Tag Archives: faith and reason

Benedict Ashley, OP, RIP

Ben Ashley OP.jpgWord received this evening that the venerable theologian and priest, Father Benedict Ashley, OP, 97, died today. Father Benedict was a teacher of mine when I was in St Louis.

Born and raised in Oklahoma, Father Benedict was a professed member of the Order of Preachers–Saint Albert the Great Province– for 71 years and a priest. He was educated at the University of Chicago, the University of Notre Dame, Aquinas Institute of Theology (River Forest, IL) and the Angelicum.
Father Benedict was the author (or, co-author) of at least 19 books and numerous articles. Among Ashely’s academic interests were healthcare and social ethics and intellectual history. Faith and reason (science) coalesced in the life and work of this Dominican friar. He was a terrific priest and teacher, a man of the Church and person of great humanity.
Ashley was a member of the River Forest School of Thomism and he helped to form the Albertus Magnus Lyceum which was an effort to respond to Pope Leo XIIIs call to re-establish the thought of the 13th century Saint Thomas Aquinas into the life of the Church. This thought is called Thomism. He was a professor of moral theology at the Aquinas Institute of Theology (St Louis, MO).
Ashley’s Barefoot Journeying ~ An Autobiography of a Begging Friar is available at New Priory Press.
A biographical essay may be read here.
Dominican Father Richard Peddicord edited a collection of essays in honor of Father Ashley, In Medio Ecclesiae (2007), on the occasion of Ashley’s 90th birthday.
May Father Benedict’s memory be eternal.
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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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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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Working with your FOMO

Many people are plagued with FOMO. Do you know what FOMO is? Think: Fear of missing out.

Why ain’t I doing this? Why ain’t I at that party, in that conversation, being recognized for this and that achievement. FOMO questions our making of the right choices? FOMO wants to advance my cause. The other as other counts for little. FOMO paralyzes our humanity because its focus on the sentimental, superficial, on the unfocussed. It reduces our human relationships to an object. FOMO is a post-modern way of speaking of deadly sin (mortal sin). FOMO leads to the death of one’s personhood.
FOMO is an insecurity not only in social circumstances but also, and more importantly, in the spiritual life. It is a reduction of our religious sense, a reduction of someone greater. FOMO is not living life in the present moment. FOMO is the sin of envy, pride, and self-centeredness. It is the un-awareness that you can’t do it all. Reversing the effects of FOMO is the recognition that you are not able to be everywhere at all times. Most people are not given the gift of bi-location. Saint Padre Pio had the gift, but he likely used it for the building the Kingdom of God and not his own agenda.
Do you have joy? Do I love? What fills me with anxiety? How does Christ answer the desires of my heart? Are you aware of the gifts that are in front of you? Can I discover my true self in the life I lead, in the work I do, in the person I am? Are you bitter towards others? Are you aware that you are loved by God and others for the person you are, and not the person you think you are, or should be? The focus on Christ overcomes FOMO because it’s less about the whim (what could have happened…) and more on the certainty that Christ exists, that He’s a concrete reality and that only God makes and sustains us. say it another way, attention to the religious sense in my life (and other others) acknowledges that God has a tenderness for me — and this tenderness is a sign of a relationship with Him.
Above I mentioned that FOMO is a reduction of one’s religious sense. What does that mean? Well, look at it this way: what are the desires of your human heart? How do these desires of the heart allow us to see the attractiveness of everything, even to consider the implications of  a desire’s inadequacy. The masters tell us it is not enough to be aware of the religious sense, the religious sense has to push us forward in our relationship with God (the Divine Mystery) so as not to lose my personhood, my “I”.

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]yahoo.com.
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