Looking at a Masterpiece: The Assumption of the Virgin Mary

Tiziano Vecellio (c. 1488–1576), known in English as Titian, was probably the greatest Venetian painter, recognized in his time as “‘The Sun Amidst Small Stars’ (recalling the famous final line of Dante’s Paradiso).”1 He painted the huge (22 ½’ x 11 ½’) masterpiece (1515–1518) of Mary’s Assumption for the Basilica of the Franciscan friars, appropriately called the “Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari,” in Venice. This monumental painting is above the high altar in the apse of the gray Gothic stone basilica. One can imagine how in this setting it lights up the whole church with its vivid colors, … Continue reading

The Wisdom of Being a Patient Pilgrim

The phrase “patient pilgrim” is attributed to Blaise Pascal, the great scientist, theologian, and philosopher of seventeenth century France. It was a favorite theme for Simone Weil and implied in the title of her book, Waiting On God. There are enough difficulties, setbacks, problems, and frustrations in life to make any of us angry. The “patient pilgrim,” on the other hand, says, “Don’t be angry, be patient.” Patience, contrary to popular sentiment, is by no means a passive virtue. Much inner strength is required not to become angry in the face of injustice, or when things are not going our … Continue reading


(Chartwell Press, 2013) Am I fulfilling my duties as a member of the laity? It’s a question many of us fail to consider routinely, and perhaps we are ill equipped to give an informed response. What does Christ— through the Church—ask of us? Russell Shaw’s newly expanded Catholic Laity in the Mission of the Church: Living Your Personal Vocation provides a thorough discussion of this essential topic. Shaw’s treatment of his subject is anything but superficial. His opening chapters cover the development of the laity’s identity in the Church from apostolic times through the Second Vatican Council. Shaw then unpacks … Continue reading

Things Now Hidden

The man in line behind me at the downtown thrift shop a few days ago looked pretty rough. Gritty hair, rumpled clothes. Without meaning to, out of the corner of my eye I took him for the local downtown stereotype, subconsciously assigning him a probable past of addiction, conviction, or mental delusion. “Those are great dishes,” the man said as I laid a set of plates on the register counter. One glance at his genuine face and the life in his eyes showed me I’d underestimated him. He smiled and recited a Bible verse as if the words were as … Continue reading

Master Catechist: The Mystery of Man

One of Fr. Hardon’s greatest contributions to those of us searching for the Truth was to compile a book list called The Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan. His favorite author, St. Augustine, is one of the most important figures in the development of Western Christianity. Augustine framed the concepts of original sin and just war; and as the Roman Empire was starting to implode he taught that the Church is the spiritual City of God, distinct from the material City of Man. His writings profoundly influenced the Christian worldview and continue to do so today! —Michael Mohr St. Augustine (354–430 AD) … Continue reading

The Moral Picture: Strengthening Family Through Film

When I was a child, Sunday nights were special. This was the routine: finish dinner, prepare for school on Monday, get ready for bed, and then watch two classic television programs—Ponderosa and The Wonderful World of Disney. I still remember eagerly embracing this weekly routine, for it marked for me the end of one week and the beginning of another. Most of all, it was a time of leisurely fun and adventure with my family as we enjoyed stories both exciting and morally uplifting. Film—including the public social experience of the cinema, as well as television (and even video games) … Continue reading

Ask CUF: What Does the Church Teach About Alternative Healing Methods?

I have a friend who has been using alternative medicines, such as homeopathy, hypnosis, and acupunture. What does the Church teach about these healing methods? Homeopathy, founded by Samuel Friedrich Christian Hahnemann (1755-1843), is a branch of medicine that takes a different approach to healing the body than that propounded by practitioners of conventional medicine. Though some in the medical field may disagree with aspects of this method, it does not appear to propose hypotheses or techniques that are at odds with Church teaching. Homeopathy is based on the idea of “fight­ing like with like” that was used as far … Continue reading

Be Perfect As Your Father is Perfect

By His creative and renewing power, the Spirit always sustains the hope of God’s people as we make our pilgrim way through history, and, as the Paraclete, He always supports the witness of Christians. In this moment . . . all of us want to listen to the voice of the Spirit as He speaks to us through the Scriptures we have just heard. In the first reading, the Lord’s call to His people resounds: “You shall be holy; for I the Lord your God am holy” (Lev 19:2). In the Gospel Jesus echoes this call: “You, therefore, must be … Continue reading

Simple Post-Christianity

The post-Christian world, Blessed John Henry Newman would have quickly pointed out, is still the world, and the ways worldliness challenges us remain as they were when Adam and Eve were expelled from Eden. The fundamental things don’t change. All that changes is the context in which they operate upon us. In one way we live in a new type of society, one that once assumed, and to some extent lived out, much of the Christian vision of reality and now doesn’t do so nearly as much. Christianity lost a great deal of its social status and some of its … Continue reading

Going to a City Without God? John Paul II’s Opening “New Evangelization” Move

St. John Paul II first used the term “new evangelization” during a dramatic visit to Poland in 1979.1 Picture the scene. It’s his first time as pope to return to his native country of Poland, still under the atheistic regime of the communists. He goes to the modern suburb of Krakow called Nowa Huta, which represents the ideal communist city—a city without God. In Polish, Nowa Huta means “new steelworks.” The city is designed to be the perfect industrial metropolis, featuring massive apartment blocks for 40,000 people and steel factories five times larger than those in the historic center of … Continue reading