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Prayer Book Rebellion (1549)

In the year 1536, Catholics of northern England famously participated in the ill-fated "Pilgrimage of Grace", a peaceful demonstration against the Protestant reforms of Henry VIII. This is but one example of how the people of England cherished the Catholic Faith, and why that kingdom was always referred to affectionately as 'Our Lady's Dowry.' The Catholics of England were not willing to sit idly by while the faith of St. Augustine was destroyed by Protestant usurpers, even if that usurper sat on the throne. Just as Henry's innovations provoked the Pilgrimage of Grace in 1536, so the more radical innovation of Cranmer's Prayer Book of 1549 provoked a massive rebellion in Cornwall and Devon. Born of outrage against the concept of an English liturgy, this...


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Christian Contemplation vs. Pagan Meditation

We live in a world which increasingly rejects Catholic tradition while simultaneously professing great interest in spiritualities influenced by the New Age. Christians have been traditionally reluctant to embrace such practices, as they contain elements that are fundamentally opposed to the most basic tenets of Christianity. Some, however, have merged various elements of eastern mysticism and New Age neo-paganism with traditional Catholic spirituality, thrown in some Christian vocabulary and are now peddling these practices as compatible with Catholicism. The method of "Centering Prayer" promoted by the late Cistercian monk Basil Pennington is the most famous example, but there are others. These practices are promoted as Christian forms of "contemplation", and Catholics are encouraged to participate. In this article we will look at how to discern...


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Returning to a Morality of Happiness

The modern Church seems crippled when it comes to its moral teaching. Of course, many in the hierarchy openly dissent from the Catholic moral principles. But even among those inclined to defend them, there seems a growing uncertainty about how to explain them. Similarly, the Catholic laity are as little disposed as ever to live by them; hence the complaint of the bishops in the Instrumentum Laboris of the 2014 Synod on the Family that a morality grounded in natural law is "incomprehensible" to most Catholics. Thus dissent and confusion are the order of the day. As with many problems in the modern Church, this difficulty is bound up with an abandonment of the teaching of St. Thomas on morality. In order to build a...


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Introducing RCIA Power Points!

When this website was launched in 2012, one of the major motivations behind its establishment was to set up a place to host the 32 RCIA lesson plans I created when I was a Director of Religious Education so that they might be made freely available to anyone who wished to utilize them. Since then, our free RCIA lesson plans have been viewed 8,000 times; in fact, our RCIA page (http://www.unamsanctamcatholicam.com/home/parish-resources/83-parish-resources/120-rcia-classes.html) is the single most-viewed page on this entire website by far. Since we do not sell these lesson plans but offer them for free, I have no idea how many times they have been downloaded, but I suspect it is several thousand. Many people, priests and laypersons alike, have stepped forward and generously offered...


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C.S. Lewis, the Psalms, and Modernism

What are traditional Catholics to make of C.S. Lewis? Is he to be enlisted in the defense of the faith as an ally, or is he an author that needs to be warned against? Everybody understands that C.S. Lewis was not Catholic, and consequently we do not expect to see Catholic truths taught and defended in his writings [1]. But beyond this omission, where does Lewis fall on the problems of Modernism? Is he a staunch defender of traditional Christianity against the Modernist tide, or is he himself a promoter of Modernist idea? Or perhaps, like much else about Lewis, is the answer somewhere mysteriously in the middle, a dallying with "mere Modernism" without affirming the radical conclusions of the more extreme Modernists? In this article,...


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Vincentian Canon and Unanimous Consent of the Fathers

In the mid 17th century English Protestant divine William Chillingworth derided the concept of an unbroken apostolic tradition. In his book Religion of the Protestants, Chillingworth asserted that "There have been popes against popes: councils against councils: councils confirmed by popes against councils confirmed by popes: lastly the church of some ages against the church other ages" [1]. This assertion attempts to negate the force of the Catholic argument that Protestantism is not a fitting expression of Christian unity, since Protestant sects contradict each other. Chillingworth argued that the Catholic "unanimous consent of the fathers" is a mere illusion, a dream of Catholic apologists. It was Chillingworth's argument in part that prompted Cardinal Newman to write his famous Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine....


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Fenestellae

It is well attested that the liturgical reformers of the Conciliar period argued in favor of Mass versus populum based on an appeal to historical Roman tradition. While the universal custom of the patristic era was to construct churches with the altars facing east and the people and priest worshiping together ad orientam, it was pointed out that there were several very important Roman basilicas that were actually constructed with the altar facing west. In such cases, the priest, facing west, would have faced the people, who would still have been oriented to the east. This was put forth as evidence of an ancient Roman custom of versus populum liturgies and hence gave support to the liturgical reformers who sought to push Mass "facing the...


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Monastic Joy

There is an unfortunate stereotype out there that traditional Catholic spirituality is a dour, mournful thing; that the medieval monks and ascetics were long-faced sourpusses whose minds were bogged down by the oppressive contemplation of their own sins, and who mistakenly thought that God's pleasure in them was proportional to the amount of physical, even masochistic suffering they imposed upon themselves - essentially, the stereotype that traditional Catholic spirituality is all cross but no resurrection. Of course, this has never been the case; traditional Catholic spirituality, whether of the monastic or lay sort, was always characterized by a profound joy in the midst of ascesis. Yes, our Lord tells us we must take up our cross daily. But He also promises that His yoke is...


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Gezer Calendar

In excavations carried out in 1908 in the city of Gezer, twenty miles west of Jerusalem, Irish archaeologist R.A.S. Macalister unearthed a limestone tablet containing seven lines of inscription written in a script that is known as paleo-Hebrew. Subsequent investigation revealed that the tablet was a sort of rudimentary calendar of the agricultural year, beginning with the Israelite month of Tishri. The name Abijah appears vertically on the side of the tablet, probably indicating name of the tablet's owner. The calendar was dated to the middle 10th century B.C. - probably during Solomon's reign, when Gezer was under the control of the Israelites (1 Kings 9:16). To date, the Gezer Calendar is the earliest extant example of a Hebrew inscription and is an important piece...


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Deconstructing the Documentary Hypothesis

Are you unfamiliar with the Documentary Hypothesis? You might not know the name, but you have probably encountered it; if you have picked up a scholarly book on the Old Testament written in the past fifty years, chances are you have. The Documentary Hypothesis is a theory about the historical compilation of the Old Testament. Though there are many facets to the Documentary Hypothesis, it is best known for its assertion that the Old Testament is basically an amalgamation of four groups of editors, named the Yahwist, the Elohist, Deuteronomist and the Priestly writer - often abbreviated as JEDP. The basic idea is that the oldest parts of the Old Testament (J) were compiled in an alleged era of primitive Hebrew polytheism, which was later...


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History of the Catholic Church

  • Guthlac of Crowland (d. 714)

    Though the name of St. Guthlac is unknown to most Catholics today, Guthlac of Crowland was one of the most important Anglo-Saxon saints of middle England and enjoyed a widespread cultus throughout the Middle Ages. Guthlac is also unique among Saxon saints of the age in that his biography comes to us…

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Theology & Liturgy

  • C.S. Lewis, the Psalms, and Modernism

    What are traditional Catholics to make of C.S. Lewis? Is he to be enlisted in the defense of the faith as an ally, or is he an author that needs to be warned against?¬†Everybody understands that C.S. Lewis was not Catholic, and consequently we do not expect to see Catholic truths taught and defended…

    Read more: C.S. Lewis,...

Catholic Spirituality

  • Christian Contemplation vs. Pagan Meditation

    We live in a world which increasingly rejects Catholic tradition while simultaneously professing great interest in spiritualities influenced by the New Age. Christians have been traditionally reluctant to embrace such practices, as they contain elements that are fundamentally opposed to the most bas…

    Read more: Christian...

Movie Reviews

  • Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

    With Guardians of the Galaxy (2014, R), Marvel Studios embarked upon something entirely new: risking a ton of money making a sci-fi action flick based upon some obscure comic book characters that most of the American public had never heard of. Would the public respond positively to a Marvel movie wi…

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Economy & Society

  • Returning to a Morality of Happiness

    The modern Church seems crippled when it comes to its moral teaching. Of course, many in the hierarchy openly dissent from the Catholic moral principles. But even among those inclined to defend them, there seems a growing uncertainty about how to explain them. Similarly, the Catholic laity are as li…

    Read more: Returning to...