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I Was on Death Row, and You Walked with Me: Being Prolife out on the Margins

So a priest, a nurse, and a lawyer walk into a prison . . . and they're all the same guy. CNN had a great profile Friday of Fr Neil Kookoothe, pastor of St Clarence in the Diocese of Cleveland. Fr Kookoothe's unique skill set---he got a nursing license and a law degree before entering the seminary---helped him free a man from Death Row, and led to legislation widening Ohio's discovery rules. D'Ambrosio, Kookoothe said, had no previous criminal record. He had neither an alibi nor motive. He told … [Read More...]

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Everything But the Baby: Rethinking the Ed in Religious Ed

I have updated my update to "What's Really Wrong with Catholic Religious Education? Everything" to include links to a wide variety of responses. The conversation continues here and in comboxes and on social media, and starting Monday the Patheos Catholic Channel home page will have a central link to posts tagged Rethinking Religious Education. But today's post from my friend and Patheos neighbor Sam Rocha deserves, I think, an endorsement all its own. Sam, a philosopher and father and … [Read More...]

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Being David’s Harp: Walking Mercifully with Mental Illness

Save me, O God, for the waters have risen to my neck. I have sunk into the mud of the deep and there is no foothold. I have entered the waters of the deep and the waves overwhelm me. Two important posts to share with you today---not on the theme of Rethinking Catechesis, though I invite you to keep your cards and letters coming in, as it were. This is another critical issue that requires rethinking and merciful response, an issue with which readers of this blog know I have the most … [Read More...]

Karoly Ferenczy, The Sermon on the Mount (1896)

The Blogger Who Kicked Over the Hornets’ Nest: More Buzz and Sting about Religious Education UPDATED

Now I know how Jonathan Swift felt when he proposed ending English famine by eating Irish babies. Friday's post suggesting that we quit catechizing children touched more of a nerve than I expected, opened more worm cans, and (best of all) sparked some great conversations. Thank you for commenting here and on Facebook and Twitter, for sharing the post and linking to it. We're talking out loud about our larger hunger, and no babies have been harmed in the process. As clarification and … [Read More...]

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What’s Really Wrong with Catholic Religious Education? Everything. UPDATED

You know that 40 Years of Bad Catechesis you've all been scapegoating for everything that ails the Church? That Babylonian Captivity of Sound Doctrine, that Wandering in the Wilderness of the Butterfly Banner for which I've been saying a grudging mea culpa ever since my reversion? Well, you're partly right. And partly really, really wrong. Bad Catechesis has been an integral part of our tradition for a lot longer than 40 years, and it still goes on. Our seeming inability to form Catholics … [Read More...]

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Dear Jamie Stiehm & US News: Leave Jefferson Out of Your Know-Nothing Screed

Image source In a US News op-ed this morning, columnist Jamie Stiehm has put forth some of the most brazenly bigoted anti-Catholic crapola in this country's example-studded history of the stuff. Reactions have been immediate and pointed, with Elizabeth Scalia's "Fisking Stiehm's Bigotry at US News" the most cogent and damning. The nouveau Know Nothings have been stirring for a couple of years, but this marks a new low. It's not really surprising; the media's love affair with Pope Francis, … [Read More...]

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O Key of David! Opening Wide to the Thrill of Hope

We're all prisoners, every damn one of us. The more free we declare ourselves to be, the more restraints we chafe at and goads we prick against, the tighter we're bound. You're not the boss of me! we shout---at the Church, the government, each other, God---but inside, we know better. All our running and rebelling and freak-flag waving and commitment phobia is just distraction from the shadows the bars cast over our lonely lives. Guess what? That's GOOD news. Because it's only when we … [Read More...]

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O Root of Jesse! Grant Us Patience, and Step On It!

Time. This time of year, we're obsessed with it, because there's never enough of it. Counting down the days, opening the doors of the Advent calendar, frantically checking the last-date-for-Christmas-delivery schedule. Weaving holiday parties and extra baking and penitential services and the kids' concerts and the trips to the airport into the already tightly stretched fabric of our daily schedules. Trying to squeeze a little peaceful anticipation from the 24/7 carols and jingling and very … [Read More...]

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O Adonai! Because You’re God, and We’re Not

Names mean something. In the ancient world, the cauldron of cultures where Israel took shape, all words were performative: they called into existence what they described. Names and titles defined relationship. One's true name was a word of immense power, guarded carefully. To entrust another with one's name was an act of the deepest intimacy because of the vulnerability such a revelation implied. Tonight we chant the second of the O Antiphons, and we invoke the Messiah by one of God's most … [Read More...]

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O Wisdom! Pile on the Prudence, Please!

Tonight they begin, the seven prophetic antiphons chanted before and after the Magnificat at Vespers. Each invokes the Messiah by one of his scriptural titles, and each calls on us to prepare a place for him--at his coming now and at his Final Coming--with an attitude that demonstrates our readiness. So, for December 17, O Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodidisti, attingens a fine usque ad finem, fortiter suaviter disponensque omnia: veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae.  O Wisdom, … [Read More...]

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Where We Were, When: One Boomer’s Apology for Carrying the Kennedy Torch

Long stood Sir Bedivere Revolving many memories, till the hull Look’d one black dot against the verge of dawn, And on the mere the wailing died away. ---Alfred Tennyson, "The Passing of Arthur," from Idylls of the King What changed that day was everything. Yes, with apologies to post-Boomers, this anniversary---like the past 50 years---is all about us. Of course we remember Where We Were, and not just because that was the day nonstop media coverage sprang to life to remind us. I … [Read More...]

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The Hard Grace of Receiving: Prayers for the Margaret Marys, All

When the story of the hard life and lonely death of former Duquesne University adjunct Margaret Mary Vojtko first lit up the Internet (prompted by labor lawyer Daniel Kovalik's September op-ed in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette), attention focused on the harsh treatment of adjuncts by universities in general, and the supposed Grinchishly unChristian treatment of this adjunct by Catholic Duquesne in particular. Beyond tweeting #IAmMargaretMary in righteous solidarity, very few saw Madame Vojtko as … [Read More...]