Monday, May 31, 2010
Thanks to Deacon Greg Kandra over at The Deacon's Bench for posting the above clip, the conclusion of the movie Saving Private Ryan. It's worth watching and remembering on this Memorial Day. Thank you to all those who, throughout our nation's history, have died to secure our freedom.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Every once in a while you hear a line that is so powerful, so beautiful that is speaks volumes with just a few carefully picked words. I came across one of those lines this week in a homily given by Bishop Howard Hubbard of Albany at the Funeral Mass of Mercy Sister Maureen Joyce, the much-loved and respected CEO of Catholic Charities Albany for 20 years.
Speaking of Mercy Sister Mary Ann LoGiudice, who nursed Sister Maureen around the clock during her final battle with cancer, Bishop Hubbard said:
“Mary Ann, you truly loved Maureen to God; you served as a mid-wife, birthing her to eternity…”What a beautiful image, birthing someone to eternity. I was with my own mother when she took her last breath 22 years ago, and while I wouldn’t be so bold as to say I birthed her to eternity, I do know that what I witnessed was the most powerful connection to God I have ever felt. Even more powerful than the births of my children. To be with someone in those final moments -- holding them, kissing them, comforting them -- and then feel them breathe their very last breath really is like touching God. It is a moment filled with awe as much as it is filled with sorrow.
In his homily, Bishop Hubbard referred to Sister Mary Ann as Sister Maureen’s “beloved friend and soul mate.”
“One day when I was going to visit Maureen, Brie, a CMS social worker on the 2nd floor of Branson Parenting Center where Sister Maureen resided asked how Maureen was doing. After I gave an update, Brie then said, ‘I wish every person in the world could experience the wonderful bond of friendship Sister Maureen and Sister Mary Ann enjoy and the type of love Sister MaryAnn has poured forth on Maureen,'” he recalled.For the past two years I have spent significant amounts of time researching and writing about this kind of deep friendship, spiritual friendship, and our need for a soul mate – not in the romantic sense but in the spiritual sense. We need people to walk with us on our journey of faith, to pray with us, to birth us into eternity if we are lucky enough to have such a friend at the end.
When I first set out to write “Walking Together, Discovering the Catholic Tradition of Spiritual Friendship,” (November 2010/Ave Maria Press), I did so out of personal experience. I have been blessed with deep, spiritual friendships in my own life. I have seen the power of friends who meet us soul-to-soul, even if they can’t always meet face-to-face.
More and more in this world of constant mobility and high-speed virtual relationships, we need the stuff of spiritual friendship. We need soul mates. Sister Maureen was blessed to have such a friend, but that kind of deep love doesn’t have to be a rarity. It can flourish anywhere, if we know how to recognize it and nurture it.
Sister Maureen was a social justice force to be reckoned with in the Albany Diocese. She began her career there taking in and caring for pregnant teens back in the days when no one wanted to talk about teen pregnancy. She continued to reach out to every other disenfranchised group, searching for ways to bring dignity to their lives and hope to their futures. To read about Sister Maureen’s life and her work, click HERE.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Today, in an op-ed piece in the New York Times, the 14th Dalai Lama writes about his belief in the need for world religions to work together and to learn from one another. He says his moment of clarity on this issue came not from a fellow Buddhist but from Thomas Merton, the Trappist monk whose writings on Eastern spirituality have garnered him as much criticism as they have praise.
As a huge fan of Merton, I know the power of his words, even when I don't fully understand the depth of what he has written. His words take hold of me and resonate somewhere deep, allowing me to listen with the 'ear of my heart,' as St. Benedict taught, even when I'm figuratively scratching my head in confusion.
Both Merton and the Dalai Lama are right: We need to find a way to respect one another, to dialogue and learn from the best of our traditions. And we can learn from each other without losing ourselves or our faith.
Merton wrote in Zen and the Birds of Appetite: "When we set Christianity and Buddhism side by side, we must try to find the points where a genuinely common ground between the two exists." He went on to write that to compare the two faiths would be like comparing mathematics and tennis. Obviously the differences between Buddhists and Christians, Jews and Muslims and Hindus are great and not easily reconciled, and yet, in our ever-shrinking global village, where we are so interconnected, it is imperative that we find a way to do what Merton suggested more than 40 years ago.
Today the Dalai Lama writes:
"A main point in my discussion with Merton was how central compassion was to the message of both Christianity and Buddhism. In my readings of the New Testament, I find myself inspired by Jesus’ acts of compassion. His miracle of the loaves and fishes, his healing and his teaching are all motivated by the desire to relieve suffering.
"I’m a firm believer in the power of personal contact to bridge differences, so I’ve long been drawn to dialogues with people of other religious outlooks. The focus on compassion that Merton and I observed in our two religions strikes me as a strong unifying thread among all the major faiths. And these days we need to highlight what unifies us."
Read the full op-ed piece HERE, and then share your thoughts in the comment section.
Monday, May 24, 2010
By Mary DeTurris Poust
If you think television’s most recent foray into mystical spirituality and redemption ended last night with the season finale of Lost, think again. Tonight is the return of the final few episodes of Saving Grace, the sometimes-raunchy TNT show that, like Lost, has kept its sights focused on questions of faith and redemption while giving us compelling characters and a twisting story line.
I’ve been a fan of both shows, caught up in the writers’ fascination with God and with both the world beyond what we can see and the one buried deep within us. These shows hit the mark for so many of us, I think, because they dare to go where we are sometimes afraid to go. They zero in on the battles that rage within us, the internal contradictions that can make us feel lost even when we are right at home.
Even if we couldn’t figure out what the mysterious island of Lost was supposed to be, we knew without a doubt that it was a place where faith and reason, good and evil, sin and redemption were all critical parts of the equation that we were trying to solve. Saving Grace takes us to that same place. As we watch the main character struggle with her own doubts and demons, we are at the same time painfully aware of the faith that must exist deep within her to allow her to believe and trust in Earl, the angel who guides her, protects her, comforts her and challenges her.
Grace’s hard drinking and hard living provide the backdrop for the story of a soul in need of saving, one who is being dragged toward God kicking and screaming -- sometimes literally. Like Lost, Saving Grace comes down to our need for redemption and our willingness not only to see others as loved by God but to see ourselves as worthy of the same. Season by season, we have watched the characters of Lost and Saving Grace peel away the sins of their pasts to uncover the human goodness, the image of God, that lies within every person. No wonder these shows hit home. If even these troubled and tortured souls can be saved, then surely we’ve got the same chance, right?
Tonight Grace returns to the screen, picking up the mantle of spiritual struggle that was laid down so peacefully on Lost last night. For at least a few more weeks, TV will tackle the stuff more typically reserved for theology classes and spiritual direction.
Friday, May 21, 2010
By Mary DeTurris Poust
Yesterday, when I was doing a live interview on Twitter about the catechism (related to my book The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Catholic Catechism), one of the questions was this: What is Mary's role in Catholic life? Do we study her life or have a relationship with her? I explained that it is both. We look to Mary as an example of faith lived out in her day-to-day life, her 'yes' to God, her total trust in His will. But we also have a relationship with Mary as our spiritual mother, someone we can go to in prayer, someone who helps us move closer to Jesus.
I wish I could have posted the YouTube clip (above) of Pope Benedict XVI talking about how Mary, in Fatima, calls all of us to "regard earth as the place of our pilgrimage to our final homeland, which is heaven." The pope went on to say that we are all pilgrims, and we "need our mother to guide us."
So often Mary's role in Catholic life is misunderstood, and yet what a beautiful role it is to those of us who know Mary and go to Mary with our troubles and our joys. And seeing this life as one long pilgrimage toward God, with Mary at our side the whole way, is a gift and a blessing. Be sure to listen to the pope's message in the clip above.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
USAToday has posted the transcript of yesterday's interview with OSV's Greg Erlandson and Matthew Buson, authors of "Pope Benedict XVI and the Sexual Abuse Crisis: Working for Reform and Renewal." Read it HERE.
And be sure to follow the ongoing discussion at a new blog by Erlandson and Bunson HERE.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
And you can join them in an online chat at the USA Today religion blog today at 1 p.m. Eastern. As the USA Today religion reporter, Cathy Lynn Grossman, announced on her Facebook page today:
This is the first "chat" we've hosted on my blog so my fingers are crossed that smart, polite, curious people from all points of view will come in with questions -- and not the folks who are off their meds.
So attention, all you smart, polite, curious readers of osvdailytake! Be sure to join in!
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
By Russell Shaw
If I had the chance to ask just one question at the Senate confirmation hearings on Elena Kagan’s fitness to be a justice of the Supreme Court, it would be this: “What do you think of the natural law?” I’d ask that question because it’s more important than most, even all, of the questions that will get asked, not because I have any doubt what the answer would be: “Not much.”
I say this not to the individual discredit of Kagan, solicitor general of the United States, but precisely because she’s a prominent representative of the Harvard-Yale law school axis now dominating the Supreme Court. As such, it’s safe to say, natural law is simply not a part of her intellectual universe. And that is worth putting on the record, if for no other reason than to dramatize the sorry straits in which American jurisprudence finds itself these days.
Natural law theory is the conceptual backbone of the Western legal tradition. It guided the framers of the American Constitution. Despite what some imagine, it isn’t a doctrine of the Catholic Church, though Catholic thinkers were largely responsible for its elaboration for centuries. A thumbnail sketch of it might be along these lines:
Human rights and duties arise from human nature. The conceptualization of this body of principles expressing fundamental conditions for individual and communal human fulfillment (not instant gratification but longterm happiness) is called natural law. Man-made laws don’t create these rights and duties but are meant to express and defend them. When man-made law fails to do that—when rights and duties are products only of the ideological preferences of lawmakers—society is ruled by a curious mix of relativism and power politics.
Natural law theory began to pass out of favor well over a century ago under the influence, among others, of that eminent relativist Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes (1841-1935). Now, practically speaking, in elite law schools and generally on federal courts peopled by their alumni, it is as dead as the proverbial dodo.
That is a very serious matter. For, as Jesuit John Courtney Murray, the eminent American thinker on church-state matters, remarked 50 years ago, “public consensus” on fundamentals is what held a diverse and pluralistic nation like the United States together, and the basis of the American consensus up to then had been natural law. The Civil War was fought largely to test that proposition. When Father Murray wrote in 1960, it was slipping away.
Today it has all but disappeared from sight. Hence the culture war. Consider the sort of questions Americans, lacking a healthy public consensus, often argue about now: whether abortion is allowable simply as an expression of individual choice; whether homosexual relationships should be recognized as marriages (answerable only on the basis of some definition of marriage); whether elderly, sick people should be helped to commit suicide—or put away quietly if they’re too out of it to decide for themselves.
It goes without saying that Elena Kagan is a liberal like the president who nominated her. She is pro-choice and has a disquieting interest in gay rights issues. Barring some astonishing disclosure, she will undoubtedly be confirmed.
I don’t suggest she be asked the specific questions above as part of the confirmation process. I simply wish the process would shed light on her basis for answering them—including her stance toward natural law. She and the other members of the Supreme Court are likely to be called on to answer those questions in the years ahead.
Russell Shaw is an OSV contributing editor.
Monday, May 17, 2010
Thursday, May 13, 2010
By Mary DeTurris Poust
"Haunting" is how Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York described the fractured and scarred piece of sculpture (above) known as Our Lady of Nagasaki. It came from a village outside Nagasaki, left in this condition by the atomic blast that killed 75,000 there in 1945. Archbishop Joseph Mitsuaki of Nagasaki brought the head to St. Patrick's Cathedral and to the United Nations, where he called for an end to all nuclear weapons.
From Archbishop Dolan's post on his blog, The Gospel in the Digital Age:
"And it is this head that is haunting: she is scarred, singed badly, and her crystal eyes were melted by the hellish blast. So, all that remains are two empty, blackened sockets.The statue is haunting -- and somewhat hard to look at because I find myself staring at the stone face and thinking about the flesh and blood men, women and children who suffered a much worse fate that same day. Nothing is left of them. Maybe that's why this piece of Mary survived, to give us pause and make us consider the options.
"I’ve knelt before many images of the Mother of Jesus before: our Mother of Perpetual Help, the Pieta, the Virgin of Guadalupe, Our Lady of Lourdes, just to name a few.
"But I’ve never experienced the dread and revulsion I did when the archbishop showed us the head of Our Lady of Nagasaki …
"It’s May, the month we traditionally devote to her, our blessed Mother.
"She absorbs our sorrows, our worries, our sickness, our fears, like any good mother would. She brings them — and us — to the only one who can do anything about them: Jesus.
"At Nagasaki, she absorbed the radiation, incinerating heat, the suffering of her children."
Related to that, if you have not read it, Archbishop Edwin O'Brien of Baltimore, former head of the Archdiocese for Military Services, recently urged ratification of the START Treaty, which will reduce nuclear arsenals in both Russia and the United States, calling it a "step in the right direction."
In his address, "Moral Reflections on U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy," delivered at a symposium on the ethics of the Obama Administration’s nuclear weapons policy, held last month at The Catholic University of America, Archbishop O'Brien said:
"In a moral analysis of nuclear weapons policies and programs, it is important to start with the end and work backwards. The moral end is clear: a world free of the threat of nuclear weapons. This goal should guide our efforts. Every nuclear weapons system and every nuclear weapons policy should be judged by the ultimate goal of protecting human life and dignity and the related goal of ridding the world of these weapons in mutually verifiable ways...To read Archbishop O'Brien's full address, click HERE.
"It will not be easy. Nuclear weapons can be dismantled, but both the human knowledge and the technical capability to build weapons cannot be erased. A world with zero nuclear weapons will need robust measures to monitor, enforce and verify compliance. The path to zero will be long and treacherous. But humanity has a moral obligation to walk this path with both care and courage."
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
The owner of the Empire State Building is refusing to light up the famed New York tower with blue and white lights in honor of Blessed Mother Teresa on August 26, the 100th anniversary of her birth, when the U.S. Post Office unveils a stamp commemorating her life. If that doesn't sound that outrageous to you, keep in mind that this is the same building that was bedecked in red and yellow light in honor of the 60th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Revolution.
Catholic League President Bill Donohue was the one who submitted the application requesting the lights in the color of Mother Teresa's congregation, the Missionaries of Charity, but the application was denied "without explanation," he said in a statement. He continued:
"Mother Teresa received 124 awards, including the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Medal of Freedom. She built hundreds of orphanages, hospitals, hospices, health clinics, homeless shelters, youth shelters and soup kitchens all over the world, and is revered in India for her work. She created the first hospice in Greenwich Village for AIDS patients. Not surprisingly, she was voted the most admired woman in the world three years in a row in the mid-1990s. But she is not good enough to be honored by the Empire State Building.
"Last year the Empire State Building shone in red and yellow lights to honor the 60th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Revolution. Yet under its founder, Mao Zedong, the Communists killed 77 million people. In other words, the greatest mass murderer in history merited the same tribute being denied to Mother Teresa"
Donohue is urging Catholics to sign a petition asking the owner of the Empire State Building to reverse his decision. To add your name to the petition, click HERE.
Monday, May 10, 2010
Check out this powerful column in support of Pope Benedict XVI by Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor at large of National Review Online and a nationally syndicated columnist:
It was Holy Week. It was Holy Week and everywhere I turned – or so it seemed to this news junkie -- I heard calls for the pope’s resignation. He would step down, pundits on MSNBC could have had you believing, as if it were a foregone conclusion and absolutely necessity. The veritable end of the Catholic Church – or at least the Vatican -- if you were to believe some writing for the New York Times, was both imminent and welcome.
Of course, at the same time you had churches in the sophisticated metropolises of New York and Washington, D.C., between which I divide my time, overflowing. As clear as the palpability of the Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist is for me – a gift I wish for everyone – was the reality of what was going on. This is no end but a beginning. The story of redemption, yet again. The Cross conquers the sin and evil that we are known to succumb to...Continue reading.
Sunday, May 9, 2010
I didn't plan on posting another Mother's Day link, but then I came across this blog post by a friend and fellow Catholic writer, Fran Rossi Szpylczyn, at her blog There Will Be Bread and decided that it was too good not to share:
How unlikely it all was. She was 43 when she gave birth to her daughter in November of 1957. When she missed her period and then missed another, she chalked it up to menopause. Then another and another. Things were not really storybook like, unless you think storybook like means a sad story.
There were the things done to her - the love of her husband that was so often and tragically expressed by furious anger, verbal assaults, physical release of all sort.
There were the things she did to herself - the chain smoking, the black coffee from 7am to about noon, followed by the pffft-pop of that first can of beer opened at 12:01...Continue reading...
Saturday, May 8, 2010
Mothers are often divided into categories: stay-at-home mom, working mom, soccer mom, super mom. But any mother will tell you that no single label could possibly capture the essence of what she does on any given day while caring for her children. Mothers are known to be champion multi-taskers, somehow managing to make dinner while helping with homework, doing laundry and, often, handling outside work and volunteer responsibilities all at the same time.
While the multi-tasking may help get the job of mothering done on a daily basis, it can take its toll on a mom over the long haul. Faced with myriad challenges and chores, many moms forgo things for themselves, from quiet time for prayer to social time with friends. But the truth is that a stressed and unhappy mom can lead to a stressed and unhappy family.
Think about it this way...Continue reading...
Friday, May 7, 2010
Bishop Victor Galeone of St. Augustine, Florida, writes a beautiful reflection about his own mother and mothers everywhere. (h/t to Deirdre McQuade at the USCCB Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities):
The Gift of Mothers
By Bishop Victor Galeone
As we approach another Mother’s Day, I want to invite you to come back with me to Mother’s Day 1970.
I had just sat down to have a light supper with my widowed mother before returning to the rectory. My mother was grieving because in less than a month she would be losing her “bambino.” You see, my archbishop had given me permission to serve as a missionary in Peru for five years, and I would be leaving within a month.
The fact that I was 35 years old and a priest for ten years was trumped by my imminent departure for the Peruvian Andes, where I might meet with an untimely end – or so my mother imagined. Continue reading...
By Mary DeTurris Poust
Today's featured Catholic mom-writer is Cathy Adamkiewicz, communications director and editor of PIME World Magazine and the author of Broken and Blessed: A Life Story, an incredibly powerful book about her daughter Celeste, who died at only four months old due to a rare heart defect. I picked up Broken and Blessed one night a while back and could not put it down until I was finished. It is the beautiful story not only of a short life well lived but of a mother's steadfast faith in the face of unbearable suffering.
I know that for some moms this Mother's Day will not be easy or happy because they are suffering with children who are sick or are grieving children who are gone, so I asked Cathy if she could offer some words of healing to those mothers. What she had to say will touch the heart of every mother (and father):
"It seems mothers' hearts are made to be broken. They break a little each day as our children grow and move away from us. Every time they get hurt - which of course they all do - it hurts us, too, because we are bonded to our children in such a unique way. But for those of us who lose a child to death, the heartbreak is so intense that there are really no words for it...To visit Cathy's blog, "From the Field of Blue Children," click HERE. For more information on her book, click HERE.
"Five years after my daughter's death, I feel the pain just as intensely, but because there is truth to the old adage about time healing all wounds - even wounds like this - I seem to feel the pain less often.
"Truthfully, I can't imagine getting through such a loss without a relationship with Jesus. When people ask me 'How did you do it?' all I can say is 'Jesus.' I say it not to make myself sound pious. It's just the truth.
"From the moment Celeste was born, I threw everything - my pain, my worry, my stress about her condition, my hope - right back at God. It was simply too big for me to handle. I felt tiny and weak, and so very helpless. My daughter's suffering and the fact that she might never come home were such big crosses that I wanted to run away, but I couldn't. So I told Jesus that I trusted Him. And I gave her back to Him, because she was never really 'mine' to begin with.
"I also found a renewal of my relationship with the Blessed Mother. She could understand my suffering better than anyone. She knew what it was like to watch an innocent child suffer. Each day when I left the hospital, I left Celeste in her arms. Today I still do that with my other children when I'm worried about them or can't be near them.
"In the past five years I've learned a lot about life from my Celeste. I learned that every single life is incredibly precious - and MEANINGFUL. Each of us has a unique purpose. It comforted me immensely to know that God had a plan for my daughter, and that she fulfilled it. I also learned to worry less about the small things in life, and to really enjoy the beauty in every day. I'm reminded continually that 'our value in is our being, not our doing.' Each life - no matter how brief - is a tremendous gift to our world from a loving Father."
Thursday, May 6, 2010
Legion of Christ Father Thomas D. Williams is an American who has held various leadership position for the religious order, including dean of theology at its university in Rome. He's also known to many Americans as a news analyst for CBS.
I conducted this interview via email, like the one I did with him last year when the Legion first admitted Father Marcial Maciel Degollado's "failings."
OSV: The Legion leadership has promised full cooperation with the steps announced in the Vatican communique this weekend. Was there anything that particularly struck you about the Vatican announcement?
The first thing that struck me was the swiftness with which the Holy See released this statement, something I am tremendously grateful for. There is nothing worse than being in limbo and I really appreciate this quick and encouraging statement.OSV: There have been several high-profile defections of priests from the congregation, and anecdotal evidence that a number of Regnum Christi members have left, but it appeared there was also a group that postponed that decision to see what action the Vatican would take. Do you get the impression that this announcement of “in-depth revision” is sufficiently strong to keep more from leaving?
The content of the statement was basically what I expected. I loved the last section, where the Holy Father assures us of his closeness to us, reminds us that our vocation originates in Christ's call, is a genuine gift from God, and represents a treasure for the Church. This gives me great confidence for the future, and also allows us Legionaries to present this path to others as something that the Church appreciates and values. Personally, I was greatly encouraged by the Holy Father's evident concern for us, and paternal care.
The statement also mentions specific points that require evaluation and study, such as calling for a redefinition of the Legion's charism around its core as "militia Christi," which I found invigorating. It reminded me immediately of Pope Paul's words to the Legionaries back in 1974, where he says: "You are Legionaries, that is, not listless people waiting to see how things go, but who want to give Christianity an expression that is particularly yours: militancy. Legionaries: that is, soldiers for Christ. May God preserve you in this character." This is one of the things that first attracted me to the Legion many years ago.
The Holy See also calls for a review of the exercise of authority in respect for conscience and in the truth. It asks as well for a special effort to preserve the enthusiasm of the faith of young members of the congregation who could be tempted to doubt their vocation out of discouragement after what has been learned of the life of the founder. These points call for a concerted effort from all of us to bring about the changes that the Holy See is calling for.
I think that depends on what they were waiting for. Some probably had preconceived notions of what they wanted or expected from the Holy See, so it all depends on whether they got what they were hoping for. People leave for all different reasons, and they need to be respected in their decision. Religious life is always hard, and especially in a moment like this. I don't fault anyone for leaving.
OSV: Did you ever consider leaving? Why did you stay?
When people around you are questioning their vocation, it's hard not to question your own. What I found, however, is that I can't deny the vocation I received from Christ. It wasn't my imagination; it was, and is, real. Someone else's failings don't excuse me from living out the vocation I was called to. It's tough, and I never would have planned things this way, but I believe in God and I have to answer to Him alone.
OSV: The Vatican says that the “great majority of Legionaries were unaware” of Father Maciel’s immoral and criminal behavior. This suggests that some Legionaries were aware. Yet Father Álvaro Corcuera, the general director, reportedly told a Mexican newspaper recently that he had “no knowledge” of Father Maciel’s double life. How is it possible that top leadership either did not know or turned a blind eye to what should have been suspicious activity? (And at the risk of making this question too long, are Father Maciel’s personal secretaries/assistants, who surely knew, still with the congregation?)
Father Maciel was always very discreet, and in the 10 years I lived with him I never witnessed anything but exemplary religious behavior. Maybe others did, but I certainly didn't. I don't believe that Father Alvaro knew anything about Father Maciel's immoral behavior, either, and I have no reason to believe that any of our current leadership was aware of this. I know that for people outside the Legion this can seem unbelievable, but for those on the inside it's just the way it was.OSV: Did you personally ever have any suspicions?
No. I think the reason we were so slow to believe the accusations against Father Maciel, and so shocked when they turned out to be true, is because we had only seen the "good side" of Father Maciel. He always treated me with kindness and respect and I never had cause to suspect that there was another side to him. I am very sorry to have doubted the victims of his abuse, but at the time the accusations seemed unbelievable to me, and foreign to everything I had experienced of Father Maciel.
OSV: What has been the impact on daily life in the congregation and Regnum Christi as a result of of these revelations, the visitation and the uncertainty?
I think the uncertainty is the hardest thing, and that's why I am so happy that we finally have a first response from the Holy See. We are anxious to move forward, to rebuild, and to engage in the process of purification that the Holy See has indicated to us. Obviously the initial impact of the revelations concerning Father Maciel was devastating, and many experienced a deep sense of betrayal and confusion. Now that we have had some time to assimilate this news, we need to work together to make the Legion what God intends it to be. The Holy See's directives and encouragement are hugely important in this process.OSV: Without asking you to speculate beyond your competence, how do you see this process (of redefining the congregation’s charism and reviewing “the exercise of authority”) taking place? What will be the biggest challenges? How long will it take? How much will the final “product” of this process look like the LC/RC of a year ago?
I think that there is an abundance of good will on the part of the Legionaries, but this process will also require a self-critical eye to detect and root out anything in our way of life that doesn't fully correspond to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is wonderful that the Holy Father will be sending a Delegate to assist us in this process, and it gives me a great deal of confidence that we will be able to do it effectively. Most of us have had a really good experience of authority in the congregation, with excellent superiors who truly are fathers and brothers to us. We will need to be open to those whose experience has not been so positive, in order to see what needs to be changed.
I would think that this redefinition of the Legion's charism and a review of the exercise of authority will take place simultaneously with the review of our constitutions, which define Legionary life and spirituality. Much of this process has yet to be defined, and the communiqué states that the Holy Father "reserves to himself the task of instructing how this assistance will be organized" so it still isn't clear how he intends for this to happen in practice.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
By Mary DeTurris Poust
Today's featured Catholic mom-writer is Lisa Hendey, creator of the wildly popular CatholicMom.com and author of the recently released "Handbook for Catholic Moms: Nurturing Your Heart, Mind, Body and Soul" (Ave Maria Press). Lisa's new book covers just about every aspect of motherhood, from budgets and menus to prayer and organization, but today I want to focus on the fact that this book about motherhood starts not with children but with marriage.
Here's what Lisa had to say about that:
"I had such a wonderful role model in my own parents, who raised five of us. I’m the oldest of five. And they really always prioritized their time together. It wasn’t always go out on a date night, but it was very clear to us that they truly and deeply loved each other, that they had fun with one another, and they demonstrated that in front of us. That gave all of us a very healthy role model for what a happy Catholic marriage looks like. Certainly they had their stressful or difficult times, but we had enough of those really happy times where they just enjoyed each other’s company and clearly had fun together.
"One of the things in my own marriage, being married to somebody who didn’t share my faith for a long time -- although he was incredibly supportive of it -- was that there was a big hole. We talk a lot about a sacramental marriage and putting Christ at the center of our marriage, but I wasn’t quite sure what that looked like in my life because we didn’t sit down and pray the Rosary together. Just looking at serving Christ by serving my spouse has been a huge thing for me, and the joy of that relationship and modeling that for my kids so they have a healthy sense of what a happy marriage looks like.
"For many mothers, the key to motherhood begins with marriage, with becoming one with your spouse and complementing your personal identity with being in that relationship. The fact that that comes first I think is a great precursor to motherhood where you put the demands and the needs of others sometimes ahead of your own."
Lisa's comments were a good reminder for me. What do my children see when they look at me and my husband -- co-workers who are getting a job done or true partners who demonstrate on a daily basis what it means to live out our vocations as spouses and parents with Christ at the heart of our home?
The "Handbook for Catholic Moms" is filled with stories, advice, practical tips and spiritual inspiration for mothers from every walk of life and in every type of mothering situation. To learn more, visit Lisa's website by clicking HERE. Lisa is also featured in my story on Catholic motherhood in the May 9 issue of OSV, which is available to subscribers by clicking HERE.
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
By Mary DeTurris Poust
In today's post on Catholic mom-writers, I'm talking with Danielle Bean, mother of eight, editorial director of Faith & Family, and author (with Elizabeth Foss) of the newly released "Small Steps for Catholic Moms: Think. Pray. Act. Every Day" (Circle Press). Danielle talked to me about the need for Catholic mothers to support each other and to find ways to bring prayer into the daily events of their lives.
"We women are so great at tearing each other apart. As much as we’re great at tearing each other apart, we can get great at building each other up and encouraging each other in Christian living. That’s something we want to encourage more women to do in their parishes and their communities or even with just a couple of friends or online because connecting with other women is such a powerful thing," says Danielle, whose new book has a prayer journal/study guide companion piece to help moms grow in faith on their own or in a group setting.
As a busy mom herself, Danielle recognizes that it's not always easy for mothers to fit long sessions of formal prayer into days that often include running from soccer games and volunteer activities to making dinner and helping with school work. The key for Catholic moms, she says, is to remember that even "attaching bits of prayer" to certain times or events of the day can add up to big spiritual gains. Those 'small steps' are pleasing to God and lead to big steps in the end.
"Ultimately the goal for anybody who is living an active vocation is to recognize that that does not have to be contradictory to growing closer in your relationship with God and advancing in holiness because this is what God intends for you. It doesn’t mean that you can’t have a Christ-centered life because you’re busy with all these things. I think the key is recognizing the way in which God intends you to do that. Maybe He doesn’t mean for you to spend hours every day in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, but He may very well mean for you to turn your heart toward Him many times a day that would add up to a lot more.
"I always think about how when my toddler was 2- or 3-years-old, how they want to share everything with me. Whether they get hurt or if they have some accomplishment when they’re playing with a toy or building something, their first instinct is to turn toward me, to share that moment with me. It’s like it’s not complete for them until they’ve shared it with me. I find that so precious and I try to keep it in mind because we’re all children of God and that’s what He wants from us too, for us to have that natural inclination of turning toward Him in all of our joys and sorrows and to never consider any part of our day complete until we share it with Him, until we experience it with Him."
To learn more about "Small Steps," visit Danielle's website by clicking HERE, or visit the Small Steps blog HERE. Check the May 9 issue of Our Sunday Visitor for my feature story on Catholic motherhood, which includes a longer interview with Danielle, by clicking HERE (open to subscribers only).
Monday, May 3, 2010
1. In Focus: Uncovering a string of lies about contraception (by Janet Smith)
2. Decoding accusations against Pope Benedict XVI (by Sandro Magister)
3. Is celibacy healthy? Refuting misconceptions about choosing life without sex (By James Martin, S.J.)
4. A look at the Vatican's unprecedented Medjugorje commission
5. Editorial: Should the pope resign?
6. Openers: How I spent three hours as a Carthusian monk
7. Openers: Introducing the new Latino archbishop of Los Angeles
8. Editorial: Giving a fair shake to Church teaching on contraception
9. Editorial: Bring on the media scrutiny
10. Editorial: Clearing up confusion about the new sex abuse scandal
By Russell Shaw
On Dec. 6, 1965, as the Second Vatican Council drew to a close, the bishops who’d assembled in Rome from around the world capped four historic years of labor by voting 2,111 to 251 to accept the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes (Joy and Hope). The final, formal vote of approval took place next day.
Here, thought many bishops — and many others as well, was the signature document of Vatican II, its most important achievement. For here the Church at long last engaged contemporary secular culture as a worthy interlocutor and, to some extent, even as a mentor for itself.
Forty-five years later Gaudium et Spes still stands as a major achievement of Vatican II, but the overall judgment of it by now is mixed. The pastoral constitution, it is commonly pointed out, was in many ways a product of its time and that shows — not for the best either. For these were the tumultuous, confused 1960s when cultural revolution had entered the mainstream, including even the mainstream of the Church.
In this context, the big problem with Gaudium et Spes is its “uncritical acceptance of modern progressivism,” said to cause Christians to neglect “the necessary distinction between progress conceived politically, economically, and scientifically … and the advancement of the kingdom of heaven.” This in turn is responsible for a kind of collective amnesia concerning “the most fundamental political insight that faith has to offer,” namely: “that politics is not the working out of the divine plan, that it is essentially limited and anti-utopian, and this for its own good.”
The words quoted here come from an important — and unusual — new book, "The Social and Political Thought of Benedict XVI" (Lexington Books, $55). It is the work of Thomas R. Rourke, professor and chair of the department of political science and philosophy at Clarion University in Pennsylvania.
Rourke’s study can rightly be called “unusual” for an obvious reason. Although Pope Benedict — Joseph Ratzinger — is widely recognized as one of the most important Catholic theological figures of the last half-century, not many people think of him as a significant social thinker as well.
Rourke argues persuasively that this is a mistake. “When we look to the foundation stones of a humane, democratic social order,” he writes, “it would be difficult to find a better guide with more reliable orientation than Benedict XVI.” "The Social and Political Thought of Benedict XVI" is a relatively brief but unusually rich working out of that thought.
Benedict-Ratzinger’s critique of Gaudium et Spes and, especially, the starry-eyed reception it received in some quarters after Vatican II clearly marked a turning-point in his career. But his thought has continued to develop since then, producing a body of work that displays a first-rate theological mind grappling with the realities of the contemporary scene.
Pope Benedict’s social encyclical Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth), published last year, arguably marks the culmination of this process. The key concept at the heart of this long document is the intensely personalistic idea that integral human development should be the central value in the formulation and evaluation of social policy. As Benedict puts it: “The truth of development consists in its completeness: if it does not involve the whole man and every man, it is not true development.”
It is barely possible to scratch the surface here. For those who wish to go further, Thomas Rourke’s groundbreaking book is an important guide to mining and applying the insights of an innovative social thinker.
Russell Shaw is an OSV contributing editor.
By Mary DeTurris Poust
This week, in anticipation of Mother’s Day, I will be featuring interviews with and books by Catholic moms. Today I’m talking with Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle, author, speaker and host of EWTN’s “Everyday Blessings for Catholic Moms.” Her first book was the “Catholic Prayer Book for Mothers” (Our Sunday Visitor, 2005), which immediately hit the Catholic bestseller list. She followed that up with “The Heart of Motherhood: Finding Holiness in the Catholic Home” (Crossroad Publishing, 2006). Here’s what Donna had to say in an email interview about Catholic moms and the struggles they face:
“I wrote ‘The Heart of Motherhood’ because I felt passionately about wanting to help encourage Catholic and Christian mothers who seldom get a pat on the back for a job well done in the home -- their domestic church. I know it's not easy for a mother to hold her head up high in our world today where motherhood was once a revered vocation. Our culture dictates to us that our worth is measured by the size of our paycheck,” Donna said.
Donna, who is also the author of “Mother Teresa and Me: Ten Years of Friendship” (Circle Press, 2009), says Catholic moms need affirmation as they face unique challenges, working hard to care for their families while trying to make regular time for God.
“As much as they may try to set aside certain prayer times, they invariably get interrupted by a myriad of demands that most times require their immediate attention because they are dealing with children,” she explained. “I try to get across in my books and talks that a faithful mother who is striving to care for her children devotedly pleases God immensely. After all, it is God who has placed her in the heart of the home to raise her children.”
Donna’s newest book, “A Catholic Woman’s Book of Prayers,” will be published by Our Sunday Visitor in September. Click HERE for more information and to visit Donna’s website.
Check back here tomorrow for another perspective on Catholic motherhood.