All posts tagged: Catholic imagination

Nourishing the Imagination: Science & Religion

As anyone reading this article is likely to know already, the McGrath Institute for Church Life is dedicated to nourishing the Catholic imagination and renewing the Church. The past three years of my work in the MICL have made the claim that we are in fact serving the Church in this way very easy to believe. Yet, what has escaped my attention until fairly recently is the fundamentally biological nature of the metaphor of nourishment. To nourish is a particular function, more interior and deliberate than merely to feed. To nourish assumes an understanding of nutrition and digestion, as well as organicity, ecology, that is, it assumes a whole biology, and a dynamic and integrated one at that. In his 1844 Handbuch der Physiologie des Menschen, Johannes Peter Müller, an eminent German physiologist and comparative anatomist, made a then startling claim about the nature of nutrition and its relationship to human physiology. He claimed, quite simply, that “nutrition is not an object of microscopial research.” Müller saw in the standard fare of the physiological science …

The All of It: Nourishing the Catholic Imagination through Echo’s Integrative Formation

“It is the starved imagination, not the well-nourished, that is afraid.” –E.M. Forster If we are to think of the Church as a field hospital, as Pope Francis has suggested, with “the mission to heal the wounds of the heart, to open doors, to free people, to say that God is good, God forgives all . . . God always waits for us” (Homily, Casa Santa Marta, 2.5.15), then those of us responsible for preparing ministers for this field hospital Church must place the nourishment of our students’ imaginations at the center of their and our work. It takes a great deal of courage and pastoral creativity to approach deep wounds, to open closed doors, to receive and speak rightly of God’s forgiveness and affection. In Echo, students engage simultaneously in various dimensions of the program—study, prayer, community, ministry, formation. But the key to a well-nourished Catholic imagination is not just being in Catholic places and doing and consuming Catholic things. Fragmented busyness might make us feel full but it often leaves us overfed and …

May Crowning: Honoring Our Queen and Our Mother

A long-standing tradition in the Church has been to adorn a statue or image of the Blessed Virgin Mary with flowers at the beginning of May, a month dedicated to her honor. I have vivid memories of the May Crowning at my grade school, when all of the students were invited to bring flowers from home that would then be put into vases and carried in procession to the front of the church, where a large statue of Our Lady was prominently placed. If you were lucky, you were the one chosen to carry the vase in the procession as your class representative. If you were super lucky, you were the one chosen to carry the circlet of flowers and crown Mary at the culmination of the service. Here at Our Lady’s University, the McGrath Institute for Church Life brought back the tradition of the Marian Procession and May Crowning last year, an event that will take place once again this year on Sunday, May 7 at 1pm, beginning at the Grotto of Our Lady …

New Orleans and the Catholic Imagination

As I woke up this morning in northern Indiana, I felt deeply sad. Some might assume that it is the perma-cloud that has reasserted its wintry authority over South Bend. Some would tell me that it’s the pile of papers that must be graded over the next three days. Both are wrong. It’s because today is Mardi Gras, and I’m not in New Orleans. When I tell people that I love New Orleans especially around Mardi Gras, a number of assumptions are made about me as a person. People imagine me as the kind of person who likes to wander drunkenly down Bourbon St., my feet immersed in some unidentified liquid, while my body brushes against a crowd of half-clothed human beings. They think to themselves how can a Catholic theologian, who is supposed to be piously engaged in theological education and research, enjoy this kind of debauchery? In fact, any Catholic who has spent significant time in New Orleans knows that my imagined interlocutor has misunderstood how ingrained the Catholic imagination is within the city of New Orleans. Yes, whenever …

The Catholic Imagination in the Classroom

My students have grown accustomed to their senses being bombarded with stimulation. They find it difficult, as do I, to cut off from the noise of the fast-paced world swirling around them. Too often, the media that falls in their lap, or rather pops up on their screen, is less than hopeful. It portrays a cold world where nothing is certain, only hard facts and “science” can be trusted, and faith must be kept at arm’s length, as all superstitions should. This worldview, in my opinion, is causing an existential crisis among our students before they even enter high school. This environment does nothing to help me as a teacher of theology to nourish the Catholic imagination of my students, a task I feel is at the center of my work as a catechist. In this world, a sacramental view is seen as foolish at best and willful ignorance at worst. This hermeneutic of skepticism makes it nearly impossible for conventional approaches to catechesis to break through the noise and open their eyes and ears …

We Need More Catholic YA

For the past two years, I’ve spent a lot of time in Utah. I met a friend online who co-founded Teen Author Boot Camp, a marvelous one-day writing experience for teen writers. They bring in YA (Young Adult) writers to teach the kids how to write through classes, from how to write a fight scene to making characters more believable. Not only does the camp draw around 700 kids a year, but it also lands some of the biggest names in YA fiction: Brandon Sanderson, James Dashner, and Ally Condie. It’s truly an amazing experience to see kids taking notes, asking intelligent questions, and being serious about writing. After my first experience at the boot camp, my friends and I went out to a curious bar and grill in downtown Provo, Utah—part sports bar, part upscale dining, and part dance club with a mechanical bull right in the middle of the dance floor. As I sat at the end of the table, I realized something: all of my fellow camp friends were Mormons. During the …

Liturgy and the New Evangelization: 2016 Symposium

In his recently translated book, Mystery and Sacrament of Love: A Theology of Marriage and the Family for the New Evangelization, Marc Cardinal Ouellet writes: In a postmodern context, we have to justify the ‘why’ of the sacraments; it is not enough to explain their ‘how’ within a universe of meaning that no longer exists (2). At the Institute for Church Life, Cardinal Ouellet’s concern about the loss of the sacramental imagination is the central one for renewing liturgical prayer today. Liturgical theology, formation, and catechesis cannot simply proclaim again and again that liturgy is the source and summit of Christian life. We cannot yell at the top of our lungs that sacraments are important. We cannot return to a golden age of the early Church, of medieval Catholicism, of the liturgical movement, of right after Vatican II. At this moment in history, the very ground of meaning upon which the sacraments stands is up for grabs. We have to develop a liturgical and sacramental apologetics that invites women and men, lay and ordained, to see this meaning anew. …