Browsing News Entries

Browsing News Entries

Brave Like Gabe

What is it like to lose your life at thirty-two?  It depends on how you lived.  Though I never met her, in every picture I have seen, there are three things that instantly distinguish Gabriele “Gabe” Grunewald: dancing eyes, a smile that lights up the room, and a foot-long scar traversing her abdomen.  If you haven’t heard of Gabe Grunewald, then welcome back from Mars. Gabe was a thirty-two-year-old phenom distance runner. She was a walk-on for the University of Minnesota track team who soon became the team captain and an All-American athlete. Graduating from college in 2010, she pursued a professional running career in which her fourth place Olympic trial finish just missed qualifying for the 2012 London Games. One year later, her 2013 fifteen-hundred meter finish made her the eleventh fastest American female in history to compete in that event. In 2016, Gabe would reach…

The Story Behind Flannery O’Connor’s Stories

When reading the works of a literary giant like Flannery O’Connor, it’s easy for readers to look up at the author in stupefied awe. The words and ideas are strung across the page like perfectly formed constellations, and the writer—a poised, rapt, independent genius—disappears into their brilliance. We become Salieri in Amadeus, astounded by this mere mortal who seems to effortlessly channel divine beauty into the world. But Patrick Samway, SJ’s new book about a writer and her long-time editor—Flannery O’Connor and Robert Giroux: A Publishing Partnership—reveals a different, more human story. This “book about books” dives into the literary world of O’Connor’s life and times, and for that reason will be an easy sell for any fan of the great Catholic writers of the twentieth century. Evelyn Waugh, (Anglo-Catholic) T.S. Eliot, Walker Percy, Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, and Jacques Maritain are all minor characters who cross paths with O’Connor…

Emanuel Film

The Cardinal Who Loves Chesterton: An Interview with Cardinal Thomas Collins

Fans of G.K. Chesterton, the great English journalist, novelist, poet, and Catholic convert are gearing up for the 38th Annual Chesterton Conference on August 1-3 in Kansas City. The theme is “The Future of the Family,” and the impressive lineup of speakers includes Dale Ahlquist, Rod Dreher, Joseph Pearce, Kevin O’Brien, Carl Olson, and many others. I’ll be there, too, giving a talk on “Chesterton as Husband  . . . and Father.” If you’re at all interested in Chesterton, or just want three days of intellectual stimulation, spiritual edification, pure delight, you should definitely sign up. But speaking of the conference, here’s a neat story: a couple weeks ago, conference organizers were surprised to see a new registration come through for one “Thomas Collins” living in Toronto, Canada. The name sounded familiar. But, wait, it couldn’t be, right? It couldn’t be Cardinal…

Which Sacraments Can Only Be Done By a Priest?

In this segment from the Busted Halo Show, a listener asks a question about the Sacraments. “Which sacraments can only be done by a priest?” she asks. “By a deacon?” Father Dave explains “who can do what” when it comes to the seven sacraments.

The False God of Absolute Freedom

On April 24, 2005, I had the privilege of being in St Peter’s Square in Rome for the inaugural Mass of the now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. His homily that day was interrupted several times by applause but especially after he spoke the following words towards the end: Are we not perhaps all afraid in some way? If we let Christ enter fully into our lives, if we open ourselves totally to him, are we not afraid that he might take something away from us? . . . Do we not then risk ending up diminished and deprived of our freedom? . . . No! Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide. Only in this friendship do we experience beauty and liberation. I remember joining in that sustained applause with the conviction that the Pope had got right to the heart…

Catholic Boy to Catholic Man: A Millennial on Why He Remains

Back when my younger son was a teenager we’d shared a surprising conversation over a suppertime hamburger. He’d asked me whether it was true that the Holy Eucharist is sometimes accepted at Mass by someone, only to remain unconsumed and spirited out of a church for use in various, always nefarious, ways. “How exactly,” he had asked me. “I’ve read that the Eucharist has been stolen for use in black masses, but what do they do with it, actually.” I never liked talking about this subject, but I related a little—that some mentally or spiritually disturbed people have put the Consecrated Host upon an “altar” and stabbed it, or sliced it, so as to “stab” Christ. “They actually believe, as we do, that the Eucharist is the true and physical Presence, the Body and Blood of Christ,” I explained. “That’s why Wonder Bread and grape juice won’t do—nor will the…

Did the Ascension Really Happen?

At the climax of the forty days spent with the disciples after his resurrection, Jesus ascended bodily into heaven. Catholics have always understood this to be a literal, miraculous event. We believe it really happened—and as a universal Church, we celebrated the Feast of the Ascension just a couple weeks ago. But the dogma also has its detractors. Some have made a mockery of the doctrine, likening the “flying” Jesus to an Apollo spacecraft, as was a common jest among atheists in the 60s and 70s. Others deny the possibility of the miraculous altogether. Still others, like Episcopalian theologian John Shelby Spong, read the Ascension as nonliteral and symbolic: “A modern person knows that if you rise up off the Earth (as in the ascension), you don’t go to heaven. You go into orbit.” Considering such criticisms, how can Catholics defend the reality of Christ’s ascension? One might sympathize with…

Dante’s Roadmap to Paradise

Dante’s vision of the afterlife centers upon two features: order and motion. The world is truly ordered and orderly, and yet within it there is great movement. It is clear to all that there is order within the world, that the world follows certain rules and fits together in a definite way. Scientists study the physical rules of the universe, and the rules they discover are so precise and unchanging that we implicitly trust their findings—no one questions whether the science underlying airplanes is sound or not before boarding. But the world is more than matter. We have minds that understand and wills that love; mere atoms can neither will nor love. And within that world of willing and loving there is another order. That spiritual order is what Dante explores; it is the same order that St. Thomas Aquinas describes in his great Summa theologiae, in which he lays…

In Defense of Exaggerated Marian Devotion

Protestants aren’t the only ones who find Catholic devotion to Mary a bit over-the-top sometimes. A lot of Catholics find other Catholics, including great saints like Alphonsus Liguori and Louis de Montfort, to be a little “much” when talking about the Virgin Mary. I get it. Take the Salve Regina, for example: it calls Mary “Our Life, Our Sweetness, and Our Hope.” How is that kind of effusive flattery theologically defensible? After all, our Life and our Hope is Jesus Christ. Part of the answer is cultural and rhetorical. It’s not a coincidence that the most schmaltzy or exaggerated-seeming statements about Mary tend to come from Romantic Romance-language speakers (the Italians, French, and Spanish, especially). But even more than that, these kind of lines come from devotional writings, meaning that they’re more like love letters to the Virgin Mary than they are like carefully worded theological treatises. Blessed John Henry Newman, a…