Showing posts from 2012

Why Am I a Catholic?

The Chapel at Princeton University On Sunday 4 November 2012, I preached the following homily at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Greenville, South Carolina. Thirty years ago tomorrow, on 5 November 1982, to the astonishment of my friends, to the bewilderment of my family, and to my everlasting wonderment, I was received into full communion with the Catholic Church. As unexpected as that turn in my life was, even stranger was the day fourteen months earlier when I woke up in the morning an atheist and a scientific materialist and went to sleep that night a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ. That day of my conversion to Christ was unexpected on two counts: First, from the age of thirteen I had been a sincerely convinced atheist, and second, I chose Princeton University for my undergraduate work, in part, because it was far from the Christ-haunted South of my childhood. I went to Princeton precisely to escape the ignorance and superstition I saw dripping from everything in th

Obama at the Smith Dinner? Yes.

Alfred Emanuel Smith (1873 - 1944) was the 42nd Governor of New York, and in 1928 he became the first Catholic to run for President of the United States. In 1945, one year after Smith's death, Francis Cardinal Spellman, the Archbishop of New York, inaugurated the Alfred E. Smith Dinner to honor the public service of Smith and Catholics in political life and to raise funds for Catholic Charities. For 67 years, the Smith Dinner has been one of the fixtures of New York's social, political and philanthropic life, and the famed Dinner is an intersection of leading figures in politics, culture, and the Church. Because Smith was the first Catholic to run for President, the dinner has also traditionally included the presidential candidates when it is held in an election year. In 2008, for example, John McCain and Barack Obama (pictured above) were invited by Edward Cardinal Egan, and both accepted. Following this well-established precedent, Timothy Cardinal Dolan has invited Mitt R

The Dictatorship of Relativism

On 19 April 2005, the College of Cardinals elected Joseph Ratzinger to follow Blessed Pope John Paul II on the Chair of St. Peter, and on that day he became Pope Benedict XVI. The day before his election to the papacy, Joseph Ratzinger, in his capacity as Dean of the College of Cardinals, celebrated a Mass “Pro Eligendo Romano Pontifice” (For Electing the Roman Pontiff) which was the last public event before the beginning of the Conclave in the Sistine Chapel. During that Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica with the Cardinals concelebrating, Ratzinger preached about the importance of them all understanding the situation of the Church in our time, and he pointed to the principal danger confronting Christianity in the early 21st Century: “Today, having a clear faith based on the Creed of the Church is often labeled as fundamentalism. Whereas relativism, that is, letting oneself be ‘tossed here and there, carried about by every wind of doctrine’, seems the only attitude that can cope w

Our Lady of Medjugorje?

Medjugorje is a village located (since the crack-up of Yugoslavia) in Bosnia and Herzegovina but populated almost totally by Croats. Since June 1981, a small group of villagers have claimed that the Blessed Virgin Mary regularly appears to them with messages from heaven, and despite the constant warnings of the local bishop that there is no basis to believe these claims, Medjugorje has become the third most visited pilgrimage site in Europe. Many Catholics of undoubted orthodoxy have been to Medjugorje and reported that they saw there only abundant signs of grace at work in the thousands of pilgrims who come there to pray. And yet ... and yet there are very serious counter-signs also at work in Medjugorje.  The most serious of these counter-signs is the man who was once the spiritual director of the self-proclaimed visionaries and a champion of the alleged apparitions. His name is Tomislav Vlašić , and he was once a Franciscan priest. He is now a disgraced ex-Catholic and laicized fo

"The Eagle has landed."

From Bill Bennet at The American Patriot's Daily Almanac : On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin floated high above the lifeless surface of the moon in a boxy, four-legged landing vehicle named the Eagle. The radio hissed, and a voice called across space from Mission Control in Houston, a quarter of a million miles away: "You are go for powered descent." An engine fired, and the fragile craft began its downward journey. It would not go exactly as planned. Alarm signals flashed inside the tiny cabin, warning that Eagle's computer was overloaded. As the spacecraft hurtled toward the surface, engineers in Houston had seconds to decide whether to abort the mission. "Eagle, you are go for a landing," they directed. The astronauts continued their descent, but when Armstrong looked out the window to study the moon's surface, he realized that they were not where they should be. The computer was supposed to guide t

Called to Communion

Called to Communion is a splendid website run by converts to the Catholic Faith from the various parts of Reformed Christianity -- meaning Calvinists of one stripe or another. If you know Presbyterians with questions about Catholicism, please suggest that they visit . The essays and commentary are always thoughtful, articulate, charitable, and directed to an exploration of serious theological matters without rancor.

Religious Freedom and the US Government

Here is the text of my Holy Week letter to the people of St. Mary's, Greenville: Dear Friends in Christ, This year our parish will be 160 years old, and as American institutions go, that is a venerable age. But our Church is 2,000 years old, and Christianity stands in continuity with the 2,000 years between the calling of Abraham and the coming of the Lord Jesus. And in the 4,000 year history of Israel and the Church, we have seen empires rise and fall, tyrants come and go, nations be born and die, whole civilizations wax and wane -- all of which means that we can take the long view of history when confronted with the difficulties of any particular day. But taking the long view does not diminish the suffering of those who are right now being persecuted for their faith or reduce the urgency of our obligation always to bear witness to the truth of the Gospel. There are many places in the world today where being a Christian is to be a target of discrimination, oppression, a

The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter

Father Jeffrey Steenson, today named the first Ordinary, celebrating an Anglican Use Mass at the Newark Cathedral in June 2010. In accordance with the Apostolic Constitution  Anglicanorum Coetibus , the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has today erected for the United States a Personal Ordinariate for Anglicans who desire to be received into full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving their Anglican patrimony. This new pastoral structure is titled after the symbol of the authority of the Bishop of Rome to teach, sanctify and govern as pastor of the universal Church: the Chair of St. Peter. The first Ordinary is Father Jeffrey Steenson. Until his reception into the Catholic Church in 2007, Father Steenson was a bishop in the Episcopal Church and had previously served as rector of several traditional parishes in the Episcopal Church, including the Church of the Good Shepherd in Rosemont, PA where Father George Rutler has once served. This is but another st