You likely remember, as I do, that tense moment in April 2019 when the whole world (Catholics and non-Catholics alike) looked on in shock as flames threatened to destroy Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. It was an uncanny moment of unity in suffering together as we witnessed the potential loss of an ancient, soaring beauty—the beauty of that great cathedral which has meant so much to so many over the centuries. I am still struck at how the whole world, regardless of faith affiliation or lack thereof, mourned the destruction of that great edifice to the glory and majesty of God.
Just a few decades ago, any educational environment outside the context of a community of persons might be labeled a “correspondence course,” or an “online educational program.” If one’s educational experience were anything other than on-location, a qualifier would be required. Even with the more recent explosion of online graduate programs, it was not until the lockdowns of 2020 that we began to see education in the more traditional sense requiring its own qualifier: “in-person.”
No matter how good we have it, no matter how wealthy we are, or how many good friends we have, or even how holy we are, all of us will experience sorrow in this life.
What is it about socialism? It seems that the arguments against it, no matter how finely tuned, have to be made over and again in every generation. It pops up in one nation faster than it can be put down in another. The sons of men who fought against it frequently grow up to fight for it. In some places it is the fashion of the youth, in others, the fashion of the old.
You are very brave to sit down to read a piece by a philosopher on the theme of festivity. We philosophers do not exactly have a reputation for spreading joy and the festive spirit. We can, in fact, be rather dull at parties, especially when we start quoting our favorite German philosophers.
“The earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein”, sings the psalmist in Psalm 24:1. In making the incisions on the Paschal Candle at the Easter Vigil initial ceremony, the celebrant solemnly proclaims: “Christ yesterday and today, the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and the Omega. All time belongs to him and all the ages. To him be glory and power through every age and forever. Amen” (Roman Missal: Easter Vigil).
“What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you” (Acts 17:23). The words spoken by the apostle at the Areopagus are addressed to a specific audience. But at the same time, these words have a wide range of action and a far-reaching resonance. Paul of Tarsus proclaims a God who revealed himself in Jesus Christ. Christ is the eternal Word of God, the Son consubstantial with the Father, the witness of the Trinitarian mystery.
Back in 2013, at the height of the so-called “New Atheism,” I realized that many young people were being drawn into this movement, swayed by poor arguments and heated rhetoric, in particular through the internet. That group included a lot of young Catholics who were never taught rational reasons to believe in God and had thus come to believe that religious belief was little more than superstition.
History viewed through the lens of the Incarnation reveals God’s Providence at work in the world. The Incarnation offers a vision of history in tune with reality and through which different civilizations, cultures, and all human actions down through the centuries can best be understood.
Allow me to share three decisions with you that I make every single day; products of my experience of Catholic education, as a student, also as a professor, and as a university president. They are in stark contrast to the world. They are the light of Christ, in my view. But because of the strength of the popular culture, I have to remind myself of them every single morning when I get up.
The rise of incomplete thinking has been marked over the last several decades by a near-total loss of true humanities studies at many colleges and universities. It’s a terrible scandal that, without authentic humanities education, universities around the world are manufacturing cohort after cohort of uneducated people.
America is in the midst of what has been called a “transgender moment.” In the space of a year, transgender issues went from something that most Americans had never heard of to a cause claiming the mantle of civil rights.
Most Sundays I celebrate Mass at Saint Raymond of Peñafort Parish in Springfield, Virginia. During the Liturgy of the Word, as the priest is at the chair, I find myself gazing at the enormous, beautiful stained-glass window in the north transept, opposite the priest’s chair.
During his historic visit to Ireland in 1979, Pope St. John Paul II prophetically warned the 300,000 people gathered in Limerick for Mass: “Lay people today are called to a strong Christian commitment: to permeate society with the leaven of the Gospel, for Ireland is at a point of decision in her history.”
It is an honor to be with these students. What a wonderful group. I looked around and I saw these statues and icons, the pictures of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, and I realized I was in a Catholic school. It encouraged me to put “JMJ” at the top of my speech.
For the past thirty or more years, Americans have been embroiled in a seemingly endless conflict called the “culture wars.” The phrase was made famous by University of Virginia sociologist James Davison Hunter, and it refers to the clash between traditional and progressive values that has been playing out not only in our political institutions, but also in every nook and cranny of our society: in colleges and universities, in advertising, in movies, and even in our churches.
The most interesting response to my Principles article, “A People without Melody,”was: “I get what you are saying about melody, but what about rhythm?”
& Rev. Donald J. Planty, Jr.
Although immigration policy often seems one of the most divisive issues in American politics, a new consensus may be emerging. American voters now overwhelmingly support granting legal status to illegal immigrants.
Modern advocates for social justice sometimes fear that prioritizing traditional practices of almsgiving can undercut more substantial and far-reaching projects to construct a just society in which the need for alms would disappear.
When the April 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and a group of nations including the United States was concluded, the Obama administration scrambled to assure Saudi Arabia (Iran’s rival in the Middle East) of American friendship.
With the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes, the Second Vatican Council formulated the “Magna Carta” for integral human development. The Church sees herself as a part of humanity, intimately connected to the “joys and the hopes, the sadness and the anguish of the human person today.”
Over the next decade, count on the press, academics, and pop culture icons to take a more negative view of religion in American life. This opposition has been driven by a variety of factors, such as the rise of the “new atheism” and conservative Christian alliances with the Republican Party and with President Donald Trump.
As a college music professor, I am asked from time to time by students what I think of this or that popular song or songwriter. Lyrics aside, I like to think that I can speak with some authority on the music itself, having a masters and doctorate in music composition.
Worrying about words may well seem like a frivolous luxury at this stage in the history of the Republic. We have, after all, recently witnessed the end of the most divisive election season in recent memory, waged between two of the most polarizing candidates in the history of the presidency.
Though purveyors of modern technology boast of connecting the world like never before, human beings, paradoxically, are finding themselves in a state of near-pathological disconnection from one another. Why are our young people struggling to converse, concentrate, and create when they have been equipped with state-of-the-art tools designed to stimulate them socially as well as intellectually?
This year’s sharply differing Democratic and Republican platform statements on abortion reflect a partisan polarization on the issue that surprises no one. Ideological bifurcation between pro-choice liberals and pro-life conservatives has continued for so long that the pro-life movement’s origin as a liberal cause has been almost entirely forgotten.
It is not possible to overstate the overemphasis on critical thinking in higher education. I have been to faculty meetings devoted to defining curricular goals. The discussion quickly becomes intense.
In recent months, the horrifying spectacles associated with the rise of ISIS have been seared into the consciousness of the Western world. In a manner freakish to most Westerners, the organization has continually publicized its own brutality, with professionally produced videos and slick periodicals in Western languages bragging of beheadings, crucifixions, and the enslavement of young girls.
With its decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court has now completed the sexual revolution by redefining our civilization’s primordial institution. It has cut marriage’s link to procreation and declared sex differences meaningless.
And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old” (Matthew 13:52).
The highest court in the land has now redefined that which is beyond redefinition. In the face of woeful marriage statistics, appalling portrayals of marriage in the arts and entertainment, and mounting negative political and legal pressures, defenders of marriage find themselves falling back, fighting simply to salvage the freedom to articulate, yea even to live, basic aspects of traditional marriage.
We live at a time when the wisdom of the past is being discarded, even scorned. What was built up over centuries is now gradually and systematically dismantled, as the humanities are pushed to the margins of higher education.