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Lent: the Annual Catechumenate

Historians of the Roman liturgy generally reckon the restorations of the Easter Vigil (by Pius XII) and the adult catechumenate (by Vatican II) as two of the signal accomplishments of the twentieth-century liturgical movement. I wouldn’t contest that claim, but I’d add something else to the . . . . Continue Reading »

The Acid Bath of Ingratitude

Early last week, there was a terrible accident. A young mother, driving on icy Wyoming roads, lost control of her car, and two of her three children became lost to heaven. A photograph of the family in happier days circulated the Internet and brought a stunning sense of pain to perfect . . . . Continue Reading »

Not Just for Catholics

I am not a Roman Catholic, but I love the churches of Rome. Where else on earth is there such a concentration of hallowed houses of worship, sermons in stone and light, in art and architecture, that reveal so completely the antiquity and historical density of the Christian faith? That is why I was . . . . Continue Reading »

The New Monasticism Gets Older

Nearly ten years ago, Christianity Today highlighted the emergence of “the new monastics,” referring to them as an “intentional community” of “new friars.” The September 2005 article traced the birth of the new monasticism to a conference in June 2004 where . . . . Continue Reading »

Celebrity Pastors’ Walter White Problem

In the final season of Breaking Bad, Walter White, the chemistry teacher turned drug kingpin, has made more money than he can spend without breaking his cover as a mild-mannered cancer survivor. In one scene, he and his wife stare disconsolately at a ton of hundred dollar bills stacked two feet . . . . Continue Reading »

Let the Battle for Purity Begin

Each year on March 19, Catholics throughout the world interrupt the austerities of Lent to celebrate the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, patron of fathers and of the universal Church. Coming as I do from a Sicilian family, this feast has always carried a special significance. My father was not unlike St. . . . . Continue Reading »

Orthodoxy, State and Society

In a conversation about Russian Orthodoxy some dozen years ago, that famous source who can only be quoted off-the-record, the Senior Vatican Official, said to me, “They only know how to be chaplain to the czar—whoever he is.” Such asperity reflected deep frustration over the Russian . . . . Continue Reading »

A Wesleyan Take on Protest and Reformation

Ulf Ekman’s conversion to the Catholic Church sparked a healthy discussion over how to hold the reforming impulse of Protestantism alongside the new ecumenical impulse.The starting place for such a discussion is the recognition that the reforming impulse and the ecumenical impulse converge on . . . . Continue Reading »

Why is the Catholic Church so Defensive?

The recent PBS documentary from Frontline, “Secrets of the Vatican,” was an artful mix of baroque music, sweeping cinematography, imaginative speculation, and recycled conspiracy theories. It contained a gelatinous mixture of truths, half-truths, and no truths. Still, it left me feeling . . . . Continue Reading »

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