• “It Is Right and Just” Offers Timely Answers and Unaddressed Questions
    on January 22, 2021 at 12:00 am

    This week in the United States we begin a new presidential administration and a new congress. As we endure the weirdest year of most of our lives, and after several years of unprecedented partisan turmoil, it is a suitable time for Catholics to discuss society’s present problems, and to describe possible solutions. It Is Right and Just: Why the Future of Civilization Depends on True Religion, co-authored by Scott Hahn and Brandon McGinley, offers some timely answers to pressing questions. It also leaves important questions unanswered. Biblical scholar N.T. Wright has often pointed out in recent years that Christians living in the post-Enlightenment West misconstrue Jesus’ words to Pontius Pilate in John 18:36: “My kingdom is not of this world.” Rendered more accurately in the NRSV translation as “My kingdom is not from this world,” the kingdom is, without question, for this world. We may not live in…

  • Solidarity Lessons for a Challenging Era
    on January 21, 2021 at 12:00 am

    The beginning of a new presidency in any country ought to be a time of renewed commitment to unity among all her citizens. In the light of recent events in America and ongoing instability around the world, this call to social unity is more pressing than ever for the times in which we live. That said, achieving that unity is easier said than done, and perhaps only remains an aspiration, without the key ingredient of solidarity. In the late 1980s, Solidarity was the name given to the trade union which led the resistance movement in Poland that eventually lead to historical social change in that country. The principle of solidarity can do the same today. Solidarity is one of the four main principles of Catholic social teaching (the other three being the common good, human dignity, and subsidiarity). It is a principle that gives expression to the social dimension of…

  • This Angry, Unkind World Needs “The Year of Saint Joseph”
    on January 20, 2021 at 12:00 am

    Not long ago, I experienced something of a “Saint Joseph synergy,” finding a copy of Fr. Donald Calloway’s Consecration to St. Joseph in my mailbox, and on the very same day that we read at Mass: This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly.  (Matt. 1:18-19) Having the book in my hand on the same day in which Joseph was featured in our readings felt a bit like one of those moments when the Holy Spirit is giving me a pronounced slap upside the head, saying, “Pay attention.” For that reason (and…

  • On Sex and Marriage, “Bridgerton” Stumbles Into Catholic Truth
    on January 19, 2021 at 12:00 am

    What is the point of the marriage bed? Can sexual pleasure be intentionally separated from creating new life and still nurture authentic intimacy between spouses? What does making a complete gift of self to one’s spouse mean? These are questions explored in Catholic theology—and in Netflix’s new, popular costume drama Bridgerton. When I sat down to watch Shonda Rhimes’ new show, created by Chris Van Dusen and based on historical fiction by Julia Quinn, I anticipated a Regency-era setting with great ballroom scenes. I wasn’t wrong, but Jane Austen it certainly is not. (In fact, its explicit sexual content is enough to merit caution in whether to view this series at all or to completely avoid it.) What I did not expect was for a soapy TV show—one not marketed for its commitment to traditional sexual morality—to highlight themes of…

  • Ordinary Time: It’s Not Easy Being Green, But We Need It
    on January 18, 2021 at 12:00 am

    The Catholic Church is filled with more treasures than one can discover in a lifetime, and perhaps one of the least appreciated is the liturgical calendar, especially when the days are filled with the all-too-familiar green that represents what we call “Ordinary Time.”  Its distinction confused me when I first entered the Church. Ordinary Time held a connotation of the mundane. I incorrectly understood it as a time to shake off the celebrations of the Incarnation in order to enter into the monotony of the ordinary. The Christmas decorations have been put away, and we return to the plainness of day-to-day life.  Advent was filled with anticipation as we watched, waited, and prayed with all of those so full of expectation at the beginning of the Gospel of Luke. Then came Christmas, the great celebration. But now is not the time…