Catholic Living

Preparing for the Twelve Days of Christmas

About a hundred years ago, the usual jolly G.K. Chesterton can be found lamenting two things that are still a problem today: First, that as a writer, he has to write about Christmas long before Christmas in order for it to be published at Christmas. Second, the rest of the world seems to celebrate Christmas … Read more

An Advent Paean to Christian Hope

Among the many symptoms marking the crisis of faith and culture we are going through, here’s one that happens every year after Thanksgiving, falling like dead leaves during the days before Christmas, a feast for which there is simply no way to give adequate thanks.  And that is the season of Advent, which finds itself … Read more

Of Downward Mobility and the New Evangelization

 Everybody would be rich   if nobody tried   to be richer.  And nobody would be poor   if everybody tried   to be the poorest.  And everybody would be   what he ought to be   if everybody tried to be   what he wants   the other fellow to be.   — Peter … Read more

Gratitude For Those Who Are Gone

An old and valued friend, who retired after a half-century cheerfully and productively spent in the classroom, used to tell me that it was silly to think anyone would remember him once he was gone.  “Like a stone falling into a river,” he’d say, using one of several similes to which he was drawn, “I’ll … Read more

Finances in Light of the Call for a Poor Church

Crisis recently featured a stimulating discussion on finances centered on Dave Ramsey’s principles of financial planning. The first piece by Richard Becker, “Of Dave Ramsey, Babies, and Birth Control,” contrasted Ramsey’s approach to finances with Catholic openness to life. The response by Stephen Herreid, “Dave Ramsey—Our Favorite Catechist,” countered by arguing that Ramsey’s principles are … Read more

Louisa May Alcott on How to Give Thanks

When I first read “An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving” by Louisa May Alcott in her collection of short stories entitled Aunt Jo’s Scrap-Bag, I was—truth be told—unmoved. But truth is often painful … and embarrassing. The temptations to label this little-known episode from the well-known author of Little Women as cliché and cloying are quite real. They are, nevertheless, temptations … Read more

Catholic Sexual Ethics: An Unknown Treasure

Every other year I teach a course on Christian sexual ethics. Turns out, 19-year olds are interested in the subject matter, and despite the early-morning schedule the course suffers from remarkably low rates of truancy—and not because of some innate skill of mine, I wager. The class is always enlivening, with arguments crackling back and … Read more

A School Without Screens

There is a growing consensus among human beings that the effects of our developing technology are not conducive to human development. Popular technology, despite its claim to interact and connect, breeds isolation. It causes people, especially young people, to stray into an introverted withdrawal from others and the world. As such, these results are antithetical … Read more

Advice for Preachers on Sin and Satan

I once knew a pastor whose homilies were so awful, so bone crushingly boring, that I’d swear he composed them in the time it took us to sit down after he’d finished reading the Gospel.  In other words, three seconds flat. But while they may have been a tad bit thin theologically, they were always … Read more

When Those We Love Die

In thinking about the destiny of those who die, the course of their final trajectory beyond the grave, it is always unwise to make predictions about the precise place awaiting them on the other side.  How can anyone, in the absence of a sudden sunburst from above, possibly know?  Unless one were fully omniscient—which is … Read more

The Blessings of Sin

When asked once about a sermon he’d just heard, the legendarily laconic Calvin Coolidge managed to summarize its theme in a single word:  “Sin.”   Pressed for details concerning the preacher’s views on the subject, President Coolidge added four more:  “He was against it.”  Where Coolidge himself stood on the matter, the record does not show.  … Read more

Fecundaphobia: On the Fear of Large Families

The pharmacist was eyeing me strangely, and it was making me nervous. I glanced down at my clothes, then surreptitiously ran my tongue over my teeth. Then I noticed his eyes moving between me, my prescription, and the baby who was sitting on my hip. Suddenly I understood. Based on my prescription, he knew that … Read more

The Iron Cage of the Common Core?

Writing in the early 1900s, sociologist Max Weber depicted the coming modern world as an “iron cage” in which a caste of functionaries and civil servants monopolize power over the lives of citizens.  He warned that the emerging bureaucracies would concentrate large amounts of power in a small number of people—creating a technically ordered, rigid, … Read more

A Throw Away Culture in Reproductive Medicine

The “Brave New World” of genetic manipulation in reproductive medicine has arrived, and its arrival embraces the utilitarian calculation that the death of the innocent is a legitimate means to secure the health of another. Mitochondrial diseases, such as Leigh’s Syndrome and Alpers Disease are passed down from mothers to their children because offspring inherit … Read more

A Case of Mistaken (Sexual) Identity

My favorite novel of mistaken identity has always been C. S. Lewis’s The Horse and His Boy. It’s the perfect fairy tale, beginning with a miserable young boy, Shasta, growing up in Calormen, treated like a slave by Arsheesh, the man who he assumes is his father. When one of the lords of Calormen, a … Read more

The Limitations of Buddhism: A Response to My Critics

“There’s little point in writing if you can’t annoy somebody.”   So wrote the late Kingsley Amis, one of the grand old curmudgeons of English letters who, over a long and highly combative literary career, managed to annoy just about everybody.  And while I do not aspire to the same heights of abrasiveness achieved by … Read more

All Hallows Eve or Halloween?

Halloween poses a serious concern to Catholic families nowadays. Besides various occult inspirations, many Catholics are uneasy with Halloween’s ostentatious glorification of ugliness and evil. Also distressing are the prevalent trends of psychosis, vulgarity, and violence. What conscientious parent would not be wary? Even with such adversity, it is still possible to align Halloween with … Read more

The Blind Buddha is Welcome in Worcester

At a splashy social event this past summer, at which only a few folks did I actually know, I found myself seated next to a middle aged woman, whose quiet reticence stood in marked contrast to the noise and bellicosity that now and again take hold of me. And she said something so shocking that … Read more

A British Royal Comes to America to Tell the Catholic Story

Next week Washington DC will be treated to the arrival of a pro-life Catholic who is also a member of the British royal family. How is that possible? Nicholas Windsor gave up his place in line to the British throne when he converted to the Catholic Church in 2001. He became “the first male blood … Read more

Jesus Christ Superstar Now

When I was a kid, the musical “Jesus Christ Superstar” was all the rage.  Both the local high school and my parents’ church (a large United Christ Methodist affair) each put on large, well-attended performances of the “rock opera” that included the entire teen choir.  The biggest questions were always: Whose booming bass voice would … Read more

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