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Coronavirus on the edge of a grimpen, where there is no secure foothold…

The pandemic has suddenly thrown our affluent and seemingly secure and safe lives into a tailspin. In fact, the security and certainty was always an illusion, and in East Coker T.S. Eliot ponders life’s shifting uncertainty: And every moment is a new and shockingValuation of all we have been. We are only undeceivedOf that which, deceiving, could no longer harm.In the middle, not only in the middle of the wayBut all the way, in a dark wood, in a bramble,On the edge of a grimpen, where is no secure foothold,And menaced by monsters, fancy lights,Risking enchantment. Do not let me hearOf the wisdom of old men, but rather of their folly,Their fear of fear and frenzy, their fear of possession,Of belonging to another, or to others, or to God. The line that always catches my imagination is, “On th...

Head back to Mass prepared to unmask your heart and sanitize your soul…

As states loosen restrictions on public gatherings and dioceses do the same for public Masses, Catholics will be returning to Sunday Mass, most of them after weeks of finding alternative ways to live the Lord’s Day. Their return should, by all accounts, be a cause of great joy: the liturgy—the source and summit of the faith—will once again stand at the center of their lives. On the other hand, Catholics will encounter enough safety restrictions that their liturgical encounter with Christ may not be as satisfying as it could be. For example, you may be asked wear a mask. You will need to maintain six feet of social distancing. You may be asked not to sing. You may have to sit in a place other than the usual pew. You may be encouraged to receive communion in the hand. You may be turned away ...

A guide to celebrating the Sacraments of Initiation outside the Easter Vigil…

“Look, here is water. What is to prevent my being baptized?” So said the Ethiopian Eunuch travelling with Philip (Acts 8:36). In these times of the coronavirus (COVID-19), most dioceses in the United States did not celebrate the sacraments of initiation at the Easter Vigil. Some dioceses are celebrating them at the Extended Form of the Vigil of Pentecost. For others, however, the sacraments of initiation (baptism, confirmation, and the Eucharist) will have to be celebrated in small groups or at least in celebrations of greatly reduced numbers in the weeks ahead. But not to worry: the sacraments of initiation have always taken place at different times of the year, and the Church makes provision for this possibility. Unusual Circumstances and Pastoral Needs? If you’ve ever read through a lit...

Why the height of Mount Everest may change soon…

A group of eight researchers from China finally summited Mount Everest on Wednesday, May 27. One of only two climbing teams on the mountain this year, they were there for a very specific purpose—to take the most accurate measurement to date of the world’s tallest point.  The COVID-19 pandemic nixed the spring climbing season before it got started. China canceled foreign climbing permits from the Tibet side of the mountain in March, and Nepal followed suit for the south side of the peak a day later. However, as China began to control the spread of the disease, the government allowed two groups to make the climb: the surveyors and a commercial expedition run by Chinese outfitter Yarlha Shampo. The group of surveyors initially planned to make a summit bid on May 12, but we...

Hong Kong Catholics are right to fear Beijing’s henchmen…

It’s a strange quirk of history that the Diocese of Hong Kong is part of the Archdiocese of Guangzhou. That technically gives the archbishop of a diocese in the People’s Republic of China control over the diocese of the special administrative region where different legal rules apply. The Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA) that controls Catholicism in China — both official and underground after the 2018 deal between Beijing and the Vatican on bishop appointments — does not operate in Hong Kong. The same is true of the Diocese of Macau in that special administrative region. The Diocese of Hong Kong is a de jure suffragan diocese of the Archdiocese of Guangzhou but in practice it is an immediate subject of the Holy See. The Diocese of Macau is exempt and an immediate subject of the...

Vatican orders founder Enzo Bianchi to leave ecumenical Bose community…

CNA Staff, May 28, 2020 / 06:00 am MT (CNA).- The Vatican has ordered the prominent Italian Catholic layman Enzo Bianchi to leave the monastery he founded in 1965. The Holy See made the ruling in a decree dated May 13, signed by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and approved by Pope Francis, following an apostolic visitation.  A statement on the Monastic Community of Bose’s website said the pope had approved the apostolic visitation in response to “serious concerns” about “a tense and problematic situation in our community regarding the exercise of the founder’s authority, the governance, and the fraternal climate.” Bianchi founded the ecumenical community in Biella, northern Italy, in the wake of the Second Vatican Council. It is a mixed community, composed of both m...

Pope Gregory the Great in the time of plague…

Gregory the Great was indisputably amongst the greatest popes to lead the Church (AD 590-604), and he did so as his world was crumbling around him.  The Roman Empire in the West had fallen, the infrastructure of Rome lay in ruins, the Tiber was constantly flooding, and famine and the bubonic plague were decimating a population already in steep decline.  And the plague had just taken the life of Pope Pelagius II in February of 590. Evagrius Scholasticus, a church historian who died that year in Antioch, lost most of his family to the plague, which had spread throughout the empire.  His account is eerily similar to the pandemic we now face:  The ways in which the disease was communicated, were various and unaccountable: for some perished by merely living with the infected...

The pastoral costs of the lockdown will, I fear, be enormous. But our Lord can bring good out of any evil…..

By Phil Lawler ( bio – articles – email ) | May 26, 2020 This morning, in an effort to shift my thoughts away from the epidemic and the lockdown, I thought I’d look back a few months, to remember what I was writing before this unhappy subject began to dominate our consciousness. I came across a column I’d written in February, “Want a Liturgical Renewal? Start with Repentance.” Immediately my mind flashed back to an excellent column that I had read just a few minutes earlier, by my friend Michael Pakaluk. Unfortunately his topic was the lockdown; my bid for a day’s break from that conversation was thwarted. But the single sentence that stood out, as I read Michael Pakaluk’s piece, was this: A huge opportunity will have been lost if, when the lockdowns end, the lines outside conf...

Galileo, the Catholic Church, and the impact on science…

Four hundred years after the trial, the mere mention of the name “Galileo” is often considered a powerful one-word refutation against the Catholic Church. Why? Because, according to the popular telling of the “Galileo Affair,” it was Galileo who: 1) proved heliocentrism, despite a Church that officially declared heliocentrism to be a heresy; 2) was tortured and martyred by the Church, and; 3) discovered that Scripture—and by extension, the Catholic Church—was a fraud.  But is that what actually happened? It’s important to revisit the Galileo case here, not only because it affects the way some view the Catholic Church, but also because it affects the way we view faith and science going forward. Galileo and the Catholic Church: historical and philosophical background For some Catholics,...

The incredible story of the U.S. Army’s earth-shaking, off-road land trains…

Oh, your pickup has a lift? That’s cute. US Army You need to get 500 tons of supplies from Fairbanks, Alaska to the Arctic Ocean—a journey of about 400 miles through pure wilderness. There are no roads, very few airstrips, and endless ice. You’re going to have to withstand minus 68 degree temperatures. Also, nuclear armageddon is on the menu if you’re not quick about it.  You, my friend, need a LeTourneau land train.  The DEW Line By 1954, with the Cold War well underway, the U.S. government realized the quickest way to get a nuclear bomber from Russia to America was to go right over the Arctic Circle. If we wanted any chance of preventing a nuclear apocalypse, we needed to know if Soviet bombers were crossing the North Pole as soon as possible. The Army planned...

“The smallest Catholic church in 49 States” is in West Virginia…

West Virginia is known by many for its stunning scenery immortalized in John Denver’s song “Country Roads.” But perhaps not many Catholics know that the southern state is home to what is considered “the smallest Catholic church of the 49 states.”  Measuring 12×24 feet, the Lady of The Pines Catholic Church is found in Silver Lake, an unincorporated community in Preston County, West Virginia. During the end of the 1930s, Silver Lake began to attract vacationers looking to rent out cabins on the nearby man-made lake. A park and a campground were built in 1930, hosting activities like boating, swimming and picnicking. That’s when “the smallest church of America,” which at the time included 49 states, was born. Built as a family church, it hosts one tiny altar and 12 rows of one-seat pews...

Knights of Columbus founder Father Michael McGivney to be beatified…

Father Michael McGivney. (Knights of Columbus) Knights of Columbus Founder Fr. Michael McGivney to be Beatified A press release from the Knights of Columbus May 27 said the miracle recognized by Pope Francis involved an unborn child in the United States who was healed in utero of a life-threatening condition in 2015 after his family prayed to Fr. McGivney. VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis approved a miracle attributed to the intercession of Fr. Michael J. McGivney Wednesday, paving the way for the beatification of the founder of the Knights of Columbus. During a May 26 meeting with Cardinal Angelo Becciu, the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the pope authorized the congregation to issue a decree recognizing the miracle. Fr. McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus in 1...