Tag Archives: George Weigel

Flannery O’Connor opens a new door to Easter Mysteries

FlanneryFlannery O’Connor is a rather intriguing and an important Catholic woman of importance for us today. She is too often overlooked by Catholics and secularists alike and that is a sad point. George Weigel wonder aloud on several critical points about faith and reason, and faith, but he also opines about the lack of a concerted study of O’Connor’s sanctity. Is Weigel asking something important here?

You need to read Weigel’s most recent article, “Easter with Flannery O’Connor” because brings to light some new aspects of O’Connor’s witness to truth that I have not heretofore thought about in detail.

Weigel’s opening paragraphs read (to read the full article click on the link above):

This coming Aug. 3 will mark the golden anniversary of Flannery O’Connor’s “Passover,” to adopt the biblical image John Paul II used to describe the Christian journey through death to eternal life. In the 50 years since lupus erythematosus claimed her at age 39, O’Connor’s literary genius has been widely celebrated. Then, with the 1979 publication of The Habit of Being, her collected letters, another facet of Miss O’Connor’s genius came into focus: Mary Flannery O’Connor was an exceptionally gifted apologist, an explicator of Catholic faith who combined remarkable insight into the mysteries of the Creed with deep and unsentimental piety, unblinking realism about the Church in its human aspect, puckish humor—and a mordant appreciation of the soul-withering acids of modern secularism.

Insofar as I’m aware, there’s never been an effort to initiate a beatification cause for Flannery O’Connor. If such a cause should ever be introduced, The Habit of Being (and the lectures found in the Library of America edition of her collected works) should be the principal documentary evidence for considering her an exemplar of heroic virtue, worthy to be commended to the whole Church.

How are far are you willing to change your mind and evangelize?

Catholics need to change direction: to move from the Counter-reformation approach, what is now too ghetto-like today, to one that is more evangelical. We are indeed moving in that direction but as far as I can see, we are moving too slowly. The work started by Pope Leo XIII and concluded by Pope Benedict XVI still is highly instructive. What is clear to historians, it was Leo who changed the Church’s approach to education, culture, politics, etc. that was evident in previous generations in the pontificates of Gregory XVI and Pius IX. Leo’s 25 years and Benedict’s 8 years are bookends. Leo dealt with all the points of human history; Benedict continued what John Paul started in completing the Second Vatican Council and bridging faith and reason. What Francis will give us is still too new to determine in a critical way.

All this is to encourage you to read and fully digest George Weigel’s Evangelical Catholicism: Deep Reform in the 21st Century Church (Basic Books). I wrote about this book earlier here on Communio. What I said earlier remains the same now: Weigel is proposing to new evaluation, a new way for Catholics to engage the world. What we’ve been doing is simply not working anymore. Some Catholics are being eased into mediocre Christianity, others are walking away, others are searching for new ways to propose the truth of Jesus Christ and His sacrament, the beauty Catholic life. What Weigel suggests –and I am not going to give away the detail of his work here– is potentially going to anger some people and make others happy; he’s challenging every concept we have with regard to our ecclesial life: catechetics, preaching, liturgical music, the celebration of sacraments, matters of governance, education at all levels, how we use resources (economic and human), and so forth. Nothing is left unaffected by this public intellectual.

It is my considered opinion that dioceses and religious orders ought to take heed and at the very least allow Weigel’s ideas to ruminate in heart and mind. We can be uncritical of the ghetto mentality of Christian living and expect to be doing what Christ wants us to do. If it is, why are so many priests doing bad things, dioceses going bankrupt, Catholic hospitals merging with secularist institutions, religious order dying because they don’t, won’t, can’t live their charism with new vigor, parishes closing, etc.?

The orchestra and church: encountering similar problems today

kalda orchestraI found this article by reading the well-situated blogging priest Fr John Zuhlsdorf  (Fr Z) over at What Does the Prayer Really Say? who wrote about Philip Kennicott’s essay “America’s Orchestras are in Crisis” (New Republic online, 25 August 2013). The essay identifies the crisis found in music today as a radical change in Western culture. Music as a necessary component to the health of the soul is being radically altered for the negative. Reading Kennicott is a good examination of conscience, especially if you are trying to honestly ask the essential questions of art, faith, society and Christian living. Mr Kennicott is the Art and Architecture Critic of The Washington Post.

Fr Z writes, “The deadly erosion of the vestiges of decorum continues apace. With the erosion of decorum comes the erosion of beauty and of truth.” And he’s right. In view of adult faith formation, the new evangelization, and the Year of Faith, we have to look at how we propose and re-propose the faith as beautiful, good and true. Many have settled for Christian immaturity, versus being an adult Christian.

More precisely in my mind, what Kennicott says about the crisis in the orchestra (and he speaks about the Church since Vatican II in the article) is rightly said about the Church: secularism (not to be confused with secularity) is infecting the whole life of Catholic faith today: praying the Liturgy, scripture study, pastoral authority, discernment of spirits and conscience, social concerns for those who illiterate, poor, sick the elderly, vocations, etc. In short, everything is affected. We’ve moved more-or-less from the bunker mentality to cultural marxism; in many ways we’ve fulfilled what Friedrich Nietzsche said of God being dead. In my mind God is dead for those whose hearts and minds are closed to grace; for those in open rebellion to Divine Revelation, the sacraments, wisdom of the Church Fathers & Mothers and saints, and the pastoral authority of the Church. And I am thinking about this on the feast of two great saints: Saint Hildegard and Saint Robert Bellarmine.

When I read Mr Kennicott’s essay I found that you can replace the terms for the artistic world with the appropriate ecclesial terms and get a similar conclusion.

Mass with Benedict XVI USAI’ve read George Weigel’s recent book Evangelical Catholicism and I am in the process of reading Rebuilt: Awakening the Faithful, Reaching the Lost, and Making Church Matter (by Fr White and Tom Corcoran).

I have to say, I am impressed by Weigel’s analysis and hope, and the White/ Corcoran approach to what and how the parish ought to educate the heart and mind of the Christian. I think we’ve come to the point in dealing with the problem having a Catholicism be treated as a bureaucracy and as a commercial enterprise and not a community faith walking, building and confessing Jesus Christ.

I would recommend this exercise: closely read what Pope John Paul, Benedict and Francis have said about the nature of the Church and the ministry of priests coupled with Christifidelis laici AND then read the Weigel-White-Corcoran books.

Irish Dominicans cling to tradition, are renewed

Irish OPs.jpg

The link this article, “For Friars, Finding Renewal by Sticking to Tradition,” leads you to a story about the Irish Dominicans who have had a resurgence in vocations by a keen attention to their tradition and the Church’s. While the author concentrates on the wearing of the habit, there are other things that have been recovered: an authentic companionship (communal life), faithfulness to the Church, the wearing of the habit and the common, evangelical mission and conversion of mind and heart. Kudos for the Irish OPs in recognizing the signs so as not to diminish further, or even die.

I can’t help but think that George Weigel’s latest book, Evangelical Catholicism, reflects what the future of the Church will be, including life in religious orders, not only in the USA, but around the world. You have to read, and re-read this book. Plus, I am tending to think that Cardinal Dolan was correct in saying that the Church in the USA is more concerned with the institution than she is with being missionary. Would that it be the case that the Benedictines could recognize what the Irish OPs did. I offer this article so that we all may share in the Irish OPs joy for their own renewal. We can benefit by their witness.

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The First American Pope: Catholicism’s turn into an evangelical future

Francis & Giovanni Re.jpgNational Review Online published today George Weigel’s “The First American Pope: Catholicism’s turn into an evangelical future.”

Weigel calls His Holiness, Pope Francis a “True Man of God,” “A Pope for the New Evangelization,” “A pope in defense of human rights and democracy,” “The 2005 runner-up takes the checkered flag in 2013?” and “The first Jesuit pope?”

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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