All posts tagged: Catholic

The Fitting Nature of the Sacraments

“By coming into this world our Lord Jesus Christ wished to bring holiness within the reach of all….For this end He provided certain means to fill up all their deficiencies, and supply all their needs in the supernatural order. These wonderful means of sanctification are the Sacraments. Their outward signs harmonize admirably with the grace which they contain, and with the effects which they produce. By their means, in a truly divine order of things, [created things], which have so often captivated [us] and drawn [us] away from God, become instruments for bringing [us] back. – Abbess Cecile Bruyere O.S.B.” One of the central paradoxes of human life is that it is the good things of this world that lead us astray, not the bad. No one gets fat because food tastes nasty, no one hoards things because they take up room, no one engages in sexual promiscuity for the STDs. No, it is indeed the case that food often tastes good, stuff is often cool, and sex is often pleasurable. And yet, look at …

Celebrating the Easter Season, Part 3: Dads

In his book, Families and Faith: How Religion Is Passed Down Across Generations, Vern L. Bengston notes that a father who is actively involved in religious practice is more likely to have children who continue being involved in religious practice. For this reason, it is essential for the flourishing of the American Church that dads get involved in the religious lives of their children. Here are six practices that dads might do with their kids during Easter to help develop habits of faith in the home. 6) Take Your Children to the Zoo and Speak About Religious Imagery My son loves the zoo. We ride the carousel of sundry animals (often choosing the shark or dolphin for some unknown reason). We race down hills together. We run to see the lions, the monkeys, and the terrifying carp. For this reason, it wouldn’t take a lot to talk to your kids at the zoo about the link between the animals and the Catholic imagination. Deer are prominent in early Church mosaics because of Psalm 42, “As the …

Globalized Secularity: An American-British Problem

Editor’s Note: This week, the director of the Notre Dame Center for Liturgy and the editor of Church Life is visiting the United Kingdom to give a series of talks on liturgy and secularization. He is also beginning an inter-disciplinary research project related to this topic. He will be blogging about his trip over the next seven days.  Grace Davie, the British sociologist of religion, has often noted the exceptional quality of Europe’s secularity. Because of her work, it is impossible today to speak about a single experience of the secular. In Britain, according to Davie, secularity is best understood as a vicarious religion. No matter how little belief that one might have, it is viewed positively that there is a vicar in town (along with a cathedral church), who can tend to the needs of people who require such things. It’s good that the Church exists to carry out the rites of passage necessary for maintaining social order. Secularity in the United States, of course, is different than this. Much of this has to do …

Editorial Musings: Does Evangelization Require Cultural Catholics?

This week at Church Life, we’re happy to publish an essay by one of our 2016 Liturgy Symposium presenters, Dr. Michael McCallion. Using the discipline of sociology, Dr. McCallion assesses the evangelization efforts of two parishes in the Archdiocese of Detroit: one that uses a rational-intellectual approach to evangelization, while another focuses on an affective-volitional one. According to Dr. McCallion, the affective-volitional approach has generated more activities associated with the New Evangelization than the rational-intellectual one. Thus, the former approach seems better placed to renew ecclesial life in the present. Our editorial group spent some time discussing the findings of this article. While we were persuaded that an affective-volitional approach may be an essential catalyst in spurring activity within parish life, we also concluded that the article only measures the efficacy of evangelization at the level of the individual. That is, Dr. McCallion focuses primarily upon individual transformation that results in new forms of activity in parish life rather than the transformation of culture itself. The tendency to treat evangelization merely as an individual’s attraction to …

Editorial Musings: Does a Catholic School Evangelize?

Over the next week, the American Church marks its annual commemoration of Catholic Schools Week. The theme in 2017 is Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge, and Service. And we here at Church Life will be marking this week through a variety of posts related to the theology and practice of Catholic education. Dr. Glenn B. Siniscalchi has contributed an essay that will guide our inquiry this week. He notes that magisterial documents describe Catholic higher education as an activity of evangelization. Yet, in a survey to leaders in Catholic higher education, it quickly became obvious to Dr. Siniscalchi that many see the category of evangelization through a lens of suspicion. To these academics, evangelization in Catholic higher education would mean to proselytize, to take away religious liberty, and to substitute indoctrination for intellectual inquiry. In essence, if evangelization is part of a Catholic university’s mission, it would (to these scholars) take away the vocation to be a University. We would have Catholic institutions that trade away excellence for religious identity and security. But, this is …

Priests gathered around the altar at the funeral of Cardinal Francis George

Burial of the Dead: Opportunities and Challenges

 The month of November and the recent conclusion of the Year of Mercy provide a fitting time to reflect on the least-glamorized corporal work of mercy: burial of the dead. Our American culture goes out of its way to sanitize and ignore the reality of death, so we tend to come face-to-face with mortality only if a close relative or friend is dying, or when attending a funeral. Yet death is truly ubiquitous, whether or not we chance upon a funeral motorcade crossing city streets. And we Christians must properly appreciate death as a necessary transition from this life to the next. The Church’s funeral rites offer many beautiful ways for mourners to engage in the process between death and burial. While most of us are acquainted with the wake, the funeral liturgy itself, and the committal at the place of entombment, there are other, more unfamiliar practices that the faithful should be aware of. Participating in Burial Preparation The Order of Christian Funerals exhorts that “the family and friends of the deceased should not …

Sacramental Sex?

Last month, Donna Freitas, author of the 2008 book Sex and the Soul, addressed residence hall staff and the campus community at Notre Dame in a talk entitled: “Catholicism and a Culture of Consent.” In the process of her research on sexuality and faith, Freitas conducted hundreds of interviews with students on a variety of college campuses.  Based on these interviews, Freitas compiled a working definition of the circumlocution often used to describe sexual encounters among college students: the hook-up. By Freitas’ definition, a “hookup” is: 1. Some sort of sexual intimacy: anything from a kiss to intercourse. 2. It is brief: five minutes, one night, and no promise or intention of continuance. 3. Finally, and most importantly, there is a lack of emotional investment. The ideal feelings for a hook-up would be a laconic nonchalance. She who shows the least interest wins. Because lack of caring about the other is part of hookup culture, in the midst of this self-absorbed quest to cease to care about the other person, the initiator might lose sight …

A Transcendent Fall Classic

Sporting events are sometimes referred to as a sort of secular liturgy.  From fan apparel to tailgating to the traditions surrounding the competition itself, one is invited to become a full participant in an unfolding drama with its own regional culture and proper rituals. Certainly here in Notre Dame country we are familiar with such an immersion on Saturdays in the fall.  But some seasons are more festive than others, and Irish football has taken on a rather penitential character of late. Thankfully, the Boys of Summer have lingered to provide us what promises to be a memorable respite.  For all followers of baseball – and especially for the Midwest – this year’s World Series matchup between the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians has unprecedented significance.  By the numbers, these are the two longest-suffering fan bases in professional sports, with the last World Series wins coming in 1908 for the Cubs and in 1948 for the Indians – a combined 174 years of waiting for “our year.” Perhaps no sporting spectacle in our lifetimes has …

A drawing of Christ crucified upon a wall of a Protestant Church in France

A Man Died Here, and He Is My Brother

In 1937, Abel Meeropol, a teacher in New York City, wrote a poem and a song that echoed through the country: Southern trees bear a strange fruit: Blood on the leaves and blood at the root, Black bodies swingin’ in the Southern breeze, Strange fruit hangin’ from the poplar trees.   Pastoral scene of the gallant South: The bulgin’ eyes and the twisted mouth, Scent of magnolias sweet and fresh, Then the sudden smell of burnin’ flesh,   Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck, For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck, For the sun to rot, for the tree to drop: Here is a strange and bitter crop. When I first heard this song a few years ago, my body could barely handle it. I shook; I was angry; I was profoundly sad. Made famous by Billie Holiday, the first version I heard was by Nina Simone. Her voice like a knife, sharp, unpleasant, cutting through my heart. It unleashed something within me, a primal need to do something. …

St. Matthew, Child of God

Reading: Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-13 Brothers and sisters, I, a prisoner for the Lord, Urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received With all humility and gentleness, with patience, Bearing with one another through love, Striving to preserve the unity of the Spirit Through the bond of peace: One Body and one Spirit, As you were also called to the one hope of your call: One Lord, one faith, one baptism; One God and Father of all, Who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each of us According to the measure of the Christ’s gift. And he gave some as Apostles, others as prophets, Others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers To equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, For building up that Body of Christ Until we all attain to the unity of faith And knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, To the extent of the full stature of Christ. And he gave some as …