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Christians Need To Recover Fasting: Intercession

After news of the PA Grand Jury Report and the McCarrick scandals broke, two of my seminary classmates and myself took up prayer, fasting and penance for the Church. Increasingly desperate times call for increasingly desperate, or rather heroic, measures…  A priest friend shared with one of his parishioners that he was entering into a time of fasting and penance for the healing of the Church. The rather negative reaction was as follows: “Fasting… what’s that going to do? What is that going to help with?” In my previous article, we reflected a little why and how fasting is essential to the Christian life, especially in a world that is as disorienting as ours. It is not a matter of denying worldly things for the sake of needless suffering, but fasting helps to reorient us back to God and the life of virtue and holiness God intended for us.

Let’s Get Reacquainted With the Idea of “Offering it Up”

We Catholics who grew up straddling the cusp of the conciliar divide may have a vague memory of the phrase “offer it up.” It was advice frequently given by the sisters who taught us our catechisms: “When you are in pain, when you are disappointed, when your feelings have been hurt, offer these things up to the Lord and ask him to use your suffering” that He join it to His own pain on the cross, for the good of others. Offer it as penance for your own sins, or the sins of those who cannot or will not do penance for themselves; offer it for the sick, the lonely, or for their intentions.” “Penance” has received a bad name over the last forty or so years, largely because it was taught to many in the language of punishment rather than in the language of virtue, offering, and peace. So,…

Why Boys Should Have Libraries

I am blessed to be the priest of a parish school, and one of the most delightful aspects is getting to visit each classroom every week, from kindergarten to eighth grade. I pray with the students, provide pastoral care, and answer their questions. One of our students, a young seventh-grader named Hayden, has shown great interest in literature. He and several other middle-school boys regularly ask me about the best ways to foster their intellectual lives, and which books to read. I recently gave Hayden a few books, along with the letter below: ____________ Hayden, Every Catholic man should have a well-stocked library. The reason for this is two-fold. First, Catholic men are protectors of knowledge. This has been our duty since the destruction of Rome in 476 AD, when countless monks and priests dedicated their lives to preserving ancient texts from around the world. You have now been entrusted…

Five Ways St. Joseph Can Help Your Lent

On the feast of St. Joseph, Br. Joseph Martin Hagan, O.P. offers five ways the earthly father of Christ can help us this Lent.

Why You Should Take Pascal’s Wager

There are many forms of Pascal’s Wager, but the best form, I believe, can be stated like this: If you think there is (at least) a 50% chance of Christianity being true, then you should commit to a deeply religious life. The reason for this is simple to understand: You have potentially an infinite amount to gain, with comparatively little–in fact, virtually nada—to lose. There are, however, and, as you would expect, objections to Pascal’s Wager, which we must consider before we continue. Often, the initial point of hesitation is this. You cannot force yourself to believe something you happen to be unsure about, so wouldn’t a person be acting insincerely by accepting Pascal’s Wager, if they’re unsure about God? And surely that doesn’t sound right? Would God want someone to act insincerely? Good old God? But this formulation of the wager—which I owe to Dr. Michael Rota (who I…

How to Help Your Parish Become a Disciple-Making Factory

  Most parishes wish they were better at evangelizing and making disciples. They wish they could help parishioners become more ardent, committed followers of Christ who are excited to share their faith with others. But how do we get there? Marcel LeJeune, President and Founder of Catholic Missionary Disciples, has been dedicated to the task for many years. Through his work with parishes, dioceses, and college campuses, he equips Catholic leaders to make disciple-makers who make disciple-makers. He is also an international speaker, author, and evangelist. Marcel served as the Associate Director of Campus Ministry at St. Mary’s Catholic Center at Texas A&M University for eleven years, the largest campus ministry in the country. Before that he was the Director of Campus Ministry at St. Elizabeth’s University Parish at Texas Tech University for four years. He holds a Master of Theological Studies, specializing in Pastoral Theology. Today, Brandon Vogt sits…

Reading the Data and Preparing for Exile

  “The Father and I are one.” The Jews again picked up rocks to stone him. – (John 10:30-31) One day at Mass, a favorite priest remarked on the whole of John 10:30-42. I took notes, but still am paraphrasing a little: “I think the men who wanted to stone Jesus were offended that he would come in their era, that he would intrude on their time with his messianic talk. Because it’s one thing to look for and hope for Messiah, and quite another to have to encounter Messiah, which demands an interior, real, and lifelong change, a delivering up of self. But we cannot chose the time of God’s coming; all we can do is learn to read the data and then respond in a right way, understanding that many, many will seek the world and its answers, because the way of the world appears easier.

Peterson, Newman, and the Cross

  Those following the Jordan Peterson phenomenon know that one of the central themes of the psychology professor turned intellectual superstar is the cross. In fact, the cross is arguably the symbolic center of his whole program. “The centre is occupied by the individual,” he writes in his best-selling 12 Rules for Life. “The centre is marked by the cross, as X marks the spot.” For Peterson, the cross—an instrument of torture and execution in ancient Rome—conveys two great existential truths: first, that that your life will inevitably involve great suffering and malevolence; and second, that the best response to that suffering and malevolence is an imitation of Christ. In other words, accept the suffering and malevolence, hoist it onto your shoulders, and “struggle impossibly upward toward the Kingdom of God,” transforming your own life and the lives of those around you for the better. This cross, and…

Beholding Beauty: Giordano’s Agony in the Garden

There is no event in world history that has left a more profound or influential impression on the heart of humanity than the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. His Paschal Mystery stands as the definitive moment of all time inspiring countless artistic expression all of which hope in to manifest and understand the Paschal Mystery. Artists of every age have sought to convey the ineffable drama of man before God, and Luca Giordano is no different. Born in the year 1632 amidst the cultural flourishing of Naples, this young Italian painter quickly found himself immersed in the realm of sacred art. By the age of sixteen, his prowess came into full-swing. Luca began creating stunning oil-based paintings depicting the life of Christ. One of his most beautiful and well-known works portrays Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. In this particular portrait, we find Jesus in the very moment…

What We Must Not Forget About Lent

Lent is the black and crippling walk to the cross—but that’s not where it ends.