Author: David Cloutier

On That Day: Second Sunday of Advent

Readings: Is 11:1-10; Rom 15:4-9; Mt 3:1-12 “On THAT day…” I confess that this saying, and ones like it, such as last week’s “in days to come,” are among my favorites for focusing on the grand hope Christianity really promises. Songs proclaim this hope. One of my favorites is a gem from my days at St. Boniface in central Minnesota. But others speak of the “day of the Lord” when “the sun will shine like the dawn of eternal day” or “when every tear shall be wiped away.” And in one of the best final verses in contemporary hymnody,...

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A dispatch from The Swamp, 20008

Living in the Capitol after many years out in the districts, there is so much to notice. For example, my morning run today took me past Sidwell Friends, school of presidential children, with a secret service van out front and others scattered on neighboring streets. It was drop-off time, and Wisconsin Avenue (how ironic!) was clogged with a glut of BMWs, Audis, and Lexuses – mostly SUVs – getting in and out of the underground driveway into the school’s entrance. Very airport-like! I’m fairly sure most of them are horrified by President Trump. They probably do not want him...

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Can Your Vote Be a Mortal Sin? A Primer

Given some of the recent extreme rhetoric about voting and mortal sin, we really need a reminder about what this language is supposed to mean. First, the distinction between mortal and venial sin refers to a person’s subjective responsibility for sin – what Aquinas terms the “debt of punishment” incurred by sin. As such, it is strictly speaking impossible for us to label any action a “mortal sin” in the abstract, since any such judgment requires attention to a person’s knowledge and consent to the act. Second, Aquinas distinguishes these two categories in terms of their connection to our...

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31st Sunday in Ordinary Time: Humility Sees Every Detail

Wis 11:22-12:2; 2 Thes 1:11-2:2; Luke 19:1-10 This year’s readings of the later parts of Luke’s gospel has left me thinking often: these stories are exceedingly weird. Who really prays, “Thank God I am not like those bad people over there”? Who really imagines a son wishing his father were dead so much as to take his inheritance? Who really wants to heed the story of the rich man and Lazarus, even if someone HAS risen from the dead? On the surface, the stories are distressing to our tidy sense of how the world is supposed to operate. So...

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Distinguish but Don’t Divide

I hate watching Catholics argue publicly over one another’s Catholicism, especially in the context of partisan politics. See what the Constantinian temptation does to us! But what might helpfully come out of the Podesta emails is a recognition that Catholicism remains an important, live concern for both parties. Thus, for the good of the Church as well as the political order, it would be nice to think maybe we could start doing a better job of understanding one another and figuring out how to work in common for a lot that is worth working in common for, plus figuring...

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