Five New Saints

On Sunday, October 19th, Pope Francis declared John Henry Newman, Mother Giuseppina Vannini, Mother Mariam Thresia Mankidiyan, Sister Dulce Lopes Pontes, and Marguerite Bays Catholic saints. In the west I suspect John Henry Newman is the best known, but here is the briefest of resumes of all five Saints. Of the new saints, one is the first woman born in Brazil; another is from Kerala, India. Five were priests or members of a religious order; one was a Swiss lay woman. Continue reading

God’s Plan

There is the natural part of us that tends to speak in generalities or platitudes when we attempt to address God or our relationship to God. Unsurprisingly, after all, the core of it all is a mystery. Believers have struggled for centuries to express the ineffable, the mystery of the divine. Yet we still have hopes: “I want to have God first in my life.” So, what does that look like? Ineffable as God is, what does “first in my life” mean in concrete terms? If you don’t have an idea of what it looks like, how will you know when you have arrived? “But do you ever really arrive?” As they say, if you don’t have a destination then any road will get you there. Continue reading

To live in anger

I am not normally given to posting op-ed pieces from online sources. But there was an op-ed piece that caught my attention, more specifically, this:

….anger cannot be the sole fuel propelling us on life’s journey. We also need love, for without it, we are no better than those who fear us. To live with anger is to live powerless. That’s not to say the oppressed should never be angered by the actions of their oppressor. Only that anger can spark a movement, but it should not order its steps. Not if the goal of the movement is peace.

…not if the goal of the movement is peace… Continue reading

Francis of Assisi

In a 13th century text called the Il Foretti (The Little Flowers), a story is told about St. Francis in which a brother friar came to him and asked, “Why after you? Why is the whole world coming after you, wanting to see you, to hear you, to follow you?” Some 800 years after the life of St. Francis, this question remains. What is it about this unpretentious figure from the early 13th century that continues to exert such a perennial fascination for Catholics and non-Catholics, believers and agnostics alike? What is it that has made Francis the subject of more books than any other saint? Why has he inspired artists, led ecologists, peace activists, and advocates for the poor to claim him as a patron? Why has he inspired countless tens of thousands of men and women to follow his Rule of Life in religious and secular communities? Continue reading

God breathed

Monday was the Memorial of St. Jerome, best known for his translation the Vulgate Bible. St. Jerome translated from OT Hebrew and NT Greek into Latin. He famously said: “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.”  Advice we should all take to heart.

The first reading on the Memorial is from 2 Timothy and, in part, reads: “All Scripture is inspired by God” (2 Tim 3:16). The phrase is theopneustos (Theos, God, pneō, to breathe). It would sound odd to our ears, but I would rather like the translation to be “All Scripture is God-breathed.” Continue reading

Everyday Holiness: Being Stewards of Your Own Life

Last week’s column spoke about the broad sweep of history within the Catholic Church. In every age, there has been a pattern of the faithful pointing to others as the “Holy Ones of God.” The focus changed from Apostles, to martyrs, to the desert hermits, to the monastic men and women, to the age of wandering missionaries, to nascent movement of mendicant women and men seeking a lay holiness (only to be regularized into religious orders) – the focus never on the everyday holiness of believers. The focus remained on those men and women to whom miracles were attributed, whose life of heroic faith, while indeed praiseworthy, left the rest of us saying, “Surely, they are the holy ones!” Continue reading

History and Holiness: Being Stewards of Your Own Life

Who are the holy ones of Christianity? Or more pointedly asked, “Who do you consider the holy ones?” In the beginning it was the Apostles, the people who had actually met and lived with Jesus. They saw the miracles, heard the teaching, witnessed the healings, saw the Resurrected Savior, and went to the ends of the earth preaching and baptizing. Surely, they were the holy ones – especially called by Jesus himself! Continue reading

Thoughts for Labor Day

Jesus was a master of the story form known as parables. One of the most memorable parables can be found in Luke: the story of Lazarus and the Rich man (Luke 16:19-31). The parable starts simply enough: “There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day. And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores.” Very quickly in the parable the two men die. The unnamed rich man goes to a fiery afterlife of torment while Lazarus rests in the arms of Abraham, awaiting the day when Jesus will open the gates of Heaven for the faithful. Continue reading

The Sign of Peace

Back in 2014, after 9 years of study, the Vatican announced that the sign of peace, currently placed after the consecration and before the recitation of the Agnus Dei in the Roman Rite, will not be moved to another part of the Mass, as had been proposed by some bishops. 9 years? While that may have been a concern of liturgists, bishops, and others, I think the concerns of the average person in the pew lay elsewhere. Continue reading

Core Values of Stewardship

The rains came to the hollows of Appalachia. The forecast was that rains at the higher elevations would be especially heavy resulting in rising floodwaters in all places and flashfloods in the steeper hollows and valleys of the county. The emergency warnings were for all residents to seek high grounds and keep away from streams and rivers.

When the neighbors saw Jonas, an older resident and a member of the local congregation, they encouraged him to leave his homestead and come with them to higher ground. Jonas thanked them for their offer but said, “I’ve prayed to God and I’m sure he will save me.” The neighbors drove on up the road. Continue reading