All posts tagged: Church Life

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 …

Theology and Catechesis: Renewing Method

In less than three weeks, I’ll be back in the classroom teaching an intensive course introducing over forty students to a fundamental theology for catechesis. Most of my students will be parish ministers, high school teachers, or those involved in campus ministry at a secondary or collegiate level. Each day of the class on our blog, I will offer a series of reflections drawn from our syllabus to invite readers to follow along virtually. Yet, before launching into this virtual syllabus, I wanted to offer a defense of the course’s title: Introduction to Catechetical Theology. Often enough in the academy, catechesis is preceded by the term “mere.” While the theologian advances knowledge and is engaged in critical inquiry, the catechist is “merely” teaching the particulars of Christian faith. Such an assumption fails to grasp that the catechist is performing an act of theological interpretation in every moment of teaching. As Augustine notes in his De doctrina christiana (On Teaching Christianity), the first act of the teacher is not presentation but interpretation. A catechist without a theological …

Fulfilling Fr. Ted’s Vision: The New Church Life

Several years before Fr. Theodore Hesburgh, C.S.C. passed away, he met with the directors of the Institute for Church Life in his office on the 13th floor of Hesburgh Library. In the course of this hour-long meeting, Fr. Ted described to us the original impetus for the establishment of the Institute. He wanted Notre Dame to be not simply a place that carried out excellent theological education at an undergraduate and graduate level but to serve as a resource to the Church in catechesis, in theological education, in liturgical formation, and in leadership development. His hope was that somewhere in the history of the University, a paragraph or two might be devoted to the outreach efforts of the Institute for Church Life. The journal Church Life is a continuation of Fr. Ted’s vision for the ICL. Our website, newly launched this Ash Wednesday, is an opportunity to extend the boundaries of our Institute’s teaching and research to the digital world. The themes of this re-launched periodical, now transformed into a media hub, are integral to …