October 14, 2019

Austin Ivereigh, in a Commonweal article makes much of the fact that the Synod for the amazon is a territorial synod, the first ever, he says. Doing so and focusing more intently than customary on Amazonian conditions, he helped me understand the push for a ministries structure peculiar to the Amazon. I rely on this article for much of what follows. Despite charges of paganism, pantheism, and other heresies from “superannuated cardinals” and some Catholic news outlets, Ivereigh sees, on… Read more

October 11, 2019

For any group that wishes to stand apart from the rest, identity is a major issue. The Church’s identity crisis of the last few decades is coming to a head with recent developments. These include Pope Francis’ emphasis on compassion and his push to the margins and the push against Francis by some, of whom Cardinal Burke is a leading example. The latest scene in the identity wars is the Amazon Synod. The Bible records a similar identity crisis in… Read more

October 8, 2019

The Synod of Bishops for the Amazon opened Sunday with a Mass and a call from Pope Francis to “fight fire with fire.” The fires include nearly 80,000 burning in the Amazon rainforest, inflammatory moves in some Church circles in opposition to Pope Francis and the synod, and the fire of the Gospel. “Jesus did not come to bring a gentle evening breeze, but to light a fire on the earth, ”the Pope said. He could have extended the quote… Read more

October 4, 2019

The timing couldn’t have been better for me. Got up for morning prayer on the Feast of St. Francis, and instead found Pope Francis planting a tree, live on my computer. The event marks the close of the month-long Season of Creation. Also with remarkable timing, this ceremony dedicates the upcoming Amazon Synod to St. Francis. The tree Pope Francis symbolically planted – it’s a Holms Oak, supposed to be the species on which birds perched to listen to St…. Read more

October 2, 2019

The sacrament of Holy Orders is not about a separate class of Christians whom God blesses above the rest. Priests don’t have one more guardian angel than the rest of us, as one young priest preached at a children’s Mass. If there’s an ontological difference between priests and lay people, it only serves to bind together, not separate. The office of priesthood is one of service, but that service focuses not so much on God as on God’s people, the… Read more

September 27, 2019

I start with the romantic notion that sex means something; it’s not just physical pleasure. If so, then sex naturally intends to be a source of beauty in the world. I add a religious theme: Sexual intimacy is one of God’s great gifts. If so, then it’s a way God saves the world, bringing us into unity and love out of isolation and self-centeredness. Why has this natural beauty and supernatural grace worked so poorly? Sex turns out to be… Read more

September 25, 2019

Celebrations of Grace: The Sacraments of the Catholic Church, Part 16 The sacrament of Matrimony teaches us to look at sacraments in a new way. Take a common definition of sacrament: effective sign of God’s grace. We’re talking about signs that contain or effect what they signify. Words are a bit fluid here, but often, people say, “symbol” works better than “sign” for this reality. The sign, or symbol, of Matrimony doesn’t quit when the couple walks out the church… Read more

September 24, 2019

Greta Thunberg, young Swedish climate activist, has spoken in several venues since arriving on our shores by solar-powered sailboat. When testifying before a Congressional committee along with three others young people, she was mostly silent. She gracefully let the others carry the ball, including one Republican who carried it sideways or even a little backward. But speaking on her own, she has been precise, eloquent, and devastating. We have a “CO2 budget” of 350 gigatons to keep global warming to… Read more

September 19, 2019

A preaching that does not point out sin is not the preaching of the gospel. A preaching that makes sinners feel good, so that they are secured in their sinful state, betrays the gospel’s call. – Oscar Romero Greta Thunberg is the right person at the right time. When congresspersons praise her for her courage, she says, “I don’t want your praise. I want you to do something.” When they say they hear her, she says, “Don’t listen to me…. Read more

September 16, 2019

St. John Chrysostom, the “Golden Mouth,” has September 13 for his feast day. Famous for his eloquence and two-hour sermons, he is the patron saint of preachers. I can’t help smiling at the following bit of irony. On the very feast of this master of words, looking through the day’s mail, I turned a sheet over and came to these utterly useless words: “This page intentionally left blank.” Have you noticed that whenever you read, “This page intentionally left blank,”… Read more

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