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Overcoming scrupulosity with moral conversion…

In 1984, Hollywood released “Gremlins,” a film about a father who brings home an unidentifiable furry little animal as a Christmas present for his son. Turns out, this little guy is even more unique than they realized. If you feed it after midnight, it spawns intelligent and vicious lizard-like creatures who are intent on mayhem. I’m not sure there’s an insightful moral of the movie, but there’s an unmistakable surface-level message: otherwise-innocent things can become monsters if you improperly feed them. Therein lies a message to the scrupulous.  How? We’ll come back to that in a moment. So far in this series, we’ve discussed how intellectual conversion can help us know God and how spiritual conversion can help us love God—and how both these forms of conversion can help us overcome...

Liberal Catholics and the Real Presence: A wakeup call that shouldn’t be swiftly dismissed…..

It was not until early October that I encountered a full-throated conservative reaction to the Pew finding: the September 29–October 12 issue of the National Catholic Register with its 60-point headline, “Eucharistic Wake-Up Call.” The issue contained no less than fourteen articles on the Eucharist, including articles on the production of hosts and Eucharistic wine and sidebars on Eucharistic miracles, Eucharistic books and DVDs, and Eucharistic papal encyclicals. Nowhere did I find any outright blaming of the Second Vatican Council, although there was a lot of familiar grumbling about the post-conciliar “spirit” and lack of catechesis. If many of the articles could have fit into my pre-conciliar childhood, they were less dogmatic and more conscious of contemporary challenges to understand...

Fifty Years On…

The year of 1969 was a time of the finest and the worst, when most institutions, equipped with the polished trophies of new science, seemed to be having a mental breakdown. A man walked on the moon. But there were riots, protests, and a moral fragmentation whose detritus now controls the seminal arbiters of culture. The tone of thought at the heart of it was a composite of bewilderment, fascination, and obtuseness. I have rarely written about the days when I was formed into a particular way of ordering my thinking, with a reluctance born of an intuition that looking back might make me brittle as a pillar of salt or soft as sentiment, for nostalgia can be a lethal alchemy. The sound and scene from fifty years past do not need to come alive again, for they never faded in my recollection. It ...

How to understand the readings for the 4th Sunday of Advent…

As Christians, we tend to assume that the idea of God coming into ones’ life is always an attractive concept.  However, that’s a bit naïve.  Having the almighty creator of the universe come into one’s reality could also be an upsetting prospect.  When doing evangelism, I have encountered people who understood the concept of “letting Jesus into your life” very well, but didn’t want that to happen, because it might upset the apple cart, so to speak.  A God living within you might want to change things.  He might want to take over.  Are we ready for that? In this Sunday’s Readings, we encounter situations in which people found the “invasion” of God into their lives a little bit distressing.  The Readings remind us that Jesus is not a passive presence within ...

The well-fought fight…

The incorporation of Anglican hymnody into English-language Catholic worship is one of the great blessings of the past 50 years. And within that noble musical patrimony, Ralph Vaughan Williams surely holds pride of place among modern composers. Well do I remember the summer day in 1965 when I heard a massed chorus of men and women under the direction of my old choirmaster, Robert Twynham, rock the Baltimore Civic Center with all eight verses of Vaughan William’s masterpiece, “For All the Saints,” the processional hymn at the opening Mass of what used to be known as a “Liturgical Week.” It was stirring beyond words. And if a retrospective look at the program of lectures and seminars that followed reveals hints of choppy waters ahead in implementing the liturgical reforms mandated by the Sec...

The Vatican’s financial bait-and-switch…

By Phil Lawler ( bio – articles – email ) | Dec 18, 2019 If you asked loyal Catholics to subsidize a film dramatizing the life of Elton John, you’d get a disappointing return. But ask them to contribute to the needs of the Holy Father, and you’ll see real generosity. If you ask Catholics to invest in the London real-estate market, or in a shady Italian bank, or a bankrupt hospital, don’t expect much. But say that the Pope has charitable projects in mind, and the checkbooks will open. So for years the Vatican has asked the faithful to support the Pope’s needs, emphasizing his charitable projects—and then invested the returns in London real estate, a shady Italian bank, a bankrupt hospital, and, yes, a film about Elton John. That’s the fundamental scandal behind the latest financ...

J.R.R. Tolkien, Advent and the light that conquers darkness…

2 Minute Read December is a month in the Catholic Church where the liturgical year ends and is renewed by the season of Advent. It is a month where we see the general theme of the liturgical season being echoed in nature. Darkness has crept over the world, and is increasing each day. Yet, there is hope for soon the days will begin to lengthen and the sun will conquer the night. The earth reveals that there is a light in this dark place and that Light reigns victorious. A Passing Shadow The great Catholic author J.R.R. Tolkien knew this reality very well. Throughout his works there is an ongoing contrast between the dark world and the light that illumines it. In particular, Tolkien stressed that even though there is great evil in the world, goodness always triumphs in the end. This theme of...

Paid family and medical leave and the USCCB…

Man holding baby (CC0 Jude Beck on Unsplash) The other day, a friend noted on Twitter that his wife was not granted paid maternity leave by her employer, the Catholic Church. He noted that he made enough for her to take unpaid maternity. This led me to look into what the US Bishops have proposed regarding maternity leave. Now, I want to share a little of that investigation. Current USCCB Policy The USCCB site currently has: Following the passage of the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA), all qualified employees in the United States are entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for family or medical reasons, including for the serious health condition of the employee, parent, spouse or child, pregnancy or care of a newborn child, or for the adoption or foster care of a child. T...

A lonely plea: ‘Anybody need a grandma for Christmas?’…

This month on Craigslist, tucked among ads for worn couches and dusty pianos, was an odd and poignant offer from a woman in Tulsa. “Anybody need a grandma for Christmas?” she wrote. “I’ll even bring food and gifts for the kids! I have nobody and it really hurts.” The response to the Oklahoma woman was swift, and in some cases cruel, with cynical comments that accused her of carrying out a hoax or called her a parasite hoping to prey on a generous family. One person told her to go kill herself. The woman quickly took down the post, but not before 21-year-old Carson Carlock took a screenshot of it after finding the ad while scouring Craigslist for free items. He posted the screenshot on Facebook on Dec. 11 with the hashtag “FINDGRANDMA.” Naturally, thousands of people around the country shar...

Cool Uncle Tricks: Turn a dollar bill into a fighter jet…

The holiday season is in full swing, which means lots of gatherings where you’ve got the chance to demonstrate what an extremely awesome uncle you genuinely are. If you were just a pretty good uncle, you could probably get away with giving your niece or nephew a dollar. But dang it, you’re a certified cool uncle — one who knows a bevy of cool uncle tricks. That’s why you’ll give them a dollar that you’ve folded into a jet fighter right before their eyes.  Origami takes practice, so try this out a few times before you give a full performance. Also, do your best to start with a nice, crisp bill. There are lots of folds going on here, so a new bill and attention to sharp folds and creases will pay off with a much better final product.  Start by orienting your bill in the same way as...

Church reform takes personal conversion, Pope Francis tells Roman Curia…

Vatican City, Dec 21, 2019 / 05:02 am (CNA).- To carry out the continuing reform of the Church requires a willingness to change and a commitment to personal conversion, Pope Francis said Saturday, during his annual Christmas greeting to the bishops and cardinals of the Roman Curia. Francis quoted St. John Henry Newman, who said, “here on earth to live is to change, and perfection is the result of many transformations.” “For Newman, change was conversion, that is, an inner transformation,” the pope said Dec. 21. “Christian life is actually a journey, a pilgrimage.” The history of God’s people, the history of the Church, he continued, “has always been marked by departures, shifts, changes. The path, of course, is not purely geographical, but above all symbolic: it is an invitation to discove...

James “Radio” Kennedy, inspiration for 2003 film, dies at 73…

Snap Stills/Shutterstock In 1996, Sports Illustrated‘s Gary Smith wrote about the close friendship that James “Radio” Kennedy, a man with an intellectual disability, had with members of a high school football team in South Carolina. The story eventually became the inspiration for the 2003 film “Radio.”  On Sunday morning, “Radio” Kennedy, the man integral to the Anderson, SC. community, died, T.L. Hanna High School announced. Kennedy, 73, had been battling health problems and former head football coach Harold Jones said that he died at a hospice facility in Anderson. “It’s sad. It’s very sad for us,” Jones said. “Everybody loved him at the school and anybody he met loved him. He was just so outgoing and loved to h...