“The more things change,…”

There was a feature in the Chicago Tribune this past Sunday which was simply uncanny, though not surprising.  Headlines and political cartoons were reprinted from as long as 140 years ago, with the too-blunt-to-be-implicit point that we haven’t really conquered many of our big problems.  A few were:

“OIL SPILL THREATENS GULF” from a spill in 1980 of 4,000 barrels.  There were concerns about how and where the oil would disperse.

“REVOLT MAY BE NEARING,” leading with “Taxes are becoming so burdensome…” and more or less describing what the tea parties are about.  It was 1949, and a quoted expert said, “the politicians, apparently, are not aware of the situation.”

There were two about the CTA’s financial problems, from 1950 and 1967.  And there’s one about how Cubs fans are long-suffering.  The date on that one is 1968.

In this context, I would like to share some quotes from GK Chesterton, which have a similar effect.

“Do not look at the faces in the illustrated papers. Look at the faces in the street.”

“Progress should mean that we are always changing the world to fit the vision, instead we are always changing the vision.”

“I still hold. . . that . . . → Read More: “The more things change,…”

The Man God

Incarnation.  Begotten.  Nature.  Substance.

One of the most fascinating mysteries of our faith deals with the Incarnation of Christ.  In the early history of the Church the question naturally arose regarding how Jesus was God and how he was man.  How did these two seemingly opposite natures co-exist in one created being?  Due to the overwhelming questions that arose from this great mystery and many heretic proclamations the council of Nicea was spawned to see what it is the Church confessed.  Through this council we have the Nicean creed,  which took up not just the Incarnation but also issues of the Trinity as well.  As a result we have a rather profound proclamation of Jesus as the begotten son of God.  The Church would confess that Jesus was fully man and fully human.  Two natures in one being.

For the next 1700 or so years we’ve continued to contemplate this very profound mystery.  I’ve noticed from conversations I’ve had with friends of the faith, those who are learning of the faith, and especially in my time as a Catechist, that this great mystery still can be incredibly misunderstood, and many times these misunderstandings all seem to “lean in favor” of . . . → Read More: The Man God

A Harbor in the Tempest

Here is another thought I am developing.  Once again, I invite your feedback to help me develop it.

(The other thing to say about these developing thoughts is that I am not claiming to be the first to think of them, or that they’re even very profound for anyone but myself.  On the other hand, I encourage you to see, at least, that I am seeking a thorough understanding of these ideas, and not to grasp them simply as facts that might be taught in a religion class).

At times when my faith is challenged, when I have to acknowledge that I have an almost infantile view of many points of theology, and philosophy at large, the vessel of my mind begins to drift away from the harbor.  What if I’ve come to dock at the wrong port?  (If you feel silly reading this figures of analogy, know that I feel silly writing them.  But coming up is a valuable point, I think).

There is, after all, the whole ocean out there.  If this is the wrong port, I have a lot of searching to do over an unbelievably vast space.  I begin to wonder how I got here, now . . . → Read More: A Harbor in the Tempest

The Ideal

Here is a line of thinking which I have tried developing for a few years, and I would greatly appreciate any help advancing it (or challenging it, for that matter).

The summary would be something like this:  The moral demands of Catholicism represent ideal human behavior, including thoughts and actions.  Not so groundbreaking, though you may be someone reading this who would disagree.

It becomes interesting, I believe, when laid next to the modern approach to morality.  Co-habitation is a fairly innocuous example, partly because many people who co-habitate do so out of a sense of necessity.  It is more practical, they will argue.  They often are not repulsed by the thought of marriage, but in no hurry either. Co-habitation is convenient.

Put another way:  Few people approach the start of co-habitation with the same joyful expectation as most people enter marriages.

In that light, I have found few people who would disagree with the notion that living apart from one’s significant other (or fiance when things become more serious) should be preferred in a fundamental way to co-habitation.  Now, some of these may also be Catholics, and here is the reason for raising this line of thinking at all:  . . . → Read More: The Ideal

Pope Benedict’s Homily as the Year For Priests comes to a close

As the Year for Priests came to a close Pope Benedict preached this Homily. I found it particularly inspiring and wanted to share it with you:

Dear Brothers in the Priestly Ministry,

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Year for Priests which we have celebrated on the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the death of the holy Curè of Ars, the model of priestly ministry in our world, is now coming to an end. We have let the Curé of Ars guide us to a renewed appreciation of the grandeur and beauty of the priestly ministry. The priest is not a mere office-holder, like those which every society needs in order to carry out certain functions. Instead, he does something which no human being can do of his own power: in Christ’s name he speaks the words which absolve us of our sins and in this way he changes, starting with God, our entire life. Over the offerings of bread and wine he speaks Christ’s words of thanksgiving, which are words of transubstantiation – words which make Christ himself present, the Risen One, his Body and Blood – words which thus transform the elements of the world, which open the . . . → Read More: Pope Benedict’s Homily as the Year For Priests comes to a close

Where is the call to devotion?

I admit it, I can sometimes be overly critical about a Homily.  I sometimes feel bad about it.  I try not to be too nit-picky, but often times I get very frustrated by what I hear.  Add to the fact that I think Liturgical silence is a lost art form nowadays (I feel like there should be a large amount of silence between readings and after a Homily) and I really believe we’re at a bit of a crisis to find solid Homilicians in the Church today.

I feel like today’s scriptures were just ripe for a wonderful Homily.  It had everything you want; sin, repentance, forgiveness, a call to new Life in Christ.  It seems like one would have to go out of their way to punt a Homily.  Sadly, today’s presider looked like Brad Maynard.

I feel like today’s Homily would’ve been a perfect time to discuss the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  It was almost laid out for a Homily on Confession.  Instead today’s Homily went down an all-too-familiar route.  Now don’t get me wrong, the Homily wasn’t “bad.”  There was nothing untrue about it.  Nothing that was ya know, heresy or anything of the sort.  But it just seemed like with a . . . → Read More: Where is the call to devotion?

Litany of Humility

Maybe you’ve seen this.  Every once in a while I come across something which is, in an accurate way, devastating to my ego.  More on the ego another time…

I’m tempted to say that most people should experience a similar response, though that’s probably an egotistical thing to say.  Therefore, I will say that every line advances the line before it, the total effect I might liken to an imagined world where I own a profitable casino.  One day the casino is struck by lightning, and the fire steadily grabs hold of the entire building and burns it down.  The conclusion of the prayer is like staring at the smoldering ruins, and all that mix of emotions before such (perhaps holy) devastation. The prayer can be found at, among other sites.

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me. From the desire of being esteemed, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being loved… From the desire of being extolled … From the desire of being honored … From the desire of being praised … From the desire of being preferred to others… From the desire of being consulted … From the desire of being approved … From . . . → Read More: Litany of Humility

Episode 3 feat. Fr Joe Noonan

Episode 3 is here.  Fr Joe Noonan, vocation director for the Archdiocese of Chicago, stopped in the studio.  We also introduce a new feature: Catholic App Review.  Stop on by and enjoy!

[Audio clip: view full post to listen]

Culture of Death

I’ve been reading The Difference God Makes by Francis Cardinal George. It’s a fantastic read. If you don’t have it pick it up, pronto. In it he references John Paul II’s Evangelium vitae extensively in the first two chapters (as that’s all I’ve been through).  JPII talks about the “Culture of Death” that permeates much of society, including the US.

While I’ve heard of this reference before, Cardinal George really does a great job of drawing it out and it ended up helping me put words to observations I’ve had myself.  Specifically, how much of what we see on television is about violence, murder, and death.  So I did a little research and went through the primetime lineups of the Big 3 broadcast networks (ABC,CBS,NBC).

All told they program 45 hours of primetime Monday through Friday.  I ended up looking at all of their primetime programming and looked at programs where murder was at the heart of the plotline for the show.  For this research I actually looked at the plot synopsis for the show as listed in the channel guide.  These results also include 20/20 and Dateline, as those two shows were planning on shows about murder.

All told . . . → Read More: Culture of Death

Reconciliation and Cynicism

At the time of this writing, fellow Catholic Guy Adam Fischer is helping to revamp the website for St. Julie Billiart Parish in Tinley Park, the parish of my youth.

A few days ago he informed me that the most visited page among the Sacraments was Reconciliation.  This spurred a thought in me, and I’d like to hear whether you have any thoughts on the subject. My response was, “There is something sublime about that.  It’s the first act of intimacy for the cynic, to confess sins.” I hold to that.  At the certainty of sounding cliche, much of the media we consume is cynical in nature.  How else can it be that Jon Stewart’s trustworthiness rates higher than those of traditional news anchors?  His point of view aligns with the culture, and it’s very cynical. Reconciliation is the first act of intimacy, then?  I think it is, and here’s why:  People become cynical when they observe hypocrisy without due recompense.  Children want to know why some students get more favorable treatment than others, and adults want to know how some politicians can be such crooks and still hold their offices.  The injustice, the complete failure of immediate and obvious . . . → Read More: Reconciliation and Cynicism