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MARCH 2005

• A Perspective From Across the Pond | A Conversation with Dwight Longenecker | Dwight Longenecker is an American who has lived in England for nearly twenty-five years. A former Anglican priest, he and his family entered the Catholic Church in 1995. IgnatiusInsight.com recently spoke with Dwight about Christianity in England and the U.S., the future of the Anglican Church, and his work in evangelization and apologetics.

• A Résumé of My Thought | By Hans Urs von Balthasar. Father Balthasar (1905-88) was a Swiss theologian, considered to be one of the most important Catholic intellectuals and writers of the twentieth century. In this essay, first published in 1988 in Communio, the theological journal he helped found, and later in Hans Urs von Balthasar: His Life and Work, he offers a valuable introduction to his thought and writing.

• Are The Left Behind Books Pro-Catholic? | by Carl E. Olson. John Fea is an assistant professor of history at Messiah College in Grantham, Pa. In a column titled "Finding Common Ground," he comments on the improved relations between Fundamentalists/Evangelicals and Catholics. All well and good - except he makes a mistake in claiming that the Left Behind books (specifically, Tribulation Force, the second book of the series) have a pro-Catholic passage in them.

• Loneliness in the Context of Illness and Dying: A Catholic Perspective | by Helen Alvaré. How should we respond to the darkness of loneliness? Helen Alvaré, associate professor at Catholic University of America's Columbus School of Law, examines the sensation of loneliness and then provides, from the heart of Scripture and tradition, several responses to the sensation of loneliness.

• Easter Delivers Us From Evil | By Carl E. Olson. Easter's joyful festivity is not due to some vague notion of being spiritually refreshed or the result of a community's desire to celebrate its ongoing existence. It is the proclamation that Jesus Christ did truly suffer and die, that He destroyed the power of evil and the Evil One, and that He is now truly risen from the dead.

• Maureen Dowd: Dan Brown is Vatican's ally; Carl Olson: Clever, but unconvincing | One danger of thinking you are clever is that you might not be. New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd excells in overestimating her catty, caustic cleverness. Take, for example, her most recent column, "The Vatican Code," which is filled with all sorts of clever nastiness directed at Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone and his criticisms of The Da Vinci Code.

• The Cross - For Us | By Hans Urs von Balthasar. Whoever removes the Cross and its interpretation by the New Testament from the center, in order to replace it, for example, with the social commitment of Jesus to the oppressed as a new center, no longer stands in continuity with the apostolic faith. He does not see that God's commitment to the world is most absolute precisely at this point across a chasm.

• The Confession of the Saints | By by Adrienne von Speyr. In this excerpt from her classic book Confession, the Swiss convert and mystic Adrienne von Speyr contemplates the sacrament of confession in light of the Cross and the example of several great saints.

• The "It's Just Fiction!" Doctrine: Reading Too Little Into The Da Vinci Code | By Carl E. Olson. The "It's Just Fiction!" Doctrine is a nifty piece of polemical rhetoric coined by numerous fans of The Da Vinci Code. The argument is simple: Dan Brown's best-selling book is "just fiction," so why worry about it, write about it, criticize it, or react negatively to it? Here's why.

• Catholics & Science Fiction | An Interview with Sandra Miesel | The co-author of the best selling The Da Vinci Hoax has written hundreds of articles for the Catholic press, chiefly on history, art, and hagiography. In a fascinating interview, she talks about the literature of fantasy and science fiction and what Catholics should know about it.

• San Fran Judge: "No rational purpose exists for limiting marriage to opposite sex partners." | by Valerie Schmalz. A San Francisco judge's ruling against California's ban on same sex marriage that would elevate marriage to a "human right" drew immediate criticism from the California Catholic Conference and grassroots organizations. What now?

• U.N. Calls For Ban on All Human Cloning | After four years of acrimonious debate, a divided United Nations passed a non-binding resolution that calls on its member nations to ban all human cloning. Will member nations comply?

• Marriage and the Family in Casti Connubii and Humanae Vitae | By Reverend Michael Hull, S.T.D. Reading the signs of their times, Pope Pius XI in Casti connubii (December 31, 1930) and Pope Paul VI in Humanae vitae (July 25, 1968) both address the sanctity of marriage and the family, with special emphasis on the principal threat against them in modern times: artificial birth control. Here's what they said and why they said it.

• Compelled By Faith | An Interview with George Cardinal Pell | IgnatiusInsight.com recently spoke with George Cardinal Pell, Archbishop of Sydney, Australia, about his ideas and his observations about the Catholic Church, the relationship between faith and politics, and the challenge of Islam.

• The Journalist and the Controversial Cardinal | An Interview with Tess Livingstone | Cardinal Pell's life, thought, and work has been masterfully captured by journalist Tess Livingstone in the recently published George Pell: Defender of the Faith Down Under. Livingstone spoke to IgnatiusInsight.com about why she wrote the book, what she learned in writing it, and her thoughts on Catholicism in Australia, Europe, and America.

• Is the Vatican trying to silence The Da Vinci Code? | By Carl E. Olson. When Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Archbishop of Genoa, recently criticized Dan Brown's bestselling novel it sparked cries of "Censorship!" and "Crusade!" But what did Cardinal Bertone really say and why has it upset so many fans of The Da Vinci Code?

• The Priest With The Catholic Response | An Interview with Rev. Peter M. J. Stravinskas. IgnatiusInsight.com recently spoke with noted scholar, author, and apologist Father Stravinskas about his work, his new magazine The Catholic Response, and his passion for apologetics.

• Practicing Chastity in an Unchaste Age: A Bishop's Pastoral Advice | By Bishop Joseph F. Martino. In a thoughtful, caring, and challenging pastoral letter, the Bishop of Scranton, PA, reflects on the call to chastity and holiness and the Church's teachings on sexuality and marriage.

• Is Tolerance Intolerant? | By Dr. James Hitchcock. Liberal secularists have made "tolerance" into the ultimate virtue, so basic to their identities that they think of themselves as not even being capable of prejudice, intolerance as something of which others, especially orthodox religious believers, are guilty. But there is something very odd and disturbing about their program of tolerance.

• The Moral Bankruptcy of "Million Dollar Baby" | by Mary Jane Owen. Some opponents of Clint Eastwood's Academy Award winning movie will attack its neat and fictional "snuff" ending. Owen, founder and national director of Disabled Catholics in Action, is also concerned about the impact the movie's vivid and fabricated choices will have on disabled people seeking to fulfill their God-given potential.

• The Fight for Terri Continues: Articles and Info About the Terri Schiavo Case | A compilation of IgnatiusInsight.com articles written about the battle to save Terri's life.

• Please, Don't Tempt Me! | A Lenten Reflection by Carl E. Olson. The playwright and wit Oscar Wilde once wrote, "I can resist anything except temptation." The humor of the remark is mixed with a sad recognition that we fail so often to resist the temptations that come our way each day and from every direction.

• Forgive, For Eucharist's Sake | A Lenten Reflection by Carl E. Olson. "To err is human, to forgive, divine." This well-known phrase, Monsignor Ronald Knox observed, captures two of the greatest mysteries of the Christian life: "That man, being what he is, can rebel against God; and the doctrine that God, being what he is, can forgive man."

• Our Daily, Everlasting Bread | A Lenten reflection by Carl E. Olson. There is a price for everything; there are no free meals or free rides. One of the great paradoxes of the Christian faith is that God's grace is a free gift, but accepting it costs us everything.

• Catholicism and Buddhism | by By Anthony E. Clark and Carl E. Olson. Today there is a proliferation of resources and retreats dedicated to combining Zen Buddhism and Catholicism, suggesting that the Catholic Church has finally "awakened" from its "outdated" and "exclusivist" ecclesiology. Is Catholicism really "parallel" to Buddhism? Can Catholic doctrine be reconciled with Buddhist beliefs and practices?

• The Blessings & Curses of the Beatitudes | by Mark Brumley. The Beatitudes strike some people more as poetry than theology. Tell them the Beatitudes are more than pleasant thoughts or good wishes, and you'll often lose them. Pious ideals or kind sentiments are fine, but please don't bring theology into it.

• Supernatural Will Power | A Lenten Reflection by Carl E. Olson. We Americans admire people with strong will power. We talk with respect about those special people who have "the will to succeed" and we often hear the optimistic saying: "Where there's a will, there's a way." So what does it mean when we pray, "Thy will be done"?


• Objections, Obstacles, Acceptance: An Interview with J. Budziszewski | During the 1990s, J. Budziszewski rose to prominence as one of the leading intellectual lights among Evangelical Christians in America. For some Evangelical Protestants, then, it came as a jolt when, on Easter Sunday 2004, Budziszewski was received into the Catholic Church.

• The Church and the EU | by Michael S. Rose. An unprecedented vote by a commission of the European parliament underscores the growing conflict between extreme secularism and Christianity in Europe.

• California's Dance with Death | by Valerie Schmalz. Physician-assisted suicide advocates predict California this year will become the second state in the union after Oregon to make it legal for doctors to prescribe lethal drug doses to dying patients.

• Oregon's Suicide Wish: A Cautionary Tale | by Valerie Schmalz. Oregonian and oncologist Kenneth Stevens travels the country urging state lawmakers to vote "No" on physician-assisted suicide even as the body count under Oregon's law nears two hundred people.

• The End Times Are Here! | by Carl E. Olson. "We are living in the end times!" It's the sort of statement you might expect to hear from a televangelist or a street-corner preacher. "The end is near! The last days are upon us!" Such apocalyptic ideas are for Fundamentalists and dooms day watchers. Right? Think again...

• Saint Gianna: A Model For Mothers | by Helen Hitchcock. "A woman of exceptional love, an outstanding wife and mother, she gave witness in her daily life to the demanding values of the Gospel." In his homily on the occasion of her beatification, April 24, 1994, Pope John Paul II proposed Gianna Beretta Molla as a model for all mothers.

• Crusade Myths | by Thomas Madden. "The Crusades." The name conjures up all sorts of bloody and embarrassing images. But are those images based on truth or mythology? A professor of medieval history sets the historical record straight.

• A Hero Goes to His Reward | by Mary Beth Bonacci. One of my heroes died recently. I'd like to tell you about him, and about the impact he had on my life.

• The Truth and the Lie | A homily by Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers. We live in a culture that finds it easier to believe a lie than to live the Truth; that embraces the thirty-second sound-bite as if it were divine revelation and rarely accepts the obligations and responsibilities of faith, lived in the light of truth, goodness and beauty, with all that Jesus demands and expects of us.

• Are Christians Intolerant? | by Michael O'Brien. In this excerpt from A Landscape With Dragons, best-selling novelist and artist O'Brien reflects on what it means to be intolerant and how "the Incarnation was, in fact, an act of colossal intolerance on the part of God."

• Three of My Ignatius Press Favorites | by Carl E. Olson. Over the past few years I've reviewed a number of books, including several Ignatius Press titles (all before working for Ignatius, I should note). Here are reviews of three of my favorite Ignatius Press titles.

• Dean and the Pro-Life Dems | by Valerie Schmalz. The ascension of failed Democratic presidential candidate and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean as chairman of the national party on Saturday, February 12th is now being likened by some to the "Invasion of the Body Snatchers."

• San Francisco Diocesan Paper Blasts Catholic Mayor and City Officials | by Valerie Schmalz. San Francisco's elected officials incited intolerant and potentially dangerous behavior with their intemperate condemnation of the city's first Walk for Life West Coast, the city's archdiocesan newspaper stated in an unusually strong January 28th editorial.<

• Knowing and Sanctifying His Name | by Carl E. Olson. The 1970's rock band The Doors had a popular "love" song with the lyric, "Hello, I love you, won't you tell me your name?" If God had been the lyricist, it would have been far, far better: "Hello, I love you, that's why I told you My name."

• Lent and "Our Father" | by Carl E. Olson. Lent is the perfect time to slow down and contemplate the meaning of the great prayer given to the Church by Jesus Christ.

• Why the Christian Must Deny Himself | by Brother Austin G. Murphy, O.S.B. We still ask ourselves as Ash Wednesday approaches, "What am I doing for Lent? What am I giving up for Lent?" We can be grateful that the customs of giving up something for Lent and abstaining from meat on Fridays during Lent have survived in our secular society. But, unfortunately, it is doubtful that many practice them with understanding.

• Question: Who Is Married? | by Ed Peters. There is a simple solution to the problem of public uncertainty over matrimonial status in the Church. What is required is to recall the values behind certain canons on marriage and annulment, and to bring canonical practice more fully into line with those values.

• "The Good, the Read, and the Unbearable." | by Carl E. Olson. The editor of IgnatiusInsight.com comments on the books, movies, and music of 2004.


Pray the Harvest Master to send chaste laborors | by Rev. Anthony Zimmerman. There is an obvious need for chaste men who discern the call the Lord's call to the vocation of priesthood. But the call to chastity is vital to each and every vocation to which Christ calls his people. "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them" (Eph. 2:10).

"The Mass of Vatican II" | by Father Joseph Fessio, S.J. There is a lot of confusion about what the Second Vatican Council said or didn't say about the liturgy and how the Mass should be celebrated today. Father Fessio, founder of Ignatius Press and Provost of Ave Maria University, helps to make sense of the mess.

A Recap of the "Walk for Life West Coast" | Energized by speakers who proclaimed the right of women and all people to be free of abortion, nearly eight thousand people walked along San Francisco's waterfront in support of women and of life on Saturday, January 22nd.

"No Tolerance in San Francisco for Choosing Life" | by Valerie Schmalz. San Francisco Catholic politicians urge protest by abortion rights supporters of "Walk for Life West Coast".

"Interview with Archbishop Basilios Georges Casmoussa" | On Monday, January 17, 2004, Archbishop Casmoussa, head the Syrian Catholic Archdiocese of Mosul, was kidnapped by suspected terrorists. He was released twenty-four hours later. This is a November 2004 interview with the Archbishop, who talks about the state of Christianity and, in particular, the Catholic Church in post-Saddam Iraq.

"The Attack on Abstinence" | by Mary Beth Bonacci. Abstinence education programs are medically accurate. But they violate the sacred dogma of the sex ed establishment, which states that abstinence doesn't work and that sexual promiscuity isn't a problem.

"Cloning Conflict" and "Cloning Kills ... But Don't Tell Anyone!" | by Valerie Schmalz. Two articles on California's Proposition 71, cloning, and what advocates of cloning aren't telling the public.

"The Ladies of the Ring" | by Sandra Miesel. In an era that doesn't prize traditionally feminine virtues, Tolkien's work stands out for its idealized view of women.

"Have You Heard? The Secret Is Getting Out" | by Mark Brumley. It is a cliché in Catholic circles that the Catholic Church's social teaching is her "best kept secret." Here is why and how the secret needs to get out.

"Quintessence of Dust" | by Dr. Donald De Marco. The image of God is reflected in the mutual self-giving that man and woman express to each other.

"The Real Reason for the Vocation Crisis" | by. Rev. Michael P. Orsi. If bishops are serious about promoting vocations and desirous of maintaining a celibate clergy, the following changes should be made to certain policies affecting the lives of their priests.

"On Tsunamis and Physical Evil" | by Carl E. Olson. What does theology have to say about the horrific loss of life due to natural disasters?

"Lord, Who Are You? The Son of God" | by Jorge Cardinal Medina Estévez. An excerpt from Lord, Who Are You? The Names of Christ, a series of reflections on the many names and titles of Jesus Christ.

"The Consequences of Bad Theology" | by Father By John Navone, S.J. For thirty the Church has witnessed the devastating effects of bad theology. It's time to return to good theology and to articulate it in a way that modern-day men and women can understand.

An interview with Father Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R. Father Groeschel talks about his near-fatal accident, his recovery, the meaning of prayer, and his book, Praying to Our Lord Jesus Christ.

"The Myth of the Wall of Separation" | by Dr. James Hitchcock. There exists a prevalent mythology that the Constitution erected a "wall of separation" between Church and State. Not so.

"The Rapture and the White House" | by Carl E. Olson. Is the Bush administration following a political agenda indebted to premillennial dispensationalism?

"Walk for Life West Coast" | An interview with Eva Muntean, co-organizer of the 2005 Walk for Life West Coast.

"Saving Terri's Life" | by Fr. Robert J. Johansen. A priest recounts his experiences fighting for the life of Terri Schindler-Schiavo.

Anti-Code Publicity on "Geraldo" | by Carl E. Olson. It has been said that any publicity is good publicity. I think that is true - as long as what you are publicizing is worth publicizing.

"The Example of the Saints: Evangelization and Imperialism" | by Carl E. Olson. Is evangelism an imperialist activity? Or is the accusation just another relativistic attack on Christianity?

On Teaching the Important Things | by Fr. James Schall, S.J. Our purpose in life is indeed "not to win arguments", but to be wise. Here's how to learn and to be wise.

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