Issue: May 2022
Letter from the Publisher
"The history of Catholicism in America is complex. We commonly speak of the “American Founding” with the English in mind, though Catholic missionaries and settlements were present throughout the land..."
Walker Percy’s Search
"This question of happy endings looms large in Percy’s award winning novel, The Moviegoer. The protagonist of the novel, Binx (or Jack) Bolling, is a twenty-nine-year-old stock broker of New Orleans. He, like the heroes from movies he spends his nights watching, has had his share of adventure and drama previous to his ordinary life in Gentilly, a middle-class suburb of New Orleans..."
The Redemption of Lydia Longley
"Within about five minutes half of her family had been slain. Lydia Longley, aged 20, entered into the strange journey set for her by divine Providence in the quiet morning heat of July 27, 1694, a quiet broken by the lulling sound of cattle lowing as they seemed to wander free from their customary confinement..."
Innovation & Isolation: Charles Ives and the American Voice
"Though Charles Ives was one of the first American classical composers to establish a national and international reputation—he won both a Pulitzer Prize and a Grammy award for his work—much of his music remained unknown and unperformed in his lifetime. He gained professional recognition during his career for his pioneering work not in music, but in the insurance industry..."
Russell Kirk’s Catholic Mind
"Kirk rose to prominence in 1953 with the publication of his magnum opus The Conservative Mind. Almost overnight, Kirk became the godfather of the English-speaking Right. It’s a position he retained for the rest of his life. To this day, The Conservative Mind is recognized as the most important text in Anglo-American conservatism, except perhaps for Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France..."
The Cogitation of Henry Adams
"Henry Brooks Adams (1838–1918) came from good stock. He was the grandson of our sixth president and the great-grandson of our second. His father Charles Francis served as Lincoln’s envoy to the United Kingdom, ensuring the British did not intervene in the Civil War on the side of the Confederacy. Henry himself was a distinguished historian, but is remembered today for his droll autobiography The Education of Henry Adams..."
The Blood-Shot Eyes of Tradition
"For being Episcopalian, Willa Cather has a tendency to write Catholic novels: My Ántonia (1918) follows Catholic Bohemian pioneers on the Nebraskan frontier; Death Comes for the Archbishop (1927) stars Jesuit missionaries in New Mexico; and Shadows on the Rock (1931) features Catholic colonists in Quebec. These first two titles are, paradoxically enough, her most enduring and acclaimed books. Perhaps this should not surprise us..."
Flannery O’Connor: Vulnerability and Hope
"Catholics are proud of Flannery O’Connor, but we don’t always know what to do with her. She’s just too much: too violent, too strange, too bleak. Often, we treat her as a mascot: she proves that Catholics can write great literature, even in the modern era. But when we read her fiction we are left wondering: 'Where is redemption in O’Connor? Where is hope?'"
"Abbot Suger of Saint-Denis was no stranger to influence and power. From unknown origins, he rose to become not only a confidant to two kings of France in the 12th century, but with the construction of the Basilica Cathedral of Saint-Denis, also started arguably the most important architectural shift of the second millennium—the Gothic style. This pedigree notwithstanding, he could have never dreamed that his vision, after falling out of style, would again take root in a yet-unknown world, some 700 years after his death..."
Catholicism, the American Imagination, and the Pluralist Beast
"Some years ago I was travelling with my wife and three children in an isolated region of Germany packed with visitors for a once-in-a-decade festival. After having hunted unsuccessfully for lodging until quite late at night we finally came upon a lovely little village isolated deep in a forest in the mountains..."
Two of America’s Best
"As Americans, we love to watch the underdog raise himself up by his bootstraps and flourish: here are two American saints born into wealth who enabled this idea in paradoxical ways that only believers of the invisible world can understand. The heroines in our media and entertainment have always reached for more; these two heroines have done just that—and lived happily ever after."
Review: Longing for an Absent God
"Humans are storytelling creatures, blessed and cursed with the drive to narrate. We are also, even when immersed in a culture’s fashionable admiration for skepticism, believing creatures. Our brains have a need to make sense of experience, a need that is not subject to critical judgment about the feasibility of the endeavor. Even the embrace of skepticism can be a reflexive bid in the direction of sense-making—sometimes a desperate bid, lunged at in self-defense against the felt incomprehensibility of experience as received: Ah! See, life is supposed to be bewildering and destabilizing! I am right after all!"
Direct Our Hearts to Mary
"Today’s ceremony might be simple, but our hearts should all be in celebration. The feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which is certainly one of the most beautiful feasts of Mary, and which is for us faithful who are still on the way to Heaven an occasion of great hope and great support..."
Questions and Answers
How should we fulfill the precept of attending Mass? And, among the social virtues related to justice, St. Thomas lists "affability." What is it, as a virtue?
Meditations on St. John’s Gospel: Chapter Thirteen
"In chapters 13–17, St. John will give us many sublime teachings of Jesus to His apostles at the Last Supper—a part of those, as promised by Our Lord on this very occasion..."
Who Then Can Be Saved?
"To go to heaven, we need the three theological virtues: faith, hope, and charity. To get on well with our neighbour, on the other hand, lesser qualities will do: friendliness, sympathy, basic honesty and decency. But since we see our neighbour, and we don’t see heaven, people easily imagine that these lesser qualities are “what really counts.” From there it’s a small step to supposing that everyone who is not an obvious scoundrel will probably get to heaven in the end..."
The Last Word
"'The Americans,' wrote a certain rotund English writer, 'have established a Thanksgiving Day to celebrate the fact that the Pilgrim Fathers reached America. The English might very well establish another Thanksgiving Day to celebrate the happy fact that the Pilgrim Fathers left England...'"