The Strife is (Kind of) O’er

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For a few days after Easter each year, I find myself in a kind of holy holding pattern. Christmas is a celebration of Christ’s birth and a cheery winter interlude. But the Eastern Church has it right: Easter is the most important holiday because by his Passion, Cross, and Resurrection, Christ has defeated death. And overcome the world.

The first would already be a lot. The second, if we only look superficially around us, seems only meant in some abstract spiritual way. The world, in the bad sense it sometimes has in Scripture, seems still to be going strong. But for those of us whose vocation seems to be confronting those bad segments of the world, “The Strife is O’er,” in the words of the Easter hymn, at least for a few days. It does not all depend on us. It depends on – and has already largely been dealt with by – God.

Yet even in the Easter afterglow, I worry that Catholics, especially in the United States, do not fully appreciate how much strife we face.

America has been good to many, Catholics included, and there’s a strong temptation to go along with what everyone else is doing so as not to lose a good thing.

Then, there’s an internal Church problem: lots of Catholics who welcomed the Second Vatican Council’s opening to the modern world, or were trained by those enthusiasts for the Council, think that taking some strong stances against that world now constitutes a step backwards.

I have seen professional Catholics recoil in horror at John Paul II’s quite accurate use of the term “the culture of death.” They worry more about the Church seeming negative than about her responsibility, in season and out, to tell the truth.

At The Catholic Thing, we’re very aware of the dual strife that we cannot avoid: challenging ourselves as Americans to look beyond the usual horizon in this nation even as we are grateful for its blessings; and challenging ourselves as Catholics to keep the faith whole and entire, explaining along the way how it is more humane than humanism, more universal than worldliness. And most so precisely when it speaks, clearly and fearlessly, the whole truth.

The Catholic Thing continues to thrive thanks to a few very generous patrons. And some generous writers, who believe enough in the mission that they make serious efforts, for what amounts to spare change, to bring you the indispensable commentary you can find here every morning. In the nature of things, we cannot presume on this generosity forever, which is where you all come in.

I put on the accountant’s green eyeshade for a few minutes and worked out some simple numbers. If everyone reading these words sent in $26 ($26.80 if you use Paypal), The Catholic Thing can continue in confidence for another year. Let me break that down: by putting only 7 cents a day in a jar, or by smoothing out a crumpled dollar every two weeks and sending it in an envelope, you can make your own contribution to assuring the ongoing mission of The Catholic Thing.

Those of you who are aware of what economists call the “free-rider problem,” may wish to send $52, or $78, $104, or some greater multiple of your individual obligation to compensate for those who cannot contribute.

Yes, I know times are tough, but please understand a few things:

The Catholic Thing owns no Toxic Assets, and will not be receiving TARP funds.

TCT’s finances are notably lacking in liquidity, but we will not be getting bailouts.

TCT’s top execs will not be fired or hired by politicians in exchange for loan promises.

 Even if the government subsidizes news outlets, TCT will not be seeing any of the money.

Some of my advisers have told me not to ask for contributions in this peaceful moment after Easter. They say, and they’re right, that fund-raising is most successful – financially – when you go to readers asking them to help you stop some looming disaster like FOCA. I send in contributions myself when I get these kinds of appeals.

But I’m going to make a different kind of appeal to the readers of The Catholic Thing, because I think you are a different kind of reader.

You all know why you come here regularly. If it’s not Ralph McInerny, it’s Hadley Arkes or Father Schall or Austin Ruse, or Mary Eberstadt (She’s good on sins, isn’t she? Come to think of it, we all need to keep an eye on her.) According to an authoritative source, George Marlin’s column on how Lincoln (as opposed to Obama) treated Catholic conscience questions was quoted to our young president. And I haven’t even mentioned Bill Saunders, Joe Wood, or our gentlemanly senior editor Brad Miner, about whose The Compleat Gentleman you will soon hear more.

A young woman whom I’d never met before came up to me with her four young children at an Easter concert this weekend to thank us for our writing, and the single column format that makes reading the site manageable for busy people. “And it’s the kind of thing you can read and it won’t keep you up at night.” I hear the same story wherever I travel, around the country and even abroad.

So think about that – but not too long. Send in your $26.80 or, better, some generous multiple thereof, so that you and many other people can continue to enjoy and benefit and take comfort from The Catholic Thing.

Robert Royal is editor-in-chief of The Catholic Thing, and president of the Faith & Reason Institute in Washington, D.C. His latest book is The God That Did Not Fail: How Religion Built and Sustains the West.

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  • debby

    my dear brother in Christ,
    almost daily trips off my fingers to bring me food, for my mind, my spirit, my soul. i cannot thank you enough. i love all your writers & those who post comments are often just as encouraging. i need you. so, altho i am probably among your most tapped out readers, i cannot in my well-formed Catholic conscience pass by your request. i beg our Most Generous Lord to multiply my pennnies & in His unsurpassable riches, meet all your needs. Easter Joy!

  • Liz

    Reading your column daily lifts my spirit and reminds me that there are concerned, authentic Catholics out there – by the end of the week you will have my $26.80 – God has blessed me once again in a small financial way and God has blessed me in a big spiritual way with TCT. May God bless all of you at TCT and enable you to continue doing His work.

  • Mike

    Slightly annoyed
    Why are donations are requested when it is so easy for the rest of us to set up a blog, website etc. at no/little cost. My experience with Catholic periodicals over the years is that there is a certain circle of writers of prominence who do the articles to the exclusion of most. I agree with the views from these writers, but my guess is that their contributions are sideline pieces and not a prime source of income.

    Accordingly, expect no dollars from me

    Respectfully, Mike M.

  • Matt

    Best money I’ll spend all day (possibly all week!)

    Thank you for the continued excellence and enlightenment

  • Robert Royal

    Mike, if you could pull writers who have plenty of other demands on their time together, design and maintain a decent-looking platform, and set up a regular system, you’d find that you have made a mistake about little or no cost. We keep costs to a minimum, but we all — writers and readers — make sacrifices to make TCT work. Keep reading. Maybe you’ll see why we do it.

  • Carol

    Pieces don’t edit themselves and technology doesn’t support itself. If they did I’d be out of a job. The education and spiritual food I find here daily is well worth my *voluntary* contribution. Mike, no one will know if you read and don’t contribute. Just tell your friends and keep coming back. If one of us is nourished then we all are in His Body and that is payment enough.

  • I

    Once upon a time, spreading the Good News and other spiritual acts of mercy was seen as something to be freely given. Indeed, there are countless good, intelligent, thoughtful, and knowledgable people who maintain websites, or who speak at public functions or even teach the Faith at their parish, for FREE. To be sure, one can operate a website on Blogger for FREE.
    Now, these folks are not the *elites* of the Catholic Thing, but they do more good work and without expecting worldly compensation.

  • debby

    2nd post
    WOW! I’m very disappointed in some of the comments here. Ever read the Scriptures concerning just wages? Yes, the Holy Word of God is free. So is attending Mass. This is neither. This is commentary, education, even entertainment. Do you copy DVDs or download music for free? I hope not. & the last time I checked the quality of free education (public), it lacked in soul-food. So go eat for free out of a garbage can if you want. This site is worth it’s words in GOLD. I’ll donate next month too.

  • I*m with Mike

    OK Debby. Are you going to read those disappointing comments for free? or will you be sending us a check too? Jesus did NOT say, “go and make disciples of all nations, and make sure you get paid for it.”
    As for receiving the religious education that catechists and others give for free in parishes and online constituting eating from “a garbage can,” perhaps you want to rephrase that to something less elitist and insulting, not to mention contemptuous of the Faith that is taught?

  • debby

    response to Im with Mike
    HaHa. Yes, i am reading your disappointing comments for free. As for referring to eating from a garbage can, i was speaking about public education & FREE TV. i am not an elitist, i did not even grad from college. i DO appreciate & honor those who WORK to help me know God in a deeper way & to think in an uncommon manner. i HOPE you DONATE $$ to your parish! i dont take them for granted either. try not to be so judgemental. its not good for your soul. i LOVE the FAITH & Support what i love.

  • Mike

    It seems that I have actuated quite a debate about funding TCT. Did not realize my comments would have that effect. Though I read Dr. Royal’s response to my comment (whom I consider an excellent Catholic intellectual), I will still respectfully disagree about the cost-of-operations thing. TCT is a superior Catholic site, but it is commentary/opinion, w/o much data and information exchange and updating as needed by a major news organization. Thus, set up a platform and go… Mike M