Nearer My Dogs to Thee

John Zmirak

“Don’t like the weather?” they say here in New Hampshire. “Wait five minutes.” As summer comes, our polar clime becomes instead bi-polar. Four times this week, the day has turned almost instantly from brightness and balm to lightning and sheets of rain–then back again–several times. The sky is alternately black and blue, as if the weather had been punching it in the face. The lightning knocked out my circuits today, while the crackling of the thunderclouds sent the wimpier of my two beagles into a full-bore panic attack. Little Franzi cowered against my leg, buzzing like those massagers they use at old-fashioned barber shops, until I scooped up all 40 lbs. of quivering hound and laid him next to me in the bed. I actually had to cradle him like a child–albeit a bow-legged, pigeon-toed, stinky, fur-covered child with an IQ of under 25 whom you have trained to defecate outdoors. (It’s best not to admit this when Social Services comes knocking, FYI.) [Read more…]

The Light of Christ’s Face: Redemption in Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians

Br. Joseph Van House, O. Cist.

“It was not our strength that saved us, but your hand, and the light of your face” (Ps. 44:3).

In the Biblical imagination, light is a privileged representation of God’s grace. Of all the earthly realities the inspired authors use to represent divine blessing (bread from heaven, life-giving water, consuming fire, etc.), perhaps only “life” and “word” are more significant than “light.” Stretching from the prophetic anticipation “Come, house of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord!” (cf. Is 2:2-5), to Christ’s revelation, “I am the light of the world” (Jn 8:12, cf. Lk 2:32 & OT precedents), to his commission to his disciples, “You are the light of the world” (Mt 5:14-16), the Bible’s references to “light from God” are numerous and richly variegated. [Read more…]

Out, Out, Brief Candle

Lauren Brannon

But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a platter,
I am no prophet – and here’s no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.
—T.S. Eliot, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”

I worshipped a teacher, and I almost failed his class.

For straight-A Lauren in junior high, this was the most utterly unthinkable thing in the world. Now, for jaded, trying-to-keep-her-grades-decent college Lauren, it’s one of those “it figures” ironies of life. [Read more…]

What Is Art?

Eileen Cunis


In his 1999 Letter to Artists, Pope John Paul II recognized and honored the unique place the artist holds in the Church and in the human community. The artist, writes the Pope, is given by God “a spark of his own surpassing wisdom, calling him to share in his creative power.” Despite the insurmountable difference between the infinite and eternal God and finite man, “the human craftsman mirrors the image of God as Creator.” It is through his contemplation of the wonder of his gift that the artist apprehends its meaning: [Read more…]

The Letters of Magdalen Montague: Prologue

Eleanor Bourg Donlon

Prologue *

On 4 April 1947, a house on the Rue des Trois Frères, raided by the Nazis and left untenanted since the liberation of Paris, was sold. Records of past ownership had been destroyed during the occupation, and since memory is short in that district, little was known of the man who had most recently lived there. No stories were known to explain his departure. How could there be at a time when so many were dead or disappeared without a trace? He might have evacuated the city with so many others; he might have been imprisoned; he might have been dead.

In the far corner of a dark and cluttered attic, a large, flat-topped trunk of soiled gray Trianon canvas was found. A label inside the lid boldly proclaimed the craftsmanship of Louis Vuitton—Malletier à Paris. Collaborator. [Read more…]

Inthe Darkest Hours, Joy

Tonita M. Helton

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church.

Colossians 1:24

During a Mass I recently attended, Archbishop Chaput preached in his Homily of those stricken by painful disease and illness and said of them, that those who suffer so, and suffer well, “do more good for the kingdom than any words a Bishop like myself could ever offer.” [Read more…]

Cinemanemia or Revenge of the Bloodsucked

Eleanor Bourg Donlon

“I didn’t like it. It wasn’t serious enough.”

It was a reasonable enough comment out of context, but with my knowledge of the subject under discussion (i.e., the virtues and vices of a raucously goofy film about melodramatic vampyres, ancient curses, and heroes and heroines acting in a highly improbable but impassioned manner) the moment was rather piquant. Why would one go to a film about vampyres and expect it to be serious? Isn’t that rather like expecting a profound and coherent sociological message from Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein? [Read more…]

The New Jerusalem

John Heard

Will you live; will you live in the physical world? With the sun setting low and the shadows unfurled? Can you live with the way they make you look un-real?

– “The Taming of the Hands that Came Back to Life,” Sunset Rubdown

There must be a place where modernity is as nothing. A place that is not a philosophy department, say at some university, where a majority of professors think the modern project is either implausible or else exhausted. That is, the place cannot be post-modern in the usual, theory-inflected sense of that term. [Read more…]

Restoring the Fresco of Progress

Wilfred M. McClay

We have become uneasy with the very concept of progress. We are not prepared to give it up entirely; that would be nearly inconceivable. Peel away the ironic surface of even the most insouciant postmodern pose, and you find revealed, startling as a ghost, some brightly colored and long-forgotten fresco, a gaudy metanarrative of progress still silently at work, shaping our choices of ends and means and norms. There are many such hidden frescoes still at work today. The West is still remarkably committed to the idea of purposive action, and resistant to the lure of fatalism, perhaps because rebellion against the binding power of necessity forms the very core of Western identity. [Read more…]

No Vague Believer: The Specificity of the Person of Christ According to Flannery O’Connor and Benedict XVI

Damian J. Ference

The Onion, America’s favorite satirical newspaper, featured a story with the headline, “Pope to Ease Up On Jesus Talk; Pontiff Trying Hard Not To Be So In- Your-Face With That Stuff.”1 Of course, the title is funny because it’s not true—it is actually the furthest thing from the truth. The article was published just as Benedict’s second volume of Jesus of Nazareth was being released, a work in which the Holy Father continues his life-long project of understanding the person of Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Savior of the world. Yet this is how satire works—it exposes the truth in a backhanded sort of way, disclosing what is present by means of what is absent. [Read more…]