- Sunday, 18 October 2009 14:23
In a piano concert in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican, the Pope and a full house friends listened to the music of great composers in a concert sponsored by the International Piano Academy of Imola. The experience of the music was joined by some reflections of Benedict XVI’s which said in part, music is the union of persons and peoples in that it accompanies every human experience. He also observed that music gives shape to what you cannot do with words because it arouses the emotions that are difficult to communicate. Likewise, he pointed out what we all know, that is, great music relaxes the mind, stirs deep emotions, and elevates the mind to God. Hear the report of the evening.
- Friday, 16 October 2009 15:57
2009 marks the 300th anniversary of the death of Jesuit
Brother Andrea Pozzo, the 17th century painter whose works adorn many churches
in Europe, including the beautiful Saint Ignatius Church, Rome, Italy. (I love his work and have enthralled by it for years!) He was
born November 30, 1642 and died August 31, 1709.
Brother Andrea was known for
his design, architecture and painting. Several initiatives were planned for the anniversary,
including a week-long celebration that was recently held in Vienna, the city
where he worked for many years and where he died. The Pontifical Gregorian
University in Rome will hold an International Study Congress from the November
18-20. Participants will analyze Pozzo’s work and offer insights and reflections
for research and study.
Brother Andrea founded the artistic academy at the
Roman College, the original name of the Pontifical Gregorian University. More
on Brother Andrea Pozzo’s life can be read here and here.
- Monday, 12 October 2009 09:56
The Catholic school system in the US has been in a very desperate shape for years: acute and chronic money problems, lack of good, solidly trained Catholic teachers and administrators, a coherent vision of Catholic education as it interfaces with the charism of the religious order/diocese operating the school, building & grounds in near of repair, low endowments, etc. Then there is the assessment of what is purported to constitute a Catholic school: poor formation in the faith, the arts & humanites and science suffer, good use of current technologies, and engagement with people who do things differently, engagement with the vulnerable and culture of life, etc. Many, many Catholic schools don’t offer the Sacrifice of the Mass on a weekly basis for the students; and very few of them that I am familiar with offer reliable guidance and formation of the faculty and parents. In my book, if the bishop rarely shows up and the pastor visits the school only when there is crisis. then the problem is more acute.
Don’t get me wrong: I am a product of a lot years Catholic education and wouldn’t trade it for anything. I love my time in the Catholic schools I attended but I can see the gaping holes in education and experience. I also believe that the Church needs excellent schools and formation programs.
Five exceptions to this critical view may be the five schools in the Diocese of Bridgeport recently named “Blue Ribbon” by the US Dept of Ed. But for these success stories in Catholic Education there are thousands of others pointing to major problems.
Today, there is an article in Time that speaks to a corrective of what is noted above. The dynamic Mr. Ekicsen is asking the right questions and seeking reasonable solutions. The bishop of Patterson made an excellent choice in hiring Eriksen and I pray his project thrives. It will –the saints are behind him. Read about the Eriksen initiative…
I think of a few things that are contributing to a renewal of Catholic eduation in the US: 1) Luigi Giussani’s The Risk of Education; 2) the Ed Conference; 3) UND’s ACE program; and 4) Dwight Longenecker’s booklet The Risk of Faith; 5) Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. This is not an exhaustive list by any stretch of reality because I know there are plenty of more good programs/schools out there so please forward the names to me.
- Friday, 09 October 2009 05:32
The Norwegian based Nobel Peace Prize awarded the 2009 prize to the 44th US President, Barack Obama. For what? They cite “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.” (I think it would better if the English should read: among peoples, but who am I?) How would they know what his diplomatic policies and strategies are since the deadline was February 1, barely two weeks after Obama took office? What exactly has he done to merit such a prize? Why is this liberal body of culture makers so enthusiastic at President Obama?
But what about the USA? What about dreadful policies that rage against human dignity including the unborn, the elderly, sensible health care and legal reform, at home and abroad? What about strengthening political, ethical and economic cooperation between/among the Federal government and the states? What about Obama’s administration pushing US policy of abortion legislation and other “reproductive healthcare” policies in other countries while holding money and food over the heads of poor nations? What about the Obama administration’s pursuing Belmont Abbey College’s rejection of contraception as health care in their benefits package? I sincerely and with full voice disagree with the peace award going at all to Obama, never mind so early in Obama’s term as president with so little on the record to sink your teeth into. What type of peace are is the Nobel Foundation acknowledging and holding up as exemplary? The moral decay of this country, and in others, is becoming increasingly toxic and the Nobel is awarding Obama a prize for peace!?! Talk about a loss of credibility for a venerable institution such as the Nobel Prize for Peace.
- Sunday, 23 August 2009 09:01
Some of our brothers and sisters have found themselves in a downward spiral that could end in premature death if a fundamental change doesn’t happen: getting & remaining clean. It’s easy to pontificate about the necessity to get and stay clean “or else,” perhaps even trying brow-beat someone into change hoping to trigger a desire to live more healthily. None this works. The simple thing is to allow God’s grace to work and to have a clean environment to live and work, to provide competent professional help and to make opportunities available for substantive change to happen. One more ingredient in my book that’s essential and a non-negotiable is the spiritual. Prayer, spiritual direction and fidelity to the witness of the Church goes to the root level of human desires and happiness given us by Divine Providence. But we have to admit that unless a drug addict wants to change her life no amount clever argument or cute programing is going to matter. If a person doesn’t take his human heart (his desires) seriously, including his need of happiness, then there is little we who aren’t captured by addiction can do.
The Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Atonement have opened their friary, St Christopher’s Inn
, in Garrison, New York for drug habilitation for the homeless. The Franciscans have developed a culture of life for those who are vulnerable and weak and hoping to live differently.
Last Sunday (August 16) the NY Times
ran an article about the work of a farm sponsored by the friars and sisters along with the laity who collaborate to make change possible. The setting is an organic farm
where the slow yet determined life of plants provide the metaphor for conversion: ground prepared, seeds planted, soil and plants watered, hoed, weeded and hoping for a harvest.