Category : Roman Catholic

(America) Ed Block–The transformational world of Jon Hassler

In an interview for Image magazine in 1997, I asked Hassler about the origin of his Catholic worldview. He responded, “I’m indebted to those first few grades in parochial school for teaching me that everything in life is connected.” A bit later he added, “I guess maybe I see life as a whole.” It is part of Hassler’s gift, throughout his career, to see life as a whole, juxtaposing events and characters, thus yielding new meanings and interrelationships, making the entire work appear to fly. In a word, Hassler’s style is not “magic realism” but realism magically transformed.

Again and again Hassler transforms the banality of evil into Flannery O’Connor-type characters and events. A crazed woman kills a burnt-out teacher; a brilliant teacher stricken by multiple sclerosis turns psychotic in his despondency; an unloved juvenile delinquent is crushed beneath a walk-in cooler like the Wicked Witch beneath Dorothy’s Kansas cottage. But like St. Augustine, who speaks of God’s love treating “each of us as an only child,” Hassler (who includes many only children in his fiction) treats every character in that way. Jon Hassler discovers God’s presence in everyday life, as his novels throw a grace-filled light upon caring teachers, open-hearted wives and lovers, priests and spinsters””and a latchkey child who responds to an old man’s need for friendship and for love.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Books, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

George Weigel: (On his Feast Day) John Henry Newman’s Faith

I once had the honor of spending time in Newman’s rooms at the Birmingham Oratory, which are much as the aged cardinal left them at his death in 1890. Over the altar, which occupies one side of the room, are tacked-up notes by which Cardinal Newman reminded himself of those for whom he had promised to pray. In the sitting room, a tattered newspaper map, also tacked to a wall, bears silent testimony to Newman’s interest in Kitchener’s efforts to lift the siege of Khartoum and rescue General Gordon from the Mahdi, a 19th century jihadist (Gordon died with Newman’s poem, “The Dream of Gerontius,” in his pocket). Perhaps most touching are Newman’s Latin breviaries, which he began to use as an Anglican, causing much controversy about such popish practices.
It is as a man of faith that the Church beatified John Henry Newman, however: the kind of man of faith who could write the following (which I take from another prayer card I’ve had for years, given me by Catholic Worker artist Ade Bethune):

God has created me to do him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission. I may never know it in this life but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for naught”¦Therefore I will trust Him, whatever I am”¦He does nothing in vain. He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends. He may throw me among strangers. He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide my future from me””still, He knows what He is about.

Blessed John Henry Newman, pray for us and for the unity in truth of Christ’s Church.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of England (CoE), Other Churches, Roman Catholic, Theology

[Catholic Herald] Dan Hitchens: The Church is now in a full-blown civil war over doctrine

A few weeks ago, the Jesuit journal La Civiltà Cattolica published a startling article on women priests. Its arguments were familiar: the author, deputy editor Fr Giancarlo Pani, asked readers to consider whether an all-male priesthood might perhaps be outdated. “There is unease,” Fr Pani wrote, “among those who fail to understand how the exclusion of woman from the Church’s ministry can coexist with the affirmation and appreciation of her equal dignity.”
What is startling is that this appeared in a journal edited by one of the Pope’s closest advisers..

Read it all

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Roman Catholic

(CNA) An Interview with Robert Spaemann on Amoris Laetitia

What then is Pope John Paul II’s exhortation about?

John Paul II explains human sexuality as a “real symbol for the giving of the whole person,” and namely, “without every temporal or other limitation.” He thus formulates very clearly in article 84 that remarried divorcés must refrain from sex if they want to go to communion. A change in the practice of the administration of the sacraments would therefore be no “further development of Familiaris consortio,” as Cardinal Kasper said, but rather a breach in her essential anthropological and theological teaching on marriage and human sexuality. The Church has no authority, without prior conversion, to approve disordered sexual relationships through the administration of the sacraments, thereby anticipating God’s mercy – regardless of how these situations are to be judged on a human and moral level. The door here ”“ as with the ordination of women to the priesthood ”“ is closed.

Read it all from last year, as it is still deeply relevant.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Pope Francis, Roman Catholic, Sacramental Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CT) Wesley Hill–Henri Nouwen’s Weakness Was His Strength

What had prompted [Henri] Nouwen to embrace a spirituality and a ministry model like this one? Born in the Netherlands in 1932, Nouwen had grown up a pious, conscientious””and ambitious””eldest child. By the time he was five years old, Nouwen had acquired specially made child-size priestly vestments so that he could say Mass at a play altar. “I did all the proper things,” he would later write, comparing himself to the elder brother in Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son, “mostly complying with the agendas set by the many parental figures in my life””teachers, spiritual directors, bishops, and popes.” Two decades later, having already graduated from two seminaries, Nouwen was ordained to the Catholic priesthood at Utrecht, ready to fulfill a calling””an inevitability, it seemed to those who knew him best””he’d sensed from boyhood. In short, a walking specimen of oozing spiritual wounds, Nouwen most certainly was not. Gregarious, theatrical, often childishly playful, his priestly work led him from strength to strength.

But Nouwen’s deepest self-identification was with the younger son in the parable, not in his outward behavioral choices but in what he described as an inner pain of lostness. This accounts, it would seem, for his constant talk of woundedness. His distance from God the Father’s heart, as he would put it in what is probably his second most-loved book, The Return of the Prodigal Son, had to do not with public rebellion but with an acute inner sensitivity and susceptibility to feelings of rejection. At one of his life’s crucial turning points, he recorded the following sentiment in his journal: “What I am craving is not so much recognition, praise, or admiration, as simple friendship. There may be some around me, but I cannot perceive or receive it.” This insensibility would dog him through his exit from the academy, through his twilight years spent as a carer in a home for disabled persons, through his quieter days of writing, until, en route to St. Petersburg for another viewing of Rembrandt’s Prodigal Son which had renewed his faith years earlier, he died.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Books, Church History, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Seminary / Theological Education, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology

The full Text of the Evangelical Alliance Statement–The Reformation, evangelicals+Roman Catholicism

Same-sex relationships and marriage. Drawing especially on the biblical creation narrative (Gen. 2:23-4) and on the teaching of Jesus and Paul (Matt. 19:1-12; Eph. 5:22-3), evangelicals and Catholics have widely co-operated in recent times in the promotion, support and defence of marriage as a one-flesh union of one man and one womanfor life. Marriage in this sense has been presented by both as the foundational institution of human society ”“ a corollary to the common good which delivers better outcomes overall for spouses, children and communities than other forms of co-habitation. Alongside this convictionabout monogamous, heterosexual marriage, evangelicals and Catholics have also agreed in highlighting biblical representations of sexually active same-sex unions as falling outside God’s purposes for human relationships and human society. In more recent times, this has meant widespread joint action to oppose legislation approving same-sex marriage. Where same-sex marriage has been legalised, it has meant working together to protect the rights of churches and their ministers to reaffirm heterosexual marriage, and to retain the right to conduct only heterosexual marriages. At the same time, however, evangelicals and Catholics have worked more closely together on welcoming same-sex attracted people and same-sex couples in the church context, and on dialoguing with LGBTI groups to ensure mutual respect and understanding in this contentious area of Christian ethics, ministry and
pastoral care.

Read it all (8 page pdf).

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Church History, Evangelicals, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

The Evangelical Alliance–Evangelicals and the Reformation – 500 years on

The statement makes clear that we owe a great deal of our doctrinal, spiritual and cultural identity to the Reformation, and goes on to consider:

The enduring importance of the Reformation for evangelical Christians, as well as Christians more generally.
The core theological emphases of the Reformation, and the vital recovery of authentic gospel Christianity that they represented.
The divergences between evangelical and Roman Catholic faith and practice that are rooted in the Reformation, and which persist today.
The attempts that have been made, especially in recent decades, to promote greater understanding, convergence and common action between evangelicals and Roman Catholics.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Christology, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Roman Catholic, Soteriology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(NYT) Christian Leaders Denounce Trump’s Plan to Favor Christian Immigrants

By giving preference to Christians over Muslims, religious leaders have said the executive order pits one faith against another. By barring any refugees from entering the United States for nearly four months, it leaves people to suffer longer in camps, and prevents families from reuniting. Also, many religious leaders have said that putting an indefinite freeze on refugees from Syria, and cutting the total number of refugees admitted this year by 60,000, shuts the door to those most in need.

“We believe in assisting all, regardless of their religious beliefs,” said Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, the chairman of the committee on migration for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Jen Smyers, the director of policy and advocacy for the immigration and refugee program of Church World Service, a ministry affiliated with dozens of Christian denominations, called Friday a “shameful day” in America’s history.

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Foreign Relations, Immigration, Law & Legal Issues, Office of the President, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Economist Erasmus Blog) Fewer+ Lonelier: Why the celibate priesthood is in crisis

The isolation experienced by elderly clerics, especially in wealthy, liberal societies, is one symptom of a crisis in the Catholic priesthood. They were ordained at a time when their status as men dedicated to the church was understood and revered, sometimes to an unhealthy degree. In that era, priests could look forward an old age in which the respect and support of the faithful might compensate to some degree for the absence of any life-partner. With the standing (and finances) of the clergy damaged, in many countries, by child-abuse scandals and shabby attempts to cover them up, the twilight years are a harder prospect than ever for priests on their own, even those who have led exemplary lives. Small wonder that fewer and fewer young men want to walk the same stony path..
As measured by the number of faithful, global Catholicism is faring decently. The flock is still growing in the developing world and migration from poor countries is reinvigorating tired congregations in the West. But the priesthood, with its hard calling of celibacy, is in freefall in many places. In America, the number of Catholics connected to a parish has risen over the past half-century from 46m to 67m, while the number of priests has fallen from 59,000 to 38,000. In France, about 800 priests die every year while 100 are ordained. Priest numbers there have fallen from 29,000 in 1995 to about 15,000. On present trends they may stabilise at less than 6,000.

The result is that many jobs once done by priests, like taking funerals or ministering to the sick, are now done by lay-people or by deacons who may be married. But certain functions, including the consecration of bread and wine which is Christianity’s most important rite, can only be performed by a priest.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Vatican Radio) Westminster Abbey and Sistine choirs at Ecumenical Vespers

Pope Francis on Wednesday afternoon presides at Vespers in the Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls for the closing of the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. On that occasion, the Sistine Chapel choir will be joined by the men and boys of the Westminster Abbey choir, renowned as one of the finest choral music groups of its kind.

Ahead of this unprecedented event, pioneered by the two choirs are also performing a free concert on Tuesday evening in the Basilica of St John Lateran. Their collaboration grows out of recent years of deepening Anglican-Catholic relations, in particular following Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to London in September 2010.

Read and listen to it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Ecumenical Relations, England / UK, Europe, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(GR) Terry Mattingly–William Christopher-The real man behind that sympathetic priest on M*A*S*H

To prepare for his signature role, Christopher interviewed priests to “help get the tone right.” Finally, he created a Los Angeles-area panel of priests to help him deal with questions about how a Jesuit would have handled some rites, and tricky war-zone issues, in the era before the Second Vatican Council.

The goal was to show respect for the priesthood, while avoiding what he called “embarrassed priest situations and celibacy jokes.” It was especially sobering to learn how to handle rushed deathbed confessions and Last Rites.

“I tried to humanize Mulcahy as much as possible, although I knew there was a certain danger there since he is a priest. But I felt there was an even greater danger if we let him turn into a stereotype,” he explained.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, History, Ministry of the Ordained, Movies & Television, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

Pope Francis' Homily for Epiphany 2017

These men saw a star that made them set out. The discovery of something unusual in the heavens sparked a whole series of events. The star did not shine just for them, nor did they have special DNA to be able to see it. As one of the Church Fathers rightly noted, the Magi did not set out because they had seen the star, but they saw the star because they had already set out (cf. Saint John Chrysostom). Their hearts were open to the horizon and they could see what the heavens were showing them, for they were guided by an inner restlessness. They were open to something new.

The Magi thus personify all those who believe, those who long for God, who yearn for their home, their heavenly homeland. They reflect the image of all those who in their lives have not let their hearts become anesthetized.

A holy longing for God wells up in the heart of believers because they know that the Gospel is not an event of the past but of the present. A holy longing for God helps us keep alert in the face of every attempt to reduce and impoverish our life.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Epiphany, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pope Francis, Preaching / Homiletics, Roman Catholic, Theology, Theology: Scripture

He is With Me, He is With Us

Christian joy thus springs from this certainty: God is close, he is with me, he is with us, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health, as a friend and faithful spouse. And this joy endures, even in trials, in suffering itself. It does not remain only on the surface; it dwells in the depths of the person who entrusts himself to God and trusts in him.

Some people ask: but is this joy still possible today? Men and women of every age and social condition, happy to dedicate their existence to others, give us the answer with their lives! Was not Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta an unforgettable witness of true Gospel joy in our time? She lived in touch daily with wretchedness, human degradation and death. Her soul knew the trials of the dark night of faith, yet she gave everyone God’s smile.

In one of her writings, we read: “We wait impatiently for paradise, where God is, but it is in our power to be in paradise even here on earth and from this moment. Being happy with God means loving like him, helping like him, giving like him, serving like him” (The Joy of Giving to Others, 1987, p. 143). Yes, joy enters the hearts of those who put themselves at the service of the lowly and poor. God abides in those who love like this and their souls rejoice. If, instead, people make an idol of happiness, they lose their way and it is truly hard for them to find the joy of which Jesus speaks.

Pope Benedict XVI (my emphasis).

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Christmas, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic, Theology

Pope Francis' Christmas Eve Homily 2016

Let us allow the Child in the manger to challenge us, but let us also allow ourselves to be challenged by the children of today’s world, who are not lying in a cot caressed with the affection of a mother and father, but rather suffer the squalid “mangers that devour dignity:” hiding underground to escape bombardment, on the pavements of a large city, at the bottom of a boat overladen with immigrants. Let us allow ourselves to be challenged by the children who are not allowed to be born, by those who cry because no one satiates their hunger, by those who have not toys in their hands, but rather weapons.

The mystery of Christmas, which is light and joy, questions and unsettles us, because it is at once both a mystery of hope and of sadness. It bears within itself the taste of sadness, inasmuch as love is not received, and life discarded. This happened to Joseph and Mary, who found the doors closed, and placed Jesus in a manger, “because there was no place for them in the inn” (v. 7). Jesus was born rejected by some and regarded by many others with indifference. Today also the same indifference can exist, when Christmas becomes a feast where the protagonists are ourselves, rather than Jesus; when the lights of commerce cast the light of God into the shadows; when we are concerned for gifts but cold towards those who are marginalized.

Yet Christmas has essentially a flavor of hope because, notwithstanding the darker aspects of our lives, God’s light shines out. His gentle light does not make us fear; God who is in love with us, draws us to himself with his tenderness, born poor and fragile among us, as one of us. He is born in Bethlehem, which means “house of bread.” In this way he seems to tell us that he is born as bread for us; he enters life to give us his life; he comes into our world to give us his love. He does not come to devour or to command but to nourish and to serve.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Christmas, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pope Francis, Preaching / Homiletics, Roman Catholic, Theology

Congo's RC Bishops Urge Settlement of Political Crisis Before Christmas

Mediators urged Congo’s president and opposition parties to reach an agreement before Christmas on a peaceful settlement to the country’s political crisis, saying dozens already have been killed this week amid protests over the president’s stay in power.

“Enough is enough,” Msgr. Marcel Utembi, one of the Catholic Church mediators, said Wednesday. “A solution must be found as soon as possible by all political actors, but in particular by the government in order to reassure the Congolese people.”

He also conveyed a message from Pope Francis following their meeting this week: “I am concerned by what is happening in your country, which I wish to visit at the opportune moment. I pray for the Congolese people, who need peace so much now.”

Read it all from the WSJ.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Anthropology, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Republic of Congo, Roman Catholic, Theology, Violence