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The 2009 Martyrs of England and Wales Calendar PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Wednesday, 28 January 2009 20:55
I have just received a lovely one of-a-kind gift from Michael and Theresa Schweigert of New York: a home-produced color 2009 calendar dedicated to the Catholic Martyrs of England and Wales.

This is a true work of love with many pictures and a wealth of information about many martyrs, including those that are not well-known such as St. Nicholas Owen, the Jesuit lay brother who build many "priest holes" in houses throughout England and saved the lives of hundreds. The calendar also includes pictures of Baddesley Clinton, the 15th manor house where Owen created three of his most clever hiding places - including one in an old toilet (!) and of Coughton Court where the staunchly Catholic Throckmorton family has lived for nearly 6 centuries.

The many great women who were part of the Catholic resistance are honored, including Anne Vaux who helped Fr. Garnett, the Jesuit superior in England, establish hiding places, Margaret Clement Giggs, the adopted daughter of St. Thomas More who risked her life to feed the imprisoned monks of the London Charterhouse, and of course, Margaret Clitheroe, the "pearl of York".

Although I have always had a strong interest in the English recusants, there are many names and details in this calendar that I was not familiar with. It would be of great interest to historically minded Catholics (great for home-schooling parents) and the Schweigerts are praying that they might find an interested publisher.

If you are interested in learning more or helping them with this project, feel free to drop Michael Schweigert a line at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
 
Called & Gifted Down Under PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Wednesday, 28 January 2009 07:29
Oh - and our Aussie team will be busy in February.

Called and Gifted Teacher Training
Sunday 8 February 2009
Corpus Christi Parish Tuggeranong [Canberra]
Contact: Lorraine Barker 0437329371

Called and Gifted Workshop [abridged]
Foundations in Catholic Youth Leadership Conference Canberra
9-13 February 2009
An introduction to the Called and Gifted Workshop will be presented on Tuesday 10 February;
Contact: Jenny Drum 02 6163 4313

Called and Gifted II
12 hours over six sessions.
Commencing Tuesday 17 February 5-7pm
Thomas Carr Centre, 278 Victoria Pde East Melbourne

Prerequisite: Must have completed Called and Gifted I and Personal Interview
A practical program which guides participants in discerning their own gifts and understanding the gifts of others. It provides the tools for on-going discernment as a life-habit for nurturing spiritual development. It assists the development of skills for recognising and calling forth the gifts of others.
Contact: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 
Coming to a Parish Near You PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Wednesday, 28 January 2009 07:20
Stuff is happening again this weekend.

There will be a Called & Gifted workshop at Blessed Kateri Takakwitha parish in Santa Clarita, California and another Called & Gifted at St. Paul's parish in Pocatello, Idaho.

On Monday and Tuesday, Fr. Mike and I will be speaking at the clergy conference for the Archdiocese of Omaha. The topic is no surprise. Intentional discipleship and its fruits, including its impact on the priestly office, an introduction to pre-discipleship spiritual thresholds, and a chance to listen to and respond to what we call "a threshold conversation". It should be fun.

Meanwhile, the book beckons. . .
 
Campus Ministry: Colorado Style PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Wednesday, 28 January 2009 06:35
A unprecedented crowd gathered for a debate between Christopher Hitchens and Dinesh D’Souza at the University of Colorado at Boulder on Monday night. A sold out crowd of 2,050 filled Macky auditorium and 300 had to watch on video beamed to another building on campus.

(For those of you not familiar with the Colorado scene, Boulder and Colorado Springs popularly represent the ying and yang of spirituality here. Boulder is a kind of Seattle-in-the-Rockies: hostile to historic forms of western faith and entranced by all and any alternate spiritualities as well as the rejection of faith altogether. Colorado Springs is - famously or notoriously, take your pick - home to over 100 evangelical Protestant organizations including Focus on the Family, Young Life, the Navigators, the International Bible Society, etc.

We all know the drill. The "Land of None" vs the Bible belt. )

The debate, moderated by Denver radio talk show host Dan Caplis, was sponsored by the St. Thomas Aquinas Center for Catholic Thought, an intellectual outreach program of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Boulder, Colorado. The event centered on the theme “What’s so Great about God? – Atheism vs. Religion.”

Father Kevin Augustyn, pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish, prefaced the debate, saying, “As Catholics, we are not afraid of intellectual debate. Faith and reason are not opposed to each other.”

And they are living this conviction in very interesting ways. Take a look at their spring, 2009 lecture series.

The two priests in residence are young, the staff high-powered, and the parish website features two blogs. This is *not* "don't ask, don't tell" Catholicism. Campus ministry confidently reaching out in a way intelligently geared to Boulder's unique situation and culture. Thank God!

Read about the details of the debate here.
 
Slender Incursions of Splintered Light PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 27 January 2009 22:15
From Steven Sparrow in New Zealand, a faithful ID reader:

My young facebook friend Kathryn McBeath (devout evangelical Christian) posted this on my page last night.
Cheers
Steve

"Letter to Lew Smedes

By Rod Jellema

I have to look for cracks and crevices.
Don't tell me how God's mercy
Is as wide as the ocean, as deep as the sea.
I already believe it, but that infinite prospect
Gets further away the more we mouth it.
I thank you for lamenting his absences-
His absence from marriages going mad, our sons dying young, from the
inescapable
Terrors of history: Treblinka, Vietnam,
September Eleven. His visible absence
Makes it hard for us in our time
To celebrate his invisible Presence.

This must be why mystics and poets record
The slender incursions of splintered light,
Echoes, fragments, odd words and phrases
Like flashes through darkened hallways.
These stabs remind me that the proud
Portly old church is really only
That cut green slip grafted into a tiny nick
That merciful God himself slit into the stem
Of his chosen Judah. The thin and tenuous
Thread we hang by, so astonishing,
Is the metaphor I need at the shoreline
Of all those immeasurable oceans of love."
 
Brideshead Eviscerated PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 27 January 2009 07:34
Winter has returned. A week ago, it was pushing 70. Today, is it -5 degrees F.

Saw the 2008 version of Brideshead Revisited last night. For someone who has read the book a number of times and seen the wonderful 1981 BBC mini-series, this version is a paragon of awfulness and unwatchableness. i didn't bother finishing it. Not even Emma Thompson could save it.

Trying to reduce Brideshead to the most shallow and conventional of 21st century anti-Catholic tracts is embarrassing. I think Barbara Nicolosi summed it up best in her devastating evaluation (which is well worth reading): Brideshead Eviscerated.

Precisely.

Don't waste your dollars, Netflix choices, or precious time on this one. Plan ahead for your next long weekend and watch the eleven hour 1981 BBC version instead which some regard as the finest film ever made for television.
 
Vatican YouTube PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Sunday, 25 January 2009 23:15
The Vatican has launched a new YouTube site as a means to engage the world, especially youth, in a new way. It will present information in four languages, including English. Here's a brief description of the channel:
This channel offers news coverage of the main activities of the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI and of relevant Vatican events.
It is updated daily.
Video images are produced by Centro Televisio Vaticano (CTV), texts by Vatican Radio (RV) and CTV.
This video-news presents the Catholic Churchs position regarding the principal issues of the world today.
Links give access to the full and official texts of cited documents.

You can still be among the first 10,000 to subscribe to the daily feed!
 
How Time Flies When We are Separated . . . PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Saturday, 24 January 2009 23:13
Principium Unitatis, a thoughtful blog dedicated to the unification of Protestants and Catholics, has a truly unique widget that constantly tracks how long we have been separated from one another:

Right now, as I type these words:

Catholics and Protestants have presently been separated from each other for a total of 488 years, 21 days, 28 hours, 15 minutes and 48 seconds.

By the time you read this, who knows?
 
What Happened at Vatican II? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Saturday, 24 January 2009 22:03
Airplanes are wonderful places to do serious reading and one of the few places in my life when I can do so without guilt.

Which is how I made it through my first, fascinated reading of "What Happened at Vatican II?" by John W. O'Malley.

One of the things I dislike most about the polarization of the US Church is how difficult it is to feel like one has access to really solid, trustworthy historical sources because no matter what you read, half the Catholics in America are going to insist that it is all spin. Most of the reviews of this book that I read were really devoted to reading back into the past how the reviewers feel about the state of the Church now - 50 years later. None of them addressed the issue of this book's historicity, which would seem to be critical because O'Malley is writing as a historian, not a theologian and they are radically different disciplines.

But the Council was a true historical event and to understand it, it is critical to first understand how those who were there and shaped events actually thought and acted. Before we start interpreting the Council in light of what has happened since, we first must know what actually happened then. Give me a well-documented, blow-by-blow historical account of what was done and said when and where by whom *before* you try to sell me on what it meant.

I have been trying to piece it together bit by bit on my own but as O'Malley points out, the office Acta of the Council, published by the Vatican Press in 1999 is 51 volumes long and many of those volumes run 800 pages. For all practical purposes, people like thee and me are dependent upon scholars who have the time and ability to master the primary documents. It is very helpful that O'Malley includes a chronology of the Council and brief descriptions of 65 of the major players and his footnotes are extremely interesting (although in five languages). It is especially intriguing that O'Malley has had a life=long scholarly interest in both the Council of Trent and Vatican II. By the way, O'Malley is a good writer and most of the book is a truly gripping read.

I experienced a number of ahas just from the depiction of the progression of events. For one thing, we now know that Pius XI in the 20's and Pius XII in the 50's both seriously considered calling a council essentially to resume and complete Vatican I which was interrupted by the occupation of Rome by Italian troops in 1870 and have never officially closed. But in 1959, it seems that not even Pope John XXIII knew that. He always maintained that the idea came to him as a spontaneous inspiration.

John never mentioned Vatican I and there is no reason to believe that he understood his council as a resumption of Vatican I. Calling it Vatican II meant that it was a completely separate Council.

One reading is not enough but I wanted to share O"Malley's passage on the significance of the January 25, 1959 date.

Pope John's diary gives some fascinating clues: On January 20, he wrote that he intended the council to be an invitation to spiritual renewal for the church and for the world.

As is also clear from the Pope's diary, he chose january 25 to make the announcement because on that date, he was scheduled to be at the basilica of St. Paul to close the Church Unity Octave, a week of prayer for Christian unity that originated in the United States in 1908 with an Anglican priest and had become widely popular even in Catholic circles. As Pope John put it in his speech of Jan 25, one aim of the Council was "a renewed cordial invitation to the faithful of the separated communities to participate with us in this quest for unity and grace, for which so many souls long in all parts of the world."
 
50 Years PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Saturday, 24 January 2009 21:34
Tomorrow is the 50th anniversary of Pope John XXIII's announcement that he intended to call an ecumenical Council.

It was fascinating and illuminating trying to find a decent video to post. The vast majority of English language videos on the topic of John XXIII and the Council are of the "Vatican II = Apostasy" school of thought.

But the Italian documentaries of the era are fascinating and give a vivid sense of Pope John's warm, down-to-earth manner and his trips around Rome which won't strike us as dramatic after John Paul II, but coming after Pius XII, it was a revolution in style. Fr. Michael Sweeney used to tell me that John XXIII was a theological conservative. It was his warmth, spontaneity, and openness to the leading of the Holy Spirit that made him seem like a liberal.

These two videos give a vivid sense of the man and his time, charmingly idiosyncratic English subtitles and all. Part two includes the Pope's moving visit to a Roman prison and some rare footage of the beginning of the council.




 
For God's Sake, Let's Talk PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Friday, 23 January 2009 07:03
I stumbled across a short CNN article entitled "Why So Many Minds Think Alike", Jan 15, 2009 and was fascinated by the research that has been done into the biological basis for "group think".

"A new study in the journal Neuron shows when people hold an opinion differing from others in a group, their brains produce an error signal. A zone of the brain popularly called the "oops area" becomes extra active, while the "reward area" slows down, making us think we are too different.

"We show that a deviation from the group opinion is regarded by the brain as a punishment," said Vasily Klucharev, postdoctoral fellow at the F.C. Donders Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging in the Netherlands and lead author of the study
."

Snip.

The two leading theories of conformity are that people look to the group because they're unsure of what to do, and that people go along with the norm because they are afraid of being different, said Dr. Gregory Berns, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia.

Berns' research, which he describes in the book "Iconoclast: A Neuroscientist Reveals How to Think Differently," found that brain mechanisms associated with fear and anxiety do play a part in situations where a person feels his or her opinion goes against the grain.

Participants looked at projections of three-dimensional objects, and had to identify which shapes were similar. As with the new study in Neuron, participants tended to shift their opinion to the majority view, although in this case the problems had objectively correct answers. The effect was also more potent in this experiment because actors were in the room to simulate a group with a shared opinion, he said.

But brain images revealed participants were not lying just to fit in. Changes in the activation of the visual part of the brain suggest the group opinion actually changed participants' perceptions of what they saw.


The implications of these studies are many and at so many levels. First and foremost that human beings literally find it difficult (not impossible) to think about things, to recognize realities, and to perceive things that they do not hear or see that others also thinking and perceiving. Even when there are objectively correct answers, individuals will tend to honestly "see" what the group tells them that they should see. Notice that this dynamic increased significantly when a group of actors verbalized a "common opinion" in the presence of those being tested.

This absolutely supports the Spiral of Silence" theory that we have written about before here and the de facto "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" cultural norms that permeates Catholic practice and community life (here.)

We are acutely aware of this dynamic when it comes to life issues. How long have we complained about media bias regarding the whole abortion debate? How many bloggers noted the way in which the MSM almost completely ignores the hundreds of thousands who turned out for the March for Life in Washington, D. C. yesterday? Mollie over at Get Religion found this stunning headline over an AP Video of the March for Life yesterday: Scores March Against Abortion.

Scores. As in groups of 20. You know, like 60 or 80. Maybe 100. A fitting headline for an event where the participation is estimated to have been between 200,000 and 300,000.

'Cause if the media put bald phrases like "hundreds of thousands" before the public, it would disturb the picture that they have been carefully painting - that opposition to abortion is "extremism" carried out by a few extremists who have no case to make to reasonable mainstream Americans. That the discussion is not over and that the pro-life movement is not going away,

Despite these de facto media black-outs, hundreds of thousands still made that trip to DC. Why? The research above would suggest that one factor is the intense conversation that Catholics and other Christians and people of conscience have had on the subject for the past 35 years. We refused to be cowed into silence, We talk about life. We write about life. We preach about life, And that intense intra-community support over the years has enabled millions of us to ignore our instinctual reluctance to not make waves or buck the group think on this issue. We know - and those who support abortion know - that the opinions we hear others express literally reveal or obscure the realities that we can and will see and either silences us or strengthens our voice on the great issues of our day.

What is true for life issues is true for the rest of the faith. We must create Catholic communities where it normal to talk to one another about Jesus Christ, about our lived relationship with God, about our struggles to live as disciples, about our attempts to discern and answer God's call, about the needs and opportunities we see for the Gospel in the world, about the real life applications of the Church's Social teaching. The parish is the only place where most Catholics can receive interpersonal support to think and live beyond and sometime in direct opposition to our culture.

If our Catholic culture insists that real Catholics don't ask and don't tell, our brain will keep insisting that speaking out is an "error" and our anxiety around violating the secular norm will ensure our continued silence. If we experience genuine inter-personal support in the parish for our "deviant" opinions, it will offset secular pressure to keep silent and we will be much more likely to talk about Christ and live as his disciples effectively in the secular marketplace.
 
Go With God PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Thursday, 22 January 2009 13:16
Fr. Tom Kraft, OP died peacefully this morning in the priory of Blessed Sacrament in Seattle. My friend Mark wrote a beautiful essay about Fr. Tom's last public celebration of Mass.

And now Mark sums up our hope with one of my favorite passages from the Lord of the Ring:

"'How do I feel?' Samwise cried. 'Well, I don't know how to say it. I feel, I feel' — he waved his arms in the air — 'I feel like spring after winter, and sun on the leaves; and like trumpets and harps and all the songs I have ever heard!' "

"All the host laughed and wept, and in the midst of their merriment and tears the clear voice of the minstrel rose like silver and gold, and all men were hushed. And he sang to them, now in the Elven-tongue, now in the speech of the West, until their hearts, wounded with sweet words, overflowed, and their joy was like swords, and they passed in thought out to regions where pain and delight flow together and tears are the very wine of blessedness."

 
Somebody's Got To Do It . . . PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Wednesday, 21 January 2009 13:53
Spring in January.

It is pushing 70 here today, snow-capped mountains, blue skies, what we call "winter views" - January in the Rockies! Pippin, the cat, got to lolly-gag on the warm patio and roll in the dirt to her heart's content. It will take days to get her clean again.

This too will pass and more snow - probably much more snow - will come but it makes for a very pleasant time watering all the trees, shrubs, and perennials. You have to seize the unfrozen day around here!

When not watering, I am working away on our clergy days presentation on February 2/3 on Omaha. Then to return to the book . . .
 
Danville, VA opportunity PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 21 January 2009 08:33

Written by Joe Waters

Any readers living in the Danville, Virginia/Greensboro, Winston-Salem, High Point, North Carolina area is invited to Theology on Tap at the Hams in Danville on Friday night at 8 p.m.. This is sponsored by the young adult ministry at Sacred Heart Church. I will be speaking on the "The Mission and Vocation of the Laity," so it should be a good time with lots of conversation that will interest readers of Intentional Disciples. If you come, come up afterwards and introduce yourselves.


 
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