Tag Archives: The Catholic Thing

Beyond The Lockdown

By Russell Shaw Sunday, June 7, 2020

GEORGE DUNLAP, JUNE 7, 2020. Return To Normalcy is not a successful course to follow…….we are failing to excite our children about our Catholic Faith and love of God. We are losing our children to ……..our Catholic weddings are down, our Catholic schools are decaying, our attendance at mass is evaporating weekly, We can not Return to the Old “Normal”, we must pray and take action for the Godly New Normal. We must pray and come together as faithful Catholic families must. Russell Shaw’s post today says it all. Please find the time to digest this powerful post. God Bless our children and their families.

As the Church in America emerges from lockdown, blinking and a bit unsteady on its feet, there are two familiar sayings to which Catholics emphatically should not turn for guidance on what to do next. They are: “Return to normalcy” and “The more things change, the more they are the same.

” Besides being the slogan of Warren Harding’s 1920 presidential campaign, the problem with “Return to normalcy” lies in its unspoken assumption that the condition of the Church before the lockdown is worth getting back to. Clearly it isn’t.

The cynical “the more things change” isn’t acceptable either because of its world-weary assumption that improving the state of American Catholicism is out of the question. Difficult, yes. Out of the question – pray God it’s not.

But, someone might ask, why this haste to rule out returning to how things were before the lockdown? The answer is simple: going back to the way things were in the not-so-distant past would mean returning to an ecclesiastical ethos of steady, debilitating decline.

You don’t think so? Consider the numbers (source: the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate). Between 1970 and 2018, annual figures for Catholic marriages in the United States fell from 426,309 to 143,087; infant baptisms from 1.089 million to 615,119; students in Catholic elementary and secondary schools from 4.4 million to 1.8 million; and elementary and secondary school students in parish religious education from 5.5 million to 2.9 million.

The number of diocesan and religious priests dropped from 59,192 to 36,580; religious sisters from 160,931 to 44,117; and the rate of weekly Mass attendance from 54.9 percent to 21.1 percent. One of the few categories with a significant upward trend was “former Catholic adults,” who increased from 3.5 million in 1970 to 26.1 million two years ago.

Here it may be objected that at least the Church in the United States is better off than the Church in most places in Western Europe and Canada. But this is rather like saying somebody with one broken leg is better off than somebody with two broken legs: it’s true, but it isn’t helpful. And it sheds no useful light on what either party needs to do to recover.

Whatever else it may or may not have done, the coronavirus crisis is an invitation to us to think big about the future of our Church. If we make good use of this opportunity, what we’ve lately been through might even turn out to have been at least somewhat for the good. *

My immediate practical suggestion, therefore, is that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) create a blue-ribbon commission to study the impact of the lockdown on the Church in America and make recommendations for the future. Among the things to be examined are these:

  • How did being cut off from most usual exercises of priestly ministry affect priests’ attitudes toward their priesthood?
  • How did being without the Eucharist and other sacraments for so long impact the laity?
  • When the lockdown ended, did attendance at weekly Mass return to what it had been, rise dramatically and remain high, or decline?
  • Cut off from most ordinary sources of income, what alternative sources did dioceses, parishes, schools, and other institutions find to stay afloat (supposing, that is, they managed to do that)?
  • What practical conclusions about using the media can be drawn from the apparent popularity of televised and live-streamed Masses while the churches were closed?
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NONE WAS EQUAL TO THE WEIGHT BUT GOD

George Dunlap, April 10,2020. Today, Good Friday, is the Crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ, today we learn that our journey by way of the cross is full of, sorrow, pain, grief, death, and hope with beauty. But we know that on Easter we, with redemption, all can choose life with God.

By St. John Henry Newman Friday, April 10, 2020

He had, my dear brethren, to bear the weight of sin; He had to bear your sins; He had to bear the sins of the whole world. Sin is an easy thing to us; we think little of it; we do not understand how the Creator can think much of it; we cannot bring our imagination to believe that it deserves retribution, and, when even in this world punishments follow upon it, we explain them away or turn our minds from them.

But consider what sin is in itself; it is rebellion against God; it is a traitor’s act who aims at the overthrow and death of His sovereign; it is that, if I may use a strong expression, which, could the Divine Governor of the world cease to be, would be sufficient to bring it about.

*Image: The Crucifixion by Francisco de Zurbarán, 1627 [Art Institute of Chicago]. The canvas was painted for the monastery of San Pablo el Real in Seville, Spain. Zurbarán portrays the Lord “suspended outside of time and place.”

Sin is the mortal enemy of the All-holy, so that He and it cannot be together; and as the All-holy drives it from His presence into the outer darkness, so, if God could be less than God, it is sin that would have power to make Him less. And here observe, my brethren, that when once Almighty Love, by taking flesh, entered this created system, and submitted Himself to its laws, then forthwith this antagonist of good and truth, taking advantage of the opportunity, flew at that flesh which He had taken, and fixed on it, and was its death.

The envy of the Pharisees, the treachery of Judas, and the madness of the people, were but the instrument or the expression of the enmity which sin felt towards Eternal Purity as soon as, in infinite mercy towards men, He put Himself within its reach. Sin could not touch His Divine Majesty; but it could assail Him in that way in which He allowed Himself to be assailed, that is, through the medium of His humanity. And in the issue, in the death of God incarnate, you are but taught, my brethren, what sin is in itself, and what it was which then was falling, in its hour and in its strength, upon His human nature, when He allowed that nature to be so filled with horror and dismay at the very anticipation.

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PALM SUNDAY WITHOUT PALMS

George “Thomas” Dunlap, 4/5/2020. Last week I turned 65, since I was a child, my family would return from Church on Palm Sunday, I would always have a palm in my hand, always, and now nothing. I believe in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. I now understand, having full and complete acceptance in our Lord without having to feel his wounds. I am learning how to accept without doubt, learning daily now, full belief in our God. AMEN. David G Bonaguar, JR, explains it best see below.

By David G Bonagura, Jr. Sunday, April 5, 2020

Today, in countless Catholic churches the world over, palms will not be given to the faithful. Many of us will watch piously on our TV screens as priests begin by blessing the palm branches in an action that makes this Mass so distinct, so memorable, and, normally, so tactile.

But not this year. We will not be present to receive our palms, to hold them as the Gospel of Jesus’ triumphal ascent into Jerusalem is read, to make crosses out of them, to thread them through our crucifixes upon returning home. It is a Palm Sunday without palms.

The annual commemoration of our Lord’s passion is not meant to be melancholic. Catholics rightly celebrate the events of Holy Week, knowing that the sorrowful passion is the means of our more glorious redemption. And so we begin Mass on this day with a note of triumph: “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, the king of Israel. Hosanna in the highest!”

This year, however, our joy is tempered, with the Coronavirus keeping us from reliving these mysteries, as we ought. Ours is an historical religion, and it is through the Holy Week liturgies, above all, that we are mystically transported to the very moments that changed the world – and each of our lives – forever. Now we have to relive our history with our senses and souls deprived of the accessories: smells, sights, and even physical presence at the liturgical celebrations themselves.

Instead, we will find our historical anchor in something that transcends the senses: the deprivation the disciples felt between the passion and the resurrection.

Normally, receiving palm branches is the first act of our paschal celebration, and it points ahead to the end of the story a week hence. Christ enters Jerusalem today hailed by all as the king of the Jews. The palms, explains the liturgist Fr. Pius Parsch, are “symbols of our loyalty to Him and of our willingness to do Him homage.”

Entry of Christ into Jerusalem by Pietro Di Giovanni D’Ambrogio, c. 1440 [Pinacoteca Stuard, Parma, Italy]

* This procession was one of the few times in His life that our Lord accepted public honors. He only did so on His own terms, upsetting all our expectations of what we think a king should be. He received gold, the symbol of kingly power, only as a helpless infant. Now, as a man who has manifested unimaginable power, He chooses the meekness prophesized by Zechariah, repeated in today’s Mass: “Tell the daughter of Zion: Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on an ass, and on a colt, the foal of an ass.” (Matthew 21:5)

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The Virus – and Other Moral Hazards

George Dunlap, March 24, 2020. Back to my earlier post on March 19, 2020, Finding Balance. Do we as Catholics really ever choose to engage or are we just arm chair prayer soldiers, we are standing by as our nation kills the unborn. We are also moving to killing Grand Ma & Grand Pa by mindless acceptance of euthanasia, no one whats to care for the Old Folks….and someday they may not want to care for you or me.

Time for Tea and Crumpets is over. We must engage evil; with Gods son Jesus Christ as our one true Shepherd.

The below essay by Hadley Arkes compares our desire to save lives, only the ones present, not the unseen gifts, from God, the children. I pray ,one day, soon we all understand that by our in-action we are no different than those doing the killing.

Hadley Arkes Tuesday, March 24, 2020

I count myself as one of those votaries, working in the vineyard of natural law, who does not find his work among “theories.”  I am drawn, with others of my club, to those precepts of “common sense” that ordinary people routinely do grasp in order to get on with the business of life – the things they need to know before they are capable of trafficking in theories.  Before anyone engages in banter with David Hume about the meaning of “causation,” he knows – even without realizing that he knows – his own active powers to cause his own acts to happen.

British philosopher John Finnis would point up in this vein the many ways in which people weave into their acts every day an anchoring premise about the goodness of preserving human life.  In Finnis’s examples, we look both ways from the curb before we cross the street; we hold drives to rescue people from famine in distant countries. We have not yet exactly constituted a hospital or emergency service built on the premise that the main mission in dealing with an injured person is to dispatch him to his death more quickly in order to relieve his family of hard decisions. With an assumption they never think to question, these services take their mission as the saving of lives.

*Image: Danse Macabre by Michael Wolgemut, 1493 [Duchess Anna Amalia Library, Weimar, Germany]
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FEMINISM’S UNEXPECTED CURE, WITH A LITTLE SUPPORT… FROM THEIR HUSBANDS

BY: George Dunlap, March 11, 2020, We as Catholic Men must sign-on to support, Carrie Gress’s article, with our wives and daughters in this re-birth of our Christian obligation to family and faith. Let us all join in on the rebirth of our family in Christ.

Feminism’s Unexpected Cure

By Carrie Gress Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Five decades ago, radical feminist Kate Millett and her eleven friends in New York City recited a type of litany, a feminist manifesto of sorts, that has proven to be remarkably effective:

“Why are we here today?” the chairwoman asked.

“To make revolution,” they answered.

“What kind of revolution?”

“The Cultural Revolution.”

“And how do we make Cultural Revolution?”

“By destroying the American family!”

“How do we destroy the family?”

“By destroying the American Patriarch.”

“And how do we destroy the American Patriarch?”

“By taking away his power!”

“How do we do that?”

“By destroying monogamy!”

“How can we destroy monogamy?”

“By promoting promiscuity, eroticism, prostitution, abortion, and homosexuality!”

I’ve always been struck by the last line. Did those 12 women ever dream that their tiny effort would be so wildly successful? We witness their success daily, from half-time shows to celebrities insisting their careers and awards are more important than their children, from royal tantrums even to the tragic gender confusion foisted upon children.

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True Beauty – The Apostles Creed Sung by Rebecca Gorzynska

George Dunlap, January 23, 2020, Morning musings; while enjoying a cup of hot coffee on a cold and damp morning.

As I read the morning Catholic and secular news blogs, I read of wars and sadness. Many times I endure, past those stories, and at times I am greatly saddened by the pain man inflects on his brothers. But today, I am blessed with Hope and Beauty. Please enjoy The Apostles Creed as sung by Rebecca Gorzynska. This is Beauty and Joy.

Have a Blessed Day.

Please join your brothers for faith and fellow-ship, for a weekly journey with TMIY, every Saturday @ 6:30 AM, Iron-Sharpens-Iron.

Don’t just defend the fort. Attack!

I continue to use my go to phrase, about Catholic’s engaging evil, Edmund Burke paraphrased, “Always remember, that the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” Remember…the Catholic Faith is a fighting faith. Fighting to help those who are lost see the light of God. George Dunlap, December 16, 2019

By Phil Lawler (bioarticlesemail) | Dec 13, 2019

“Catholicism, by which I mean real Catholicism, is a fighting faith,” writes David Carlin for The Catholic Thing. To which I would add that Catholicism is, or should be, an offensive rather than a defensive force. As followers of Christ we are not charged with preserving our own position. The Great Commission requires us to move always forward, capturing new ground (or rather more souls). Church history shows that when the Church is not actively engaged in the work of evangelization—when we are preoccupied by the effort to ward off threats, as unfortunately we are today—the faith suffers. We are, as a faith, much better at offense than defense.

Nevertheless I admire Carlin’s essay, “How Not to Defend a Castle,” because he correctly identifies the specific challenge that the Church confronts today. We are not, as a rule, fighting against Christological heresies. When a new acquaintance tells you that he was raised as a Catholic but drifted away, because “I had some troubles with what the Church teaches,” you don’t immediately suspect that he is a monophysite. No, the odds are overwhelming that he could not reconcile himself to one or more of the Church’s teachings on sexual morality.

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Dismas and His Opposites

BY: George Dunlap, November 24, 2019,

I find Fr. Scalia’s writings to be very current and to the point. My failure is, that I do not live my faith in public, but in private…in hiding. I must show the world my faith with humility and passion. I pray I do not live my life like “the rulers”…waiting for a leader, riding in on a warhorse…imposing his Kingdom over the sinners.

By Fr. Paul D. Scalia Sunday, November 24, 2019

*Image: The Soul of the Good Thief (L’âme du bon Larron) by James J. Tissot, c.1890 [Brooklyn Museum]

Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. These words of Saint Dismas, the Good Thief, saved in his last hours on a cross, resound as a perfect acknowledgment of Christ as King. Their power becomes more evident when contrasted with the words of others at that moment. At Calvary, there are three other reactions to the Crucified One. They come from Dismas’s opposites and reveal the attitudes that always oppose Christ the King.

First, the rulers. [They] sneered at Jesus and said, “He saved others, let him save himself if he is the chosen one, the Christ of God.” These are not pagans or unbelievers but Israel’s own religious leaders. These are the men who awaited their King, anticipated His coming, and desired His rule. But, as comes to be clear, they did so on their own terms. Jesus of Nazareth did not meet their requirements for kingship. He comes not on a warhorse to impose a kingdom, but humble, and mounted on an ass. (Mt 21:5) He comes not to judge but to seek and to save what was lost (Lk 19:10), to call not the righteous but sinners. (cf. Lk 5:32)

Second, the Roman soldiers. [They] jeered at him. As they approached to offer him wine they called out, “If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.” The great genius of the Romans was that they tolerated the religion of their subjects. Of course, that tolerance was cynical and lasted only as long as the people kept the gods in the proper place and their religion to themselves. Faith was tolerable only when kept private or confined to certain areas and spheres of life. It became intolerable when it made public claims. For Him to be executed, Jesus had to be presented as a political threat to Roman rule. Religion must be kept in its place.

Third, the bad thief: [O]ne of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us.” You would think that he would remain silent, if only to hedge his bets against impending judgment. But he is unrepentant. In the midst of his suffering, he lashes out at God rather than acknowledge his sins and ask forgiveness. Even in his agony, he prefers his own will to that of Christ the King.

These reactions do not remain solely in the past. We see them throughout history – in every rejection of revelation, persecution of the faithful, and refusal to repent. More to the point, they continue in us. Each rejection of Christ the King can be found, at one time or another, within us. * We at times resemble Israel’s religious leaders: we want God, but on our own terms. We long for His coming and cry out for His help. . . but then resent His intrusion and the challenges He presents. We want a king, to be sure. In fact, we know exactly how he should behave.

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Intimations of Immortality in the Americas

By Robert Royal Monday, November 18, 2019

Intimations of eternity are rare in this life. I had one, about this time of the year, when I was in high school. I’m enough of a modern man to know how unreal the claim seems. But it’s true. I was walking with a few friends under autumn leaves. We’d just been reading Virgil together in Latin, during last period. From somewhere, there welled up in me an overwhelming sense of both geologic ages and the immense extent of human life. And something beyond even those. Years later, I came upon an Italian poem – L’infinito – that captures the experience. I had a similar experience this past Saturday morning. Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco celebrated an Extraordinary Form Latin “Mass of the Americas” at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, accompanied by the music of Frank La Rocca, whom the archbishop had commissioned for that purpose. You can watch it by clicking here. But listening to the recording and even watching the video can’t even begin to convey what the Mass was like in the Basilica. To underscore just one element, Archbishop Cordileone celebrated the Mass on the main altar under the baldacchino, way at the back of the church (instead of the new altar closer to the congregation). That had a marvelous effect. At least for me.

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From “Home-Alone America” to “Primal Screams”: in 15 Years or Less

George Dunlap, August 29, 2019: I have followed Mary Eberstadt’s writings for several years. First starting with her book Adam and Eve after the Pill. She is a Catholic writer with great depth and passion. Her understanding of human nature and God have helped me understand our “Fallen Nature” and our need for Redemption. I trust if you take the time and patience you too will find Mary’s work a blessing.

Mary Eberstadt Wednesday, August 28, 2019

This week, Templeton Press is releasing my new book, Primal Screams: How the Sexual Revolution Created Identity Politics. Because the Faith and Reason Institute is my happy professional home, I’d like to set aside standard book promo, and instead share with TCT’s readers some of the backstory for this new volume.

Seen one way, the work leading up to this book began with a wisecrack. In the 1980s, right after graduating from college with majors in philosophy and government, I was hired as an assistant editor at The Public Interest magazine in New York. Its fabled editor was Irving Kristol, a formidable intellectual and wit with a first-rate, small-“c,” catholic mind. (He was also something of an imp – as his self-description of “neo-orthodox, non-observant Jew” might suggest.)

One day, as we were all sitting in the tiny smoke-filled office on East 53rd Street, Irving looked up from his newspaper and remarked, “One of the funniest things about the twentieth century is that if you were to read all of its documents and ask which one was the most prophetic about the world to come, it would be Humanae Vitae.”

The thought was unexpected and contrarian, as Irving’s bon mots usually were. The staff, myself included, duly laughed. But that heretical notion stuck. This was the first time I remember thinking that there might be something to the argument that the sexual revolution was upending the world – and that it wasn’t only the Catholic Church that could see it.

That small epiphany would go on to play a part in some of my work. My first book, Home-Alone America (2004), looked at the record of rising post-revolutionary damage in places that sociologists and others had been measuring for years – mainly, the ravaged home and its attendant problems, especially among children.

Adam and Eve after the Pill (2012) widened the lens to examine the revolution’s apparent effects on men, women, and the change in mores. Both books invoked evidence from across the cultural spectrum, including literature, popular culture, sociology, and first-hand reports from therapists and others on the front lines. These books also documented disturbing trends that would not become common knowledge until recently, such as rising rates of psychiatric trouble among the young.

The growing empirical record was greatly at odds with the dominant cultural insistence on the purported benefits of post-1960s liberation. How the West Really Lost God (2013) took the next logical step of examining the relationship between the new sexual order and the churches. Secularization, it concluded, has been widely misunderstood. It is not inevitable. History shows instead that religiosity waxes and wanes over time. It is as robust – or as weak – as the force through which it is largely transmitted: the family.

My new book, Primal Screams, is a capstone of sorts to these previous efforts. It examines the legacy of post-1960s change at one more macrocosmic level: politics. Primal Screams argues in part that the signature political movement of our time – identity politics – is rooted in the post-revolutionary erasure of self, brought on by the shrinkage and implosion of the family.

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