April 13, 2010

Today my heart is heavy. I was daunted to discover over the weekend what happens when parents are too busy, too distracted, too “successful” to bother rearing their children. The details are immaterial, but the consequences are clear: some children whom I have known since they were in diapers have lost their innocence far too soon.

I cling to my faith. After hearing Sunday’s homily about Saint Thomas the Apostle, I was planning to write about how Thomas’s doubt reminds us that faithful people doubt. It does. But now I see Thomas more deeply. When most of us think of St. Thomas the Apostle, we think of “doubting Thomas,” the one apostle who needed to see and feel Christ’s nail wounds to believe in the Resurrection.

I realize Thomas must have been one of the most loyal of Christ’s disciples. So anguished was he over the loss of his leader, he needed a concrete example of that “good news” in order to believe that God, in His infinite mercy, had resurrected his friend and thus given all of humanity the possibility of eternal life. He needed to believe in transcendent goodness. So do I. Perhaps Thomas, like me, was feeling weary of a world that sometimes seems beyond miracles.

Who was Thomas? We know he was a Jew, perhaps a builder or fisherman, who became a brave and loyal follower of Christ, both during Our Savior’s earthly life and after.

When Jesus announced that he was heading to Judea to visit his sick friend, Lazarus, Thomas admonished his fellow disciples to join Jesus on the dangerous journey. The other disciples were fearful of the risk for both Jesus and themselves. But Thomas prevailed: “Let us also go that we may die with him.” Ultimately,  the journey of Jesus to Judea and his raising Lazarus from the dead precipitated the Sanhedrin’s decision to crucify Him.

Thomas demonstrates his intense devotion once again at the Last Supper. Jesus tells his disciples he is leaving them soon for his Father’s house. Thomas raises an objection: “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” Jesus’ response gives us a perfect encapsulation of Christian faith: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

After Christ’s death and resurrection, tradition tells us that Thomas spent the rest of his life preaching the good news of salvation. He traveled far from home, farther perhaps than any other apostle, on this mission. He set up seven churches in southern India, beginning in A.D. 52. Legend says he carved a cross with his fingernails, a cross that bled for a century. St. Thomas was speared to death 20 years later in Mylapore.

To this day in southwestern India, Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox believers call themselves Saint Thomas Christians, tracing their faith to Thomas’ first century missions. What a stunning legacy. In 1986, Pope John Paul II visited the San Thome Basilica, the site of Thomas’s tomb near the mountain and cave where he lived a spartan life as a preacher.

Nearly 2,000 years after the apostle’s death and more than 8,000 miles away, what can Thomas’s life teach me about the struggle to keep my faith in a secular culture that seems indifferent to whether its children are cultivating sin?

O Glorious Saint Thomas, your grief for Jesus was such that it would not let you believe he had risen unless you actually saw him and touched his wounds. But your love for Jesus was equally great and it led you to give up your life for him. Pray for us that we may grieve for our sins which were the cause of Christ’s sufferings. Help us to spend ourselves in His service and so earn the title of “blessed,” which Jesus applied to those who would believe in Him without seeing him. Amen.
January 18, 2010

Posted by Webster 
I’m not sure why I have hesitated to write about Communion and Liberation (CL) in the 200-some posts I’ve contributed to this blog since mid-August. I have mentioned CL’s founder, Fr. Luigi Giussani (left) a couple of times, and I have tipped my hat to the CL magazine, Traces, on one occasion. But I haven’t mounted my soapbox and talked up the total CL experience.

Which is strange. Because Communion and Liberation is a big part of my total Catholic life. I have participated in a weekly CL meeting, or School of Community (the CL term), since before I was received into the Church, roughly two years. Ferde invited me, and for that, as for much else, I am in his debt. Together with Father Barnes, a dozen or more of us meet on Friday evenings. I also participated in the annual CL summer vacation in 2009, and I am more or less a regular at other regional CL events in Boston and Cambridge. Communion and Liberation has been a deeply meaningful aspect of my total Catholic experience. You can read more about it here. And yet . . .

Strange as this might sound, I don’t want to take the name in vain. I keep thinking, I don’t have enough experience of CL, and I don’t know the language. About the language: CL was founded by Fr. Giussani in Italy in 1954. (And how could you not love that face? Like a welterweight whose nose has taken one too many punches?) Father Giussani had his own language for speaking about the Christian experience, and he spoke Italian. Which means that English translations are a sort of argot heard at second remove. Reading him in English, I’m never quite sure if my failures of understanding are (a) because of the translation, (b) because I’m not up to speed yet, or (c) because Father Giussani was a bit nutty. My bets are all on (a) and (b), but you never know. I never met FG. If you know any Italian, you’ll understand this clip; I don’t:

Why post about CL now? Because I have just returned from a half-day with the Movement, a remarkable afternoon and evening that offered full measures of truth, goodness, and beauty. And if my heart can discern the truth, then this is the truth: CL is the real deal. Let me give you some quick glimpses—

Truth: On Sunday afternoon (1/17), as part of the New York Encounter 2010, I was present at a presentation by three eminent men, only two of whom are directly CL-affiliated. (CL and its cultural arm, Crossroads, host events at which non-CLers and even non-Catholics and, yes, even non-Christians, are sometimes featured speakers.) The men on the panel yesterday were Fr. Julián Carrón (left), who took over leadership of CL upon Fr. Giussani’s death in 2005; Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete, the CL “responsible” for the US and Canada; and Stanley Hauerwas, professor of theological Ethics at Duke University, where he teaches in both the school of divinity and the school of law. These are smart guys. But you want to know something interesting? Try Googling Julián Carrón. You won’t find much. He is the humblest leader of a worldwide Catholic movement you can imagine. This is the only link to Fr. Carrón that I could find on the US CL Web site, his “intervention” at the funeral of Fr. Giussani! As if the only thing on-line about Pope BXVI was his homily for JPII.

The three panelists discussed the book that Schools of Community worldwide are now starting to read, Is It Possible to Live This Way?: Charity, an Unusual Approach to Christian Existence. This post is already way too long, so let me offer a single quote from each of the panelists:

First, Msgr. Albacete, quoting Fr. Giussani: “If you cannot sing about it, it’s not true.”

Next, Prof. Hauerwas, quoting St. Thomas Aquinas: “Charity is the form of all virtues.”

Finally, Fr. Carrón, citing Pope Benedict’s encyclical Deus Caritas Est: “The term love has become one of the most frequently used and misused of words.”

Goodness: At 5:30 yesterday afternoon, Mass was said at the Church of the Holy Innocents on West 37th Street (left). Admittedly, I’m new to the Catholic game, but I have never seen so many priests concelebrating. Leading the way was Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent Vatican observer at the United Nations. The Church was filled with members of The Movement, and the Communion and Liberation Choir filled the loft at the rear of the nave. After Mass, the parish served your standard pasta supper in the church basement for $5 a head. CL-ers from around the world eating off paper plates with plastic forks in a church basement in Manhattan—good food, good company, great moment.

Beauty: Sunday evening, we returned to the Marriott Marquis on Times Square and witnessed something special, a screening of Carl Theodor Dreyer’s silent classic The Passion of Joan of Arc, accompanied by a live performance of Richard Einhorn’s “Visions of Light,” performed by the Metro Chamber Orchestra and the Communion and Liberation Choir. I posted a clip from the film earlier today. Here is the final scene, of Joan’s execution, with the score by Einhorn:

I have written before that Joan of Arc is one of the reasons I became a Catholic. Communion and Liberation is a reason I remain one.

June 14, 2016

Gilbert Keith Chesterton died on this day in 1936.  A few years back, I had no idea about this fact for several reasons. A) I don’t know everything; B) he isn’t an official saint, so there is no feast day on the calender; C) he died long before I was born.

But I can truthfully say that one of the reasons why I am Catholic today is because of G.K. Chesterton. (more…)

May 15, 2016

St. John of Damacus
St. John of Damacus, Public Domain

I’ve been reading some of the selections on the YIMCatholic Bookshelf. As it turns out, a good number of the books in that collection are written by authors whose names begin with the letter S. Saint this, or Saint that, for example.

Sometimes these folks have brief passages in their works that are both short and helpful. In fact, some of them are like the listicles that the interwebs have come to know and love. Like the one below, which was written by St. John Damascene. (more…)

June 10, 2015


For a regular guy, with a blog called Why I Am Catholic, I honestly can’t think of one, single, reason. I mean aside from the obvious one.

So how about Because?  No, really. In fact, I reckon I have 445+ posts with titles that begin with the word “because.” That might just be 45,000 words worth of trying to explain it. And you know what? Every day there are more reasons that keep piling up. Oftentimes, words fail.

Need more reasons? (more…)

February 18, 2015

Christ Carrying the Cross, Albrecht Dürer

What? You weren’t up for an early Lent this year? Too bad. We can’t even blame this on Punxsutawney Phil, either, as whether a groundhog sees his shadow (or not) has no bearing on the liturgical calendar.

So what have I been doing during these dark, snow filled (and now ice filled) days leading up to Lent? Reading, naturally. Folks started yakking about the Crusades, and I thought to myself, “you know what? I don’t really no much about the Crusades.” So I picked up a few volumes about that 500 year long epoch in order to educate myself. I’ll probably be turning to the Inquisition next for the same reason.

But I wasn’t able to find the book at the library that I’m writing about now. (more…)

December 27, 2014

Madonna Adoring the Christ Child, Pietro Da Vicenza
Madonna Adoring the Christ Child, Pietro Da Vicenza

What follows is a republished version of a post I ran on Christmas day in the Year of Our Lord, 2012. I’ll even leave the comments  that were published from thoughtful readers at that time. Enjoy!

Merry Christmas, everyone! On December 25, we Christians celebrate the birth into time of our King, our Redeemer, and our God. That day is the day we celebrate the birth of the Christ, the anointed one, born in Bethlehem. We call it the Feast of the Nativity.

As feasts in the Church go, this is a biggie. As Deacon Greg shared on his blog the other day, St. John Chrysostom, in a homily dated from the year 386, invites us to, (more…)

November 29, 2014


Source Agência Brasil

Whoa, Frank. Are you putting words in Pope Francis’s mouth?

No, dear reader. I’m just telling it like it is. You know how some folks can wax eloquent about truth, goodness, and beauty, and how the Church should make better art, etc? I have no skills in the fine arts, so I generally don’t write about such things. (more…)

November 24, 2014

Actually, depending how you look at it, this news is either four years old, or ever new. Over at the Atheist Channel, Rational Doubt runs an op-ed of a Rabbi of Humanistic Judaism (?) whose thoughts run to the idea that we have found the problem, and it is the Word of God. (more…)

September 30, 2014

My Eaton M112, surgically removed.
My Eaton M112, surgically removed.*

You probably think I’m off my rocker, but given how unsatisfying this month was shaping up to be, it was time for a break. A break from blogging, hand wringing, and all the other bad stuff happening in the world that I have absolutely no control over.

Did I also mention ridiculous silliness that passes for important stuff these days?

Right. (more…)

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