For the longest time I have been lost and adrift in terms of my writing. Although I have talent and skills as a writer, I have never homed in and really developed it as fully as I should or could have. I have lacked the focus and discipline necessary for being an accomplished and successful writer. That changed 3 months ago when I was given the opportunity to become a writer along with my wife Kristin as professional Catholic bloggers at Patheos Catholic. It is not the first time I have been given an opportunity to use my talents in a professional setting. I have worked at CatholicTV, been a production assistant with an organization called the Mercy Foundation, and attended Franciscan University as a grad student. Kristin has independently published some books including a sci-fi time travel kids story and a book of her poetry and has achieved her dream of being in a secular religious order that just happens to be Carmelite.
And our up and coming blog at Patheos Catholic would never have happen if it wasn’t for the grace and charity of Rebecca Bratten Weiss. For some reason she believed in an unknown Facebook commenter who left his opinion on several FB posts of different Patheos writers. I also compiled a list of quotes in a document on my unknown and unread blogger blog, Joking with Immortals. She is very kind and generous, passionate and fiery person. I get annoyed when I see conversations like this happen online.
Angrier Catholic: Rebecca Britten Weiss is quite obviously not a catholic.
RBW It’s Bratten, not Britten. What do I need to do, post a copy of my baptismal certificate? Or a copy of the homily the bishop gave at my confirmation, in which he quoted me as having perfectly explained the sacramental theology? Or I could suggest you read the catechism.
Angrier Catholic: She lives on a farm in rural Ohio and periodically indulges herself and her ego by puking up a poem and some stupid feminist faux catholic crap blog. She works for Patheos which is also faux catholic. She’s angry, has never been hugged and hates men. She’s either a vegan or vegetarian. Id be surprised if she ate meat. She could.
She is baptized a Catholic, so was Adolph Hitler
RBW: Imagine, I’m being accused of not eating meat! As though “thou shalt be carnivorous” were some kind of Christian mandate!
Incidentally, I’m good friends with local ranchers and have a freezer full of ethically sourced meat; my husband also hunts. Don’t be too envious of our vibrant rural life, y’all! Envy is a deadly sin.
Well Angry disgruntled Catholics she is Catholic. A very good and devout Catholic. I’m not going to say I agree with all her positions, but to say she is not one is simply not true. In this post that marks our 70th entry at Catholic Bard and also our 3-month anniversary I pay tribute to the woman who helped shape our writing carrier.
Introducing the wisdom and catholic thought of …
Rebecca Bratten Weiss.
Advent and Salvation History
Christianity tends to view history as linear, a single ongoing story leading up to a final apocalyptic point, but the reality is that our story of history is cyclical, repeating tropes and patterns and rituals. This is mirrored in the cycles of our liturgical year, which are closer to nature than the imposed idea of a single line of destiny from Genesis to Apocalypse. So when we celebrate Advent we look back at the words of the prophets who proclaimed the coming of the Messiah – but also forward, to the second coming of Jesus. He said he was coming back, after all.
Rebecca Bratten Weiss The Message of Advent is a Message of Justice for the Oppressed (December 10, 2019) suspended in her jar @ Patheos Catholic
We don’t see all that much of Mary in the Gospels. But when we do see her, she is not acting especially meekly or submissively. When she hears that Elizabeth is pregnant she “rushes off” to visit her, not waiting on permission to leave her home, or requiring a male protector. When she arrives and Elizabeth feels the miraculous quickening of the baby within her, Mary’s response is to sing a song of praise that could have gotten her arrested as a revolutionary.
Rebecca Bratten Weiss Obsession With Feminine Submissiveness Serves Men – Not God (December 6, 2019) suspended in her jar @ Patheos Catholic
The manger scene, where we assert that heaven came to earth in a savior, God born into our mortal flesh, is also a scene of uncertainty, mystery, confusion – even if two millennia later we have redrawn it as sentimental and comforting, defined it in terms of set theological terms that allow us to draw lines between belief and unbelief.
Rebecca Bratten Weiss Christmas Is For Everyone, Not Only the True Believers (December 21, 2019) suspended in her jar @ Patheos Catholic
Death of Jesus
The image of Jesus, alive, is one to at once awaken and immediately dispel our fears. This is an image of life after death that is not cyclical, and not undead. Death has not stripped Jesus of humanity, but through his death all our humanity is raised.
Rebecca Bratten Weiss risen, and not undead (or, why Jesus is not a zombie) (March 26, 2016) suspended in her jar @ Patheos Catholic
Humility Of Jesus
The Son of God emptied himself and took the form of a slave. He rode into the Holy City, not on a warhorse, but on a tiny donkey. He gave his back to the smiters. He could have called down hosts of angels to protect him, but he didn’t. He told Peter to put up his sword, and instead of destroying his enemy, he healed his enemy.
Rebecca Bratten Weiss Jesus was not an alpha (April 10, 2017) suspended in her jar @ Patheos Catholic
This physicality, this reality of bone, blood, and flesh that is connected with all creation, puts me in touch with the great matriarchs in my past, the stubborn and rebellious and sometimes even violent women of the Old Testament who laughed at angels, deceived their husbands, tricked their fathers, lay down on the beds of strange men, violated the taboo on approaching the king, and even cut off a general’s head: these are the women of our Christian salvation history, and they were not meek or docile. But they are even more the mothers who sing to me in my dreams, who help me understand what my female-ness means, a female-ness which has nothing to do with soft white femininity, and everything to do with following pillars of fire through desert wildnerness.
Being a Jewish Catholic means I can fit in with neither Right nor Left – which is fine. Like Treebeard, “I am not altogether on anybody’s side, because nobody is altogether on my side.” And perhaps this is a blessing. Because while I participate in active faith in the sacraments and practices of Catholicism, and feel a personal and spiritual connection with the rich tradition of Judaism, I know better than to presume that one’s natural human tribe can save one, or define one, or heal the long loneliness of being mortal and immortal, looking towards eternity from a changing earth.
Rebecca Bratten Weiss being catholic and jewish (or jewish and catholic?) (August 27, 2016) suspended in her jar @ Patheos Catholic
To make peace with death is to make peace not with purity and emptiness, but with the disgusting. There are forms of piety that turn away from all things dirty or disgusting, emphasizing purity and emptiness, but these pieties are foreign to the Christian worship of Christ incarnate, Christ born of woman, Christ with a human body all organs and fluids, Christ bleeding on the cross. And thus, it is not permitted that we should turn away from another human because he is disgusting, or because she is dirty. Religious art of the middle ages, the grotesques on illuminations and the gargoyles on cathedrals teach us to find love amidst the lineaments of ugliness, not to seek only for the pure or perfect beauty. This is what happens in human love, as well, as we see in the blotches and deformities and imperfections of another body the unique being who is irreplaceable for us, and we don’t cease to love this body because it shits and farts and sweats and oozes and grows old and dies and is eaten. Is there in creation’s feeding on itself, in this constant dying and giving of life, a sacramental hint of the Eucharist? Christ consents again to become one of us, to go a progress through the intimate and disgusting recesses of our bodies. In death we are in life; the vile is the glorious.
Rebecca Bratten Weiss in praise of the disgusting (March 11, 2016) suspended in her jar @ Patheos Catholic
Mercy Lived Out
Insofar as we are called to model our behavior on that of Christ, the events of Holy Thursday, and those of the Passion on Good Friday, pose a terrifying challenge to all of our received wisdom. After centuries of worship of a God who could be counted on to open the earth to swallow evil-doers, slay every first-born in the land, and smash the very walls of the enemy, here God does not strike – even to save the most innocent. All that Jesus has taught up until now – the last shall be first; the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to the meek; when your enemy strikes you should turn the other cheek; be good to those that persecute you – lead up to this moment in which he actually does it, actually lives it out.
Rebecca Bratten Weiss this is not the God of vengeance (April 13, 2017) suspended in her jar @ Patheos Catholic
The Gospel is clear about Jesus’ call to reject violence. We are admonished to love our enemy, to turn the other cheek. Non-violence is essential to the hagiographies of the martyrs from the early church until today. The early church prior to Constantine tended to regard any kind of force or violence as un-Christian.
Rebecca Bratten Weiss No, the Phrase “Church Militant” Does Not Justify Militarism (April 5, 2019) suspended in her jar @ Patheos Catholic
The important thing is, we do agree that a right to life is real, and we do agree that bodily autonomy is real. We do not want to see a world in which abortion rates are high. Nor do we want to see a world in which women are routinely shamed, punished, and imprisoned because of personal choices they have made in dire circumstances. We should be able to come together and have the conversations that need to happen without demonizing one another.
Rebecca Bratten Weiss Reducing Abortion Rates and Protecting Women’s Rights Are Goals That Can and Should Co-Exist (January 10, 2020) suspended in her jar @ Patheos Catholic
St. Mary Magdalene and Easter Eggs
Tradition about the life of Mary Magdalene would seem to confirm that she was valued by the men who worked with her. She traveled with them, preaching the Gospel to no less than the emperor Tiberias, to whom she went carrying an egg as a symbol of resurrection. The emperor replied that a man could no more rise from the dead than the egg she was holding could turn red – and of course, the egg immediately turned red.
(This is quite possibly the origin of our custom of coloring Easter eggs, so maybe we should have our Easter baskets delivered by St. Mary, instead of by a giant terrifying bunny?). This tradition is far more rich and interesting than the idea that she was either a prostitute or Jesus’ wife.
Rebecca Bratten Weiss Mary Magdalene – Preacher or Prostitute? (April 15, 2017) suspended in her jar @ Patheos Catholic
Because the saints were not actually remote and ethereal, separate from the pains of life. They suffered illness, physical and mental. Many of them were well-adjusted and happy, yes – but many others were just plain weird (Christina the Astonishing, anyone?).
They were often persecuted, not only by oppressive governments, but by their own religious communities. They were beaten, raped, stoned, flayed, hanged, beheaded, and burned alive. Frequently the respectable people around them shunned them. Look at Dorothy Day, as a modern example: she was loathed by the bourgeois Catholics of her time, and only now that she’s respectably remote can the bourgeoisie begin to pretty her up (while shunning anyone in their own community who carries on her ministry). In five hundred years will that tough, temperamental Servant of God be presented to us as a pastel figure on a holy card?
Thanks God, for giving us saints who walked through the valley of the shadow, saints who know what it’s like to suffer – saints who sometimes were weird, depressed, angry, and discontented. I can’t celebrate the patron saint of plastic hearts, but the lives of the saints, the real ones, behind their holy-card depictions, help me to find that thread of longing for the infinite, in the midst of darkness and discontent.
Rebecca Bratten Weiss the feast of st valentine for the morbid and melancholy (February 14, 2017) suspended in her jar @ Patheos Catholic
An excerpt from an out of print Classic Catholic book.
When Cate Frank experiences guy trouble, the former fashionista, recent Catholic convert, and philosophy Ph.D. student at Dominican University of Houston (read: University of Dallas) constructs a scholastic quaestio :
Q : How am I going to deal with those guys???
Art. 1 : It seems to be out of the question that I would be “destined” to be with any of those chauvinistic pigs.
Obj. 1 : But some of them were rather nice . . . .
Obj. 2 : And then, Sean may be patriarchal, but maybe he is just doing it to put on an act? Also—not that this is relevant, of course—he is pretty easy on the eyes . . . .
On the contrary, it is utterly ridiculous to think that you are destined to be with any of them . . . .
I answer that: . . . it is very, very unlikely that my future would entail a romance with Sean, Justin, Che, Nat, Michael, Garett, or Bartholomew. Even my lively imagination can’t quite see ANYTHING like that unfolding . . . .
Reply to Obj. 1 : But that doesn’t mean niceness is enough. Besides, skinny jeans on men? I think not.
Reply to Obj. 2 : On no occasion has he led me to believe it’s just an act. No doubt there are gaggles of undergrad girls to swarm all over him. Not me. The Next Great Catholic Philosopher does not swarm.
Rebecca Bratten Weiss and Regina Doman, Catholic Philosopher Chick Makes Her Début (2012) Chesterton Press,