Advancing the Kingdom

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Advancing the Kingdom

Advancing the Kingdom

Progressive v. Progressive

Generally regarded as a logophile my mother had a particular fascination for contranyms. She delighted in the fact that words such a sanction, dust, dress, and overlook could mean their opposites. Even so she instructed my siblings and me (or in today’s untutored grammar ‘my siblings and I’) to define our terms before employing them in any debate lest we be misunderstood. However, she advised that while Scripture admonishes us that our ‘no’ should be ‘no’ and our ‘yes’ should be ‘yes’ we should honor the role of nuance. Whether in verbal, visual or culinary expression nuance can enhance the appeal of concepts, colors and tastes. But, nuance combines and blends realities; it doesn’t confuse them.  We should avoid confusion. Were she alive today I wonder what my mother would think of the popular use of the word ‘progressive’, a confused term to be sure which may itself have become…

Modern day Knights

Members of a certain generation will recall fondly childhood tales of King Arthur and his Knights of the Roundtable. These Arthurian romances recount the awakening within the royal realm of the revolutionary understanding that ‘might’ does not make ‘right’. Rather the reverse had to be true if civilization was to be sustained. The deeds of Merlin and the failure of Camelot notwithstanding, the noble sentiment that ‘right makes might’ stirred young hearts in those long-ago years when national cynicism had not yet eroded youthful idealism. Recently in a televised political rally I noticed someone brandishing a sign that proclaimed in proud letters: “Abortion Is A Catholic Right”. Needless to say, this came as a surprise.  How the concept of ‘rights’ has changed in recent decades! Certainly, in the days of Christendom, fabled or real, and even as recently as two generations ago the link between human rights and natural law…

A mustard seed among the sandalwood

The last ‘Advancing the Kingdom’ article featured the boundless outreach of the Archdiocese of the Military. In a similar vein a significant number of the donor advised funds administered by the National Catholic Community Foundation also benefit overseas endeavors and exemplify the international philanthropic outreach of US civilians. Two examples of such funds are ones established by Chris Lowney, the renowned writer (Heroic Leadership) and public speaker. Mr. Lowney’s first fund, the “Tomorrow’s Leaders Fund”, was set up seventeen years ago to support the education of children in underdeveloped countries. More recently he has created the “Instituto de Brito, East Timor Fund” to support the educational efforts of the Jesuits in Timor-Leste (East Timor). Beyond the material support they offer to their grantees, donor advised funds also provide the collateral benefit of educating the NCCF community at large. Certainly, this is the case with this East Timor Fund which has…

A boundless archdiocese

Today when one hears the term ‘field Mass’ what come to mind are liturgical events whose congregants are so numerous no enclosed edifice can contain them, such as papal Masses in stadiums or town squares. However, readers old enough to remember World War II films might associate a different image with the term. Their first exposure to a field Mass could well have been a picture of embattled soldiers kneeling in a muddy field on some front line, helmets removed, surrounding an army jeep from whose fender a priest distinguished by only a stained chasuble elevates the Sacred Host as the consecration of the Mass ensues. How strange that it never occurred to us, at least not to me, to wonder where these tireless chaplains came from. Who sent them? Who acknowledged their selfless service? Though not as well-known as it should be the answer today is readily available. It…

Flexibility or loss of identity

It is commonplace that the phrase ‘verbal abuse’ connotes the use of words by one person to harm another. I wonder if the phrase could also refer to our abuse of words themselves? This isn’t about the clever use of words – a delightful example of which follows below – but rather about a seemingly innocent but actually sinister hijacking of words. Wordplay can occur without the vitiation of a word’s meaning.  Recall the tale of the vagabond jokester in England centuries ago who vaunted his ability to joke about any matter. To make a living he waged the coin of the realm that he could conjure up a clever remark about any topic. One evening at a village inn gathering his braggadocio began to wear on his listeners. When he bet he could joke about any subject they dared him to do so about the king. Knowing that such…

The temptation of omnipotence

Has anyone noticed how the Thanksgiving Holiday is becoming more holiday and less thanks giving?  How many of us regard Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday more as the beginning of a month-long consumption splurge than as an occasion for expressing our gratitude to God for the bounty he has bestowed on us? In our shared national heritage do we today recall that first Thanksgiving in 1621 celebrated by the pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians or its subsequent declaration as a national day of observance by President Lincoln in 1863? If we do not perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising. We all know that according to recent surveys we are becoming an increasingly godless society. In many sectors religion is not only casually abandoned but forcefully derided. As we relegate God to the realm of myth nothing obliges us to recognize let alone respect his natural law. Boastful of our newly experienced…

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…