Finding Stable Ground

“Perhaps I speak now with the naiveté and enthusiasm of the convert, but the Church seems to me an institution whose foundations are as strong as iron. The turmoil will pass away; episodes, scandals and debates will come and go; but the line and witness of Peter’s successors will never fail.” Continue Reading »

A Catholic Poet?

The Whole Harmonium: The Life of Wallace Stevensby paul marianisimon & schuster, 496 pages, $30 It was the first great American poem of modern atheism. Wallace Stevens’s “Sunday Morning” (1915) opens with a woman in a peignoir, relaxing in the morning sun with her coffee and oranges. Her . . . . Continue Reading »

Soul of France

In the first pages of We Have Been Friends Together, Raïssa ­Maritain recounts one of her earliest memories. She is five, and her parents have rented a room in their house to a woman who holds classes for young children. She remembers watching this strange woman from afar with hushed reverence: “I heard the multiplication table being repeated . . . and I was overwhelmed with the feeling that here was instruction and knowledge and a truth to be known; and my heart almost burst with the desire to know.” . . . . Continue Reading »

Briefly Noted

Faith, Fiction and Force in Medieval Baptismal Debates by marcia colish cua, 384 pages, $69.95 B aptism seems so simple: water and the formula “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” But like so many religious practices, it can be celebrated in different ways, with . . . . Continue Reading »

Converts and the Symphony of Truth

If there is a thread running through these diverse personalities, it may be this: that men and women of intellect, culture and accomplishment have found in Catholicism what Blessed John Paul II called the “symphony of truth.” That rich and complex symphony, and the harmonies it offers, is an attractive, compelling and persuasive alternative to the fragmentation of modern and post-modern intellectual and cultural life, where little fits together and much is cacophony. Continue Reading »