Are you looking for great practical ways to love others like Christ?
Are you looking for ways to think clearly about your faith?
Are you looking for great spiritual insight and encouragement on how to do this?
Let’s take a deep look into the mind of a Catholic writer who will help you achieve this goal as I highlight some of his best thoughts expressed in his very deep and Christological writings. Your learn some practical advice on some of the neglected aspects of Catholic faith.
Where I don’t quote a source it’s probably from Facebook or Twitter.
Here is The Write Fun Fluff and Witty Drivial of David Mills
All you can do as a faithful Christian is work as well as you can, as honestly and lovingly and sacrificially and deeply as you can. You may well have a greater and more long-lasting effect than those who get more notice. And maybe you won’t. You can’t compare yourself to others, though we all want to. The Father gave you your work for a reason. Which may also be cold comfort. But it’s true. Just keep serving God with the gifts He’s given you. Even if all you hear are the crickets. God hears the minds and hearts being changed. Some day He’ll tell you.
David Mills, You Will Bear Fruit for God. You Just Might Not See It (August 20, 2020) The Stream
How would I talk to the young mother with swastikas tattooed on her arms when I ran into her pushing her baby in a stroller down the street? What if her boyfriend bragged about going to D.C. and invading the Capitol? What if he was wearing a “Camp Auschwitz” T-shirt? And came over to borrow the lawnmower?
What do you do? Love them as you can, obviously. But does that include bringing them pies, playing with them on the beach, giving them lifts? The saints would tell us to befriend them, remind us that no one is beyond the reach of God’s grace, that we could have been or may be in a different way such as them, that the only thing that will break their hard hearts will be love, that such depraved humanity can only be healed by their meeting the True Man in his people. Love may well include correction, but it begins with kindness.
David Mills Be friends with the radicals: Dorothy Day and what it means to love our neighbors (January 11, 2021) Our Sunday Visitor (osvnews.com)
Being Silent Instead
Scott Hahn is a Catholic leader with a target on his back. He’s not the only one. So are Father James Martin, Bishop Robert Barron and the Holy Father himself. So are the National Catholic Register for some and the National Catholic Reporter for others.
Every side follows the 13th of Saul Alinsky’s famous “rules for radicals”: “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” He explained: “Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions.”
What to do? The philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein famously said, “Whereof we cannot speak, thereof we must be silent.” Catholics might take up the rule, “Of whom you need not speak, of him you must be silent.” Nothing would be lost if the mob put down their pitchforks and torches, and much gained. The chance to listen and learn, for one thing.
–David Mills-The mob comes for Scott Hahn (and others) – Our Sunday Visitor (osvnews.com)
Catholic Discourse Today
Catholic discourse today. A new FB friend shared a post about the intergenerational conflicts in today’s gospel reading, raising the possibility that Jesus thought the young would be more receptive to His message than the old. I don’t see it myself, but it’s an interesting possibility.
One of the stronger voices on the Catholic right objected, but reasonably, and then a little later posted a follow-up note:[[[ “Oh, good gracious. I just noticed that your post was from James Martin. Lord have mercy. Nothing I say here will be of value, then. What on earth….” ]]]
That’s a mind not set up for discussion or for an actual engagement with people she doesn’t agree with. It’s a partisan mind, one common sign of which is this extreme version of guilt by association. The person writes off other people who don’t absolutely separate themselves from his list of enemies. An insight may be true, even profound, but it should not be shared if it’s the wrong kind of person’s.
To think like this is to close one’s mind to the truth, the truths that one gets from engaging people with whom one disagrees. The truth may be a new insight, or a refinement of an insight you already had, because you’ve had to understand it in relation to new ideas or new realms of human experience. This kind of engagement will make you a better advocate of your position, because you’ll understand it more deeply and be able to respond to more people’s objections.
Anglicans have written some of the greatest Christmas hymns, the ones Catholics sing at Christmas Masses, like “Hark, the herald angels sing” (John Wesley), “O little town of Bethlehem” (Philips Brooks), “In the bleak midwinter” (Christina Rossetti), and “Good Christian Men, rejoice” (John Mason Neale, who also wrote “O come, O come, Emmanuel” for Advent and “Good King Wenseslas” for Boxing Day).
“What would Christmas be like without Anglicans?” asks an Episcopal minster, Timothy Matkin, in A Christmas Without Anglicans?. I take his point. But the better question would be: “What would Christmas be like if those people had been Catholics?” Think how much deeper would have been their hymns had they been able to draw upon and express the fullness of the Catholic faith.
David Mills Anglicanless Christmas (December 28, 2014) David Mills @ Patheos Catholic
The writer has to want to perfect his craft and he ought to want to do that not only as for the Lord but because he’s driven to do the thing he’s been given to do as well as he possibly can. People who do things for others, even God, eventually decide they’ve done well enough — the readers and God’ll understand, they think, when the work gets too wearing — while the person driven to perfect his craft will never stop working at it.
Almost every time [a] culture warrior claims that someone has said something horrible, he hasn’t. They’re usually lying. Apparently, they’re desperate to find a reason to denounce victims and declare themselves on God’s side. They love doing this most when their target is one of their favorites, like Pope Francis and Fr. James Martin. And, as I found just recently, minor figures like me.
If you’re that kind of culture warrior, fine. But you have to be careful to address what your target says. You have to tell the truth if you expect other people to take you seriously.
If you tell the truth, you’ll lose 80 to 90 percent of your chances to write enraged posts. And you’ll find that having to engage what people actually say will keep you from making nearly as many definite good guy/bad guy as you could before. But you’ll then have a chance to say something insightful.
The experience Timothy Jones describes was a sign of his calling to paint, I think. It’s a vocational marker.
Such things tell you how your mind is wired and what it will do when it develops, if you *can* develop it. That is, have the leisure, education, support, and drive to work at it over time, possibly for years without much success. If he had remembered the details better, he probably wouldn’t be as good a painter.
I had a similar experience. When I read argumentative pieces, I tended (and tend) to notice how the writer writes and how he argues more than the argument he makes. It’s the mind that interests me, and the writing or rhetoric as an expression of that mind, more than the mind’s products.
Having a model like Mary is a great thing, and having a benefactor in high places is even better, but having a mother (and a mother who is also a model and a benefactor) is a lot better. It allows fellowship, friendship, communion, not just imitation or entreaty. It is personal, not just moral or legal or economic. The way the Italian ladies talked soon made much more sense to me. I was learning to talk as they did, though without moving my hands so much. I hadn’t expected any of this. Discovering Marian devotion after you’ve entered the Church is a lot like getting another big present a week after your birthday. And so I found myself, without really thinking about it, loving the vessel who held so great a thing as the incarnate God. I learned to speak to her without feeling self-conscious about it. I can’t imagine thinking the way I used to, the love and the glory of Our Lady are so clear to me now.
David Mills, Discovering Mary: Answers to Questions About the Mother of God (2011) St. Anthony Messenger Press, Servant Books
Some in the Catholic world feel a need, even a compulsion, to make sure that judgment is always pronounced whenever mercy is offered. By this thinking, sinners—or at least certain categories of sinners—must never be allowed to forget their offenses. How will they sin no more if they don’t feel condemned? I think that Jesus ate at his equivalent of our dive bar because he liked the people. Not just loved them, but liked them, enjoyed them for themselves, took pleasure in their company and felt happy just hanging out with them.
Some feel that a respectable Catholic doesn’t hang out in dive bars without an explicit religious purpose. He doesn’t go just because he likes the people, as well as the beer, the food and the games on TV. He must make clear from the first meeting that the other people at the bar must change, and that his relations with them depend on their doing so. My friends there would tell such people: Don’t tell me you want to see me in heaven when you don’t much care for me on Earth.
David Mills Jesus would have hung out in a dive bar—and not just to convert its patrons (August 01, 2022) America
Dive Bars Fluff and Drival Criticism
Criticism to Dive Bar Article from prominent influential Catholic Author:
It’s Hard to Take. Souls are being lost to hell for eternity, but “Jesus likes to hang out with the guys at the dive bar for fun!” Respectable Catholics are sharing this drivel and raving about it. Unreal. We have fallen so far.
Dave’s Reaction: It begins, as these people almost always do, with a misstatement of what their target said. It’s dishonest, but it also suggests that the writer isn’t completely sure of her case. These people almost never then engage what you’ve actually written. That would impede their piling on the abuse and inhibit their ability to make the broadest, most sweeping assertions.
Then they hit their target with piety. Always piety, always imperative. But also always individualistic, and rarely if ever directed to personal action, like evangelizing. Given the subject, you might tell readers to read the saints and mortify their bodies, but also to go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in, that God’s house may be filled. But they don’t.
If mine is the worldly approach, the natural thing to do would be to describe the truly Catholic approach. But in my observation, this kind of person never does that. For one thing, again, she’d have to deal with what I said. And another, it’s not necessarily an easy question to answer. It takes thought and leads to problems whose answers aren’t obvious. Condemnation doesn’t do that.
Don’t Follow Your Dreams
Articles are accepted or rejected for many reasons besides quality. People advance or don’t for many reasons besides ability. You can’t judge your gifts from one response, or from several, but you can as the number of rejections mount.
Writing is a competitive business. If you want to succeed, you have to be very good at it, and a little lucky, and even when you begin to succeed, you have to keep working at it, and keep learning. You must want to serve the work, and your readers, not fulfill your dreams. And you should find AND LISTEN TO people who know what they’re talking about and can give you a realistic appraisal of your gifts.
You will always make people happy by telling them to keep pursuing their dreams.
Dreams are more like the self-delusions Scripture and the Christian tradition are so hard on. They should talk about finding a calling or vocation, something people believe they *should* do even if they never succeed at it, something they believe will bear fruit pleasing to God even if never noticed by the world. But dreams, dreams are closer to idols.
A tweet I saw but unfortunately didn’t think to save told Catholics not to use the f-word and said using it is “effeminate.” I’m not seeing how that’s true. It may be not as macho as you think it is. But how it’s effeminate escapes me.
I’d like to drop the writer into our townie bar and introduce him to one of the word’s more committed users and say, “This guy thinks you’re girly.” Entertaining mayhem would probably follow. Or an entertaining string of enraged f-words. Do the keyboard warriors worry they’re not masculine enough?
I don’t have any answers. It just strikes me as weird when guys start calling other guys effeminate for not obviously effeminate actions.-David Mills on FB
Freeing the Latin Mass
David Mills: If you don’t want traditionalists, don’t trash the tradition.
My guess is that really freeing the Latin Mass would both strengthen some rightwing communities by giving them more places to gather, but also dilute them by giving them more places to gather. It might create new communities of cranks but also spread out some cranks into healthier communities. And it might let the people who just love the old Mass to have a leavening effect on the whole movement.
The Church teaches a lot of things, some of it at a high level of complexity and sophistication, and the actual application to most of our lives can be very obscure. We say the Nicene Creed at Sunday Mass without knowing the mind-bending subtleties of Trinitarian theology. Few of us have the gifts or the time to work it all out. We trust the Church knows what she’s doing even if we don’t. She’ll work out how it all applies to our life.
Following Jesus can mean being taken where you don’t want to go. It is more active and open-ended, and possibly very costly, requiring trust you don’t always want to give. It is something whose meaning and requirements you understand more deeply and more practically the longer you live as a Catholic.
David Mills What does it mean to follow ‘all’ of the Church’s teachings? (June 17, 2022)– Our Sunday Visitor (osvnews.com)
From the new Patheos Catholic weblog Catholic Bard, written by Mark Wilson and Kristin Wilson. Try to read through the poem with which it opens. You’ll learn a lot. At least I did. FAITH IN MY BRAIN | Kristin Wilson (patheos.com)
We live between Good Friday and Easter, like the apostles. They had lost their friend, the man who changed their lives. They’d never be the same. They’d never forget him. But he was gone. As obviously dead as a man can be.
We know they’d see him again. They didn’t. We know, in hope, that we will see our sister or brother again. But it doesn’t always feel like that, at least for me. In some of the moments I remember my sister, I only feel the loss. Good Friday, not Easter. But still, the Christian hope remains, not noticed but trusted, the way you trust gravity when you walk but don’t think about it.
Yesterday I quoted a Muslim who rejected the divinity of Christ because then God would “have to defecate.” That did not befit God, he said.
Decades ago, when we were Episcopalians, our rector declared in a sermon that “Jesus went to the bathroom.” The congregation shuffled a bit, more at the mention of defecation than any doubt about the doctrine.
He didn’t do much with the fact — he was not a very thoughtful man — but he did try to state what easily becomes for Christians a stale cliche whose meaning we don’t think about clearly enough, in a way that would make his people see it afresh. Jesus really was (and is) one of us. Cheers to him.
“God doesn’t lose battles” is Christian happy talk. It’s closer to a sales pitch than a statement of the Christian faith. It’s not harmless. It hurts people who believe it, when they lose a battle they thought they should win. Some feel that Christianity doesn’t do what it promises, that it’s all wishful thinking, and a good many of those people drift away from the Faith or throw up their hands and walk out.
More accurate is the Anglican T.S. Eliot’s insight. He asks us to take “the widest and wisest view of a Cause.” Everything that happens to us is the result of a vast number of causes that go very far back in history. We can only see a few of them, and even then we’re just guessing.
We live in history. We live in fallen history. Stuff happens, as a once-popular bumper sticker put it more rudely. God only rarely intervenes to change our history. What he has done is enter our history himself, in which to all appearances he lost a big battle, as the way to winning the war.
The other night as I was scrolling Facebook, while watching the Netflix movie ‘The Woman in the Window’ with my wife, this article caught my eye. So, I paused the movie and read it to her.- Mark of the Catholic Bard
Modern Christianity in its cheerier forms, combined with our own naïveté, doesn’t prepare couples well for the possibility — the probability — that one spouse will get seriously ill when the other’s still healthy. Modern Christianity is almost always cheery. Good marriage counseling tries to prepare the hopeful young couple for loss, but I think that message tends to get lost in all the talk of how wonderful marriage is and all the lovely visions of the future the couple is encouraged to dream.
I write after almost forty years of marriage. When we got married, we didn’t really understand that life has a trajectory. We didn’t really understand that life has a downslope, and that while there are blessings on the downslope unavailable to those on the upslope, that life comes with losses that are just losses. Almost everyone we knew was just as naive, even the older and more realistic. In theory, we understood it. It’s one of those truths one can accept without understanding it, like knowing the formula for the theory of relativity without having a clue what it means. In practice, not really.
When the priest says “For better or worse?” we said “Yeah!” without knowing how worse, worse can get. It’s all part of the romance of getting married, the wild throw of the dice, the great gamble, the defiance of caution and calculation, the commitment to go down with the ship whenever it goes down. And rightly so. But.
David Mills,Why Men Leave Their Dying Wives (June 29, 2021) – Catholic Herald
Marriage and Broccoli
David Mills@DavidMillsWrtng: Our second child writes of a study in which women rated pictures of men’s faces on how attractive the men were, before and after they ate broccoli for a couple weeks. The men’s attractiveness ratings increased.
An advertisement for marriage: You no longer have to eat broccoli.
Problem of Sex
David Mills@DavidMillsWrtng: “If Christianity is so difficult to know and therefore so hard to accept these days, it is because the only content of Christianity, for a century, has seemed to be the moral question…reduced to one point, the sixth & ninth commandments, in other words the problem of sex”
Rules of Catholics
With holy days of obligation, fast days, and the other rules, Catholicism requires me to do things when I don’t want to do them. That reminds me that my life is not my own to do with as I please. My time (and my space, now that I think of it) belongs to a higher authority. I don’t eat much meat and I like fish, and Fridays in Lent still make me grumble. The Church’s impositions make me a little less self-centered than I would be otherwise.
David Mills, Seven Things I Like About Being Catholic (August 31, 2016) Catholic Exchange
Like many other people, I’ve stopped reading social media very often, because the way so many people despise so many other people gets too depressing. Wading into the hatefulness makes me feel icky.
Even Catholics speak that way of each other, if far enough apart in theology or politics. Few seem even to try to understand why the people on the other side think the way they do. They don’t sympathize with their targets.
That’s true of most of us, to some degree. We don’t sympathize as easily or as readily as we should. We don’t automatically try to understand how the other man came to be wrong, especially if we think he’s really wrong.
David Mills, Catholics, sympathy and why it’s important to think like a murderer (August 4, 2022) Our Sunday Visitor (osvnews.com)
EVERYTHING in the world is interesting to think about, to the mind that thinks. To the mind that doesn’t, most subjects won’t be interesting, and to the mind that in the particular case doesn’t want to, one subject won’t be. There’s no such thing as “overthinking” a serious subject. There’s only thinking about it well and thinking about it badly.
I met him in the late seventies, as a newish and secularish Christian. He invited me to a small reading group he hosted called Beer and Bull. The first book I remember us reading was an Orthodox work called The Way of the Ascetics, all of which was new to me, and a little strange. I also remember being amazed that so lively a man, who loved living so much, took asceticism so seriously. Only later did I see that his deep prayer and liturgical life created the lively man. Behind the effortlessness with which he seemed to move through the world lay a great deal of sacrifice and discipline and self-giving. David Mills, RIP Thomas Howard: 1935-2020 (October 15, 2020) catholicherald.co.uk
When we discussed his article, my friend compared the periods after Trent and Vatican I to the period after Vatican II. The fruits of the first two “were pretty immediately visible in terms of new orders being established, old orders being reformed, bursts of artistic inspiration, and schools and other institutions being founded. From Trent you get Palestrina, Tallis, Victoria, Allegri and the rest, and Tintoretto, Caravaggio, El Greco, and Tasso among the poets.” Vatican I produced similar fruits.
There’s one final question such critics don’t ask: How inculturated and weak the traditionalist-valorized pre-Vatican II Church in the West had to be, that it could fall apart so fast?- David Mills, Is Vatican II Responsible for What Came After? (August 1, 2020) Catholic Herold
I think one also has to publish to please oneself first, and then various people one knows, and let whoever else come as they will. Sometimes they will, sometimes they won’t. But the work you put into writing something that way never goes to waste, because it pleased you in the doing.
To which I’d add a point I’ve written others, of which Nicole Kontra’s comment reminded me:
You write thinking, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” You’re like the sower in the parable, casting your seeds about, but unlike him casting them on mostly rocky ground because some of them will land on good soil and grow.
You never know what good your writing will do to someone, which may influence them to write or do something to someone else’s good, which may influence that person to write or do something to someone else’s good, and so on. The effects of that barely read post may ramify in ways you’ll never see.
BONUS INTERVIEW WITH DAVID MILLS
When I first started writing at Patheos I did a blog post where I interviewed several Patheos writers past and present. One of those writers was David Mills. Here are his answers…
1. What do you like about being a Catholic Patheos Writer?
I appreciated the chance to publish the items I wanted to write. But I didn’t like having to produce all the copy a blog demands. I gave up after about eighteen months, because I got more readers and made a lot more from writing one article than a month’s worth of blog items.
2. What is the Main focus of your particular blog?
It didn’t really have one. I put up whatever interested me that day.
3. What’s your favorite article/Post you have written?
I stopped writing it about five years ago, and don’t remember anything I wrote there. Writing it was more like having a conversation and who remembers the topics of conversations years later?
4. What is your favorite Catholic topic to write about?
The nature of our discourse: why and how we write and speak; how people argue (well and badly); the personalities, personal experiences, ideological commitments, and sociological contexts that shape what we say; how Catholics (especially) and other groups divide along ideology and how that’s expressed in their rhetoric; the calling and the craft of writing. Which may sound pretentious but I can’t think of a better way to put it. Basically: Who we are and how that expresses itself in what we say.
5. If you are named a Saint, what would you be named patron saint of?
I’d say writing or editing, but those are taken already by giants. Is there a story for people who observe the world around them and tell stories about it — not to make any point, but because people are interesting in themselves? I’d like to be their patron saint.
6. Who is your favorite Living Writer?
I don’t have a favorite. I suppose if I had to name one it would be Benedict XVI.
“It is theologically and anthropologically important for woman to be at the center of Christianity. Through Mary, and the other holy women, the feminine element stands at the heart of the Christian religion.”
― Pope Benedict XVI
7. If you could have lunch with any deceased writer who would it be, what would you eat and what would you talk about?
Newman and the answer to number four.