The National Catholic Review

The Good Word

  • There would have been tears, I think.  If Simeon had waited all those years for the Lord, if Anna were a widow and so advanced in age, they would have shed tears when the saw the Infant King, certainly when they were allowed to hold him. 

    Life’s second half is awash in tears.  Tears for what happened long ago, in the first half; tears because time too short to be savored; tears because life itself has begun to run deeper. Everything seems to matter more.

  • Socrates suggested that we do evil out of ignorance, because, if we truly understood the good, we would never choose against it.  Saint Augustine thought that sin could be explained as our lamentable choice for a lesser, rather than the greater, good.  Both struggled to explain humanity’s predilection for evil.  If Socrates and countless social reformers since him are right, education and human moral evolution are still humanity’s great hope.  Augustine, however, thought a savior was needed...

  • This is the seventh entry in the Bible Junkies Online Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles. The first entry covered some of the major critical, technical and background issues that will concern us as we read through and comment on the Acts. The second post, found here, considered the prologue to the Acts of...

  • A hobgoblin, one of the very worse, once made “a looking-glass which had the power of making everything good or beautiful that was reflected in it almost shrink to nothing, while everything that was worthless and bad looked increased in size and worse than ever” (1-2).

  • The Alba Madonna by Raphael

    Jack Miles is perhaps best known for his Pulitzer Prize winning work God: A Biography (1996). In the most recent issue of The Atlantic (Dec. 2014), he shares a portion of his own story. The former Jesuit seminarian was so impressed by the audacious atheism of the philosopher Bertrand Russell’s “A Free Man’s Worship” that he copied, and carried in his billfold, this quotation from it:

  • In June 1531, the Bishop-designate of Mexico City, Fray Juan de Zumárraga, proudly reported to his Spanish superior in the Franciscan Order that he had destroyed “five hundred temples of their gods and more than twenty thousand images of the demons that they adored…”  “They” were the subjugated Aztec people, only ten years under Spanish rule.

  • No less an authoritative voice than that of Michael Caine intones the professorial judgment. “We must confront the reality that nothing in our solar system can help us.” 

    The irrepressible Matthew McConaughey responds, “Now you need to tell me what your plan is to save the world.” 

  • This is the sixth entry in the Bible Junkies Online Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles. The first entrycovered some of the major critical, technical and background issues that will concern us as we read through and comment on the Acts. The second post, found here, considered the prologue to the Acts of the...

  • Suppose you have no desire to go on.  Suppose the world has oozed into another holiday season, but you can’t even feign enjoyment of family and friends.  To you, the entire season seems hollow and fragile, like cheap ceramic ornaments on trees.  Suicides go up during the holidays, but suicide probably does require a mental illness, a true psychological pathology.  What of the sane but desperately sad, those so low, they pray for death because nothing in life attracts them? 

     

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  • Soldiers often possess a strong spirituality, one marked by a clear and vivid sense of mission. That’s certainly true of Thomas J. Jackson, the Professor of Natural and Experimental Philosophy, and Instructor of Artillery, at the Virginia Military Institute. You can hear it in this letter of 1851, sent to his sister Laura.