George Weigel is distinguished senior fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C.

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Seekers or Finders?

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On the Solemnity of the Epiphany, I heard a sermon”a rather well-delivered one at that”about the Magi as religious “seekers.” The same note, I’ll wager, was struck from pulpits and ambos across the country, perhaps across the world. But isn’t there something a bit askew here? Isn’t the point of Matthew’s tale of the “wise men from the East” (Matthew 2:1) that they were finders, not just seekers? … Continue Reading »

Child sacrifice in 21st Century America

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The Hebrew Bible is not for the squeamish. And its harshest maledictions are called down upon those who practiced the abomination of child-sacrifice. Thus the Psalmist: “They sacrificed their sons and daughters to the demons/they poured out innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan … Continue Reading »

Václav Havel and Us

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Václav Havel, who died this past Dec. 18, was one of the great contemporary exponents of freedom lived nobly. His moral mettle proved true in both the world of ideas and the world of affairs; indeed, few men of the past half-century have moved more surely between those two worlds. In that respect, and for his personal courage, Havel reminded me of one of the American Founders”if, that is, one could imagine James Madison hanging out with Frank Zappa… . Continue Reading »

Converts and The Symphony of Truth

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Why do adults become Catholics? There are as many reasons for “converting” as there are converts. Evelyn Waugh became a Catholic with, by his own admission, “little emotion but clear conviction”: this was the truth; one ought to adhere to it. Cardinal Avery Dulles wrote that his journey into the Catholic Church began when, as an unbelieving Harvard undergraduate detached from his family’s staunch Presbyterianism, he noticed a leaf shimmering with raindrops while taking a walk along the Charles River in Cambridge, Mass… . Continue Reading »

Breaking Bad Liturgical Habits II

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As I remarked late last year, the introduction of the third edition of the Roman Missal and the new translations of the liturgical texts offer the entire English-speaking Church an opportunity to correct some bad liturgical habits that have developed over the past four decades. The point of these corrections is neither liturgical prissiness nor aesthetic nostalgia; there is no “reform of the reform” to be found in lace surplices, narrow fiddleback chasubles, and massive candles. The point of correcting bad habits is to celebrate the Novus Ordo of Paul VI with dignity and beauty, so that Holy Mass is experienced for what it is: our participation in the liturgy of saints and angels in heaven”where, I am quite confident, they don’t sing treacly confections like “Gather Us In.” … Continue Reading »

The Weakness of Tyranny

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Blessed John Paul II loved the Christmas season. Guests in the papal apartment during his pontificate found the seasonal decorations up early in Advent; and, following Polish custom, they stayed up until Feb. 2, the feast of the Presentation of the Lord. The Christmas meal was traditionally Polish. Every year, John Paul would call his lay friends in Cracow, all assembled in one apartment, and they would sing Polish carols together for hours, over the phone… . Continue Reading »

Christmas, the Infinite, and the Finite

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The title of Father Edward Oakes’ new book, Infinity Dwindled to Infancy, nicely captures the imaginative challenge posed at Christmas: the mystery of the infinite God become finite man. In truth, however, the challenge to our imaginations has less to do with the how of what the Divine Office calls this admirabile commercium [marvelous exchange] than with the why… . Continue Reading »

The Cardinal Down Under

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In the Baltimore of the 1960s, my canny pastor devised a neat scheme for getting “Father Visitor” (as the confessional doors read) to fill in during the summer for his vacationing curates: bring over newly-ordained Australians from their studies in Rome. There were no language issues (save for those of, er, accent); by the standards of student priests fresh from the Urban College of Propaganda Fidei, the young Aussies were recompensed handsomely and got to see something of the United States; it was win-win, all around… . Continue Reading »

Coercing Consciences

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During his homily at the Mass pro eligendo Romano Pontifice [for the election of the Roman Pontiff] on April 18, 2005, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger cautioned his fellow-cardinals that John Paul II’s successor would have to deal with an emerging “dictatorship of relativism” throughout the western world: the use of coercive state power to impose an agenda of dramatic moral deconstruction on all of society… . Continue Reading »