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The Temptation of Mardi Gras

Posted by Eric (February 21, 2012 at 3:17 pm)

From the Vesperal Stichera of Forgiveness SundayToday is Mardi Gras—Fat Tuesday—the day of feasting before Lent begins in the the Western Church. For a Byzantine Catholic, whose Lenten fast began Sunday evening with Forgiveness Vespers, Mardi Gras presents a particular temptation. But not what you might think.

It is not that one is tempted by the indulgence of Mardi Gras going on in the rest of the culture, even among those who do not know that Fat Tuesday is followed Ash Wednesday.

In fact, it is the opposite temptation: the temptation to be like the Pharisee who, in the Byzantine Rite we recalled three weeks ago on the Sunday of the Publican and Pharisee, one of the Weeks of Preparation in advance of the Great Fast: “God, I thank thee that I am not like other men . . . (more…)

Posted in Byzantine, Catholicism, Culture & Society, Faith | 2 Comments »

Why liberal Catholics should vote for McCain

Posted by Eric (September 25, 2008 at 11:16 am)

Pope John Paul IILately some Catholic commentators have been arguing that Catholics either can or should vote for Barack Obama, arguing that he espouses more positions that adhere to Catholic teaching than does John McCain.

That’s debatable to say the least, as is whether Obama can actually deliver on the particular campaign promises attractive to some, mostly liberal, Catholics. But aside from those arguments, there is entirely different calculus by which liberal Catholics would do best to vote for John McCain in 2008.

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Posted in Catholicism, Law & Politics, Pro-Life | 8 Comments »

A Gift of the West

Posted by Eric (October 18, 2006 at 10:02 am)

St Joseph Mary and Jesus

“And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.”—Luke 2:40

Moving in Eastern Christian circles one hears much criticism of Roman Catholicism, almost to a point of disdaining all things Western, but this Saturday I saw a couple of statues at a Roman Catholic church that reminded me of one of the gifts of the West.

The statues were those of Mary and Joseph standing, in accord with tradition, at the left and right of the sanctuary at Sacred Heart Church in Lombard, Illinois, where I attended Mass before speaking to the parish pro-life group. I was seated on the left side of the church and the statue of Mary caught my eye—she holds a broom as the boy Jesus stands at her feet reaching up for her.

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Posted in Byzantine, Catholicism | 12 Comments »

Pontiff, Palaeologan, Persian

Posted by Eric (September 22, 2006 at 1:40 pm)

Byzantine CoinIn all this hubbub over Pope Benedict XVI’s speech at Regensburg, there are a few unanswered questions:

1. Are any of those who have told us the Pope gave a speech attacking Islam, condemning violence by Islamic extremists or condemning any use of violence in furtherance of religion ever going to read it?

Benedict XVI gave a speech about the relationship between reason and culture, and the necessary connection between reason and faith—arguably the overarching theme of his entire career as both an intellectual and a shepherd of souls. He gave reference to Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaeologus’ dialog with a “learned Persian” about Christianity and Islam because it was relevant—not only to the topic of faith and reason (where Christianity and Islam differ) but to the day (when Christianity stands between the foes of secularism and Islam).

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Posted in Catholicism, Culture & Society | 5 Comments »

Check Your Mind at the Door

Posted by Eric (May 9, 2006 at 1:18 pm)

The BrainYou’ve heard it a thousand times before: the Church demands that you “check your mind at the door.”

The first thing that’s wrong with this phrase, and which reveals the mind set of those who employ it, is the very idea that going in or out a door has anything to do with religious faith.

Yes, I realize this is a metaphorical door, but even so it must be a metaphor for something—for the line between the religious aspect of one’s life and all the rest, all that which hasn’t anything to do with religious faith.

If you’re drawing lines like that, you’ve already checked your mind at some other door, possibly your bedroom door—you were already handicapped before you made it to the kitchen.

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Posted in Catholicism, Culture & Society | 2 Comments »
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