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Quinisext Council in Trullo and Priestly Celibacy

The discipline of clerical celibacy is a sticking point between the Catholic Church and the Eastern churches, both those in and out of union with Rome. Eastern Christians allow a married, sexually active priesthood while the Latin Church has always insisted on sexual continence from its clerics. This discussion is often framed in such a way that the East is said to be preserving a very ancient tradition in the while the West is maintaining a tradition that "only" dates from the 10th century. Implicitly, the Eastern discipline is given a more credible historical pedigree. In fact this is not the case. The Latin custom of perfect continence for clerics is actually much more ancient than the current Eastern tradition, which only goes back to...


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Benedict XIV Non Ambigimus

In honor of Lent, we bring you the 1741 encyclical letter Non ambigimus of the great Pope Benedict XIV (Prospero Lambertini, r. 1740-1758) in English. In this great encyclical, Benedict XIV elaborates on the importance of the Lenten fast, which he sees as one of the distinguishing characteristics of the true Church, at least vis-a-vis Protestantism. Another important take away relevant to our own condition is Benedict's observation that failure to take the Lenten fast seriously or to observe it with appropriate devotion is responsible for a general decline in morals, and that the degree of this damage is not negligible. Therefore, we are happy to present an English translation of Benedict XIV's Non ambigimus. Note: This is an original translation from the Italian and...


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A Miserable Cup of Coffee

Some time ago, we featured an article on the acceptable, good and perfect will of God. Looking at passages from the Scriptures, some of the Fathers and the life of St. Galgano, we endeavored to explain that there are varying degrees of holiness a Christian is capable of obtaining. One degree is merely doing what is acceptable to God; i.e., not sinful. This may allow one to eek one's way into heaven, but it does not constitute holiness in the strict sense. Another degree is doing the good, that is, orienting our life around God and making a sincere effort to be a good Catholic. Then there is the third degree, the way of perfection, which consists in denying attachments to this world in a...


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Probability and Statistical Impossibility

Late last year, Wall Street Journal columnist Eric Metaxas published an interesting piece titled "Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God". The article argues that recent scientific discoveries about the universe increase the likelihood that the cosmos is the result of an intelligent designer. Though the article is brief, we recommend a studious reading of it, as it brings to the fore several essential problems with purely materialist theories of the origin of the universe. In this essay, we will examine the issue of probability and the concept of "statistical impossibility" and how it undermines the materialist assumption that given enough time, anything is possible.


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Assault on Constitutive Tradition

Why does the liturgy always bear the brunt of the attacks launched by those intent on remaking the Catholic Church in the image of modernism? What is it about the sacred liturgy that poses such a threat to progressives, such that it suffers from the constant and unremitting tinkering of liberal 'reformers' intent on obliterating all vestiges of the Church's tradition? Of course, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the most perfect act of worship and as such is especially hated by the devil, who rages against the Mass with a special hatred. This is obviously the supernatural motive behind progressive attacks. But there is also a very theological reason, and it is bound up with the Church's understanding of Tradition, Divine Revelation, and...


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Council of Ancyra and Celibacy

In a previous article, "The Truth About Priestly Continence and Celibacy in the Early Church", we have shown that from the very earliest days of Christianity it was assumed that ministers of the altar would abstain from sexual relations. It is very true that there were married priests in the early Church, but those priests were expected to practice continence with their wives; i.e., abstain from even the legitimate sexual relations of the married state. We see this reflected in the regional and ecumenical conciliar texts of the period, which all stipulate that priests who are married are expected to live with their spouse as brother and sister. This is so uniformly asserted in the sacred canons that we can safely hold clerical continence to...


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Torture: Historical and Ethical Perspectives

At the time of the writing of this article (December, 2014), United States citizens are reeling from revelations concerning extrajudicial torture camps operated by the CIA. American Catholics who identify themselves as political conservatives find themselves in a difficult spot; conservative thinking associated with the United States Republican Party has - especially since September 11, 2001 - tended to justify the use of torture in the interrogation of suspects with connections to radical Islam on the premise that such methods are necessary to save American lives from future terrorist attacks. However, this stalwart defense of torture flies in the face of statements found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and of recent popes who rank torture among those offenses against human dignity which no...


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What's wrong with Religious Orders in America?

The Apostolic Visitation to American female religious orders - begun under Benedict XVI - has just been wrapped up with the issuance of a Vatican document. The tone of the document leaves one wondering what the problem was to begin with. All of the original problems identified under the Benedictine pontificate (pantheism, paganism, spiritualized environmentalist earth worship, rampant lesbianism, dissent, etc) are simply omitted in the new document, which almost goes as far as to apologize to the nuns for bothering them for the past few years. Nothing to see here folks, move along. To those who love our Church's monastic-religious tradition, this is obviously a huge disappointment. The Vatican has chosen to ignore the real problems in American religious life, which really are the...


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Good, Acceptable, and Perfect Will of God

"Do not imitate this world, but be transformed by the renovation of your minds, and you shall distinguish what is the good, acceptable and perfect will of God" (Rom. 12:12).It is a teaching of the Faith that there are unequal degrees of beatitude in heaven. The Council of Florence taught that those in heaven "behold the triune God as he is, yet one person more perfectly than another according to the difference of their merits" (Session 6). This inequality of is predicated upon the inequality in merit among souls. Some fulfill the will of God in a nearly perfect manner, conforming themselves intimately to the image of Christ, merit much glory; others, like the workers called at the end of the day in the parable...


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Ecclesiastical Property Ownership in the Middle Ages

Of the many things that can be said about the Church in the Middle Ages, one of the most commonly asserted statements is that the Catholic Church owned one third of all the land in Europe on the eve of the Protestant Reformation. This is not only stated in works hostile to the Catholic Church, but also in authors and textbooks sympathetic to Catholicism as well. It seems like it is one of those points of history that is generally uncontested. The force of the statement is not in the facts themselves but in what sort of conclusions one draws from them. Both Protestant and laissez-faire economic apologists use this number to beat up the Church with; the former by arguing that the immense quantities of property...


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History of the Catholic Church

Theology & Liturgy

  • Probability and Statistical Impossibility

    Late last year, Wall Street Journal columnist Eric Metaxas published an interesting piece titled "Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God". The article argues that recent scientific discoveries about the universe increase the likelihood that the cosmos is the result of an intelligent designer. T…

    Read more: Probability...

Catholic Spirituality

  • A Miserable Cup of Coffee

    Some time ago, we featured an article on the acceptable, good and perfect will of God. Looking at passages from the Scriptures, some of the Fathers and the life of St. Galgano, we endeavored to explain that there are varying degrees of holiness a Christian is capable of obtaining. One degree is mere…

    Read more: A Miserable...

Movie Reviews

  • Chef (2014)

    Last Sunday, I decided to watch a new addition to the Netflix queue that I had seen advertised quite a while ago and then heard nothing of, Chef (2014, R). Going in, I knew naught about this movie except that it was a food movie, so I didn't have any preconceived notions, despite the fact that f…

    Read more: Chef (2014)

Economy & Society

  • Torture: Historical and Ethical Perspectives

    At the time of the writing of this article (December, 2014), United States citizens are reeling from revelations concerning extrajudicial torture camps operated by the CIA. American Catholics who identify themselves as political conservatives find themselves in a difficult spot; conservative thinkin…

    Read more: Torture:...