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JUNE 2005

• Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger: Man for the Job | Dr. James Hitchcock | Why Ratzinger is one of the few Western Europeans prepared to lead the Church today.

• Was Pope John Paul II Anti-Woman? | Mary Beth Bonacci | "If you don't know the answer to this one," states Bonacci, "you don't know JPII"

• Philosopher of Virtue | Josef Pieper (1904-1997) | A intro to a great Catholic thinker whose work deserves a wide and appreciative readership.

• The Measure of Literary Giants | An Interview with Joseph Pearce | The noted British author and biographer talks about books, movies, beauty, and culture.

• C.S. Lewis' Case for Christianity | An Interview with Richard Purtill | Gord Wilson | Interview with an author who has written books on C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and others.

• IgnatiusInsight.com Interview with Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum | Valerie Schmalz. Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Rick Santorum is up for re-election in November, 2006. IgnatiusInsight.com recently interviewed Sen. Santorum by phone and spoke to him about the death of Terri Schiavo, the politicization of the courts, his support of Sen. Arlen Specter, and his beliefs about faith, family, and life.

• Public Attacks on "Personal Beliefs" | Carl E. Olson. There exists a disturbing and increasingly popular notion that a person's "personal beliefs" shouldn't affect their public stances or actions. But is it possible to truly believe something personally (which is often understood to mean "privately") and then set it aside when making public decisions?

• The Vocation of a Catholic Journalist: An Interview with Philip F. Lawler | The Editor of Catholic World News and Catholic World Report talks about why he chose a career in journalism, how he approaches his journalistic work, and how that approach and work differs from that found in secular journalism. He also identifies two key issues that he thinks will dominate the news in the years to come.

• The Problem of Life's Purpose": An excerpt from A Map of Life | Frank Sheed. Sheed was one of the finest lay theologians and apologists of the past century, and he wrote clearly and incisively about the big questions: What is man? Why does he exist? What is the meaning of life? Who is God? What does He desire of man? These and related questions are broached in this selection from the mini-classic, A Map of Life.

• Passing Thoughts on Billy Graham | Carl E. Olson. Last week marked what might have been the final Billy Graham Crusade, a three-day event in New York City. Being a former Evangelical Protestant who watched many Billy Graham Crusades on television while growing up (and who finally attended one in person in 1992), I thought I'd share a few thoughts about Graham and his lifelong work of proclaiming Jesus Christ to the world.

• Reflections On Saying Mass (And Saying It Correctly) | Fr. James V. Schall, S.J. Why is Mass so often an occasion of frustration, disctraction, and confusion? Why do some priests take it upon themselves to tinker with the rubrics? What's a person to do about liturgical abuses? Fr. Schall ponders these and other pressing questions and offers some suggestions about what can and should be done about messy, miserable Masses.

• How To Read The Bible | Peter Kreeft. An excerpt from You Can Understand The Bible: A Practical and Illuminating Guide to Each Book in The Bible. In this introductory chapter to his newly published guide to the Bible, Dr. Kreeft explains why reading the Bible is so important, why the Bible is unique, and four things the Bible can give readers. He also provides ten concrete, basic tips for reading the Bible profitably.

• Catholic Commencements: A Time for Truth to Be Honored | James V. Schall, S.J. The tradition of commencement speakers at colleges and universities is an age-old and laudable one. It is a mutual relationship. The school awards someone with an honorary degree because of an outstanding intellectual, social, religious, artistic, or political accomplishment. Who is chosen to be honored makes a statement about what the school upholds. So what sort of statements are some Catholic schools making this year?

• "God and Woman": An excerpt from Woman In The Church | By Rev. Louis Bouyer. "The mystery of woman, precisely because it is the mystery of creation redeemed, completed and espoused by God himself, presupposes the mystery of God and cannot be understood without reference to him." So states one of the great theologians of the twentieth-century, Rev. Louis Bouyer, in this excerpt from one of the first books published by Ignatius Press, Woman In The Church.

• Passing Thoughts on Billy Graham | Carl E. Olson. Last week marked what might have been the final Billy Graham Crusade, a three-day event in New York City. Being a former Evangelical Protestant who watched many Billy Graham Crusades on television while growing up (and who finally attended one in person in 1992), I thought I'd share a few thoughts about Graham and his lifelong work of proclaiming Jesus Christ to the world.

• Socrates Meets Sartre: In Hell? | Peter Kreeft | An excerpt from Socrates Meets Sartre: The Father of Philosophy Cross-Examines the Founder of Existentialism. Dr. Kreeft, professor of philosophy at Boston College, provides an engaging, unique, and often humorous introduction to key philosophers in his series of "Socrates Meets..." books. In the most recent title in the series, the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates meets the modern French atheist Sartre - and the intellectual sparks start to fly!

• A Welcome Obituary: Assisted Suicide Dies in California | Valerie Schmalz. An aggressive attempt to make assisted suicide the law in California is down for the count for this state legislative session and a key strategist predicts it may well founder even if proponents bring it to the voters in an initiative. This was one of the strongest attempts to legalize assisted suicide this year and its apparent defeat heartened Catholics, disability rights activists, and advocates for poor and uninsured people.

• Peanuts and Thomists | Raymond Dennehy. One of the Jesuits who taught me undergraduate philosophy insisted that the author of the "Peanuts" comic strip, Charles Schultz, was a Thomist. I don't recall what reasons he gave for this pronouncement and, in any case, I never got around to asking him about it. Still over the years the question has visited me more than once. What is Thomistic about Linus, Lucy, Charlie Brown, and Snoopy? Was it the kinds of things they did or said? By utterance or action did they imply a philosophy of moderate realism? A natural law ethics? Did the strip's plots presuppose final causality?

MAY 2005

• Cardinal Ratzinger on Liturgical Music | Michael J. Miller. Being an intellectual does not disqualify one from commenting upon either music or liturgy, provided one recognizes the limits of rational discourse. As Cardinal Ratzinger himself put it, theologians "cannot enter into musical discussions per se, but they can nonetheless ask where the seams are, so to speak, that link faith and art."

• Foreword to U.M. Lang's Turning Towards the Lord: Orientation in Liturgical Prayer | By Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. "To the ordinary churchgoer," writes the man who is now Pope Benedict XVI, "the two most obvious effects of the liturgical reform of the Second Vatican Council seem to be the disappearance of Latin and the turning of the altars towards the people. Those who read the relevant texts will be astonished to learn that neither is in fact found in the decrees of the Council." He then states, "There is nothing in the Council text about turning altars towards the people; that point is raised only in postconciliar instructions." So begins the foreword to an important and timely book, Turning Towards the Lord: Orientation in Liturgical Prayer.

• The Liberating Truth of Catholic Teaching on Sexual Morality | William E. May. "No unwanted child ought ever to be born" is the slogan of proponents of contraception and abortion. "No human being ought ever to be unwanted" is the truth proclaimed by the Catholic Church in the name of Jesus Christ. The only way to shape human choices and human actions - and through them human persons and human societies - so that human beings will be wanted as they ought to be wanted is by ordering them in accordance with true and objective norms.

• The Pope and the Monsignor | An Interview with Monsignor Michael R. Schmitz | Monsignor Michael R. Schmitz was ordained by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in 1982. As a German who has had significant contact with Pope Benedict XVI, IgnatiusInsight.com asked Msgr. Schmitz his opinion of the effect of our new pope on Germany. For Germany, we wondered, will this be a time of hope and renewal of faith? What can be expected from Benedict XVI?

• What in Fact Is Theology? | Pope Benedict XVI/Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. This essay is excerpted from the newly published Pilgrim Fellowship of Faith: The Church as Communion, a collection of selected essays, lectures, letters, and conferences that Cardinal Ratzinger has written in recent years and selected by his former students in honor of his seventy-fifth birthday. In this selection, then-Cardinal Ratzinger addresses the following questions: "Are not scholarly study and external authority mutually exclusive? Can scholarship recognize any authority other than its own insights and perceptions, other than that of argument? Is not a teaching office that tries to set limits for thought in academic study a contradiction in itself?"

• Chesterton and Saint Francis | Joseph Pearce. In this excerpt from his new book, Literary Giants, Literary Catholics, acclaimed biographer Pearce ponders Chesterton's lifelong love for Saint Francis. "Chesterton enjoyed a lifelong friendship with Saint Francis of Assisi," he writes. "As a small boy, long before he had an inkling of the nature of Catholicism, Chesterton was read a story by his parents about a man who gave up all his possessions, even the clothes he was wearing on his back, to follow Christ in holy poverty."

• On Being Neither Liberal nor Conservative | By Fr. James V. Schall, S. J. The division of the world into "liberal" and "conservative" on every topic from politics to our taste in cuisine, clothes, or automobiles is one of the really restricting developments that has ever happened to us. If we are not what is considered popularly a "liberal," then we must, by some convoluted logic, be a "conservative," or vice versa. No third or fourth option is available as is usually the case in the real world. It has to be, we are told, either this way or that.

• Ratzinger on Europe | By James V. Schall, S.J. In this recent Homiletic & Pastoral Review article, Fr. Schall examines Cardinal Ratzinger's view of Europe, especially as he articulated them in May 2004 in a talk titled "Europe: Its Spiritual Foundations of Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow", given in the library of the Italian Senate.

• Rite and Liturgy | Denis Crouan, S.T.D. Today everyone is interested in the liturgy: the number of studies that appear each day is proof of that. But if so many works are being published on the subject, is that not also a sign indicating that the present state of the liturgy poses serious problems? Not long ago Cardinal Ratzinger ventured to speak of a "collapse of the liturgy": indeed, we can say that the liturgy is in ruins or, if you prefer, in an advanced state of dilapidation. So what can be done?

• On Being Catholic American | Joseph A. Varacalli. The author of Bright Promise, Failed Community: Catholics and the American Public Order examines how Catholics ought to analyze their relationship to American society and culture and asks the following questions: "What does American patriotism mean to the serious and devout Catholic?" and "How can American patriotism be apprehended in a manner consistent with the tenets of the Catholic faith?" He then addresses these important questions by presenting a series of twelve propositions and principles for consideration.

• JPII, Why Did We Love You? | By Mary Beth Bonacci. It wasn't about the rules. It was about the love behind the rules. And it was about the man who loved with a Love that can come only from God.

• The Way of Benedict | By Colleen Carroll Campbell. When the 265th Pope emerged on the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica in April to meet his flock face to face, his first words were distinctly Benedictine. "Dear brothers and sisters, after the great Pope John Paul II, the cardinals have elected me - a simple, humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord."

• Why Blog? Catholic Bloggers Post Their Reasons | Valerie Schmalz. In part 3 of a four-part series on Catholic blogging we asked for comments about the contributions, value, and uniqueness of Catholic blogs. In short: why blog? Here are the answers.

• What Blogs Do Catholic Bloggers Read? | By Valerie Schmalz. In part one of her series on Catholic blogs, "Invasion of the Catholic Bloggers," Valerie Schmalz took a look at some of the best-known and most-visited Catholic weblogs. In this second part of the series she asked some Catholic bloggers to talk about the blogs they read - and why they read them.
• Invasion of the Catholic Bloggers | By Valerie Schmalz. The world of Catholic bloggers is a window into contemporary and orthodox Catholic thought that takes Pope John Paul II's call for a new evangelization and turns it into a worldwide discussion of faith, morals, politics, and plain old daily life. So why do bloggers blog and what do they hope to accomplish in cyberspace?

• Evangelizing With Love, Beauty and Reason | An Interview with Joseph Pearce | Acclaimed biographer and author Joseph Pearce was recently interviewed by a Romanian journalist, Robert Lazu. Pearce talks about his recent work, conversion, literature, Chesterton, Tolkien, and the evangelistic power of beauty.

• Mistakes, Yes. Conspiracies, No. | Getting at the true story of the Fourth Crusade | By Vince Ryan. This article from the February 2005 issue of Catholic World Report examines a new book that cuts through some popular misconceptions and provides an accurate accounting for the disasters of the Fourth Crusade.

• Love Alone is Believable: Hans Urs von Balthasar's Apologetics | By Fr. John R. Cihak. Talk of truth is often met with a yawn, and an assertion about what is good is met with a stare of incomprehension. In the malaise of contemporary American life, people do not seem to be moved much by claims of truth or goodness. The Swiss theologian von Balthasar provides a helpful apologetical insight into dealing with this apathy and lack of understanding.

• The Medieval Mary | The Introduction to Mary in the Middle Ages | By Luigi Gambero. In his book Mary and the Fathers of the Church, Fr. Luigi Gambero presented a comprehensive survey of Marian doctrine and devotion during the first eight Christian centuries. His new book, Mary in the Middle Ages continues this journey up to the end of the fifteenth century, surveying the growth of Marian doctrine and devotion during one of the most important eras of Christian history: the Middle Ages.

• Conservative Bishops, Liberal Results | By James Hitchcock. Ten years ago the noted author and longtime professor of history at St. Louis University wrote this frank and telling assessment of the United States bishops, the war on orthodox seminarians, and the roots of both dissension and weak leadership within the Church. How well do his arguments hold up today? You decide.

• The Crisis of Faith | By Father John Hardon, S.J. Nearly ten years ago, the late Fr. Hardon wrote this timely and timeless article about the great crisis of our time.

• Relativism 101: A Brief, Objective Guide | By Carl E. Olson. It is, according to Pope Benedict XVI, "the most profound difficulty of our time." Pope John Paul II said it is a leading cause for lack of evangelistic and missionary zeal. And the late Allan Bloom, author of the controversial bestseller, The Closing of the American Mind, said it is the only thing that many university students believe in. So what is this crazy little thing called "relativism"?

• Is Heresy Heretical? | By James V. Schall, S.J. It used to be that heretics were, well, heretics. But today the only popularly acknowledged public "heretics" are those who think that there is such a thing as truth and that we can come close to explaining what it is. The only "heretics," in other words, are the orthodox who think that truth is the truth in all ages and is the basis of our freedom.

APRIL 2005

• The Ministry and Life of Priests | By Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. "The priest's function, finally, is very simple: to be a voice for the Word, 'He must increase and I must decrease.'" So wrote then-Cardinal Ratzinger in 1997 in this thoughtful and engaging essay on the nature and identity of the priesthood.

• Worshipping at the Feet of the Lord: Pope Benedict XVI and the Liturgy | By Anthony E. Clark, Ph.D. Pope Benedict XVI's first Mass as pope in the Sistine Chapel provided an insight into our new Holy Father's liturgical vision, one which may bring young Catholics closer to the perennial traditions of the Church and heal the rifts between those attached to the Tridentine Mass and those accustomed to the Mass of Paul VI.

• A Question Of Fairness | A review of John Allen Jr's biography of Cardinal Ratzinger By Reverend Vincent Twomey, S.V.D. The book, Cardinal Ratzinger: The Vatican's Enforcer of the Faith (Continuum, 2000), is a strange mixture, part early biography, part chronicle of some major controversies, and part judgment on Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's performance as "enforcer of the faith" and his chances at becoming future pope. A former student of Cardinal Ratzinger takes a look.

• Reflections on Benedict XVI | An Interview with Fr. Joseph Fessio, SJ | Fr. Fessio, founder of Ignatius Press, was a doctoral student of then Fr. Ratzinger in the early 1970s. In an interview given before flying to Rome on April 21st, Fr. Fessio talks about the real Benedict XVI - the man he has known as mentor and friend for over thirty years.

• Pope Benedict XVI's Rookie Year as a Priest | Before he was Pope Benedict XVI, or even Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, our new pope was a young Bavarian seminarian. In his autobiography, Milestones: Memoirs 1927-1977, Joseph Ratzinger recounts his ordination, his first years as a parish priest, and then completing his doctorate while teaching at the seminary.

• Suppose We Had a "Liberal" Pope | By James V. Schall, S. J. From various sources, here and abroad, I have heard that not a few are "disappointed" at the election of Pope Benedict XVI. When we examine what they are "disappointed" about, we find that it is about "moral" things. Upon examination, what we find is that the essence of such objections is that the Church is wrong about many fundamental issues.

• Novelist of the Last Days | An Interview with Michael O'Brien | Ignatius Press recently published Michael O'Brien's Sophia House, the sixth novel in the acclaimed "Children of the Last Days" series. It is a prequel to the best-selling and acclaimed Father Elijah. IgnatiusInsight.com spoke to O'Brien about his new novel, the series, and the worlds of literature and art.

• What's the Point of Cokie's "Catholicism"? | By Carl E. Olson | April 27, 2005

• NBC's "Dateline" Pretends to Crack The Da Vinci Code | By Carl E. Olson | April 14, 2005

• Seminarian recounts experience at installation of Benedict XVI | By Joseph Previtali. American seminarian Joseph Previtali reports what he saw and experienced at the installation of Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday, April 24th.

• Discovering the New Faithful | An interview with Colleen Carroll Campbell The author of the acclaimed and controversial book, The New Faithful: Why Young Adults Are Embracing Christian Orthodoxy (Loyola Press, 2002), talks with IgnatiusInsight.com about the robust reality of orthodox belief among young people, its impact on the public and political realms, and what it means for the future.

• Suppose We Had a "Liberal" Pope | By James V. Schall, S. J. From various sources, here and abroad, I have heard that not a few are "disappointed" at the election of Pope Benedict XVI. When we examine what they are "disappointed" about, we find that it is about "moral" things. Upon examination, what we find is that the essence of such objections is that the Church is wrong about many fundamental issues.

• My Friend, Benedict XVI | An Interview with Fr. Joseph Fessio, SJ | Fr. Fessio, founder of Ignatius Press, was a doctoral student of then Fr. Ratzinger in the early 1970s. In an interview given before flying to Rome on April 21st, Fr. Fessio talks about the real Benedict XVI - the man he has known as mentor and friend for over thirty years.

• Confronting Modern Culture; Asserting the Gospel | By Dr. James Hitchcock. The election of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as pope, although often predicted, came as a surprise, particularly because of the speed with which the cardinals reached their decision. Conventional wisdom considered him "controversial", which was thought sufficient to prevent his election.

• Rating Possible Popes: The Ratzinger Factor | By Mark Brumley. Everybody is doing it. Predictions or at least possibilities regarding the next pope appear everywhere in the media.  Enjoy it while it lasts--which won't be long. Chances are, a week from now we'll know.

• On the Papacy, John Paul II, and the Nature of the Church | By Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. In these excerpts from the acclaimed God and the World: A Conversation with Peter Seewald, Cardinal Ratzinger provides insights into the office of the papacy, the person of his friend John Paul II, and inner nature of the Church.

• Popes and Prophecy | By Sandra Miesel. When the Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church convene today to elect a new pope, clouds of prophecy will swirl around their deliberations, for popes and prophecy go together like mountains and mist.

• Saint John Paul II? | By Valerie Schmalz. As the cardinals enter the conclave, many wonder if the new pope will heed calls for speedy Church recognition of the sanctity of Pope John Paul II.

• Peter and Succession | By Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. In this excerpt from Called To Communion: Understanding the Church Today, the man some believe may be the next Pope explains the Biblical and theological roots of Petrine succession.

• The Next Pope: Facts to Ponder, Prelates to Watch | Of the 183 total cardinals 117 are eligible to vote in the papal conclave. The successful candidate must receive two-thirds of the votes. These prelates come from 66 different countries. The upcoming conclave will still be the most diverse in the history of the Church, from a geographical perspective. No single country - in fact, no single continent - will command the votes necessary to ensure a candidate’s election. Here are some facts and names to consider as the conclave convenes.

• The Coming Conclave: What to expect from the next papal election | A concise, helpful overview of the conclave of Cardinals and how it is structured and how the next pope will be selected.

• Theologians, Authors Reflect on Pope John Paul II | April 3rd, 2005. Rev. Msgr. Peter J. Elliott, Colleen Carroll Campbell, Dr. Scott Hahn, Joseph Pearce, Dr. Robert P. George, and others reflect on the life and death of the Holy Father.

• On the Death of Pope John Paul II | By Michael O'Brien. Of the myriad phenomenal gifts which God gave (and will continue to give) to the Church and the world through John Paul II, one in particular stands out for me as especially significant for our times: He was a living icon of holy fatherhood.

• A Seminarian at the Papal Funeral | By Joseph Previtali. I was blessed to be able to attend the beautiful funeral of Pope John Paul II in St. Peter's Square. Here is what I saw and experienced.

• The Dignity of the Human Person: Pope John Paul II's Teaching on Divinization in the Trinitarian Encyclicals | By Carl E. Olson. The late Holy Father consistently pointed out that man, in his confused search for identity and meaning, unwittingly proves he does indeed have a purpose and reason for living.

• Church Authority and the Petrine Element | By Hans Urs von Balthasar. Nothing is plainer, nothing is more evident, than that in the Catholic realm the authority exercised in the Church of the Word and Sacrament is both form and content.

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