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We Put the "M" in Mendicant PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Fones   
Thursday, 23 October 2008 18:47
Yes, we're bad bloggers . . .but we are also beleaguered mendicants.

This time - Chicago-land again. Fr. Mike and I will be offering a Called & Gifted workshop in a most suitable location for the Pauline year: St. Paul the Apostle church in Guernee, IL.

This is a quickie - out before the sun deigns to rise on Friday and back about noon on Sunday.

Which is good because I am behind. Parish mission to finish, presentation on Making Disciples for one of the regions of the Archdiocese of LA, the teaching schedule for Making Disciples in Omaha, book to write.

And so much interesting political stuff happened while we were gone. I'm glad that JACK felt free to blog so thoughtfully on the subject.

I'm voting early cause I'll be spending my second election eve in a row with Fr. Mike is some distant foreign land. In 2004, it was Melbourne, Australia. In 2008, Los Angeles. We will actually be preaching a mission on election eve. . . The four people who come to hear us will edified, I'm sure.
Christians Under Attack in Iraq PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Fones   
Wednesday, 22 October 2008 11:27
This letter from Fr. Philippe LeBlance, OP, Senior Advocacy Officer of the Dominicans for Justice and Peace, was sent to members of my province on Sunday, October 12, 2008.
The Permanent Delegate of the Order at the UN, Olivier Poquillon, OP,
provided information on the serious situation facing Christians in
Mosul and has requested that Justice Promoters in the United States take
action and intervene at the highest levels to make people aware of the
worsening situation of Christians in Mosul. Our brothers in Mosul are
under great pressure and it is not certain that they can hold out much
longer. Furthermore, the Vicar of the Arab World of Olivier’s Province
has requested that strong action be taken concerning the deteriorating
situation in Mosul.

There are reports that 3,000 Christians have fled the city *over the
past week alone* in a "major displacement," according to Duraid Mohammed
Kashmoula, the governor of northern Iraq's Ninevah province. He said
most have left for churches, monasteries and the homes of relatives in
nearby Christian villages and towns.

In a statement, Mr. Kashmoula also said that "The Christians were
subjected to abduction attempts and paid ransom, but now they are
subjected to a killing campaign," .He said he was worried about what he
termed a "campaign of killings and deportations against the Christian
citizens in Mosul."

Mosul police have reported finding the bullet-riddled bodies of seven
Christians in separate attacks so far this month, the latest a day
laborer found on Wednesday. On Saturday, militants blew up three
abandoned Christian homes in eastern Mosul, police said.

Father Bolis Jacob of Mosul's Mar Afram Church said he was at a loss to
understand the violence. "We respect the Islamic religion and the Muslim
clerics," he said. "We don't know under what religion's pretexts these
terrorists work."

The violence in Mosul occurs despite U.S.-Iraqi operations launched over
the summer aimed at routing al-Qaida in Iraq and other insurgents from
remaining strongholds north of the capital.

The killings come as Christian leaders are lobbying Parliament to pass a
law setting aside a number of seats for minorities, such as Christians,
in upcoming provincial elections, fearing they could be further
marginalized in the predominantly Muslim country.

Iraq's Christian community has been estimated at 3 percent of Iraq's 26
million people, or about 800,000, and has a significant presence in the
northern Ninevah province.

In Mosul, where Christians have lived for some 1,800 years, a number of
centuries-old churches still stand.
Please keep these poor people in your prayers, and pray for the conversion of all those who would resort to violence, intimidation, and murder.
Grüß Gott! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 21 October 2008 08:55
Grüß Gott! Morgan.

It's a bother that my MAC doesn't possess an easy way to move between different language keys so I have to copy Grüß Gott from the interesting Wiki article below:

Grüß Gott (literally 'Greet God', see explanation below) is a greeting, less often a farewell, in the Upper German Sprachraum especially in Swabia, Bavaria and Austria particularly in Catholic states. The greeting was publicized in the 19th century by the Catholic clergy and along with its variants has long been the most common greeting form in Southern Germany and Austria. The salutation often receives an ironic response from Northern Germans such as "When I see him"('Wenn ich ihn sehe.') or "Hopefully not too soon" ('Hoffentlich nicht so bald.')

Grüß Gott is the shortened form of both (Es) Grüße dich Gott and its plural (Es) Grüße euch Gott ('may God greet you'). The verb grüßen originally had a meaning similar to segnen ('to bless'), although it now means 'to greet'. The essential meaning of grüß (dich) Gott is therefore 'God bless you'.

In Bavaria, they really do greet you with "Grüß Gott" and yes, you can slip into an early morning Mass and find men in leaderhosen and grey boiled wool jackets and women in dirndl skirts. The difference between the real thing and the tourist thing is color. Germans dress in sober colors - lots of black, grey, brown - not unlike my tribe from western Washington. Since the climate and landscape are very similar, It is interesting that the preferred color range is also similar.

More later. I got home last night at midnight after 24 hours of travel and 9 days without sleep. I never did adjust (next time, I'll bring Tylenol PM or something) and so had to make do with 3 or 4 wildly interrupted hours a night. I skipped several meals in favor of naps to keep going (after all, I was supposed to be working!) but don't think I have ever arrived home more tired. Fr. Mike get home late tonight. He has the camera so pictures will have to wait. Despite everything, we had a great time and enjoyed our Bavarian sojourn very much. And picked out our new CSI Europe headquarters.

Danke for your prayers. The Called & Gifted seemed to go well.

Since I only have 3 days at home before jetting off to Chicago again this weekend - sleep, washing clothes, and getting reading for several November events - have to be the priority. But I hope to get in some blogging as well.
The Travails of Voting PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 20 October 2008 14:48

Written by JACK

I hope that Sherry and Fr. Mike don't mind that my first return to this blog is to post some serious questions about a most volatile topic these days in the Catholic blogosphere: voting. (By all means, if the conversation on this gets out of hand, take this post down Sherry. My hope is for a productive conversation, but I'm not naive about what may result.)

I post this because I've struggled with whom to vote for in this upcoming election. For the record, I have already decided and cast my ballot (thanks to early voting in my state). So I am going to try and focus on just the Church's teaching on voting without (if that's possible) referencing this current election. It strikes me that many are wedded to their specific candidates and, in the ideological and apocalyptic political culture we have fostered in this country, can't seem to have a reasoned conversation on this subject if candidates' names are invoked. I also post this here because it strikes me that the mission of the Intentional Disciple is to let Christ enter the whole of their life, including their voting.

As I understand it, the Church teaches that it is never permissible for a Catholic (or anyone for that matter) to support a candidate who advocates for intrinsically evil things as a means of supporting those intrinsically evil things. I also understand that the Church teaches that when all candidates support intrinsically evil things, it may be possible to still vote for such candidate if (a) one does so despite their support for the intrinsically evil things (i.e., not in order to advance support for the intrinsically evil things) and (b) if there exists proportional reasons for supporting this candidate despite their support for intrinsically evil things.

All that seems clear enough, until you start to apply it. And this is where the bishops statements seem to not give as much guidance as I'd like.

For example, let's start with the question of what should be the first prong of our analysis. From the Bishops' statement, it would seem to me that the first thing would be to identify all of the candidates and determine whether any of them do not support intrinsically evil things. However, in identifying "all the Candidates", most Catholics these days let the question of electability seep in. Some don't even bother to consider anyone other than a Republican or Democrat in the race. Others consider third-party candidates, but only so long as to deem them unelectable and push them to the side. I understand their reasoning and pragmatism. Yet, I can't help but notice that the Church's teaching doesn't really speak to this and instead speaks to "when all candidates....". So I would love to hear from some moral theologians on what consideration should a Catholic be giving to a candidate who doesn't support intrinsically evil things when he happens to be not one of the two-major party candidates and is deemed to be unlikely to win the election. From my eyes, at best, all I can say is that I don't see a basis in what the Church has taught to support a priori dismissal of this candidate from consideration.

Second, I'd like to ask about proportional reasons. Every time I see the Church's teaching applied, people seem to make an argument that proportional reasons translates into "my chosen candidate supports fewer intrinsically evil things than the other major-party candidate". This just leaves me wanting and seems to reduce what I presume the Church means to be a high hurdle down to not much of anything. I suppose I should be fair -- proponents of this usually couple it with some argument on the level of "... and the other candidate is going to enact so many evil policies that your head will spin and the world will explode." I know some will object to my characterization, but my point is to suggest that, for my eyes, the arguments about the evils another candidate might inflict if elected usually tend to be hyperbolic and not reflecting that the same constraints that might prevent your chosen candidate from doing good might similarly act to restrain another candidate from doing evil. In other words, the magnitude of harm is usually assumed to satisfy the test the Church proposes by the mere presence of support for additional intrinsic evils. Instead, I'd love some clear reflection on what proportional reasons or analysis looks like on this subject in the eyes of the Church.

It strikes me, more this year than any year in the past, that American Catholics are in need of greater clarity regarding the Church's teaching. Maybe my eyes were not open to the issue in the past, but they are now. I hope some might oblige me my request. (By "some" by the way, I mean those who will engage in serious, reasonable and prudent theological reflection, preferably with some training in moral theology. Not those who wish to present circular arguments justifying why they are voting for one candidate or another. There are other blogs on which to do that.)

World Mission Sunday PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 19 October 2008 13:23

Written by Joe Waters

Today is the Church's annual reminder that her essential mission is to invite those who do not know Christ into a personal, transforming encounter with him. Here are a couple of highlights:

The Holy Father's Message for the day. It reminds us that the "missionary mandate continues to be an absolute priority for all baptized persons who are called to be "servants and apostles of Christ Jesus" at the beginning of this millennium."
Also, today saw the beatification of the parents of the patroness of missions, St Therese. Happily adding another lay, married couple to the ranks of beati.

And, as expected, the Catholic dimension of the election is heating up with recent comments from bishops across the country, counter-statements by various Catholic public intellectuals, and, most interestingly, a candid and frank address on the matter by Archbishop Chaput in Denver last week. All of this illustrates- strikingly so- the current incoherence of our moral discourse and the need for a clear, coherent, and credible witness to Jesus Christ. On this Missions Sunday, let us pray that the Church, throughout the whole world and in every language, may courageously bear witness to Him who is the Lord of life and Prince of Peace.

Happy Sunday!

Labels: mission
"Credible Witnesses of Christ Present in the Scriptures" PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 15 October 2008 18:07
Written by Joe Waters

As Fr Mike and Sherry head to Germany, I will try to forestall any blogging lull that could result from their tour abroad. Nonetheless, I do hope that we receive periodic updates on Bavaria's autumnal splendor and their activities.

Today Cardinal Bertone discussed the ways in which young people could be encouraged to take the scriptures more seriously. He called for more attention to the role of credible witnesses who take the Word seriously in their own lives and compel young people to the same.

Nevertheless, one notices that many of these young people show a surprising interest in the Bible when the syncrony is reached not as much, at least in the beginning, through the authority of a Biblical page called the Word of God, but by adults working who go to them as patient teachers and credible witnesses of the greatest figure, who is Jesus; in other words, people who when they say the Word of God, demonstrate it with their own life.

Let us fervently pray for such witnesses!

Labels: synod
I have an hour before I leave for the aiport PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 14 October 2008 11:35
I have an hour before I leave for the aiport again so thought I would fill you in on my Stewardship experience.

I did - finally - make it to downtown Chicago about 10 pm Sunday. It was a short - but luxurious night (I've never stayed in a Hyatt hotel before - excellent service. It's too bad I was too tired to enjoy it much and too busy to venture outside. There's a reason why I'm writing the Michelin Guide to the abandoned rectories and convents of North America. They are my usual fare.)

The next day was simply jammed but very fruitful. Up early and because of tiredness and time, for the first and only time in my life, I had breakfast in my room. Then down to look at the venue, find my booktable materials. Thank God, we had a hotel AV tech who set up everything for us!!! (For once in my life, I wasn't technically blind leading the even more technically blind. Parishes often have digital projectors that no one knews how to use so they just hand them over me to figure out!)

God was at work and the presentation itself went very well - I'm guessing 350 - 370 or so attendees. I had lots of questions and was mobbed at the booktable. Thank God, Patty, one of our champions from New Jersey was there and pitched in to help. As it was, a number had to leave before we could get to them. The rest of the afternoon, as I walked about, people were coming up to thank me, hug me, and talk about us coming to their diocese or parish -including several from the UK. I also got to meet some old friends, including one who knew the Called & Gifted process in the very earliest days - before the Institute even began. So I hope for some good fruit from this.

Which was good to keep in mind as I spent 1 1/2 hours on the cab ride from another dimension of sight and sound . . .

It was supposed to be a 30 mile drive and I had printed out Mapquest direction, but my driver got lost and went 20 miles out of his way until even I, who know nothing about Chicago, knew we were lost and called my hostess - 5 times - to get us where we were supposed to be. How fast a $50 cab ride can become $100. He acknowledged the error and reduced the fare but I couldn't help but think that I could have stayed another night in luxury and rested for not much more.

So your prayers for the trip to Germany would be greatly appreciated. i seem to be exercising a travel anti-charism on this trip and can just envison myself being trapped in some kind of endless alternate reality loop in Amsterdam or something.

Next stop: the Bavarian Alps in Herbst (Autumn in German) I've printed out a few key Germany phrases to study on the way. I took high school German but haven't used it in many years.
but it all came flooding back.

Auf Weidersehen.
More Synod News PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 14 October 2008 09:12

Written by Joe Waters

As a complement to Fr Mike's previous post, I think the words addressed to the synod fathers from the founders and leaders of the new ecclesial movements have much of the same character as those from the superiors of the various religious orders present. I particularly enjoyed these words from the found of the Community of Sant'Egidio, the historian, Andrea Riccardi:

"Gregory the Great teaches us that the Word grows with he who reads it. It enlightens the poor, guiding us to understand that to be close to them is to be close to Christ Himself. Thus emerges the structural dimension of the Christian: the disciple. ... At a time of a whirlwind of words, the Word matures in silence. ... At times the Word is chained by projects, protagonists, and ideological readings. ... To evangelize is not a technique, but to overflow with the Word. The Synod can be the right moment to promote a mature season of love for Scripture in the people of God. Strengthened by a century of biblical culture, is it not time to develop devotion to the Sacred Text among the people of God? Christian men and women will thus become - as Chrysostom says - 'simple with intelligence' in a complex world".

Synod News PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Fones   
Monday, 13 October 2008 08:15
Sherry's preparing to speak at the International Catholic Stewardship Convention in a few minutes. I thought I'd take a moment to quote John Allen's article on a few speeches made by religious superiors at the Synod in Rome on the Scriptures. He wrote,
It’s long been an established conviction among synod-watchers that the most interesting speeches during these gatherings, more often than not, come from the heads of religious orders.

Perhaps that’s because the speeches are less solo performances than a reflection of the wisdom of an entire community, or perhaps it’s because most superiors are elected to fixed terms and are conscious they may not have this opportunity again. It may even be because serving as a superior these days requires continual travel around the world, so they’ve got long hours to fill on airplanes polishing their texts.

Whatever the explanation, this Synod of Bishops on the Bible has been no exception. A speech earlier in the week by Fr. Glen Lewandowski, a Minnesotan who serves as Master General of the Crosier order, on the link between scripture and liturgy was widely hailed for its nifty turns of phrase, such as a warning that too often the “Great Amen” at Mass seems tacked on as a “drowsy afterthought.”

Yesterday, Fr. Tony Pernia, a Filipino who serves as Superior General of the Society of the Divine Word, offered what may be one of the few images heard on the synod floor destined to outlive the synod itself: Religious orders as the “hearing aid” of the Catholic church.

Pernia argued that the title of the Synod of Bishops, “The Word of God in the Mission and Life of the Church,” can be rephrased as “The Word of God IS the Mission of the Church.”

That mission, Pernia said, is rooted in “God’s on-going dialogue with the world and humanity.” In that light, he suggested, “the mission of the church needs to be understood as dialogue.”

As such, Pernia said, evangelization is never a one-way street, in which the church speaks and the world listens. To be true to its mission, he said, the church must also listen to “the searching of faith-seekers, the cultural and religious traditions of people of other faiths, the aspirations of the poor and marginalized.”

In this effort to listen to the world, he suggested, religious orders can play the role of the church’s “hearing aid.”

“Consecrated men and women, especially the missionaries who are engaged in mission at the frontiers of faith and the margins of society, can be the ‘hearing aid’ of the church,” Pernia said, “as they endeavor to listen to the Word of God revealed particularly in the lives of people.”

Quoting the document of the Second Vatican Council on divine revelation, Dei Verbum, Pernia closed by suggesting that consecrated life “can contribute to making the church a community that not only proclaims but also listens.”

On the other hand, Pernia’s memorable speech seems a convincing indication that religious orders can also do the reverse – not only listen, but speak, and do it well.
I also saw that as a consequence of the Synod's topic, there may be a call for a year focusing on better preaching on the part of the clergy; preaching that connects the Word of God to the daily lives of His people. Perhaps that's why Fr. Carlos Aspiroz Costa, OP, Master of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans) will be giving one of the closing speeches at the Synod.

It would follow, it seems to me, to focus on preaching after a Synod on the Bible in the Mission of the Church. As has been mentioned at the Synod, Christians are not so much a people of the Book, but a people of the Word. We are united with Christ, the Word of God, and meant to continue his mission in the world today. Thus it is absolutely imperative that the clergy be able to help the laity apply the living Word of God to the complex situations we find ourselves in these days. It is a disservice to the Word and to our congregations to simply help people understand what the text meant to the original listeners, or to ascend to beautiful theological doctrines based on the scriptures without grounding the Word in today's problems.

Without that living application - which often will have to be discerned in dialogue with the laity who are encountering first hand the problems and issues in the world - the Word dies, or is stillborn in our hearts.
The Flight From Purgatory PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Sunday, 12 October 2008 11:29
About that whole plane boarding scenario . . .

It didn't happen exactly as planned. I did board the plane alright but was then ordered off because the crew had discovered that, overnight, some bright soul had hit the plane with a truck or loader and left a 4 foot long dent in the side. So that was the end of that flight and the beginning of the next 2 hours and 15 min, during which I

Called Northwest airlines elite line 4 times
Checked in 4 times (don't ask)
Went through security twice
Was physically searched once (and told that I would be searched every time I go through security today)
Spent 1 hour 10 minutes standing in various lines.

The end of which is that I'm now on an entirely different airline and leaving at 5pm and will see the bright lights of downtown Chicago about 10 pm. It's gonna be a short night and my talk is at 10 am Monday.

So I'm back home for a few hours and gonna take the nap that I usually take on the early flight to Minneapolis. Those 3am wake calls are murder.

And then I'll return to the airport, allowing time to be personally searched again . . .

Perhaps more later.
More on French Revival PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Sunday, 12 October 2008 05:27
Oh here we go a-blogging amid the airport so green . . .

On my way again - to Chicago and then Bavaria.

But before I leave, I thought I'd use this time to share a bit more about the Catholic revival in France.

One thing became obvious as I read:

The revival didn't happen because of the 35 years of religious war. The endless violence, and more Catholic than thou Holy League's reign of terror in Paris (where they were known to arrest Catholics at Mass at Notre Dame for not being Catholic enough) only showed the spiritual bankruptcy of Catholicism-as-tribe and Catholicism-as-political/military-movement. Neither of them were capable of responding adequately to the challenges of the day.

Two to four million French man and women died in those conflicts and 20% of the population of Paris died because of the siege of 1590. The first generation of reformers were nearly all children or students during the civil wars years. Though most of them were not active participants in the civil war, they were deeply marked by their parent's experience of it and the atmosphere it created. When a tentative peace was restored under a Protestant-turned-Catholic king and the Edict of Nantes, the new stability included a permanent Protestant minority. The whole experience moved them from looking at the emergence of Protestantism as the cause of all of France's problems and starting to understand it as a symptom.

It was when the reformers turned to considering their own sins and failure and the failures of the larger French Church, and they turned to confession, penance, and a life of serious, disciplined devotion and mission (which was the 17th century language for "intentional discipleship) that the revival began. And this revival was anything but nostalgic. The Catholic Reformation was successful and regained much of the ground that had been lost because it produced a tidal wave of widespread spiritual, evangelical, and pastoral reforms and innovations that we now think of as essential Catholicism.

Deeply faithful to Christ, to the Tradition, to the Church and profoundly innovative and future-oriented as well. The fact that the Vatican Council (II) happened in a time of peace and apparent institutional strength has distorted our perspective. We keep projecting our concerns back on the Council of Trent and the early modern Catholic Church and they were not at all the same. Their backs were against the wall. They knew that reform and change was imperative. In that situation, there was no talk of hermeneutics of continuity.

All kinds of long-standing practices and "traditions" were suppressed as part of that renewal - liturgical, pastoral, disciplinary - and that was necessary but the heart and soul of the revival was the love-inspired creativity of heroic figures like Frances de Sales, Vincent de Paul, Louise de Marrilac, etc.

My plane is boarding. Got to go. God bless!
Christ in the City PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 10 October 2008 10:17

Written by Joe Waters

I went last night to St Patrick's Church in downtown Washington for the monthly "Christ in the City" Holy Hour for young adults. I was very much impressed by the way it was organized, the beauty of the church, the lovely music that was a mix of contemporary Christian favorites and chant, by the generous silence, and by the preaching, which invited us to a deeper personal relationship with Jesus Christ and called those who do not know Christ to "open the doors of their hearts" to him. The church was darkened and I sat in the back, but it appeared that there were at least 125 folks there who looked mainly to be young professionals or students. After the homily the lines were quite long for all three priests who were hearing confessions. More information on this monthly event is here.

While it was all very beautiful and the folks there seemed to be deeply devoted to our Lord, I was struck by the ways in which this gesture is perfect for those who are not intentional disciples, who may be curious, open, or seeking and may benefit from a rather unstructured, no frills, no obligation encounter with the Eucharistic-Emmanuel. The setting was typical of what postmoderns say they like in church (an experience of the transcendent, otherwordly, etc) and which the emergent church movement has capitalized on. I am sure this can be fruitfully replicated in other cities with high concentrations of young adults as a tool for evangelization, as well as an occasion for committed young adults to deepen their relationship with the Lord.

15 Days of Prayer with Dominican Saints PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Thursday, 09 October 2008 15:44
For the Domino-phils on your gift list, here are some very interesting titles published by New City Press, the publishing arm of Focolare:

15 Days of Prayer with St. Dominic

15 Days of Prayer with St. Thomas Aquinas

and most importantly,

15 Days of Prayer with St. Catherine of Siena will be coming out in January.

Here's the publisher's description:

Saint Catherine issues an invitation and challenge: change direction, move away from self and toward God and neighbor. This 15-day journey will teach you to focus on Christ and be transformed by him, sharing the knowledge and joy of his love with others. The Cross is the central axis of these fifteen days because it is the place that leads to God. This is the vision of spiritual awakening in Christ that Saint Catherine offers us.

The authors (and one a Jesuit, no less!)
Chantal van der Plancke has a doctorate in theology, and is a professor at Lumen Vitae, the international center for pastoral studies and catechesis in Brussels. André Knockaert, S.J. is the former director of Lumen Vitae, and is a professor and a theological consultant for the Archdiocese of Malines-Brussels.

Spiritual journeys are best experienced with a guide. Now you can receive guidance from some of the seminal spiritual figures of all time. Each volume in the “15 Days of Prayer” series contains:
• A brief biography of the saint or spiritual leader introduced in that volume
• A guide to creating a format for prayer and retreat
• 15 meditations sessions with focus points and reflection guides
Up, Up, and Away PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Fones   
Thursday, 09 October 2008 08:51
I'm sitting in the Colorado Springs airport on a glorious autumn morning, watching a hot air balloon rise over the city. Conception Abbey, MO, is my first destination, where I'll be leading a small men's retreat. Then, after a day in Ankeny, IA, with Charlie and Amy Hoover, two of our wonderful monthly donors, I'll be off to the Military Council of Catholic Women Conference in Ettal, Germany. Hopefully, Sherry will join me in the Munich airport a short three hours after I arrive.

Blogging from me will be spottier than normal. I imagine your lives will lurch along, nonetheless.
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