Articles from October, 2015

The Middle Ages: The True ‘Gothic’

The Middle Ages:  The True 'Gothic'

Long ago, there was a surefire test by which to recognize a truly cultured person: anyone who could hear the William Tell overture without thinking of the Lone Ranger. One’s reaction to the word “mediaeval” is a similar sort of test for Catholics. You fail if “mediaeval” has for you connotations of ignorance and bigotry. Eric Hoffer, whose book The True Believer was popular a few yeas ago, expressed very well the mindless popular conception of the Middle Ages when ... (Continue reading)

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Heroism, Then and Now

standing guard

“Some men are born great, some achieve greatness, while others have greatness thrust upon them”.   So wrote Shakespeare in Twelfth Night .   ‘Greatness’ may take various forms, but I have been pondering of late the greatness achieved by heroism.   We may define a hero as one acts ‘above and beyond the call of duty’.  We may speak of heroic courage (the usual sort of hero that comes to mind), but also of heroic sanctity, heroic perseverance in scientific pursuits, heroic devotion ... (Continue reading)

Marie of the Incarnation: A Canadian Mystic

marie of the incarnation

Marie de l’Incarnation: Études de théologie spirituelle by Pierre Gervais, S.J.:  A Review   Pierre Gervais is a Canadian-born Jesuit, professor of systematic, sacramental, and spiritual theology at the Institut d’Etudes Theologiques of Brussels as well as editor of the Nouvelle Revue Théologique. In his Foreword, Father Gervais explains the makeup of these “studies” or essays in spiritual theology based on the life and writings of Marie of the Incarnation (1599-1672), an Ursuline nun first of Tours (France) and then of Quebec. ... (Continue reading)


I had to wait a few days before writing on the election of Justin Trudeau as our new Prime-Minister-in-waiting, not least for the emotion of disappointment to dissipate somewhat, and a sense of objectivity to set in.  To be honest, I expected the result.  Harper's heart (which sounds like a Harlequin romance) was not in the election.  I can only imagine that ten years as the leader of Canada is enough for anyone, and the loss allowed him to bow ... (Continue reading)

Sci Fi Movie Triplex: Interstellar, Oblivion and Edge of Tomorrow


My movie selection over the past few months has been in the science fiction genre, which is often heavy on the 'fiction', and light on the 'science'.  The recent, visually impressive Christopher Nolan-directed Interstellar attempts to balance that, telling the story of mankind's search for a new habitable planet with some degree of scientific accuracy.  But how veridical can you be when most of the science in the film is unverified by experiment or experience?  According to Einsteinian Relativity, which ... (Continue reading)

Boring Sermons: A Thomistic Take

boring sermon

Why Sermons are Boring   Daniel Callam, C.S.B. In moving offices recently I found, between my copies of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, a long-lost fragment from the unfinished third part of the Summa theologiae of Saint Thomas Aquinas. The manuscript, consisting of a single article, was headed Utrum sermones semper taediosi sint: “Whether sermons are always boring.” Anyone acquainted with the literary form of the Summa will know at once that this title reveals Thomas’s conviction that sermons always are ... (Continue reading)

Till We Have Faces: To Niqab, or Not?

***FREELANCE PHOTO - POSTMEDIA NETWORK USE ONLY*** MISSISSAUGA: FEBRUARY 16, 2015 Zunera Ishaq, who wants to be allowed to wear her Niqab during the Canadian citizenship ceremony, poses near home home in Mississauga, Ont. on Monday February 16, 2015.  (J.P. Moczulski for National Post) ORG XMIT: POS1502161205498161

In an interesting turn of events, the niqab, the face-covering veil worn by certain Muslim women, has become a defining election issue in Canada.  Just today, Zunera Ishaq, who had petitioned for the right to take her citizenship oath wearing the veil, took that very oath, yes, with her face covered (she received a court order allowing her to do so which, apparently, our elected government could do nothing to stop).   I wonder if they would let me take the ... (Continue reading)

Festival and Ferial, by Anna Rist: A Review

festival and ferial 2

Festival and Ferial Anna Rist Kaufmann Publishing, St. Simon’s Island , 2014 ISBN : 978-0-9905329-3-4   In one of his Odes (IV.2) Horace describes the danger of trying to emulate the majestic Greek poet Pindar. Such daring, Horace says, would bring the would-be poet to a disastrous end, another Icarus flying too high on his waxed wings, only to crash and, perhaps, give his name to a glassy sea. Horace proceeds to described Pindar’s grandeur, his themes and his techniques in what (critics ... (Continue reading)

Primal Rage


This morning, as I begin this column, ten people at a community college in Oregon were killed by yet-another loner gunman, seeking some kind of notoriety and/or settling some ill-defined grievance; the ultimate motive is really yours to choose.  We will never really know, besides the killer's confused on-line postings, for he was shot to death by the police, and has now been judged by God.  Apparently he asked at least some ... (Continue reading)

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