All posts tagged: charity

Bestowing Charity Hastily

Mary of Nazareth is at once the Mother of God and the first, perfect disciple of her son. In her willingness to patiently await the arrival of God’s word in her life, and her subsequent haste in acting upon God’s word, Mary enfolds the pattern of receiving and responding to the Lord within her hidden life of grace. Those who devote themselves to Mary discover the beauty of this hidden life, learning to receive as she receives and respond as she responds. Two of the most beloved modern saints discovered their own sanctity in this Marian rhythm: Thérèse of Lisieux and Teresa of Calcutta. Childhood devotions to the Blessed Mother shaped the religious imaginations of both Thérèse and Teresa, resulting in a vivid comprehension of Mary as a living mother whose beauty calls for a response of the body and soul. Both proceeded to pattern their lives after Mary, maintaining a posture of generosity to the Lord, participating in the “hasty” bestowal of charity, and thereby experiencing a foretaste of the eternal joy of divine …

The Conformism of Catholic Ideology

If you spend enough time on Twitter (which I sadly do), one encounters a Catholicism radically distinct from that experienced within life in most parishes. It is a Catholicism that conforms itself to an American political ideology rather than an expansive and generous account of orthodoxy that has marked the Roman Catholic Church’s discourse when she is at her best. A critique of certain dimensions of capitalism according to this political ideology immediately marks one as a communist, condemned by Leo XIII. Or, a critique of any dimension of the Second Vatican Council colors one as an anti-conciliar (and thus anti-Pope Francis) traditionalist. Rather than measure one’s fidelity to the Church according to the Church’s own regula fidei, such political ideology requires that one conform oneself to the ideology of a preferred in-group. In a short essay in his Creative Fidelity, Gabriel Marcel worries about this distinction between orthodoxy and conformism. Orthodoxy, according to Marcel, “is an absolute fidelity to the Word which has been made flesh; it is the fidelity of an adhesion or …

Epiphany: It’s Foolish to Pretend It’s Easy to Remember the Poor

As so often happens when I look Christ in the eye, at first I didn’t realize it. In fact, I was rather disgruntled. My twelve year-old brother had enrolled our family in the local Salvation Army Christmas Assistance Program, wherein we would bring gifts to a family on the other side of town. Although it is a lovely program and I was glad to see my brother take initiative, serious doubts vexed me. What difference does it make if we meet this family once; wouldn’t it be better if we established a long term relationship with them? Wasn’t it offensive that we were condescending from our comfortable economic position to gawk at their poverty; wouldn’t it be better if we accompanied them in their poverty by voluntarily sharing in it? Finally, weren’t we aiding and abetting the commercialization of Christmas, teaching this family our own exhausting materialism; wouldn’t it be better if we gave spiritual gifts rather than material ones? When we arrived in South Omaha to deliver the gifts, I brought my questions and …

Stories of Grace 16: Learning to Take the Pie

Air conditioning. Those two little words were at the forefront of my mind as I sat down to eat lunch last summer in a restaurant in hot and humid Memphis, Tennessee. I had been there for a little over a month, working at a women’s homeless shelter through Notre Dame’s Summer Service Learning Program. Joining me for lunch that day was my site partner, Elizabeth, along with two other women who were long-time volunteers at the shelter. Kathy and Sandy had treated us to a beautiful day of sight-seeing. We visited at least three or four museums, walked along the river soaking in the bright sun, and enjoyed peeking into little shops we passed along the way. This care-free day, roaming the streets of Memphis, was an unusual one for us. Up until that point, we spent most of our time on the grounds of the shelter, working with the religious sisters who lived there, and spending time with the women and children for whom the shelter was a temporary home. The shelter was really …

Henri de Lubac and the Mystical Body of Christ

The Church on earth is the visible manifestation of Christ’s love that is enfleshed between each of her members. St. Jerome described this incarnation of love in his famous phrase Corpus Christi ecclesia est, quae vinculo stringitur Caritatis—the Body of Christ is the Church, held together by the bond of charity.[1] Henri de Lubac, the twentieth century French Jesuit theologian, had a profound grasp of this concept. In my last article I wrote about making deliberate connections between the liturgical action and social action. I argued that true Catholic social teaching cannot begin unless the members of the Mystical Body are divinized or transformed in the love of Christ at the celebration of the Mass. Once this happens, the members of the Church bring Christ’s love into the world and transfigure it into the image of Christ. While the neo-scholastic Dom Virgil Michel, O.S.B. used the theology of St. Thomas Aquinas to make his argument, de Lubac engrossed himself in the Ressourcement, the movement that returned the Church to her Patristic sources. De Lubac was …

The Saint of Calcutta: Mother Teresa and the Pain of Joy

On September 4, 2016, the woman who claimed that if she ever became a saint she would “surely be one of ‘darkness’”[1] will enter the canon of the Church in broad daylight, for all the world to see. Till the end of the age, the universal name of charity that was “Mother Teresa” will become “Saint Teresa of Calcutta.” With the possible exception of St. John Paul II, no saint in the history of the Church has been known by so many people at the time of canonization, which makes the holiness of this saint both more available for observation and more difficult to discern. Knowing more about someone is not the same as knowing them well and in coming to know Mother Teresa as Saint Teresa, we are asked to deepen our knowledge of her according to her holiness, which her very public persona both hides and discloses. If she is a saint of darkness she is also a saint of joy. Yet, knowing her as the one in darkness and the one in …

Moral Virtue, The Grace of God, and Discipleship

Moral theology has traditionally explored how people act in the world (“moral”) in the context of their faith in God (“theology”). This volume purposely examines morality in the context of Christian belief. What difference does faith make in how a person lives his or her life? Surely a person of faith engages in certain distinctive activities, such as going to church, praying, and reading the Bible. But what about the myriad of activities that all people partake in every day, such as eating, facing difficulties, exchanging goods, and making decisions? Does the person of faith engage in these activities with the same “morality” as everyone else? As is already clear, a life of discipleship is not simply about performing certain types of actions. It is a vocation, a transformation of one’s very self. Such a transformation of course impacts how we act. The primary question for this chapter is, how does discipleship, a life of following Jesus, transform not only who we are but also how we act in this world? The ancient notion of …