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Terms of Interest

Anyone who has spent some time researching Catholic social teaching has probably come across fierce debates on the issue of charging of interest. The Bible condemns the taking of interest on a loan as the sin of usury and states that it is a form of bondage. However, the discussion is not that simple. Is all interest usury? If so, what of the demands of justice that he who gives out his money in a loan have some sort of compensation for the risk he assumes? If not all interest is usury, at what point does it become usurious? Are there any circumstances that mitigate culpability? Is there nuance in how interest is assessed? Do the Bible and the popes who follow in the biblical...


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Miracle at Mont-St-Michel

One of the most popular literary genres of the Middle Ages were compendiums of miraculous stories. These compendiums would gather together all the miracles associated with a particular saint or shrine for the edification of the lay faithful. One of the most famous compendiums of the 15th century was the Promptuaria exemplorum et de miraculis Beatae Virginis Mariae of Dominican preacher Johann Herolt. The Promptuaria exemplorum was an anthology of all of the most popular miracles attributed to the Blessed Virgin Mary throughout the Middle Ages. In the excerpt from the Promptuaria exemplorum below, Herolt relates the story of a miracle in the waters outside the famous monastery of Mont St-Michel in Normandy, France, in which the Blessed Virgin appeared to rescue a pregnant woman...


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Alien Civilizations

In June 2016, an article appeared in the New York Times entitled "Yes, There Have Been Aliens. (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/12/opinion/sunday/yes-there-have-been-aliens.html?_r=0)" The article was written by University of Rochester astrophysicist Dr. Adam Frank. In this article, Dr. Frank promotes a hypothesis arguing conclusively that advanced alien civilizations have definitely existed in the universe, even if none exist at this moment. The basis of this argument is not any empirical evidence of any such advanced civilization, but rather an exercise in statistics derived from the probable number of exoplanets outside our solar system. Using this calculus, Dr. Frank and his associate argue that over a trillion - yes, trillion - advanced civilizations have existed in the universe. Dr. Frank does not mean a trillion planets featuring life, but a...


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Doubt and Christian Faith

Ever since the age of Descartes, doubt has become fashionable. When Descartes introduced methodical doubt as a means to certainty, the intentional exercise of doubt has been the hallmark of the sophisticated. From the philosophes of the Enlightenment who adopted a position of radical skepticism towards the possibility of divine revelation, to the modern scientific establishment that doubts even the rationality of the human mind, doubt has become the disposition through which modern man views reality. Doubt has become such a prevalent part of the modern mindset that it has seeped into Christian thought, which has tended to baptize doubt as a virtue. This appears under the guise of confusing doubt with the "Dark Night" of Catholic mysticism. In this article, we shall contrast doubt...


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Rethinking the Appendix

Since the dawn of the science of human biology in the modern age, it has been taken for granted that the internal organ known as the "appendix" was vestigial. A structure that is "vestigial" is so-called because it is believed to be a "vestige" of the organism at an earlier stage in its evolutionary biology. Vestigial organs or vestigial body parts no longer have any practical function, but they have not yet disappeared from the organism's biology. Another common example is the human tail bone, which is said to be a vestigial remnant of the days when homo sapiens had tails. Thus, vestigiality goes hand in hand with evolutionary biology. The "useless" appendix has always been explained as an organ left over from the days...


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Julian the Apostate Religious Liberty

The Roman Emperor Julian the Apostate (r. 361-363) is most notable as the last pagan emperor of the Rome. As nephew of Emperor Constantine and cousin to Emperor Constantius II (r. 324-361), Julian is remembered for his apostasy from the Church in which he was raised, and his embrace of paganism as a means to restore the faltering fortunes of the Roman Empire. Although Christianity was by Julian's time too large and well entrenched to be eradicated by means of a hard persecution, Julian nevertheless attempted to curb the influence of Christianity by removing Christians from important imperial posts, by forbidding them employment as educators, using state revenue to restore the ancient pagan priesthoods, and writing public invective against the Christian faith. For this reason,...


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The Use of Esztergom (Ritus Strigoniensis)

We are pleased to present this article on the Use of Ezstergom (Ritus Strigoniensis) by Miklos Istvan Foldvary, whose paper summarizes the work of his colleague, Fr. Atilla, a priest of Galanta, Slovakia. Fr. Atilla is an expert on the Use of Ezstergom, having obtained his PhD doing studies on the Ritus Strigoniensis. He  currently offers the Mass according to the Use of Ezstergom with permission of his Ordinary. The Latin liturgy lived in many variants in the Middle Ages. With respect to their cha­racter and history of development, we may distinguish two major periods, and accor­dingly two principal types of ritual variants. The first group comprises the ritual va­riants dating to the period prior to the process of Romanisation at first supported and later...


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Problems with the Bayside Apparitions

What you are about to read represents probably the biggest waste of time in my life, though that does not mean it will be a waste for time for you. This is my magnum opus against the false and stupid Bayside apparitions. For the past three years I have spent my spare time reading through every single message of Bayside, going all the way back to the late 1960s. Thousands of them. The monotony. The stupidity. The banality. It was horrendous, mind-numbing work, and many times friends of mine urged me to just drop it and move on to something more rewarding. It is waste for two reasons - one, just wasting my years reading all these banal, stupid messages; and two, the fact that,...


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Coronation of Charlemagne

If one were to have a basic literacy of the most important dates in the history of Christendom, undoubtedly Christmas Day of the year 800 would take pride of place. This was the date that King Charles of France was crowned Emperor by Pope Leo III. This event was of pivotal importance in both the history of Europe and of the Catholic Church. It is probably the single most important moment in Europe between the Fall of Rome and the Protestant Revolt, as it established Italy and the Papal States as parts of western Europe, made Charlemagne the most renowned king of the Middle Ages, and was fundamental in establishing the contours of medieval and even modern Europe. In this article, we will examine the...


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Gesta Romanorum: The Severed Foot

The Gesta Romanorum was written at the turn of the 14th century – this collection of anecdotes and tales was one of the most popular works of its era. It is called Deeds of the Romans because some of its material comes from Greek and Roman history and legend, but these were essentially short stories that were meant to teach moral lessons. In the following tale from the Gesta Romanorum, we see the medieval approach to the problem of unintelligible suffering and evil in the world - the branch of theology known as theodicy. Rather than condemn suffering as an unjust act of an callous God, the Gesta encourages us to try to see the disposition of all things in the plan of God's Providence. Where one is...


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History of the Catholic Church

  • Miracle at Mont-St-Michel

    One of the most popular literary genres of the Middle Ages were compendiums of miraculous stories. These compendiums would gather together all the miracles associated with a particular saint or shrine for the edification of the lay faithful. One of the most famous compendiums of the 15th century was…

    Read more: Miracle at...

Theology & Liturgy

Catholic Spirituality

  • Doubt and Christian Faith

    Ever since the age of Descartes, doubt has become fashionable. When Descartes introduced methodical doubt as a means to certainty, the intentional exercise of doubt has been the hallmark of the sophisticated. From the philosophes of the Enlightenment who adopted a position of radical skepticism towa…

    Read more: Doubt and...

Saints, Reviews & More!

  • Eilmer of Malmesbury

    Eilmer is not a saint, but he certainly deserves a place in the annals of obscure but important ecclesiastical personages of the Middle Ages. Eilmer was born in about 980 AD, and is best remembered for making a flight from the tower of Malmesbury Abbey in 1010 when he was a young monk there. The acc…

    Read more: Eilmer of...

Economy & Society

  • Terms of Interest

    Anyone who has spent some time researching Catholic social teaching has probably come across fierce debates on the issue of charging of interest. The Bible condemns the taking of interest on a loan as the sin of usury and states that it is a form of bondage. However, the discussion is not that simpl…

    Read more: Terms of...