Tuesday, November 25, 2014


Forthcoming from the the Catholic Apostolate Center!  Great folks doing great work there.  Their webinars include:
The Family as Domestic Church: A Prophetic Witness Against Rugged Individualism
Edward J. Trendowski
Professor of Pastoral Theology, St. Joseph's College of Maine
November 25, 7:00pm EST
The recent Extraordinary Synod on the Family has garnered much attention. As a domestic church, a family can thrive when it is rooted in prayer and communal life, and when the family centers itself on the breaking of the bread (cf. Acts 2:42). The family can be a prophetic witness against the rugged individualism which is present all over the world. This webinar will focus on practical ways that a Catholic family can be a domestic church and also offer ideas for individuals to contemplate which deeply affect family life today.

Missionary Apostles for the 21st Century
Susan M. Timoney, S.T.D.
Assistant Secretary for Pastoral Ministry and Social Concerns, Archdiocese of Washington
December 2, 8:00pm EST
Pope Francis wants a church of missionary disciples. Does that include you? Dr. Timoney will discuss the vocation and mission of the Laity in the work of evangelization as shaped by Evangelii Nuntiandi and Evangnelii Gaudium.

Monday, November 24, 2014

traveling show

Last week I had the wonderful opportunity to speak at the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota.  A wonderful place with wonderful people led by Monsignor James Shay, a dynamic young university president if there ever was one.

UMary invited me to speak about ecumenical dialogue in recognition of the 50th anniversary of Unitatis Redintegratio, the Second Vatican Council's decree on ecumenical dialogue. Here's a video of my morning convocation for the students.  After a lunch with the members of  the Christian Leadership Conference--an ecumenical group of Protestant clergy from the Bismarck/Mandan area, I then delivered a lecture that night further exploring ecumenical dialogue and the legacy of Pope Paul VI and Pope Francis.

It was an honor to visit UMary and deliver these talks, but it was especially inspiring and challenging to meet so many people committed to their faith and their education and/or ministry.  Recently First Things made mention of an ecumencial conference held at John Brown University in Arkansas.  UMary is another place where this important work--which admittedly sees its share of disagreements--goes on.  Christian unity is, along with works of mercy and evangelism, a primary concern of the Church.  I am grateful to UMary for the invitation to make a contribution!

Monday, November 17, 2014

25 years

Today's the 25th anniversary of the murder of six Jesuits and two of their staff in El Salvador. Here's a great blog tribute by my fellow Capital District Catholic blogger, Fran Szpylczyn.  Well worth the read.

back to the land

Awhile ago I published a book on the Catholic rural life movement.  During the first half of the twentieth century more than a few Catholics found "life on the land" quite attractive.  Much more so than the usual urban, "parish factory" Catholic style dominating cities and larger towns in the American northeast.  A great idea, lots of neat eco-Catholic spirituality generated (and all this in the time PRIOR to Vatican II), but it sort of flopped--which I addressed in the book.

OK, so what?

Well, that call back to the land ain't dead--and it can reach corners presumably impervious to the ascetic call.  Check out this story about former-NFL player Jason Brown.  Obviously his previous occupation helps with certain financial realities, but then that's precisely why he's able to farm differently (something the Catholic rural lifers wanted to do, too):
See, his plan for this farm, which he calls "First Fruits Farm," is to donate the first fruits of every harvest to food pantries. Today it's all five acres--100,000 pounds--of sweet potatoes.
"It's unusual for a grower to grow a crop just to give away," said Rebecca Page, who organizes food collection for the needy. "And that's what Jason has done. And he's planning to do more next year."
Brown has 1,000 acres here, which could go a long way toward eliminating hunger in this neck of North Carolina.
"Love is the most wonderful currency that you can give anyone," said Brown.

Decisions and people like this keep the Gospel's vibrancy and dynamism before our eyes.  When we get too comfortable, well, things get mechanical and unloving.  Quite frankly I have struggled with this myself over the years.  Many of my colleagues--people whose work, scholarship, and sense of humor I have admired--have come to begrudge Catholicism (and really Christianity generally, as G. K. Chesteron observed) for its intrinsic difficulty.  It hurts, basically.  So we seek and prefer the easy--and then metalwork the Gospel to fit our desires.  The consequences bother us NOT because, well, we don't care.  Blogger Kevin O'Brien recounts a version of this here.  Good stuff--read it.

Meanwhile, Mr. Brown plans his next crop--to grow and give away.

Monday, November 10, 2014

resist the temptation

...to abuse the privileges afforded us on the Internet and social media.  Latest installment:  Deacon Greg Kandra notes Father Z's reasons for moderating comments.  Basically, as Kandra puts it, some people really are sick.  And the anonymity of the Internet gives free reign to their sickness.

Father Z:
Conservatives and traditionalists certainly have their wickedly vicious commentators, who, emboldened by anonymity and a lack of immediate consequences, puke their bilious dreck into public view. It is one of the greater concerns I have in my life and work here.
But I have to say that what you see from liberals outstrips the bile of conservatives by orders of magnitude.

Let me remind you of something. When you post something on the internet, there are consequences, both for you and for others.

You may be a matter of scandal to others, weakening their faith. Direct ad hominem attacks are horrid and unfair, especially when lobbed into the arena with cowardly anonymity. You endanger your immortal soul when you do these things. I sincerely fear that many of the commentators in the combox at the Fishwrap are in danger of going to Hell. Anyone who can write some of the things you see over there has to be spiritually sick in dangers ways.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


No, that's not a reference to the Synod on the Family.  Rather two broader, certainly not necessarily "religious" debates going on that indicate that, well, things are rough all over.

First, LGBTQ activists turn out to be a cannibalistic species.  Readers of this blog and/or blogs quoted here or of like-mindset might be more accustomed to phrases like "Gaystapo" or other complaints about the LGBTQ movement.  <<Note:  I don't employ that language here>>  Folks, it might be worse within than over here on our side.  Part I:  an openly bisexual man gets smeared for discussing more traditional parenting arrangements. Part II:  a feminist, raised by a lesbian, asserts an incovenient truth:  divorce hurts women, period.  That a few divorces stem from gay men discovered their sexual orientation can't cover this up;  women still get hurt.  That message wasn't very popular, either.  The main character within Part II contributes her own piece here.

The interesting point with all this, says this outsider, is the ferocity, speed, and viciousness with which LGBTQ voices turn on each other.  And, apparently lacking some sense of the virtue of charity, the gloves come off quickly.  Have LBGTQ people been bullied?  Yes, of course--but notice how quickly the same tactic gets used within the walls of the community itself.

SECOND, how about Gamergate, y'all???  How real is this?  Mention "Gamergate" to any standard undergraduate classroom and watch the eyes light up, regardless of demographic within the 18-30 age group.  They know about it.  And it indicates a similar level of willingness to engage in brutal and shameless tactics of humiliation and degradation.

In both cases, probably more so with Gamergate, the theological conversationalists seem remote, unconcerned, or more likely, unaware.  The response, if there is one at all, might tend towards "dialogue."  Evangelization demands we "dialogue" with these others in order to reach them better.


The call to evangelization remains intact and inclusive.  We are all called to do it.  However, I do wonder about the current default method.  Are these groups that accept or even recognize "dialogue"? Such romanticized notions of everybody getting along, respecting differences and yet all progressing towards Truth, seem exhausted and ill-equipped.

 Prayer, of course, is the first step--even if they don't join us (and they probably won't).  But then...how might the Church encounter, engage, and eventually convert those who not resort to, but seem to thrill in using, such harsh tactics?  ISIS is not the only group delighting in the use of bloody spectacle and brutal suppression.  We need a new mix of St. Francis of Assisi, St. Ignatius Loyola, St. Catherine of Siena, and St. Josemaria Escriva--a spirituality to moves outward to engage and convert yet peacefully so, that creates a presence in the world yet retreats for prayer and regeneration to emerge anew to call the worldly powers back to the Gospel.  This very well could involve a very real martyrdom--either of the body or of the spirit or at least of one's online presence.

And even then, salvation is a mystery known ultimately to God.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

superstition or clear-eyed reason

Turns out that maybe we're better off living in a world we enchant (falsely) on our own than sit around pretending we have it all figured out.   We know how well that works out.  See David Hammond's post about Halloween, Cardinal Newman, and the movie Vertigo over at the St Joseph's College Theology blog.