Of New Things and Old

Note: TCT Editor-in-Chief Robert Royal, reporting from Rome, will join host Raymond Arroyo on EWTN’s “The World Over” tomorrow at 8PM EDT to discuss new personnel in the curia, the papal trip to Malta, and a conference in Chicago about opposition to Pope Francis. Shows are rebroadcast at different times after the initial airing (consult your local listings) and are also usually available later on EWTN’s YouTube channel.

The Catholic tradition is, by its very nature, a dynamic mix of things old and new. Without the old – things that even go back beyond all memory into the mists of time to the very beginning – we would not be anchored in what the Creator intended when He brought us into existence on this earth. Neither would we know how He then revealed Himself to us, in historical stages, as the times required. Those times, however, are also a crucial part of the tradition because the Bible shows us that God is always freshly at work in history, which means that He remains and guides us in every time and place, whatever human changes may come to the fore.

Which is one reason why we’ve got many new things planned.

I am in Rome for several days at present and will be posting several times in the coming week to “The Vatican Thing,” a new initiative for us. As regular readers know, in the past we’ve covered conclaves and synods as they have occurred, with special sections of reporting in addition to the regular daily column, which will continue to appear each morning.

But we thought that starting “The Vatican Thing” – given the developments in preparation for the Synod on Synodality, Rome’s new curial structure and appointments of new personnel, and the Church’s involvement in public questions like the current war in Ukraine and the refugee crisis it has created – would make it easier to treat important developments more fully as they take place. Watch for it in coming days. It won’t be a regular feature, but will appear as the need arises.

Among other things to watch out for as Spring is springing and Easter approaching are a number of older and newer activities that we are sponsoring, connected to better informing ourselves about the Catholic tradition as we confront new challenges.

A large number of TCT readers have already begun to take advantage of this growing part of our work.  Many of you – there have already been thousands – who enrolled in the courses we’ve offered recently on Dante’s Divine Comedy and Augustine’s Confessions have been asking when the next course will appear. (The previous ones are now available in an “on-demand” format by the way, which means you can take them at any time at your leisure: see here.) I’m working on preparing Augustine’s City of God, probably for this Fall.


In the meantime, however, we’re delighted that our colleague and friend (and fellow Papal Posse rider) Fr. Gerald E. Murray will be offering a brisk four-week course on his new book Calming the Storm: Navigating the Crises Facing the Catholic Church and Society. Fr. Murray’s book is one that every serious Catholic will want to read carefully. And what better way than to do so than with the author himself, a distinguished priest, canon lawyer, and commenter on current controversies? You can enroll – and receive the book as well – by clicking on the ad in the right-hand column or by clicking here.

But there’s even more. The Faith & Reason Institute (the parent institution for The Catholic Thing) has begun to manage the many fine online courses of the International Catholic University. ICU was the brainchild of Ralph McInerny, for many years a regular TCT columnist and legendary professor at the University of Notre Dame until his death. You have to look at the ICU website to believe the amazing list of faculty and Catholic subjects detailed there. I’d point in particular to courses like Ralph’s own  “Introduction to St. Thomas Aquinas,” (here) and Fr. Joseph Koterski’s courses on “The Spiritual Life” (here) and on JPII’s encyclical on truth Veritatis Splendor (here).

Our course manager Hannah Russo can help, as always, with registration and the viewing of all ICU and TCT courses.

While we are on the subject of Catholic education and formation, the Faith & Reason Institute will resume its Slovak Summer Seminar on the Free Society this June 23 to July 3. The SSFS is a program for university students (undergraduate and graduate levels) and young professionals. Michael Novak – the founder of the Seminar and one of the founders ofTCT – started the program in 2001, which ran every year until COVID-19 forced us to suspend meeting in 2020 and 2021. We’ll finally be celebrating our 20th anniversary this year in Bratislava with a very rich program.

Students accepted come primarily from Europe and the United States, but we’ve had participants from as far away as the Philippines and Australia. The program consists of a week of seminars on the foundations of truly free and virtuous societies – the moral/cultural, intellectual, economic, and political principles involved. Several faculty will be familiar to TCT readers: besides myself, Mary Eberstadt, William Saunders, Fr. Derek Cross, William Fahey, and others. This is both a stimulating educational event, and a valuable cultural and social experience for students from very different backgrounds. Info about how to apply is available by clicking here (deadline for applications is May 15).

People sometimes ask me why we’ve gotten into these educational initiatives over the years when there are so many Catholic schools and colleges already in existence. If we were confident that most of them were doing their jobs – forming young (and less than young) Catholics in knowledge and wisdom – it wouldn’t be necessary. We may hope for a day when that is again true.

And we’ve even been working at that. This year will see the return of the Fides et Ratio Seminars under FRI’s auspices, week-long gatherings of faculty, staff, and administrators from Catholic colleges and universities. The Introductory Seminar, “Christian Learning, Catholic Education and Christian Living” is being sponsored by the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, June 3 – 10. The second advanced Seminar, “American Regime and Catholic Thought and Practice, 1776 – 1860” is being sponsored by Saint Vincent College, Latrobe, PA June 25 – July 2. For additional information and registration, contact Dr. Patrick Powers at [email protected].

In our experience, there are many people, of all ages and in varying walks of life, interested in a better formation in Faith and Reason. If you’re one of them, I hope you’ll take advantage of what we’re working to bring to you through these many different channels.


*Image: Meeting of Doctors at the University of Paris by Etienne Colaud, 1537 [Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris]. The illustration is from the illuminated manuscript, Chants royaux.

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Matthew Anderson’s Want Stronger Catholics? Teach Poetry

+James V. Schall, S.J.’s Note from the Present Underground

Robert Royal is editor-in-chief of The Catholic Thing and president of the Faith & Reason Institute in Washington, D.C. His most recent books are Columbus and the Crisis of the West and A Deeper Vision: The Catholic Intellectual Tradition in the Twentieth Century.