Read them here. Some or all will make great New Year’s resolutions.
Duffy argues that despite real advances in scholarship, many of the reforms adopted in recent generations have been strangely unhistorical in their approach to Catholicism. Preoccupied with abstract theories about the proper role of liturgy in the Church’s life, the reformers focused on the rationale behind forms of worship and devotion not on their latent vitality and potency. They failed to understand how Catholic practice actually worked; they were insensitive to the capacity of certain ritual acts to foster a sense of mystery and awe in the presence of God.
Read the full review by Robert Louis Wilken here.
Buy the book here.
Sandro Magister has an interesting review of a book (the book is only available in Italian) on confessional practice and contraception in the Diocese of Padua in the early 20th-century:
… one constant guideline emerges from the solutions given by the diocese of Padua to cases of morality regarding contraception: that of employing the ‘theory of good faith’ taught by Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori. According to this theory, in the presence of a penitent who is suspected of committing contraceptive actions but appears unaware of the gravity of the sin and in practice incapable of correcting his behavior, it is best to respect his silence and take his good faith into account, absolving him without posing any further questions.
The Liguorian theory was dominant for many decades, not only in the seminaries and in the care of souls, but also in the guidelines given by the Holy See in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries …
A change took place in 1931 with the publication by Pius XI of the encyclical ‘Casti Connubii.’ From then on, at the behest of the hierarchy, conjugal morality became a bigger part of preaching. And therefore the room for inculpable ignorance was reduced. A few priests wrote about this: once it has been said in public what is good and what is evil between spouses, ‘good faith can no longer be admitted.’
But decades of silence, interpreted by most of the faithful as consent to their contraceptive practice, had left its mark. In their answers to the question about birth control – a dozen years after ‘Casti Connubii’ – some priests recognized that their preaching on this matter made no impression: ‘We are in front of a wall that seems unassailable.’ And another wrote: ‘Even seemingly good persons cannot be persuaded.’
Read the whole article here.
A longer, academic article on this subject, by the author of the same book, is available here.
The saddest thing the Catholic Church did to me, nullified my marriage after a divorce, took away its existence in sacrament. In my heart it was a sacrament even though the marriage ended. How can a church take away something holy? To have had my case reviewed by a Catholic tribunal and judged was simply medieval. And even with all this, when people ask, I am still Catholic.
Amid the current debates about the reception of Holy Communion by divorced and remarried Catholics, many people on both sides think that the solution is simply to make the annulment process easier, less rigorous. We hear far too little, I think, from those who may have been wounded by the (currently already very relaxed) annulment process.