- Sunday, 23 December 2012 23:43
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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- Sunday, 25 November 2012 22:26
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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- Monday, 20 August 2012 10:55
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”.
- Monday, 20 August 2012 10:10
Bouncing around in Catholic religious orders for some time is the notion that one can be a member of the Jesuits or the Sisters of Mercy and “go beyond Jesus and the Church.” I can remember hearing from a Jesuit whom I respected in the early 1990s that he was a “post-Christian Jesuit.” I wondered how a member of the Society of Jesus, a son of Saint Ignatius, could be post-Christian. The former Dominican Father Matthew Fox tried the same line of thinking. In fact, he’s neither a Catholic nor a Catholic priest and a professed member of the Order of Preachers as he’s gone to the Episcopal Church and now some kind of new ager. Christ is optional for him. Not long ago a religious sister who teaches at CTU said that the sisters in the USA can go beyond Jesus. So the recent crisis in faith in religious orders reflects a deeper divide in Christian faith in the rest of society.
I try to wrap my mind around what it means to be a post-Christian American. Father C. John McCloskey III, priest of the Opus Dei wrote a piece, “Post-Christian America
,” which I am recommending. Father McCloskey is a Church historian and research fellow at the Faith and Reason Institute (Washington, DC). The point of the article is not demonstrate America’s abandonment of Christian faith but to say how it happened.