Highlights from the week online

Reason as well as faith drove the crusades

At Catholic World Report, Timothy Lusch welcomed a recent book, How to Plan a Crusade, by Christopher Tyerman of Oxford University. “The crusades have frequently been portrayed as ultimate symbols of of the power of credulity … the blind leading the deluded,” Tyerman writes in his introduction, adding: “What follows argues that in almost all respects this image is false.”

Tyerman’s book, which exhaustively details how crusades were planned, motivated and organised, “is a unique achievement, and one that forcefully corrects the astigmatic perception that the crusades were irrational, reactionary, and born of ignorant fanaticism.” It shows that the rural peasantry, far from living in “murky ignorance”, knew much about national and international politics; that recruitment drives relied on reason, not mere emotion or fanaticism; and that the military efforts – which were attempts to re-conquer formerly Christian lands – had to be carried out with a meticulous eye for detail.

The many meanings of holy water

At The Catholic Thing, Michael Pakaluk said that many of his friends could testify to the usefulness of blessed water. “They were troubled at night by twisted dreams, for instance – and after they began sprinkling holy water on the bed each night, and said a Hail Mary or three, the problem vanished and never returned. Something my own life experiences tend to corroborate.”

Holy water is attractive to children and adults alike. And as “we get holy water freely – we need only bring a bottle to the church and fill it – it teaches that the most precious things in life have no price. They are freely given by God, if we simply look for them in the right place.”

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