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First Buds of the Church

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are over now, but the melodies linger on—not only for those who observe the full twelve days of Christmastide, but also for others for whom the season has been mostly about lots of good food, good cheer, and the feel-good sentimentality of “God's in his heaven, . . . . Continue Reading »

What Romero's Beatification Means

Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was assassinated by a right-wing sniper while celebrating Mass in 1980, was raised to the altars in a magnificent beatification ceremony in San Salvador this May. Romero’s beatification was full of notes of reconciliation, which seemed to mark the official . . . . Continue Reading »

A Throne in the Grave

Last Sunday, Western Christians celebrated Easter, and in a few days Eastern churches will observe Pascha. Over the course of eight days, most of the world’s two billion Christians will have sung of Jesus’s resurrection, listened again as the glad apostles see their Lord, and heard bold talk of new life and new creation. Continue Reading »

A Theology of Martyrdom

ISIS has beheaded twenty-one Egyptian Christians in Libya. What should the Church do? How do we respond? How should we think about their sacrifice? Why does God let this kind of thing happen? It’s days like this that we need a theology of martyrdom. Continue Reading »

Notre Dame Honors Russia’s New Martyrs

It’s sometimes hard to tell, this time of year, but there’s more going on at Notre Dame than football. Spirited debate continues about the university’s Catholic identity and what that means for everything from curriculum and faculty hiring to the campus master plan. Those involved in that debate can now take inspiration from an impressive new project mounted by the university’s library, which introduces English-speakers to some modern Russian heroes of faithful discipleship. Continue Reading »

Faithful Unto Death

The ancient city of Smyrna, located on the site of today’s Izmir in Turkey, the gateway to Asia and stepping-stone to Europe, is sacred soil because of what happened there one Sunday, around 2:00 in the afternoon, in February of the year 155. On that day, Polycarp, the eighty-six-year-old leader of the Christian church in Smyrna, was cruelly put to death by fire and sword because he refused to renounce Jesus Christ. “For the blood of thy martyrs and saints shall enrich the earth, shall create the holy places,” wrote T.S. Eliot. “For wherever a saint has dwelt, wherever a martyr has given his blood for the blood of Christ, there is holy ground, and the sanctity shall not depart from it.” Continue Reading »

The Humor of Suffering

A lighter piece: Can strong faith make you more humorous? Though I disagree with Kerry Trotter about her (admittedly biased) speculation that perhaps Catholics understand humor best of all because they have “suffered better than anyone,” her example of St. Lawrence does shed light on a . . . . Continue Reading »

The Catholic Martyrs of the Twentieth Century

In the best that has been thought and said about the twentieth century, its Christian martyrs have hardly been mentioned. This should come as no surprise. From our vantage point at the beginning of a new millennium, it seems a little far-fetched that someone would be killed because he is Christian, . . . . Continue Reading »

Last Testament

On May 24, 1996, a group of Islamic terrorists announced that they had “slit the throats” of seven French Trappist monks whom they had kidnapped from the monastery of Tibherine in Algeria and held as hostages for two months. Prior to the kidnapping, the superior of the monastery, Father . . . . Continue Reading »

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