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The Domestic Church

From First Thoughts

Here’s something shocking that the bishops said about marriage—not the bishops in the Synod in Rome right now, but the Fathers of Vatican II. In Gaudium et Spes, they said that the task of being a father or mother is a munus, a Latin word that means service, gift, duty, and office. Continue Reading »

Suffer the Children

From Web Exclusives

The discussion preceding the synod of bishops on the family has ignored the most vulnerable party in divorces and remarriages: children. In so doing, it mirrors the discussion of sex and marriage in western culture more broadly, which focuses on the gratification of the desires of adults—however legitimate—while paying no attention to the needs of children. Continue Reading »

Advice for Grad School Students

From First Thoughts

It took me five years of graduate school to realize that my study is a vocation. My thinking about this was prompted by finally reading A.G. Sertillanges’s The Intellectual Life, which along with Josef Pieper’s Leisure: The Basis of Culture and Elizabeth Corey’s “Learning in Love” make essential reading for anyone considering graduate work or a career in the intellectual world. Culling insights from those thinkers and from my own time in graduate school, I thought I would offer some thoughts for those beginning graduate school. Continue Reading »

Sermons Anglican and Catholic, Parochial and Plain

From Web Exclusives

The small oratory at Littlemore”dark but warm, dominated by red damask hangings that exude Victorian piety”is the room in which John Henry Newman was received into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church. Newman is most famous for that act, and that is why the Catholic Church celebrates his feast day today, on the anniversary of his reception, and not on the day of his death, as is customary. Those of us who have followed in his footsteps from evangelical Protestantism through Anglicanism into Catholicism revere him. For us he is a guide and patron who spurred us on and captures what we thought and felt with prose, intellect, and holiness to which we can only aspire… . Continue Reading »

Francis in Dialogue with the World

From Web Exclusives

“The most serious of the evils that afflict the world these days are youth unemployment and the loneliness of the old.” So begins the most recent papal interview, this one with Eugenio Scalfari, founder of the Italian paper La Repubblica, with whom Francis had already had an exchange of letters. If you look at that sentence as it stands, it sounds a bit incongruous… . Continue Reading »

Prophet Pope

From Web Exclusives

“I am a sinner.” That is the key for understanding Pope Francis. He tells us so at the very beginning of his interview with Antonio Spadaro, S.J., for Jesuit publications worldwide. “This is the most accurate definition. It is not a figure of speech, a literary genre. I am a sinner.” He is also, he says, “a sinner whom the Lord has looked upon,” and upon whom the Lord has had mercy. Sin and mercy are two of the key words emerging from the interview which, at over ten thousand words, offers us the best picture yet of the pope and provides a broader context for the words and gestures of his pontificate… . Continue Reading »

Christ with the Damned

From First Thoughts

In his column yesterday , Stephen Webb argues that von Balthasar’s view of the descent into hell is incorrect, but not for the usual reasons. Webb agrees with von Balthasar that Christ enters the abode of the damned, but argues that he comes to preach, not to suffer. Based on his experience . . . . Continue Reading »

Where’s the Sin?

From Web Exclusives

The word sin never once appears in the English text of Lumen Fidei, the new encyclical letter released last month by Pope Francis. (It does, however, appear in a quotation in the Latin text that is clipped in the translation.) Neither Francis nor Pope Benedict XVI (whom Francis acknowledges as the author of the encyclical’s first draft) are afraid… Continue Reading »

Pope Francis and the Primacy of Grace

From First Thoughts

One of the greatest theological diseases we find in contemporary Catholicism is pelagianism, the notion that we’re all basically good people whose moral improvement and salvation is the result of our good actions. In this mindset, God’s grace becomes less consequential because . . . . Continue Reading »