The Catholic Thing
Res Gestae Print E-mail
By Robert Royal   
Monday, 01 June 2009

Readers of this site are by and large an unusually learned lot. But just in case your Latin is a little rusty, the title of this morning’s column means (literally) “things done.” And one of the things that is now done – today exactly as it turns out – is the first year of publication for The Catholic Thing.

There are several ways to mark such milestones.

The older Roman way, which is to say, the pagan way is to brag. The Res Gestae Divi Augusti is a collection of boasts published by the Emperor Augustus late in his life that, in retrospect, look like pretty small beer for a man who ruled the mighty Roman Empire (e.g., “No. 23. I gave the people a spectacle of a naval battle, in the place across the Tiber where the grove of the Caesars is now, with the ground excavated in length 1,800 feet, in width 1,200, in which thirty beaked ships, biremes or triremes, but many smaller, fought among themselves; in these ships about 3,000 men fought in addition to the rowers.”) I sometimes wonder whether Our Lord Himself might have come upon a copy of this sad assertion of self-importance on one of the monuments erected by the Romans in Palestine. It’s a melancholy warning about taking your achievements, as pagans are wont to do, too seriously.

The newer Roman way, which is to say, the Catholic way of marking such anniversaries, is to give thanks. To some of you, that may sound merely sentimental, but to the writers and editors who had to make sure that a reasonably lucid column appeared on every one of the 260 weekday mornings since last June 2, it represents the sheerest realism. There are any number of reasons – human, diabolic, financial, technical – why a new publication can stumble. And on more than a few days in the past year, the only plausible reason why that has not happened seems to have been the direct intervention of the Divine Mercy.

In saying this, I do not mean to belittle in the least the selfless and sometimes heroic commitment of our regular writers or my fellow editors. If I have one complaint about the comments I sometimes receive from readers, it’s that they think that busy people who are seasoned writers turn out this high level commentary without much thought or effort. But here’s the truth. Hadley Arkes went out of his way to write that wonderful piece last week about enduring untruths while correcting 250 final exams at Amherst. Austin Ruse informed us about the billionaire population controllers while recovering from jet lag after a trip to Brussels during which he was combating European Union efforts to promote abortion worldwide. I could go on, but you get the point.

Here’s another. A dear friend, the editor of a journal on religion and the arts, visited on Memorial Day last week. During the course of a pleasant afternoon watching the national parade, he mentioned in passing that he didn’t understand the controversy about Obama at Notre Dame. I’ve known this man for years. He’s solidly Catholic, deeply intelligent, and dismissive of cafeteria Catholics. Yet no one ever really explained to him what was at stake.

We didn’t have a chance to pursue the subject, but it made me realize that our mission at The Catholic Thing is still in its infancy. There’s a hopeful element about people like this. Yes, they don’t immediately grasp our concerns, but not because they are indifferent or, still worse, because they are complicit in denaturing the faith. The secular analysts have not yet recognized this segment of Catholics, which is perhaps why they were surprised to find recently that majority of Americans – Catholics and others – describe themselves as pro-life. But human beings are complex, and spending some time with this friend reminded me that we still have much to do to engage even those who are largely sympathetic with our goals.

That said, people have been paying us serious attention. By clicking on the icon in the column to the right, you will find that The Catholic Thing has just been nominated in two categories for the 2009 Catholic New Media Awards: Best Overall Catholic Website and Best Group Blog. Since the results are determined by popular vote – and we still have a medium-sized though growing and passionate audience – I do not expect that we will win in either category. But the first nomination, I would argue, is only just, since the work of our writers over this first year is beyond all question without equal anywhere.

The second nomination – as I must sometimes remind even our friends – is not really accurate and in fact is misleading. We are not and have never tried to be a blog, whatever that ungainly term means, let alone a Group Blog. Since June 2, 2008, we have always said that our only goal is to provide a daily column, an old media form, via the Internet every morning to people who appreciate intelligent Catholic commentary – namely to you, our regular readers.

There seems to be no such category among the New Media awards. Our concern here, however, is and will remain not the new or the old, but the Catholic, the timeless, the universal, the true. Over the past year, we have tried in our modest way to keep alive a sense of the real things that are beyond us all. Not our own paltry ideas but the res gestae of God, to which we all, writers and readers alike, owe all that we are and do, and to which we all have a perpetual obligation to remain faithful.

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

(c) 2009 The Catholic Thing. All rights reserved. For reprint rights write to: info at thecatholicthing dot org

The Catholic Thing is a forum for intelligent Catholic commentary. Opinions expressed by writers are solely their own.

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Comments (13)Add Comment
My gratitude as well
written by Brad Miner, June 01, 2009
Being senior editor of The Catholic Thing is a great blessing in my life, as are my friendships with Bob Royal and Kirk Kramer. Working with such a distinguished group of authors is humbling and elevating at the same time. And to all our many readers and commenters, I join Bob in expressing our gratitude. -Brad
written by Liz, June 01, 2009
Can't believe I have been reading The Catholic Thing for one year!! Time does fly when one is having fun! Your publication is the best. And, Mr. Miner, I have just ordered two The Compleat Gentleman 2009 ed. for my son (age 35) and son-in-law (36) - they both need it desperately! Seriously though, your publication is indeed intelligent Catholic commentary, with cogent argument presented always. I quote from you all often.
Gustate et Videte
written by Willie, June 01, 2009
Your website provides a great uplift to those minds that are truly Catholic. It is not often that one sees a side of the academia that contrasts with the liberal relatavists who seem to have captured our universities, politics and indeed part of our Church. I have asked a few friends, not many, to taste and see TCT. I beiieve they are now daily readers. I believe too it is Divine Providence that has helped to assemble such an array of the finest minds. Happy Birthday TCT.
written by Vincent Debo, June 01, 2009
I look forward every morning to your comments and treasure the knowledge and guidance I receive from your comments . Thank you so much.

Unlearnered & thankful
written by debby, June 01, 2009
i've said this before, but as a mom repeating myself is habit--this is by far my favorite site. i tell everyone i can about it. i've bought many of your books & pray God continue to grow your readership. you are all doing His work while getting things done!
i have no latin training but i beg our Lady-Mom now: Ora pro nobis.
thank you over & over for every effort.
today, the feast of St. Justin Marytr, may you always proclaim truth, no matter the cost-just like him. ALL FOR GOD ALONE.
written by karen, June 01, 2009
I've only recently found TCT, but I am so glad that I did. 1 year of service to all the readers is a wonderful accomplishment and I am grateful for your dedication to putting out thoughtful and relevant articles each day.
written by Tom Cabeen, June 01, 2009
I first became acquainted with your writing through "The God Who Did Not Fail." After many years as a devout Protestant, only Catholic for three years, I am thrilled to explore the wonderful resources available for Catholics in search of reliable knowledge about God and the world he has made. You and your staff contribute so much for the benefit of people like me. Thank you!
written by Beth, June 01, 2009
I found this website through the recommendation of Frank Beckwith at What's Wrong With the World, when you first began, and I've been reading it almost daily since. I'm not Catholic, but I find much wisdom and encouragement here and am grateful to each of you for it. Happy first birthday and congratulations!
Protestant reader
written by Jonathan, June 02, 2009
I found this site through an ad on the First Things site. I've been checking in often since the site began. The essays are wonderful, especially (in my mind) those of Hadley Arkes. Please, keep up the good work. I'm looking forward to another year of The Catholic Thing.
written by Tom Nolan, June 02, 2009
Many thanks to the writers and other staff at TCT! It refreshing to see there are those committed to providing this valuable service to society. I can count on TCT for providing logical, thoughtful, and informed information as a spark for additional reflection on key subjects. The distinction of a column versus blog also provides a refreshing journalistic discipline which is so refreshing for online information. This is important work. Please keep it up!
written by Lúcia, June 03, 2009
Don`t know what is "Title". Sorry. My compliments for the fisrt anniversary. I read you almost every day. My English is poor, but I get the essential of your commentaries. As we say here in Brazil ( São José do Rio Preto-SP), "bola prá frente!" which means: go ahead! Volente Deo. Lúcia
written by Nancy, June 04, 2009
Congratulations on your first anniversary! You really have so much to celebrate! The unique aspects of TCT (IE: column format, multiple contributing authors and wide breadth of topics) are all reasons why I choose to read your site daily. Thank you for all of your hard work and dedication in bringing TCT to its readers and thank you to all of the writers who share their time, talent and faith.
Yay Catholic Thing
written by Jhm718, July 31, 2009
As I stumble through my backlog of Catholic Thing articles, I am reminded just how much I love The Catholic Thing! It fortifies me every time I read it.

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