Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Laudato Si and Romano Guardini | Word on Fire

Laudato Si and Romano Guardini | Word on Fire  Father Robert Barron's insights on Laudato Si''s theological foundations in the work of Romano Guardini. Very important reading...

Waiting on the Lord! Tick-Tock!

Waiting on the Lord! Tick-Tock!  Blog post by Virginia Lieto, a rising Catholic blogger from North Carolina.  Short, sweet, to the point...with St. Francis de Sales!

The Essential Catholic Hipster Survival Guide: The Catholic Hipster's 2015 #HilariousCatholicWeb ...

The Essential Catholic Hipster Survival Guide: The Catholic Hipster's 2015 #HilariousCatholicWeb ...: One awesome thing about the internet is the massive amount of Catholic humor out there.

When I mention the #NewCatholicRenaissance, these are the sorts of blogs I have in mind.  Why can't the New Evangelization start with a smile and a good laugh (usually at ourselves)?

Friday, June 19, 2015

Thursday, June 18, 2015

LAUDATO SI' -- video

Enjoy this video on Laudato Si'.  The internet is currently exploding with commentaries Catholic and not.  This blog will contribute to that mess soon, but not right now.  A great resource is the Catholic Apostolate Center's info-laden website.  Go visit them!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Love, Tolerance, and the Making of Distinctions | Word on Fire

Love, Tolerance, and the Making of Distinctions | Word on Fire  Father Robert Barron blogs on philosophical distinctions, love & hate, and what 'tolerance' really means.  Father Barron has the theological Midas touch;  everything he produces turns to gold.  We all know this, but sometimes we all need to take time and *read*him* to remind ourselves.  Barron:

Distinctions are called for, furthermore, regarding the word “tolerance,” which is bandied about constantly today. Typically, it has come to mean acceptance and even celebration. Thus, if one is anything shy of ecstatic about gay marriage or transgenderism, one is insufficiently “tolerant.” In point of fact, the term implies the willingness to countenance a view or activity that one does not agree with. Hence, in the context of our wise political system, each citizen is required to tolerate a range of opinions that he finds puzzling, erroneous, repugnant or even bizarre. There are lots of good reasons for this toleration, the most important of which are respect for the integrity of the individual and the avoidance of unnecessary civil strife, but it by no means implies that one is obliged to accept or celebrate those perspectives. Thus, one should certainly tolerate the right of a person to become transgendered without feeling, at the same time, obliged to exult in that person’s choice.

Read the rest here.  Father Barron writes about the Bruce/Caitlynn Jenner situation, but surely these insights apply to more than just that one instance.

The Last Rites of Boromir | Word on Fire

The Last Rites of Boromir | Word on Fire  Great WoF blog post by Daniel Stewart and the particularly Catholic elements in one scene from Fellowship of the Ring.

Why Americans Like Light Beer | The Weekly Standard

Why Americans Like Light Beer | The Weekly Standard  And then there's this piece about America's abiding beer tastes...and how that upsets the beer elites.  I know some Wabash grads who've led the microbrew revolution in Indianapolis, but I know many more who agree with another Wabash friend who said "I'm a beer consumer, not a connoisseur."  It's the consumption--that it exists--that enrages the elites.

You Will Be Assimilated | The Weekly Standard

You Will Be Assimilated | The Weekly Standard  Not the usual fare on this blog but it raises a very important issue regarding religious freedom and the ways in which social policies have come to be discussed, decided, and adjudicated.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Hawthorne Dominicans: At the Final Frontier of Evangelization

Hawthorne Dominicans: At the Final Frontier of Evangelization  by Sr. Anne Flannagan -- a vital, yet unassuming, witness.  These are the kinds of ministries we must remember amid all the headlines and social media storms.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

In the eye of the beholder

Or, as Ed Meese famously said, "I know it when I see it."

Saint Louis University, where I earned by PhD in 1997, has decided to remove a public statue--for decades visible along West Pine Street--just before Commencement due to public pressure. The statue depicted Jesuit father Pierre DeSmet evangelizing two native Americans.  Student and faculty voices protesting its apparent (and apparently obvious) insensitivity finally secured its removal.This story reminded me of what happened to Penn State football coach Paterno.  Deacon Greg Kandra discusses this here.  And here is Jesuit father Claude Pavur's take.  This includes a photo of the supposedly-offending statue.

"Supposedly" because, folks, if you;ve driven anywhere near SLU's campus you already know about the statue.  It.has.been.there.awhile.  Did you see what I did there?  Four years of doctoral studies on that campus and I probably passed that statue two, if not four, times a day (depending on my parking luck).  Is it old-fashioned?  Probably.  Does it represent an earlier aesthetic and outlook?  Sure.  Is it offensive?  Well, if it is now then why not earlier?  Even in the mid-1990s an occasional student would write the school's newspaper complaining of the statue, but these almost always were students from away--as if they hadn't seen it during the myriad campus tours offered during the admissions process, as if they hadn't visited campus at all prior to enrolling.  In other words, those complaining were also those wondering why everybody was so crazy about the Cardinals and/or why the pizza was so, almost Eucharist-host-like, thin.

Furthermore, given the extensive renovations pursued by long-time president Lawrence Biondi, SJ, the DeSmet statue never seemed that prominent in the university's physical space.  In the few years I was there (1993-7) Biondi accomplished the closure of West Pine, the demolition of a decrepit building, the renovation of several buildings that had belonged to dwindling religious orders, and the construction of a fountain/clock-tower space.  The DeSmet statue piece seemed to watch all this development benignly--observant but removed.

All that, though, is external criticism.  Father Pavur makes a deeper point:  the statue's critics entirely misinterpret the piece's meaning and perspective.

The two natives, robust, proudly upright in frame, and clearly fit for battle, are transfixed now in peace, enthralled at the spirit of the man before them. Neither is kneeling. One of them rests on his right calf and raises his left knee. The other stands nobly, holding his spear vertically as a staff, to receive a blessing through the brotherly / fatherly gesture of a hand resting on his shoulder. The stranger, someone truly Other, is speaking words that raise their hearts and minds to the Great Spirit in a way they had not ever experienced before. The man in the robe is looking the standing chief full-square in the eye, giving him his complete attention, seeing into his soul, loving him. The stranger makes both of them feel more noble, more truly who they were meant to be, more truly themselves. He points to a higher way than they have ever known. That is what they sense. That is why they keep looking. They feel the Spirit coming through this man’s words.

Father Pavur's interpretation has at least as much right to be heard as the critics, whether current or the student amateurs of decades past.  Hey, if you like an art piece or you do not like it, you do have a right to express those views--in print, online, etc.  Father Pavur, though, is a Jesuit who worked at SLU and did so in Jesuit history.  So he has an angle on what the statue's original intent might be, not just a passing "ick, how dated" reflex.  Should some statues be removed?  One must allow for the possibility;  consider the Paterno case.  However, the DeSmet statue can remain because it is not a celebration of triumph but rather evangelization.  The question is if any critics today can allow that perhaps that, and not crass triumphalism, lies at the heart of the statue's existence?

Why I remain Catholic

At the behest of Elizabeth Scalia "the Anchoress" who manages the Catholic portal at www.patheos.com, Catholic bloggers have been posting their thoughts on "why I remain Catholic."

Dear Catholic World: Why do YOU Remain a Catholic? - via

What follows is not a systematic apologia (I read and treasure Cardinal Newman, but it should be obvious I'm not him), but just a few thoughts.

1.  TRUTH -- it's what lead me into the Church in 1992 at Christ the King parish in Nashville, TN, and it's what keeps me here.  To whom would I go?

There is no #2.

Admittedly, my understanding and appreciation of #1 has improved and deepened dramatically over the past twenty-three years.  I "get" the Catholic tradition better than I did when in my 20s.  Couldn't that be said about so many other things in life?  But in my 20s I had spent a semester living around this--ancient Roman ruins.

Obviously if around that I couldn't help but notice this:

And the reality of Roman Catholic Christianity--its age, longevity, diversity (even in the late 1980s the Church's universal population was evident in Rome), and its unapologetic theology (even though that's not what Bill Placher meant exactly by the phrase)--hit me.  Here were Christian roots that existed long, long, long before anything I had known in Missouri or Indiana.  No shouting, Bible-thumping preachers, no revivals, etc.  It was, as Cardinal Newman said, a religion.

And I could not get it out of my head.  Or my heart.  I had to join, be a part of, this.  

Several of Scalia's contributors have remarked on the difficulties encountered along the way.  That is certainly the case, and that in its own way, only confirmed my new faith.  It is precisely because Roman Catholic Christianity does not shy away from life's difficulties that I have found it more real;  it is precisely because the Church's message is not exactly what I want to hear that I recognize its truth.   After all:

And, yes, that song reverberated in my mind while I pondered in Nashville my conversion.  Little did I know....

"Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee, O Lord" St. Augustine once wrote.  Those words, too, have come to mean so much more than they did when I first read them as a college student.  Nor should the Church be confused with God Himself.  That reality awaits us later, even though God exists among and animates our life now.  Until then, though, the Church offers the greatest, and really only, rest--not just for me, but for all.  And in that encompassing reality--which extends thankfully far beyond me and my limited horizons--I will remain.

Irish Benedictine reflects on St. Thomas...

...and good ensues.

"Saint Thomas’ theology is not the closed, neatly packaged system of tidy categories that some would present. His method is not to shut up the human intelligence in a system of logical conclusions, but rather to open it to the Mystery already perceived “in a mirror dimly” (1 Cor 13:12) by the believing, hoping, loving heart. Human reason does not have the last word in the life and teaching of Saint Thomas, speechless adoration does, and thirst."

Read it all here.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Precursors of the Spirit of Pope Francis: A Philosophy of Work

Precursors of the Spirit of Pope Francis: A Philosophy of Work:  Tom McDonough's latest blog post:“The root of our evil is the lack of a philosophy of work.”

"Peter Maurin and St. John Paul II has left us a philosophy of work within the framework of his Christian Anthropology: the human person is made in the image of the Trinitarian God. An important element of this anthropology is WORK, particularly the “subjective dimension” of work. “Through work the worker becomes more a human being."

McDonough goes onto mention St. Josemaria Escriva's insights:"Ordinary, hum-drum work becomes redemptive, participates in the redemptive mission of Jesus." I expand upon the same themes here.  McDonough weaves together St.s Josemaria & John Paul II with Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin.  Good stuff to read--and then act upon!

Adoro Ergo Sum: 3 Questions for the Transgendered Community

Adoro Ergo Sum: 3 Questions for the Transgendered Community

Nathan Barontini's recent blog post.  Considerate and measured, but also honest--he doesn't back away from tough questions.  A good read and he concludes with oh-so-necessary reminders:

I'll end with a few important comments directed to those who, like myself, find ridiculous the notion that men can really be women and women can really be men simply because they wish they were members of the opposite sex.

1. No discrimination. Ever.
None. Zero. Nada. Niente. can be tolerated. The Catholic Church's teaching on homosexuality can be applied here, I think,

This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.(CCC 2358)
2. Don't just tolerate them, love them.
The proper response from a Catholic toward our brothers and sisters struggling with gender identity disorder is support, kindness, friendship, and LOVE. As I mentioned in the previous post, Jesus never tells us to "tolerate" one another. Tolerance is not a Christian virtue. Leave that to atheists. We are called to LOVE our brothers and sisters. I may tolerate my neighbor's kid smoking pot or flunking out of school, but I would never tolerate my own children doing so, why? Because I love my kids. I am called to feel that same way about my neighbor and his kids. Tolerance calls for me to leave you alone and you to leave me alone as long as we aren't bugging anyone else. Christian love demands more. It demands wanting the best for our neighbors and helping them to attain it. These people need our love and support. Of course, such love must be grounded in reality. We cannot pretend a male is a female or a female is a male. We are what we are, reality must be dealt with. It isn't an act of love to help someone run away from who they have been created to be. If you struggle with this, remember how much God loves you, despite your failings, flaws, and sins. Remember, He did this for us when we were still lost sheep ourselves...

Important reminders!

It's "Worth Revisiting" Wednesday - The Price For Our Ingratitude

It's "Worth Revisiting" Wednesday - The Price For Our Ingratitude  Michael Seagriff, a fellow upstater, celebrates Catholic blogging's emergent historical sense and shares a post of his own.  Perceptive reflections on the Emmaus experience and a good, healthy sense of our own unworthiness.

Monday, June 1, 2015

the new and the return of the new

My latest at the SJCME theology blog....on Pentecost AND Holy Trinity Sundays. It is an honor and pleasure to work with the St. Joe's online theology faculty in this endeavor.  So much good Catholic theological writing.  If you don't follow, do so now!

Read it all here.