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  • What makes a priest or consecrated religious worldly? Is it care for finances or fundraising? Is it a taste for fine clothing, food and drink? Is it love of opera or devotion to televised sports? Does a worldly priest or religious simply mean an individual whose spiritual life collapses into a prayerful reading of The New York Times? Actually, can a priest or religious, as hard as they might try, ever be worldly?

  • Part II of the Discussion (Pages 165-463)

    Read Part I here.

  • Part I of the Discussion (Pages 1-164)

    Read part II here.

  • Augustine’s Confessions is the story of a soul. It is the account of a soul that once had a rigid, fairly intelligible story for itself. For some thirty years, Augustine told the same story of his soul—to himself, to others—until that story was torn up and reconstituted in his conversion. After Augustine’s conversion, his soul’s story became that of the Prodigal Son. The story was given to him, and he realized its truth. He began to make sense of his life in the light of his soul’s...

  • The word “someone” is indefinite and ordinary. It is a word that stands in for or anticipates another more vivid concept. It almost always denotes a person: “Someone will pick me up.” “Someone will know how to get there.” It is a subtle word that carries a great deal of meaning. Someone is the title of Alice McDermott’s new novel that tells the life of someone whose life is indefinite, ordinary, uncertain, but elegant and rich with meaning. It is the story of woman’s life—someone...

  • Recently, Randy Boyagoda, a professor of English and a writer of fiction and essays, offered a provocative call to reflective Christians to put down their Flannery O’Connor and Dostoyevsky and pick up some hard cover fiction in order to revive the Christian literary imagination and Catholic literature. While I do not agree with his criticism of Mr. Paul Elie, who is—I think—presently working quite hard to accomplish...

  • In order to introduce the Catholic Book Club Selection for September, I quote something astonishing from Herbert McCabe’s short collection, Faith Within Reason. It is contained within a brief chapter entitled “Forgiveness.” Reflecting upon Luke’s story of the prodigal son (Lk 15:11-32), McCabe writes:

  • As the ballots were being read during the papal conclave last March, it soon became clear to the cardinal electors that Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina would be named pope. When the two-thirds majority was reached, Cardinal Claudio Hummes—a member of the Order of Friars Minor—comforted Bergoglio, who was seated next to him at the conclave. Hummes embraced him, and said: remember the poor. Pope Francis has since explained that at this moment the name “Francis” came into his mind. He...

  • The Catholic Book Club seeks to right a wrong with this month’s selection.   Since its inception in 1928, CBC has never chosen a work by Flannery O’Connor.  This month, we will read and discuss O'Connor’s novel, The Violent Bear It Away.

  • In the midst of Ernest Hemingway’s novel, The Sun Also Rises, a successful novelist, Bill Gorton, demands that his friend, Jake Barnes—the novel’s narrator—give him “irony and pity” one morning in a friendly repartee. Jake Barnes has been trying to write fiction, and Bill Gorton is razzing him: “Give me irony and pity, irony and pity.” If you want to be a writer, you must be able to generate irony and pity abundantly and with alacrity. Finally, toward the end of the exchange, Bill...