One of the marks of Jesus’ teaching is that, just as he is the Word made flesh, so he expects us to both speak and enflesh his words. For Jesus, faith and obedience to his Father are one just as he and the Father are one. Talking the talk without walking the walk is rejected by him, while living out his words is filled with the assurance of his blessing.
Jesus identifies himself with our neighbor so strongly that what we do (or neglect to do) to our neighbor is what we do (or neglect to do) to Jesus. This is the point of the famous Parable of the Sheep and the Goats (see Matthew 25:31-46). That parable is about the salvation of those outside the visible communion of the People of God. Note that this does not mean “outside the Church” but simply outside the visible Church. When both the Sheep and the Goats meet the King, they are surprised. Unlike disciples of Jesus who are aware they serve Jesus in their neighbor, neither the Sheep nor the Goats had the slightest idea Jesus was present in their neighbor. Both ask, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison?”
Mark P.Shea, The Church’s Best-Kept Secret: A Primer on Catholic Social Teaching (2020) New City Press
The Catholic Bard’s Guide to Patheos Writers JUNE 27, 2020
All the Post pretending to Patheos
So Mysterious World is more than just another podcast on the strange and unexplained. Catholic convert co-host Akin is a full-time apologist. Therefore, for him, “the podcast has two purposes that may not be initially obvious. The first is evangelization. Since people of every faith persuasion — and those with no faith — are interested in the mysterious, the show is accessible to them. But we also make sure that we discuss the mystery in each episode from the perspective of Catholic faith, so we’re educating the audience in how to think about these topics from a Catholic perspective, which we hope will strengthen their faith.”
He goes on to state that “the second purpose is teaching critical thinking skills. We do that organically, rather than by giving a talk or lecture on critical thinking. Unlike most shows on mysterious topics, we don’t just try to generate wonder and invite people to ‘consider the possibilities.’ Instead, we ask them to consider the possibilities, make a list of them, and then start working through them and seeing which we can eliminate.” Unusually for such a show, Akin is keen “actually to try to solve the mysteries we talk about, to the extent we can. Sometimes, a good bit of mystery remains. But other times, we can narrow it down to a single, and sometimes surprising, solution.”
Entering ‘Jimmy Akin’s Mysterious World’| National Catholic Register (ncregister.com)
As a child I used to flip through the FAO Schwarz and Sears catologs on Thanksgiving circling toys I most wanted. Today I went through the Ignatius Press catalog circling books I want for next year.
Rebecca Bratten Weiss Ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee – (October 5, 2023) Messy Jesus Business
Every story that has ever been told, every drama that has ever been written, every song that has ever been sung, every painting that has ever been painted, every sculpture that has ever been sculpted, every monument that has ever been erected is a case in point of us attempting to give our experience back to ourselves of having gone through that experience. It is a memorial, a re-telling, a re-shaping, an attempt somehow to cope with, or respond to, or give shape to, the raw business of experience. We do not seem able merely to “go through” experience. We are the kind of creature who must do something about it, must articulate it one way or another. This is the experience we call art. The most obvious thing about art is that when the activity has reached its fruition, when you have completed the poem, sonata, narrative, or sculpture, there is something solid, something tangible, visible, or audible.
Thomas Howard, Pondering the Permanent Things: Reflections on Faith, Art, and Culture (2023) Ignatius Press
The invitation of the Beatitudes; what Jesus offers to the hopeless, poor, oppressed people of his time. Rather than respond with violence or give in to despair, he shows us a path to true blessedness. For many it is the life that they already know. For Jesus, there is something about poverty, mourning, meekness, hunger, mercy, purity, peace, and persecution that not only prepares one for the future reality of the kingdom of heaven, but makes one blessed in the here and now. He does not say that those who experience these things will be blessed, but that they are blessed. By virtue of their experience, because of the qualities they possess, they find themselves already partakers in the divine life. The Beatitudes offer great hope, enabling the downtrodden and excluded to endure the divisiveness of the world until they can receive in fullness the reward of the kingdom of heaven.
Casey Cole OFM, The Way of Beatitude: Living Radical Hope in a World of Division and Despair (2022) Ave Maria Press
For a writer to write, he needs great gobs of uninterrupted time. And the older I get, the more demanding I am that my own work be of a certain quality, which means more hours spent refining it.
It is what it is.
Yesterday’s News – Katie Curtis Music (wordpress.com)
Overall, I believe that the story of Lazarus can help us to let go of whatever prevents our coming closer to God, to experience fresh ways of living, and, most of all, to experience new life. His story can help us reflect more deeply on the ways that Jesus frees us from all that keeps us bound, from all that keeps us unfree, from all that keeps us from walking into the sunlight. Lazarus’s story helps us understand what it means to hear God say to us, “Come forth!”
Fr. James Martin, Come Forth: The Promise of Jesus’s Greatest Miracle (2023) HarperCollins
Some people tend to reduce apologetics to exercises like proving that Catholics don’t worship Mary, or that sola scriptura is false, or that Peter was the first pope. Apologetics can include these things, and it often is necessary if they are stumbling blocks to someone becoming Catholic. Not everyone is drawn to this. But apologetics is larger. Apologetics is a defense of the faith itself, from reason. That’s a necessary species of evangelization. “Come, let us reason together, saith the Lord” (Isaiah 1:18).
But I don’t need an official commission to do this, because the commission has already come from Jesus Christ, and it has come to all. “ Some do it better than others; only a very few do it professionally. Everyone who does it does it their own way. And everyone does it badly at times. God knows I have.
But if every Catholic is called to give a defense, it follows that every one is called to educated themselves, to know the Catholic faith well, just as they are obligated to form their consciences rightly. Knowing the truth is not optional, nor is speaking the truth—especially the ultimate truth, Jesus Christ.
There are, to be sure, ways not to do apologetics and times not to do apologetics. The right way to do apologetics is always to propose, and never to impose. That is why Pope Pius XII, in Mystici Corporis Christi (§104), says that conversion “must be done of [one’s] own free will; for no one believes unless he wills to believe.”
Still, apologetics is necessary because truth is necessary. Truth is a person—a person who created you and sustains you and frees you. If ever apologetics loses sight of that person, then it is lost.
God can and does do whatever he wants, and the process of salvation is supernatural. Moreover, many biblical events can hardly not be miraculous, such as the killing of the Egyptian firstborn, the raising of the dead, walking on water and through walls, and Balaam’s talking donkey, not to mention transubstantiation, the Incarnation, the Virgin Birth, the atonement, Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, and other directly “theological” miracles.
Standard Christian understanding of God’s sovereignty holds that God’s providence is large and complex enough to include natural events and extraordinary timing (as a function of his omniscience and being outside time) for the accomplishment of his purposes.
Dave Armstrong,The Word Set in Stone: How Archaeology, Science, and History Back Up the Bible (2023) Catholic Answers Press
“Let there be light.”
May we now be the light
To our dark and desperate world.
Help us to scatter the shadows of fear and mistrust, of anger and hate.
Give us the grace to heal what is broken,
To mend what is torn,
To strengthen what is weak,
And uplift all who feel forgotten, wounded and alone.
The Catholic Thought of Fr. Matthew P. Schneider LC FEBRUARY 03, 2022
Prayer should be a practice that unites Christians, but unfortunately how it is presented is not always the most helpful for those of us with differently structured brains. Prayer is always an adventure. Autistic prayer is no different: it is just a different type of adventure. It’s as if everyone else is watching Star Wars while we’re watching Star Trek. Both are space adventures with interstellar travel, warp speed, and laser weapons, but the rules for how things work are a little different. Each person must go on his or her own adventure seeking out God in prayer.
Fr. Matthew P Schneider LC God Loves the Autistic Mind: Prayer Guide for Those on the Spectrum and Those Who Love Us (2022) Pauline Books and Media
The Very Extraordinary Graceful Solid Steel Magnificat APRIL 29, 2022
I went upstairs to see the art galleries, walking backwards through time, starting with contemporary art and ending up in the impressionists. I have always loved the impressionists. I like to stand far away from the paintings and see a landscape, then walk closer until the landscape dissolves into brushstrokes and streaks of color, then back up until I see the landscape again, and imagine that I am standing there. I like to wonder at how many different glorious colors the impressionists used to create the illusion of black or white.
And there was my favorite painting in the whole collection, Van Gogh’s Wheat Fields After the Rain. I leaned close until it turned into a galaxy of green lines, then leaned out until it turned into a wheat field again. I imagined the feeling of wet grass tickling my feet. I imagined being happy again.
Mary Pezzulo To Seek the Beautiful (OCTOBER 11, 2023) Steel Magnificat @ Patheos Catholic
In his own writings, Barron concurs that the Incarnation may indeed seem “mad” and the Crucifixion “crazy.” Redeeming the whole world by electing a small people out of all nations, the people of Israel, seems equally “berserk.” But when one looks more closely, one sees that this is what personal Love looks like; this is how the living God, infinite self-giving love, makes himself known—rather than by power or force. As Greeley puts it, “The really important difference between Christianity and other revelations [assuming there are such] is that Jesus in effect claimed that God’s love for us was driving Him mad.” Only a God crazily in love with his (fallen) creatures would go to such lengths.
Matthew Levering, The Theology of Robert Barron(2023) Word on Fire Academic.
Pope Francis chooses for the theme of this exhortation a quote from a letter written by St. Therese, “It is confidence and nothing but confidence that must lead us to Love” (no. 1). At first glance, this assertion seems risky or ill-advised. After all, we’ve witnessed plenty of examples where misplaced confidence in religious ideas has led to embarrassing disappointment or even unspeakable tragedy. Pope Francis points out that the confidence exemplified by St. Therese is not confidence in ourselves or in ideas or movements, however, but confidence in God’s love and mercy. Her confidence might be described as anti-Pelagian — it is not to be placed in ourselves or others. Our complete confidence must be given to God alone, free from attachments. The pope writes, “Therese, for her part, wished to highlight the primacy of God’s action; she encourages us to have complete confidence as we contemplate the love of Christ poured out to the end. At the heart of her teaching is the realization that, since we are incapable of being certain about ourselves, we cannot be sure of our merits. Hence, it is not possible to trust in our own efforts or achievements.”
Mike Lewis, The Confidence of St. Therese (OCTOBER 15, 2023)Where Peter Is
I became convinced at about the age of twelve that God, even if he existed, was some distant entity that you would meet when you died so long as you had been “a good person” in this life, and that all of the religions of the world were equally adept at making us into such good persons. But since you could also be a good person without being religious, I just did not see much point to religion at all. And after all, don’t religions cause wars and wasn’t Hitler Catholic . . . or something?
I did like meatless Fridays since for my family that meant eating shrimp instead of beef or chicken, which was a delightful step-up in culinary enjoyment. Heck, I even liked fish sticks so long as they were drenched in cocktail sauce (still do, actually). But on the whole, religion for me was just a monumentally drab affair of silly men in colorful costumes talking about ancient miracles that most likely had never happened, distributing little tasteless wafers of bread that looked like poker chips, after a boring ritual that was nothing more to me than something to endure before hitting the post-Mass breakfast at Perkins.
Larry Chapp, Confession of a Catholic Worker (2023) Ignatius Press
You shake other people’s hands when you meet them not because they qualify as a lady or a gentleman but simply because they’re human beings. You listen to someone else in a conversation not because he’s smart enough to interest you but because he’s a human being who gets a turn. You speak of others as a lady or a gentleman not because they meet your standards but because they’re alive.
It’s a form of relation that helps people get along, by positing a basic human equality. It’s a form of relation useful for maintaining social comity and peace between people who might easily come into conflict.
As Christians, we can do it with impartiality, because we know who we are. The rules of courtesy give us a formalized guide to how we treat our equals, our peers, our fellow men and women created in the image of God and redeemed by Jesus. It’s how we relate to the other sons of Adam and daughters of Eve.
When on February 11, 2013, I announced my resignation from the ministry of the successor of Peter, I had no plan for what I would do in my new situation. I was too exhausted to be able to plan other projects. Besides, the publication of Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives seemed to be a logical conclusion for my theological writings. After the election of Pope Francis, I slowly resumed my theological work. Thus, over the course of the years, a series of short and medium-length contributions took shape, and these are presented in this volume. In the first place, there is the lecture
–Pope Benedict XVI, What Is Christianity?: The Last Writings (2023) Ignatius Press
Fr. Mike Schmitz’s videos save a young girl’s faith. JUNE 30, 2023
Focus on articles that make you think, not just react. Further, the internet is fundamentally a pseudonymous medium. Even someone like me who uses his real name and photo on social media is still somewhat pseudonymous to others online. After all, what do you really know about someone who you’ve only encountered on the internet? And of course the most vicious commentary usually originates with those who make themselves truly unknown by using a fake name and avatar. That sense of anonymity breeds toxicity. Suffice it to say, it’s a lot easier to call a stranger a heretic while using a pseudonymous account from the comfort of your basement than saying it to the person’s face after Mass. ERIC SAMMONS, The Scourge of Toxic Online Catholicism (JUNE 11, 2021) (crisismagazine.com)
Church Militant’s Better Doppelganger AUGUST 17, 2020
The Wisdom of the Catholic Rigorous Vortex AUGUST 22, 2020
What are people starving for, Fr. Altman? JUNE 22, 2021
Does Wanting To Throw the Pope Into The Sea Make You A More Loving Catholic? SEPTEMBER 27, 2023
The Catholic Bard is always looking to share interesting articles about the faith and the world in which that faith is lived.
When I spot talented people I want to share their writing talent with others.
The Keys of Doing the Father’s Will OCTOBER 23, 2020 by Deacon Joshua Klickman.