Category Archives: Faith & Reason

A change of heart

The New Haven Register’s Michael Bellmore has something to say to me in “Lapsed Catholic has a confession to make.” His struggle with Christian faith is not unique to him, nor is the struggle for living coherently. Earlier this evening I had a conversation with friends about faith, meaning and struggle for truth in the lives we lead. I was privileged to be invited to a gathering at a friend’s house sharing in an interesting conversation with his niece who’s a freshman at Providence College and who just read Saint Augustine’s Confessions as part of a Western Civ class. Wow! Someone is still reading Augustine’s Confessions. Admittedly, the book is challenging for a well-educated person, and yet I find it clarifies my own journey and the path most people make in life.

To be honest the first line of the article gave me the feeling, “Oh, hear we go again, another angry, complaining, silly reporter trying to give another black eye to the Church.” But I read the article and I found something else. I found a young man searching for meaning, reaching out in anxiety and finding friendship, mercy and forgiveness: a stony heart exchanged for new  one.

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Cardinal Francis George details keeping Catholic faith part of American consensus

English: Coat of arms of Francis cardinal Geor...

Chicago’s archbishop, Francis Cardinal George, soon to be 76, spoke to 45 members of his Archdiocese Pastoral Council on November 17th about the need to clarify what we as Catholics believe and how we ought to live if we want to make a contribution to any of the national dialogues. For example, had the topic been center stage at the time of the meeting, the cardinal may asked a question like, given the tragedy in Newtown, CT, how would an informed and reasonable Catholic respond to matters: of mental health, to the Second Amendment, to God’s role in our life with such violence?

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Martin Luther King, Jr and Saint Francis Xavier with the Church

Connecting people is a dangerous thing. It is even more perilous if you connect people from different centuries, places, ethnicities, religions and politics. I read this quote from Dr Martin Luther King, Jr (1929-1968) that made me think of those like Saint Francis Xavier had some difficulty convincing the “powers that be” that their behaviors, policies and attitudes are incoherent with the Gospel and Christ’s Church. I am thinking of Bartholomew de las Casas, OP, Blessed John Paul II, Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Blessed Franz Jägerstätter, OFS, Saint Katharine Drexel, Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, Saint Thomas More, Venerable Servant of God Father Michael J. McGivney, Servant of God Dorothy Day, Obl SB, Father Alexander Men and countless others.

What leads me to make this connect the dots? In his 1963 book, From his Sermons In Strength To Love, King stated, 
The Church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state and never its tool. If the Church does not recapture it prophetic zeal it will become an irrelevant social club without morals or spiritual authority.
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James Schall hits the target: On the “Art of Jesuitism”

I hate Jesuitism. Perhaps you do too. We stand in good company with Nietzsche and of course with Jesuit Father James Schall.

Full disclosure: I love Father Schall’s work. I love Nietzsche. Both get things correct. It may be surprising that someone as “crazy” as Nietzsche would interest me, or even Catholics. Several years ago I began to believe, after reading another Jesuit’s use of Nietzsche’s thought in one of his essays that we Christians need to take this man seriously. Whether you agreed with the philosopher and Schall is unimportant. What is crucial is that your horizons are stretched and forced to clarify and verify what we know to be true. Nietzsche means to be provocative, even nasty, but to dismiss him is wrongheaded.
Father Schall published an essay “On the Art of Jesuitism” looking at Nietzsche’s experience of Jesuits and their approach. You will be challenged in what both philosophers have to say.
Father James V. Schall, SJ, is a professor at Georgetown University and a well-published author. Father Schall is due to retire from GU.

3 unavoidable questions for Christian faith’s reasonability

In recent years, we have seen a significant interest in teaching the faith more authentically, but also we’ve become more attentive to answering the real questions believers and unbelievers have. With the Year of Faith fully engaged now, I think we need to attend to three unavoidable questions whether we are teaching teens, adults, or expanding the horizons of our faith and understanding of the cosmos we live in.

There are no easy answers in proposing the Christian faith to others, especially to teens. Do you want pablum when considering real questions?

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About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]
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