Author: Fr. Hugh Barbour (Fr. Hugh Barbour)

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Dante’s Human Comedy
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Dante’s Human Comedy

Prima sedes a nemine iudicatur: “The First See is judged by no one.”  Thus reads Canon 1404 of the current Code of Canon Law of the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, and Canon 1556 of the previous code.  Romanus Pontifex a nemine iudicatur: “The Roman Pontiff is judged by no one.”  That is Canon...

Do Homosexuals Exist? Or, Where Do We Go From Here?
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Do Homosexuals Exist? Or, Where Do We Go From Here?

In March of this year over a million Frenchmen demonstrated on the streets of Paris against the legal institutionalization of gay marriage.  As far as the media were concerned, this event was practically confidential.  It is hard to imagine a similar scene taking place in the United States, but if it did, it would be...

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On Dueling, Divorce, and Red Indians

In February 1861, Joseph Sadoc Alemany, the first Roman Catholic bishop of the state of California, wrote an urgent pastoral letter to his flock.  This letter was published immediately in the New York Freeman’s Journal, and for this indiscretion its editor was imprisoned for a year in Fort Lafayette, and ...

On Dueling, Divorce, and Red Indians
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On Dueling, Divorce, and Red Indians

In February 1861, Joseph Sadoc Alemany, the first Roman Catholic bishop of the state of California, wrote an urgent pastoral letter to his flock.  This letter was published immediately in the New York Freeman’s Journal, and for this indiscretion its editor was imprisoned for a year in Fort Lafayette, and his presses were shut down. ...

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The School of History

“We feel bound to disagree with these prophets of doom.” —John XXIII Nestled in the foothills below Saddleback Mountain in “the O.C.” there is an abbey of priests and a small boarding school.  There is nothing there that would remind one of the lubricious television program that made the initials of Orange County, California, proverbial;...

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Fr. Stanley Jaki, R.I.P.

When the 18-year-old Stanley Jaki entered the archabbey of Pannonhalma in western Hungary to become a monk, he would have seen over the great entrance to the conventual complex an image that still may be seen there today, a summary of the “enlightened” Viennese policy for regular clergy: On one side, King St. Stephen of...

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Moonstruck Morality Versus the Cosmos

  “Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon . . . terrible as an army with banners?” —Song of Songs 6:10 “Si direbbe che persino la luna si è affrettata stasera—osservatelo in alto—a guardare a questo spettacolo.”  (“One might almost think that the moon—just look at him up there—hurried...

Sola Scriptura: The Case for the Crusades
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Sola Scriptura: The Case for the Crusades

“Woe to the Assyrian, he is the rod and the staff of my anger, and my indignation is in their hands.  I will send him to a deceitful nation . . . ” —Isaiah 10:5-6, Douay-Rheims Confronted by the rise of insurgent Islam and the political reality of jihad, many Christians, eager to formulate a...

The Burden of Racial Guilt: A New Declaration of Independence
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The Burden of Racial Guilt: A New Declaration of Independence

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” —The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America As I write I am sitting in Pitt County, North...

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Throne and Altar

“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” —1 Corinthians 10:31 My father, God rest his soul, was very fond of Thai food, with its quickly sautéd noodles and peppery élan.  Not far from his condominium in the Rossmore section of Los Angeles, there was a...

Liberality, the Basis of Culture
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Liberality, the Basis of Culture

“ . . . redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” —Ephesians 5:15 “Go day, come day.  Lord, send Sunday.”  My paternal grandmother could be counted on to say these words at least once per week.  Whether burdened with some mundane task or confronted with the evidence of human frailty, the prospect of the...

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A Dirge for the Living

“O death, where is thy sting?  O grave, where is thy victory?” —1 Corinthians 15:55 Since I am writing about death, I think I may begin with my own life.  Autobiography is, after all, a kind of first-person eulogy for the living.  Here is what I think is my earliest memory: “Now I lay me...

The Cardinal Vicar
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The Cardinal Vicar

“Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish . . . ” —Psalm 2:12 Twenty-one centuries will have passed since He promised to come in His glory, 21 centuries since His prophet wrote, “Behold, I come quickly.”  For centuries, then, men had beseeched Him with faith and fervor, “O Lord our God hasten...

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Educated at Home

“Let us eat and make merry.” —Luke 15:23 This has been a happy time: I’ve spent all day with my family, eaten a fine meal, played with my grandchildren, been to a baptism, and I went to communion.”  These were the words of my uncle—with their telling rhetorical climax—on leaving his sister’s house in Eastern...

The Perpetual Family
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The Perpetual Family

“And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.” —Genesis 3:20 The first time I ever visited Saint Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, it was in the company of a pretty Irish-American girl from Massachusetts named Evelyn.  Her father was some kind of Democratic politician back home.  She and...

Latter-Day Beggars
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Latter-Day Beggars

“He hath made us kings . . . ” —Revelation 1:6 Roman beggars, like Roman gypsies and Roman cats, not to mention Roman prostitutes warming themselves by their little winter chestnut fires, are the bearers of an ancient tradition, peculiar to the City of the Seven Hills, the caput mundi, which even her membership in...

The Loving Look
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The Loving Look

‘Thou art beautiful above the sons of men: grace is poured abroad in thy lips.” -Psalm 44(45):3 One warm, late-summer afternoon in Eastern North Carolina, a few hundred primary-school children poured out of their classrooms and waited for their buses to take them far and wide around the county. My aunt, the principal, stood by...

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For Fear of the Wolves

Pope Benedict XVI, in an appeal to the sheep newly his own on the day of his enthronement, said, “Pray for me that I may not flee for fear of the wolves.”  We can be sure he knows who these wolves are after a quarter-century as head of the Holy Office. Here are some of...

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Of Masons, Magic, Monks, Medicine, and Marriage

My maternal grandfather was a very practical man, an entrepreneur with a self-made fortune, a local mayor, philo-Dixiecrat, devoted to his wife and three daughters.  His habitual reading was the Raleigh paper and the local small-town daily (which, by some miracle, still exists).  He died when I was very small, and so I never had...

Finding Eden
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Finding Eden

“Likewise also the chief priests mocking said . . . Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross that we may see and believe.” I have been a citizen of the sovereign state of California for most of my life.  I can guarantee you, Alta California is not merely a result of the...

Thomas Fleming and Mother Teresa: Undoubted Motives in the Morality of Everyday Life
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Thomas Fleming and Mother Teresa: Undoubted Motives in the Morality of Everyday Life

“Name one.” —Anonymous Too bad that, since 1966, they are no longer adding titles to the Index of Prohibited Books.  My more than ten years as diocesan censor librorum—was it this past distinction that gained me the happy task of writing this review?—would lead me to grant Thomas Fleming’s The Morality of Everyday Life: Rediscovering...

“Gay Marriage”
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“Gay Marriage”

From Genesis to Revelation, by Way of the New Yorker At the beginning of 1999 . . . my wife Cathleen Schine, announced that she no longer wanted to be married to me.  She had to leave, she had to get away for a new life, for she had mysteriously changed in her affections ....

The Church and NGO’s  Shall I Crucify Your King?
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The Church and NGO’s Shall I Crucify Your King?

“I hope a stamp from this place works for America.”  So reads a postcard that my mother, as a girl of 20, sent her parents from the Vatican in 1950.  I remember teasing her about her doubts when, as an undergraduate, I unearthed the postcard in my grandmother’s attic three decades later.  When I cockily suggested...

Thomas More’s Supplication of Souls
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Thomas More’s Supplication of Souls

“E’ la morte di una civilizazione.”  (“It’s the death of a civilization.”)  These were the words of the Vatican official who told me the following sad story at the beginning of September.  It seems that, after the heat wave of August, hundreds of the cadavers of the lonely urban old folks of France were being...

Pro-Lifers and the Psalmist’s Curses
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Pro-Lifers and the Psalmist’s Curses

On one bright, cold January day in the early 80’s I stood with a group of college students from North Carolina after the annual March for Life in Washington as we were received by Sen. Jesse Helms.  He greeted us kindly and then regaled us with a few stories with that combination of gentility and...

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Philokalia

“He was a wicked man, but the Lord forgave him.”  One fine spring day in my sophomore year of college, I joined my paternal grandmother on her more-or-less daily walk from her house out to the cemetery of my parent’s hometown in Eastern North Carolina.  This was her characteristically pointed and Christian evaluation of a...

A Psalm Makes Us Love the Future
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A Psalm Makes Us Love the Future

“As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be; world without end.  Amen.” “God granted that the life of this holy man should be a long one, for the benefit and happiness of holy Church, and he lived seventy-six years, nearly forty of them as priest or bishop.  In the course of...

All Roads Lead to Florence
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All Roads Lead to Florence

Peter: “Lord, wither goest thou?” Christ: “I go to Rome to be crucified.” The monastic choir stalls of the Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli in Florence were occupied not by the hermit-monks of the Camaldolese Order to whom they belonged but by laymen, members of the Platonic Academy.  From the lectern, the Latin periods...

He Whose Loss Is Laughter
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He Whose Loss Is Laughter

“To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna.” —Revelation 2:17 Around the turn of the 20th century, the hieromonk Arsenios, parish priest of Farasa in Cappadocia, had secretly baptized one of the wives of a Turk living in his Christian village.  Soon after, she lay on her death bed, and...

Wonderful Illusions
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Wonderful Illusions

        “The remembrance of death, like all other blessings, is a gift of God: otherwise how is it that often when we are by the very tombs, we are left tearless and hard?” —St. John of the Ladder More than 20 years ago, I was counseled by an orthodox Roman Catholic professor...

The Great Schism
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The Great Schism

In August 1994, I was happy to be one of the many Latin clerics who over the years, in divisa or in borghese, have made a pilgrimage to the Holy Mountain of Athos, the Garden of the Mother of God. On the Feast of the Lord’s Transfiguration, I was able to set foot on that...