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 »

Music for Holy Week: In Monte Oliveti

From First Thoughts

Maundy Thursday, like Palm Sunday, begins in joy and ends in sorrow. The music of Maundy Thursday usually recounts the events of the Last Supper, the foot-washing, the discourses found in the Gospel of John, the betrayal, and Jesus’ arrest. Orlando di Lasso’s “In Monte . . . . Continue Reading »

A Good Time to Be Catholic

From First Thoughts

Sandro Magister writes : It is a widespread opinion, confirmed by numerous testimonies, that the intention of electing pope Jorge Mario Bergoglio grew substantially among the cardinals on the morning of Saturday, March 9, when the then-archbishop of Buenos Aires spoke at the second to last of the . . . . Continue Reading »

Music for Lent: Woefully Arrayed

From First Thoughts

William Cornysh served as a court composer to Henry VIII. While he wrote liturgical works, he also set the poem “Woefully Arrayed” to music for domestic use and private devotion. The music and words are well worth pondering as the Passion approaches. This recording comes from the . . . . Continue Reading »

Washing the Feet of Sinners

From First Thoughts

“Hate the sin, love the sinner.” Christians use the phrase so often because it captures so well one of the foundational principles of our faith. Usually we think it means loving those whose actions we think are wrong, but not in gravest sense: He is sleeping around, she says nasty . . . . Continue Reading »