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Righteous Among the Nations PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 20 May 2008 21:54
"Honored • Elizabeth and Caspar ten Boom, with the title of Righteous Among the Nations by Israel's Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority. The sister and father of Corrie ten Boom (author of The Hiding Place) were instrumental in saving nearly 800 Jewish lives before their imprisonment and deaths in German concentration camps. Corrie ten Boom was honored with the same title in 1967." (via Christianity Today)

I grew up with the story of Corrie ten Boom and her heroic family of Dutch Calvinists who risked their lives to save Jews in
Nazi occupied Holland.

It is more than fitting that Betsy and Casper have also been recognized for their heroic sacrifice.

Here's a brief video of the secret hiding place built in Corrie's bedroom where 6 "guests" - 4 Jews and 2 members of the Dutch underground took refuge when the Gestapo arrested the Ten Boom family in 1944. Although the family all went to prison and Corrie alone survived (she was released due to a clerical error one week before all the women her age were gassed.) the hiding place was never found and all those sheltered there escaped.



The Ten boom house is now a museum. Corrie later shared her family's story in the moving book The Hiding Place which became a quite gripping film. Both are still available and still inspire today.
 
Voting & Intrinsic Evil PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Monday, 19 May 2008 08:53
Since the election is heating up and the issue of voting as cooperation in intrinsic evil is once more being discussed by Catholics around St. Blog's, I thought I'd share some insights on the topic that I gleaned from two world class experts in the subject back on election day, 2004.

Before I begin, I must emphasize: I am not a moral theologian nor do I play one on the internet. I am reporting what I was told by two outstanding theologians with special concerns and expertise in the life issues. I had this conversation the night before I left to return home and wrote it down as soon as I got home.

"I’ve just returned from a couple weeks in Melbourne, where, with the help of Fr. Mike Fones and Clara Geoghegan, I trained the beginnings of our first teaching teams in Australia. Instead of being glued to CNN on November 2 (election day, 2004) we were wrestling with the much more enjoyable problem of picking the winner of the Melbourne Cup – a nationally televised horse race that is a combination of Ascot and the Kentucky Derby and brings the whole of Australia to a halt. (I won $12 AU in the first racetrack bet of my life)

While there, I took the opportunity to ask two world-class experts on Church’s teaching in this area (who are both known for their careful orthodoxy) and the intense political debate that it had engendered among Catholic voters in the US. One was Bishop Anthony Fisher, OP of Sydney (recently elevated by Cardinal Pell), who has a PhD in bioethics and is recognized as (in John Allen’s words) “one of the sharpest minds in English-speaking Catholicism”. The other was Dr. Tracey Rowland, Dean of the John Paul II Institute in Melbourne, and one of most respected new theologians emerging today. Clara has known both of them since they were all university students together – the Australian Catholic world is a small one!

Voting as formal cooperation in intrinsic evil:

1. Both Fisher and Rowland emphasized that Church teaching is “very underdeveloped” in this area. Bishop Fisher had attended a symposium in Rome on Evangelicum Vitae 73 in February of 2004. EV 73 reads in part:

"73. Abortion and euthanasia are thus crimes which no human law can claim to legitimize. There is no obligation in conscience to obey such laws; instead there is a grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection. . .

In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to "take part in a propaganda campaign in favor of such a law, or vote for it."(98)

A particular problem of conscience can arise in cases where a legislative vote would be decisive for the passage of a more restrictive law, aimed at limiting the number of authorized abortions, in place of a more permissive law already passed or ready to be voted on. Such cases are not infrequent. . . In a case like the one just mentioned, when it is not possible to overturn or completely abrogate a pro-abortion law, an elected official, whose absolute personal opposition to procured abortion was well known, could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and public morality. This does not in fact represent an illicit cooperation with an unjust law, but rather a legitimate and proper attempt to limit its evil aspects."


Bishop Fisher said that at this symposium two top notch, orthodox theologians presented completely opposite views and neither could be considered “wrong” in light of current Church teaching (although Fisher privately agreed with one over the other). The bishop noted that only about 9 scholarly works exist on the subject and that he has read them all. In other words, there is, as yet, no authoritative interpretation of EV 73 to guide us.

2. Fisher stated that there was no theological basis for asserting categorically that a Catholic could not, in good faith, vote for either US candidate since both had serious problems from the perspective of Church teaching. Fisher said that if he were an American, he’d be voting for Bush – precisely because of the abortion issue, but that it would be a matter of personal judgment. Life issues had been his personal passion since he was at university and naturally they dominate his moral appraisal of the current scene. Fisher noted that other people with other expertise would naturally be pre-occupied with different areas of grave concern that would shape their prudential judgment.

3. Fisher then made a fascinating comment that I have not heard elsewhere - that there is no basis in Church teaching for comparing two very different “intrinsic evils” and determining that one is objectively and absolutely more grave than the other.

One can compare levels of a similar intrinsic evil. You could say that 4,000 abortions is more grave than 40 or that a genocidal conflict that killed 10,000 was a more grave evil than one in which only 500 died. But you can’t, on the basis of current Catholic teaching, categorically determine that abortion, for instance, is always and absolutely more grave than a given unjust war or torture or severe economic injustice. By definition, something that is truly intrinsically evil can’t be relatively less evil anymore than a person can be only mostly dead (well, outside the alternate universe of the Princess Bride, anyway - although I did encounter some situations that came pretty close on the cancer unit).

So one cannot state, as definitive Church teaching, that the gravity of the evil of abortion must outweigh all other intrinsic evils or any possible combination of intrinsic evils in our political calculations. An individual could arrive at such a prudential judgment in a particular situation in good faith but an equally faithful Catholic could come to a quite different prudential conclusion in good conscience. (Sherry’s note: As one theologian of my acquaintance pointed out so clearly this summer, one problem in the discussion in the US was a failure to make it clear when the bishops were sharing their own prudential judgments rather than articulating Church teaching that obliged all the faithful.)

1) When I (Sherry) said that it was my observation that quite a few serious Catholics in the US were under the impression that doctrine had developed in this area, Fisher responded that a few bishops making personal pronouncements simply isn’t the development of doctrine.

When I asked Rowland why some US bishops had made such statements when they must know that Church teaching did not support it, she responded that many bishops are not familiar with the nuances of Church teaching in this area. Rowland (unlike Fisher, who thought that any talk of ex-communication in the midst of an election was imprudent) believed that then Cardinal Ratzinger (she said that she was a big fan of Ratzinger) had made a good case for refusing communion to a politician who publicly supports abortion but also agreed that there simply wasn’t any clear Church teaching about voting as a form of formal cooperation with evil."

End of report. Comments?

Note: I'm home and will be monitoring this conversation closely. The usual ground rules around here apply.
 
Purity Balls: LIfe in the Evangelical Vatican PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Monday, 19 May 2008 07:27
Local color:

The New York Times does this piece on our local annual Purity Ball, held in the Broadmoor, our very upscale five star resort. The purity ball movement started here and ours is still the biggest and most glamorous. Mother of them all.

Here, it is the fathers who make a pledge, not the daughters.

But after dessert, the 63 men stood and read aloud a covenant “before God to cover my daughter as her authority and protection in the area of purity.”

The gesture signaled that the fathers would guard their daughters from what evangelicals consider a profoundly corrosive “hook-up culture.” The evening, which alternated between homemade Christian rituals and giddy dancing, was a joyous public affirmation of the girls’ sexual abstinence until they wed.

Yet the graying men in the shadow of their glittering daughters were the true focus of the night. To ensure their daughters’ purity, they were asked to set an example and to hew to evangelical ideals in a society they say tempts them as much as it does their daughters.

“It’s also good for me,” said Terry Lee, 54, who attended the ball for a second year, this time with his youngest daughter, Rachel, 16. “It inspires me to be spiritual and moral in turn. If I’m holding them to such high standards, you can be sure I won’t be cheating on their mother.”

Relying on word-of-mouth that brought families mostly from the thriving evangelical community in Colorado Springs and from as far as Virginia and California, Randy and Lisa Wilson built their Purity Ball into an annual gala that costs about $10,000, financed by ticket sales. This year, about 150 people attended the dinner, purity ceremony and dance.

The purity pledges for the fathers to sign stood in the middle of the dinner tables. Unlike other purity balls, the daughters here do not make a pledge, said Amanda Robb, a New York-based writer researching a book about the abstinence movement who was at the Broadmoor event.


Snip.

Recent studies have suggested that close relationships between fathers and daughters can reduce the risk of early sexual activity among girls and teenage pregnancy. But studies have also shown that most teenagers who say they will remain abstinent, like those at the ball, end up having sex before marriage, and they are far less likely to use condoms than their peers.

No one knows for certain how many purity balls are held nationwide, because they are grass-roots efforts. The Abstinence Clearinghouse, an advocacy group, says it sells hundreds of purity ball kits annually to interested groups all over the country and abroad.

Snip.

Her father, Jim, said he brought her to show her how much he cherished her after almost losing her in a car accident two years ago.

"Loss tinged many at the ball. Stephen Clark, 64, came to the ball for the first time with Ashley Avery, 17, who is “promised” to his son, Zane, 16. Mr. Clark brought Ashley, in her white satin gown, to show her that he loved her like a daughter, he said, something he felt he needed to underscore after Ashley’s father left her family a year ago.

Mrs. Wilson, the organizer, said that her father abandoned her family when she was 2, and that Mr. Wilson’s father was distant. One father said he had terminal cancer and came with his two daughters. Others were trying to do better in their second marriages.

“I’ve heard from fathers that this challenged them, to guard their own eyes, for example,” Mr. Wilson said. “It is a call to covenant which basically says I as my daughter’s father will be a man of integrity and purity.”


I know that to people in many parts of the country, this sort of thing must seem unbearably corny but Colorado Springs is a city marked by its evangelical inhabitants.

As I wrote in "When Evangelical is Not Enough" shortly after moving here:

"When we moved our office to Colorado Springs I did not understand how different life would be in the "Evangelical Vatican." Over 100 national and international evangelical Protestant organizations make their home here including Focus On the Family. We have no skyscrapers, only "purple mountain majesties" (America the Beautiful was inspired by the view from Pikes Peak) and gigantic churches with names like "Radiance" or "New Life" that dominate the corners and hilltops. Visible, unapologetic faith is much more a part of the public scene here than would ever be imagined in Seattle.

When I drop into my local dry cleaner's or Mail Boxes, Etc., the staff is listening to Christian talk radio. During a recent morning walk, a friendly older man wanted to demonstrate his dog's best trick. I witnessed the apparently charismatic pooch "praise the Lord" by rising on her hind legs and waving her paws in the air on command. Honest.

If I walk into the local discount warehouse, the genial older gentleman who greets me will very likely bellow a few bars of "Amazing Grace." The first time I heard it, my West Coast urbanite paranoia kicked in. I gasped, "He's singing a Christian hymn in a public place. He can't do that! He'll be fired for sure." Six months later, he's still singing at the top of his lungs. I now know that Colorado Springs shoppers consider him a bit of local color rather than a one-man assault on the separation of church and state.

While most Catholics would shrivel like salted slugs at the prospect of singing religious solos in a discount warehouse, the general acceptance locally testifies to the prevalence of evangelical culture and how it affects our response to religious expressions."


I sometimes miss the cultural bright lights of a big city: museums, great buildings, great restaurants. But there are other compensations here that money can't buy.

Several years ago, I was paying my airport parking ticket last at night after arriving home from yet another road trip. For some reason I can not recall, I was feeling depressed and tears were slowly sliding down my face in the dark as I waited for the clerk in the booth to process my ticket.

She noticed and when she handed me back my credit card, she said simply "I'll pray for you."

God bless that intercessor, holding up those who pass by her booth in the wee hours of the night. Her prayer felt like the balm and protection of God at that moment. As indeed it was.

A city filled with a significant percentage of intentional disciples - even those on the Puritan end of the spectrum - is a different kind of city. Still full of people who are selfish, angry, violent, fearful and fully human - but there is a difference you can feel.

Even late at night while idling your car beside an airport parking booth.
 
Irena Sendler PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Sunday, 18 May 2008 19:06
Fr. Anthony Walsh, OP, one of our Australia co-directors who will be presenting at World Youth Day in Sydney, sent me
this moving You tube video of Irena Sendler. Sendler was a Catholic nurse who saved 2,500 Jewish children's lives in Nazi-occupied Warsaw by smuggling them out to stay with Polish Catholic families.

Irena was imprisoned and tortured but never gave away any names. The names of the rescued children were buried in a jar in
her garden.

Irena died May 12. She had been recognized by the State of Israel as "Righteous Among the Nations"



Well done, good and faithful servant.
 
Praise God! Dreams Come True. PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Sunday, 18 May 2008 10:04
Congratulations, Aimee MIlburn!

You've just graduated from the Augustine Institute as valedictorian!

What are you going to do now?????


 
Springtime in South Korea PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Saturday, 17 May 2008 07:50
Our gathering is done and was, i think, very fruitful. I'll blog about it a bit later. Right now, I must finish tweaking Making Disciples - that is the task of the weekend. I will blog sporadically as "quickies" come to my attention - but anything that requires thought will have to wait!

But I wanted to share this interesting piece on a veteran Franciscan missionary in South Korea and how his work has been integral to the remarkable growth of the Catholic Church there."In 1958", observes Giancarlo, "in (South) Korea there were no more than 800,000 Catholics. Now there are almost 5 million. More than half of these received baptism as adults".
 
The World is Just Awesome PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Friday, 16 May 2008 19:04


Confess. It's pretty darn irresistible. Discovery channel's new ad.

HT: Fr. Kyle over at Called by Name
 
WYD: How Good is This? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Friday, 16 May 2008 16:58
I love this.

Fr. Mike and I had the chance to met Bishop Anthony Fisher (the youngest bishop in Australia and a Dominican) when we visited Australia in 2004 to train our national team there. In fact, we spent election evening 2004 with the Dominicans, who were eagerly watching the results and shuttling them into their American visitors. I was able to have a fascinating discussion with Bishop Fisher (a expert in Catholic teaching on bio-ethics) on the issues that were dominating the election for American Catholics. (I'll have to blog on that soon)

In 2007, Bishop Fisher was named Co-ordinator of the World Youth Day team. He has an opinion piece in the Australian today that is responding to a highly critical essay God's Big Day Out a Shambles? that I blogged about a few days ago.

It's great - and more colorful than I would expect from a bishop in the US.

"NOVELIST Alan Gold demonstrates his skill as a fiction writer in his recent opinion piece about World Youth Day 2008.

While the Sydney Olympics ran like a well-oiled machine, he says, insecurity, top-level resignations and a growing "sense of doom" have turned the organisation of WYD into a potential nightmare.

Now let's be clear. There have been no top-level resignations from WYD, which is unusual given the size of the staff and the mammoth task involved.

The reason for the extraordinary sticking power of our staff is that, far from a sense of doom, there are such good spirits and excitement among the leaders and staff, as there are among other Australians. The same cannot be said for some of those campaigning against World Youth Day with their dire predictions and constant carping about costs.

Despite all the obstacles placed in its path, WYD is on track to deliver all the overlay to venues - yes, even the toilet cities - as per its timetable.

Track protection for Randwick Racecourse is based not on "guesswork" but on past experience with similar events, including the Paris World Youth Day which was held, believe it or not, on a racetrack. Far from being a disaster, Longchamp had such a good experience with WYD that the French have used it for a number of other major events since.

Apocalyptic predictions from novelists notwithstanding, health and safety experts have assisted with and signed off on measures such as corralling. These are no different to similar events. Even judged from a purely secular, business point of view, WYD is great value for the economy and will bring very significant returns for a much smaller outlay by government than is usual for big events in Australia. WYD08 will also showcase Sydney and Australia to international television audiences of up to a billion people. That's why the Sydney Chamber of Commerce, Tourism NSW, Tourism Australia and business generally are so pleased.

When 125,000 young pilgrims from overseas join 100,000 young Australians for the week of WYD celebrations, it will be a magical time for all Sydney, and for all Australia, not just the Catholics, not just the youth. Ordinary people will join the pilgrims in big numbers and will have an emotionally and spiritually uplifting time. At least, that's been the experience in every previous host city.

So what's going on here? Why the constant negativity in some quarters? One reason may be "Sydney Events Syndrome". A senior reporter recently told us WYD08 was suffering the "bash 'em up" phase. But he thought that would finish soon and erstwhile critics and sceptics would then move to the "How good is this?" phase. Ultimately, we will have the "We're so proud we did this" phase. But in the meantime some prefer to whinge about costs and road closures ...

It was the same with the Olympics. And the Rugby World Cup. Doom and gloom, then grudging admissions that this might not be so bad after all, then growing excitement, then the joy of being hosts for something so special and, finally, pride afterwards.

What that tells us about Australia is interesting. We want to be a big player on the world scene. We want big events here. But as soon as we realise they are coming, we become like a horse that habitually takes fright just before the gates are opened.

This seems to be especially the case for Sydney. As Deputy Lord Mayor Tony Pooley put it recently, rather more colourfully than a bishop might, "I don't think (Sydney) can pretend to be a global city unless we occasionally invite the bloody globe here."

The recent papal visit to the US offers some interesting points of comparison. It was a great celebration for America. There wasn't all the negativity in the months leading up to it. Just excitement and expectation, an expectation that, in the end, was more than fulfilled.

Of course there are other critics apart from the gloom merchants and nervous nellies. A few seem to be driven by a mixture of old-fashioned anti-Catholicism and more newfangled feeling against all religion. Sectarianism and intolerant secularism are ugly parts of Australia's spiritual landscape which, happily, is more commonly marked by very willing co-operation among churches and faiths and those who are still searching.

Certainly, that's been the WYD08 experience. All the churches and religions are working with us in various ways, from practical help with venues, accommodation and volunteers, to taking part in spiritual, musical and other cultural activities.

Sydney and Australia will love World Youth Day. It will build up the faith and idealism of our young people and move us all in the process. The time has come to put aside all the divisive antagonisms and the end-of-the-world talk.

In company with God, the holy father, and the youth of the world, let's move on to the "How good is this?" phase."


Bishop Anthony Fisher OP is the co-ordinator of World Youth Day 2008.
 
Catholic Quote of the Day PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Friday, 16 May 2008 14:47
"The truth of Christian life is like manna: it is not possible to hoard it for it is fresh today and spoiled tomorrow. A truth that is merely handed on, without being thought anew from its very foundations, has lost its vital power. The vessel that holds it — for example, the language, the world of images and concepts –becomes dusty, rusts, crumbles away; that which is old remains young only when it is drawn, with all the strength of youth, into relation with that which is still older, with that in time which is perpetual: the present-day revelation of God.

No Holy Communion is like another, although it is the same Christ who gives himself. In the same way, no sermon and no word of doctrine, indeed no Christian word at all and no Christian thought can be the same as any other, although each is a vessel and a form of the one, eternal Word among us. To honor the tradition does not excuse one from the beginning each time, not with Augustine or Thomas or Newman, but with Christ.

And the greatest figures of Christian salvation history are honored only by the one who does today what they did then, or what they would have done if they had lived today. The cross-check is quickly done, and it is shows the tremendous impoverishment, not only in spirit and life, but also quite existentially: in thoughts and points of view, themes and ideas, where people are content to understand tradition as the handing-on of ready-made results. Boredom manifests itself at once, and the neatest systematics fails to convince, remains of little consequence. The little groups of those who have come to an understanding with one another and cultivate what they take to be the tradition become more and more esoteric, foreign to the world, and more and more misunderstood, although they do not condescend to take notice of their alienation.

And one day the storm that blows the dried-up branch away can no longer be delayed, and this collapse will not be great, because what collapses had been a hollow shell for a very long time."


–Hans Urs von Balthasar, Razing the Bastions. trans. Brian McNeil (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1993), 33 - 35.

HT: Vox Nova
 
Urgent Prayer Request PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Wednesday, 14 May 2008 08:43
Urgent prayer request:

Robert & Linda Walker are long time friends of the Institute. We have just told that their 24 year old son. Robert, has been critically injured in an automobile accident and is in very serious condition. Your prayers for Robert and his family would be greatly appreciated!
 
John Allen: Will Sydney's WYD Be a Repeat of Denver? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 13 May 2008 15:46
As the date grows nearer, there is plenty of dire predictions and complaining going on in the Australian media. (See God's Big Day Out a Shambles" from the Australian to get the flavor.)

In an encouraging counterpoint, John Allen had a major editorial about World Youth Day run in the Sydney Morning Herald last Sunday. Allen writes that the World Youth Day most comparable to the one to be held this summer in Sydney is that
of Denver in 1993.

. . .it is entirely appropriate for Australians - especially Australia's 5.1 million Catholics, who will do most of the work and pick up part of the tab - to ask, "What do we stand to gain?"

Perhaps the best parallel for Australians to ponder is the 1993 World Youth Day in Denver, Colorado.

Denver marked the first World Youth Day held outside a traditionally Catholic culture - previous instalments had been in Rome, Buenos Aires, Santiago de Compostela, Spain, and Czestochowa, Poland. Somewhat like Australia, the Rocky Mountains are not known as an important Catholic crossroads, so heading into the event there were fears of low turnout, blase public reaction and a general whiff of failure.

Moreover, in 1993 the US was still looked upon with deep ambivalence in the Vatican. American Catholics were seen as rambunctious, often rebellious, and the US was viewed as a largely Protestant culture historically hostile to Catholicism. The idea of plunking the Pope down in such an environment caused more than one case of indigestion in Vatican offices.
In the event, Denver was a runaway triumph. Measured against modest expectations, turnout was impressive. More to the point, the 500,000 youth who showed up were wildly enthusiastic. The city rolled out the red carpet, and American media coverage was both extensive and overwhelmingly positive.

One can date a sea change in Vatican attitudes towards the US from that moment. Most importantly, the 1993 World Youth Day helped Rome to grasp that America's traditions of pluralism and church-state separation do not inhibit religion, but rather allow the faith to flourish. That is a theme Benedict XVI repeatedly stressed on his recent visit to Washington and New York.

This background helps explain why Denver offers such an intriguing parallel to Sydney. In some ways Australia stands today in Roman eyes where the US was in 1993. Wariness about the state of things Down Under was clear, for example, in a 1998 statement following a summit between Vatican officials and Australian bishops. It warned of a "crisis of faith" marked by widespread relativism.

As was once the case with the US, there is concern in Rome that Australia's egalitarian culture, with its emphasis on tolerance rather than truth, is not the best soil for Catholicism to flower. Lacking little direct contact with Australia, the perceptions of many Vatican officials are sometimes disproportionately shaped by media reports of conflict and the complaints that reach their offices from a handful of well-organised activists.

Sydney's World Youth Day thus represents a chance for Australia to recast itself in a positive light. If all goes well, the event could not only showcase the best of Catholicism for the Australian public, but it could also usher in a new "era of good feelings" with Rome.

Such a transformation would not merely be of intra-Catholic interest. The Vatican is a critical voice of conscience in global affairs, and Australia plays a key leadership role in its region of the world. It is healthy for everyone, Catholics and non-Catholics alike, when these two players are on good speaking terms.

Ironically, Denver's World Youth Day crowd of 500,000 was the smallest to date, as compared with 4 million in Manila in 1995, and 2 million in Rome in 2000 - yet arguably it had the most profound impact.
"

Catholics in Denver agree - their World Youth Day was the beginning of a dramatic renewal and they are still feeling the impact 15 years later. May it be so again. Let's remember to pray for the success of this summer's World Youth Day and the renewal of the Australian Church.
 
What Do You Really Believe? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Fones   
Tuesday, 13 May 2008 14:51
Sue Gifford, a friend of mine who is involved in Catholic campus ministry at Oregon State University, sent me a link to NPR's "This I Believe" radio program website. There were a couple of essays that I was directed to, but the essay by Sr. Helen Prejean of "Dead Man Walking" fame, held a couple of lines that really got to me.

In her essay on what she believes, Sr. Helen begins by saying,
Belief and faith are not just words. It’s one thing for me to say I’m a Christian, but I have to embody what it means; I have to live it. So, writing this essay and knowing I’ll share it in a public way becomes an occasion for me to look deeply at what I really believe by how I act.
This is an important and sometimes overlooked way of evaluating our relationship with God and the Church. Orthodoxy (right belief) is important, but must result in orthopraxis (right action). As the letter of James reminds us, "Faith without works is dead." (cf. James 2:14-17)

But how often do we look at things from the opposite direction, as Sr. Helen suggests? What do my works - my life - say about what I really believe? I find it somewhat chilling that in Jesus' description of the last judgment in Matthew 25, the criteria for salvation and damnation are actions done towards the naked, hungry, imprisoned, sick - basically people who are miserable for one reason or another. What am I doing, concretely, to help them?

Jesus, the One through Whom anyone comes to the Father, is not suggesting, nor is St. Matthew, that we are saved by our works. No, we are saved by Christ's obedient, once-for-all self-offering on the cross. The question is, have I really thought about that, and considered what it means for me and the way I relate to people and to whom I relate? Contrary to what some Protestants claim, the Mass is not another sacrifice, but the sacramental representation of that one perfect sacrifice of Our Lord. But have I really thought about that "for-all" part of "once-and-for-all"?

Sherry's post about Dorothy Day raises this same issue.
In the 1960s, when a Catholic cardinal went to the White House for a prayer service with Richard Nixon and when another cardinal was in Vietnam blessing U.S. warplanes, Day unloaded: "What a confusion we have gotten into when Christian prelates sprinkle holy water on scrap metal to be used for obliteration bombing and name bombers for the Holy Innocents, for Our Lady of Mercy; who bless a man about to press a button which releases death to 50,000 human beings, including little babies, children, the sick, the aged . . ."
It is incredibly challenging to be a disciple who tries to see the redeemed humanity of every person. It is easy to conform to any of the -isms of our own day, including patriotism. One parishioner at Holy Apostles pointed out that I regularly pray for the service men and women who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan (my youngest nephew may soon join them, I'm afraid). Colorado Springs is ringed by military bases, so it's not unlikely that at least some of the attendees at daily Mass have friends or family members in harm's way. It's a popular prayer. But this young man pointed out that I never prayed for those we consider our enemies - and that Jesus said, "love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you." Luke 6:27-28

Ah, that may not be so popular, particularly with someone who's lost a loved one in the war.

But of course, if our actions flow from a desire, above all else, to follow Jesus, popularity will be the last of our worries - for two reasons. First of all, as I just said, our desire will be to follow Jesus! And secondly, if we really do that, we will be as popular as Him - in His day. Which really wasn't that popular in the end, was it?

That's where Sr. Prejean's essay is challenging. What do my actions really say about what I believe? Do they say I believe it's imperative to follow Jesus and to die to my own selfish desires and be a man of service, especially to the weak, outcast and despised? Or do they betray my desire to be successful, accepted, respected, and perhaps just a wee bit popular?
 
Dorothy Day: Saint of Holy Irony PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 13 May 2008 12:56


Speaking of lay apostolate, May 1 was the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Catholic Worker movement by 36 year old Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin. (Dorothy is shows above reading to her daughter Tamar, who just died earlier this year.) Whispers quotes a weekend Washington Post article at some length:

"It was on May 1, 1933, when Dorothy Day, then 36, went to a Communist Party rally in New York's Union Square. She worked the Depression-era crowd, handing out her eight-page newspaper, the Catholic Worker. Included with articles about poverty, unemployment and injustice was Day's editorial laying out the paper's mission: " . . . For those who are huddling in shelters trying to escape the rain. For those who think that there is no hope for the future, no recognition of their plight -- this little paper is addressed. It is printed to call their attention to the fact the Catholic Church has a social program, to let them know that there are men of God who are working not only for their spiritual but for their material welfare."

Snip.

Three years after the first issue of the Catholic Worker newspaper, circulation rose from 2,500 copies to more than 150,000. Still eight pages published monthly, now with a circulation of 25,000, it is the country's only paper that can rightly claim that it has held to one editorial line, one typographical layout and one price: a penny a copy.

In her column, "On Pilgrimage," Day ranged from reportage on the doings at the Worker's soup and bread lines to criticism of the church hierarchy. In the 1960s, when a Catholic cardinal went to the White House for a prayer service with Richard Nixon and when another cardinal was in Vietnam blessing U.S. warplanes, Day unloaded: "What a confusion we have gotten into when Christian prelates sprinkle holy water on scrap metal to be used for obliteration bombing and name bombers for the Holy Innocents, for Our Lady of Mercy; who bless a man about to press a button which releases death to 50,000 human beings, including little babies, children, the sick, the aged . . ."...

During the next 50 years, she would attend daily Mass, pray the monastic hours, feed and house uncounted thousands of jobless and homeless, write eight books, be hounded by the FBI, bond with labor unions, be imprisoned on civil disobedience charges (so often that a New York jail had a "Dorothy Day suite"), get the paper out, be uncompromising in her commitment to nonviolence and be invited by Eunice Kennedy Shriver to spend time in Hyannisport to take a break from all the frenzy....

After Day died Nov. 29, 1980, no Catholic bishop attended her Requiem Mass. Years later, when she was not around to rebuke churchmen for their just-war theories, it was safe to call on the Vatican to create Saint Dorothy. One promoter for sainthood was Cardinal John O'Connor of New York, in front of whose St. Patrick's Cathedral Day and fellow Catholic Workers had often protested the Vietnam War that the cardinal, as the U.S. church's military vicar, backed.

If Day ever is canonized, it might be as the patron saint of holy irony.


And of course, Catholic Worker houses continue the same ministry today. One such ministry is the Catholic Worker houses of Boise, founded by Ellen Piper, who was launched into ministry with the homeless by discerning her charisms through the Called & Gifted process. 8 years later, she has started a day shelter for the homeless and two houses - men and women's - to provide transitional housing for the homeless in Boise.

Dorothy is a giant figure in the 20th century but it helps to understand her life and impact in the context of the whole development of the lay apostolate.

As Rocco has noted, her dairies, which were sealed for 25 years after her death in 1980, have just been published: I simply adore these anecdotes:

Like most holy people, she often fell short of her ideals. We know this because she herself calls attention to her faults - her impatience, her capacity for anger and self-righteousness. "Thinking gloomily of the sins and shortcomings of others," she writes, "it suddenly came to me to remember my own offences, just as heinous as those of others. If I concern myself with my own sins and lament them, if I remember my own failures and lapses, I will not be resentful of others. This was most cheering and lifted the load of gloom from my mind. It makes one unhappy to judge people and happy to love them."...

In response to the insecurity, the sorrows, and drudgery of life among the "insulted and injured", she tried always to remember "the duty of delight": "I was thinking how, as one gets older, we are tempted to sadness, knowing life as it is here on earth, the suffering, the Cross. And how we must overcome it daily, growing in love, and the joy which goes with loving."


"it makes one unhappy to judge people and happy to love them.""

Pray for us, Servant of God, Dorothy Day.
 
Coming Up: The Fascinating History of the Lay Apostolate PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 13 May 2008 10:46
Yes, we're here. But in the last throes of getting ready for the gathering tomorrow and Thursday and preparation for two back to back major events in June.

Blogging may be sparse over the next 48 hours but will resume afterwards.

Since I"m (amazingly) going to be home between how and September (with the exception of the two Making Disciples seminars in Wisconsin and Washington), I thought it would be fun to do some special blogging on the history of the development of the lay apostolate - before, during, and after the Council - starting in the middle ages. I've accumulated a ton of stuff over the years on the topic but it just sits in my files waiting to be used.

Why not share some of this great stuff via the blog?

Especially since the history is so rich, nuanced, and complicated and far more interesting than the simplistic "everything was great/terrible before the Council and everything has been the pits/fabulous since" scenario that we can't seem to get beyond.

One fascinating thing - before the Second Vatican Council, the champions of the lay apostolate were usually on the "liberal" end of the continuum as it existed in their day - indeed sometimes on the extreme left hand side of the spectrum in political and economic terms - while since the Council, the champions of the lay apostolate are perceived as usually, but not always, being on the "conservative" end. Of course, such categories flatten out the complexity of the reality and don't begin to tell the tale.

But its a tale worth telling - and a fruitful summer's blogging, I think.

So watch for the first installment - hopefully later this week.
 
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