One Teacher’s Lesson of Love

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Wright’s Law is only twelve minutes long, but it has been viewed almost two million times on YouTube and Vimeo. Director Zack Conkle begins the documentary in the classroom of Jeffrey Wright, his former physics teacher at Louisville’s Male Traditional High School (now co-ed). Announcing a “test question alert” as a robot might, the innovative Mr. Wright immediately commands the attention of his students. Just when we think the film is going to concentrate on Mr. Wright’s gifts as a teacher, however, it shifts focus. . . . Continue Reading »

Forgiveness and Spiritual Freedom

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Among the highlights of his unfolding papacy is Francis’ emphasis on the sacrament of reconciliation. The confessional is not a “torture chamber,” he has said, but a welcoming place, where we ask for and receive forgiveness for our sins. But there is another, equally important, element of Christianity that is vital for a healthy spirituality: the ability to forgive others. . . . Continue Reading »

St. Peter Faber: Model for a New Reformation

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On Tuesday, Pope Francis canonized Fr. Peter Faber, SJ, one of the great figures of the Catholic Reformation; and by doing so, gave us a key to understanding his own approach to the new evangelization, and a model for spreading the faith in modern times. Peter Faber is little known today, but Francis’ announcement should change that. . . . Continue Reading »

Donna Tartt’s Goldfinch

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When Donna Tartt published The Secret History in 1992, many believed she would become the best American novelist of her generation. That prediction may well have come true, though not in the way most expected. For after the appearance of The Secret History—a riveting tale of murder and betrayal at an elite New England college—Tartt waited ten years before she published The Little Friend. Now, after another decade, Tartt has published her most acclaimed book yet, The Goldfinch… . Continue Reading »

Hugh O’Flaherty, Ireland’s Shining Priest

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Late last month, people from all over the globe gathered in Killarney, Ireland to honor a man who died fifty years ago, but whose legend has grown with each passing year: Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty, Ireland’s heroic priest who rescued some 6500 people in and around Vatican City during the German occupation of Rome… . Continue Reading »

The Smoke of Satan Returns

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In 1972, on the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, Pope Paul VI delivered a sermon that startled the world. Describing the chaos then consuming the post-conciliar Church, he lamented: “From some fissure the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God” … Continue Reading »

In Defense of Pope Francis

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In 2005, following the death of Blessed John Paul II, I asked one of my closest friends”a Jesuit who has served the Church loyally for decades”who he thought would make a worthy successor. Stressing he would welcome anyone chosen, he remarked, “I hope it might be my Jesuit colleague in Argentina, Cardinal Bergoglio. Many of us believe he has the qualities of a saint” … Continue Reading »

Serpico’s Stand

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It has now been forty years since Al Pacino blazed across the screen in the classic police drama, Serpico. Based on the acclaimed book of the same name, it is that rarest of Hollywood films”an adaptation as exceptional as the book. Searing, deeply moral, and ultimately heartbreaking, it is as powerful today as it was the day it opened. And even more relevant… . Continue Reading »

Warren Zevon’s Secret

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Ten years ago this month, Warren Zevon died and the world of music lost an extraordinary talent. Gifted and mercurial, Zevon’s tumultuous life often paralleled the self-destructive paths of other celebrities; and yet”in significant ways”also diverged sharply from them… . Continue Reading »