To Render the Deeds of Mercy

A version of the following talk was given at the Shelbourne Easter Seminar on March 29, 2015. Shakespeare had a Catholic imagination. He loved to write about monastic and religious characters; he had a keen sense of sacramentality in symbol; and his work seemed to reflect the themes of Catholic . . . . Continue Reading »

How the Church Failed Fishtown

The sign outside the church lists a single Sunday Mass time. The bulletin provides details on the other sacraments, available by appointment only, more of a consignment than a convenience. The church is one of two in the parish, clustered together under a single administration, ostensibly for better . . . . Continue Reading »

Katharine Drexel

In my bilingual Catholic parish, the nativist undercurrent of the campaign season looms loudly over the Latinos while the whites discuss the latest battle over religious liberty in hushed shock. This campaign season has people fearing the end of something, be it a way of life, a political party, or . . . . Continue Reading »

In Honor of an Uppity Nun

On one of my first visits to Rome some years ago, I stepped into an elevator on my way to a meeting in the Vatican. I was greeted by a friendly cleric. “Where are you from?” he asked. “Birmingham, Alabama,” I replied. “Oh,” he said in a hushed tone, “do you know Mother Angelica?” I . . . . Continue Reading »

Euthanasia by Organ Harvesting

Shallow are the souls that have forgotten how to shudder.—Leon Kass The ethics of medicine aren’t what they used to be. Sanctity of life? That’s so passé. The Hippocratic Oath? Fuggettaboudit! The modern healthcare system is expected to embrace properly utilitarian perspectives.Take . . . . Continue Reading »

The Visions of St. Faustina

In 1923 a teenager named Helena Kowalska attended a dance in Lodz, Poland. While she danced that evening, a naked Jesus covered in agonizing wounds appeared at her side. “[H]ow long will you keep putting Me off?” He asked her. The music halted and all the people but Jesus disappeared from . . . . Continue Reading »

Trump Is No Pro-Lifer

When candidates for high office are faking it in order to persuade a party's base that, appearances and past record to the contrary notwithstanding, they really, really are “with the program,” they step into dangerous territory. They need to say what the base wants to hear. Indeed, they need to . . . . Continue Reading »

Trump and the American Alliance System

The cliché is that Donald Trump says what people think. On foreign policy, that cliché is actually true. Trump’s phone interview with the New York Times has been roundly mocked by political observers. In the transcript, he comes across more like a belligerent drunk than a potential president, . . . . Continue Reading »

Things That Can’t Change

When the Second Vatican Council was putting the finishing touches on one of its key documents, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium), Pope Paul VI proposed that it include a statement that the pope is “accountable to the Lord alone.” The suggestion was referred to the . . . . Continue Reading »

An Ancient Clash of Civilizations

Whether or not we find these contemporary parallels apt, Rahe’s focus may help us understand Sparta’s important role in early modern Europe, on which he has written significant scholarship. Rousseau modeled his ideal communities on Sparta. American patriot Samuel Adams dreamed of his native Boston as “a Christian Sparta” that valued virtue over wealth, though New England ended up pursuing the more Athenian path of a democratic commercial republic. With the deindustrialization of America and the growth of a large standing army, we may come to appreciate the virtues of Sparta once again.