Catholic Monk Meets Drone on a Sunday Afternoon

09/06/2015 Comments (9)

Brother Joseph on his wind turbine at Portsmouth Abbey School in Rhode Island (Photo by Jez Coulson)

A late-August encounter between a camera-armed drone and a man sunbathing on a towering wind turbine drew millions of viewers to the YouTube video and stirred debate about the privacy issues raised by the cool but intrusive flying gadgets. 

In the video, the drone’s camera pans a portion of Rhode Island’s glorious coastline before it moves in to examine the turbine tower, and then draws near to the peaceful figure gazing at the verdant landscape bordered by the  sea. 

Strikingly, the sunbather seems unbothered by the intrusion and happy to share the experience of a peaceful Sunday afternoon  

What’s the secret to his generous spirit and equanimity? Maybe the fact that he’s a Benedictine...READ MORE

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Pope Francis Makes Plans to Reign on Philly's Parade

09/04/2015 Comments (14)

Independence Hall (Photo by Diana von Glahn)

Living in the Philadelphia area since the World Meeting of Families was announced has been a wonderful study in how huge events are planned and anticipated (or feared) by locals. After weeks of harrowing news about road closures and long walking distances, we Philadelphians were just given a HUGE reason to make the trek to Center City (that’s what we call downtown) on Saturday, September 26th and 27th.

There’s gonna be a papal parade! And not just one: TWO!

Just yesterday, on Periscope, the always eloquent and gracious Donna Crilley Farrell (Executive Director of the World Meeting of Families—Philadelphia 2015), announced that there would be two papal parades on Benjamin Franklin Parkway....READ MORE

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What the Pope’s Recent Gesture of Mercy Really Means

09/04/2015 Comments (19)

Pompeo Batoni (1708-1787), "The Return of the Prodigal Son"

Recent reports in non-Catholic media have made some pretty wild claims about a small gesture that our Holy Father made. Pope Francs is extending to all priests the faculty to lift the excommunication that is (possibly) incurred when one obtains, pays for, or substantially assists in an act of abortion. The lifting of this excommunication can only be done by a priest in the confessional in the context of the Sacrament of Confession, in which he is also able to absolve the penitent, who must show contrition and a firm purpose of amendment.

The priest uses this (or a similar) formula:

May our Lord Jesus Christ absolve you; and by His authority I absolve you from every bond of excommunication...READ MORE

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The Boy Scouts No Longer Offer What the Neediest Boys Need

09/04/2015 Comments (15)

Fifteen years ago I was raising a little boy I adored.  I was a single mom, with his father rarely seeing him.  Nothing was or is today more important to me than raising a decent young man.

Ultimately the goal for parents, of course, is to get our kids to heaven.

We've all heard the sad statistics on young men raised without a dad around. I knew they're far more likely to commit crime, end up in prison, drop out of school, use alcohol and drugs, be depressed and angry, earn lower incomes, experience more social and psychological problems, and become unmarried (and uninvolved) teen fathers.

But I was also aware of another tragic correlation with boys raised without a dad...READ MORE

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The Confusing Case of the Kentucky County Clerk

09/04/2015 Comments (94)

Kimberly Davis (Carter County Detention Center)

Yes, Kim Davis Is a Hero. No, Kim Davis Is Shirking Her Responsibilities. Both viewpoints have been well presented in the media; but who's right? Should the Kentucky county clerk be forced to choose between her job and her faith?

Kim Davis, the Rowan County Clerk who has consistently refused to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples, was jailed on September 3 for contempt of court. In explaining his decision, Judge David L. Bunning, who had originally ruled that she must comply with the state's policy accepting same-sex marriage, said that simply imposing a fine would be insufficient to prevent others from similarly refusing to enforce the law. Davis was remanded to Carter County...READ MORE

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Monsters, Moralists, and Happiness

As long as we struggle with concupiscence in the flesh, we will continue to be the sort of creature who is, at once, something of a monster and something of a moralist.

09/03/2015 Comments (5)

Fred Palumbo [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

So here’s a piece that asks the musical question, “Hitchcock: Monster or moralist?”

It’s moments like that I most miss the common sense of G.K. Chesterton who wrote:

The modern world is not evil; in some ways the modern world is far too good. It is full of wild and wasted virtues. When a religious scheme is shattered (as Christianity was shattered at the Reformation), it is not merely the vices that are let loose. The vices are, indeed, let loose, and they wander and do damage. But the virtues are let loose also; and the virtues wander more wildly, and the virtues do more terrible damage. The modern world is full of the old Christian virtues gone mad. The virtues have gone mad because...READ MORE

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Pew Study: Catholicism Has Mass Appeal

09/03/2015 Comments (14)
James Emery [CC BY 2.0 (]

Sunday morning Mass at the Church of St. Catherine, next to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

– James Emery [CC BY 2.0 (]

Pew Research Center just released a new study on Catholicism in the United States. The study, conducted May 5-June 7, 2015, polled 5,122 adults about their views on family life, sexuality, and Catholic identity. Included in the study participants are Catholics who claim Catholicism as their current religion, those raised in the Faith and now fallen away, and those who maintain a cultural connection to Catholicism.

The researchers define “Cultural Catholics” to be those who no longer consider Catholicism to be their religion yet “still think of themselves as indelibly Catholic by culture, ancestry, ethnicity or family tradition.”  Cultural Catholics also may be those who have some other...READ MORE

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Jail for Ky. Clerk: "God's Moral Law Convicts Me and Conflicts With My Duties"

09/03/2015 Comments (38)

Fondazione Cariplo [CC BY-SA 3.0 (

Today, U.S. District Court Judge David Bunning ordered Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis to be placed in federal custody until she agrees to provide marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Judge Bunning's decision followed Davis' failure to secure an emergency injunction from the U.S.  Supreme Court.

According to USA Today, "The judge said that fines were not enough to force her to comply with his previous order to provide the paperwork to all couples and allowing her to defy the order would create a 'ripple effect.'"

"Her good-faith belief is simply not a viable defense," Bunning said. "Oaths mean things."

He said his ruling applied to two other Kentucky clerks who have also refused to issue...READ MORE

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