Monday, September 29, 2014

best laid plans

This blog is going on semi-hiatus.   Please keep in touch via and Twitter @SpiritualDiabet.  Yes, it'll return, but posts will be spotty for a while.  How long that while lasts remains to be seen.  Pray for the Church, Pope Francis, the clergy, all the faithful, and for the sick, poor, dying, and lonely.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

new blog

Mark Shea recommended Leticia's new blog.  Even the shortest glance indicated that, not only was Shea right (about this and much more), but I think I might have some competition for that coveted "St. Augustine award for off-beat Catholic humor blog."  She introduces herself:

I am a hot mess convert who loves Jesus and has a scandalous sense of humor. I love music,reading, writing. If I am ever canonized I will be the patron saint of people who can’t stop cussing.

 Well, we'll see about that.  I usually reserve discussions of canonization for, well, y'know, those becoming saints.  However, I've certainly populated that "can't stop cussing" crowd more than once.  Ha ha.

Best wishes for what looks like a great new addition to the Catholic blogosphere!

another angle on the familiar tensions

conventional wisdom:  PreVatican II= conservative, post-Vatican II=liberal but submarined by lurking conservatives, now rehabilitated by Pope Francis.

OK, so we've all heard that tune before.  But then consider this reading of the same period;  the Benedictines, supporting Pope St. Pius X, set up the Mass as the high point of Catholic prayer while the Jesuits give a prominent role to individual reflection (following the lead of St. Ignatius Loyola).

Read it all here.

This conclusion seemed particularly interesting:
Perhaps the most ironic twist in this still unresolved (and now more complicated) debate is the contrast between the current pope and his predecessor. Although not a Benedictine by profession, Benedict XVI closely identified throughout his career with the monastic vision of the all-pervasive centrality of the sacred liturgy, where God and man can meet most profoundly in praise and in communion, at once expressing and accomplishing the unity of the Mystical Body of Christ. At his first general audience in April 2005, he explained that he had chosen the name Benedict in large part as a homage to the Father of Western Monasticism, co-patron of Europe and architect of Christian civilization. With the first Jesuit and overseas pope, we have a pastor who appears to hold many of those modern Jesuit views that Blessed Columba Marmion and other Benedictines, in the name of fidelity to St. Pius X, so stalwartly resisted in the first half of the twentieth century, and that Ratzinger/Benedict himself patiently opposed in his writings and magisterial acts. We have unexpectedly seen the trajectories of the two schools played out before our very eyes in the magisterium, ars celebrandi, and priorities of each pontificate.

Quite honestly, while intrigued I am not quite ready to accept this too readily. After all, St. Ignatius Loyola made it pretty clear:  we are to think with the Church (see #353).  Still, it's an incredibly helpful perspective when considering the state of contemporary Catholicism. Which, btw, a recent poll indicates there remains much room for improvement.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


Over at Crux, the new Boston endeavor by John Allen, Jr., the man himself addresses the recent run of papal appointments.  Conservatives have been enlathered by the demotion (real or perceived) of Cardinal Raymond Burke, and the recent appointment of Bishop Blase Cupich to the Archdiocese of Chicago. Allen, though, points to recent appointments to the International Theological Commission. Then he surmises:

To be clear, all of these people are accomplished thinkers who are eminently qualified to advise the Vatican on doctrinal matters. It’s hard not to be struck, however, by the fact that they seem to come largely from one side of the street.

So, what gives? Is Francis suffering from multiple personality syndrome, or is there another explanation?

Yes, there is:  we're seeing now Francis' vision coming into focus, and it's not, Allen argues, what some think or fear.

Yet Francis is a hands-on pope, and he wouldn’t sign off on these decisions if he weren’t aware of what they meant. 

Perhaps the best hypothesis is that what Francis is really after isn’t a turn to the left, but a new balance. He’s said he wants the church to be in dialogue with everyone, and one way to accomplish that is to ensure a mix of points of view in leadership positions. 

Pope John XXIII allegedly once said, “I have to be pope both for those with their foot on the gas, and those with their foot on the brake.” Though the saying may be apocryphal, the wisdom is spot-on, and Francis’ recent personnel moves seem to reflect some of the same thinking.

Read the whole thing here.

Monday, September 15, 2014

bet the readers didn't see THAT coming...

Elizabeth Scalia, editor of the Catholic portal at (a great set of Catholic blogs there!), links to Roger Cohen of the New York Times.  As Scalia relates, Cohen says what everybody should recognize but rarely want to express:  things are not going well.  Scalia:

It is, finally, perhaps a time of dawning realization that the centers are not holding; old orders are in extremis; new orders are in capricious adolescence.
The troubles briefly enumerated in this sobering op-ed are only the most obvious issues. They are the pebble tossed into the pond, rippling outward in ever-widening circles — expanding to include a unique “time” of global crisis: governments failing at every level, everywhere; churches are divided, their freedoms challenged; citizens are distracted, dissatisfied and distrustful, their election mechanisms in doubt; schools are losing sight of the primary mission of education; families are deconstructed and the whole concept ripe for dissolution; respect for human dignity is doled out in qualified measures; there is a lack of privacy; a lack of time to think, to process and to incarnate; a lack of silence.
The Book of Judges closes at 21:25: "In those days there was no king in Israel; all the people did what was right in their own eyes."

Yep, that pretty much nails it.
But Scalia doesn't stop there.

as anniversaries approach...

I will take a few stabs at gauging what it all means. Here's a first shot over at the St Joseph's Theology blog...

Friday, September 5, 2014

ya gotta be kidding me file #3225918375

Lifelike funerals

H/T Steve Thorngate at Christian Century


Honesty time:  I drafted this back in July, pre-family vacation (fun had by all, btw), pre-Robin Williams suicide, pre-ISIL beheadings and child marriages, pre-Ferguson.  So there are more pressing matters at hand. Nevertheless, because our world seems like it's falling apart at the seams just now these outlandish attempts to script our lives beyond the grave seem so, well, ridiculous. As if we have that much power.  We do, as the headlines indicate, though, possess the power and will to each other egregious harm, violence, and death.  We rightly wrestle with discerning effective plans of action.

Lifelike funerals, though, remind of the Polish phrase:
nie twój cyrk, nie twoje małpy (not your circus, not your monkeys)

if it's good enough for the students, it's good enough for the blog readers

I teach college.  I've been at it for about twenty years.  It was and remains the one job I've sought and desired.  Some kids grow up wanting to jump out of airplanes, quarterback a football team, or become President.  Once I arrived at Wabash, I knew I wanted to follow in the footsteps of those teaching me.

Cutting to the current semester, my Ethics and Values students will be contributing posts to a course blog.  (Sorry--this will be a private, students-only blog not available on Blogger or anywhere else.)  To give them some idea of what I had in mind, I drummed up the following.  It runs on *much* longer than what they're expected to do, but it hopefully establishes some parameters.

For those who find this stuff interesting, please add a comment.  Before you get angry, though, do remember here I'm blogging for a student audience.

If you want something done right....
do it yourself.  Or at least show folks what you have in mind.

So here goes. Curious about this blog assignment?  Read through this once or twice and then construct your own.  My first post (because who knows? maybe I'll post a couple more...) will be longer than your 150-250 word requirement.

First, a couple things:  a) social media--if you're on Facebook and/or Twitter, feel free to connect at and @SpiritualDiabet.  I have another blog at  You are not required any of these.  Just FYI...  b) keep the old 1980s song in mind: "Show me, Don't Tell me";  work on weaving together your argument with the sources you use.  Embed your link (so we can access it) and then start commenting.  That's the "show";  if it's just a rant, then you're merely "telling."