A Meditation by John Paul II, translated for the first time in English


The Winter, 2014 issue of Communio includes a beautiful meditation by Pope St. John Paul II, which has never before been translated into English. It may be found in its entirety for free on our website: http://www.communio-icr.com/articles/view/a-meditation-on-givenness


Hurry! Sale ends January 31!


Don’t wait too long!

From now until January 31, 2014, all back issues are 50% off! (Discount is automatically taken in your shopping cart.) Also: receive a free book when you purchase any subscription. Designate your choice in the “Comment” section during the check-out process. Choose from:

  • Being Holy in the World, ed. Nicholas Healy, Jr. and D.C. Schindler
  • Heart of the World, Center of the Church, David L. Schindler
  • Wealth, Poverty, and Human Destiny, ed. Doug Bandow and David L. Schindler

SALE: 50% Off and Free Book!


From now until January 31, 2014, all back issues are 50% off! (Discount is automatically taken in your shopping cart.) Also: receive a free book when you purchase any subscription. Designate your choice in the “Comment” section during the check-out process. Choose from:

  • Being Holy in the World, ed. Nicholas Healy, Jr. and D.C. Schindler
  • Heart of the World, Center of the Church, David L. Schindler
  • Wealth, Poverty, and Human Destiny, ed. Doug Bandow and David L. Schindler

Order before December 16th to ensure delivery by Christmas (applies to U.S. only).

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Introduction to Winter 2012 issue on “Liturgy and Culture”

In his book The Spirit of the Liturgy, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger writes that “cult,” from which our words worship and culture both spring, “goes beyond the action of the liturgy. Ultimately, it embraces the ordering of the whole of human life.”[1] Culture does not supersede liturgy, but rather points to the truth of the liturgy as inherently fruitful, spilling over naturally into the life of man, ordering culture precisely through its ordering of time and space. When understood to embrace all aspects of humanity, liturgy is properly seen also as pedagogy.

Liturgy is thus not meant to be a reflection of man back to himself, but rather an education in and through the mysteries and sacraments which take place. Ratzinger notes, “I discover that something is approaching me here that I did not produce myself, that I am entering into something greater than myself, which ultimately derives from divine revelation.”[2] The whole of man is at stake in the liturgy, and the entire world is implicated in its rites. “Worship,” writes the Orthodox theologian Alexander Schmemann, is “a reality with cosmic, historical and eschatological dimensions, the expression thus not merely of ‘piety,’ but of an all-embracing ‘world-view.’”[3]

In listening to and participating in the liturgy, one discovers depths of meaning of which one is not immediately aware. The articles in the present issue of Communio draw out this meaning by exploring different aspects of the culture’s rootedness in the liturgy and the liturgy’s implications for culture. The purpose is to show  how our own conformation to and participation in the liturgy is the deepest and most proper path to forming and renewing culture.

In “The Liturgy: Presence of a New Body, Source of a Fulfilled Time,” José Granados argues that modernity has lost the symbolic value of the world: nature and history are no longer, as for the ancients, imbued with order and meaning. The liturgy, says Granados, offers a way to recover this lost symbolism through the encounter of human experience with Christ’s revelation. By examining the relationship between the sacraments of marriage and the Eucharist, Granados demonstrates how body and time become a fabric wherein the mystery of God and man reveals itself, and life appears as a path for the divine image to shine at the core of human experience.

David W. Fagerberg, in “The Sacraments as Actions of the Mystical Body,” explains that while the liturgy and the sacraments often occupy two different academic spheres, their relationship is in fact mutually enlightening and indeed necessary. Their interplay is such that liturgy allows us to understand the sacraments as more than discrete instances in a man’s life. Together, sacraments make clear the fundamental theology of the Church’s mission: deification. “We join a liturgy already in progress,” Fagerberg writes; we are “coming to be connected into God’s own perichoresis.”

In “Apostolicity and the Eucharist,” Oliver Treanor investigates the implications of John Paul II’s connection of the term “apostolic” to the Eucharist. By so doing, he says, the Pope opened a challenging and innovative way of approaching the sacrament that constitutes the Church as Christ’s Body. Treanor explores how this approach elucidates the Church’s relationship to the Eucharist in terms of the Paschal Mystery as a manifestation of the Trinity, and how it might, consequently, shed fresh light on the nature of that communion which is presupposed by eucharistic sharing, and which underlies the Church’s pastoral mission as the universal sacrament of salvation.

Nicholas J. Healy’s “The Eucharist as the Form of Christian Life” reflects on the relationship between the eucharistic mystery and the daily life of the faithful. The Church’s faith in Christ’s “real presence”—including his hidden life of work in Nazareth—is eucharistic. “When he hands over the substance of his life to the Church,” Healy writes, “Christ communicates a form or way of life that can include or embrace every aspect of human existence, and ultimately, the entire material order of creation.”

Also in this issue, we present the first of a two-part article by Giorgio Buccellati: “Trinity spermatiké: The Veiled Perception of a Pagan World (Part I).” Buccellati builds on the assumption that the sense of God is ultimately trinitarian, even within polytheism. It is especially the apprehension of dynamism within the absolute that leads to a sense for what, in Christianity, emerges finally as the trinitarian dimension of God. The fact that this sense is distorted in a number of different directions does not lessen the significance of the spiritual desire that is evinced in a number of traditions ranging from the ancients to the moderns.

Continuing our theme of “Liturgy and Culture,” Paolo Prosperi, in his article “The Birth of Sources Chrétiennes and the Return to the Fathers,” recounts the founding of what is often known as nouvelle théologie, a theological renewal begun by a group of Jesuits at Fourvière at Lyons in the 1940s, led by, among others, Henri de Lubac, Hans Urs von Balthasar, and Jean Daniélou. Prosperi highlights the group’s efforts to “return to the sources”—to recover the work of the Fathers of the Church. For the Jesuits at Fourvière, turning to the Fathers meant above all “asserting the unity between dogmatic theology and the living experience of the mystery of Christ and the Church; in brief, . . . the unity between life and thought.”

In “‘The Christian mystery is the mystery of creation’: An Introduction to Jean Daniélou,” Jonah Lynch exposits and reintroduces us to the work of Daniélou. In his capacity both as translator of the early Fathers and as theologian, Daniélou influenced the Second Vatican Council and its reception thereafter. Lynch pays special attention to Daniélou’s first book,The Presence of God, wherein “we see the style that will be the hallmark of all Daniélou’s literary production: it brings everything in—poetic passages and philological research, typology and the discoveries of archaeology—while leading to a precise and attractive description of the mystery of man and God.”

In Retrieving the Tradition, we present the first chapter of The Presence of God. Jean Daniélou explains that through the liturgy, “the universe has become once more a Temple, where we are at home with God in the cool of the evening, where man comes forward, silent and composed, absorbed in his task as in perpetual liturgy, attentive to that Presence which fills him with awe and tenderness.”

Also in Retrieving the Tradition, we offer Virgil Michel’s article, “Christian Culture.” A Benedictine monk of St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota, Michel profoundly influenced the movement for liturgical renewal in English-speaking countries, founding in 1929 the theological journal Orate Fratres to help provide the theological basis and inspiration for this movement. For Michel, the theological ground of the liturgical movement is always first the Body of Christ. He argues that the “Christian is not . . . to turn his back on the entire culture of today. . . . What is needed is to imbue our civilization and culture with a renewed Christian spirit, and thus to give to it the vitality it is seeking.” Michel has a keen sense of the liturgy as pedagogy, and sees that only when Christians are educated into and ordered by the spirit of the liturgy will they be able to educate and order the world, and thus become the salt of the earth.

Finally, in Notes & Comments, Adrian J. Walker reflects on the work of translation in “The Art of the Second Virtue: On the Unity of Freedom and Obedience in Translation.” Walker maintains that “translation is an act of double obedience,” both to the original piece and to the language into which one is translating. Analogous to how man transforms the earth in order to offer it back to God in the liturgy, a translator must both be interpreter and render the original gift anew. This interpretation-of-the-already-given, however, does not constitute a lack of freedom on either the part of the one who participates in liturgy or the translator, for, as Walker writes, “the in-between he inhabits is one that opens up within the generous fecundity of the original itself.” —The Editors

[1]Joseph Ratzinger, The Spirit of the Liturgy, trans. John Saward (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2000), 20.


[2]Ibid., 165.


[3]Alexander Schmemann, For the Life of the World (Crestwood: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1995), 123.


Thank you, Pope Benedict XVI

Communio thanks His Holiness Benedict XVI, Pope Emeritus, for his service to the Church.

Benedict XVI, Pope Emeritus

Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI was a co-founder of Communio: International Catholic Review.

Past articles by Cardinal Ratzinger available online (PDF):

“Luther and the Unity of the Churches: An Interview With Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger.” 11, no. 3 (1984), 210-26.

“Church and Economy: Responsibility for the World Economy.” 18, no. 3 (1986), 199-204.

Communio: A Program.” 19, no. 3 (1992), 436-49.

“Interreligious Dialogue and Jewish-Christian Relations.”  25, no. 1 (1998): 29-41.

“The Holy Spirit as Communio: Concerning the Relationship of Pneumatology and Spirituality in Augustine.” 25, no. 2 (1998): 324-339 RT.

“The Theological Locus of Ecclesial Movements.”  25, no. 3 (1998): 480-504.

“Thoughts on the Place of Marian Doctrine and Piety in Faith and Theology as a Whole.” 30, no. 1 (2003): 147-160.

“Introduction to Christianity: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow.” 31, no. 3 (2004): 481–495.

“Funeral Homily for Msgr. Luigi Giussani.” 31, no. 4 (2004): 685–687.

“Conscience and Truth.” 37, no. 3 (2010): 529-38. RT

“Difficulties Confronting the Faith in Europe Today.” 38, no. 4 (2011): 728-37. RT

View the complete list of articles by Pope Benedict published in Communio

Purchase back issues of these articles through our online bookstore.

Introduction to Fall 2012 issue on “Death”

The Fall, 2012 issue of Communio is dedicated to the theme of “Death.” In his book Eschatology, Joseph Ratzinger points out a “remarkably contradictory” attitude toward death prevalent in modern society: “On the one hand,” he writes, “death is placed under a taboo. It is unseemly. So far as possible, it must be hidden away, the thought of it repressed. . . . On the other hand, one is also aware of a tendency to put death on show, which corresponds to the general pulling down of shame barriers everywhere.” Both tendencies abstract death from life, and these attempts to either push death away or sensationalize it to the point of unreality ultimately accomplish a dehumanization of death. But when death is dehumanized, Ratzinger argues, life is inevitably dehumanized as well, for one does not exist without the other.

The articles in the present issue each, through different lenses, ask with Ratzinger, whence such a contradiction in the modern understanding of death comes, and, in their exploration of the question, begin to point the way to a recovery of what we might call a “Christian attitude towards death.”

In “Singulariter in spe constituisti me: On the Christian Attitude Towards Death,” Adrian J. Walker acknowledges that death is primarily a punishment for sin, but also points to what it reveals about creatureliness. Death, Walker writes, “conceals a medicinal mercy, an opportunity to come to our senses, to wake up from the perverse illusion of godlike autonomy without God.” Though death is in some sense the horror of all creaturely horrors, “Christ’s supernatural conversion of death into the sacrament of eternal life . . . includes its transformation into a confessio by which we fulfill our nature through the self-return into the hands of the Creator that we once refused him in Paradise.”

David S. Crawford, in “The Gospel of Life and the Integrity of Death” discusses the contradiction in modern culture’s attitude toward death pointed out above by Ratzinger. The so-called death with dignity movement and the trend to treat aging as a disease are paradigms of the simultaneous tendencies to relativize and absolutize the importance of life. Crawford identifies the common roots of each of these seemingly opposed movements as modernity’s turn to mechanism. He goes on to contrast this attitude with the analogous Christian absolutization and relativization of life, according to which life needs to experience “something like death” in order to be a life founded in love. The technical attempts to dominate life and death, Crawford argues, are not wrong in their tendency to absolutize or relativize life; rather, these attempts go astray because they turn a proper absolutization and relativization upside down, fervently denying that there should ever be anything ‘death-like’ in love.

In “The Gift of the Dying Person,” Ruth Ashfield invites us to stop and consider the experience of those who are suffering and dying, and shows how in doing so we discover truths of the human condition that enrich and are necessary to our understanding of life. Drawing on the work of Dr. Cicely Saunders, founder of the modern hospice movement, and John Paul II, Ashfield explores a language of the suffering and dying body. In this exploration the dying person emerges as not only a witness to the dynamism of gift which lies at the heart of reality, but also as one who calls those who stay with him to true communion through genuine compassion.

Patricia Snow also explores the meaning of the body in terms of death, in “The Body and Christian Burial: The Question of Cremation.” Snow asks why cremation has again become an attractive option for many Christians, and explains that while the Church has relaxed its ban on cremation, the profound significance of funeral and burial is not to be passed over easily or quickly. “In the synthesis that was effected when the whole Christ rose from the dead,” Snow writes, “it was the supernatural affirmation of the body that was definitively new.” A casual attitude towards cremation or burial, she argues, betrays a culture-wide apathy to the mystery of the Incarnation, which effects “a marriage of flesh and spirit, heaven and earth, God and human race.”

The present issue also continues a discussion of brain death begun in the Summer, 2011 issue of Communio. Two articles were then published on whether brain death is the death of human person. Now we present Nicholas Tonti-Filippini’s reply to Robert Spaemann in “‘Bodily Integration’: A Response to Spaemann.” Tonti-Filippini argues that the brain is necessary for true bodily integration “because without the brain the integration that remains is only between parts of the body rather than the body as a whole.” D. Alan Shewmon, to whom much of Tonti-Filippini’s criticism is leveled, also weighs in on the debate, in a reply to Tonti-Filippini. Shewmon argues that “there is absolutely no compelling philosophical or scientific reason to suppose that brain death, however total and irreversible, is ipso facto the death of a human being as such.” In his article, “You Only Die Once: Why Brain Death is Not the Death of a Human Being,” Shewmon draws on his medical experience and research, as well as the hylemorphism Tonti-Filippini wishes to defend, in order to demonstrate that it is not the brain, but the soul, which constitutes bodily integration, and therefore, life.

Lastly, we include the final installment of a decade long series on The Mysteries of the Life of Jesus. Begun in Spring, 2002, we now close the series with an article on “The Return of Christ.” In “The End of History: The Parousia of Christ as Cosmic Liturgy,” Luis Granados asks what meaning the Parousia holds for us, and what its relevance is for the path Christ walked in the mysteries of the flesh. Granados examines the Parousia’s relationship to the other mysteries of the life of Jesus in order to shed light on the meaning of the time that unfolds between the Resurrection and the Final Judgment. If Christ is truly the end of history, it will be his life that should reveal to us the meaning of the ages. Between the coming in poverty and the coming in glory, time dilates and opens up to the action of the Spirit in man. This divine work is actualized in the mystery of the liturgy, which is a foretaste of the end of human history and that of the whole cosmos. In liturgy, Granados argues, we discover the bridge between present life and definitive life, and thus also the meaning that the mystery of the Parousia has in the divine plan.

Finally, Communio is pleased to welcome Katherine G. Quan as our new managing editor, and we extend our profound gratitude to Emily Lyon neé Rielley, who leaves the managing editor’s position she so capably filled for the past ten years. We wish her abundant joy and fruitfulness in her new way of life, and we cherish the memories of the time she spent with us. —The Editors

George Grant. In Defense of North America

From the archives:

George Grant. In Defense of North America (Communio 38: Summer 2011, reprinted from 1969).

From the text:

Indeed until recently the very absence of a contemplative tradition spared us the full weight of that public nihilism which in Europe flowered with industrial society. The elimination of the idea of final purpose from the scientific study of the human and nonhuman things not only led to the progress of science and the improvement of conditions but also had consequences on the public understanding of what it was to live. But this consequence was not so immediately evident in our practical culture as it was to Europeans. We took our science pragmatically, as if its effect on us could be limited to the external. Thus it was possible for us to move deeply into the technological society, while maintaining our optimism and innocence.

In the public realm, this optimism and innocence delayed the appearance among us of many of those disorders which in Europe were concurrent with that nihilism. . . . full text (PDF)

GEORGE GRANT (1918-1988), one of Canada’s foremost philosophers, was the author of six books, more than 200 articles, and numerous other publications. This article was originally published in his Technology and Empire (1969).

Juan Sara: Secular Institutes According to Hans Urs von Balthasar

Now online: Juan Sara, Secular Institutes According to Hans Urs von Balthasar (2002)

From the text:

What Balthasar is proposing with the secular institutes, then, is the possibility of embracing “from below” within the obedience of love the negative tendency operating in the West since the late Middle Ages, its visceral “No” to being assumed in Christ — thanks to the qualitative decisions of those called to an exclusive consecration of this obedience of love in representation of all. What is at stake is thus more than a mere critique from a distance: it is nothing less than a real, patient entrance into the other in order to participate in the substitutionary event of the decision of Christ himself. By the same token, the ultimate goal of the secular institutes is, in Balthasar’s conception, to foster an existential, eucharistic echo in present history of that original dialogue between the triune God and Mary that we saw above. This dialogue is nothing other than the growth of the world in total gift to God, authentic worldly profession in Christian consecration, the flowering of the logos in the divine Logos, the fruitfulness of God in man.  (full text)

Published in Communio: International Catholic Review 29, no. 2 (Summer 2002).

David Crawford: Benedict XVI and the Structure of the Moral Act: On the Condoms Controversy


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Also in the current issue, David S. Crawford explicates the controversy around Pope Benedict’s comments (in the 2010 interview Light of the World) on condom use: Benedict XVI and the Structure of the Moral Act: On the Condoms Controversy (pdf).

More by David S. Crawford:

Christian Community and the States of Life: A Reflection on the Anthropological Significance of Virginity and Marriage. (2002) | Consecration and Human Action: The Moral Life as Response. (2004) | Love, Action, and Vows as ‘Inner Form’ of the Moral Life. (2005)| Of Spouses, the Real World, and the ‘Where’ of Christian Marriage. (2006) | Conjugal Love, Condoms, and HIV/AIDS (2006) | Liberal Androgyny: ‘Gay Marriage’ and the Meaning of Sexuality for Our Time. (2006) | Recognizing the Roots of Society in the Family, Foundation of Justice. (2007) | Natural Law and the Body: Between Deductivism and Parallelism. (2008)