Friday, July 31, 2009

Christian marriage and infidelity

In the Faith section of tomorrow's print edition of the Salt Lake Tribune, which appeared on-line in advance, is an article by religion reporter Kristen Moulton: Christian spouses and infidelity. In light of the recent scandals involving South Carolina governor Mark Sanford and Nevada senator John Ensign, both committed Christians, she asks members of the local clergy, including your humble blogger, whether it is necessary or advisable for a spouse who has been cheated on to forgive.

I am happy that our answers are consistent. We all come down on the side of the advisability and necessity to forgive, even when the marriage cannot be salvaged. That consensus being established, I like very much what Julie Hanks has to say: "The expectation of Christians is to forgive... but everyone has their own process and timetable."

"I've seen your face before my friend, but I don't know if you know who I am"

This is a classic, especially if you saw Risky Business in high school, like I did. It is not a movie I really want my own teenage son to see, but then my children have a lot more parental supervision than I ever did, which explains a lot about me! Anyway, In the Air Tonight is our Friday traditio.

As I was grooving to Phil, my lovely wife reminded me of the episode of the radio program This American Life in which Starlee Kine seeks the help of Phil Collins in her attempt to write a break-up song. The episode is Break-up and Starlee's piece is Act One.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Of human rights

Concerning the health care debate, Paper Clippings this morning has this insightful observation: "It is always fascinating how our culture needs to cast every discussion in terms of abstract rights, which inevitably leads to very ideological policy solutions to real life problems. E[s]pecially because when you ask the average intellectual where rights come from, he will tell you that 'society confers them.' So there is really no 'right' especially for what the majority feels is right." Now, the author is not arguing against the right to health care, access to which the church teaches is a human right. It is about the source of rights. On the view described, which is very prevalent, if a majority, or a tyrannical minority decides that something is a right, then it is. Conversely, when it is decided something is no longer a right, then it can be removed. Human rights are grounded in the dignity of the human person. The dignity of the human person, in turn, arises from her being created in the imago dei. Any other grounding for human rights is tenuous and, as history has taught us, even dangerous.

This same abstract and ungrounded reasoning happens in Christianity, too. Just this week, the Archbishop of Canterbury announced a rather strange arrangement in a desperate attempt to hold the Anglican Communion together. As Times of London faith commentator, Ruth Gledhill describes it in her post Archbishop of Canterbury attempts to paper over Church schism: "In a response to the decision this month of the Episcopal Church of the US to go ahead with gay consecrations and same-sex blessings, Dr Rowan Williams argued for a 'two-track' Communion in which the Church was divided between those with differing theological views of homosexuality — described by some in the blogosphere as 'Anglicans' and 'Anglican’ts'."

Of course, those who have a holistic view of what it is to be human and the reason and purpose of human sexuality are described negatively, as Anglican'ts. This brings me back to something George Weigel wrote about a conversation he had with Dr. Rowan Williams about "the difference between 'sacramental' and 'gnostic' understandings of the human condition. The former insists that the stuff of the world – including maleness, femaleness, and their complementarity — has truths built into it; gnostics say it’s all plastic, all malleable, all changeable. The sacramentalists believe that the extraordinary reveals itself through the ordinary: bread, wine, water, salt, marital love and fidelity; the gnostics say it’s a matter of superior wisdom, available to the enlightened (which can mean, the politically correct). Dr. Williams seemed convinced that the gnosticism of a lot of western high culture posed a great danger to historic Christianity and the truths it must proclaim." The gnostic line of reasoning is abstract in the way the writer of the Paper Clippings post suggests.

There are voices of faith and reason. One that emerges is the world-renown biblical scholar and Anglican bishop of Durham, N.T. Wright, who also wrote about this for the Times of London. His article The Americans know this will end in schism: Support by US Episcopalians for homosexual clergy is contrary to Anglican faith and tradition. They are leaving the family, is worth quoting at length:

"The appeal to justice as a way of cutting the ethical knot in favour of including active homosexuals in Christian ministry simply begs the question. Nobody has a right to be ordained: it is always a gift of sheer and unmerited grace. The appeal also seriously misrepresents the notion of justice itself, not just in the Christian tradition of Augustine, Aquinas and others, but in the wider philosophical discussion from Aristotle to John Rawls. Justice never means 'treating everybody the same way', but 'treating people appropriately', which involves making distinctions between different people and situations. Justice has never meant 'the right to give active expression to any and every sexual desire'.

"Such a novel usage would also raise the further question of identity. It is a very recent innovation to consider sexual preferences as a marker of 'identity' parallel to, say, being male or female, English or African, rich or poor. Within the 'gay community' much postmodern reflection has turned away from 'identity' as a modernist fiction. We simply 'construct' ourselves from day to day.

"We must insist, too, on the distinction between inclination and desire on the one hand and activity on the other — a distinction regularly obscured by references to 'homosexual clergy' and so on. We all have all kinds of deep-rooted inclinations and desires. The question is, what shall we do with them? One of the great Prayer Book collects asks God that we may 'love the thing which thou commandest, and desire that which thou dost promise'. That is always tough, for all of us. Much easier to ask God to command what we already love, and promise what we already desire. But much less like the challenge of the Gospel."
Loving another's destiny can be difficult because it is can be seen by the other as a denial and a rejection, but not giving in to the rationalization that what we want is what we need is important, especially when it is difficult.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

More writing

The first of what I hope are more articles (this one started out as a blog post) for the Italian news website, Il Sussidiario. My article is called US/ A tired line of political argumentation.

Thanks to my dear friend Sharon for facilitating publication.

Monday, July 27, 2009

"Deacon Dialogues: The discussion continues"

Read responses to the articles from America magazine's issue on the permanent diaconate, to which your humble blogger contributed. The dialogue is carried on by authors and others. Feel free to make your own contribution.

I responded to Deacon Greg's article by focusing on his two points about preaching. So, check out Deacon Dialogues, which (hopefully) is only getting started.

Monday morning

It is Monday morning. I preparing to drop off my oldest daughter at the Choir School. From there she will depart for Choir Camp, leaving me by myself until tomorrow night when my wife and boys return from visiting family Pennsylvania.

I watched three movies I had long wanted to see this weekend: Coraline, which I watched with my girls on Friday night. The Wrestler I watched alone Saturday evening, late. My oldest daughter and I watched Rachel Getting Married last night after my youngest daughter left to spend several days with her grandma. All three films were very good. Maybe more on one or more of them later.

Today strive "to live in a manner worthy of the call [we] have received" (Eph. 4:1). In our striving, let's not make the mistake of acting as if everything depends on us. Recognizing our need is perhaps the most salient way of living in the awareness of the Presence that accompanies us. Also pray the Angelus at noon and 6:00 PM and don't forget to say a few Memorares along your way.

REMEMBER, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; to thee I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petition, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Year B 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings: 2 Kgs 4:42-44; Ps. 145: 10-11. 15-18; Eph. 4:1-6; John 6:1-15

"The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs" (Ps. 145). God not only answers all our needs, but is extravagant in caring for us. All too often it is only when we are in dire straits that we become conscious of our dependence on God. This consciousness often takes on the form of a wish that arises from our realization of how little we control. Hence, we wish for some higher power to intervene and make everything okay. Experience teaches us that God does not work this way. Wish as we might, we find ourselves facing reality time and again. If we are attentive and open to what God is doing, we see that we are not saved in spite of circumstances, but precisely through them. Faith in Christ calls us to live the reality we experience every day in the awareness of His presence. By living this way, we come to see that we are dependent on God all the time and that God is never absent.

What St. Paul writes to the Ephesians gives us deep insight into how God works in our lives, when he exhorts us "to live in a manner worthy of the call [we] have received" (Eph. 4:1). The first thing to note is that, as Christians, God works through the church, through our collective life together. God is at work among us when we bear “with one another through love.” Living with others is what perfects us, whether in families, in the work place, at school, or here in our parish.

It is too easy to become disaffected and put off. It is too easy to throw up our hands and walk away, convinced of our moral superiority, wallowing in our victimhood over petty matters. After all, we are only human. The thing we must realize is that everyone else with whom we have anything to do is also only human. Insofar as the other person in question is a Christian, s/he is aware of his/her need of God’s grace. This is why Paul implores the church in Ephesus to bear "with one another through love" (Eph. 4:2). Bearing with one another is done in specific ways, by being humble, patient, and gentle, as God is with us. It bears pointing out that humility, patience, and gentleness do not magically ward off difficult situations that unavoidably arise in families, schools, work places, and parishes. Rather, it is by confronting difficult circumstances that we begin to live in a worthy manner and come to know how to love our neighbor.

When talking to young children about the Golden Rule, which enjoins us to treat others the way we want to be treated, inevitably one or more of the children will say something like “because then others will treat you the way you want to be treated.” This misconception can be cleared up with a question, “Is that your experience?” Grace does not operate according to the laws of market exchange. In other words, when we treat people the way we want to be treated there is no guarantee that our effort will be reciprocated. In fact, we can be certain that such efforts will not always be returned. This is why Jesus said: "if you [only] love those who love you, what reward do you have" (Matt. 5:46)? Dealing with people who seem bent on undermining us presents us with the opportunity to become perfect in patience and forbearance by practicing the most neglected of the spiritual works of mercy: bearing wrongs patiently.

Grace operates according to laws of symbolic exchange. This is characterized by the billboard signs we see, like the one featuring Jackie Robinson, who broke the color barrier in Major League baseball that says: "Here’s to you, Mr. Robinson. Character. Pass It On." Nicholas Frankovich begins telling the story of how Jackie Robinson came to be the first African-American major league baseball player by asking the question, "What motivated Robinson to take the high road" in enduring all the garbage he endured, especially early in his major league career? As Frankovich relates it Brooklyn Dodgers’ president and general manager, Branch Rickey, a committed Christian, said to Robinson at their first meeting: "I know you’re a good ballplayer. What I don’t know is whether you have the guts [to be the first black major league player]." Robinson assured him that he was one to fight back and defend his honor. Rickey corrected him: "I’m looking for a ballplayer with guts enough not to fight back." Over the course of his career, Jackie Robinson endured many slurs, slanders, and insults, but patiently endured it all, showing his true character and leaving behind a legacy that still contributes to the full realization of the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: that people be judged on the content of their character, not the color of their skin.

This brings us to Eucharist, which is at the core of today’s readings. When we receive communion it is not merely a communion of each one of us individually with Christ Jesus, it is an intentional act in which we express our desire, trusting God to fulfill it, to be of one heart and mind with each other, despite all of the forces at work pulling us apart. The bread we receive from God is more than barely loaves, or Jesus made present to us in the host as if trapped in some kind of a J.K. Rowling-conceived horcrux. The hand of God feeds us with the bread of life, life in Christ, which is life in all its dimensions. Communion is not somehow an act apart; it is an event, that is, something in which we fully, consciously, and actively participate.

Coming to Mass is not a way of escaping reality for an hour or so every week. Even our stories of miraculous feedings in today's readings do not smack of magical pyrotechnics. In both cases there were a lot of people and just a little food, but somehow there was enough for everyone to eat and some left over. Nobody knew how it happened; they just knew that it did. This cannot help but remind us that Mass is not a magic show in which the priest, saying the words of consecration, transforms bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ, making Him present where he was previously absent. Jesus Christ is really and truly present when we, the baptized, assemble and when the words of Scripture are proclaimed. The real miracle is what happens when we go forth and live in a manner worthy of the calling we have received

Saturday, July 25, 2009

He who suffers with us: Jesus Christ

Crucifixion, by Salvador Dali
Yesterday, my dear friend Sharon, quoting Marcel Proust, wrote something that is so very true that I felt it: "We are healed from suffering only by experiencing it to the full." Coming to understand this is so very necessary to Christian maturity. Otherwise, we remain stuck in a childish mode of pseudo faith.

Let's make it concrete: this childish mode of pseudo faith causes us to wonder where God is when we suffer. To question this is to ignore what novelist Susan Howatch captured so well in her novel Absolute Truths, when her character, Martin Darrow, a man who has recently gone through a self-induced personal catastrophe, tells Bishop Charles Ashworth how good it is, when going through a difficult time, to have a frank conversation with "someone who's gone through hell lately." This leads Martin to comment on God and suffering: "It makes all the difference to know there's someone else screaming alongside you - and that's the point of the Incarnation, I can see that so clearly now. God came into the world and screamed alongside us. Interesting idea, that."

Somehow the idea that it is precisely through our suffering that we are perfected is one that even many Christians now try to reject. To reject this is to deny Christ. I know this will sound trite and judgmental to many. It will not to those who have experienced Christ in their own suffering. It is a grace to be numbered among them.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Mucha miscellania

While it is a day early (I usually do traditio Friday and miscellania on Saturday), I cannot help but draw attention to several things:

Deacon Greg's post The Faith of Frank McCourt, which pointed me to Peter Duffy's piece in the Wall Street Journal, which bears the same title.

Rocco, of the peerless Whispers, posts something truly beautiful from the Holy Father's vacation.

He also posts Archbishop Lucas' installation homily. I attended to this wonderful passage, one that certainly appeals to us so-called celini:
"You and I will never be able to put ourselves on the line in our time and place – to profess our faith in Jesus – to be witnesses as well as disciples – unless we are sure that He is alive – risen from the dead. We will never be convinced of that truth unless we have a personal encounter with Him, as Peter did. The Holy Spirit makes that personal encounter with the Lord possible right where we live, in the sacraments, especially in the Eucharist.In our Catholic faith, we not only remember Jesus, we meet him. We are formed into His living Body by the Holy Spirit. If we are really witnesses to Christ, then we look for opportunities to bring others to Him. We will never convince anyone to put faith in the risen Jesus unless we can offer them a personal experience of Him. That becomes possible when we put ourselves on the line for Him – when it is clear to our neighbors that we will not turn away from Jesus, the living truth, no matter what."
Thanks also to Paul over at Communio for calling to mind the great Maronite saint, Sharbel Makhlouf.

Congrats to the IC and her hubby, who celebrate 10 years of marriage today!

Finally, I am on my own today. So, for Friday penance I ate a can of salmon that is been in our lazy susan since I don't know when and washed it down with a beer. Despite the labelling, it is not boneless. Maybe I will updating you from the hospital later.

A tired line of political argumentation

Am I the only one getting tired of this line of argument: Inaction is not an option, doing something is better than doing nothing, and then proceeding to enact legislation (written by Congress) that does not solve the problem on which doing nothing was not an option, but is outrageously expensive?

How about, first do no harm? We need health care reform, just like we needed an economic stimulus. However, we did not need the stimulus that was enacted. Do we need what is being offered for health care? One thing that was sold this way, but that we did not need, was Hammerin' Hank's TARP!

I am in favor of all people in the U.S. having access to quality, affordable health care. The Massachusetts model, a variation of which is what is being proposed, is failing because it did nothing to lower health care costs. The rising cost of health care, the increasing amount of GDP it is consuming, is the root of the problem. All of us need to ask what is being done on that front. The meetings the administration has held to extract promises to lower cost are mere hand-shake agreements for public opinion purposes, they are not binding.

As California, which, along with Texas on the opposite end of the political spectrum, is a laboratory for experiments in bad government, is finding out, raising taxes during a recession actually leads to declining government revenues because, in many cases, the tax increase is the straw that breaks the camel's back. So, while soaking the rich to pay for health care may appeal to the populist in all of us, raising their marginal rates higher than what the wealthy pay in places like Denmark, France, etc. will further impede economic growth and lead to a longer recession. Far from reducing the drag of health care on the economy, such a move arguably increases it.

Writing in the NY Times yesterday, Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman, in a column called Costs and Compassion, cuts to the chase: "As a practical, political matter... controlling health care costs and expanding health care access aren’t opposing alternatives — you have to do both, or neither." It is easy forget that right now the U.S. spends more per capita on health care than any other country. It seems to me the goal should be achieving universal coverage without spending one dime more than we currently spend in the aggregate. Here's a question, can we achieve universal coverage and spend less? That's a good question for the president and members of Congress.

In his Monday Times column, David Brooks offers a plausible diagnosis of what is happening politically: Liberal Suicide March. He is correct to state that any hope lies with the so-called Blue Dog Democrats. "These brave moderates are trying to restrain the fiscal explosion. But moderates inherently lack seniority (they are from swing districts). They are usually bought off by leadership at the end of the day.

"And so here we are again. Every new majority overinterprets its mandate. We’ve been here before. We’ll be here again."

One of the diplomatic failures experienced by the president himself, was when several European countries, Germany being the most prominent, refused to pass reckless stimulus legislation at his behest because they were thinking up-front about the incurred debt. At some point, those currently in power have to realize that truth of what economist Milton Friedman said when he averred that there are no free lunches. As a country, we are paying for everything on one big, collective credit card. Instead of economic stimulus to help those whose lives have been negatively impacted, those in power seem content to buy another round of drinks for their friends, leaving us to pick up the tab.

This is the 1,200th post here on Καθολικός διάκονος. This represents an average of posting everyday for more than 3 years!

"When it comes to being lucky I'm cursed"

My oldest sister, who is about 5 years older than I am, introduced me to the music of Linda Ronstadt. Linda was one of the first women I had a crush on! All men have a type. Mine? Dark hair, brown eyes, and shapely. Hey! I married a woman like that!

I think most (if not all) of us know that what Yusuf Islam (a.k.a. Cat Stevens) wrote is true. Hence, The First Cut Is the Deepest is our traditio.

I love her nowdays songs, like Frenes. She is still lovely.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

More on Goldman Sachs

In his NY Times OpEd piece, published shortly after Matt Taibbi's great, if slightly hyperbolic, article in Rolling Stone, Noble Prize winning economist Paul Krugman writes this about Goldman Sachs and other playahs, lending much credibility to Taibbi's charges and arguments.

"Goldman’s role in the financialization of America was similar to that of other players, except for one thing: Goldman didn’t believe its own hype. Other banks invested heavily in the same toxic waste they were selling to the public at large. Goldman, famously, made a lot of money selling securities backed by subprime mortgages — then made a lot more money by selling mortgage-backed securities short, just before their value crashed. All of this was perfectly legal, but the net effect was that Goldman made profits by playing the rest of us for suckers."

If you don't believe that, listen to Tom Ashbrook's hour dedicated to this subject during his On Point radio program. His guests are Taibbi and Charles Ellis. If you think Taibbi is up-in-the-night, listen to how hard it is for Ellis, a consummate Wall Street insider, to defend the indefensible.

Penance- aka coming to your senses

The Digital Hairshirt reports that our erstwhile LDS gangsta has seen the error of his ways. The possibility of being outed as a religious bigot to LDS authorities seems to have played no small part in his turn. So, perhaps it is more a case of reality bringing him to his senses. I can certainly accept the sincerity of his apology. Sometimes the realization that our actions have consequences is what forces us to come to our senses and see that what we do matters, which is to see, in many cases, why it is objectively wrong- reference President Bill Clinton.

I would add that Elder McGill needs to be aware of the Holy Father's personal history in order have any idea of how offensive his little prank is: Joseph Ratzinger's father was forced to retire early and move to a small village because of his opposition to the Nazis. The young future pope, like all German young people after a certain age, was forced to become a member of the Hitler Youth. He attended one mandatory meeting and never went back. At age 14 he was conscripted into a German army anti-aircraft battery, a unit that never fired a shot, and taken a prisoner of war. He was released at the end of the war and walked home. At age 14! I have a fifteen year-old son. I cannot imagine that happening to him. In short, the life of Joseph Ratzinger was dramatically impacted, even interrupted, by the Nazi regime. This is why he has always denounced totalitarianism of any kind and has promoted understanding among peoples, especially between Christians and Jews, seeing the Jewish people as our elder brothers in faith.

Elder McGill might also be interested to know that President Dieter Uchtdorf, the first counselor to LDS president Thomas S. Monson, while quite a bit younger than Pope Benedict, being German also, has a similar history. His father, Karl, was conscripted into the German army during WWII. Apparently, this experience of Nazi totalitarianism is what made President Uchtdorf's father see the evils of the East German communist regime after the war, making him a dissenter, which forced him to flee to West Germany with his wife and son. To wit: just because you were alive in Germany during the Nazi reign of terror, which affected the lives of everyone living there at the time, does not make you a crypto-Nazi. For many people, like Joseph Ratzinger and Karl Uchtdorf, it probably had the opposite effect.

I think this young man would also benefit from reading a recent article in his hometown LDS-owned and operated Deseret News: Bishop on a mission: Wester aims to maintain community cooperation. This is a good lesson in how to relate to other faiths.

The Story of the Cathedral of the Madeleine

Just in time for our centennial, Dr. Gary Topping and photographer Ann Torrence have published an updated book on our lovely lady: The Cathedral of the Madeleine. The book made its public debut on St. Mary Magdalene's feast yesterday. I think Gary and Ann sold all the copies they had on hand. It is a well done book all the way around.

The Story of the Cathedral of the Madeleine is published by Sagebrush Press of Salt Lake City and costs $16.95.

Bishop Wester, who wrote the forward to this great book, sums up our beautiful cathedral well:

"The Cathedral of the Madeleine has earned its place in the life of the people of Utah and is cherished by those of all faiths, cultures and traditions. It makes God mercifully immanent and at the same time awesomely transcendent as no other building can do. In this sense, the Cathedral is a revolving door through which heaven bound pilgrims can find rest, nourishment and peace along the way."

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Feast of St. Mary Magdalene

I originally posted this 22 July 2008 on The People of St. Mary Magdalene

"Afterward he journeyed from one town and village to another, preaching and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. Accompanying him were the Twelve and some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, Joanna, the wife of Herod's steward Chuza, Susanna, and many others who provided for them out of their resources" (Lk 8,1-3).

The before to the evangelist's "Afterward" is Jesus' supper at the house of Simon the Pharisee, during which a woman of ill-repute cast herself at Jesus' feet, washed his feet with her tears, and dried them with her hair. There is nothing in that pericope that would lead us to believe that the woman who entered Simon's house was Mary Magdalene. However, she has been taken for the woman in that story since Pope Gregory the Great, in the sixth century, identified this figure with that of our beloved patroness in a sermon. The story of the woman of ill-repute honoring our Lord in this way is a beautiful story of love and forgiveness and, as such, is certainly worthy of our lovely intercessor. In fact, it is twice depicted in the west transcept of our cathedral: in the mural just above the Our Lady chapel and in the center of the large circular window. This identification is certainly woven into our tradition concerning this great saint. No doubt this link is due, at least in significant part, to the passage above immediately following the narrative of the supper at Simon's in St. Luke's Gospel.

It is also important to note that, while itinerant rabbis, who traveled and taught accompanied by disciples, were not unusual in the religio-cultural milieu of Jesus' day, it was highly unusual and perhaps even scandalous, that these disciples would consist of women. We can assert with a high degree of confidence that there is nothing accidental about those with whom our Lord surrounded himself. These same women, including Mary Magdalene, would remain until the bitter end, not fleeing, like the twelve, when all the trouble started. Hence, Mary Magdalene is the first witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. We can certainly agree that this is no small thing! It gives her a unique role as is recognized by a title, probably given her by Hippolytus in the third century, apostola apostolorum, which means apostle to the apostles.

Interesingly, the BBC has a nice profile on this great woman of faith, whose people we are and yet still strive to be, witnesses of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and heralds of the kingdom of heaven. To that end . . .

Sancta Maria Magdalena- ora pro nobis

Monday, July 20, 2009

Oh, to be nineteen again- maybe not

UPDATE: One last oracle from Elder KevMo over on the Shirt. He is probably correct in his assertion that among the world's 13 million Mormons, there are some who are worse, but I am pretty sure he is in the top one-half of a percent when it comes to exercising poor judgment. That whole part about being a public representative of his church seems lost on him. I believe that there is a lesson here for those of us who fancy ourselves Catholic bloggers.

Ah, the wonders of the digital age! Who'll ever find it on the worldwide web? It is sad when one misguided person humiliates everybody else, but such is the case with one young LDS missionary who thinks himself a gangsta. Of course, being an agent of the anti-Christ, the pope is fair game. In case you didn't get it the first two times, here's more proselytizing by the young and brimming-with-confidence Elder McGill.

If the pictures don't make you cringe, take a look at a few of the young gangsta MC's attempts at dialogue. Let's hope somebody in the LDS Church gets a hold of these.

The antics of this young man are in no way typical of Latter-day Saints. All of the LDS people I know would find all of this as disturbing as I do, if not more so.

A deep diaconal bow to Stephanie, who blogs at The Digital Hairshirt, for bringing this to light and for her sincere efforts help this young man see how and why his public mockery of his own faith and that of others is so very wrong.

On a personal note

I finally had a weekend! No kidding. Saturday and Sunday I had no appointments, no classes to teach, no homilies to prepare, no Masses to serve at, no Vespers to preside at, nada. It was fantastic!

Saturday we did house and yard work, attended the vigil Mass at our local parish, came home, watched Waking Ned Devine, and just enjoyed each other's company all day. On Sunday we made brunch, did some more tidying up, read and relaxed, then capped the weekend by attending a farewell party for some friends who are moving to Tennessee. It was a very nice evening in a shady back yard with good food, a little wine, great friends, and lots of kids swimming.

I am so glad that I started scaling back at the beginning of June. I am grateful for the several people who have stepped forward to help in our parish religious education ministry. It is definitely the case that many are called, but few respond. Those who do respond out of their generosity and at some cost to themselves show that we do not have to go half-way around the world to be of service to others. As a deacon I can tell you there are plenty of needs right under your nose.

While I face many challenges, especially in my ministry, I am grateful for the opportunities to become more like the One I serve. I am learning the necessity of bearing wrongs patiently. Bearing things makes me aware of the times I have burdened others by being selfish, petty, and harsh. I appreciate very much the advice Deacon Greg receieved from his bishop and passed along in his recent America article:
"Earlier this year, my bishop led a day of recollection for deacons and offered this insight, 'You shouldn’t look at cheese under a microscope because it will make you never want to eat cheese again.' Then he explained that deacons are often exposed to the priesthood as if looking at it under a microscope."
During this Year for Priests, I pray that as a church we grow in the awareness of the price paid and the burdens borne by those who work in ministry, be they bishops, priests, lay ecclesial ministers, or even deacons. Like everything in life, it is easy to be an arm chair bishop, pastor, DRE, preacher, teacher, etc.

It bears pointing out the obvious- there is nothing ventured by never putting yourself in a position to have to make decisions, but nonetheless reserving the right to be critical of those who do, even when we know little or nothing about the details. Gossip, innuendo, and passive aggressive behavior are all things to which we seem magnetically drawn. It takes intention and care on our part to avoid these poisonous behaviours- we're all guilty. It is much more difficult to serve, to care, to try because in so doing we make ourselves vulnerable to others. It is a given that there will always be critics, those who, without ever trying, know they can do it better than you.

There is no way in which we imitate our Lord more perfectly than by making ourselves vulnerable, taking a risk, for the sake of the kingdom, even if all our efforts amount to a pile of ashes in the end, the effort was worth it.

"I believe that children are our future" and so does the Pope

I originally posted this on our parish RCIA blog December 2007

In a post last year over on Καθολικός διάκονος, entitled Marriage and the Gift of Life: Some Diaconal Observations, to which I provided the link in my initial post on sexual morality, I wrote: "Natural Family Planning cannot be employed by couples as just another form of contraception. Properly speaking, NFP, when practiced with the correct intention, is not contraception. Moral acts have three components: the object chosen, either a true or apparent good; the intention of the subject who acts, that is, the purpose for which the subject performs the act; and the circumstances of the act, which include its consequences. If the intention behind using natural methods of family planning is the same as that behind the decision to use artificial contraception, the goodness of use NFP is forfeited. Of course, the object is also at issue as regards how couples seek to regulate the timing, number, and spacing of children." This is true and often gets overlooked when teaching Natural Family Planning (NFP). After all, pregnancy is not what happens when something goes wrong while having sex. That this attitude is the default setting of our society is just plain sad and reveals how divorced from reality we truly are.

The Christian attitude is an attitude of genuine love, of respect for one's self, for one's spouse, and for God, especially as regards the beautiful gift of sex, from which comes the even more wonderful gift of children about whom Pope Benedict spoke in his marvelous homily at Mariazell in September 2007: "The child Jesus naturally reminds us also of all the children in the world, in whom he wishes to come to us. Children who live in poverty; who are exploited as soldiers; who have never been able to experience the love of parents; sick and suffering children, but also those who are joyful and healthy. Europe has become child-poor: we want everything for ourselves, and place little trust in the future. Yet the earth will be deprived of a future only when the forces of the human heart and of reason illuminated by the heart are extinguished – when the face of God no longer shines upon the earth. Where God is, there is the future." Stated more directly: children are our future and without them there is no future. Here is where the contraceptive mindset, which is proving suicidal for entire countries and cultures, shows signs of original sin. The original sin is wanting to be god, wanting to be self-determining, to do what we want, to be selfish.

I have often heard and read various analogies that liken the use of NFP to some form of roulette, usually of the Russian variety. This "game", a favorite of the mentally unstable and chemically addicted, consists of placing a live round into one chamber of a revolving pistol, twirling the cylinder, waiting for it to stop, pointing the barrel at one's temple, and pulling the trigger. It bears reminding that to play Russian roulette is a nihilistic toying with death. It should go without saying that being open to life is the exact opposite of such insanity. The only analogy to death here is the paradoxical analogy, given us by the Lord himself: "He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it" (Matt. 10,39). This dying to self and living for God by giving ourselves to others in imitation of Jesus Christ is a requirement of Christian discipleship. Marriage and family life, as the late, great Pope John Paul II often pointed out, is the most intense school of love imaginable.

All this puts me in mind of that wonderful song The Greatest Love of All:

"I believe that children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children's laughter remind us how we used to be"

Sunday, July 19, 2009

More on deacons

Before doing my daily check-in over at Deacon Greg's blog this morning, I had never heard of Meredith Gould. In the combox of his post asking for participation in America magazine's Deacon Dialogues, she mentioned posting something about deacons on her blog. Viola here it is- Meredith's One month into Year of the Priest and I'm thinking "deacons".

Great take Meredith!

Natural Family Planning Awareness Week- 19-25 July 2009

Saturday, 25 July 2009, marks the 41st anniversary of Pope Paul VI's promulgation of Humanae Vitae. So, this week is Natural Family Planning Awareness Week. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has set-up a wonderful website with many resources, including stories of couples who practice NFP. Be open, don't be a skeptic, and don't be afraid to challenge yourself. Any faith that does not challenge how you live, even in the most intimate aspects of your life, is not Christian faith.

There is a section on the Καθολικός διάκονος sidebar with several links for you to explore, links that help you to see that Natural Fanmily Planning has nothing to do with the so-called rythym method. There is a link to The Billings Ovulation Method, to Intermountain Fertility Care about the Creighton Model, and finally to the Couple-to-Couple League. For most couples, all NFP takes is education and a little self-control, control that actually fosters and enhances marital intimacy. You may want to read Myths and Reality from the USCCB website before visiting any of the above.

If nothing else, I encourage you to read the USCCB's 2006 document Married Love and the Gift of Life. Better yet, you can listen to it because it is also available as a MP3 file. More this week, especially links to items I posted last year, the 40th anniversary of HV.

For my fellow preachers, there are homily notes to aid us in our efforts to passionately and compassinately preach the truth about human sexuality.

Almighty and eternal God,
You blessed the union of married couples
so that they might reflect the union of Christ
with his Church:
look with kindness on them.
Renew their marriage covenant,
increase your love in them,
and strengthen their bond of peace
so that, with their children,
they may always rejoice in the gift of
your blessing.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A invitation to diaconal dialogue

The editorial staff at America magazine devoted much of their current issue to the permanent diaconate. At the instigation of editorial director Karen Smith and on-line editor Maurice Timothy Reidy, they are looking to establish an on-line dialogue on the diaconate.

So, when you get a chance, go to The Diaconate Today: A Conversation. This page has links to articles on the diaconate by Bill Ditewig, Greg Kandra, and me. Read them and then, as Deacon Greg says, "toss in your two-cents' worth." We'd like to know what you think!

Friday, July 17, 2009

"She glides across the water"

Echo and the Bunnymen playing Lips Like Sugar is our Friday traditio. As they say (whoever they are), it is an oldie but a goodie: "She'll be my mirror/Reflect what I am/A loser and a winner/The king of siam/And my siamese twin/Alone on the river".

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Archbishop Vlazny on "The blessing of diaconal ministry"

Deacon Greg, author of The Deacon's Bench, posts something really encouraging, a column by the archbishop of Portland, Oregon, John Vlazny (formerly bishop of the Diocese of Winona, Minnesota), in his archdiocesan newspaper The Sentinel. His Excellency's article is entitled The blessing of diaconal ministry.

He concludes his column with these words:

"deacons have been a great gift in the Church over the centuries, a gift that was seemingly forgotten for many centuries but now is acknowledged and celebrated throughout the current world, no place more significantly than here in these United States. I thank God for the gift of the deacons who serve us. I ask you to pray for them and for those who are involved in diaconal formation. Their calling comes from the Lord and from the Church. Their generous response involves sacrifice and commitment. As we pray for our priests in this special year, let’s not forget some of their closest collaborators, our good and faithful deacons!"
Speaking of deacons, a lively conversation is going in the combox for Bill Ditewig's article of the permanent diaconate over on America magazine's website. Dr. Ditewig himself is participating. This is a great opportunity to learn about deacons from one of the church's foremost experts on the subject!

A picture with a few words is worth gallons of ink and gigs of bytes

The bishop of Salt Lake City, The Most Rev. John C. Wester said at this rally: "We are gravely concerned about the collateral human consequences of immigration enforcement raids on the family unit. Many of our local churches, wards, synagogues, and temples have helped to respond to human needs generated by enforcement actions."

Photo and quote by Intermountain Catholic newspaper's Christine Young

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Of movies and (profit) motives

Last night, or, early this morning, my two older children went to see the first showing of the new Harry Potter movie with my son's godfather. So, this evening my youngest daughter and I are going to see The Half-Blood Prince. I have to admit to being excited about going to see this film!

While I am getting back into the swing of things, abrupt transitions will have to suffice. Therefore, I want to draw attention to an article in Rolling Stone by Matt Taibbi on the object of Hammerin' Hank Paulson's TARP- Goldman Sachs: The Great American Bubble Machine: From tech stocks to high gas prices, Goldman Sachs has engineered every major market manipulation since the Great Depression - and they're about to do it again . The timing of the article is great, given the public release of the Holy Father's Caritatis in Veritate. Also, Gabriella commented on my post announcing the encyclical's release. In her comment she quoted a Lord Griffiths, who is "a trustee of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lambeth Trust and Vice-Chairman of Goldman Sachs International" to the effect that it is people and regulations that need to change. There are no people who need to change more than those, like Lord Griffiths, who are involved with Goldman Sachs. Because it deals with finance and morality, I added Taibbi's article to my Church and Moral Issues bibliography of post-residency articles on morality that I am compiling to complete my post-residency assignment.

We'll all be relieved to know that, according to the NY Times, Goldman is back to profitability.

Taibbi's take includes this straightforward assessment:

"The bank's unprecedented reach and power have enabled it to turn all of America into a giant pump-and-dump scam, manipulating whole economic sectors for years at a time, moving the dice game as this or that market collapses, and all the time gorging itself on the unseen costs that are breaking families everywhere — high gas prices, rising consumer credit rates, half-eaten pension funds, mass layoffs, future taxes to pay off bailouts. All that money that you're losing, it's going somewhere, and in both a literal and a figurative sense, Goldman Sachs is where it's going: The bank is a huge, highly sophisticated engine for converting the useful, deployed wealth of society into the least useful, most wasteful and insoluble substance on Earth — pure profit for rich individuals."
In his encyclical, Pope Benedict writes this about profit:

"Profit is useful if it serves as a means towards an end that provides a sense both of how to produce it and how to make good use of it. Once profit becomes the exclusive goal, if it is produced by improper means and without the common good as its ultimate end, it risks destroying wealth and creating poverty. The economic development that Paul VI hoped to see was meant to produce real growth, of benefit to everyone and genuinely sustainable. It is true that growth has taken place, and it continues to be a positive factor that has lifted billions of people out of misery — recently it has given many countries the possibility of becoming effective players in international politics. Yet it must be acknowledged that this same economic growth has been and continues to be weighed down by malfunctions and dramatic problems, highlighted even further by the current crisis. This presents us with choices that cannot be postponed concerning nothing less than the destiny of man, who, moreover, cannot prescind from his nature" (italics in original).
A deep diaconal bow to Eric Bugyis writing over on dotCommonweal for drawing my attention to Taibbi's piece just as my ire was building over reports of Goldman's profiteering. You can watch an interesting video with Taibbi (Tie-bee) on the RS website.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A mid-summer reflection

I really didn't mean for yesterday's post to sound like a valedictory address, but I was very happy and, for me, happiness leads to gratitude. Now if I can just be grateful when things aren't going so well! I also feel that being able to publish something for a wider audience is a vindication of my blogging, even though my blogging lately has been reduced.

Some say that blogs are already a thing of the past and have been overtaken by Facebook, Twitter, and other new forms of so-called social media. I am convinced that quality writing on matters of interest will always be timely, even in print! I hope that my blog occupies a unique space. I think back to the reason I began to blog on a regular basis: requests from people in my parish. Initially, it was a place to further discussions about theology, politics, spirituality, and popular culture. I like that way of seeing what I am doing in this (cyber) space.

Besides, there are precious few deacon bloggers. I very much see blogging as a part of my diaconal ministry. I consider it ministry precisely because I do not hold back, which does not mean being irresponsible, though I have undoubtedly exercised questionable judgment at times, which is why I seek and cherish being held accountable by my readers. For anyone not familiar with these pages, I encourage you to go back and read in the archive, even as I endeavor to write about new things, or old things with new insights.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Deacons in America

Prior to appearing in the print edition, my humble contribution to America magazine's ministry issue, which has a focus on the permanent diaconate, is available on-line, along with the contributions of my brother deacons, Dr. Bill Ditewig and Greg Kandra. My participation in this issue is the result of both men: Deacon Greg suggested me as a possibility and Deacon Ditewig's numerous and insightful writings on the permanent diaconate have helped inform me as I continue to work on my Integrated Pastoral Research project on developing the ecclesial identity of the permanent deacon in light of the twin realities of priesthood and lay ecclesial ministry.

I cannot fail to mention the friendship, personal mentoring, and scholarship of Deacon Owen Cummings, whose encouragement after reading a first and very rough draft of the article helped me to realize that I could do this. Along with Dr. Ditewig, Owen has labored hard as both a deacon and a theologian to lay a solid foundation for a sound and progressive theology of the permanent diaconate. While I have been informed by the writings of many, Deacon Cummings has been instrumental in my formation over many years. There is another Greg to whom I owe a debt of gratitude, Dr. Greg Sobolewski, who is a brilliant theologian, master teacher, mentor, and friend. The genesis of this article was a lengthy ecclesiology paper, written for a class I took from him: Vatican II’s Restoration of the Permanent Diaconate: ressourcement and aggiornamento.

Dr. Ditewig's article touches on an area that needs a lot of clarification, the relation of matrimony and holy orders in the life and ministry of the permanent deacon- Married and Ordained: The ministry of deacons. Deacon Kandra's contribution is entitled A Deacon’s Lessons: Seven things they don't teach you in formation. I am guessing that space limited him to only seven things! Finally, there is my brief outline of the restoration of permanent diaconate thus far: Looking Back and Ahead: The theology behind the permanent diaconate.

Bishop Wester in the Deseret News

Last Friday the LDS-owned Deseret News published a wonderful story on Bishop John Wester, who serves the Diocese of Salt Lake City. It is a generous and gracious article about a generous and gracious man. Bishop on a mission: Wester aims to maintain community cooperation, by Scott Taylor. I think it is very true that bridges are built between "those of different faiths are based in simple friendship and understanding."

Indeed, as Bishop Wester points out, "There are all kinds of values that we cherish together and so much we can do together," he said, adding that while doctrinal differences may exist, "you work on what is common."

Friday, July 10, 2009

Lessons in deaconing

Deacon Greg Kandra, author of The Deacon's Bench and no stranger to self-sacrificing service, posts something wonderful and inspiring- "Behind the Walls with the Man Behind the Stole". This post and the story to which it is linked is about Deacon Donald Dashnaw's experience as a prison chaplain.

Deacon Dashnaw and many permanent deacons like him are the best reasons, the only reasons, for the restoration of the permanent diaconate.

Living our humanity differently because we encountered Christ

In a very insightful post regarding the flap initially stirred up by George Weigel’s National Review Online critique of Caritatis in veritate, the tone and tenor of which Weigel sustains in a Newsweek column in which he apparently sought to cast aspersions on today's meeting between pope and president before it even took place, on America magazine’s In All Things blog, Michael Sean Winters causes me to wonder if he has been attending School of Community. He mentioned CL once before in a post prior to the release of the encyclical. The reason I am posting the quote below, however, is not to speculate about Mr. Winters, even if in a good way, but because it is beautiful-

"Obama was a community organizer when Bernardin was archbishop of Chicago. The future president was inspired by his leadership and his compassion. In other words, Cardinal Bernardin, by showing how he lived his humanity differently because of his encounter with Christ, changed the heart of another person by his example. There is a word for that: evangelization" (underlining emphasis mine).

Here's clip from Politico of President Obama's Vatican visit that is circulating widely throughout the Catholic blogosphere

The Holy Father in the Vatican; it doesn't get anymore Friday traditio than that- a deep diaconal bow to my Facebook friend Fred!

As is her wont, the irrepressible Peggy Noonan offers the wisest and most realistic media take on Gov. Sarah Palin's decision to resign from office in her Opinion Journal piece- A Farewell to Harms: Palin was bad for the Republicans—and the republic.

"[T]ruth is not something we produce"- CL on Caritas in veritate

We are grateful to the Holy Father that in his social encyclical he has again proposed the originality of the faith and the contribution that Christians can give to social life and development.

To us it seems critical that at the beginning of an encyclical dedicated to human affairs, the Pope, with great realism, is recalling everyone to something basic and evident, which, if denied, leads every human effort to become unjust to the point of violence: "Sometimes modern man is wrongly convinced that he is the sole author of himself, his life and society. This is a presumption that ... is a consequence ... of original sin. The Church’s wisdom has always pointed to the presence of original sin in social conditions and in the structure of society." Recent experience, in fact, teaches us that the claim of self-sufficiency and of being able to "eliminate the evil present in history by his own action alone has led man to confuse happiness and salvation with immanent forms of material prosperity and social action."

On the contrary, the truth about ourselves is first of all "given": "[T]ruth is not something that we produce; it is always found, or better, received." This is why the Pope affirms that "[c]harity in truth ... is the principal driving force behind the authentic development of every person and of all humanity... In Christ, charity in truth becomes the Face of his Person."

Benedict XVI recalls us to the fact (which, as current events show, is more and more often forgotten) that a "Christianity of charity without truth would be more or less interchangeable with a pool of good sentiments, helpful for social cohesion, but of little relevance. In other words, there would no longer be any real place for God in the world."

Caritas in veritate asserts that the Church “does not have technical solutions to offer and does not claim to interfere in any way in politics,” but does have a mission to accomplish: proclaiming Christ as "the first and principal factor of development."

Along this path of witness we feel challenged to verify, within the context of daily life, the import of faith in Christ, as the One who places us in the best conditions for facing the myriad of problems in the economic, financial, social and political fields enumerated by the encyclical.

In the next issue of Traces, the monthly international magazine of the movement coming out next week, a booklet with the text of Caritas in veritate will be enclosed.

CL press office
Milan, July 8, 2009

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Ecclesiae Unitatem

Following the public release yesterday of Caritatis in Veritate, today Pope Benedict XVI issued an Apostolic Letter, dated 2 July, motu proprio, entitled Ecclesiae Unitatem.

This letter concerns the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei. This commission was established in the motu proprio promulgated by Pope John Paul II after the late "Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre illicitly conferred episcopal ordination upon four priests." The valid but illicit episcopal ordination took place on 30 June 1988. Established on 2 July 1988, the commission was to look into once again allowing the use of the 1962 Missale Romanum, which was suppressed by Pope Paul VI once the missal was promulgated after the Second Vatican Council. Eventually, Pope John Paul II allowed the celebration of the 1962 Missale Romanum, but only with the approval of the local bishop. Two years ago, on 7 July 2007, Pope Benedict XVI promulgated motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, allowing for the celebration of Mass according to the 1962 missal as an extraordinary form at the discretion of priests, who no longer require the permission of their bishops.

In time, after the formal excommunications of those four and Lefebvre, this independent commission oversaw all formal contact between the church and the Society of St. Pius X. Because with the promulgation of Summorum, the liturgical issues are no longer a barrier to reunion, the issues are now doctrinal. So, Ecclesiae Unitatem places Ecclesia Dei under the Congregration for the Doctrine of the Faith. In number 6 of today's letter, the Holy Father stipulates that:

"The Pontifical Commission 'Ecclesia Dei' will, then, have the following configuration:

(a) The president of the Commission is the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

(b) The Commission has its own staff, composed of the secretary and officials.

(c) It will be the task of the president, with the assistance of the secretary, to submit the principal cases and questions of a doctrinal nature for study and discernment according to the ordinary requirements of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and to submit the results thereof to the superior dispositions of the Supreme Pontiff."

So, William Cardinal Levada, who will be in Salt Lake City next month for the celebration of the centennial of The Cathedral of the Madeleine, becomes the president of Ecclesia Dei, with Msgr. Guido Pozzo, who currently serves as adjunct secretary of the International Theological Commission, another commission under the auspices of CDF, as secretary of the commission.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009



1. Charity in truth, to which Jesus Christ bore witness by his earthly life and especially by his death and resurrection, is the principal driving force behind the authentic development of every person and of all humanity. Love — caritas — is an extraordinary force which leads people to opt for courageous and generous engagement in the field of justice and peace. It is a force that has its origin in God, Eternal Love and Absolute Truth. Each person finds his good by adherence to God's plan for him, in order to realize it fully: in this plan, he finds his truth, and through adherence to this truth he becomes free (cf. Jn 8:22). To defend the truth, to articulate it with humility and conviction, and to bear witness to it in life are therefore exacting and indispensable forms of charity. Charity, in fact, "rejoices in the truth" (1 Cor 13:6). All people feel the interior impulse to love authentically: love and truth never abandon them completely, because these are the vocation planted by God in the heart and mind of every human person. The search for love and truth is purified and liberated by Jesus Christ from the impoverishment that our humanity brings to it, and he reveals to us in all its fullness the initiative of love and the plan for true life that God has prepared for us. In Christ, charity in truth becomes the Face of his Person, a vocation for us to love our brothers and sisters in the truth of his plan. Indeed, he himself is the Truth (cf. Jn 14:6).

2. Charity is at the heart of the Church's social doctrine. Every responsibility and every commitment spelt out by that doctrine is derived from charity which, according to the teaching of Jesus, is the synthesis of the entire Law (cf. Mt 22:36- 40). It gives real substance to the personal relationship with God and with neighbour; it is the principle not only of micro-relationships (with friends, with family members or within small groups) but also of macro-relationships (social, economic and political ones). For the Church, instructed by the Gospel, charity is everything because, as Saint John teaches (cf. 1 Jn 4:8, 16) and as I recalled in my first Encyclical Letter, "God is love" (Deus Caritas Est): everything has its origin in God's love, everything is shaped by it, everything is directed towards it. Love is God's greatest gift to humanity, it is his promise and our hope.

I am aware of the ways in which charity has been and continues to be misconstrued and emptied of meaning, with the consequent risk of being misinterpreted, detached from ethical living and, in any event, undervalued. In the social, juridical, cultural, political and economic fields — the contexts, in other words, that are most exposed to this danger — it is easily dismissed as irrelevant for interpreting and giving direction to moral responsibility. Hence the need to link charity with truth not only in the sequence, pointed out by Saint Paul, of veritas in caritate (Eph 4:15), but also in the inverse and complementary sequence of caritas in veritate. Truth needs to be sought, found and expressed within the "economy" of charity, but charity in its turn needs to be understood, confirmed and practised in the light of truth. In this way, not only do we do a service to charity enlightened by truth, but we also help give credibility to truth, demonstrating its persuasive and authenticating power in the practical setting of social living. This is a matter of no small account today, in a social and cultural context which relativizes truth, often paying little heed to it and showing increasing reluctance to acknowledge its existence.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Return, remembrance, and connections

Organist and scholar Rob Ridgell, who is the organist at historic and beautiful Trinity Episcopal Church in Manhattan, plays an organ tribute to Michael Jackson.

Rob was the organist at The Cathedral of the Madeleine, my parish, in the mid-90s, when I also served on the full-time staff of our beloved rector, Monsignor M. Francis Mannion. Rob and I had a few adventures together. He was back in Utah last October for the dedication of the new church for Holy Family parish, led by another of our mutual and beloved friends, Fr. Patrick Elliott. So, Hi Rob!

Fox aired a re-run of an early Simpsons episode in which Homer is committed to a mental health facility. His roommate is a rather large white man who thinks he is Michael Jackson. Far from being disrespectful, it is a very poignant and complex look at Michael.

I needed an assist on this one. So, a deep diaconal bow to my friend Deacon Greg Kandra who blogs over at The Deacon's Bench.

Tomorrow is the release of the Holy Father's encyclical Caritas in Veritate.

Monday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Readings: Hosea 2:16.17c.18.21-22; Ps 145:2-9; Matthew 9:18-26 Our Gospel today is Saint Matthew’s version of events first written about ...