16 January 2013
Posted by catholicsensibility under Liturgy
, The Blogosphere  Comments
Deacon Greg pens a manifesto for the good ol’ days. Man, I worry about this guy. He’s been hanging around the wrong crowd, I think.
Catechesis is fruitless. We’ve tried. You can show people how it’s done; you can instruct them; you can post reminders in the bulletin and give talks from the pulpit. It does no good.
I often feel the same way about priests and deacons. You remind them you sit in the pews every week. We watch them. The “uncatechized” watch them, and who are they not to imitate what they see in their leaders? They’re the ones on display, and a significant minority of them seem not to care. They do it the same way they learned it in seminary, five or ten or fifty years ago.
Take your time distributing the Eucharist. Act as though it’s the most important thing you’ll do all week. It’s not pecking your wife on the cheek when a longering embrace is called for. It’s not slugging back a shot of booze when savoring a sip of wine or even water is needed.
Of course catechesis is not needed. A good or better example is. Better than what is being given. If Greg’s parishioners are misbehaving, I’m going to place part of the blame on him and his clergy.
Problem is, that Greg’s commentariat won’t be satisfied with kneeling, on the tongue. They want people to stop receiving so they can go back to the one occasional, hurry-up priest giving Communion to the chosen few. I think there is a rose-colored look back at history. Some people are trying to convince us that our foibles and missteps have damaged everything. I’m not so sure Catholics of ages past didn’t have the same problem: they weren’t perfect either. No wonder that Tridentine bishop proposed keeping the laity home and safely away from ruining the Mass. On a web site this week someone accused me of sarcasm when I mentioned that.
So I’m going to offer this small pushback against the kneeling, on the tongue thing. If that helps your spirituality, by all means, live it and experience it richly. And if people are mishandling the Eucharist, show them the right way in absolutely everything. Especially by what is not said. And as for the rest of us, we encounter the Lord Jesus in the Eucharist just as profoundly as other Catholics.
15 January 2013
Posted by catholicsensibility under Rite of Penance
, Scripture  Comments
The 13th is one of the more obscure pieces in the Psalter. I find it one of the more passionate expressions of lament in the entire Bible, touching on a basic human fear of loss, ridicule, and abandonment. And so often when we sin, when we become aware of our sinfulness, that is what we might fear, no?
The USCCB has a new edition of the Rite of Penance, incorporating the newest Lectionary translations. I recommend this edition, as it contains the full texts of the Scripture readings (RP 101-201), which the Rites books do not contain. Many older versions of the Rite of Penance do not contain them either. (Maybe your confessor’s iPad has them, though.)
The given antiphon for Psalm 13 is:
My hope, O Lord, is in your mercy.
The psalmist blasts out a complaint against God right away:
How long, O Lord? Will you utterly forget me?
Nothing like getting one’s cards on the table before God. He knows, of course. We don’t have to shy away from speaking our mind.
“How long” becomes a litany for the psalmist. Not unlike the affectionate, yet annoying query from the back seat on a long trip. In this case, how long “will you hide your face … shall I harbor sorrow … grief … will my enemy triumph?” Ah! We get fairly quickly to the psalmist’s real beef with God. Why do bad things happen to me? Why do other people gloat over my misfortune? I suppose it was more of a serious question for a culture in which bad things happened to bad people, and good things happened to good. God was a God of consequences, and if any sinner stepped over the line, payback was coming.
Verse 4a is insistent, yet it contains an important petition:
Look, answer me, O Lord, my God!
The psalmist gets past the whiney “How long,” and gets to the root of it. We acknowledge God is in control, and we know we have to go to God. We offer a petition:
Give light to my eyes that I may not sleep in death …
Light. Wisdom. Awareness. As long as my eyes are open, I won’t be dead. (I suppose.) The psalmist would still prefer not to be bested and beset by enemies and foes.
Verse 6 is beautiful and one of my favorites in the Bible. The prayer is uttered similarly in many other places in the Psalter and beyond. But given the context of complaint and persecution, it strikes me as especially tender:
Though I trusted in your mercy,
Let my heart rejoice in your salvation;
let me sing of the Lord, “He has been good to me.”
This is perfect. God’s mercy is a matter of trust. We acknowledge we cannot be ironclad sure. We complain, “How long.” So a part of us wonders. But we place ourselves on the path of salvation. We put our hearts where God can reach. We put our song into God’s ear. And what we sing is not a big, long-winded, and wordy thing. More often our complaints are. But we sing simply, “He has been good to me.” And sometimes, that’s just enough to place us within the Almighty’s good graces. And in reconciliation to God, that’s what we’re asking, right?
15 January 2013
Posted by catholicsensibility under Miscellaneous
| Tags: census
| 1 Comment
Can you imagine a map on which every person counted in the 2010-2011 US and Canadian censuses is represented by a dot? I found the tip on the Universe Today blog. Check it out here.
When I zoomed in on my town, I could make out a small cluster of three dots just southwest of the blank space that is our neighborhood shopping center. That’s us! I remarked to the young miss.
That spread from Atlanta to Raleigh looks like a budding megalopolis.
Zooming in, one can see parks, rivers, industrial complexes, and even malls. I noticed the densely-populated student dorms just north of Campustown. Also the dot-free athletic complexes and academic areas.
Can you find your neighborhood?
14 January 2013
Posted by catholicsensibility under The Blogosphere
| Tags: twitter
| 1 Comment
I succumbed to the 21st century yet again. I now tweet. It will be mainly parish-focused, because I don’t think I have any individual reasons to be on Twitter.
If you have any suggestions or comments, let me know. They asked for my name, and I was honest. But maybe I could have listed my “name” as STA Liturgy. I don’t know what the acceptable protocols are for this kind of thing. I’m not afraid to put my name out there on stuff. And my parishioners know who serves as their liturgist.
Ah! Almost forgot.
14 January 2013
I started this great book by Mike Hayes before I went to bed Thursday night at the conference. I finished it on the plane home the next day.
Mike is well known in the blogosphere as the co-founder of Busted Halo. He has a great blog, Googling God. Now, like me, he’s a campus minister. He delivered an excellent presentation at his breakout session. He’s clearly a guy well at home with himself and in his role in the Church. That confidence provides the spirit of this book.
Mike brings an Ignatian education and sensibility to a straight-forward approach to uncovering just what we should be doing with this life God has given us. He peppers six chapters with personal stories of his own work history, and how he was led from a career in broadcasting, to the internet, and from there, to campus ministry and retreats.
If you know a young adult searching for direction along the lines of work, I can’t think of a better book. It will appeal to those who are deeply religious, but will also impact a person not so deeply churchy.
12 January 2013
Posted by catholicsensibility under spirituality
| Tags: Hail Mary
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Some Catholics get upset when traditional matters, especially ultimate traditional matters, are messed around with. So the rest of this post comes with a content advisory.
One of the things I’d like to do in 2013 is pray for people, especially those who have asked me to pray for them. That prayer doesn’t always fit into my lectio.
On the left, this is how I’ve prayed for people when I’m on retreat: placing their names on a post-it in the back of my Psalter.
These days, I’ve been inspired to add their name to an altered ending of a prayer:
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for N, now and all the days of her/his life.
A few friends are struggling with significant illnesses, even life-threatening. It struck as slightly creepy to ask the intercession now and at the hour of death. A more seemly way to pray was to pray for their lives.
So when it comes to mind to offer up a prayer for someone in particular, it seems easy to go back to the second prayer I uttered as a child. I suppose if I wanted to pray the rosary with particular people for intentions, I could pray for ten, or even fifty people.
Bah! I’m just happy to remember to pray for one person this day, this minute.
10 January 2013
Posting will be light for a few days here …
We’re finishing up the campus ministry conference. It has been a rich experience in the usual ways for me: connecting with new colleagues, sharing insights with my friends on staff here with me, and the various presentations.
The liturgical experience here has been quite good. The music is mostly unfamiliar–lots of 2000′s stuff. No chant. No P&W. Hymnody and mainstream contemporary music. A bit of Taize.
Today’s keynote by Archbishop Chaput was competent. The man has a warm speaking voice. He began his talk with the illustration of the deep relationship between Thomas More and his daughter Margaret. That was excellent. Some attempts at humor are a little sharp. He can’t leave politics alone. Someone asked him a question about religious plurality on Roman Catholic campuses, and he readily conceded he had never considered the matter. To the surprise of some here, he asserted that business as usual will no longer work for the Church. And he’s right, of course. The main problem with that statement is that coming from a bishop, he rather controls the aspects of “t”radition that will be exempt because they touch on something of the ecclesiastical aristocracy, and not really matters that come from the Lord.
But overall, the Archbishop’s talk was genuine, candid, and pleasant. Drawing the correlation of Thomas More and his daughter to the campus minister and the college student was so thoughtful and moving. Kudos for that, in a big way.
Afternoon sessions on discernment (with Mike Hayes, Busted Halo co-founder) and technology (with one of our Iowa State graduates now in full-time ministry) were good.
I have a few things on my mind, so I went to my room early tonight. I have a full weekend of liturgies to get prepared, plus an all-afternoon leadership retreat on Sunday. I may drop in a post on Scripture Saturday if I get a moment. Otherwise, blogging will likely resume on Monday.
9 January 2013
Posted by catholicsensibility under Ministry 1 Comment
The morning speaker, Ed Hahnenberg was outstanding in presenting on a wider sense of vocation in the Church, and how this is a needed corrective. If I were to blog on that, I would use up my spare free time today.
Instead, I wanted to relate a thoughtful breakout session from Barbara Humphrey McCrabb of the USCCB’s Department of Education and Fr Frank Donio, SAC, of the Catholic Apostolate Center. They presented on “Collaboration and the New Evangelization.” I was concerned that the session was going to be more psychological and not enough theology, but I needn’t have worried.
They presented collaboration largely within a theological framework. Their presentation zeroed in on three essential qualities:
- Cenacle spirituality
- Communio ecclesiology
- Cooperation technology
In brief, the spirituality of collaboration involves the engaging and intersection of prayer, discernment, and action. In other words, individuals don’t “figure it out” on their own and launch initiatives fully formed from their own interior life. A healthy ministry life also involves action. Plus a balanced approach to discernment. It strikes me as eminently sensible: we always check in with a director, and a community we serve while remaining engaged in prayer.
I like the surfacing of Communio here. The presenters defined it as Trinity (the primal communion of the universe) plus the Word, plus the sacraments, especially the Eucharist. How do we know we have achieved communio? One attendee mentioned when a group of collaborators experience a sum (in ministry) greater than the individual parts brought to the table.
By cooperation “technology,” the speakers were using the term to mean more broadly the “how” of engaging people in a group setting. They stressed the need for actual conversation–that people would be talking to each other. Most importantly, that while one is talking the others listen–truly listen. Listening does not imply agreement. It means engagement.
This last point is a difficult one for many extreme believers. For some of us, we cannot bear to be in the presence of people who disagree with us, and worse, who utter those disagreements. It’s almost as though we are tainted by the very expression of such heinous thoughts as ordained women, moral boundaries in sexuality, or, say in the popular culture, advocacy for the “wrong” sports team.
Much to think about for my own approach to ministry, for service with my colleagues, and certainly for the ministries of the parish that sent us.
8 January 2013
Posted by catholicsensibility under Ministry Leave a Comment
My lectio today wasn’t terribly inspiring. But on the plane this morning, I was reading a bit of the traditional Jewish principle of the Shaliach, the person sent on a mission. Such people act not on their own behalf, but for the person who sent them. Consider Abraham’s servant Eliezer, sent in Genesis 24 to find a wife for Isaac.
I’m in Clearwater Beach, Florida this week with two of my young colleagues from the student center. We’ve been sent to the CCMA (Catholic Campus Ministry Association) convention by our parish. It’s a marvelous location–Florida is wonderful this week, especially on the Gulf Coast. But I’m not here to experience the white sandy beach with my toes. (Though I did that.)
I often have a critical, sometimes very critical hat on when I attend a convention. But there are nuggets of riches and wisdom–God’s grace to be found not only in the speakers, but also in the experiences. Tonight’s speaker, for example, spoke much of the challenges of catechesis among young Catholics. On one hand, it was a depressing talk. On the other, she certainly had insights to lead us to a more engaged and catechized young adult population.
She spoke of the need for more catechesis, but I think the forces of the culture are arrayed more seriously against Catholics of any age engaging in deeper catechesis. We live in an age of specialization. A college physics major is knowledgeable and competent within her or his discipline. But likely knows little about economics. And an economics major may have a dusing of calculus, but cares nothing for the deep math and concepts masters by a physicist.
Likewise, even committed Catholic college students: why should they learn more about their faith when they have “specialists” to assist them. When confronted with a moral dilemma, why not go to a priest, either live or online? Why make a difficult choice when they can engage an expert to tell them the right thing to do?
I’ve had two good chats with colleagues tonight about that very challenge. Young people are earnest, good Catholics. But most don’t perceive the need as long as religion experts are accessible.
Three more days of being shaliach.
7 January 2013
Posted by catholicsensibility under Rite of Penance
, Scripture Leave a Comment
In the daily Lectionary this week, the last of the Christmas season, we get a few snapshots of Jesus’ early ministry. Except for the account of finding the boy Jesus in the Temple, we have nothing of the Savior’s earthly life between the Magi and the Baptism in the Jordan.
Still, this week’s gospels start off with a clear message: the Lord is here; get ready!
Today’s gospel passage includes one of the Scriptures from the Rite of Penance (RP177), Matthew 4:12-17. here is the passage, which includes one of the Isaian prophecies heard on Christmas:
When Jesus heard that John had been arrested,
he withdrew to Galilee.
He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea,
in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali,
that what had been said through Isaiah the prophet
might be fulfilled:
Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,
the way to the sea, beyond the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles,
the people who sit in darkness
have seen a great light,
on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death
light has arisen.
From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say,
“Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Scripture scholars likely have a lot of rich things to say about this. I would like to confine my commentary to three points, which correspond to the three parts of this reading.
First, Jesus hears of the arrest of his cousin John. His reaction is to withdraw to Galilee, thus fulfilling a prophecy. I don’t think that usual human reactions to news events are hardly ever fulfillments of prophecy. But we can acknowledge that unrelated events in our surroundings “move” us to new places. We look at things from a different viewpoint. And I think it is vital for a believer to keep eyes wide open when we are on the move.
Jesus in moving to be with people who are in the darkness. Perhaps we get a glimmer of something in our lives. Do we move toward the light? Do we shy away from it? Whether our instinct is one of curiosity or of concern, it is important to realize that Jesus is the one who cal deliver us from darkness. In this deliverance, we gradually come to see aspects of our lives. And in so doing, we might become moved to do something about these aspects.
When Jesus preaches, “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand,” he is telling the penitent that change is good. He is telling the penitent a new authority is available, one of the light, and not of the darkness. The Kingdom is about self-awareness, self-recognition, and setting aside the things of darkness, and doing things in the full light of day.
Light is a grand theme of the Christmas season. And it’s not just about a star shining on an infant boy 2,000 years ago. It’s not about the glow in the hay, or even in our home trees, roofs, and front yards. The important light of Christmas is the one in which we acknowledge the “Great Light” of our lives. Sins, too, will be brought into full view. But we have no reason to fear, because a new Kingdom is at hand. Jesus has come for us. That is for us. Not against us. The Incarnation and the Nativity was an act of God for people, not to call attention to God in glory. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be talking about a stable in a peripheral province of a mighty empire. We would be talking about a Savior born in the capital city of Rome or China or another of the world’s great empires.
Jesus coming in the flesh is not so much about him as it is about his rescue and redemption of a people stranded in darkness.
7 January 2013
Posted by catholicsensibility under The Blogosphere Leave a Comment
This time of year starts closing out the annual exercise of Our Favorite People lists. Catholics are certainly not immune to this secular-sourced exercise in patting ourselves on the back. And indeed, there’s nothing wrong with giving a shout-out to people who have done good work. I stumbled across OSV’s Inspiring Catholics of 2012 the other day. Something bothered me about this list, but I wasn’t sure just what it was. I have to check myself on the envy front. I can drop the snark on y’all and say I wouldn’t trade places with anyone on that list. But we all know otherwise, don’t we? I checked out a few other lists here and there, and they all confirmed my own disappointment.
Now, to be sure, everybody on these lists are good, even Good, Catholics. But as I looked over OSV’s list of nine this morning, I noticed what they do. In order, they are praised for being a political activist, bishop (and activist), blogger, bishop (and twitterer), bishop, blogger, parishioner, businessman, priest. Among the twenty runners-up, I counted six bishops, one priest, four or five political activists, seven bloggers, a handful of people who have authored non-fiction books, and even a documentary filmmaker. But no one who produces film, writes books, creates visual art, or composes music. No architects, sculptors, poets, novelists, composers, church musicians. Not even a person whose primary calling is to be a spiritual director.
In part, I think we’re seeing the natural bias of Catholics on the internet. After all, we read and follow internet personalities. In the old days, the admirable Catholic in our lives was likely another parishioner, teacher or catechist, maybe a musician, or our parish priest (who does, generically, get an OSV nod). Today, it’s the people who have built up a decade-long following, and who, in turn, recommend Someone New to those who follow them.
And long-time readers know my take on this sort of self-congratulation among internet Catholics. I think it’s misplaced. These folks had a right dose of poke toward the Big Time. Many internet Catholics have toned down their annual awards since they peaked in the middle of the last decade. Good thing, I’d say.
But as for these Catholics-of-the-year lists, what would you do to widen the field? More than one-third of the nominees are bloggers? Seems to me that just by being a blogger, maybe one should be disqualified from the list for spending too much time on the internet.
6 January 2013
Readers may have noticed one or two quotes in recent posts from Father Peter van Breemen. His book The God Who Won’t Let Go is a distillation of a series of talks he gave at a Benedictine monastery in 1998. Ave Maria Press published the book a dozen years ago, but it’s been sitting on my shelf for those years. I’ve been enjoying the Dutch Jesuit’s reflections on God’s love as lensed through important passages from Scripture. I haven’t completed the volume yet, but I thought I would give it a big thumbs-up recommendation here.
The adaptation from retreat talk to book format is well done. I’ve been taking a chapter every few days at the end of my regular lectio. There’s a richness in the essays that stays with me for a day or two afterward. Chapter five, “We all need forgiveness” was particularly poignant for me this past week.
Each talk-turned-chapter is a coherent meditation on some aspect of God’s love. The author draws from all over Scripture, the writings of the saints, and ties everything together in a way that is understandable, thoughtful, and relevant to the life of a modern-day believer. From the conclusion to Chapter 1, “wait there for me,” summing up the example of Moses, in prayer on Mount Sinai, the go-between of his people and their God (Exodus 34):
Out of Moses’s solitary experience of God there emerges something of great importance for all the people. Similarly, we pray alone, insolitude and silence; but–and this is good to remember when prayer happens to be difficult–our solitary prayer bears fruit for many. We wait by ourselves, but our listening, our silence, our longing, and our prayer become a source of fruitfulness for others as well. This fruitfulness knows no bounds.
4 January 2013
Posted by catholicsensibility under Parish Life Leave a Comment
At the end of today’s sound system meeting, our committee chair and consultants wanted a closer look at the church ceiling. I tagged along.
Scaffolding has been up for weeks. First to facilitate asbestos removal. Now the ceiling is stripped down to the beams.
It’s surreal to be walking just six feet under your church’s ceiling. The sun was just setting, and way up near the top, there was a lot of light coming through those upper windows. Lots of plywood. Stacks of drywall. Strange light. Another two months in exile.
3 January 2013
Posted by catholicsensibility under The Armchair Liturgist 1 Comment
I’ve seen here and there an effort to translate the experience of the Nativity of the Lord into a devotion akin to the Way of the Cross. As I make it out, Advent and/or Christmas deserve some particular spiritual pilgrimage. People have written books on this. My former parish’s effort was featured in the archdiocesan newspaper before Christmas.
My current parish explored the following stations with its children five years ago. It employed twelve: the Annunciation, the Visitation, the Magnificat, the Birth of John the Baptist, and the canticle of Zechariah from Luke, followed by the Annunciation to Joseph and then Joseph taking Mary into his home. Four more from Luke: the journey to Bethlehem, the Birth of Jesus, the Annunciation to shepherds, then the shepherds spreading the news. Last station: Magi.
What do you think? Should Nativity Stations include the anticipatory events of Advent? Need it be fourteen/fifteen stations like the Way of the Cross? Does it need a particular name, The Way of the Crib? Or Manger? Or a particular number of stations?
Image credit: CNS/Paul Haring
3 January 2013
Posted by catholicsensibility under Adoption Leave a Comment
RNS interviewed Russell Moore, the dean of the School of Theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary on adoption. Money quote:
(A)ny family that’s adopting needs to understand that this child is a person and not a project. Someone who believes that adoption is simply going to meet some void within that person’s life is not someone who should adopt.
True. Adoption is not a solution for infertility. Infertility is a potential opportunity for a couple to explore other ways their marriage and family can exemplify the quality of generativity.
That generativity, by the way, is not all about genetics. Even a couple that marries, say, in their seventies, has a sacramental and ecclesial responsibility to exercise generativity in their relationship. Otherwise, they have missed the point about marriage.
Adoption is a process by which we are grafted into the family of God. Christians, above any other group, should be aware of this and working on this much-needed pro-life and sacramental witness.
Good for Rev. Moore.
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