Why Does the Church Make Things So Complicated?

09/10/2015 Comments (19)

Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617–1682), "The Good Shepherd"

 Here's a letter from a reader:

I hear so much in NCRegister about things like Purgatory, the Rosary, Prayers for the Dead, Confession, Indulgences, etc.  Valid and invalid marriages.  All this discussion, some of it quite bitter, about whether any given ceremony or ordinance is "valid".  Whether or not such and such "counts" ...

Wouldn't it be better to simply focus in on Christian belief, the idea that we are all imperfect, that that lack of perfection is already paid for in the blood of the Risen Christ, and that in Christianity we no longer have to worry, that our sins are forgiven, and that we should try to live as best as we can according to the Bible?  

First, he is onto...READ MORE

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New Polish Documentary Examines "Crisis" Ahead of Synod

09/10/2015 Comments (6)

Polonia Christiana, a bimonthly Catholic publication in Poland, has produced an incisive, informative, and timely documentary on the Synod on the Family.

Called “Crisis: Where Will the Synod Lead Us To?”, it focuses on the extent of the crisis in the Church uncovered during the synod, and includes interviews with Cardinal Raymond Burke, Bishop Athanasius Schneider, and Polish analysts on the Church.  

Cardinal Burke warns that the Church is facing "a critical moment" in which "we may have to give our all to safeguard and promote the truth of the faith, not only for own salvation but for the salvation of our world and for the generations to come.”

Bishop Schneider, auxiliary bishop of...READ MORE

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7 Ways the Prophetic Benedict XVI Has Pointed Us Toward Renewal

09/10/2015 Comments (11)

By Peter Nguyen [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

I am astonished, and also somewhat heartened, by the buzz generated by Rod Dreher’s writing on the Benedict Option. Dreher truly struck a chord with many of us as we try to conceive the way forward out of the devastating position of cultural decline in which we find ourselves. How do we begin the renewal? What is the right balance between withdraw from and engagement with society?

Dreher’s focus on the Benedict Option springs originally from the conclusion of Alasdair MacIntyre’s monumental work, After Virtue. This passage has been commented on widely and I would encourage everyone to read it. MacIntyre also, however, emphatically reaffirmed this passage in a new preface written in 2007:


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Selfies Aren't Just Fun and Games Anymore

09/10/2015 Comments (2)

By Kunstkenner2305 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

Stop right where you are. The selfie you’re about to take could kill you.

It could, if you’re one of the millions of cell phone users who are smitten by the reckless trend of taking dangerous selfies.

Selfie-taking has become so popular that Google Trends labeled 2014 as “The Year of the Selfie.” Also on the rise is the attraction to taking selfies while in precarious and even life-threatening situations.

Consider, for example, the 19-year-old Texas father of two who died on September 2 after shooting himself in the neck during a selfie. Now his two children are fatherless.

Or, the two men in the Ural Mountains who died after posing with a live hand grenade. They were just supposed to...READ MORE

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Battleship New Jersey to Host Pilgrims for Pope’s Visit

Overnight Stay in Historic Quarters Is Unique Way to Attend the Historic Papal Visit

09/09/2015 Comments (6)

Aerial view of the Battleship New Jersey on the Camden waterfront shows her unobstructed view of the Philadelphia skyline across the river. (Courtesy of Battleship New Jersey museum)

Pilgrims going to see Pope Francis during his two days in Philadelphia need not spend a bundle on accommodations if they don’t mind a little adventure. And what an adventure it would be to stay one or two nights aboard the Battleship New Jersey.

That’s right, up to 200 pilgrims a night will be able to sleep and eat aboard the 888-foot long New Jersey, the most decorated battleship. This floating museum on the Camden, N.J. side of the Delaware River that divides Jersey from Pennsylvania has a commanding view of the Philadelphia skyline on the opposite bank.

Weighing in at 58,000 tons, the New Jersey is 11 stories tall. Maybe the view from the admiral’s command chair could even get a...READ MORE

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Abortion, Excommunication, and the Pedagogy of Law

09/09/2015 Comments (10)

The headline reads, “During Holy Year, Pope Will Let Priests Forgive Women Who Had Abortions.” It’s from National Public Radio, and it summarizes a story that aired today about Pope Francis modifying Church sanctions associated with abortion.

“I don't understand,” wrote my former student, a Protestant. “So women who have had abortions in the past have not been able to be forgiven by God? This can't be true – not from the Scripture I read.”

Of course, my student’s instincts are correct: God can forgive any contrite sinner of any sin, regardless of Canon Law or access to sacraments or even membership in the Church. The key is the contrition – the “sorrow of the soul and detestation for the...READ MORE

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The Rigging of a Vatican Synod? An Excerpt

09/09/2015 Comments (5)

For Professor John Rist, one of the Church’s foremost experts in patristics and Church history, the Synod on the Family represents the first time since the fourth century “there has been a serious clash about a basic moral teaching of Catholic Christianity.”

In my new eBook “The Rigging of a Vatican Synod? An Investigation into Alleged Manipulation at the Extraordinary Synod on the Family”, published this week by Ignatius Press, Professor Rist lays out the controversial meeting in the context of the Church’s history – a perspective for which many readers have noted their appreciation. He also explains the way in which it marks a break with how such assemblies have been conducted in the...READ MORE

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Limbo of Love: One Couple's Eight-Year Wait for an Annulment

09/09/2015 Comments (5)

Henry and Abby Root were not Catholic when they married in June 1972. Henry had been divorced from his first wife, whom he married in 1964, before he and Abby met; but the pastor at the Episcopal parish where the couple exchanged vows had given his approval for the marriage.

But when Henry and Abby converted to the Catholic faith, they learned that the Catholic Church was not as willing to overlook Henry's failed first marriage. They fulfilled the requirements for the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) at Christ the King parish in Ann Arbor, Michigan; but without an annulment, they could not be full members of the Catholic Church and could not receive Christ in the Eucharist.


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