Wednesday, July 20, 2016

too much of too many good things!

I guess that I should not complain, but the next few weeks are just packed with one good thing after another. Right now I am back at the Josephinum after an overnight trip to New England for the funeral of a Nashville seminarian's father. I was almost caught in the Southwest Airlines meltdown today, but United was able to get me from Manchester, NH to Columbus. Thanks also to the Delta folks at the Manchester airport who, after they realized they could not help me, shouted down the counter to United, who could. I would still be in Manchester, I'm sure...

Anyhow, I feel so at home here at the Josephinum. I am wondering what God and Bishop Choby have gotten me into, but I am sure it is where I am supposed to be. I have a much better idea of what I am going to be doing after the couple of days here, and I already feel a part of the place. Now I have to go home to Nashville and say goodbye to so many people and leave UCat and St. Mary's, which I love very much. It is going to be tough. Then there are about a million loose ends to tie up. The strange thing is that it is getting done somehow. I have no more dinners to have with people in Nashville before I leave so I am already booking up Christmastime. See what I mean?

It is so strange to feel picked up and carried along to something new.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

turning to the Lord

Cardinal Sarah, the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, recently advocated once again that priest and people should turn together to face the Lord during the Liturgy of the Eucharist. This time, he made specific a recommendation to begin, suggesting the first Sunday of Advent which is the beginning of the Church's liturgical year.

We made this turn a few years ago at St. Mary's with little fanfare and no controversy. Like kneeling at the altar rail to receive Holy Communion, once it is experienced it just makes sense. It also makes sense in a building that was built for it. And it's is easy to do: just follow the rubrics in the missal.

Once he got back to Rome, Cardinal Sarah was called in, and a clarification was issued. OK, but I don't remember such quick response -- or really any response -- to the suggestions of other cardinals that the Church needs to change her teaching on marriage and on homosexuality.

Go make a mess, just not one rooted in the Church's tradition and current legislation!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

come to Jesus

I wrote the post yesterday morning before I knew about the Dallas incident. Almost immediately, the spin doctors were at work talking about gun control. That is disgusting political posturing.

Conversion is what we need: hearts set on the Lord Jesus. This is the only way to live in a world gone mad. The Gospel for Mass tomorrow is the Parable of the Good Samaritan. We need to look at this parable again. Jesus asks who is the neighbor to the suffering man. The neighbor is "the one who treated him with mercy." And who is the merciful one; who is this Good Samaritan? It is certainly not any of us. It is Jesus. It can only be Jesus. He is the protagonist of humanity. He shows us what it means to be human. We are instructed to "go and do likewise." We are instructed to "live Jesus."

Only conversion will do. 

Friday, July 8, 2016

Idols

Guns have become idols. I am not making a political statement of any kind but rather a theological one. Many people place their security in guns. And many people blame violence on guns. This is a situation of idolatry.

We have openly armed guards at St. Mary's. But I place my confidence in the people who are authorized to carry and to use those guns. I would still have the guards even if we lived in a place with lots of gun restrictions. The gun is not the source or the cure for the evil that is in men's hearts. Guns can be useful tools for good and evil. They are always dangerous.

We live in a country that is marked by puritanical moral thinking that finds moral significance in objects rather than in actors. We create idols. We should be able, for example, to discuss the role of guns in a just society. Our Constitution has put some limits on that discussion. But the end should be the good society, not a particular outcome regarding guns. The same can be said about all sorts of other issues, immigration for one. What makes for a just society regarding immigration? Instead we fixate on legal status, which becomes an idol for one side and a demon for the other. This damages the rule of law and leaves the vision of the just society out of consideration. Laws and legal status have a necessary place in immigration policy, but they do not determine it. Guns are a part of safety, but they do not create it.

What proceeds from the heart and into acts is of moral significance, not the tools used.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Something to be excited about

Well, I finally heard directly from the Josephinum about what I will be doing there, and it seems to be quite different from my first impression. It seems that I will be working with the college students as "Dean of Community Life," among other things. I am not sure what this means exactly, but I like the sound of it! It does mean that I will be doing formation for the seminarians in the "external forum" rather than spiritual direction in the "internal forum." Basically that means that I will have a part in advising and evaluating the seminarians. Spiritual directors would not be involved in external formation which involves this advising and evaluating. So that's pretty different. If you have read this blog much or know me, you are aware of how committed I am to communio as a theological concept and as the basis for human formation. So I am pretty excited about this development. I will let you know more as I know more!

4th of July

I love my country, but I have been excluded from it's polity. Unless I can find a candidate whom I have not yet discovered or figure out how to vote for presidential electors rather than candidates for president, I will not be voting for the highest office in the land. I will also take a much more critical eye down the ballot, which I realize I should have been doing long before now. My vote will have to be earned under much greater scrutiny. I will not hold my nose and vote for bad candidates any more. I think that means that I will not be voting in a lot of races, maybe most.

I cannot think of an institution of our government in which I have trust anymore. I cannot think of any politicians for whom I have respect. For someone who was brought up to be patriotic, it is a sad place to be.

But I still love my country. I love what our country has been able to do, given the limitations of fallen human nature. We have had a pretty good run of things on balance. But we are running that balance into bankruptcy fast. I don't want to love merely what America was but what it is. I can't really say that I love what it is today. Fortunately, we still have a lot of momentum from our past that has not yet been checked. I can still love that part of what we are. But how much longer?

I understand the concept of being patriotic even when unable to support the current reality of government. Every country, including our own, is more than the government. Every country has beauty and nobility, even if despite its current leadership. I can understand being patriotic even when what I love about our country is despised by the government of the moment. What I fear is that we cannot recover at this point what we have lost. All the decks are being stacked against it. That is what I found so discouraging about the recent Supreme Court abortion ruling. Even when we battle through the political system, the courts will not allow innocent human life to be protected by the laws of states.

I am not the first person to be politically excluded in American history. As a matter of fact, much of that history is the story of expanding inclusion. But we seem to going the other way now. My political views are no longer welcome. I am resigned to this fact, but many are frustrated by their exclusion and not just from one point of view. It seems to me that the Trump and the Sanders movements are fueled equally by the frustration of exclusion.

I think of early Christian citizens of Rome. Surely that was an impressive regime, but hopelessly corrupt. The Christians were in it but not of it. Somehow they managed, even through vicious persecutions. Rome, not so much. Gotta take the long view. But I hate to dismiss my country to the ruins. Maybe it won't come to that yet. Rome didn't fall in a day or a decade.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Jesus Christ and Him crucified

What the Church has to offer the world is so important that we cannot go off message. I am afraid that we keep letting the world set our agenda. I really do think that we need to forget about what the world threatens to do to us or what the world thinks is important. These are traps that different elements in the Church fall into: fear or accommodation. We need to be the Church of Jesus Christ, the sacrament of His presence in the world.

The world is dying for Him, and we keep Him a secret. We don't have all the practical answers, but we don't need to. We have Jesus Christ and Him crucified. If He is not enough to get us through the day, then nothing is. The world needs to lighten up, and we are just the people to lighten it up by sharing His light.

Pray. Check out the spiritual and corporal works of mercy, the beatitudes, the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Do these things. Pray. Confess. Pray. Form communities of believers. Pray as communities of believers, especially around the Eucharist. And then pray some more. Invite. Invite. Invite. Pray.