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The Worship of Beauty, and the Beauty of Worship

Johann Jakob Zeiller, Saint Benedict in Glory (1748)
A frequent source of in-fighting amongst Christians involves beauty. How beautiful should our churches be? How beautiful should our Liturgies be? And why? In these discussions, there are two points that often go overlooked: 1. We Worship Beauty. 2. Created Beauty Points towards Divine, Uncreated Beauty. If you want to understand the Mass, and why there's such an emphasis on beauty (instead of the stripped-down worship services and whitewashed churches of some Protestant denominations), consider these two points, and how they play out in the life of Israel, the Church on earth, and in Heavenly glory.

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And Joseph Knew Her Not: A Case for the Perpetual Virginity of Mary

Joys and Sorrows of St. Joseph Palmira Laguéns, The Sorrows and Joys of St. Joseph: The First Sorrow (20th c., Sanctuary of Torreciudad)
The Calvinist theologian Peter Leithart has a fascinating (but incorrect) article on the perpetual virginity over at First Things. There is much to praise about the short piece. First, he's asking the right question. As the article's teaser puts it, "why didn't Joseph have sex with Mary during her pregnancy?" So many Protestants focus on the fact that they believe St. Joseph and the Virgin Mary did have sex after Christmas that they ignore the explicit Biblical evidence that they didn't have sex before (Matthew 1:25). Second, much of Leithart's answer is correct, and points to the radical Biblical truth about the Virgin Mary. Finally, even when Leithart's argument goes off the rails, he shows his work, so it's easy enough to see how he goes wrong.

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Dietrich von Hildebrand and the Incoherent Paradox of Modernity

Dietrich von Hildebrand
More than 60 years ago, Dietrich von Hildebrand recognized that contemporary society was in the grip of a peculiar paradox between widespread disbelief in objective truth and fawning credulity in regards to all things scientific. At the heart of this paradox is modern man's refusal to accept that he is a creature and not God. This prognosis of society is all the more true in 2016 than it was in 1953. So what's a Christian to do in the face of modernity's incoherence and its attempt to dethrone God?

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Jewish Purgatory

Ludovico Carracci, An Angel Frees the Souls of Purgatory (1610)
Are Catholics right to pray for the dead, and to believe that such prayers can help to release souls from Purgatory? Many Christians are unaware that these doctrines are Jewish in origin, and that the Jewish practice of praying for the dead continues on to this day. Even fewer are aware that this practice of prayer is tied to a tradition of temporary purgatorial fires after death.

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