Commentary

Why it matters who Jesus is

I have been reading, with both profit and delight, Thomas Joseph White’s latest book, “The Incarnate Lord: A Thomistic Study in Christology.” Father White, one of the brightest of a new generation of Thomas interpreters, explores a range of topics in this text — the relationship between Jesus’ human and divine natures, whether the Lord experienced the beatific vision, the theological significance of Christ’s cry of anguish on the cross, his descent into hell, etc. — but for the purposes of this article, I want to focus on a theme of particular significance in the theological and catechetical context today.

Evangelizing through the good

Anyone even vaguely acquainted with my work knows that I advocate vigorous argument on behalf of religious truth. I have long called for a revival in what is classically known as apologetics, the defense of the claims of faith against skeptical opponents. And I have repeatedly weighed in against a dumbed-down Catholicism.

Let Lenten change come gently

Up here in the northern half of the planet, where Lent coincides with the end of winter and the onset of spring, the imagery of rebirth and rejuvenation accompanying these natural events carries a powerful message: Shake off spiritual lethargy and be renewed in grace.

Of faith and fish

For Catholics and other Christians who observe meatless Fridays, fish figure prominently, and this makes me (pardon the pun) happy as a clam. But I understand that some people are not as enthusiastic as I am about fish. The smell might be off-putting, the texture "slimy."

Welcoming the stranger

In the Hebrew Scriptures, that part of the bible we call the Old Testament, we find a strong religious challenge to always welcome the stranger, the foreigner. This was emphasized for two reasons: First, because the Jewish people themselves had once been foreigners and immigrants. Their Scriptures kept reminding them not to forget that. Second, they believed that God’s revelation most often comes to us through the stranger, in what’s foreign to us. That belief was integral to their faith.

The older brother’s embittered moralizing

One of the dangers inherent in trying to live out a life of Christian fidelity is that we are prone to become embittered moralizers, older brothers of the prodigal son, angry and jealous at God’s over-generous mercy, bitter because persons who wander and stray can so easily access the heavenly banquet table.

Child poverty and the breakdown of the family

In setting out to confront a problem, it’s necessary to understand its causes in order to apply realistic solutions. Child poverty in America provides a painful illustration of what comes of ignoring that truism.

The age of noise

More than 70 years ago, the English satirist Aldous Huxley wrote that modernity is the “age of noise.” He was writing about the radio, whose noise, he said “penetrates the mind, filling it with a babel of distractions — news items, mutually irrelevant bits of information, blasts of corybantic or sentimental music, continually repeated doses of drama that bring no catharsis.”