"Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him, bless his name." --Psalm 100:4

Browsing News Entries

Browsing News Entries

Why Vatican II Still Gets “No Respect” More Than 50 Years On

The other day, I met a Catholic school principal who told me her school is a “Vatican II school.” I asked her what makes it so and—no joke—she showed me some balloons and banners.  “No respect,” Rodney Dangerfield might have said as he worried his tie, “no respect.” These words come to mind as I think about the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). Not only has the council been blamed for much of the apostasy in today’s Church, but it has been remarkably misunderstood. Now, this is true for many councils: they’re only appreciated in the long run and, in “Church time,” the Second Vatican Council would still be considered a recent event. Still, it may be time to reclaim the council and its intentions, and give it some respect, starting in the schools.  A level of uncertainty about the council is understandable. Highly intelligent…

A Dose of Glory: Lauryn Hill’s “Miseducation” Goes Diamond

In the late summer of 1998, Lauryn Hill released what is widely considered the greatest hip hop album of all time, and one of the greatest albums of any genre, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. It is a unique blend of R&B, gospel, soul, reggae, and rap recorded mostly at Bob Marley’s Tuff Gong Studio in Jamaica. Miseducation is an impeccably produced work of a huge band of musicians, and its lyrics are unparalleled testimonies to heartbreak and renewal, to freedom from the chains of the world, and reliance on the living God who reigns above. With the exception of three or four Bob Dylan records, there is no album ever made that weaves Scripture through the loom of modern life like this one does. There is simply no performer like Lauryn Hill and no record like her Miseducation. On February 16, 2021, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was…

Hints of the Transcendent in the Science Fiction of Ray Bradbury

While he is perhaps best known for his critically acclaimed dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury thought of himself primarily as a writer of short stories. Often wedged in between Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke as one of the “ABCs” of twentieth-century science fiction, Bradbury’s work is remarkably divergent in style and substance from that of those authors, indeed from most sci-fi of the last seventy years. Bradbury’s stories sometimes contain themes and plot elements that hint at the existence of a transcendent reality beyond the physical universe that we can observe and measure. Two notable examples, “The Man” and “The Fire Balloons,” can be found in Bradbury’s acclaimed short story collection The Illustrated Man. “The Man” follows the exploits of two space explorers, Captain Hart and Lieutenant Martin, who have arrived on an unnamed planet. Upset that the native inhabitants have not come to greet the astronauts, Hart…

Chesterton’s “Orthodoxy”: A New Translation Helps to Better Understand a Classic

This month, the Society of G.K. Chesterton announced the publication of a new book titled Orthodoxy: An American Translation, which should immediately provoke confusion among Chesterton fans. Didn’t Chesterton write in English? Why do we need a translation? What does it even mean to translate English into English? And why is this book, with its plain and dry title, so enduring and impactful? Why has it influenced so many Catholic converts, and why should it still be read today? Word on Fire’s Brandon Vogt sits down with Dale Ahlquist, President of the Society of G.K. Chesterton and one of the three translators involved with the project, to discuss these questions and more. BRANDON: Although I’m guessing most of our audience knows G.K. Chesterton, can you succinctly tell us who this man was and why he still matters? DALE:…

The Present You Want Is Not the Gift You Need

Some time ago, in the feverish throes of buying a book for a good friend’s birthday, I had an epiphany. Wrapping the book in colored paper and neatly nestling it in the gift bag, my wife asked me what I had purchased. After naming the book and smiling at my own thoughtfulness, my wife quipped, “Ah. You bought him a gift, not a present.” Momentarily flummoxed, I had to ask her what she meant. “Well,” she explained, “a gift is something you want them to have; a present is something they actually want.” Well, who knew there was a difference? Not Merriam-Webster, whom I quickly consulted in my defense. Nonetheless, my wife’s sentiment has always stuck with me. I have discovered that I spend a lot of time asking God for presents, while deflecting his many gifts. “Would you do this for me?” I implore. “Here is what I want,”…

Memento Mori: Remember That You Have to Die

Do you remember when you first realized that you would eventually die? I do. Each summer, my family visited my great aunt’s cottage on Christie Lake in southwest Michigan. Sometimes my sisters and I were left there with our grandmother for the week. Besides swimming in the lake and playing cards, there wasn’t much to do, so Grandma and I would take long walks together.  The lake was surrounded by farms of golden wheat that in late summer would sway in the wind, and the landscape became concentric circles of blue, green, and gold. Our path ended at an old, small cemetery and, as the years passed, the path’s ending—always bringing me to the graveyard—became for me a working metaphor about life itself. Each walk came to represent my journey toward my own path’s end, my own demise. I moved from the middle blue of the…

“Lost in Thought” and “The Dig”: Let the Cult of the Amateur Arise!

We need more amateurs. In her new book Lost in Thought: The Hidden Pleasures of the Intellectual Life, Zena Hitz, a practicing Catholic and Tutor in the great books program at St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland, makes the case for the life of the mind for everyone. Hitz has a PhD from Princeton, but she tells us that the intellectual life requires no degree at all. “It is a source of dignity,” Hitz argues, and Lost in Thought is a universal call to braininess. Passion both for discovery and service, born out of intellectual inquiry detached from mere academic success, is a rarity these days. With our world fracturing into an unfortunate binary of elites and everyone else, we need more ordinary people to advise, explain, explore, and most of all lead, primarily because they love what they do, not because they want (or need) to show off…

For Lent, Let’s Imagine Scripture to Refresh Our Prayer

The story goes that St. Ignatius of Loyola, while recovering from a severe wartime injury, filled a three-hundred-page notebook with what some might call “daydreams of Scripture”—a way of passing the heavy hours on his hands that actually developed into an important practice of prayer within what has become known as Ignatian spirituality.  Anyone who has made an Ignatian retreat, whether extended or brief, has likely at some point been advised to concentrate on some scene within the Gospels and “imagine yourself there, as part of the crowd, or one of the Apostles or main players; place yourself within the scene.”  The idea is to make Scripture come alive within your mind and senses, and see what you learn—what new insight or perspective adds to your prayerful contemplation. A retreat master might say something like, “Imagine the dust, the dirt, the look of frayed…

Ash Wednesday Mass

Ash Wednesday Mass will be live streamed at 6 PM on our Facebook page and available shortly after on our You-Tube page. Facebook link:   https://www.facebook.com/stannescatholicchurchlesueur YouTube link:  ...

Why Christina Rossetti’s “A Better Resurrection” is Lenten Food for 2021

One of the counter-intuitive blessings of Lent is that it is long enough to be tedious. It’s simply not possible (at least in my experience) to keep up a state of intense spiritual activity for the whole forty days (or forty-six, if we count the Sundays of Lent). Forty days is time enough to start out feeling very high-minded about what one has chosen to give up as a penance or take on as a devotional practice, and to come down to earth with the humbling recognition that we’re not quite at the level of holiness we thought we were. And if Lent is tough in ordinary years, 2021 is well placed to be even more of a slog than it usually is. After a year living in a pandemic, many of us are feeling rather ground down already. How can we approach this penitential season in a way that…