Six months after he was elected to the Chair of Peter, Pope Francis made one of the most provocative statements of his five-year pontificate. Asked by the Italian Jesuit Antonio Spadaro what the church (small c) most needs at this point in her history, he replied that he sees the church as a field . . . . Continue Reading »
Martin Scorsese’s recent film Silence, like the historical novel by Shūsaku Endō on which it is based, turns on an act of emotional blackmail. Inoue, a seventeenth-century Japanese magistrate intent on eradicating Christianity from his country, pressures a Jesuit priest named Rodrigues to . . . . Continue Reading »
By now, everyone who reads contemporary fiction will have heard of Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, Hilary Mantel’s acclaimed historical novels about Thomas Cromwell, the powerful advisor to Henry VIII who all but single-handedly disestablished the Catholic Church in England. Anathema to many . . . . Continue Reading »
Even if the Church could keep screens out of her sanctuaries, people strongly attached to them would still be people poorly positioned to take advantage of what the Church has to . . . . Continue Reading »
Generally speaking, there are two principal vocations in the life of the Catholic Church: marriage on the one hand, and celibate priesthood and religious life on the other. Both are expressions of conjugal love. In the normal calling of marriage, an individual binds himself for life to another human . . . . Continue Reading »
For over seventy years The Education of the Virgin languished in storage at the Yale University Art Gallery. In 2004, curator John Marciari first encountered the damaged painting. But it was not until last summer, after six years of research and scholarly consultation, that Marciari published an article in the journal … Continue Reading »
Two months ago, with the riveted world for an audience, the thirty-three Chilean miners who spent seventy days in the darkness of the San Jose mine emerged one by one into the light of day. Worldwide, watchers responded with outpourings of enthusiasm, wonder and relief… . Continue Reading »
This spring I was out of the country for a week. Attending Mass shortly after my return, I went forward to receive the Eucharist and opened my mouth in the traditional way. But I received, instead of Jesus, a frown, a shake of the head, and silence. Distressed, I opened my hands questioningly, and the priest pressed the Host into my palm. Back in my pew I watched as this small drama was reenacted with other communicants. Afterward, on a back table I found a letter from our archbishop, outlining “temporary precautions for the celebration of Mass” due to the spreading of swine flu.
When I entered the Catholic Church in 1996, I was taught by an energetic, abrasive, and intensely orthodox Dominican priest. He taught mostly from memory, stalking about in a theatrical way, fingering a large rosary that hung from his waist. His teaching was both unsystematic and vivid, and when he spoke about the Eucharist I remember he urged us to receive Communion on the tongue—because, he said, we should be as docile and receptive as children being fed by their mother.
The idea alarmed me, like the idea of kissing a crucifix on Good Friday or viewing a corpse at a wake. Open my mouth and stick out my tongue? Let the priest see the inside of my mouth? Continue Reading »
When Anne Rices Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt was published in 2005, my initial reaction was a succinct dismissal: Ridiculous. Who does she think she is, writing a life of Jesus Christ in the first person? There are four gospels, I argued to myself, and everything else is testimony. Does St. . . . . Continue Reading »
Eight years ago in our urban Catholic parish in Connecticut, a teenager I’ll call Elizabeth started a club for girls. Small but fortunate in its members, the club survived Elizabeth’s departure for the Naval Academy. Another well-formed, homeschooled teenager took her place, and when she in turn . . . . Continue Reading »