Let’s Not Forget What Grace Can Do

Let’s Not Forget What Grace Can Do

In a previous post, I argued that the Donatists weren’t wrong in their view that, as a matter of discipline, it was imprudent to ordain those who’d previously abandoned the Faith or to allow those who’d done so after having been ordained to exercise their orders upon their return to it.  I noted, of course, that the Church pronounced against some of the Donatists’ views on related matters, but that their main concern—that the faithful

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Five Rules for Overcoming Confusion

Five Rules for Overcoming Confusion

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you do not know what to do? Where it seems that you’re lost and the way forward is hidden. Sometimes the goals and values that have guided us in the past cease to inspire and illumine or perhaps we have passed through a life-altering calamity. Often our confusion is compounded by violent emotions. In such times, it is tempting to become cynical and frustrated. Overcoming Confusion

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Philosophy is Essential to Catholic Higher Education

Philosophy is Essential to Catholic Higher Education

Thinking philosophically always has its enemies, but there should be no enmity place between Catholic faith, Catholic education, and abstract thought. To think philosophically simply means to think deeply, to think about the universal and the permanent; it is to seek for clarity. There is nothing “cold” or unchristian about it. Christians serve a God of light, truth, and order; not an obscure god of sentiment and expediency. This is spelled out most clearly in

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Thinking Ethically

Thinking Ethically

Among the various benefits of studying philosophy, one is given the opportunity to learn some of the foundational ideas and theories that help us to make sense of ethical thinking. First, just what is ethical thinking? There are a variety of ways to approach this question, none of which is free of controversy. However, it is possible to offer a generic description. Ethics is an evaluative and normative discipline and process of thought. It is

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Rehabilitating Donatism?

Rehabilitating Donatism?

Amid of the current scandal of a systemic conspiracy of moral turpitude throughout the hierarchy and reaching to its highest offices, an old and tangentially related controversy never fully resolved in the life of the Catholic Church is reemerging.  Today we’re hearing calls from among the faithful of all states of life—laity, religious, and clerics of every rank—for mass resignations of clerics, including bishops and even of the pope, on the premise that association with

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Ideas Matter

Ideas Matter

According to Aristotle all human beings by nature desire to know or understand. Given the ignorance and vacuity of the many, it would be understandable to accuse Aristotle of naiveté. But those who have read Aristotle know that he was well aware of the failings and limitation of human being. The key phrase in Aristotle’s thesis are the words “by nature.” Human being, by its very inner constitution and essence is intellectual being, that is,

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Are People Basically Good or Basically Evil?

Are People Basically Good or Basically Evil?

When asked what differentiates a Catholic perspective from a Protestant perspective on the world, many people today are inclined to say that it lies in the way we see human beings. Protestants, they’ll generalize, see human beings as basically evil, while Catholics see human beings as generally good. But this characterization, wide-spread as it is, especially among Catholics today, is a gross distortion. It’s also an ancient heresy called Pelagianism, after an Irish monk who

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Is Humanae Vitae Irreformable?

Is Humanae Vitae Irreformable?

I was recently asked if the teaching of Humanae vitae is per se irreformable—that is, whether it constitutes an ex cathedra pronouncement.  My answer to this question is twofold in the spirit of a well-trained scholastic thinker: yes and no. First, let’s be clear that Paul VI employed a teaching instrument not normally associated with the very highest levels of authority in the Church: an encyclical letter rather than an apostolic constitution.  That doesn’t tell

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Thinking Wisely About American Politics

Thinking Wisely About American Politics

In previous posts I have outlined as briefly as possible the development of the ideas that animate our current political condition. With this background, we are in a position to evaluate the contending factions and suggest the wisest path forward. American politics is shaped by the conflict between radical progressivism and the liberal-conservative alliance. The primary flashpoints of this conflict are well known: immigration, freedom of speech, religious liberty, domestic economic inequality, unemployment, the right

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Epiphanius on the Assumption

Epiphanius on the Assumption

August 15 is the traditional date on which the Roman Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Under various names and on various dates, this feast is celebrated in nearly every church of apostolic origin. We don’t know precisely when and where this feast first emerged, but we know for sure that it can be found as early as the sixth century.  The explosion of feasts celebrating distinct events

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