Things Theological

Rachel Levine

A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him, saying, “You are mad; you are not like us.” St. Anthony the Great
A civilization in a death spiral can no longer maintain the moral demands that kept it alive. Neither can it tolerate an ability to see things as they are. Coherent authority shrinks. In The Triumph of the Therapeutic, Philip Rieff put it well: The dying order “demands less, permits more.” Continue Reading
USCCB Voter Guide: Clarity Be Damned

The USCCB’s voter guide, updated in advance of the 2020 election, was an evasive inventory of issues that, by sheer volume, effectively sidelined abortion. The manic jumble gave cover to Catholics who preferred abortion-happy Biden to Donald Trump. My essay “Politics As Spiritual Warfare”, in the November issue of Chronicles, cited a Wisconsin bishop’s slippery advice:
Doublespeak does not edify. Writing a column entitled, “How to vote according to our Catholic faith,” Bishop Donald Hying of Madison, Wisconsin repeats the USCCB’s position that “abortion surpasses all other moral issues,” though he adds a caveat.
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The Annunciation: Tidings From A Painter & A Theologian

Today is the feast of the Annunciation. The Gospel story of an encounter between an angel and a peasant girl in ancient Judea has provided us with a treasury of luminous depictions. Much as I love the inventory of them as works of art, only one draws me to wonder and to prayer. The essential commitments of faith do not begin in intellectual assent. That comes later. Intellect ratifies what the heart has already glimpsed. And the eye grasps certain things in an instant; the mind takes longer to grant approval to reasoned argument. Continue Reading
Prêt-À-Manger Eucharist, etc.

More than monuments are toppling. Our sense of the sacred diminishes further with each week that fear of Wuhan virus ranks higher on parish concerns than the concept of sin. Thomas Mann once quipped that nowadays sin is “an amusing word used only when one is trying to get a laugh.” Now we can get our laughs untainted by any nagging guilt right in our own parishes. They have risen from slumber over the concept of sin in order to testify with vigor to hygiene in the age of COVID. Continue Reading
Hand Sanitizer: The New Sacramental

“Doctor, Doctor, will I die?” “Yes, my child, and so shall I.” Hand sanitizer has entered the liturgy as both a stay against mortality and a sacramental displacing holy water. Coronavirus is not cholera but it might as well be. That is the unavoidable impression given by churches with dry fonts but multiple dispensers of sanitizer. Every acute respiratory illness is serious. By no means is this latest Chinese virus to be taken lightly. But there is no point in my adding to the media drum beat. Continue Reading