Down the Slippery Slope: A Timeline of Social Revolution

Taken from Crisis Magazine
by Dr. R. Jared Staudt

Down the Slippery Slope: A Timeline of Social Revolution

It is certainly not breaking news to assert that America is in cultural decline. Many aspects of this decline have been widely documented: the breakdown of the family, threats to life, and ever increasing secularization.

My intent in this article is to draw together the consistent progression of this cultural decline so that we can step back and examine the path of the social revolution that has been underway in America for some time. As we see, the undermining of family and life is not something new.

I have broken the following timeline into several stages. That is not to say that the only developments of this time concerned a single matter. Rather, the name marks the major turning point of that stage. I have also included a few international events, when they seem indicative of broader social change.

Continue reading at Crisis Magazine

The Paradox of Suffering

Taken from Catholic Exchange
by Dr. Mark Giszczak

The Paradox of Suffering

April 13, 2014

Palm Sunday

First Reading: Isaiah 50:4-7


“Anything worth living for is worth dying for.” It is hard lesson for us to learn. No one wants to go around dying, but of course, we all know that truly living for someone or something besides ourselves isn’t very easy either. The prophet Isaiah thrusts aside our hedging by presenting us with a stark contrast: a disobedient people who can’t even find their mother’s divorce certificate from God (Isa 50:1) and an obedient servant who willingly proclaims God’s message of repentance and deliverance in the face of terrible suffering (Isa 50:4-7ff). The passage selected for the First Reading is the words of that Suffering Servant.

Speaking of Tongues

This section of Isaiah begins with a self-description, starting with the tongue. It sounds a lot like other OT poetic passages where the poet describes his tongue and speech at the beginning of his song (Pss 35:28; 45:1; 51:14; 71:24; 119:172). Here though, the prophet Isaiah is not describing himself, but putting these words in the mouth of the Suffering Servant. The Lord has entrusted a special message to this servant. Indeed, his tongue is “well-trained” (50:4). The Hebrew word here, limud, is rare and indicates the kind of knowledge that results from discipleship. The point is not that the Servant has been inspired in the moment, but that his message is the result of a long period of training. He has been trained in righteousness, in the law of God.

Rousing the Sleepy and handing on the message

When the Servant goes to describe the purpose of his training, he surprises us. His “tongue training” is for the purpose of waking up the sleepy. His goal is to rouse, encourage, sustain and wake up others. He does not want to merely give people information, but to put heart into them. Isaiah is teaching us that encouraging is not just a gift, it is a skill. The Servant has learned how to rouse the weary. Of course, the kind of slumber we’re talking about is not mere physical sleep, but spiritual stagnation, acedia, sloth. The Servant will wake people up out of their sleepy spiritual approach to life.

The Servant emphasizes his role as handing on a message from God. “Morning after morning” the Lord speaks to him and day after day, he faithfully conveys the message he hears to others. So his mission involves both listening and speaking. God “awakens” his ear and conveys a message to him. Faithful listening leads to faithful speaking. One must first be awakened in order to awaken others. The Servant consciously passes along a message, a difficult message of repentance, a call to return to the Lord, but also a message of hope and restoration. He insists also on his fidelity. He says “I have not rebelled; I have not turned back.” However, his faithfulness to God’s message will cost him.

Continue reading at Catholic Exchange

God, the Tomb Robber

Taken from Catholic Exchange
by Dr. Mark Giszczak

God, the Tomb Robber

April 6, 2014

Fifth Sunday of Lent

Ezekiel 37:12-14


I like to think of God as a tomb robber. He does not strike me as a masked bandit plundering valuable artifacts from an Egyptian tomb for sale on the black market. Rather, he robs something much more important from the tomb: people! God does not steal mere dead bodies from tombs; instead, he restores the life of the dead person, revivifying the body and bringing back the person’s spirit.

Sneak Preview of Lazarus

In this Sunday’s reading from Ezekiel, we get a sneak preview of the gospel account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. The great prophet tells us in advance that God wants to “open graves” and cause people to rise out of them. Lazarus is a case study in what this kind of power looks like. God reverses the seemingly unreversible problem of death. What the prophet foretells in the first reading comes to fruition in the Gospel reading.

Bony Context

Now in the context of Ezekiel 37, this little passage serves as the interpretation of what has come before, Ezekiel’s famous prophecy of the valley of the dry bones. The Lord gives the prophet a powerful vision of dead, dry bones, strewn about in a valley as if a battle had taken place there long ago. The prophet emphasizes how many there were (“behold, there were very many”) and how dead and dry they were (“and lo, they were very dry”). After showing Ezekiel the bones, the Lord commands him to prophesy to the bones, to speak God’s life and spirit into them. Immediately, they start to click together and the Lord covers them in sinews, muscles and skin. Finally, Ezekiel prophesies and God’s spirit comes and fills them.

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Understanding what it means to encounter Christ’s love in the sacraments

Taken from The Catholic Servant, April 2014
By Professor Douglas Bushman

Understanding what it means to encounter Christ’s love in the sacraments

[Editor’s Note: Professor Bushman’s article was written as an introduction for an article about the Sophia Institute for Teachers. That article, an interview with Veronica Burchard, the Vice President for Education Programs at Sophia Press, will be published in the April edition of “The Catholic Servant.”]

In every way, the sacraments are about God’s love, fully revealed in Jesus Christ. In them Jesus makes Himself present as the One Who loves us “to the end.” (Jn. 13:1) In each sacrament He says: “I love you, I have given My life for you (Jn. 15:13; Gal. 2:20), and I want to love you right here, right now. Do you desire this? Will you permit me to love you?” We cannot say “Yes” and mean it, or know what we are saying “Yes” to, unless we know Who Jesus is: why God became man, and why He died on the Cross to save us.

The sacraments presuppose the faith by which “We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us.” (I Jn. 4:16) By faith we know the great story of God’s love, which culminates in Jesus’ teaching on love, the new commandment of love (Jn. 13:34), and His death on the cross. The Creed summarizes this story of God’s love. Faith makes our “Yes” to Christ’s love a fully informed and personal “Yes.” Then Jesus says to us what He said in response to people’s faith: “as you have believed, let it be done for you”; “great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” (Mt. 8:13; 15:28) Jesus wants to say “Yes” to our faith-filled desire for His love!

The faith we bring to the sacraments is like that of the woman with a hemorrhage. She was desperate because she spent all of her money, yet no doctor could heal her. Her future could only be resignation to inevitable suffering. Hearing about Jesus’ miracles, she found new hope—hope in God. Knowing where to find Jesus, she left her home, thinking: “If I but touch His clothes, I shall be cured.” (Mk. 5:28) She did, and she was healed. “Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from Him, turned around in the crowd and asked, ‘Who has touched My clothes?’” (Mk. 5:30) Then He said: “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.” (Mk. 5:34)

Jesus wants to be touched by faith! In the sacraments, He responds by touching us with His love. When Jesus asked, “Who touched Me?” His disciples pointed out that many in the crowd had brushed up against Him. But, to only one did He say, “your faith has saved you.” Only one touched Jesus with deep and intense faith! In the sacraments, Jesus dispenses the saving power of His love to those who approach Him in faith, fully aware of their great need and especially of His great love.

The Virgin Mary is the unsurpassed model of faith. At the Annunciation, God takes the initiative of love—”He first loved us” (I Jn. 4:19)—by coming to Mary through the Archangel Gabriel, who proposes God’s plan to her. In response, Mary says, “May it be done to me according to Your word.” (Lk. 1:38) God awaits such a response of faith in the sacraments: “May it be done to me according to Your word of love!” The Holy Spirit then overshadows Mary, transforming her to be the Mother of God. Christ dwells in her so that through her He can come into the world. Similarly, when we encounter Christ in the sacraments, His love transforms us. He comes to dwell in us (Jn. 14:23) by the gift of sanctifying grace so that He can work through us to bring God’s love into the world.

Jesus promised: “And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to Myself.” (Jn. 12:32) He keeps this promise by bestowing grace through the sacraments. The risen, glorified, and ascended Lord loves us still through the rites that He established and the men whom He appointed to represent Him. Through the grace conferred in the sacraments, Jesus brings us into communion with Himself, the Father, and the Holy Spirit, and with one another in the Church. In the power of His love and grace, we are able to live out our new life in Christ. In this way, the sacraments prepare us for everlasting communion with God and all the saints in Heaven.

In Baptism Jesus redeems us from all sin, which prevents us from receiving the Father’s love. Becoming one with Him, the Father speaks to us the words He spoke at Jesus’ baptism: “You are My beloved son [or daughter]; with you I am well pleased.” (Lk. 3:22) The Father rejoices in the goodness of His Son that He sees in us. We become a new creation in Christ. (II Cor. 5:17) As God was pleased with creation and “found it very good” (Gen. 1:31), He says to us: “It is good that you exist.”

Confirmation deepens the bond of love with God and with the Church, as Jesus fulfills His promise to send the Holy Spirit so that we can bear witness to Him and be faithful in trial and persecution. (Jn. 15:26–27; Lk. 12:11–12) Confirmation equips us for the New Evangelization. The Eucharist brings communion with Christ to perfection. In every sacrament, Jesus’ paschal charity, the love by which He loves us “to the end,” is at work. In the Eucharist, the Lord Himself is present in His great act of offering Himself to the Father for our salvation. Here, Christ makes us associates in His mission to save the world, inviting us to offer ourselves—through, with, and in Him—to the Father. This holy sacrifice removes every obstacle to God’s love as we make a total gift of ourselves to God in Christ. This is the summit of worship for God’s priestly people, and the fullest manifestation of the mystery of the Church, that is, the mystery of God’s love transforming those who believe.

In the sacraments of healing, Confession and Anointing, we say, with the leper: “Lord, if You wish, You can make me clean.” (Lk 5:12) He could not know how Jesus would respond, but in faith knew Jesus’ answer: “I do will it” (Lk. 5:13) By faith we know, in advance, that Jesus will forgive us, declaring through His minister: “Your sins are forgiven.” (Lk 7:48) As signs of His authority to forgive sins, Jesus’ miracles of healing make our hope certain: “that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the paralytic—“I say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home.” (Mk. 2:10–11) God’s word of love never fails: “My word that goes forth from My mouth … shall accomplish that which I purpose.” (Isa. 55:11) Jesus is the Word of God, and God is love. (I Jn. 4:8) When He says, “I love you,” we are healed, transformed, and enriched, and we can say, with Mary: “The Mighty One has done great things for me.” (Lk. 1:49)

All He requires is that we desire this as well. Like the woman with a hemorrhage, faith tells us where to find Jesus. He does not hide. Through His bishops and priests, Jesus waits for us in the confessional as He once waited at a well for the Samaritan. (Jn. 4:6) As He responded to the plea of Jairus (Lk. 8:41–42, 49–56), when we are unable to come to Him, in His ministers He comes to us—“under our roof.” (Mt. 8:8)

Through Matrimony and Holy Orders, Jesus makes us His associates in special missions to love others. These sacraments confer the grace to grow in holiness by being conformed to Him Who “did not come to be served but to serve.” (Mk. 10:45) Through the ordained, Jesus continues to love us by teaching the truth, sanctifying through the sacraments, and guiding us as our shepherd. He says to men of every age what He said to the Apostles, “I will make you fishers of men” (Mt. 4:18), and through this sacrament His words are effective. Those who are married receive a mission to grow in holiness together by seeking the Kingdom of God in the service of life and love in the family. In this sacrament, Jesus confers the grace to fulfill God’s first command: “Be fruitful and multiply.” (Gen. 1:28)

The sacraments make Jesus’ paschal charity active and effective in the world. Just as people of faith knew where to find Jesus to be healed and saved, we know that we encounter His love in the sacraments. Two desires converge in the sacraments: God’s desire to love us, and our desire to be loved by Him and to love Him in return. We, on earth, desire what Christ, in Heaven, desires. In the sacraments, God’s will is done on earth as it is in Heaven! (Mt. 6:10)

Douglas G. Bushman, S.T.L., is Professor of Theology at the Augustine Institute in Denver, Colorado, where he holds the Blessed John Paul II the Great Chair of Theology for the New Evangelization.

This article was funded by the Venerable Pope Pius XII Chair of Writing sponsored by Fr. John Paul Erickson.


Does Faith Need Culture? Answers from Scripture & the Church

Taken from Catholic Exchange
Dr. R. Jared Staudt

Does Faith Need Culture? Answers from Scripture & the Church

“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10 ).

Is culture something necessary for the life of faith? Or, is it rather a distraction? Does it pull us further away from a focus on the next life, by rooting us in the things of the earth? Is it a temptation to try to build a lasting city, when Hebrews says “here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city which is to come” (13:14).

The relation of faith and culture actually goes back to the very beginning of the Bible: “And God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion” (Gen 1:28). This primordial command to man and woman at their creation is followed by the account of the creation of Adam, when “the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it” (Gen 2:15). This primordial mission is reaffirmed in the psalms: “The heavens are the Lord’s heavens, but the earth he has given to the sons of men” (Ps 115:16). And further: “Thou hast given him dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet” (Ps 8:6). God clearly intends for humanity to have a mission on the earth, to shape it and to govern it, for God’s glory and man’s perfection.

We could ask whether Jesus intends this same mission to continue in the New Testament. Jesus does not contradict this primordial cultural mission, in fact his parables largely use the language of shaping the earth, but nonetheless he clarifies for us what Christian culture should be: “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven” (Matt 6:10). A Christian culture is one that seeks to embody the Kingdom of God on earth, by fulfilling the will of God in our lives. The Book of Revelation states this in drastic language through the song of the Elders in Heaven:

Worthy art thou to take the scroll and to open its seals, for thou wast slain and by thy blood didst ransom men for God from every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and hast made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on earth. (Rev 5:9-10)

Christ’s work of redemption initiates us into the Kingdom, literally makes us a Kingdom, of priests to reign on earth. We know that this is not to be understood in military or political terms, but rather in that Christ’s holiness should shape the earth through our lives.

Continue reading at Catholic Exchange

The Problem with Prejudice

Taken from Catholic Exchange
by Dr. Mark Giszczak

The Problem with Prejudice

March 30, 2014

Fourth Sunday of Lent

First Reading: 1 Sam 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/033014.cfm

Prejudice is one of those things that always strikes us as monstrously unfair precisely because it involves pre-judging, judging a person or situation before we actually know anything. Yet, no matter how we try, “pre-judgments” are terribly difficult to root out of our minds and hearts. A person’s clothing, shoes, hairstyle, teeth, jewelry, tattoos or lack thereof, car, or whatever often become a basis for us to make a snap judgment about the person, who he or she is and how we’ll choose to relate to him or her. In this Sunday’s Old Testament reading, God shows how he evaluates people and overrules the human tendency toward prejudice.


This reading begins with the Lord sending the prophet Samuel on a mission to anoint a new king. Just before this moment in the First Book of Samuel, God has withdrawn his favor from the existing king, Saul (1 Sam 15). In fact, when the new king is anointed, the Lord takes his spirit away from Saul and an evil spirit begins tormenting him (16:14). Saul is on his way out, but the Lord chooses a “soft launch” approach for the new king: He will begin in obscurity and only gradually gain influence over the tribes of Israel.


Samuel brings with him a “horn of oil” to anoint the new king. A horn could be used as a container for oil, much in the same way Davy Crockett used a powder horn (which you can still buy on eBay). Samuel would anoint the new king by opening his oil horn and pouring its contents on the head of the candidate. This is a symbolic act, which echoes the period of the Judges, when the spirit of the Lord would “rush upon” a person (Judg 3:10; 11:29; 14:6). Anointing carries with it a sense of divine appointment and empowerment with His Spirit. Kings like Saul were anointed (1 Sam 10:1), but so were priests (Exod 28:41). In the New Covenant era, anointing oil is used in the sacraments of Confirmation, Holy Orders, and Sacrament of the Sick.

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The Benedict Option: What Does It Really Mean?

Taken from Crisis Magazine
by Dr. R. Jared Staudt

The Benedict Option: What Does It Really Mean?

“Seeking his workman in a multitude of people, the Lord calls out to him and lifts his voice again: ‘Is there anyone here who yearns for life and desires to see good days?’” (Prologue of the Rule of St. Benedict, quoting Psalm 34:14-15).

The Benedict Option—what does it really mean? In my mind, it is quite simple: taking St. Benedict and his Rule as a model for the Christian life within the context of our culture.

The term Benedict Option was coined recently by Rod Dreher. He initially defined it in somewhat negative terms as “pioneering forms of dropping out of a barbaric mainstream culture that has grown hostile to our fundamental values.” It is not surprising to think of St. Benedict in this light, as he himself withdrew in disgust from late fifth century Rome in favor of a cave in Subiaco. However, Benedict did not stay in isolation long, and quickly became an Abbot, gathering large numbers of men to himself.

Dreher points to a “community of Catholic laity” growing around Clear Creek Abbey in Oklahoma as an example of the Benedict Option. It is important to note, however, that there is not a formal lay community there. People simply want to live near the monastery, many have become oblates and participate in the liturgical life of the monastery, and they live in friendship and fellowship with one another.

Continue reading at Crisis Magazine

Don’t Complain About Blessings

Taken from Catholic Exchange
by Dr. Mark Giszczak

Don’t Complain About Blessings

March 23, 2014

Third Sunday of Lent

Exodus 17:3-7


Complaining comes naturally to most of us. Even if our circumstances improve, they could always be better, so we can find something to complain about. The ancient Israelites felt the same way. After God delivered them from Egypt with powerful, miraculous interventions, and after they had crossed the Red Sea and received the manna from heaven, they still find something to complain about: thirst.

Grumbling vs. Gratitude

You would think that a group of people just delivered from hundreds of years of slavery and hardship would have a lot to be grateful for. After God shows up in power and frees his people from the oppressive yoke of Pharaoh, you would think that their songs of joy and thankfulness would last longer than a moment. But gratitude is harder to cultivate than grumbling. As soon as the people feel a need—this time, for water—they confront their leader with complaints. It reminds me of a time I was going on a high school trip. The travel agent arranging the trip told us not to complain during our travels because “it makes the trip miserable for everyone—the one complaining and the ones listening to the complaining.”

The Israelites should have been constantly reflecting on their divine deliverance in an attitude of humble, grateful joy, but they give in to what is easier—to allow the inconvenient present to overshadow the glorious past. This kind of grumbling places all the emphasis on the here-and-now and loses sight of the bigger picture, the more important story, the great things that God is doing for his people. So complaining is an intellectual mistake, if you will. It emphasizes one thing, the present, at the expense of another, the past. It overplays the significance of “how I feel right now” versus the larger picture of life. Gratitude, the opposite of grumbling, embraces a truer version of the story. That is, gratitude focuses on the important theme, the hope-filled trajectory of the story, which encompasses past, present and future, rather than myopically zeroing-in on the present. Gratitude requires an outward focus on the larger truth, while grumbling embodies an inward-turning, selfish approach centered on the now.

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"Walking with Mary" by Edward Sri to be released in the Fall

Taken from ImageCatholicBooks.com

Mary appears only a few times in the Bible, but those few passages come at crucial moments. Catholics believe that Mary is the ever-virgin Mother of God, the Queen of Heaven and Earth. But she also was a human being–a woman who made a journey of faith through various trials and uncertainties and endured her share of suffering. Even with her unique graces and vocation, Mary remains a woman we can relate to and from whom we have much to learn.

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7 Points on Sunday’s Reading from Isaiah

Taken from Catholic Exchange
by Dr. Mark Giszczak

7 Points on Sunday’s Reading from Isaiah

January 26, 2014

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Isaiah 8:23–9:3

This Sunday’s Old Testament reading contains some real gems of biblical revelation, with important connections back to Israel’s history and forward to the New Testament fulfillments. Here are the seven key points:

1. Zebulun and Naphtali

Zebulun and Naphtali are two tribes of Israel, whose tribal lands were in the far north of Israel. They were “degraded” and “the people who dwelt in darkness,” because their land was the first to be permanently conquered by foreign powers. In 734-32 BC, Tiglath-Pilesar led a campaign against Syria and Israel, conquering Damascus and the northern reaches of Israel. From that time on, the two tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali were under the darkness and gloom of foreign domination. Later, of course, all of Israel and Judah comes under the oppressive yokes of Assyria, then Babylon, then Persia.

2. The “Way of the Sea”

The “way of the sea” is a road. Scholars are divided over whether this term names a road that goes along the Mediterranean or the road that goes from Israel to Damascus. The more traditional view points to the road that leads to Damascus, which will be an important point for the New Testament fulfillment of this passage that I’ll discuss below.

3. God judges, but he also delivers

It is true that the Assyrians conquered Israel, but the prophet Isaiah explains that it was the Lord himself who “degraded” Zebulun and Naphtali. Just as it is explained in 2 Kings 17, here the Lord is the agent of judgment, merely using the foreign powers as tools for his purposes. The conquest of Israel came about “because the Israelites had sinned against the Lord their God” (2 Kings 17:7 NAB). The Lord punishes them for their unfaithfulness to his covenant with them (2 Kings 17:15), but he will also be the one to deliver them. Isaiah announces that no longer will Israel walk in darkness and gloom, but the light has dawned, bringing deliverance. In Isaiah 9:3, the last verse of our reading, Isaiah depicts the Lord as smashing the “rod of their taskmaster.” He will come to free his people from servitude.

4. The Day of Midian

The “day of Midian” is invoked in Isaiah 9:3 as an example of the Lord’s power to save. This “day” refers to Gideon’s battle with the Midianites in Judges 7–8, when the Lord helps Gideon and his 300 soldiers conquer a vast army. The victory came only by God’s power, not by human ingenuity. Isaiah forecasts that Israel’s ultimate deliverance will come about in the same way.

Continue reading at Catholic Exchange.

A Graced Bewilderment: The Dark Night of Blessed Mother Teresa

Fr. Paul Murray

In this intimate look at Mother Teresa's "private writings," Fr. Paul Murray, O.P. illumines the meaning of a life which is only now beginning to be understood. This very personal yet powerful presentation aims to come to terms with the dark night experiences endured by Mother Teresa in the light of the Gospel and the mystical teachings of St John of the Cross. And something else as well...revelations of Mother Teresa's sense of humor.


A Lesson in Three Conversions

Taken from CrisisMagazine.com
by Christopher O. Blum

The Year of Faith began with a challenge from the Holy Father Emeritus: “We cannot accept that salt should become tasteless or that light be kept hidden.” During this last intense year of renewal, Catholics have been reminded again and again that our age calls for vigilance. For the embers of Western Civilization glow but dimly now, and the “profound crisis of faith” identified by Benedict XVI can hardly be ignored. Today, perhaps more than ever, we need the freshness and clear conviction of converts to the Faith.

As the prolific Catholic historian Henri Daniel-Rops once noted, France lived through a spiritual crisis of her own in the seventeenth century, and while the long-term result of that crisis was—for all practical purposes—the death of a once-great Catholic civilization, the age also witnessed dozens of inspiring conversions. “It would be impossible,” wrote Daniel-Rops, “to compile a list of all the converts” of the age. Among the most illustrious of them were Jean Racine, Blaise Pascal, and Louise de la Vallière. All three were raised Catholic, went astray for a season, and as adults returned to the Father’s house with hearts brimming over with the love of God.

The fall from grace of Louise de la Vallière has a horrid, contemporary feel to it. Her idyllic childhood was rudely cut short by the death of her father when she had just gained the age of reason. Her mother remarried a man of rank who took the family to the royal court. The lovely Louise was only seventeen when she there caught the eye of the great. “Very pretty, very sweet, and very naïve,” was the impression she gave to one lady of the court; she was, therefore, perfect for a scheme by which the young king’s unsuitable regard for his brother’s wife could be shielded from view. The plan was for the young Louise to receive Louis XIV’s overt advances so that his pursuit of his cousin and sister-in-law the Princess could continue in secret. But passions unbridled will take their fatal course, and her virtue was soon compromised; she would eventually bear the king four children.

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A Liberationist Pope

Taken from Homiletic and Pastoral Review
by Dr. Michel Therrien

A Liberationist Pope

Read carefully: We should see in this critique (by Pope Francis), not an embrace of socialism, or a condemnation of the market economy, but a call to adopt a different ethic for the marketplace.

Pope Francis is a Jesuit, a prelate from the southern hemisphere and, of course, we all know what that means: he is, almost by default, opposed to the market, business, and entrepreneurship. He is, no doubt, an advocate of some species of socialism. In fact, a conservative’s worst fears are now vindicated by the Pope’s recent critique of “trickle-down” economics, “the absolute autonomy of the market and financial speculation,” and the “idolatry of money” amidst a “globalization of indifference,” which is guided by an “invisible hand” we can “no longer trust.” Clearly, we are experiencing a shift in Rome’s stance toward capitalism; something is taking shape that looks analogous to the liberation theology the previous two pontiffs have exiled. With such strong sympathies toward the poor, and a striking condemnation of the market economy, will there be a place in the Church, during this pontificate, for the businessman or the wealthy?

Such have been the reactions of some to Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium. Of particular concern has been what some perceive as a failure to distinguish between the U.S. experience of the market economy, and that of his native Argentina. Despite the legitimate reservations this pope elicits among those, such as myself, who appreciate the more nuanced teachings of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, his remarks invite a serious and thoughtful consideration. Before I proceed any further, however, I would like to preface this essay by acknowledging that what Francis says in regard to the economic order needs future clarification.

In what follows, I would like to unpack the Pope’s remarks on the market economy in Evangelii Gaudium, and analyze them within the context of the New Evangelization to which the document is dedicated. I will argue for three points: that we can best understand the Pope’s remarks within the context of his stated purpose for the document; that he is not departing substantively from previous social teaching on the market economy, but offering a radical critique of certain moral failures prevalent in the global economy; and that he is not recommending a socialist solution to the problem of poverty.

Continue reading at Homiletic and Pastoral Review

A Life Hidden in God

Recorded by Dr. Christopher Blum

A Life Hidden in God

Listen to an audio recording of a sample chapter from Bossuet's Meditations for Lent (Sophia Institute Press), newly edited and translated by Augustine Institute Dean Christopher Blum. The meditation is entitled "A Life Hidden in God."


A little lower ... but only for a time

taken from PittsburghCatholic.org
by Dr. Michel Therrien

Respect Life Month affords us a splendid opportunity to reflect deeply for the coming weeks on human dignity. We hear the church speak much on this theme, and yet I’m not so sure we always grasp the full depth of her meaning. It’s not merely that human beings have rights, and that we should respect them, although this is critical. It’s that human dignity (rather, the human person) is a deep and profound mystery of divine love. Indeed, personhood is a sacred mystery, one we are called to esteem and love as we encounter it in God, in ourselves and in others.

We are able to grasp the depth of this mystery when we consider the vocation of personhood itself, a calling to the communion of love fully revealed in the person of Jesus Christ. It is, in fact, the supreme vocation to love that serves as the foundation for all the church’s teaching on morality and social life, including abortion and euthanasia, marriage and sexuality, war and even ecology.

Is it not Christ himself who tells us that the whole of the moral law is summed up in the two-fold commandment to love? We are, quite simply, called to loving communion with each other. This vocation, inscribed into our very being, is our dignity.

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