Catholic Family News

This Month’s Edition

This month’s edition of Catholic Family News contains the articles listed below. Only a few of these are reprinted on this website. To read all of the articles contained in this month’s edition, choose one of our subscription options, each of which comes with access to the E-Edition of the paper so you can start reading these articles now.

May 2024 Contents

Christ is King, Now and Forever: Unpacking the Candace Owens Controversy (Matt Gaspers)

On the eve of Holy Week this year, a controversy involving conservative commentator Candace Owens and The Daily Wire, which had been simmering for a few months prior, finally boiled over. Jeremy Boreing, co-founder and “lowercase god-king” of the media company, announced via X (Twitter) on March 22 (Friday of Passion Week): “Daily Wire and Candace Owens have ended their relationship.” Less than an hour later, Owens confirmed the news by posting, “The rumors are true — I am finally free.”

As someone who rarely watches Daily Wire content, including Owens’ show, the news that the two parties “ended their relationship” was not in itself of great interest to me. My interest in this story stems from the fact that, following the announcement, Owens’ use of the phrase “Christ is King” was deemed “antisemitic” by some of her former colleagues and others, as if proclaiming the Kingship of Christ somehow implies a hatred of Jews. Nothing could be further from the truth, of course, but even certain Christian (and yes, Catholic) influencers have pushed this narrative — essentially trying to shame the faithful into not using a so-called “controversial phrase” — and have attempted to downplay the social dimension of Christ’s Kingship in the world here and now.

This should be a matter of great concern for all Christians, and especially for Catholics, given that Catholic social teaching is firmly rooted in the Social Kingship of Christ and is ultimately directed towards the extension of His reign in society. Traditional Catholics, in particular, should be concerned about the unjust treatment of Candace Owens since they, like her, are smeared as “antisemites” by such groups as the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has libelously labeled Catholic Family News as a “hate group” for years.

As such, it is worth our time to consider what has transpired and to refute certain pernicious errors that have resurfaced in connection with this story. Click here to continue reading

Responding to Liturgical Ideology (Brian M. McCall)

Thanks to a subscriber to Catholic Family News, I learned about a series of recorded lectures on the history of the liturgy that can be found on the website of the Diocese of St. Augustine, Florida. The conference is entitled, “Celebrating the Pascal Mystery: History and Development of the Liturgy,” and is given by Fr. Tom Willis. I wish to address some of the issues in this purported history of the liturgy because we live in a time when the Pope has made it his explicit intention to suppress the Traditional Latin Mass and force conformity to what he oxymoronically calls “the unique expression of the lex orandi of the Roman Rite” of Paul VI. The attempt to impose the novelty of Paul VI in 1969 was prepared and supported by an ideological propaganda campaign to try to convince Catholics to enthusiastically accept this radical break with 2,000 years of continuity. Many Catholics fell for the propaganda (or at least reluctantly went along with it), yet those subject to it at least had the Mass as it had always been in living memory.  For the younger generation today, that memory is lost. They may be even more easily led into accepting the ideological selling points of the radical novelty of the New Mass.  Thus, this article will highlight and respond to many of these themes that run through Fr. Willis’ videos.

The Overall Approach: Social Science, Queen of Disciplines

Fr. Willis helpfully introduces himself at the beginning of the first lecture. What he reveals goes a long way toward explaining how he is approaching a lecture purportedly on the history of the Mass. He was born and grew up in the very end of the pre-Conciliar period. He remembers what he calls the Tridentine Mass from childhood (not favorably), and he was ordained in the New Rite in 1974. He explains that he is the Master of Ceremonies for the Diocese of St. Augustine. He refers several times throughout the lecture to the need for liturgy to be celebrated well (without ever defining what makes for good liturgy, although what he thinks is implicit in his history). If I had to guess, I would hazard that he is (at least on liturgical matters) a follower of Benedict XVI. In other words, the Vatican II reform of the Mass was all great in theory and it was just poorly executed. If we can just bring back a more aesthetically pleasing style, we will see how great the post-Conciliar Mass really is in the texts. To continue reading, subscribe to Catholic Family News

*The Popes Speak* Excerpts from Leo XIII’s Encyclical Aeterni Patris on the Restoration of Christian Philosophy, Part III

7. Lastly, the duty of religiously defending the truths divinely delivered, and of resisting those who dare oppose them, pertains to philosophic pursuits. Wherefore, it is the glory of philosophy to be esteemed as the bulwark of faith and the strong defense of religion. As Clement of Alexandria testifies, the doctrine of the Saviour is indeed perfect in itself and wanteth naught, since it is the power and wisdom of God. And the assistance of the Greek philosophy maketh not the truth more powerful; but, inasmuch as it weakens the contrary arguments of the sophists and repels the veiled attacks against the truth, it has been fitly called the hedge and fence of the vine. For, as the enemies of the Catholic name, when about to attack religion, are in the habit of borrowing their weapons from the arguments of philosophers, so the defenders of sacred science draw many arguments from the store of philosophy which may serve to uphold revealed dogmas. Nor is the triumph of the Christian faith a small one in using human reason to repel powerfully and speedily the attacks of its adversaries by the hostile arms which human reason itself supplied. This species of religious strife St. Jerome, writing to Magnus, notices as having been adopted by the Apostle of the Gentiles himself; Paul, the leader of the Christian army and the invincible orator, battling for the cause of Christ, skillfully turns even a chance inscription into an argument for the faith; for he had learned from the true David to wrest the sword from the hands of the enemy and to cut off the head of the boastful Goliath with his own weapon. Moreover, the Church herself not only urges, but even commands, Christian teachers to seek help from philosophy. For, the Fifth Lateran Council, after it had decided that “every assertion contrary to the truth of revealed faith is altogether false, for the reason that it contradicts, however slightly, the truth,” advises teachers of philosophy to pay close attention to the exposition of fallacious arguments; since, as Augustine testifies, “if reason is turned against the authority of sacred Scripture, no matter how specious it may seem, it errs in the likeness of truth; for true it cannot be.” Click here to continue reading

Treatise on the Authority of the Sovereign Pontiff: A Summary — Part I (Fr. Albert Kallio, O.P.)

Editor’s Note: In this article, which we will publish in two parts, Fr. Albert Kallio (a traditional Dominican) summarizes and explains John of St. Thomas’ treatise on the Authority of the Sovereign Pontiff found in Tome VII of Cursus Theologicus. This treatise contains John of St. Thomas’ discussion of what the Church should do in the face of a heretical Pope, a difficult subject and one which is very timely in light of the current Pontiff. Since this classic theological work is only available in the original Latin, we are indebted to Fr. Albert for providing English translations of important passages in this article. A full English translation of the treatise done by Fr. Albert is also available on the CFN website (On the Deposition of a Pope by John of St. Thomas).


John of St. Thomas (1589-1644) wrote this treatise as part of his commentary on the Secunda-Secundae of Aquinas’ Summa Theologiae. The question of the papacy arises in article 10 of the First Question, which asks: “Does it pertain to the Sovereign Pontiff to fix the symbol of faith?”

Cajetan (1469-1534) had already written a detailed commentary on the whole Summa, so John of St. Thomas’ commentary takes rather the form of a series of disputed questions that he discusses on various points. In this article, there are three of these disputations and it is the second one which deals with the topic that concerns us: Of those things that the Church can do with regard to the person of the Pope and his election, deposition and the certitude of the person elected. In the third article of this disputation the question he poses is: Whether the Pope can be deposed by the Church, as he is elected by her, and in which cases.

He starts by stating the answer to the question very simply:

“The response is that a pope cannot be deposed, nor lose the papacy, unless two conditions concur, namely that the heresy not be occult but public and juridically notorious; secondly, he must be incorrigible and pertinacious in heresy.” (§ IV)

He mentions the position of some theologians who held that occult heresy would suffice to make the Pope lose the papacy, but responds, along with the great majority of others who deny this, saying:

“And the reason is because occult heretics, as long as they are not condemned and cut off, are parts of the Church and communicate with her by an exterior communication, although not by an internal spirit; therefore also if the pope is an occult heretic he is not thereby cut off from the Church: therefore he can still be her head, just as he is still a part and a member, although not a live member.

This is confirmed by the fact that without faith they [if they are priests] can exercise acts of Order and of ecclesiastical jurisdiction upon priests inferior to them, for a heretical priest can confect the sacraments and absolve in extreme necessity; therefore even faith is not required for a pope to exercise jurisdiction as long as he is not deposed by the Church.” (§ V-VI)

He adds that this is obviously necessary because if a pope could lose the papacy by a simple interior heresy “everything would be perplexed and the way to schisms would be opened, if before the publication of the judgment of the Church, he would fall ipso facto from the papacy because of a fault known, perhaps, to himself alone.” (§ VI)

He makes the important distinction between the personal faith of the Pope and the common faith of the Church: the former is not guaranteed except in so far as it affects the latter:

“Thus the authority of the papacy is founded on the true faith, not, however, on the personal faith of some person and as anyone according to his own opinion might profess it, but rather on the common faith of the whole Church, in which the pope cannot fail, in the sense that even if he be a heretic personally, nevertheless he cannot teach anything against the faith ex cathedra. In this faith, therefore, that is, the faith of the chair (cathedra) of Peter and his confession, in this the papacy is founded, not in the personal faith even of the person of the pope.” (§ VII)

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The First Saturday Challenge (David Rodriguez)

Calling All Catholics

Our world faces an unprecedented political, economic, social, moral, and spiritual crisis. The dangers which menace humanity are so extensive that no human solution is possible. With each passing week the news worsens. This seemingly inexorable march towards terrible destruction has many good people succumbing to anxiety and despair or steeling themselves in cold indifferentism or apathy.

Yet we are not helpless. God loves us and foresaw these times. In His goodness, He sent His most Holy Mother to Fatima in 1917 with the only solution for our times: Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. To date, Our Lady of Fatima has not been obeyed. Both the good and the bad have largely ignored Her Message of conversion, hope, and peace.

You can — and must — be part of the solution. And your part is not nearly as complicated as one might imagine. An indispensable element in our Blessed Mother’s revealed solution is the First Saturday devotion. (A brief explanation of this devotion is provided below.)

To this end, The Fatima Center is preparing a spiritual bouquet for Our Lady. Our goal is to offer Her 100,000 First Saturdays by the 100th Anniversary of Her request for this devotion (December 10, 2025). Catholic Family News and other Catholic groups, parishes, and communities are uniting their efforts to this marvelous and much-needed initiative.

Join the Challenge

Participating in this First Saturday Challenge is quite simple:

(1) JOIN: Go to the webpage and sign up. Here you will also find:

  • A thermometer counter showing how close we are to our goal.
  • An interactive world map highlighting countries with participants.
  • A reminder for the upcoming First Saturday.
  • Links to many helpful First Saturday resources.

(2) EACH MONTH: Fulfill all five elements of the First Saturday devotion, then log in at the website to register your completed First Saturday so that it will be included in the spiritual bouquet.

It is that easy! And we need your help in getting the word out.

(3) SPREAD: Please share the First Saturday Challenge among family, friends, priests, and fellow parishioners.

A Great Challenge of Hope

The First Saturday devotion can provide the graces necessary for our salvation and help save countless souls. It is one of the most powerful spiritual exercises we can practice to foster devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and gain the graces necessary for the Consecration of Russia, which will result in Russia’s conversion and a period of world peace. At Fatima, Our Lady promised: “In the end, My Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to Me, she will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.” To continue reading, subscribe to Catholic Family News

Pastor Asks Faithful Not to ‘Abandon’ Parish for SSPX Chapel (Brian Mershon)

The pastor of St. Ann parish, based in Charlotte, N.C., provided some remarks following his sermon on March 10 regarding the future of the Traditional Latin Mass at his parish. The Charlotte diocese, similar to the massive TLM implosion in the Arlington diocese in Virginia, recently eliminated 17 locations where the Traditional Mass was previously offered, for which St. Ann parish remains along with three other parishes. The diocese must renew its request to the Dicastery of Divine Worship in October 2025 to continue offering the TLM in the existing parish churches.

St. Ann parish, due to petitions of hundreds of area Catholics, led initially by area Catholic Chris Lauer and others, has offered the Traditional Latin Mass weekly for 16 years, with 11 years including holy days of obligation and special feast days, according to Fr. Timothy Reid, the parish’s pastor.

Pastor’s Remarks Follow Bishop Fellay’s Visit

Fr. Reid’s remarks could be considered a rallying cry to his parishioners following a recent visit from Bishop Bernard Fellay, SSPX to the Charlotte-based Mount Holly chapel (Feb. 24-25), which has been offering the Traditional Latin Mass to Catholics in the area for more than 40 years. Bishop Fellay visited Mount Holly at the request of Catholics who frequent that chapel.

Regarding the October 2025 date, Fr. Reid said that the status of the TLM going forward is uncertain. “That’s still a long way off, and it’s quite possible that we will have different Church leadership by then.” “However,” he said, “I can tell you that if St. Ann’s parish is told that we can no longer have the Latin Mass here in our church, I do have a backup plan to continue proving the Latin Mass outside of the church building.” To continue reading, subscribe to Catholic Family News

Cardinal Müller Critiques ‘Wrong Ideologies’ in Recent Interviews (Anthony P. Stine, Ph.D.)

It is rare to see bishops and cardinals stand up for the truth of the Catholic Faith in these increasingly trying times. The examples of canceled bishops and priests loom large over any member of the episcopate who considers correcting the errors coming from Pope Francis, the Synod on Synodality, or even taking the “wrong” (meaning Catholic) side of moral issues with political consequence. Bishop Joseph Strickland was forced into early retirement for speaking the truth courageously. Cardinal Raymond Burke reportedly lost his Vatican salary for defending the Faith. Over 20 other bishops and cardinals have been similarly canceled for opposing heresy and error in the Church and in the broader culture. For this reason, Cardinal Gerhard Müller’s recent interviews with LifeSiteNews and Tucker Carlson, during which he spoke to a myriad of ills in the Church and society at large, are all the more significant.

“Systematic De-Christianization”

His Eminence’s interview with Carlson premiered on X (formerly Twitter) and YouTube on March 30. Carlson asked Müller to describe the situation facing Catholics and non-Catholic Christians alike around the world. The former Vatican doctrine chief observed that Christianity is growing in Africa and Asia, but in the West the Faith is facing “a certain systematic de-Christianization” at the hands of “the political and ideological elite.” This systematic secularization conflicts with the “old anthropology” of formerly Christian Europe, where human beings are called to friendship with God, which is where our salvation lies. Characteristic of the secularizing thrust is a war against life itself, and all Christians are called to work together to oppose it. It is unfortunate that Cardinal Müller slipped a little bit into using human fraternity lingo, asserting that despite our religious differences we all “brother and sisters” with “one God the Father,” but overall his responses were solid. On this point, it would have been better for him to clarify, as Bishop Athanasius Schneider does, that “[t]here are two kinds of fraternity: that of blood, in Adam and Eve, and that of grace in Jesus Christ, given through His Church and the sacraments. This distinction between fraternity based on nature (the bond of blood) and fraternity based on divine election and revelation is indispensable.”

On March 22, LifeSiteNews began releasing their interview with Cardinal Müller in a series of installments and His Eminence’s message was in many was the same as his comments to Tucker Carlson, namely, that we must resist errors in the Church and in the broader society. As an example, LifeSite’s Michael Haynes asked Müller about the Synod on Synodality and the German Synodal Way, both of which have been working towards a rethinking of the fundamentals of Catholicism, a sentiment which was shared explicitly by Synod Secretary Cardinal Mario Grech, who stated that the Church needed to “rethink everything” in light of synodality. To continue reading, subscribe to Catholic Family News

What is ‘Brian Death’? Catholic Experts Disagree (Stephen Kokx)

In February of this year, over 150 prominent Catholic clergy and laity issued a public statement calling for action against current standards of treatment for patients who are “brain dead.”

“As Catholics, we have an obligation to defend the sacredness of human life from conception to natural death,” the document reads. “Even as there remains disagreement about whether and how the criteria could be improved, we call on our fellow Catholics to unite against utilization of the current brain death criteria, especially when determining death before vital organ transplantation.”

Many recognizable scholars, pro-life activists, and public figures added their names to the statement, including Bishop Athanasius Schneider, Bishop Emeritus Joseph Strickland, Sr. Dede Byrne, Fr. Shenan Boquet (Human Life International), Dr. Josef Seifert (formerly of the Pontifical Academy for Life), Professor Roberto de Mattei, Dr. Peter Kwasniewski, and more.

Despite the impressive qualifications of those who supported the statement, the letter is problematic in that it does not adequately seek to protect human life, at least according to Catholic doctor Paul Byrne, the founder of the Life Guardian Foundation.

“Catholics United” Statement

“Catholics United on Brain Death and Organ Donation: A Call to Action” was published on February 27. Dr. Joseph M. Eble, Dr. John Di Camillo, and Professor Peter Colosi are its co-authors. Eble is the president of the Tulsa Guild of the Catholic Medical Association. Di Camillo is a bioethicist who works for the National Catholic Bioethics Center (NCBC). Colosi teaches philosophy at Salve Regina University in Rhode Island.

Their statement explains that the “controversial” designation of “brain death” was introduced in 1968. It also notes that in 1981 the Uniform Determination of Death Act (UDDA), which is used by most U.S. states as the legal template for when brain death occurs, defines brain death as the “irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain, including the brain stem.” “Catholics United” observes that there has been a move to revise the UDDA in recent years so that persons who have partial or “persistent brain function” in some capacity will also be considered legally dead. Catholic physicians and bioethicists such as Dr. Doyen Nguyen OP, MD, STD opposed that change and issued a public letter in July 2023 expressing disagreement with it. To continue reading, subscribe to Catholic Family News

The Importance of Forgiveness (Jesse Griffiths)

By virtue of our baptism, we are made members of the Mystical Body of Christ, “for as many of you as have been baptized in Christ have put on Christ” (Gal. 3:27). It is fitting, then, that when we consider the Crucifixion we put ourselves in the place of our Head, Jesus Christ, as He hangs upon the Cross. From this vantage point we can ask Him to give us eyes to see as He sees, ears to hear His voice, and ask Him, the Master, what He would like to teach us as we follow Him more deeply into the mystery of this moment in His life and of our salvation.

If we are going to pick up our cross and follow Him into this mystery, we must first find the way in. The Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Word Incarnate, Who says of Himself, “I am the door” (John 10:7), is the way by which we gain entrance. And so, we turn the knob of the door of the Word of God, Holy Scripture, and enter in: “And when they were come to the place which is called Calvary, they crucified Him there: and the robbers, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. And Jesus said: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:33-34).

It is significant that Our Lord began the act of our redemption, His Crucifixion, with words of forgiveness. “Generally when innocent men suffer at the hands of impious judges, their last words are either: ‘I am innocent’ or ‘The courts are rotten.’ But here, for the first time in the hearing of the world, is One Who asked neither for the forgiveness of His own sins, for He is God, nor proclaimed His own innocence, for men are not judges of God. Rather does He plead for those who kill Him: ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do’ (Lk. 23:34).”

God’s Will is to Forgive

Forgiveness is a fundamental, integral element in the authentic Catholic life, so much so that we profess our belief in it every time we say the Creed. God’s will is to forgive. “Because God is essentially good and kind, therefore, it is characteristic of His uncreated and infinite goodness and kindness to do good to all, and to pardon and spare all, just as it is the property of fire to give heat, and of the sun to give light.” In His infinite goodness, God desires the conversion rather than the death of the sinner: “Is it My will that a sinner should die, saith the Lord God, and not that he should be converted from his ways and live?” (Ezech. 18:23).

Our Lady of Fatima: Mother, Mediatrix, and Queen (Marianna Bartold)

In the traditional liturgical calendar of the Catholic Church, the month of May is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Hindsight reveals that it is no small coincidence that on May 13, 1917, the Mother of God appeared to three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal. Clad in all white, her apparel designated her as a Queen, for which reason the child Lucia first addressed her as “Majesty.” The central part of the Virgin’s Message is devotion to her Immaculate Heart, reiterating what God long ago revealed to His Church: devotion to Mary is necessary for our salvation.

In His Divine Providence, the Most High God deemed that we who were born into this modernist age must specifically understand that, especially for our times, the great devotion to the Immaculate Queen’s Heart is reserved. It is the same Pure Heart that will save so many poor sinners from hell, and it is the same Pure Heart which is offered to us as both our refuge and the path that leads us to God.

Our Lady Wants Conversions

In my book, Fatima: The Signs and Secrets, it was demonstrated why Our Lady asked for the daily Rosary to be prayed by all the faithful, why she requested the Five First Saturdays of Reparation for the five blasphemies committed against the Immaculate Heart, the collegial consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart, what is our daily duty (which is the penance Our Lord Himself said He now requires of us), and more. All that I wrote then still applies today, including the following:

“The faithful may continue to fight the good fight, declaring their outrage against the persecutions of their fellows, signing petitions, writing letters of protest against all kinds of scandals, joining marches in defense of morality, and engaging those who ardently resist the Tridentine Rite’s restoration in every parish and diocese. Still, despite our best efforts, we must admit that, as Pope Pius IX once declared, ‘up till now reasonable demands and repeated protests have availed nothing to remove these evils.’

“Our Lady also wants conversions, which includes advancement in the interior life of the soul. The Rosary prayers and the sacrifices of the faithful have not yet been enough to bring worldwide devotion to the Immaculate Heart. Only that devotion, with the collegial consecration of Russia to the same Pure Heart, will bring the era of peace to all mankind and the conversion of Russia, who has spread her errors throughout the world.

“Our own efforts are not enough, perhaps due not only to our lack in numbers but also to our lack of confidence. As Our Lady said at Akita, ‘Those who place their confidence in me will be saved.’ Why?

She is Our Mother and Mediatrix: ‘With a heart that is truly a mother’s does she approach the problem of our salvation,’ wrote Blessed Pope Pius IX, ‘and is solicitous for the whole human race; made Queen of heaven and earth by the Lord…standing at the right hand of her only Son, Jesus Christ Our Lord, she intercedes powerfully for us with a mother’s prayers, obtains what she seeks, and cannot be refused.’“ To continue reading, subscribe to Catholic Family News

*Holy Mass Series* Fr. Mueller’s Masterpiece on the Mass: The Wonderful Promise of God (Matthew Plese)

Our Hearts Are Restless on Earth

We do not merely possess the grace of knowing the one true God, we have the awe-striking experience of having His supernatural life implanted into our very souls through Baptism. The baptized Catholic in the state of grace has God in his soul. A Catholic is a friend of God and this precious treasure is beyond price as it is the seed of eternal life within us. And yet, beyond Baptism, we have the unfathomable ability to receive His real Flesh and Blood in Holy Communion at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. This is the wonderful promise of God fulfilled in the Holy Eucharist. And this meditation is the theme of Fr. Michael’s Mueller first full chapter in The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Fr. Mueller begins by relating the story of King Solomon, who, despite his wealth and possessions, was never satisfied (see Eccles. 2:1, 4-11). Drawing upon this example, he relates the restlessness of Solomon to us:

“What happened to Solomon, happens still in one shape or form to every man. Here on earth, we are never satisfied; we always crave something more, something higher, something better. Whence comes this continual restlessness that haunts us through life and pursues us even to the grave? It is the homesickness of the soul, its craving after God. All things were created for man, but man was created to live with God, and to be united with God.  Therefore, the idea, the essence of all religion may be expressed in one word: ‘Emmanuel, God with us.’”

God Prepares His People for His Promises

God did not choose to reveal every detail of His identity in ancient times. It was only through our Lord Jesus Christ that we came to know that God is a Trinity of Persons. And likewise, it is only over time that we have come to know of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, even though this too was prophesized in ancient times. Likewise, the Real Presence of God in the Holy Eucharist was made known only after Our Lord’s Incarnation, even though it was foreshadowed long ago. Here again, we see how God chose to reveal Himself and His gifts over time. Fr. Mueller accordingly teaches: “The works of God come to perfection slowly and gradually. This is the case in all, but especially in that most admirable of His works, the Real Presence.  He first revealed Himself to man by creation, which is a continual revelation of His presence, although He is hidden therein. The good and pure indeed behold God in creation; they see His power in the storm, in the cataract, in the earthquake. They see His wisdom in the laws that govern the boundless universe. His beauty in the flower, in the sunbeam, and in the many-tinted rainbow. But the wicked and impure use this very creation only to outrage and blaspheme the Creator.” To continue reading, subscribe to Catholic Family News

Pillar of Orthodoxy: St. Athanasius and the Arian Crisis (John Monaco)

The Catholic religion is replete with heroes and villains, victories and failures. Far from being a dusty glance at the past, examining the Church’s rich history brings clarity into our present situation, reminding us that salvation history is our history, too.

In my teaching, I try to incorporate important figures in Church history into our theology lessons by showing how all theological debates take place within a particular place, time, and among specific persons. When I teach sacramental theology, I inform my students that our precise Medieval-Tridentine sacramental theology developed in response to Protestant heresies, which denied many essential doctrines on the manner of Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist, the number of the sacraments, and so forth. When discussing fundamental theology and the ability to know of God’s existence and power through natural reason alone, I cite the First Vatican Council (1869-1870) and its response to materialism, Romantic fideism, and liberalism.

This is why, for example, we might look upon St. Athanasius of Alexandria (c. 296-373) not only as a shining light in the past, but a model to follow today. As we celebrate his feast day on May 2, we would do well to turn to the dramatic story of Athanasius and the Arian crisis. And, should we have the eyes to see it, we might notice some parallels today.

St. Athanasius of Alexandria

There is scant historical evidence on the details of Athanasius’ earliest years. Contrary to overly-pious hagiographies, most historical evidence reveals that Athanasius was not born into a devout Christian family. According to the 10th-century Coptic Egyptian bishop and historian, Severus ibn al-Muqaffa (d. 987), Athanasius was born of a pagan woman, a “worshiper of idols.” His formation in virtue and religion was due, in large part, to his strong filial relationship with the Patriarch of Alexandria, Alexander (d. 328). At the time, Alexandria was a bustling, cosmopolitan metropolis of immense culture and activity. Historically, the city’s roots stem from Alexander the Great, who founded it in 331 B.C., and it served as the capital of Egypt during the Ptolemaic dynasty. By the 4th century A.D., Alexandria was a major center of commerce, culture, and learning. Alexandria was a melting pot of different cultures and ethnicities. It was home to Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Jews, and people from various other backgrounds. Alexandria was also renowned for its intellectual and scholarly pursuits. The Great Library of Alexandria, founded in the 3rd century B.C., housed a vast collection of manuscripts and attracted scholars from all over the Mediterranean world. It was a center for research and learning in fields such as mathematics, astronomy, medicine, and philosophy. Alexandria’s reputation as a city of learning and social unrest makes it a fitting stage for the ecclesial and political conflicts that dominated Athanasius’ life. The natural virtue and seeds of faith blossomed by the time he was baptized by Patriarch Alexander, who made Athanasius his scribe and later ordained as deacon. To continue reading, subscribe to Catholic Family News

The Graverobber Council, Part I: The Hussite Heresy (Murray Rundus)

Growing up in a family of funeral directors, I heard many stories about the grave. One such story was of an old railroad tycoon’s family mausoleum. Entombed therein was a man with a stickpin studded with a diamond so grandiose as to make Louis XIV green with envy. When my father was asked to obtain the opening of the crypt to entomb another relative, the cemetery administration did everything in its power to thwart its opening. After a legal battle, the mausoleum was opened, only to discover that the cemetery keepers had seemingly turned to grave robbery, stealing the precious stone.

It would seem that spirit of grave robbery has enraptured the keepers of the Church as well, starting with the Second Vatican Council. However, rather than seeking gems of value, the grave robbers of the Council seem bent on robbing the pauper graves of heresy, exhuming rotting filth rather than buried treasure. For one such heresy, the innovators would have to go to the graves of Medieval Bohemia, where Jan Hus and his Utraquist beliefs were interred.

The True Origins of the Crisis

There has been a positive trend in traditionalist circles to pinpoint the genesis of the Liberal upheaval to the tumultuous Protestant Revolt. But often there is a mistake to see this revolt as being something sudden, as if there was a heart attack in the very heart of Christendom. Yet, there persists an errant notion, a misjudgment likening this upheaval to a sudden convulsion, as though Christendom itself suffered an abrupt cardiac arrest. Contrarily, the truth unveils a more insidious decay, akin to a creeping malaise that, under the guise of a pestilence (namely, the Black Death), gnawed steadily at the vitals of the Church. The Medieval Age was one known for its ecclesiastical clarity, with virtue ennobling and binging Christendom together with a strong moral authority — an authority based on the holiness and magnanimous nature of her clerics and religious. Will we ever see such a time where men like Saints Dominic, Francis and Simon Stock are each in concurrent ministry?

Yet, the Black Death decimated predominantly those very paragons of virtue, the priests, ordained to administer the Sacraments to the afflicted. This plague brought about a crisis in vocations, mirroring the contemporary crisis brought forth by the metaphorical contagion of the 1960s. The priesthood was filled with men of dubious merit, filling now-soulless institutions. In such times when the unworthy take power, vice flourishes, unraveling the moral tapestry of the Church and thus her authority in the minds of the faithful. To make matters worse, Peter’s Chair itself was torn asunder, fragmented during the Great Western Schism by those who aligned more with temporal factions and personalities than with divine will. Amidst such turmoil, the seeds of heresy find fertile ground to sprout. To continue reading, subscribe to Catholic Family News