All posts filed under: Articles

God Reigns Over the Nations

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen. Alleluia! Christ is Risen! In our daily lectionary, we are pointed to the incredible depth and range of the human experience that we find in the Psalms. We really do have something for the whole spectrum of the human experience in the Psalter. Today, in Psalm 47, we get the biblical manual for what to do on the day that your resurrected Lord and Saviour begins rising up from the surface of the earth until he is taken from your sight on a cloud: “Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy!” “God has gone up with a shout, the Lord with the sound of a trumpet.” Admittedly, the account in the Acts of the Apostles is not actually descriptive of the heavenly musical ensemble at this precise moment. And just in case you were confused about what to do at having witnessed this incredible event, the psalmist knowingly added in “sing praises …

Embracing Parish Life: Step 4—Getting Involved

Editors’ Note: This is the final article in a series that seeks to make parish life more accessible to Catholic young adults. To learn more, see: Embracing Parish Life: Step 1—Choosing a Parish, Embracing Parish Life: Step 2—Registering at a Parish, and Embracing Parish Life: Step 3—Tithing. In thinking about writing this series for young adults on embracing parish life, I began by informally surveying young adult Catholics in my social networks. The 85 people who responded to my Google survey represent an atypical sampling of Millennials (my social networks are exceptionally Catholic-y): 80% attend Mass at least weekly, 80% are registered at their parishes, and 83.5% donate to their parishes at least occasionally. And, yet, only 55.3% of these respondents can definitively say that they feel like they are part of their parish communities. We go to Mass, we’re registered, we donate, but we don’t feel like we belong. What are we missing? In reviewing my [not particularly scientific] data, I found it interesting to look at the differences between those who are involved in their …

Embracing Parish Life: Step 3—Tithing

Editors’ Note: This is the third article in a series that seeks to make parish life more accessible to Catholic young adults. To learn more, see Embracing Parish Life: Step 1—Choosing a Parish and Embracing Parish Life: Step 2—Registering at a Parish. I love budgeting. It might be a slight obsession. My friends and coworkers can attest to my willingness to tell anyone and everyone how wonderful and important it is to budget. The first expense category on our monthly budget is “Giving,” which includes two separate items: giving to our local parish and giving to a charity or cause (we choose something different each month). I share this not to gloat but to share our strategy; if giving wasn’t the first thing on our budget, we’d easily find other ways to spend our money. In Deuteronomy, God tells the Israelites to give the “first fruits” of the harvest (Dt 26:2), or, in other words, to offer some of their crops to God before they take any for themselves. In God’s infinite wisdom, he knew that I could …

Metaphors in the Catechetical Imagination

Christ and his Church have always used metaphors to fashion and to articulate meaning, to express the inexpressible presence of God, and to communicate his truths,[1] such as “I am the good shepherd” (Jn 10:11, 14). The National Directory of Catechesis [NDC] has taken the lead in urging catechists to use metaphors. [2] The NDC advocates metaphors because Christ taught that way. So did the early Church. On their face, metaphors and similes compare one thing or idea with a seemingly different thing. But they are much more than fancy figures of speech. Examining how the Church has used metaphors can teach and transform how contemporary catechists do likewise. Why Metaphors are Made for Catechesis First, metaphors are fundamental, cognitive software through which we map our world, make decisions, and understand ourselves, others and God. We all naturally think and talk using metaphors. So does the Bible, Christ, and the Church. Metaphors (and similes) create associations between seemingly unrelated images, memories, and ideas; they form “maps” by which we understand life, express our thoughts, and …

“You can eat with us”: On Poverty and Community

Twenty years ago, I asked Paul, the tall, burly, blunt, and opinionated leader of the Catholic soup kitchen, if I could take my youth group to serve dinner. “Nope!” he barked. Startled, I squeaked out, “Um, why?” “I used to do exit interviews of high school kids after serving, and one kid said what all the other kids thought: ‘It’s good to serve someone I’m better than.’ You can eat with us. Your kids can come down, a couple at a time.” Paul, in his blunt way, echoed the eloquence of St. Vincent de Paul: You will find out that Charity is a heavy burden to carry, heavier than the kettle of soup and the full basket. But you will keep your gentleness and your smile. It is not enough to give soup and bread. This the rich can do. You are the servant of the poor, always smiling and good-humored. They are your masters, terribly sensitive and exacting masters you will see. And the uglier and the dirtier they will be, the more unjust …

Embracing Parish Life: Step 2—Registering at a Parish

Editors’ Note: This is the second article in a series that seeks to make parish life more accessible to Catholic young adults. To learn more, see Embracing Parish Life: Step 1—Choosing a Parish. Throughout my 20s and into my early 30s there have been some “defining moments” that have made me feel like I’m slowly but surely reaching adulthood. Getting my car’s oil changed, purchasing and cooking a Thanksgiving turkey, and planting tulip bulbs and various other flowers in my yard are just a few of those moments. Registering at my parish is another. I found that something about registering at a parish and receiving my offertory envelopes in the mail each month made me feel more grown up. Maybe my “cradle Catholic” upbringing has something to do with it. Regardless, registering at a parish is an important step for any Catholic young adult. But, you might be asking yourself, I can go to Mass at any parish without registering, so what’s the difference? Why register? For starters, registering is helpful for the parish. Every …

Embracing Parish Life: Step 1—Choosing a Parish

Transitioning from a worshipping community at a college or university to a worshipping community at a “regular” parish can be challenging, both for recent graduates and for those of us who have been out of school for several years. This series seeks to make parish life more accessible to Catholic young adults, because belonging to a diverse community of believers and learning to be engaged in the care of that community are incredible opportunities to encounter God’s love and grace. Choosing a parish can be tricky. In the last year, our parish has experienced a few clergy transitions, which have, as you might imagine, affected the “feel” of the parish. Now, my husband and I are deciding whether to stick it out and reinvest in our current parish or to take a look at some other parishes in our area that are closer to our home. Like many new college graduates and transitioning young adults, we’re in the process of choosing a parish. Here are four questions we’re considering as we decide which parish to …

A Vision of Heaven: Dorm Community as Christian Community

How good it is and how pleasant when kindred dwell as one. —Psalm 133:1 A wise priest once held up for me, as an image of spiritual maturity, the Gospel story of the Visitation. Luke narrates the story of Mary running to Elizabeth immediately following Mary’s own visitation by an angel. Told by the angel that Elizabeth is with child, Mary goes to visit Elizabeth. Why? In the story of Mary’s annunciation, the angel announces to Mary her startling new vocation, and immediately follows that with the magnificent work that has been done in Elizabeth by God. Elizabeth’s bearing a child in her old age is given to Mary as a miraculous sign of grace. Rather than running to Elizabeth to announce her own monumental good news, as one might expect, Mary goes to Elizabeth to delight in Elizabeth’s good news. Mary, the model of all discipleship, models for us a radical call to rejoice in the other. But Elizabeth’s response to Mary elevates the scene to a still more excellent image. Elizabeth cries out: …

Goodness Multiplied: An Examination of Christian Community

I was a lone wolf until college. I prided myself on not having a group of friends but many distinctive, particular friendships. I hated following the crowd and I thought of myself as something of an artist. Maybe it was becoming Catholic as a senior in high school that changed me, but by my roaring twenties, I had become a community junkie. I opted into several intentional communities after the college years at Notre Dame, including a Catholic orphanage run by volunteers in Honduras and a Catholic Worker House back in the U.S. upon my return. I discerned several religious communities seriously, but ultimately married an equally community-oriented man, and we’re now raising our children in a semi-intentional communal neighborhood. Having spent a number of years involved in various communities, I’ve realized that I’m interested in how to keep communities healthy and united, how to draw the appropriate boundaries and how to make things last in a sustainable, ongoing way. Short-term service in community is great. Long-lasting, deep, real community rooted in faith that takes …

Motherhood and the Eucharist

Iam a new mother, but each day I realize more and more that the journey into motherhood is a process of becoming. Reflection on this process often leads me back to Our Blessed Mother, who also had to become a mother. As Mary became the Mother of God, a fitting model for all mothers, she did so in the presence of Christ. In many ways, her tiny child became the model of motherhood for her: “The Babe that I carry carrieth me, saith Mary, and He hath lowered His wings, and taken and placed me between His pinions” (Ephraem, “Rhythm the Twelfth,” p. 53). In this passage, Mary sees her participation in the kenotic mystery of the Incarnation as the realization of her role as both Mother of God and child of God. When a mother gazes down at her child, perhaps she sees herself—not just her physical reflection in the features of her child but in the spiritual reflection of herself also as a child of God. This encounter between mother and child can lead …