She begins by noting that love, as the most powerful force in the universe, must be bridled and directed, lest it run wild: “How great a thing is love, how great a force, a tidal wave, a Niagara, which can utterly destroy, or, harnessed, can supply us with light and warmth and indeed life itself.”
All human love must be shaped by reason and grace. Without the grace of God, Dorothy notes, even the love of man and woman — “natural love” in her words — becomes “delectation in temptation.”
Indeed, the need to perfect our loving makes demands on all of us. Whatever a person’s sexual attractions, the call to conversion in this regard is universal.
Yet Day knew she must go deeper.
It’s a peaceful piece that starts at the very beginning. A very fine place to start.
2017 was also a year to talk about women — overwhelmingly, in the last quarter, in terms of
sexual aggressions made against them by powerful men, but throughout the year in terms of leadership and ability.
The Catholic Church had the advantage of centuries of Marian veneration and a liturgical calendar filled with heroic, holy women, and also knew, much like advertisers today, that nothing sells better than a beautiful woman. Women in the Church found a new impetus in the Counter-Reformation, especially in the extraordinary lives of people like St. Teresa of Avila, who reformed the Carmelite religious and wrote powerfully about her experiences, or the extraordinary Vicaress Pernette de Montluel of the Poor Clares, who courageously contested the reformers in Geneva as recorded in Jeanne de Jussie’s The Short Chronicle.
Depictions of women — created by women — flourished in this age, not only as heroines, but also showing women new ways that they could use their unique gifts to spread the Gospel.
Wikipedia | Domena publiczna
Bartolo began attending séances, experimented with drugs, and even got involved in orgies. He lured people away from the Catholic faith, publicly ridiculing the Church of his childhood. Before long, the newly minted lawyer was “ordained” a priest of Satan. As a Satanic bishop intoned blasphemous words, the walls of the room shook and disembodied screams terrified those in attendance.
Before long, Bartolo found himself paranoid and miserable, on the brink of a nervous breakdown. And as he clung to his Satanic practices, his family prayed.
As happened with Augustine, the faithful prayers of Bartolo’s family finally broke down the wall of anger and sin that Bartolo had built around himself. One night, he heard the voice of his dead father crying out to him, “Return to God!”
All of Meg’s pieces are
similarly enthralling. Racism: The sin still stains
It was a sad reality of 2017 that racism continues to be a force in America. As Deacon Greg Kandra wrote in
homily addressing the issue:
As a church, we have been very effective at mobilizing people to pray for an end to one of the great scourges of our time, abortion. … Well, consider this another life issue. Racism is inherently anti-life. It mocks the creator. It defiles his creation. And it inflicts more wounds on the Body of Christ. We need to bring the same kind of energy and zeal that we used to battle abortion—in politics, in prayer, in personal reflection and personal courage—to battle racism.
To begin with, that means zero tolerance.
Or, as Father Fr. John Markoe, S.J. said so memorably,
“Racism is a God-damned thing!” Photo Courtesy of Emily Stimpson Chapman Pondering the problem while on Facebook, Emily Stimpson Chapman drew upon the country’s still-unfinished business on the nation’s “original sin” of slavery. Having recently visited two former plantations that used slaves, Houmas House Plantation and Gardens and Nottoway Plantation, she further fleshed-out her thoughts for us in this piece : On Slavery: A Time for Atonement
Ever since the Charlottesville riots, my husband and I have been wrestling with what happened, trying to understand it and struggling with how to respond. Our weekend in Louisiana only compounded that struggle, helping both of us see with new clarity that in some quarters of our country (and not just the South), the full horror of slavery and its after-effects has been shoved under the rug, like a murderous old uncle everyone wants to pretend doesn’t exist.
Too sad, too right.
Marriage: One flesh, stretched thin
In 2017, Aleteia took a look at a wide variety of
marriage and marital issues, the who-does-what problems, and communications solutions, the weird trend of women (not men) “marrying themselves,” the ever-popular crying bride, and we even featured a story about married saints.
One personal reflection, though, by Tom Hoopes, really spoke to us about the human continuum that abides in marriage, in a most beautiful way. Writing on his daughter’s first wedding anniversary, his own 25th, and his parent’s 50th, he got us thinking about
Paper, silver and gold: The refinery effect of marriage:
Do you know how paper, silver and gold are made? I looked it up.
To make paper, you take raw materials — bits and pieces of rag or wood — and chop them to bits and beat them to a pulp for hours. Throw in some unexpected materials to add interest and beauty. Then soak it, flatten it, squash it and dry it until it’s rough and unkempt but united into one thing that will last.
Then you stretch it thin.
This is how the first year of marriage works, too. You take your strength and your mess, add it to her strength and mess, beat it together with the hard reality of a shared life, use the unexpected to add character, soak it in happy times, flatten it with exhaustion at the end of each week, and mush the two into one thing.
Then you stretch it thin.
Silver is harder to make.
This is a splendid and insightful read. Don’t miss it.
Still haven’t found what they’re looking for? Some have!
Millennials were a focal point of 2017, particularly when it came to stories about so-called
“Vanishing Catholics” of the West, who seem to be more engaged with the culture than with the faith. It’s unsettling, especially as we consider how, in another part of the world, this Iraqi archbishop is trying to save persecuted Christians.
We did feature a piece by one Millennial eager to
share his ideas about how to turn that problem around.
We don’t need the Church to give us access to what is “cool.” We have more access to that than we can consume. We want what is true. We want what is beautiful. We want access to it in consistent terms which we may not understand, but can learn through practice. We want access to meaning that goes beyond what is cool, or what’s trending.
We want what is eternal and if churches can’t give us that — if the Church can’t give us a break from the world because it has assimilated too much of the worldly — then what’s the point?
This is why millennials aren’t in the pews.
Well … why
many aren’t. On the other side of the grille, however … Monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary, Buffalo, NY
We also got the perspective of Millennials — these being three cloistered Dominican nuns — who wished to speak to their generation about
: the counter-cultural, downright radical, life of prayer within the Church
“Think about it this way: Outward conformity to a litany of commands doesn’t make people happy. It is transformation of our spirit that we desire—harmony within ourselves, harmony with each other, harmony with God.” How is that done? How, she puts forward, can we achieve lasting peace with our neighbors, much less friendship with One who is so totally “other”? “The answer is simple: We can’t! God, however, can, and that is what He does, sending His Son and His Spirit to draw us to Himself.
“Religion is thus not a burden but a gift,” the young nun insists …
More here Catholic chart toppers
As 2017 drew to a close, we had the chance to feature some other Dominicans, both the
Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist and some friars out of the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C., who call themselves “Hillbilly Thomists” and allowed us to interview them about their new, highly successful album of bluegrass music. Courtesy of Renewal in Motion Facebook
Earlier, though, we had covered the debut album of another friar, Father Tansi of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal. In
Matt Becklo wrote: Friar on Fire: Fr. Tansi’s debut album is full of grace
It took another brother – Br. Mark-Mary, the man behind CFR’s
“Renewal in Motion” initiative – to connect the dots. … That included reaching out to bassist and Catholic Underground veteran Scott Mulvahill, a full-time member of Ricky Skaggs’s band Kentucky Thunder, to produce Tansi’s album. Mulvahill agreed, and in a matter of weeks, Tansi was on his way to Nashville to record his music. “With the help of Scott and his friends we recorded the album in February 2017 from a Friday to a Sunday…I felt very comfortable leaving Scott with the rest of the work, because I could see that he knew exactly what we were trying to capture with the project.”
He was right.
Garden is a chilled, cozy refuge for the soul, one that stands right alongside the work of other spiritual troubadours like Josh Garrels and Trevor Hall.
Part biography, part album review, Becklo’s piece is a lyrical read.
Father Tansi, the Franciscans and the Dominicans were just some of
the many Catholic musicians who created memorable music carrying messages of faith. Father Rob Galea’s single “Dominoes” was a pop-inflected statement of faith that could hold its own on any radio playlist. Rapper RabelzTheMC bridged the gap between Catholicism and hip-hop, and on the feast of St. Cecilia, we were delighted to bring readers a comprehensive list of The 30 Top Catholic Artists of 2017
And just to make you giddy, a look back on Leonardo da Vinci’s
music machine, which was brought to life after 500 years. When mental illness is the reality
Stories about mental illness and
anxiety gave us pause in 2017. Anxiety is so rampant in society, that we wrote about it a lot, including spiritual anxiety.
But two stories about mental illness really stayed with us this year, because so often, people afflicted with mental illnesses are simply cast aside, their troubles ignored.
Photo Courtesy of Lucia Odom
The first because no one had ever considered
“Catching” a mental illness until this family’s story came up:
As soon as Lucia cracked open the pages of Saving Sammy, she felt like she’d found the missing puzzle piece that had been eluding her for so long: Connor’s OCD might be rooted in a simple strep infection.
The second story is a moving piece (and audio interview) from Tony Rossi, about
A nun who shared a beautiful friendship with a man who suffered with schizophrenia, yet mirrored Jesus’ love for others:
She recalled that one time, Arthur was walking near a bus stop when he spotted a man fumbling around, looking for something. Arthur asked the stranger what was wrong, and he explained that he couldn’t find his Metrocard to get on the bus.
“Arthur took his card out of his pocket,” Sister Ave said, “and [told the stranger], ‘You could have mine.’ The man says, ‘Then what will you do?’ Arthur said, ‘It’ll make me happy.’ The man did take his card, and he told Arthur, ‘You’re a fine gentleman.’”
When Sister Ave asked Arthur what he did the rest of the day, he answered simply, “Oh, I took long walks.”
Be ready to wonder, and to smile, and to die
We started on a fun note, so let’s end on one, as well, by answering the question,
How did these pop-culture gargoyles end up on a medieval Church in France? ollografik | CC BY-ND 2.0
In 1993 the French government hired Jean-Louis Boistel, a stonemason who had worked on many other historic restorations, to restore the church and its 28 gargoyles. Since there was no record of what the chapel looked like other than a few drawings from the 19th century, Boistel was told to use his imagination in creating the stonework creatures.
the pictures! Gargoyles are more than just “ memento mori” which, come to think of it, was another favorite story trend of ours, a focus begun on social media by Sr. Theresa Aletheia Noble, fsp, and which she wrote about about here. She even put together a playlist!
Keep wondering; keep smiling. Life can turn on a dime, so keep up an attitude of gratitude. Good advice as we step into the new year, actually! Happy 2018!