Advancing the Kingdom

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Advancing the Kingdom

Advancing the Kingdom

Heresy

“Heresy is an archaism”. Many today would agree with this statement and would not in the least be disturbed by it. For them the concept of heresy is an irrelevant curiosity stored in the Museum of History. Many others, however, are unaware of the term just as they are aware of the word ‘orthodoxy’. This morning six of our grandchildren are attending CCD classes at their parish. Regardless of the effectiveness of these classes these youngsters are blessed to be receiving them and their parents are to be praised for providing them. It remains to be seen how their understanding of the faith will develop as they mature, but at least they are getting a good start. How many self-identified Christians have had the benefit of a religious education? Those who have and who choose to accept it are faithful. Are others who have learned it and reject it heretical?…

"spiritual hoboism"

This strikingly apt phrase comes from Al Kresta’s book titled Dangers To The Faith: Recognizing Catholicism’s 21st-Century Opponents. While adherence to what’s termed mainline or institutional religion declines in our country ‘spiritual hoboism’ is on the rise. One reads that the fastest growing denomination, especially among the young, are the “nones”. I wonder if the second fastest spreading group are those who say they are not religious but they are spiritual.  Are we becoming a nation of spiritual hobos? Other than man made laws – ultimately as changeable as popular opinion – do we no longer acknowledge that immutable natural law guides us. Are we letting fade into desuetude the religiously inspired culture and its traditions that have provided the social cohesion underpinning our ability to be civilized? When each of us ‘goes his own way’, ‘does his own thing’, responds to his own ‘spirituality’ we are beholden to nothing…

“Nostra Aetate”

These are the opening words of what many contend is the most theologically revolutionary document of the Second Vatican Council, the Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions promulgated by Pope Paul VI in October 1965: “IN OUR TIME, when day by day mankind is being drawn closer together, and the ties between different peoples are becoming stronger……” Now, Yom Kippur – the holiest time on the Jewish calendar – it is both appropriate and fruitful to recall the great strides that have been made in Jewish-Christian relations these past fifty years. Anti-Semitism is now roundly condemned by the Church as sinful. How can it not be? As the Declaration states: “The Church keeps ever in mind the words of the Apostle (Paul) about his kinsmen: ‘Theirs is the sonship and the glory and the law and the worship and the promises; theirs are the fathers and…

One day in the Holy Name Cathedral

Allow me to follow up on an article that appeared here a year or so ago about the organization: American Federation Pueri Cantores. I forward the attached write-up by Dr. Jacqueline Leary-Warsaw, the Dean of the Rome School of Music Drama and Art at the Catholic University of America. Her words capture in print the moving experience briefly caught on the appended. Readers desirous of exposing youngsters to the truth and beauty of the sacred will want to follow the progress of this inspiring apostolate. AFPC Op-Ed Dr. Jacqueline Leary-Warsaw, D.M.A. Dean, Rome School of Music, Drama, and Art The Catholic University of America AFPC Saint Paul wrote in his letter to the Colossians, “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts” (Colossians…

Disarming Beauty

Recently I was privileged to meet the rector of a major seminary. This wise priest pointed out a gap he perceives in seminary training today, one which wasn’t so relevant generations ago. Traditionally graduates of seminaries were assigned to parishes to assist older pastors for a period of mentorship which would last ten or twelve years.  During this time the younger priest gained practical human experience from the older prelate and so was better prepared to assume the role of pastor when his time came. Today, however, recently ordained priests are handled the reins of a parish typically only after three years from graduation – with insufficient exposure to the realities and responsibilities of parish life. For many of these men the ‘human development’ that would have occurred had they benefitted from the example of a senior pastor is lacking. Hence the need this rector recognizes for programs in seminaries…

‘Newmanology’ and ‘Pneumanology’

In spite of its feeble attempt this pun bears some significance. One and a quarter century ago, in 1893, Timothy Harringon, a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania, along with two other laymen and the pastor at St. James Parish founded a Catholic Club at that secular University. It would be the first of many that would arise throughout the nation in the years since and it would be called the Newman Club. Harrington later wrote: “ (after) finding no organization of Catholic Students at the University of Pennsylvania my mind naturally turned to the possibility of forming an organization that would give the Catholic students of this university a chance to come together, to know one another, to discuss subjects of interest to Catholic students and possibly to increase somewhat the opportunities for social life among them”. What inspired this initiative was Harrington’s exposure to Cardinal Newman’s “Apologia…

The sick patient

In a nation which claims (or at least used to) a Judeo-Christian heritage the public response to the horrors recently perpetrated in El Paso and Dayton and earlier in places like Pittsburgh and Columbine is remarkable.  Politicians, actors, news anchormen, and even journalists identify white supremacy, xenophobia, hate speech, racism, homophobia, and even the Second Amendment as the causes of these heinous crimes. Some commentators even implicate national leaders as intentional purveyors of these sick ideologies. There is no denying these mindsets are active, but shouldn’t there be a national conversation about what causes their pervasion?   Could it be our society is sick?  And that we are sick because too many of us have dismissed the existence of God? In doing so we have abandoned religion – now ridiculed by many as an obsolete and even detrimental construct. The antidote to our illness is not in stronger ethics or…

"Woe to you, Chorazin!"

Recently I came across an article that has provoked considerable thought. The author reminds his readers that “fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” and he wonders if we Americans have replaced the hard work of seeking wisdom with the easy allure of embracing folly. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you Bethsaida, for if the mighty works which have been done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes” (Mt. 11:20) How does this stern admonition delivered by Our Lord two millennia ago relate to us today in our morally untethered world where in Daniel Moynihan’s celebrated phrase we continue to “define deviancy down”? How does it relate to a society that wants the blessings of God without the inconvenience of God? One implication is clear. While individuals commit sin so do societies. Just as individuals…

Pontificio Instituto Orientale

A cogent but little-known example of advancing the Kingdom is the work of an Institute created 102 years ago by Pope Benedict XV: Pontificio Instituto Orientale, or the Pontifical Oriental Institute (PIO) located in Rome. Since 1922 it has been entrusted to the Jesuits. According to its website (https://unipio.org/it/) PIO’s mission is to pursue “research, teaching, and publishing relating to the traditions of the Eastern Churches in their theology, liturgies, patristics, history, canon law, literature and languages, spirituality, archeology, and question of ecumenical and geopolitical importance”. Readers who visit the website will be interested in the video of PIO’s Rector, Fr. David Nazar, who explains why the work of the Institute is so critical for the Universal Church in the coming years. Most of us Catholics in the United States are remiss in our ignorance of the Universal Catholic Church. Its membership comprises 24 Churches, the largest of which is…

A Father's Day Reflection

Mothers are usually right. They are able to arrive at the appropriate conclusion without having to rely on logic. Perhaps because they have the greater responsibility of raising children, especially in the early childhood years, Providence has bestowed on them of a higher degree of intuition than it has on us fathers. Mothers intuit; fathers deduce. It is a generalization, of course. The feminine tends to be intuitive, the masculine logical. (This is not to suggest that women lack logic or men intuition). I say this with admiration. Logic involves parameters which necessarily limit conclusions to those that are logically deduced.  Intuition on the other hand arises from inspiration and who knows where inspiration comes from?  Intuited conclusions are not confirmed before but only after they are reached. It’s like not seeing a road sign until after you have passed it. Intuition is a gift and those who possess it…

A new Axial Age?

Some years ago I wrote in this column about Fr. George McLean OMI, founder of the Council for Research in Values and Philosophy (CRVP – www.crvp.org) and I suggested that in the not too distant future this now deceased philosopher will be recognized as a prophet. Fr. Mclean sensed that around the world the gentle stirrings of the Holy Spirit could be detected among all spiritually inclined people in their burgeoning impetus toward unity. Fortunately, his work and its international and inter-religious outreach live on at the McLean Center at Catholic University where Fr. McLean was the Chair Emeritus in Philosophy. Recently in correspondence from the CRVP I came across reference to ‘the Axial Age.”  Coined by the German philosopher, Karl Jaspers, in 1949 the term refers to the period between the eighth and third centuries BCE when great advances in religion and philosophy occurred independently and almost simultaneously in…

Happenstance?

St. Patrick’s Church is a small architectural jewel nestled in the heart of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. Because it is celebrating its sesquicentennial this year St. Pat’s First Holy Communion ceremony this weekend was particularly special. Thirty well-groomed and well-rehearsed young boys and girls processed down the aisle with a solemnity that barely concealed their restless expectation. The standing room only congregation consisted of parents, grandparents, godparents and friends all of whom listened with pride as Fr. Rogers, the popular young pastor, reminded the young communicants – indeed all of us – of the great gift they were about to receive. My wife and I were present.  Two of our grandchildren, Cecilia and her cousin Max, were there to receive the Eucharist for the first time. As I watched them return from the altar three thoughts occurred to me. One was the etymology of the word ‘tradition’ which my mother taught…