Always Darkness Before the Dawn

Always Darkness Before the Dawn

This article was originally published Dec 20, 2016, four years ago, on the heels of President Trump’s election and after 8 years of President Obama’s presidency, yet Fr. Rutler’s insights perhaps have even richer meaning today, January 6, 2021, a day marking the date of Epiphany (though now commonly celebrated on a Sunday) and also…

Second Sunday in Advent: Two Kinds of Judgement

Second Sunday in Advent: Two Kinds of Judgement

During the 1976 Eucharistic Congress in Philadelphia, a relatively unknown figure, the Archbishop of Krakow and future Pope John Paul II, said: “We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has ever gone through. I do not think that wide circles of the American society, or wide circles of the…

The Season of Advent: Facing Reality is the answer to all our earthly woes

The Season of Advent: Facing Reality is the answer to all our earthly woes

The season of Advent is lyrically beautiful if one is willing to engage the realities it teaches: Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell. The alternative is to create a parallel universe, partying in a faux Christmas confection of jingle bells, dancing elves, self-conscious bonhomie, and ignoring the Incarnation of God. T.S. Eliot belabored the obvious in saying,…

Be Prepared, Be Vigilant, Be True to Our King and Shepherd

Be Prepared, Be Vigilant, Be True to Our King and Shepherd

These days I am frequently asked if we are living in the “End Times.” As the grace of Holy Orders does not make me a seer, I defer, as is prudent, to the King of Universe: “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming” (Matthew 24:42). So, the answer simply…

Our Lord’s Advice on Wealth Management and a lesson for our times

Our Lord’s Advice on Wealth Management and a lesson for our times

Several of our Lord’s parables have to do with productivity in one form or another: The Sower, The Mustard Seed, The Tares, and then there is today’s (November 15, 2020), which is specifically about money (Matthew 25:14-30). In Greek currency, a talanton, as a measure of silver, was the equivalent of 6,000 Roman denarii. Establishing…

Faith in the Face of Evil

Faith in the Face of Evil

In the late nineteenth century, a New England college dean wrote: “The youth who loves his Alma Mater will always ask, not ‘What can she do for me?’ but ‘What can I do for her?’” One of his students, a clergyman named George St. John, paraphrased that as a locution to boys when he became…

As a Catholic, How You Chose to Vote Matters A Great Deal

As a Catholic, How You Chose to Vote Matters A Great Deal

In one survey of grammarians, two words deemed to be among the most beautiful sounding in the English language were Agape and Philadelphia. The problem is that these actually are Greek. There also are many aphorisms in the English language that have become so familiar that one may not realize that their sources are in…

The Unimaginable Desire of Divine Love to be Loved in Return

The Unimaginable Desire of Divine Love to be Loved in Return

Some of those dining before the gilded statue in Rockefeller Center in fair weather and skating there in the winter may not know that the glistening figure is Prometheus, one of the Titans who preceded the gods of Mount Olympus. He stole fire from Zeus, who then condemned Prometheus to everlasting torment by an eagle…

Christ, the Morning Star

Christ, the Morning Star

Of the many scientific contributions made by priests, including Father Copernicus’s heliocentrism and Father Lemaître’s “Big Bang” theory, some would rank higher the invention of champagne by Dom Pérignon.    Something close to champagne had already been invented by monks near Carcassonne in the Abbey of Saint Hilaire in 1531. They were Benedictines like Pérignon,…

Angelic Power and Splendor in our Human Lives

Angelic Power and Splendor in our Human Lives

When explorers roamed what was to them a “New World,” they sent back to Europe descriptions of strange vegetation and wildlife, using familiar images to describe the unfamiliar. Spaniards in Peru reported that the llama was an animal with the body of a large sheep, the neck of a camel, and the head of a…

The Beauty, Depth and Meaning of the Holy Mass, including Incense

The Beauty, Depth and Meaning of the Holy Mass, including Incense

“And now for something completely different,” as the entertainment industry is wont to say. Some aspects of liturgical worship are used for reasons that express the psychology of praise. For instance, there are vesture, candles, bells and, especially, holy water. The more that worship is confined to cerebral edification, the less attention is given to…

The Holy Cross, Medicine of the World

The Holy Cross, Medicine of the World

In our days of widespread inarticulateness, the word “awesome” is so overused that it loses its power. It is rooted in the Old English “egefull,” which means causing profound reverence. So, to call a good dinner or a new dress “awesome” is overkill. Only in the nineteenth century did its equivalent, “awful,” come to mean…

Discerning the Truth in our times is critical

Discerning the Truth in our times is critical

In our city, accustomed to protest demonstrations of all sorts, a recent one was particularly dismaying and even frightening. The anarchistic chants were bad enough, but the frightfulness was in the glazed eyes of the expressionless marchers, like the “pod people” in the 1956 cult film “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” Carrying signs supplied for…

The Prince of Lies, Our Modern Times, and the Power of the Rosary

The Prince of Lies, Our Modern Times, and the Power of the Rosary

The Prince of Lies cannot lie in the presence of Christ: “I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” (Luke 4:34). And Christ who is the Truth knows him, too: “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven” (Luke 10:18).   Satan does not want anyone to know him, and yet in the present…

Chivalry, Courtesy, Honor, and Merciful to the Absurd

Chivalry, Courtesy, Honor, and Merciful to the Absurd

It may not be long before “Ladies and Gentlemen” ceases to start a speech, as the result of blurring the distinction between man and gentleman, and woman and lady. We may not hear at banquets, “Gentlemen, charge your glasses,” or understand the Victorian-era ballad: “My mother was a lady like yours, you will allow.” Putting…

We are now in a spiritual combat as monumental as World II

We are now in a spiritual combat as monumental as World II

As a psychosis, “self-mutilation syndrome” is rooted in self-loathing and obsessive-compulsive behavior. Whole cultures can be afflicted with a similar compulsion to injure themselves. Nowadays it is called a “cancel culture.” To topple statues and burn churches is a metaphor for self-loathing rather than reason.  In  their modern aesthetic recklessness, nations begin to disdain what Matthew…

The Bottom Line Remains the Same

The Bottom Line Remains the Same

July waves Old Glory and Le Tricolore. Jacques-Louis David based the French flag on the cockade of the Marquis de Lafayette, who had been urged to help the American colonists by the Duke of Gloucester, in a funk because his brother, King George III, disapproved of his marriage. At least there was no Reign of Terror…

Perspective Amid Cultural Chaos

Perspective Amid Cultural Chaos

Stalin, killer of at least 20 million people, said “A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic.” In mid-nineteenth-century China, the civil war known as the Taiping Rebellion cost upwards of 30 million lives. The feast of Saint Augustine Zhao Rong and his 119 companions, on July 9, is a reminder…

The Present Culture War

The Present Culture War

As the local churches gradually open again, one is reminded of the persistence of Benjamin Stoddert Ewell, president of the College of William and Mary, ringing the school bell during seven years of closure after the Civil War. It is yet to be seen how many return to our churches after the quarantine, but the…

The Cruelest Illiteracy

The Cruelest Illiteracy

After the destruction of the Second Temple of Jerusalem in 70 AD, the Jews relied on literacy to preserve their culture, with the Mishna as the written record of what until then had been an oral tradition of rabbinic commentaries. While functional illiteracy seems to have been common, our Lord asked his listeners at least…

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