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

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Clerical Narcissism and Lent

From Web Exclusives

Since the introduction of the new liturgical texts this past November, I’ve attended Mass in Australia, California, New York, Rome, Washington, and Phoenix, and in none of these venues have I detected any of the calamities confidently predicted by opponents of the new texts. Not only has there been no visible distress over “consubstantial”; the People of God seem to have rather quickly and painlessly adjusted to the changes, so that, three months into the process, it’s a rare “And also with you” that escapes the lips of an unthinking congregant. In fact, most of the people who’ve spoken to me about the changes have applauded them… . Continue Reading »

HHS and Soft Totalitarianism

From Web Exclusives

The Obama administration’s recently-announced HHS regulations, which would require Catholic institutions to subsidize health insurance coverage that provides sterilization, abortifacient drugs, and contraceptives, should be located within the context of the administration’s three-year long effort to define religious freedom down. As the administration has demonstrated in its international human rights policy, it regards religious freedom as a kind of privacy right: the right to freedom of worship, which the administration seems to regard as analogous to any other optional, recreational activity… . Continue Reading »

Vatican III? Where?

From Web Exclusives

There are many good arguments against quickly convening a Third Vatican Council”a notion beloved of Catholics who occupy the portside cabins on the Barque of Peter. The most obvious is that Catholicism has barely begun to digest the teachings of Vatican II on the nature of the Church, the universal call to holiness, and the reform of the episcopate, the priesthood, consecrated life, and the lay vocation in the world… . Continue Reading »

Seekers or Finders?

From Web Exclusives

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

From Web Exclusives

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

From Web Exclusives

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

From Web Exclusives

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

From Web Exclusives

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

From Web Exclusives

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 »