all.

But think about all the saints in Heaven who have never had big followings, or have simply been forgotten by us on this side of the veil. Have you ever heard of Rafael Arnaiz Barón, a Trappist who was canonized in 2009 by Pope Benedict XVI. What about Riccardo Pampuri, a medical doctor canonized by John Paul the Great in 1989? Go back in time to Ambrose Barlow, a Benedictine martyred in 1641 and canonized by Paul VI.

Saints Barón, Pampuri, and Barlow are all looking for work, and I wonder who is asking them. These great saints are on the unemployment line. They are waiting there for you and me to ask them.

Too Many Saints Looking for Work! (October 13, 2023) Crisis Magazine

And This Historical Theological Question

This intuition of the appearance of Christ to His Mother is not a question of dogma. It is an example of the imaginative deduction by which saints have illumined our tradition. It is possible that someone could say, “I have no need of thinking of such a thing. I’ll stick with only what is written.”

No one is compelled to believe otherwise. However, the appropriateness of the meditation on this extra-biblical, private experience of Mary intuited by the holy company of the saints and its consonance with an Incarnational perspective that treasures the humanity of Christ in all its imagined consequences can be a source of “keen joy” as St. Ignatius said, “because of the great glory of Christ our Lord.”

Did the Resurrected Christ Appear to His Blessed Mother? (May 1, 2023) Crisis Magazine

I’ve mostly given you examples of recent Crisis activity.
But then there are The Vault  of years of great writing since 1982

Can a two-week synod straighten it all out? Probably not. Undereducated holders of power will delegate and relegate and continue to make the laity look bad; the response will be to tighten, not loosen, the constraints upon participation by the whole church with the whole church. That clerics have created a self-fulfilling prophesy is immaterial; that the world is beginning to ignore all religious pronouncements as political pronouncements is what is the very serious matter the synod ought to address, with the whole church, in Rome, next fall.

The Extraordinary Synod: A Symposium   (June 1, 1985) Crisis Magazine

Religious conservatives (a term that I feel should describe all Jews) venerate old ideas. We also revere the things that link us to ancient ideas. But we don’t value old things just because they are old. Personally, I would just as soon see the oldest McDonald’s restaurant razed to make way for a new building. I would never consider furnishing my home with ridiculously uncomfortable and expensive antique chairs. But I would love to be able to preserve the synagogue in which my great-grandfather prayed a hundred years ago or to own a chair on which George Washington sat.

Judaism Today: That Old-Time Religion  (May 1, 1997) Crisis Magazine

As I encourage the little tykes to step lively, I notice a minivan parked next to our maxivan. There are several rosaries draped over the rear view mirror, a few pro-life bumper stickers in the back, and in case you missed the point, the license plate says “STJSPH.” So I figure that, at least for once, we won’t be the only freaks in the freak show.

I like being a Catholic; I do. I like people assuming we must be Catholic.

But what gets a little old is . . . you know, looking so Catholic all the time. I know there will come a time in my life when rust, ink stains, and spit-up are no longer the sacramentals of my vocation, but that’s how it is for now. I can’t help checking out other big families, to see how well they pull off Appearing Normal.

Looking Catholic  (September 12, 2008) Crisis Magazine
A century ago, at the beginning of the Great War, which Pope Benedict XV termed a “pointless slaughter,” another notable American was born: the Cistercian monk Thomas Merton. He remains a source of spiritual inspiration and a guide for many people. In his autobiography he wrote: “I came into the world. Free by nature, in the image of God, I was nevertheless the prisoner of my own violence and my own selfishness, in the image of the world into which I was born. That world was the picture of Hell, full of men like myself, loving God, and yet hating him; born to love him, living instead in fear of hopeless self-contradictory hungers.” Merton was above all a man of prayer, a thinker who challenged the certitudes of his time and opened new horizons for souls and for the Church. He was also a man of dialogue, a promoter of peace between peoples and religions.
The Pope Speaks to Congress -(September 25, 2015) Crisis Magazine
There are many more examples of  great and good articles I could list. Crisis reminds me of visiting the La Salette Shrine bookstore.  It brought together Catholic writers you might not normally see together in one place. Eric Sammons, Mark P. Shea, Peter Kwasniewski, Dawn Eden and   Crisis is not a site I fully endorse because of some of the articles and writers on it I find obectible and spiritually unhealthy. But on the flip side I don’t totally condemn the site as something you should totally avoid because of some of the examples I have listed above. Browse the articles with a critical eye and learn to look for the gleam in your brother’s eye and not just the specks and you will find something worth reading, sharing and thinking about.

Many of us unconsciously practice memento mori as we say the Rosary—repeating the petition “pray for us now and at the hour of our death” as we meditate on the mysteries, events lived out under the shadow of the Cross.

Certain mysteries, such as the Crucifixion and Resurrection, clearly lend themselves to memento mori. Others, even in the midst of joy, contain a prophetic or poignant note of sorrow.

Once I opened myself to thinking about my own death, I found myself thinking about my parenting in the same light. An attitude of lived memento mori means not being overly attached to the passing seasons of life, looking—not anxiously but with prayerful preparation—toward one’s children’s ends as well. What do I want most for them? What am I preparing them for—a saintly death or merely a long and comfortable life? And if I’m called to give them back, God forbid, have I prepared them?

Without the Cross and Resurrection, memento mori belongs to the stoics, to the realm of the fashionably dark, the trendy, to the stylized skulls that seem to be everywhere as the days grow short.
Monica Seeley Memento Mori: Thoughts of Death and Rebirth in a Reminiscent Season (October 7, 2022) Crisis Magazine


Browse Our Archives