Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Praise of His Glory

A rather poor cell-phone shot of the chapel at the Dominican House of Studies

The Vigil of All Saints at the Dominican House of Studies was as beautiful and powerful and prayerful as I had hoped and expected. We got there early, about 1h15m before, and the place was already filling up, and by the time the service started, it was packed (Maybe 500 people there? A majority of them young adults? LOTS of young religious and seminarians and priests!)

(Link above has links to preaching from last year, PBS's Religion and Ethics coverage of the event which has video of last year's Vigil, as well as media and blog coverage [including this one!] This link is a short video with stills set to beautiful polyphony. Also see American Papist.)

There were four readings from the lives of the saints: the life of St. Simeon the Styline, St. Peter Martyr, St. Benedicta of the Cross and Blessed Elizabeth of the Holy Trinity.

The homily was (I thought) wonderful -- developing Cardinal Ratzinger's idea of humanity's imaging God in "being from," "being for" and "being with" (corresponding to the Holy Trinity), and perhaps one of the most cogent and straightforward explanations of the treasury of the merits of the saints (even though that phrase wasn't used), and the intimate link between the communion of saints on earth, in purgatory and in heaven. [My friends thought the homily was "too academic." Oy.]

The Te Deum was chanted -- in the Dominican version -- and Compline followed, also chanted, with the Salve Regina chanted by the whole congregation with gusto, followed by the Beatitudes (in English) in Slavonic chant.

And at the end, there was the Litany of the Saints, as the people filed out carrying candles past a reliquary bearing the imprints of sanctity, as a host of heavenly helpers was invoked, a vast throng, from all parts of the world, from all time, the saints who, like us, exist, for the praise of His glory.
In him, according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will, we who first hoped in Christ have been destined and appointed to live for the praise of his glory. In him you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, which is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power in us who believe, according to the working of his great might (Ephesians 1:11-20)

10 Reasons To Hate Cellphone Carriers | Gadget Lab from

Read it! But don't throw your cell against a wall. They'll just make you pay more to get it working again. 10 Reasons To Hate Cellphone Carriers | Gadget Lab from "v"

Tonight: Vigil of All Saints

At the Dominican House.

I'll be there early. CANNOT WAIT!

[Last year's blog report.]

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Stephan Moccio


The music is haunting and beautiful.

I discovered Stephan Moccio through this interview he gave on Salt and Light TV (a Canadian Catholic TV channel). [H/t to Rocco.]

On his website, his album Exposure is listed as being available on iTunes. Turns out it is available only in iTunes Canada. And those with US addresses cannot purchase stuff from iTunes Canada. So I left a message on his fan-group on Facebook asking if it were available in the US. "Just check out Amazon or B&N" was the reply. DUH! You mean actually order a CD and have it mailed to you? Wow! :) [GEEZ! $27 on both Amazon and B&N. It's CDN14.95+shipping from Maple Store (Canada). There's a used one on Amazon for $11.98, shipping from NY. AND ... ebay has one solitary auction, with a starting bid of .... TWO DOLLARS! Woo hoo! :)]

Monday, October 29, 2007

Archbishop Wilton Gregory will undergo surgery for prostate cancer Nov. 5

Rocco has the scoop. Keep him in your prayers! Whispers in the Loggia: A Prayer for Atlanta

Prayer vigil at Russell House ballroom at 6 pm

In memory of the students who lost their lives in the fire in North Carolina. The Daily Gamecock

Updates at The State website.

Statement from USC's webpage.

The Right Coast: Tacitus and Political Correctness in the Roman EmpireGail Heriot

Political-correctness is not anti-Western. It comes straight out of the Western tradition, and it is uniquely Western. [Via Instapundit]The Right Coast: Tacitus and Political Correctness in the Roman EmpireGail Heriot

A headline to warm the heart ...

... of a blogging religious-wannabe. Cardinal urges religious to get blogging.
According to the Roman diocesan weekly RomaSette, Cardinal Ruini said: "A priest from Novara told me that the theme of 'Jesus' is very much discussed by youth in blogs. The focus, though, comes from destructive books that are widespread today, and not from Benedict XVI's book 'Jesus of Nazareth.'

"What will the idea of Christ be in 10 years if these ideas triumph?"

The 76-year-old prelate admitted, "I don't understand the Internet, but especially young religious ought to enter blogs and correct the opinions of the youth, showing them the true Jesus."
Grazie, Eminenza, per il suo incoraggiamento.

Googling God

Busted Halo's Mike Hayes has written a new book. I just heard about it this weekend. [Must add Mike's blog to blogroll!] And it's been reviewed on Zenit by Fr. John Flynn LC.
"Googling God: The Religious Landscape of People in Their 20s and 30s," published by Paulist Press, is written by Mike Hayes, associate director of Paulist Young Adult Ministries. In the introduction, Hayes explains that while some had doubted if young people were religious at all, there is a religious awakening among at least some youth.

Hayes provides an interesting examination of young people in the United States, with many points worth reflecting on. His book is also useful for the tips it offers on how to use the Internet and other media to communicate.

A limitation that does need to be noted, however, is his superficial rejection of what he characterizes as overly orthodox Catholic groups. His cursory dismissal of these groups in a few of the book's passages offers an incomplete vision of the very real benefits, and considerable success, they are having among young people. [Insert editorial amen here.]

Young Catholics in the United States, Hayes notes, live in a time of revolutionary technological changes, uncertainty about the future, and a desire for instant gratification. Regarding communications, Hayes comments that many young adults are subject to an information overload. In the midst of the competing claims for attention, it is difficult for the Church to make its message heard, or to know how to adapt to changes in mentality.

He distinguishes between Generation X, born between the years 1964 to 1979, and the Millennials, born from 1980 onward. The former, he argues, tend to view the world in a more pluralistic and explorative manner. The latter are looking for something solid to base their lives on. Nevertheless, Hayes warns against reading too much into generalizations, as there are many differences within each generation.

Search for the sacred

One thing the two generations have in common is a desire for contemplation and a liturgy that provides a sense of mystery and sacredness. For example, Hayes notes the renewal of interest in Eucharistic adoration and some forms of contemplative prayer.

"In a world where life seems very fleeting, young adults search for things they can depend on, things that have stood the test of time, things they regard as true, and things that are greater than themselves," Hayes explains.

The creation of a spirit of community through liturgy is also a point of attraction particularly for Generation X, who in many cases have experienced a lack of family bonds, due either to divorce or to being in a household where both parents work.

There are, however, also many young people who are not active in their faith. Large numbers have received little formation in their faith, others are caught up in the demands of work and family life, and some prefer a private form of spirituality, outside of participation in formal Church-based activities.

Many of those who are not regulars at church will, however, come into some contact at critical moments such as marriage, the death of family members or friends, and times of personal crisis. Hayes recommends using these opportunities to reach out to young people.
The column goes on to talk about other efforts and documents about the brave new world of the internet and modern social communications.

More reviews of Googling God are at Mike's blog, of the same name. The Busted Halo review, with an excerpt.

[I suspect that Hayes' book deals mainly with the United States/North American context.]

[I wonder if I can convince Father Novice Master that one of the 15 books on our reading list should be replaced with this one?]

I hope you did

... thank your priest this past Sunday. Not being in a parish anymore has many limitations (and today, because of the car debacle, we didn't go to our regular parish apostolates either).

Serra Says, Thank Your Priest this Sunday.

Thank him (them) on other days too. Help out. Give some good, constructive feedback on his homilies. Don't just whine and bitch. Most importantly, pray for them. And pray that more young men might hear the Lord's call to follow Him as priests and religious.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Tragedy strickes USC

Six of seven killed in house fire were from University of S. Carolina - [h/t Leonardo] RIP

Colbert on the Horseshoe

Friends Dogwood and Leonardo were there! [That's a photo of Mrs. Dell that showed up on my cell phone this morning. It dispels some of the gloom from last night's defeat. But only some. :: sigh ::] And a former student wrote on my Facebook wall the following.
If elected, he plans to destroy the state of Georgia (and Tennessee, for good measure). One thing he cautioned about though is eating imported shrimp. You see, the Chinese could be feeding their shrimp Georgia peaches.
Good. Especially that Tennessee was included.

[In other news, the novices spent the morning cleaning glass shards out of the nine cars that got hit last night. It wasn't just us -- apparently Trinity Univ. across 4th Street also got hit. Since our insurance company is closed on Sundays, the repair work will only begin tomorrow.

So, I guess our slogan can be, "Open the windows to Christ!" :)

Oh, the cops haven't yet shown up to file a report. Frickin' DC.]

:: UPDATE :: Dogwood has photos and a link to WLTK's raw footage of Colbert's speech. My favorite part -- he is concluding with the State motto, and someone shouts, "Go Cocks!" So ... "I can't improve on that. GO COCKS!" ::

Being a Carolina fan ...

... means aging ten years every weekend.

27 24 Tennessee, because of some cocky stupidity in overtime.


[And, apart from the game, earlier in the day, in broad daylight, someone broke into the fenced seminary parking lot, and smashed the windows on nine of the cars, ransacking the glove compartments, but finding really nothing. Jerks.]

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Confident faith

Many thanks to Rocco for linking to the text of Archbishop Tom Collins' (the new Ordinary in Toronto) address at the 28th Annual Cardinal's dinner, held this past Thursday. Archbishop Collins focuses on the Holy Father's announcement that starting in June 2008 the Church will mark a year of St. Paul, and draws some broad sketches as to what following St. Paul might mean in his archdiocese. Of course, as a novice in a Society that takes special inspiration from St. Paul, this was of much interest.

If there is one theme that runs through this address it is this: bold discipleship.
Like Paul, we are engaged in the grand adventure of winning the world for Christ. ... There is nothing timid in St. Paul. ... Paul was not a man of small plans. He did great things for Christ. He shows us the way. ... He did not shy away from the marketplace, nor should we if we follow in his footsteps. He did not retreat into the security of the inner world of believers, but entered into dialogue with the alien world of unbelief. So must we, with humility, and with the confidence born not of natural bravado, but of the serene faith that gave courage to Paul.
Some practical suggestions include,
being involved wholeheartedly in the world of popular culture and the media ... we should not be shy in enganging in the public conversation regarding social issues, and Christians need to be encouraged to engage in public service as politicians. We need to give a reason for the hope we have to the people we meet day by day. ... We too need to seek creative ways to shine the light of the Gospel into every corner of our society.
The foundation of our faith is the encounter with Christ. "In Paul we see a man of action who is fundamentally a man of prayer." More importantly, "We do not save the world. We are only servants, and we must be attentive to our Master, in whom alone we find our strength."

There is much packed into this short address. Do read it! Or ... listen to it!

Midwest Catholic-Muslim dialogue

There's a few official interfaith dialogues between Muslims and Catholics in the United States. (A list appears at the SEIA page at the USCCB website. The April 2007 meeting of the Mid-Atlantic dialogue was devoted to completing a text on marriage and interfaith marriages, including a suggestion that interfaith marriages between Catholics and Sunnis should be discouraged.) The latest meeting of the Midwest dialogue was held last week, at the largest mosque in the United States, in Dearborn, MI.
A few dozen leaders of both faiths met for three days this week at the largest mosque in the country, the Islamic Center of America. They worshipped together and contemplated their ongoing collaboration, emerging Tuesday with a "mission statement" that will help guide the dialogue and relations between Muslims and Catholics well into the future.
This line was most interesting:
The leaders make clear that they do not duck difficult issues. On Monday, they explored guidelines to govern attempts to convert Muslims to Catholicism and Catholics to Islam.
That will be most helpful, especially if there is actually an acknowledgment that in many places in the Islamic world, would-be converts are routinely threatened with death if they convert to Christianity. In 2005, this dialogue produced a joint declaration on Revelation. I'm looking around for a copy now. One member of the dialogue thought that the relationship between Catholics and Muslims is that of big brother - little brother.
"Catholics are 60 million in the U.S. We are hardly eight to 10 million, and we are still exploring ways of establishing our community and gaining the recognition and respect that we deserve as American Muslims," Syeed said. "And so, we truly appreciate this big brother relationship."
Interestingly, at last night's Halloween party at TC (Theological College) up the street, at one point we were talking about Islam. One of the interlocutors was a Maronite seminarian. I am always struck just how much more apprehensive and negative Eastern Christians are about Islam. Perhaps there is something to their experiences that arise from having lived under Islamic regimes for centuries?

I'm all for dialogue, yes. But not for pollyannish attitudes either. [For instance, check this out: a newly installed Imam in Cleveland, who wants to promote dialogue and peace, but is embarrassed when a 4-year old sermon is publicized on the Internet where he calls for the killing of Jews?] Bi-polar on Islam is how I described it last year.
I guess, I'm bi-polar. There's parts of the first pole that I'm sympathetic towards. And, of course, I don't see the other end as simply ignorantly bigoted. In my talk I described this as "dialogue and vigilance." Another way of putting it would be "cautious dialogue." It seems to me that one should be open to the other -- to dialogue, with our neighbors here in the West (at a local level that's all one can do, I guess!), and encourage movements and actions that build bridges of understanding and reconciliation. Yet, one shouldn't have such a roseate view of things that one is blind to other threatening forces in Islam, forces that seem to, at least right now, be the loudest, and also the ones with strong backing, and wider sympathy than one might realize.
But all for Muslims too, ya know! :)

Bank run by street kids in New Delhi

Most heartening! Springwise: Bank run by street kids in New Delhi
A related and less carefree spotting came in from New Delhi, India, where more than 1,000 street children have joined together to create a bank that helps them manage the small sums they earn each day. Launched in 2001 by a volunteer aid group called Butterflies, the Children's Development Bank aims to empower children in several important ways.

Like any other bank, CDB pays interest on the deposits that New Delhi's street children make. That interest can be a vital incentive to kids who might otherwise spend their daily earnings on cigarettes, candy or other items—or worse, have their meager profits stolen. Money for the interest comes from the repayment of micro loans made to kids 15 years and older. But interest on income is only part of the picture. While adults stand at the ready to help, CDB is managed by children, helping them gain valuable work skills.

Some might argue that children shouldn't work at all. But CDB's adult patrons maintain that the economic circumstances in New Delhi and other parts of the world with large populations of street children provide no alternative and that CDB gives these children better control over their lives and earnings. And their idea appears to have legs. Besides India, banks have been organized in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.
[Via Boing Boing]

... and just in from Rome ...

Pope Benedict 2008 calendar, with exclusive photographs from the Photographic Service of the Holy See. Many, many, many thanks to a generous friend in Rome! (And, perhaps most remarkable, that he mailed it -- Poste italiane too, not from the Vatican! -- on Oct. 22, and it arrived here on Oct. 26! I'm floored!)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Muslim group attends Catholic Mass in Malaysian "breakthrough"

Muslim group attends Catholic Mass in Malaysian "breakthrough"
Christians and Muslims commonly believe that Muslims are forbidden even to enter a church. Led by Shah Kirit Kakakul Govindji of the Islamic Information and Services Foundation, the Muslim visitors initiated the visit themselves. Shah Kirit explained that the purpose of the visit was to discover similarities and common traditions shared by Muslims and Christians, and to respectfully "agree to disagree" on differences.

Archbishop John Ha Tiong Hock of Kuching supported the visit.

The Homeless: Not always what they seem

Last week's issue of the Economist had an interesting article on the homeless. (I suspect it's subscriber only. I'll paste the full-text below, after the jump.) It talks about the make up of the homeless population, new studies that show that about 10% of all homeless are chronically so, most require assistance for a short-term, and (this should be a no-brainer) that punitive measures rarely do anything to help the problem.
With better understanding of the group's diversity, new approaches are being used. Much current thinking about homelessness is based on the work of Dennis Culhane, currently at the University of Pennsylvania, who followed thousands of homeless people in New York several years ago. Each of them used up an average of $40,000 a year in public services, such as hospital care and jail time. When half of the group was offered public housing (coupled with services such as counselling) that group's time in hospital and prison fell dramatically. The net result was a big improvement in the problem at little extra net cost.
A few weeks back, one of those who attended a vocation discernment retreat at the seminary was a guy from LA who works with the homeless, and writes at the Homeless in America blog. Do check it out. It's on the blogroll now (finally! It's amazing just how often I forget things if I don't write them down!). Check out this story about a group from my own Palmetto State - Our Lady's Rosaries -- who make and distribute rosaries to the homeless.

The homeless

Not always what they seem
Oct 18th 2007 | MINNEAPOLIS
From The Economist print edition

New thoughts on an old problem

THE queue, which began forming hours before the doors officially opened, stretched across the lobby and onto the pavement in front of the downtown convention centre. More than 1,800 people—bantering groups of friends, loners, shell-shocked veterans and weary single mothers—turned up recently for an event dubbed Project Homeless Connect. It offered needy people everything from job applications and educational assistance to haircuts and a hot lunch. In return, attendees were asked to provide data on themselves and their living circumstances, all of which were fed into a local database. Some of the attendees seemed strangely out of place. A well-spoken, middle-aged woman with freshly manicured nails said she had a college degree and had

New ideas needed

Homelessness is not an issue normally associated with places like Minneapolis. This city is relatively prosperous, has cold winters and is in an overwhelmingly white, northern state. But homelessness has moved up the agenda for many American mayors in the past couple of years. With property foreclosures surging, homeless advocates worry that the problem will grow. They also voice concerns about the number of returning veterans with brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Big cities have long grappled with the issue, and say they are making progress. San Francisco was in the news this month for sending teams of social workers, psychologists and police on a sweep for homeless people. Places as diverse as Nashville, Anchorage and Cedar Rapids, Iowa, have adopted ten-year plans aimed at eliminating long-term homelessness.

Several factors are driving the movement. The first is a better understanding of the homeless population. Despite the perception that it consists mostly of single men with drug, alcohol or mental-health problems, the majority are families, singles or young people who simply cannot afford housing, says Nan Roman at the National Alliance to End Homelessness. The group reckons that 600,000 families with 1.35m children experience homelessness each year, accounting for about half of the national total. Many are in dire need for a relatively short time, living in shelters for just days or weeks. But research shows that a hard core—some estimates put it at about 10% of the total—is chronically homeless.

With better understanding of the group's diversity, new approaches are being used. Much current thinking about homelessness is based on the work of Dennis Culhane, currently at the University of Pennsylvania, who followed thousands of homeless people in New York several years ago. Each of them used up an average of $40,000 a year in public services, such as hospital care and jail time. When half of the group was offered public housing (coupled with services such as counselling) that group's time in hospital and prison fell dramatically. The net result was a big improvement in the problem at little extra net cost.

About 40 communities around the country have since attempted to emulate the scheme. The approach is also backed by Philip Mangano, who heads the Interagency Council on Homelessness, a federal body.

All this is a departure from traditional means of dealing with the homeless, which Mr Mangano says are either too soft or too tough. Some communities, he admits, are still using heavy-handed police tactics. "The punitive approach has never worked anywhere," he says. Instead, it simply tends to shuffle the homeless out of sight for a month or two.

Nevertheless, the police have an important role to play in preventing crimes against those living on the streets, he says. Violent crimes against the population have shot up in the past year, including some horrifying cases. In Spokane, Washington, a one-legged homeless man was set on fire in his wheelchair and died of his burns. Current approaches to homelessness may not eliminate such atrocities, but the new focus on the problem is a start.

Copyright © 2007 The Economist Newspaper and The Economist Group. All rights reserved.

ARC-USA's statement on Mary

The recent meeting of the Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogue in the US (ARC-USA) is featured in this story at Episcopal Life onlineec. The main discussion of the meeting was ARC-USA's response to ARCIC's document on Mary, the main points of which are in the article. [H/t Bill.]

Last week I attended a talk at Georgetown reflecting on the 40+ years of the official dialogue between the two communions in the United States.

Stephen Colbert at USC's Horseshoe this Sunday

... to be honored by Mayor Bob Coble. Here's USC's press release.

Here's the last line from that report. "Colbert has talked up South Carolina, especially its barbecue and peaches." Indeed.

Someone get to the Horseshoe at 9 am this Sunday (if y'all have recovered enough from Saturday night's Halloween Party!) and get me some photos?

[And let's hope that Columbia doesn't get the shaft the way CofC apparently did.]

How late is too late to receive Communion?

Jimmy Akin's take is interesting: there is nothing in the law of the church that says one has to be present for any given portion of the Mass in order to fulfill the requirements to receive Holy Communion.

H.E Godfried Cardinal Danneels

Last night at the weekly Adoration at CUA it was announced that the campus ministry office had just received a phone call from a visiting Cardinal, who wanted to celebrate Mass with the students. Cardinal Danneels, the Archbishop of Brussels-Mechelen, is in town for a conference, and said Mass this afternoon at CU's Caldwell Chapel. Over our lunch break, I headed up the street, to a packed chapel (every pew was full, standing room only. Can't say if this state of affairs was because of the visiting dignitary. I think it unlikely, given that it wasn't known too far in advance!). Quite by coincidence, I happened to have read an interview with Cardinal Danneels in the October issue of Inside the Vatican, which I just purchased on Tuesday!

Cardinal Danneels is a thoughtful man and deep thinker (often identified, as a "progressive" whatever that means!), and it was great to see him in person. He celebrated mass wearing a simple green chasuble (no sign of Cardinalatial rank to be seen). Besides, I thought it spoke volumes that he wanted to say Mass with young people, rather than go over to the Shrine next door (which is what most visiting dignitaries are wont to do).

After Mass I got his blessing, and he kindly signed that copy of Inside the Vatican. (He had no idea the interview was in there. It is actually an English excerpt of a book-length interview that appeared earlier in the Belgian daily De Morgen. Rocco put up an English translation of the entire excerpt back in August.)

I didn't take my camera (rather gauche, wot, to show up at a daily Mass looking like a reporter!), but I did get this rather blurry and grainy photo on my cell phone. Nope, he's not really recognizable. Big deal.

Later in the day he gave a talk at the School of Canon Law: Liturgy - 40 years after Vatican II. Since I was painting the dining room, I couldn't attend. However, someone in the house did, and I got the following few points from him over dinner.

  • He didn't address the issue of the recent motu proprio but it did come up in the Q&A. His take was a) it's ok to expand its availability b) he thought the Holy Father did it as an outreach to the Lefebrevists, but until they acknowledged the validity of the teaching of the Council, there would be no unity.

  • As far as liturgy itself, some points included the fact that in the period after the Council, the "immanent" side of things was emphasized to such and extent that the liturgy could hardly be called Christ's liturgy any more. The local community was emphasized to an extent that almost excluded Christ. He also thought there was nothing really wrong with the priest celebrating ad orientem. (I'm afraid that's all I recall.

  • The Novus Ordo as it is often celebrated is very wordy. It engages the mind, the hearing. But not the other senses. Earlier, the beauty and art of a church spoke to us as well. Now, correspondingly, churches have become bare, functional, even ugly. And please note, these are just my recollections of what someone who attended the lecture remembered!
[Ah, the the Papist up the street did attend, and has a much more comprehensive and detailed account than these fragmented second-hand recollections. He was the one who asked the question about the motu proprio. As I was skimming through his notes, one thing struck me -- most (if not all) the points identified by Cardinal Daneels as being problematic with the Roman liturgy are not an issue at all with Eastern liturgies.]

[AmPapist links to an article in America (available to registered users of the website. Registration is free) that His Eminence wrote on the subject in the August 27, 2007 issue. There's also a link to the full-text of a talk with the same title that he gave at Boston College in April. Both are free.]

Work day

Thursdays are work days in the novitiate: we mop floors and do whatever else the Novice Master tells us to. Today, we mopped floor (that is a constant), and painted one wall of the dining room. The first color turned out to be rather dark and gloomy (it looked green, but dried to a rather menacing shade of grey reminiscent of basalt). So we added two coats of a lighter green, finishing just before the rest of the house showed up to ooh-and-aah at dinner. [Complaints were not recorded.]

I must say, I like painting.

The evening was spent in a marathon ironing session (interrupted by episodes of Deadwood. Man, I'm hooked! The Canadian has all three seasons. We just finished season two.) Now the pile of clothes in the laundry basket on the floor (clean clothes, mind you) no longer stares at me with a gimlet, complaining, eye every time I step over it to get to the door. And there's nothing like listening to some podcasts, or radio shows and so on, while ironing clothes. Tonight, I was regaled by Prof. Eamon Duffy going through the lives of Ten Popes Who Shook the World (BBC Radio 4. Hat tip to Amy) Eamon Duffy rocks. Highly recommended! (Scroll down on the link above to "T")

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Catholic Colbert

Need I say more? The WØRD: A Colbert Blog for Catholic It-Getters

Tolle, lege

A somewhat dramatic YouTube video over at Catholic Tube, with evengelical preacher John Piper reading from St. Augustine's confession (the famous Tolle, lege passage) and making the connection to pornography. Check it out!

On miracles

Somehow in one of our novice conference the subject of miracles and their credibility/prevalence etc. came up. Fr. Longenecker has a very sober take that is, IMO, spot on. He's referring here specifically to the stigmata that Padre Pio had, and a story that they were apparently faked with carbolic acid. (Carbolic acid? Lordie. Administered, no doubt, by a murderous self-flagellating albino monk.) Standing on My Head: Look Ma, No Hands!
Nobody went around saying, "I know, let's have some saints bear the open wounds of Christ in order to make the faithful believe more." Instead, everyone (the saint included) is rather embarrassed by the miraculous phenomena. They try to keep it quiet and cover it up because, well, they're humble. When the news gets out the church looks for every logical, natural and sensible explanation first.

Then she shrugs her ancient shoulders and says, "Well what do I know. What I see is what I see. This old friar has the wounds of Christ on his body, and didn't St Paul say that he 'bears the marks of Christ on his body? Maybe it's so."

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Has Ecumenism Made Evangelism Irrelevant?

Below is a link to the full-text of Governor-elect Bobby Jindal's 1993 article (see previous post for excerpts in America. The excerpt on America's website doesn't give a full sense of his thought. In the article, Mr. Jindal engages with the history of evangelization in India, its colonial and racist overtones, with Mahatma Gandhi's attitudes towards conversion, and his own understanding of what the relationship is between evangelization (more accurately, "proclamation") and ecumenism (more accurately, inter-religious dialogue).

I dug out the original article in the library here and scanned it to a pdf.

Permalink for the pdf at Google Base.

Bobby Jindal's conversion story

[:: Update. I have placed the full-text of the America article online.::]

America magazine has placed an excerpt from an article Mr. Jindal wrote in 1993, on his conversion from Hinduism to Christianity. Perspectives of an Indian convert. It's simple, straightforward, and powerful. [Hat tip to Amy.]

And, as a convert from Hinduism myself, there is much I can identify with.
My investigation of Christianity might have remained at this theoretical level had it not been for a short black-and-white film. Though its depiction of the crucifixion was harsher than that of many similar movies, something about this film hit me very hard. For the first time, I actually imagined what it meant for the Son of God to be humiliated and even killed for my sake. Although the movie did not convince me that anything was true, it did force me to wonder if Christians were right. I realized that if the Gospel stories were true, if Christ really was the Son of God, it was arrogant of me to reject Him and question the gift of salvation. (Emphasis added)
As some of y'all know, my first encounter with the Lord was an encounter with Christ crucified, and this overwhelming sense that "this man died for me," on Good Friday in 1991.

My family's response was very different from his, much more supportive, though they're as bewildered as ever. I'm truly grateful for this, since so many of my Indian friends have remarked just, well, how remarkable this is.

The title of Governor-elect Jindal's essay gets to the heart of a very important question: "Does Ecumenism make evangelism irrelevant?" There are so many places and voices in the church, in the US, in India (and elsewhere too), which would effectively say that dialogue has replaced proclamation. Mission consists in the witness of a holy life, of social development, work for human liberation and justice and so on. However there would be great discomfort in actually proclaiming Christ and inviting people to become His disciples and join His body, the Church. And while we recognize and respect "all that is good and true" in the world's religions, and respect the freedom of conscience of all, and, through dialogue, learn about different ways of understanding the divine, I don't think any of this means that we ignore the command we have from the Lord Himself, the Great Commission, to make disciples of all nations.

The sense of urgency for the missions has definitely been dulled. How to resurrect it, without going back to an atmosphere of spiritual pride, and condemning everyone else to hell, well that's another question. Governor-elect Jindal again.
The motivation behind my conversion, however, was my belief in one, objectively true faith. If Christianity is merely one of many equally valid religions, then the sacrifices I made, including the loss of my family's peace, were senseless. I was comfortable in my Hindu faith and enjoyed an active prayer life; I only gradually felt a void and stubbornly resisted God's call from within the church. It was Truth and Love that finally forced me to accept Christ as Lord. "Jesus said to him, 'I am the way and the truth and the life: No one comes to the Father except through me'" (In. 14:6). Christ's redemptive sacrifice proved that God loved me and was lifting me up to Him.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Oh it's the anniversary of Creation

Go Abp Ussher! :-DWhat Does The Prayer Really Say?»Blog Archive » NEWS FLASH: ANNIVERSARY OF CREATION OF UNIVERSE!

How can I meet Muslims in the USA?

Some wonderful advice. Islam and Christianity: How can I meet Muslims in the USA?

And for some levity...

A Wodehouse random quote generator! (Many hats tipped to ID!)
Honoria . . . is one of those robust, dynamic girls with the muscles of a welter-weight and a laugh like a squadron of cavalry charging over a tin bridge.
More on Wodehouse, of whom the American populace (modal or non-) is woefully ignorant.

A final word on the "Missa in cantu" post

[The comments below remain closed, but I will, ever hopeful, keep them open here in case there are any thoughtful and charitable responses, by which I mean responses that address the points, rather than criticize the point-maker. Good friend and a deeply inspiring disciple of Christ, St. Lizzy, just sent me a very thoughtful email that I want to share. It's my blog, so I get to decide what goes on here :)]

Sherry writes, and I think accurately:

But a longing for the Traditional Mass is a very different thing from scornful derision aimed at millions of non Anglo,non-high culture Catholics who have no part in the culture wars and are just trying to worship and serve God to the best of their ability in their local parishes and families and communities.

Jeffrey, who is rightly concerned about preserving the church's patrimony and re-claiming the sacredness of the Mass as a time when we do things properly, with reverence and per the norms, writes of what he terms the "modal parish":

There are two or three people who can sing, no one has sung a note of chant. Most people are interested in chant but have no idea where to begin. Meanwhile, there is a hardcore that is fanatically attached to music of the 1970s and fears even the slightest hint of solemnity, warning darkly that the new priest is going to take the parish into a new Dark Age.

There are no liturgical materials available in the parish. The vessels are glass or pottery, everything else having been tossed out. So there is no monstrance, no patens, and the tabernacle is buried somewhere where it can't be seen. The available vestments are unworthy.

He comments to Sherry that:

Let me finally add: if you think chant doesn't belong in the Roman Rite, you are either misinformed about the liturgy or you are hoping for the creation of some other rite that doesn't yet exist.

I think that Sherry is not responding from any desire for a new rite, or from a dislike of tradition. Nowhere does she state that chant doesn't belong in the rite. Sherry is responding to what she perceives as putting down of parish life based on broad brush strokes.

And it is those broad generalities that I feel I must address, fearful as I am to appear to be insulting one musical form or another, one particular rite or another, or even one particular blogger or other.

I live in a world of epidemiology, where statistics and statistical accuracy are critical to any actions we opt to take from our data. Anything described as modal means that it is the (or "one of the" in the case of multi-modal distributions) most frequently encountered value in the sample or population. This means that this value is seen more often than any other for this variable, even if it isn't the mean. It is critical that we know if samples or populations are being described, and how the samples were selected.

If we create a list of Parish Liturgical Problems voiced by chant seminar attenders (non-random sample) then there could be several "modes" or most frequently appearing problems: improper vessels, ad-libbing prayers, unworthy vestments, ignorance of music which should be given pride of place in the liturgy, out of tune guitar Masses, etc. This approach certainly gives the liturgist or priest a guide to what to approach first to reclaim the sacredness of the liturgy.

These concerns may be modal for the non-random sample of priests who come to Mr. Tucker for training, but they are almost certainly not modal for the population of US parishes.

Mr. Tucker's post , whether or not he intended this to be so, isn't being read as a modal list of errors. It is being read as a modal list of the current state of things across the US. If you assembled a list of values from the population for any liturgical item (brass chalice, brass chalice, brass chalice, ceramic chalice, glass chalice, brass chalice, etc) or (paten paten, paten, paten, paten, no paten, paten, etc.) , few of the items appearing in what reads as a Jeremiad would rise to modal status.

And that's so important -- We should take care not to describe a population by the traits seen in only a sample being described by those dissatisfied with the status quo. Put another way, a list of chief complaints given by people presenting to the ER (unscientific sample) is important, but it does not describe the health of the entire community (population.) The chief complaints tell us how to plan health care and what needs to be done to improve health, but it does not tell us anything about those not presenting for care.

Sherry hears, and perhaps not without reason, "scornful derision" in what was written. This may not have been Mr,. Tucker's original plan, but it is certainly consonant with other opinions Mr. Tucker may have expressed previously. I hear Sherry giving her opinion, and making important points based on her own observations. Jeffrey states at "Charlotte was Both" that Sherry's points aren't valid, and states that he "addressed them at the blog in question." Dismissive language, even if not intentionally written to be so.

Not for nothing did I so often read at "Open Book" the comment: "Fearful as I am to jump into a discussion on music, I feel I must say....." before someone gave an opinion. We often aren't hearing what people are actually saying; we are hearing only how they might disagree with those things about which we are most passionate.

The blogosphere is, or should be, a place for exchanges of opinions, and discussion that can lead us to mutual areas of understanding. Mutual understanding can begin with clear understanding of the bases of our opinions and of our "stats."

Sherry loves the church that welcomed her in as a new converts. She wants us to stop arguing over liturgy. She's willing to accept variations in music if needed, so long as the Mass is valid. Jeffrey loves the Church and wants us to stop arguing over liturgy. He offers chant and sung Masses as options that don't rely on changing contemporary musical tastes.

I love the Church, and am willing to sit through a guitar Mass with an out-of-tune guitar, or a plodding pianist or even a choir of the few non-music readers who turned out, and will offer my sacrifice of praise as I prepare to meet Jesus. I'm also excited to be planning music for a heavily Latin wedding Mass this Christmas. Having been to Rome, and seen a wide variety of Masses there, I'm far more willing to say "when in Rome" here in the US, as well.

Long enough for now, and certainly not likely to change any minds or cool any emotions. I daresay the "modal" East Coast Catholic is right now (10:55 PM on a Monday) getting ready to watch the news and head for bed, rather than worrying about liturgy. I think I'll go join him.


Filipino priest excommunicated for violating the secrecy of confession

Filipino priest excommunicated for violating the secrecy of confession

Bobby Jindal wins Louisiana Governorship

[Been a bit busy this weekend so wasn't able to comment on this until now]

The first Indian-American governor in the United States! And he converted to Roman Catholicism (from Hinduism) as a teenager too!

A historic occasion, for sure.

Jindal triumphant in Louisian (Time)

Son of immigrants rises in a Southern State (NYT)

[Jindal's views on Catholicism and religion were in play in the race. This post at dotCommonweal has a good summary.]

Here's a quote that St. Lizzy sent me an email, that I don't have the time right now to hunt down. ""I think we're setting the bar too low when we say, 'Look, isn't it great that we haven't had a statewide elected official go to jail recently?'" Heh.

Congratulations, Governor-elect Jindal!

In omnia caritas

[:: UPDATE :: I'm closing comments on both posts related to this topic.::]
My post below (Missa in cantu) has engendered a sort of combox war. I guess I should feel that I've arrived in the blogosphere, but I don't. And yes, I've seen much worse in other comboxes in the blogosphere; this stuff is mild. However, Sherry W (of the Intentional Disciples blog) said something that is very true and right on the money, that I wish all of us who take this silly medium way too seriously would be wise to ponder.
This fighting and re-fighting the wars of 40 years ago has breed an atmosphere of ideologically driven contempt that is beginning to poison some of our most promising young leaders. We are beginning to regard this sort of derision as normal, acceptable discourse among Catholics.

This is not a joyful re-discovery of aspects of the faith that one generation lost track of. It is driven by the sort of bitterness which is always a spiritual and ecclesial dead-end and inevitably leads to another pendulum swing back in the other direction.

Because healthy people can't live off hatred. In the end, they will either be repelled or - more terrible still - they will lose their Catholic faith altogether.

Because they came seeking Christ and his love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and found . . .this.

It was hard enough becoming Catholic from my background in the Seattle of the late 80's. If I had approached the Church and encountered this stuff, I would have run a hundred miles in the other direction and not looked back. I would have known instantly that this was not of the Spirit of Christ and probably drawn the conclusion that a Church that seemed to accept and fostered it could not be of Christ either.

I would have been wrong - but how would I know? Especially if,(God forbid!) I was getting most of my understanding of the Church from blogs!
Thanks Sherry.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Like the thief

Make me this day a sharer in Your mystical supper O Son of God; For I will not reveal your mysteries to your enemies, nor will I give you a kiss like Judas, but like the thief I acknowledge you: remember me O Lord; remember me O Holy One, remember me, O my God, when You come into your kingdom
-- (From the liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, during the communion of the faithful.)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

It's the End of the World as we know it at the Vatican - Independent Online Edition > Europe

It's the End of the World as we know it at the Vatican - Independent Online Edition > Europe
Perhaps we have Francis Ford Coppola and his Apocalypse Now blockbuster to blame for our identification of "apocalypse" with bloody mayhem. Or perhaps it is the decline of faith that has led us to view the Christian vision of the end of the world (in which unbelievers get the short end of the stick) as likely to be unpleasant. But the curator of the exhibition, Alessio Geretti, believes the new show will help to revive an interpretation of the Book of Revelation as "a book of hope, where justice eventually triumphs".

"It is undeniably positive," he insists, "because we admire the marvels of Jerusalem the Golden in works that take one's breath away; but also because Revelation explains that while this tale of evil that intersects with the history of the world goes ahead, there is also a story of good that spreads everywhere. In the end the destiny of evil will be its ruin and its complete failure, while the good will triumph through all eternity."

Those darned chickens!

ESPN - Vanderbilt finally gets win over Spurrier-coached team - NCAA College Football Recap I was very glad that I didn't watch the game -- though I got regular updates on the phone. Actually was at the Maryland Renaissance Festival near Annapolis, where novice-bro Matt was pining to see his favorite medieval-music group, the delectable Medieval Baebes.

Photos and stuff later on.

I'll be drowning sorrows in beer later in the evening.

Stupid frickin' Gamecocks! :(

Friday, October 19, 2007

Missa in cantu

[:: UPDATE :: Comments are closed.:: ]

Jeffery Tucker at the New Liturgical Movement has a thought-provoking post about the sung Mass, and how it can impact the celebration of the liturgy.

[There's lots of interesting and readable stuff at NLM. I find myself avoiding it, however. My context right now is so alien to any of this discussion, that I wonder if it's even worth the energy reading about it. That's all I'll say on that subject here.]

I cannot recall a time I've been to a sung Mass in the Latin Rite. It's one of the things that I absolutely love about the Eastern liturgy -- the entire liturgy is sung, and that automatically adds a hugely worshipful dimension. I personally don't know what I think about actually eliminating the "4-hymn-sandwich-Mass" that has become the norm, or even how realistic this is. There is also the question of cross-cultural portability, if you will, that is, I feel, one of the strengths of the reformed Roman Rite. But, I have no formal training in Western music, chant, or anything liturgical, so these are just opinions, and therefore, reflections of taste, rather than well reasoned thoughts based on a proper comprehension of the nature of the liturgy.

What I found interesting in Mr. Tucker's post was his description of most Catholic parishes.
Their parishes have no established music programs of any quality. There is a piano player who tends to lead what music program they do have, and he or she is wedded to contemporary Christian music. Those who sing can't read music. There is an organ but it is either unused or played poorly. There is no music library beyond the standard GIA/OCP material. There is no children's choir apart from the annual Christmas screamfest.

There are two or three people who can sing, no one has sung a note of chant. Most people are interested in chant but have no idea where to begin. Meanwhile, there is a hardcore that is fanatically attached to music of the 1970s and fears even the slightest hint of solemnity, warning darkly that the new priest is going to take the parish into a new Dark Age.

There are no liturgical materials available in the parish. The vessels are glass or pottery, everything else having been tossed out. So there is no monstrance, no patens, and the tabernacle is buried somewhere where it can't be seen. The available vestments are unworthy.

Then there is the belief infrastructure of the parish. People are out of the habit of confession, daily Mass, and spiritual reading. For the most part, people cannot defend the faith and are largely clueless about what the liturgy is intended beyond the need to gather Christians together for fellowship.

It is easy for priests to despair under these conditions. It is hard to know where to begin. You can just replace people because there is no one to take their place. You can't just say that from now on, we will sing chant because no one knows what to sing or how. There is also the very important reality that it is unwise to enact a liturgical reconstruction insofar as people have no idea what is taking place or why.

There is where singing the Mass comes in. This is an improvement that celebrant can make on his own. He doesn't have to ask the liturgy committee. He doesn't need accompaniment. It requires no line in the budget. In fact, it will not upset anyone; in fact, it is a way that Father demonstrate that he truly cares about the liturgy, which has a way of flattering everyone.

It is a simple matter: what he once spoke, he now sings.
Does that not describe so many Catholic parishes.

Even the campus ministry I worked at -- it's not quite as bad as that, but how much better is it?

Do read the comments on this post as well. [Via Amy.]

Common Word

In the latest Tablet, Dr. John Borelli of Georgetown offers an analysis of last week's unusual letter by 138 Muslim scholar to the Pope and other leaders of Christianity. The letter is unusual in the broad consensus across different Islamic groups and divides it represents, and it may be well one of the first times there is a broad-based response to the efforts at dialogue called for by Christians in the 20th century, particularly the Catholic Church during and after the Second Vatican Council.
There is another reason why "A Common Word" is so important. It might just be the first widely represented theological response by Muslims to Christian invitations to dialogue since the time of the Second Vatican Council in 1965. Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, who now leads interreligious dialogue for the Vatican, has recognised its newness in this respect and its lack of polemics, use of Scriptural citations, and meditative nature. Archbishop Rowan Williams described it as indicative of the relationship for which we yearn in all parts of the world. Bishop Mark Hanson, President of the Lutheran World Federation, has encouraged reading the beauty of the collected passages and studying the vision of fidelity and fellowship. But these are acknowledgements and not responses. Those will take longer, perhaps years.
[The article is free on the Tablet's website. One has to register with an email address, and even if one has registered, it takes some navigating confusing instructions to get to the full text, so I'm copying the entire below after the jump.]

Uncommon overture

John Borelli

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When 138 leading Muslim scholars issued a statement last week addressing Christians around the world, responses varied from warm to cautious, while some claimed that 'A Common Word Between Us and You' is a necessary step on the road to world peace. What is clear is that dialogue between the faiths has vital new opportunities for progress

In the era of email, text messaging and blogging, taking a month, let alone a year, to compose a statement, or an invitation, or dialogue, seems remarkable to many people.

But last week's invitation to theological dialogue from a widely representative group of 138 Muslim scholars and religious leaders to Christians appears to have been in the making for three years. And yet for all the long hours of work, the scholarship, and the care taken, there is an undoubted urgency about it. "Our very eternal souls are all also at stake if we fail," the scholars tell those who relish conflict and destruction.

"A Common Word Between Us and You" was released on Thursday 11 October, and dated 13 October for the feast of Eid al-Fitr concluding the Ramadan fast. Jordan's Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought in Amman had dedicated more than three years to making this happen. The work will almost certainly have involved Prince Ghazi Bin Muhammad, the Royal Institute's chairman and a member of the Jordanian royal family. He and others have been busy building consensus among Muslims for several years. Prince Ghazi has provided a commentary on the "Amman Message", first released in 2004 by King Abdullah II of Jordan and his scholars, and then supported by Muslim scholars of 50 countries who dealt with three key questions: Who is a Muslim? Who has the right to undertake issuing a legal ruling (fatwa)? Is it permissible to declare someone an apostate (takfir)? The commentary was presented on 11 September 2006, the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and, paradoxically, the day before Pope Benedict's famed address at the University of Regensburg.

But "A Common Word" is not simply a response to the Regensburg speech, nor is it solely addressed to Pope Benedict. A response to that speech was issued on 13 October 2006 and signed by 38 scholars and religious leaders whose names appear in these other documents. This does explain how so many senior and recognised Muslim scholars and religious leaders could construct a theologically nuanced response to the Pope within one month. Respectful, corrective and engaging, the 2006 "Open Letter to the Pope" is but one facet of a major effort by Muslims for "intellectual exchange and mutual understanding" with Christians.

By contrast, last week's "A Common Word" is addressed to the Pope and many others: 14 Orthodox patriarchs, five heads of the Oriental Orthodox Churches, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Presidents of the Lutheran World Federation and the Baptist World Alliance, the General Secretaries of the World Methodist Council, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, and the World Council of Churches, and to "Leaders of Christian Churches, everywhere". Like the Amman message and other documents, the signatories are offering consensus, a technical term in Islam (ijma), referring usually to the studied agreement of scholars and the foundational belief that the whole community will not agree on error. "A Common Word" and its predecessor documents are both invitations to theological dialogue and to a common articulation of faith developing among Muslims.

Quoting the Qur'an and the sayings of Muhammad, "A Common Word" builds a case for love of the One God and love of neighbour as fundamental principles for peace and mutual understanding. To support this, the text also cites passages in the Old and New Testaments. The only other sources cited are two traditional commentaries.

"A Common Word" receives its title from the third sura (chapter) of the Qur'an, verse 64. The context is the visit of a Christian delegation near the end of Muhammad's life. The verse exhorts all to worship none but God, nor to ascribe any partner to God, and not to take others for lords besides God. Following al-Tabari, a ninth-to-tenth century Persian historian and exegete of the Qur'an, "A Common Word" agrees that "Muslims, Christians and Jews should be free to follow what God commanded them," by citing another Qur'anic verse, "Let there be no compulsion in religion." (That verse, Sura 2:256, the 38 Muslim respondents to Pope Benedict last year said that he had incorrectly identified as a sura of "the early period", which he drew from Theodore Khoury's translation of a dialogue between Emperor Manuel II and "an educated Persian.")

Despite this subtle point and the not-so-subtle references to the oneness of God throughout, passages often used against the Christian doctrines of the Trinity and Incarnation, "A Common Word" is not polemical like the centuries-long arguments and debates between Christians and Muslims. Some may feel that it goes too far in outlining common terms for agreement and interpreting Christian and Jewish Scriptures. Others may not agree with the way Scriptural and commentarial citations are used. Still, even with its traditional aspects, "A Common Word" is a new departure. It is a response to the urgent need for a united voice from Muslims on the essentials of their faith to counteract voices of extremists and those preaching violence and hatred.

While "The Amman Message" of 2004 is a response to "those who through distortion and fabrication try to portray Islam as an enemy to them" and to those "who claim affiliation with Islam and commit irresponsible acts in its name", this new text, on the other hand, is an invitation to interreligious dialogue - "a sure basis for peace and warding off the dread spectre of those wars of religion which have so often bloodied human history", as Pope John Paul II declared in early 2001. At the Second Vatican Council, he and other Catholic bishops had urged Christians and Muslims to mutual understanding and to joint efforts fostering social justice, moral welfare, and peace and freedom for all. They also exhorted Catholics "to recognise, preserve, and foster the good things, spiritual and moral, as well as the socio-cultural values found among the followers of other religions", especially through dialogue and collaboration.

On an international level, Christian-Muslim dialogue has moved by spurts and starts in the last 40 years. The newness of the approach, lack of parallel structures, and political developments, especially in the Middle East, have made lasting efforts difficult to maintain. The most productive record for the Vatican's office for interreligious dialogue was under Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald's leadership with Jordan's Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute, but that was not exactly a theological dialogue. More recently, Pope Benedict has coupled "interreligious" with "intercultural" when referring to this dialogue. The change was noticeable the day after his April 2005 election and more evident when he spoke directly to Muslims four months later in Cologne, where he dwelt on terrorism and its effects. He did quote the words of the Second Vatican Council and asserted that this interreligious and intercultural dialogue "cannot be reduced to an optional extra". That dialogue, he and curial officials have emphasised, is to be only on public issues and not a theological one characteristic of "A Common Word".

There is another reason why "A Common Word" is so important. It might just be the first widely represented theological response by Muslims to Christian invitations to dialogue since the time of the Second Vatican Council in 1965. Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, who now leads interreligious dialogue for the Vatican, has recognised its newness in this respect and its lack of polemics, use of Scriptural citations, and meditative nature. Archbishop Rowan Williams described it as indicative of the relationship for which we yearn in all parts of the world. Bishop Mark Hanson, President of the Lutheran World Federation, has encouraged reading the beauty of the collected passages and studying the vision of fidelity and fellowship. But these are acknowledgements and not responses. Those will take longer, perhaps years.

"A Common Word" declares that the purpose of the text is not "polite dialogue between selected religious leaders". The more immediate response is for Christians and Muslims to be in touch in all societies, and through reading and studying together this text and their sources of theology, they might build a basis for a common word between them.

God's Mechanics

A review of "God's Mechanics: How Scientists and Engineers make sense of religion," a book by Vatican Astronomer Br. Guy Consolmagno SJ, that showed up in one of my news feeds. The review is by an atheist. The book sounds interesting.

"America does not torture."

BBC NEWS | Americas | US lawmakers' apology to Canadian

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Intentional Disciples: The Layman Who Grew a Parish of 1,200

An encouraging story of how one committed disciple grew a church in a remote part of India. Intentional Disciples: The Layman Who Grew a Parish of 1,200

Anglican - Roman Catholic Dialogue in the US

There was a lecture held at Georgetown today: "The Contributions of the Anglican-Roman Catholic Dialogue in the United States: 1965-2007." The presenters were Dr. Ellen K. Wondra (Episcopal) and Fr. Francis Sullivan SJ (Catholic). This lecture was also held to honor the memory of Dr. George Tavard, an important ecumenist. ARC-USA is one of the oldest official dialogues between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion.

[The following remarks are by no means a comprehensive summary of the content of the talks. These are just highlights that I found interesting.]

Dr. Wondra talked about the various statements the various official dialogues had produced in the past 40+ years (12 from ARCIC, for instance), on a variety of topics that demonstrate just how deep the "real but imperfect communion" that is shared between the two communions is: statements on the creed, mission, the Word of God, Baptism and Eucharist, Authority and morality. There was a reminder that despite serious differences in the area of moral theology, particularly surrounding issues of human sexuality, one shouldn't conclude that there are not other areas of congruence (such as in the realm of war & peace, economic justice and so on.) and that absence of shared practice does not mean the absence of shared faith. There was a slight lament that very few people in the respective churches seem to realize that these dialogues are going on, or that, indeed, there are joint statements on these various issues. The group has even tried to publish a parish study guide on these matters, but, significantly, cannot find a publisher!

Fr. Sullivan mentioned that one of the issues that has been discussed is the sense of balance between the local and Universal Church. However, for each communion, this balance tends to be more a balancing act between the ECUSA and the worldwide Anglican Communion, and for Catholics, between say the USCCB and the Holy See. The dialogue also talked about the sense in which, for Catholics, this relationship is in imbalance in the way the Holy See reserves appointments of Bishops to itself, and that this is a problematic manifestation of the relationship between the local and universal Church. On the Anglican side, there has been much talk about the events following the consecration of Gene Robinsion as Bishop of New Hampshire and how this has affected the balance between the ECUSA and the Anlgican Communion.

In the Q&A one of the questions (asked by Bishop Gulick, Episcopal co-chair of the dialogue) was along these lines: "There seems to be a sense of hearkening back and nostaligia in both our churches. For Anglicans, there this sense of wanting to make the 39 articles as a kind of covenants [which, presumably, is disturbing]. For Catholics, I wonder if the recent decision to more widely allow the Latin Mass, as well as the opening of this conservative seminary in France is a reflection of the same trend." (I guess the underlying sense was, "in both our churches, there's this strong conservative/traditional element. I wonder what's going on?") Dr. Wondra responded that the 39 article were being misunderstood -- they are not confessional statements like the Westminster Confession, or the Augsburg Confession. Fr. Sullivan responded that the recent motu proprio is best understood as the Holy Father reversing what he thought was a mistake by his predecessor, Pope Paul VI when the old rite was suppressed on the introduction of the new one. He feels that the Pope's sole motivation is to meet the legitimate desire of a few people who want to worship in this way. He doesn't think this will do anything for reconciliation with groups such as the SSPX (the differences are deeper there than just the liturgy). He has no information on this seminary that was mentioned. Besides, none of this should impact the dialogue in any way.

My own assessment: I must confess that the event was rather dry and somewhat boring. I tried to take diligent notes, but after a while I gave up. "I don't think I want to be a professional ecumenist!" I remarked as we left the lecture. There was this sense of this being a closed group, an echo chamber of professionals talking to one another. To what end?

Don't get me wrong -- the intellectual and theological work of such dialogues is very important. But there must be some assessment of why the energy seems to be flagging, why no one seems to be listening? Why, such meetings are (in the words of one of the presenters) far from newsworthy?

Anyway, what do I know. I'm merely a novice.

[A list of all the ARCIC meetings and statements is archived at the website of the Centro Pro Unione in Rome.]

Cardinal Dulles' health

I came across the following email recently. Please keep Cardinal Dulles in your prayers. This is dated October 5, from the Diocese of Lansing, where he was scheduled to speak at an event.
Sister Anne-Marie Kirmse, OP, Personal Assistant to His Eminence, Avery Cardinal Dulles, contacted the Diocesan Office of Catechesis with the news that Cardinal Dulles has developed a sudden neurological problem which has rendered speech near impossible. Therefore, with regret, it is announced that due to this sudden physical ailment, Avery Cardinal Dulles has canceled his visit to the Diocese of Lansing.
Cardinal Dulles' doctors have determined that he did not suffer a stroke; however, the origin of this neurological condition remains as yet unknown. He remains alert and able to communicate by writing. The Cardinal is undergoing testing to determine the exact nature of his condition and the correct course of treatment.

While asking your prayers for the Cardinal's restored health, I wish to emphasize that the Diocesan Catechetical Days will proceed as planned. The workshops and presentations are still being offered, as well as opportunities for catechist formation and enrichment. The full text of Cardinal Dulles' keynote address will be read by a priest of the Diocese of Lansing in his place.

Cardinal Dulles conveys his deep regret that he will not be able to join us, along with his hope that the Diocesan Catechetical Days will be blessed with much success and that they will provide inspiration and encouragement for all those who are engaged in this important ministry.

Michael E. Andrews
Director, Office of Catechesis
Roman Catholic Diocese of Lansing

Philip Jenkins at USC

Dr. Philip Jenkins, Distinguish Professor of History and Religion at Penn State spoke last night at USC in Columbia SC for the annual Joseph Cardinal Bernardin lecture series.

Here the thoughtful commentator on the future of Christianity is developing ideas that he puts forth in his latest book: God's Continent - Christianity, Islam and Europe's Religious Crisis. [And I continue to heartily recommend both the Next Christendom and Believing the Bible in the Global South.] -- in a sentence: the crisis in Europe (demographic, religious and secular) isn't as bad as it's often made out to be.

Good friend Leonardo was present at the event and has given a detailed synopsis of Jenkins' remarks. Highly recommended reading! Part 1 & Part 2.

Fr. Richard Neuhaus reviewed Dr. Jenkins' book in the May issue of First Things.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

An anvil which is beaten

Quote for the day, from the Letter of St. Ignatius to St. Polycarp. (This was the part of the reflection at prayer this evening. Thanks Steven!)
Let not those who seem worthy of credit, but teach strange doctrines, fill thee with apprehension. Stand firm, as does an anvil which is beaten. It is the part of a noble athlete to be wounded, and yet to conquer. And especially, we ought to bear all things for the sake of God, that He also may bear with us. Be ever becoming more zealous than what thou art. Weigh carefully the times. Look for Him who is above all time, eternal and invisible, yet who became visible for our sakes; impalpable and impassible, yet who became passible on our account; and who in every kind of way suffered for our sakes.

Religius freedom shrinking in India

Says Christian activist and journalist John Dayal. (He blogs at Sulekha)
Ecumenical News International Daily News Service 17 October 2007 Religious freedom in India 'shrinking' says Christian author - Feature ENI-07-0800 By Anto Akkara Bangalore, India, 17 October (ENI)--Despite India remaining the world's most populous and vibrant democracy, freedom of religion is steadily on the decline, says John Dayal, a journalist-turned-Christian activist, who is now secretary general of the All India Christian Council. "Many of the rights have been systematically diluted over the years by governments, courts and fundamentalist forces," Dayal told Ecumenical News International in an interview on 13 October about his soon-to-be-released book on religious freedom in India. "A Matter of Equity: Freedom of Faith in Secular India" is a critique of religious freedom in the country. Dayal says that this freedom, or lack of it, ranges from the steady dilution of constitutional guarantees to harsh treatment meted out to Christians and minorities in every corner of the country. The book is a collection of articles Dayal wrote when he was a journalist, and before he became outspoken on issues concerning India's Christian community. In his writings, Dayal describes a steady upsurge in anti-Christian violence from the late 1990s, when the Hindu nationalist BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) emerged as a strong political force. "Even before the BJP came up, religious freedom had been facing curbs both by the government and the judiciary," says Dayal, who lists several documents in his book to support his claim. He points out that the first anti-conversion bill, which restricts people converting to Christianity was introduced by the avowedly secular Congress party in the 1960s. The BJP, This, Dayal asserts, now emulates this legislation. He adds that Christians enjoyed "better religious freedom three decades ago than now," and notes that often lower courts in several areas have been "hostile to Christian grievances where they get little relief". While India stopped allowing missionaries to enter the country decades ago, Dayal notes that, "Christian missionaries who have done exemplary service to the nation have been unceremoniously packed off by the government denying them visa extensions on one pretext or other." Apart from that, the author says that the State machinery has been used to harass Christians and their institutions, even by secular governments. "In this context, one will wonder what is the meaning of the religious freedom spelt out under fundamental freedom in our constitution," Dayal adds. "But, what we (Christians) have faced from 1990s has capped it all," argues Dayal, who has visited almost every troubled spot in the country following attacks on Christians. "A Matter of Equity" cites systematic and orchestrated attacks on Christian targets by Hindu fundamentalist forces that the author laments as being rooted in a "belief in violence". Dayal says that during recent times India has recorded hundreds of incidents of deliberate violence against Christians, including the murders of priests, rapes of nuns, and brutal assaults on missionaries, besides attacks on Christian gatherings and buildings. On the other hand, following the steady rise in atrocities, Dayal says, churches have also begun to speak up and come out on to the streets. However, Dayal says that church leaders have failed to provide strong leadership for the 26 million Christians in India, or "to demand from the government what has been taken away over the decades". :: A Matter of Equity: Freedom of Faith in Secular India, by John Dayal, is published by New Delhi-based Anamika Publishers and Distributors Pvt Ltd, 500 pages, 800 Indian rupees. [565 words] ENI News Headlines and Featured Articles are now available by RSS feed.

All articles (c) Ecumenical News International Reproduction permitted only by media subscribers and provided ENI is acknowledged as the source. Ecumenical News International PO Box 2100 CH - 1211 Geneva 2 Switzerland Tel: (41-22) 791 6088/6111 Fax: (41-22) 788 7244 Email: --------------------

Red Hats all around

Well, obviously not all around. (Rocco's "Red Dawn" is so classic Rocco, I have to say!).

Two Americans: Archbishop Foley (Pro-Grand Master of the Equesterian Order of the Holy Sepulchre) and Archbishop DiNardo of Houston, which is a big recognition of the growth of the Church in the American Southwest. Ok South. (Not the real South, which would be the Southeast really. Atlanta one of these days maybe? :))

As expected Archbishop Gracias of Bombay was on the list.

My current ordinary, Archbishop Wuerl, was not. Most probably because Cardinal McCarrick is still alive and well, and is still under 80. Can't have two electors from one place, I guess?

The list. Consistory on November 24.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Called to not be incestuous

Well, I'm through Book 1 of 15 (on the Novitiate reading list). Thought I'd share this bit from Avery Dulles' The Priestly Office: A Theological Reflection.
In our denominationally divided society, we tend to think of pastoral activity as limited to the care of the faithful and thus to ignore the outreach that the parish ought to have toward all who live in the area. John Paul II offers a corrective in Redemptoris Missio, where he writes: "Especially in those areas where Christians are a minority, priests must be filled with special missionary zeal and commitment. The Lord entrusts to them not only the pastoral care of the Christian community, but also and above all the evangelization of those of their fellow citizens who do not belong to Christ's flock."

Since Paul VI's great exhortation on Evangelization in the Modern World, its eems clear that all the activities of the parish should be centered on evangelization as the church's central mission. Evangelization, broadly defined, includes the proclamation of the gospel to those who are afar and the nurturing of believers in the faith, so that they may more effectively understand and practice it.

A vital church is one that looks outward, spreading the good news and inviting others to join. It is not enough to evangelize those who come into our buildings; as bearers of the gospel, we must move into the neighborhoods and workplaces to evangelize. The United States bishops, in their national plan for evangelization, have called upon parish leaders, especially pastors, to understand their ministry in terms of this plan. Many now speak of "evangelizing parishes." In the words of Patrick J. Brennan, "The parish or church that has lost this attitude of invitation and mission has become incestuous, closed in upon itself, or maintenance-oriented, concerned with maintaining the status quo." It is normally necessary, but hardly sufficient, to have a good RCIA program. Evangelization should be a dimension of every parish organization, including those dedicated to religious education, liturgy, youth, social justice, and the like. An evangelizing parish will have a vigorous program for keeping in contact with inactive and alienated parishioners and for making unchurched persons feel welcome.
Evangelii nuntiandi came out in 1976. Redemptoris missio in 1990, the Bishops' plan in 1992. How much has this attitude taken hold? Aren't most of our parishes still just oriented to spiritual consumers? Maintenance rather than mission?

Cardinal Newman to be beatified?

The UK Telegraph suggests that the confirmation of a miracle is due soon, and things could move ahead, with a beatification taking place as early as next year. What glad tidings those would be! (Via American Papist.)
The Vatican is close to attributing a miracle to Cardinal Newman that would pave the way for Britain's most famous convert to Roman Catholicism to become this country's first saint for 40 years.

Insiders in Rome believe that the Vatican will announce a decision within months, meaning that the former Anglican whose conversion shocked Victorian England could be beatified as early as next year.

The controversial theologian and writer of the hymn Lead Kindly Light, who converted in 1845 and died in 1890, would then be declared "Blessed" and be one step from canonisation, for which a second miracle would be needed.
[The following is a bit amusing, suggesting that Tony Blair's giving photographs of Newman to Pope Bendict, raised Newman's profile. Really? He had a pretty decent profile already, one would think!]
The profile of John Henry Newman was boosted when Tony Blair gave Pope Benedict XVI three signed photographs of him at their meeting in Rome in June.

Spe Salvi

The Pope's new encyclical has been completed, and is on the theme of hope. No publication date has been announced. CNS.

Monday, October 15, 2007

St. Theresa of Avila

St. Theresa is one of twelve saints who are special patrons of the Paulists and their mission. In 1970 she was declared a Doctor of the Church (one of three female Doctors).

A wonderful overview of her life at Praying for Grace. She can also be considered a patron of the interior life, as well of those who struggle with prayer. Here's a write up (and video!) at Catholic Tube.

The library at St. Paul's (the old chapel) has some beautiful stained glass windows of the patron saints. Here's St. Theresa as depicted in the old chapel.

And this detail summarizes, I feel, that oh-so-nebulous thing called Paulist spirituality!

This prayer by St. Theresa is very popular. The Taize setting is extremely powerful (we prayed it at Lauds this morning). I first heard it at WYD2002 in Toronto, at the concluding Mass outdoors, as hundreds of thousands filed silently across the vast field to receive Holy Communion.
Nada te turbe, nada te espante. Quien a Dios tiene, nada le falta. Nada te turbe, nada te espante, sólo Dios basta.