Standing Up for Chant

The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited to the Roman liturgy: therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services. But other kinds of sacred music, especially polyphony, are by no means excluded from liturgical celebrations, so long as they accord with the spirit of the liturgical action, … Read more

Got Soap? On Swearing and Vulgarity

I’ve always loved this funny little tune from Chaucer’s day called “Sumer is icumen in.” Joyful and ebullient, it was doubtless sung by many an English peasant out sweating in the field and is full of the solid earthy, good humor of a people who were closely bound to the land. For them, one of … Read more

Dear Bishops, Now Is the Time

The statements made by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Joseph Biden on Meet the Press have provided a wonderful, even providential, opportunity to present the Church’s teaching on abortion and explain its foundational importance to Catholic moral and political teaching in general. Already many bishops have issued clear and courageous statements correcting … Read more

George Edward Lynch

Satafi in Mauretania Caesariensi was a town in the western part of modern Algeria, and its chief claim to fame was that it was the birthplace of Marcus Opellius Macrinus who succeeded Caracalla as emperor, albeit for just 14 months. Because the Berbers there eventually were Islamicized, it was ripe as a defunct diocese to … Read more

Creating a New Mt. Carmel… in America

Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote about the “Last Carmelite Monks in America.” At the time, the eight Carmelites and their novices were overflowing their four-bedroom rectory in the mountains of northwest Wyoming. Since then, the monks’ numbers have grown quickly. By the end of the year, there will be as many as 18 … Read more

All I Ever Wanted

“Why, then, did you become a priest?” My friend, a priest who has spent his entire life in parish ministry, could not understand how I could leave my pastorate to accept a non-parochial assignment. Challenged, I knew the answer at once. “I became a priest,” I replied without hesitation, “so that I could celebrate Mass.” … Read more

Looking Catholic

The other day, my family went to the dentist because some people (me) just don’t take it seriously when the dentist says that chewy candy isn’t good for your spacer.  As the kids unload themselves from the van . . . and why does this take so long? Haven’t they ever gotten out of a … Read more

A New Model for Catholic Community

  To some, the phrase “Catholic Community” conjures up images of exclusive ghettos — areas of faith-filled Catholics who live close together and are so different from the world outside that they fail to engage it in any meaningful way. At the other extreme is contemporary Catholic life, where churchgoers attend the parish of their … Read more

Taking the Time to Act Like Christians

A few days ago I was asked to speak to a men’s group in Atlanta about Catholics in politics. As part of my presentation, I talked about the possibility of greater Catholic and Evangelical cooperation. To illustrate my point, I told the story about the reconciliation earlier this year between Pastor John Hagee and Catholic … Read more

Dostoyevsky on Steroids

The Grand Inquisitor John Zmirak, illustrated by Carla Millar, Crossroad, $19.95, 76 pages A graphic novel is a comic book on steroids: It’s bigger, fiercer, and capable of heavy lifting. What could be a heavier topic than a conspiracy to destroy Christ’s Church from within? That’s the theme of John Zmirak’s latest, The Grand Inquisitor. … Read more

The Fall of Secularism

Recently, the influential German philosopher Jürgen Habermas spoke of the emergence of a “post-secular” society. It had long been thought that as societies grew in technological and economic power, and as the risks of daily life that had been so common for generations faded beneath the safety of plentiful food, a social welfare system, and … Read more

How the Enemies of the Normal Are Destroying Obama

It is an old fact of Christian theology that concupiscence “darkens the intellect” — or, as I prefer to put it in more colloquial terms, “Sin Makes You Stupid.” The visceral reaction to Sarah Palin by the Enemies of the Normal in the Obama camp is a picture-perfect illustration of this. From the instantaneous embrace … Read more

Spiritual Rehab

“Mademoiselle, please help me!” The old woman’s hand trembles above the arm of the wheelchair. I glance around the bustling hallway, noting all the nurses, technicians, and nurses’ aides. Nobody appears to have heard the plaintive cry. “I beg you, take me to my room!” “Where is your room?” I ask briskly, since I am … Read more

In Case of Rapture, This Executive Office Will Be Vacant

By adding Gov. Sarah Palin, Sen. John McCain made his presidential ticket a whole lot more attractive. (See my own endorsement: “Me Vote Pretty This Time.”) Of course, Palin’s presence is no guarantee that McCain will keep his word and appoint solid choices to the U.S. Supreme Court — any more than doting husband Al … Read more

Liberating Theology from Politics

A friend recently sent me a remark by one Msgr. Alfred Gilbey, a onetime chaplain at Cambridge’s Fisher House who was often called “eccentric” (but that mostly meant that he was a believing and practicing Catholic priest in a chaotic time). I’m sure his words will come as news to many. In an article in … Read more

Obama’s Political “Cloud of Unknowing”

Appearing Sunday on This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Sen. Barack Obama tried to undo the damage done by his Saddleback Church interview with Rick Warren — specifically his comment that the question of when an unborn child receives human rights was “above [his] pay grade.” “Was that phrase too flip?” Stephanopoulos asked Obama. “Probably,” Obama … Read more

Why I’m Not a Republican

Although I’m a lifelong Democrat, a former Democratic majority leader of the Rhode Island Senate, and in 1992 a Democratic nominee for the United States House of Representatives, I have for many years now denounced in writing the policies of the national Democratic Party. I have even written a book of denunciation: Can a Catholic … Read more

Missing Mariruthe

It took two cars and the whole family — including all six children — to transport the eldest, Mariruthe, to college in the fall of 1972. I was 16 then, and we had just moved from Richmond to Wilmington. “We’ve been transferred,” my father had told me with forced calm, as if pretending “everything is … Read more

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