Joy to the world and a lump of coal in your bourgeois stocking. That is the mixed message of this year’s updated créche in St. Peter’s Square.
Admonitory additions to the traditional créche illustrate Orwell’s contention that all art is propaganda. He did not have the ancient manger scene in mind, but he might as well have. Right-thinking Vatican set designers appear intent on proving him correct. And exhibiting their own high moral conscience at the same time.
A polemic in disguise, this year’s installation is a leaden tutorial from earnest men with stern expressions and furrowed brows. Continue Reading
Did The Lord’s Prayer need revision? Have we had it wrong all these centuries? Pope Francis thinks so. He announced last week that he is blue-penciling the Our Father.
By Francis’ lights, that ancient Matthean phrase “Lead us not into temptation” needs correction. It has been misleading from the get-go. The wording ought to go more like like this: “do not let us fall into temptation.” Francis explained:
It is I who fall, it is not God who throws me into temptation and then sees how I fell. Continue Reading
A sabbatical provides time to heed Polonius’ advice to Laertes: “Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice.”
The instruction was probably a shop-worn platitude even in Shakespeare’s day. Still, it is sound advice. We should each keep it written somewhere in full view—taped to the cover of an iPad, perhaps, or the back of a smartphone. You can insert it into a cookbook, use it to mark your place in a missal, or pencil it on the lintel over a kitchen door. Continue Reading
Heresy-spotting is not my forte. I have no inclination or talent for it. But the word hangs heavy in the air these days. It is impossible to ignore it. Ballots went out as soon as Amoris Laetitia hit the stands: “Does the apostolic exhortation propagate heresy? Check the box marked Yes or No. Either way, might any other words, deeds, or omissions by the Supreme Pontiff constitute encouragement of heresy? Again, check the box marked Yes or No.”
The alternatives have been dueling for two years. Continue Reading
The Society of Jesus explains the recent launch of a West Coast province under the headline: “The Dawning Of Jesuits West.” The caption is too suggestive to have been inadvertent. So let us take the Jesuits at their word and run with the allusion.
This glistening new province hints at itself as the final coming of the Age of Aquarius. That grand epoch of astrological hope is really on its way this time ‘round. Peace will guide the planets and love will steer the stars. Continue Reading