GetReligion tells us that another miracle, aside from that reported on Matt Lauer's NBC special about Dr. Brantly's recovery from Ebola, is that faith and the "miracle" aspect were fully discussed and never shied away from. Well done, Matt Lauer!
Why the Seal of the Confessional Can't be Broken
I try not to make a habit of wading into swamps, but there’s something going on in Louisiana that should not be ignored.1 The state Supreme Court ruled that, once a penitent has waived confidentiality, what was discussed in the sacrament of confession can be fair game in court. The diocese of Baton Rouge has recently appealed the case to the United States Supreme Court. The case is particularly challenging because the confession in question was made by a girl who was being abused by a parishioner, and it appears from her testimony that the priest did not do anything to help her.Sam Sawyer at The Jesuit Post has an excellent piece about why the seal of the confessional is so important. I've been surprised how much this topic has arisen lately in my life. Understandably, it first came up when Scott Danielson and I at A Good Story is Hard to Find podcast were discussing I Confess. Then my movie viewing group at Caruth Haven has had it pop up a couple of times.
Much of the discussion thus far has been about what Louisiana law requires and whether or not the seal of confession supersedes it. But this misses two important questions — one about what should have happened, and one about why the seal cannot be waived, even by the person who made the confession.
If you haven't considered the topic, Louisiana is making sure that you do. This is important.
Dante's Lessons for Millenials
And then, a year ago, I stumbled into the Divine Comedy by accident. I was going through a deep personal crisis and couldn’t see any way out. One day, browsing in a bookstore, I pulled down a copy of Inferno, the first book of the Commedia trilogy, and began to read the first lines:Rod Dreher's been digging deep into Dante lately and I hear tell he's writing a book. Which I can't wait for, by the way. Having read the Divine Comedy once, I know that's not enough. It didn't hit me the way it did Dreher, but then I've been gobsmacked by Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Jane Austen lately. I'm working my way up to diving beneath the layers in Dante. If Dante doesn't sound like your cuppa tea, read Dreher's piece. Heck, read it anyway. He's good.
Midway along the journey of our life
I woke to find myself in some dark woods,
For I had wandered off from the
(trans. Mark Musa)
Well, yes, I thought, I know what that’s like. Like me, Dante (the character in the poem) was having a midlife crisis. I kept reading and didn’t stop until months later, when I slogged with Dante through Hell, climbed with him up the mountain of Purgatory, and blasted through the heavens to see God in Paradise. All made sense after that pilgrimage, and I found my way back to life. I was, in a physical and spiritual sense, healed.
That’s the testimony of a forty-seven-year-old writer, late to wisdom. What if I had encountered Dante as a young man and taken the lessons the pilgrim learned on his journey to heart back then? Would I have had an easier time staying on the straight path? Perhaps. At least I would have been warned how to avoid the false trails.
Comic Book Superheroes and the Moral Struggle
We all need guardian angels. In fact the Catholic Church teaches that we each have one – a supernatural entity assigned at conception, not to dominate us, but to prevent us being dominated; to defend us against our supernatural enemies, giving us the space to live our human lives in a world that is much bigger and scarier than we think (what the Rangers do for the Shire in The Lord of the Rings). Comic book superheroes and supervillains are the angels and demons of this cosmic spiritual warfare reinvented for the secular imagination, and they resonate with us because on some level we know that we need them. At the same time, they give us something to aspire to (the corresponding Christian doctrine istheosis or divinization by grace). These are not all protectors sent to us from outside – like the boy from Krypton, or Thor – more often they are ordinary human beings (Peter Parker, Bruce Wayne, Tony Stark, Hal Jordan) who by providential accident or brilliant design find themselves possessed of a power beyond the lot of mortals. And “with great power comes great responsibility”, as they quickly learn. These are flawed human beings who have to become heroes, fighting alongside the guardian angels for the right of human beings to live a meaningful life. (“I have come to set them free,” says Loki. “Free from what?” asks Fury. “Freedom,” comes the reply.)Stratford Caldecott, whose name I have come to know lately via my own Tolkien appreciation, wrote a wonderful piece that any lover of pop culture will enjoy. And those who decry pop culture may find hope in his words. Via Steven D. Greydanus.
Cardinal Dolan and the St. Patrick's Day Parade That Won't Go AwayAn excellent piece from The Anchoress which I am sorry to say will probably be wasted on either side which has its mind made up. Another good piece on the topic comes from Pia de Solenni. And if anyone cares what the Cardinal himself has to say, he wrote a column about it for New York Catholic.
Concerning Pope Francis, "Trial Marriages" and Poorly Covered Media RitesMy friend Scott often remarks that when he hears reporting the latest "mold breaking" thing Pope Francis has said or done, then he knows it is time to look for indepth coverage. Because news bytes are inevitably wrong about how the Church works.
Here's an excellent piece from GetReligion which begins with the Catechism of the Catholic Church and then dives into how the news media has been representing Pope Francis' recent remarkable marriage of 20 couples. A follow-up piece, also from GetReligion, looks even further into the event and the heretofore unknown significance.
Your Marriage IS Worth Saving–And YOU Can Save It.
When Divorce is Not an Option: How to Heal Your Marriage and Nurture Everlasting Love is a book for couples who want to know what it takes to get their marriage back on track. Solo spouses canDr. Greg Popcak, who I greatly respect, has a book that sounds as if a lot of couples could benefit from it.
also use the book to heal a marriage even if his or her mate isn’t interested in working on the relationship.