Friday, August 26, 2011

Big Picture at World Youth Day:It’s the Evangelicals, stupid!

Sounds like Vandy Catholic. What do you think?

Big Picture at World Youth Day: 'It’s the Evangelicals, stupid!'

Hidden Treasures

We are rolling out Vanderbilt Catholic this school year. We really do have so much to offer: Jesus Christ. I hope that we propose Him well. There is just about any way to approach Him and encounter Him in Vanderbilt Catholic.

Spiritually: Mainly in prayer and sacraments. Thursdays, in particular, will offer great opportunities to grow closer to Him: in Eucharistic Adoration, in Confession, in Spiritual Direction, as well as at Mass!

Intellectually: Look at my post at Vandy+Catholic for more information on iFACTS!

Humanly: We have been playing frisbee with nuns and eating barbecue with the best of 'em! Grace builds on nature.

Apostolically: All of the above, with the desire to propose Jesus. Our FOCUS missionaries are leading us on to campus as a mission field!

Pray that He be better known and loved!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Managing

I felt like a chat this morning, but in my line of work that's not a time to chat. Nobody's up! So you get it instead.

What a mystery of people around me. That is about all I can say. Appreciating their mystery helps me with mine because aren't we really mysteries to ourselves most of all? It is hard for me to see others being confused and not immediately try to do something. And sometimes there is something that should be done. Usually it is the thing I don't want to do. The things that I can't wait to say or do usually need to wait. The same is true for myself.

The best that I can be for others is to be an icon of the Lord, and yet I keep choosing to be me instead. It really is a matter of recollection. I just forget Him. Can you believe it? And sometimes I deliberately turn away from Him. That is the worst. I hope that I am coming closer to the integrity of life that I desire: a constant state of recollection of Him. But there is this childish rival to Him in my heart. It's my own self-absorbed self that is so afraid of getting overlooked. He is my "mad woman in the attic" -- the unredeemed part of me. Jesus loves even him and quiets his antics.

I need to love him, too, but not let him run the show. I think that is what happens with priests who have trouble. Holy priests love all that unredeemed stuff, even in themselves and in those they are called to serve. But they manage it in themselves and help others to do so.

Managing. That really is it. It is not manipulating or controlling. It is a much more humble word, as in: "How are you doing?" Answer: "I'm managing."

P.S. This post might sound to you a lot sadder than it is. It is really just peaceful. The fact is that we are managing pretty well, for the time being!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Synchonicity with BXVI?

I am amazed at how often I seem to be hitting somewhere in the vicinity of the thought of Pope Benedict as we go through the year. Of course, we are looking at the same things (the lectionary and the liturgical year) and from the same point of view as Catholics. But, dang, it makes me feel good to know that I am in his company! Even if he says everything so much more precisely and elegantly than I do.

It happened again this week for the feast of St. Clare. He even gave a travelogue reflection, as I am wont to do and did for that day. Look at this:

"Tomorrow, dear friends, we celebrate the memorial of St. Clare of Assisi. I would therefore like to recall one of these spiritual "oases" that is particularly dear to the Fransciscan family and to all Christians: the small convent of San Damiano, situated just below the town of Assisi, amidst the olive groves that slope towards [the Basilica of] St. Mary of the Angels. Near that little church, which Francis restored after his conversion, Clare and her first companions established their community and lived a life of prayer and simple works. They were called the "Poor Sisters," and their "way of life" was the same as the Friars Minor: "To observe the holy Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rule of St. Clare, I,2), maintaining the union of mutual charity (cf. ibid., X 7) and observing in a special way the poverty and humility lived by Jesus and His most holy Mother (cf. ibid., XII, 13).

The silence and beauty of the place where the monastic community lives -- a simple and an austere beauty -- serve as a reflection of the spiritual harmony that the community itself seeks to realize. The world is studded with these spiritual oases, some very ancient, particularly in Europe, others more recent, while still others have been restored by new communities. Looking at things from a spiritual perspective, these places of the spirit are a supporting structure for the world! And is it not the case that many people, especially in times of quiet and rest, visit these places and stay for a few days: even the soul, thanks be to God, has its needs!"

I joke that I have never had an original thought. And I really don't want to. I am so happy when my thought lines up with that of Pope Benedict, or St. Thomas Aquinas, or St. Paul, or, hey, even Jesus! Originality is way overrated, as is individuality to my way of thinking. How much more satisfying to fight your way intellectually through a topic and find Bl. John Henry Newman sitting there waiting for you and offering you tea or perhaps Chesterton holding out a good beer!




Saturday, August 6, 2011

Hearts

Jeremiah 17:9
"More tortuous than all else is the human heart, beyond remedy; who can understand it?"

Right now, this quotation seems all too true. The Courage Conference that I am attending is all about the tortuous ways of the heart. I have also recently been experiencing my own limitations when it comes to the heart. And as a university chaplain, I am always running into convoluted matters of the heart among my young 'uns.

As well as being the location of so many struggles, the heart is also the place of answers. We basically need bigger hearts.

Two of my favorite saints are closely associated with hearts: St. Francis de Sales and St. Philip Neri. Cardinal Burke spoke extensively in his talk Thursday night about the Providential role of St. Francis de Sales in the work of Courage. You see Fr. John Harvey of blessed memory, the founder of Courage, was an Oblate of St. Francis de Sales. If it were not such a cheesy title, I would be tempted to call St. Francis de Sales the Doctor of Love. I will need to listen to the good cardinal's talk again to get the wording right, but he said Courage's mission is not merely moral conversion but expansion of the heart.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0b/Franz_von_Sales.jpg

I know that this is true. When my heart is out of whack, I cannot reason my way out of it. I have to jump over the roadblocks with love, and that means a death to self. If I am looking for love, I have to offer love. ("No hay amor, ponga amor, y sacara amor" -- St. John of the Cross) That is messy, dangerous, and selfless. I need to offer love that can be accepted, not what I prefer to offer because that is not really love at all.

Here comes St. Philip Neri with another lesson for us. Swallowing fireballs of Divine Charity hurts. A lot. But it produces bigger hearts. So we also need to look at receiving love as it is offered and not as we want it to receive it. Perhaps receiving love is the trickiest of all. There is an example of this in Midsummer Night's Dream. Titania is embarrassed for the rustics because the play that they are offering her is so bad. And it really is embarrassingly bad. Yet Oberon corrects her by telling her to receive the gift as it is offered. They are not embarrassed by their play so she should not be. Actually she should be delighted by it and receive their beautiful love conveyed in their not-so-beautiful play.

That's the remedy: to offer and to receive love selflessly.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/8c/San_felipe_neri.jpg


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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Tipping Point

Well, as of tomorrow I will have been a Catholic for more than half of my life! If I add correctly, I made my profession of faith 25 years ago tomorrow. August 4, the feast of St. John Vianney, turned out to be a prophetic day for my reception into the Church.

In 1986, I was a year out of college. I had taught school for a year in Rome...GA. I had come back home to go to law school, which was starting at the end of the month. Fr. James McKenna, S.D.S. had instructed me, and Msgr. James Hitchcock received me into the Church at St. Martha's in Ashland City. My resolution is to find my sponsor with whom I have sadly lost contact over the years.

Maybe I will go back down this memory trail, but not now. I need to start the day!

1st UCat priest

Fr. Josh Altonji and some UCat friends in Birmingham!

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