All posts tagged: humility

The Mass: Heart of the Church and Academia

One of the best expressions of “Catholic community” in Higher Education is the academic colloquium. Only recently, Pope Francis reminded a gathering of Italian teachers that a commitment to free association was a way of fostering “an open outlook towards the social and cultural horizon.”[1] Such opportunities for shared exploration of ideas are welcome reminders of the Church’s longstanding engagement with the cultural challenges encountered in the mission to evangelize. It could be argued that such events risk presenting an elitist face to both the world and the wider Church. At their best, however, they offer multiple opportunities for fruitful dialogue on how to address the challenges of relativism and materialism, which, according to Pope Benedict XVI, make up a contemporary “educational emergency.”[2] I had the privilege of recently organising one such colloquium at the University of Glasgow (founded in 1451 by Pope Nicholas V). Catholicism, Culture, Education (the title of the Colloquium) was an opportunity for an international audience of Catholic educators (mainly in third-level institutions) to share thoughts on how to energise their …

The Saint for a Troubled Church

With so many issues troubling the Church and world at large, it can often be a difficult to get a grasp on these problems and identify practical solutions. But there is a Saint who faced similar challenges in his own time who can help us realize the grace and peace that God has given us. Saint Bonaventure joined the Franciscan order and was an academic by training, but he was also a great preacher and confessor. Recognized as a man of wisdom and talent, at the age of 36, he was elevated to the post of Minister General of the Order, a position he held for nearly 17 years, before being named Cardinal. One of the Doctors of the Church, Bonaventure is an remarkable spiritual master and theologian, but also a fantastic administrator and leader, who can help us chart a path that both clings to the Gospel ideals of Jesus, but also recognizes the importance of moving in the direction of the current times of the world. He is a great exemplar for us …

The Perfect Family Is an Idol

It’s 10 o’clock at night, the kids are asleep, and my husband and I are in the midst of a massive fight that has somehow spilled out of our house and into the backyard. We’re yelling at each other, words born of anger, each of us too hurt and ashamed to back down. And like the majority of our worst fights, I don’t even remember what started it, I just remember how awful it felt. My husband and I own a small business, and at the time we were working long hours, often late into the night, and we were having cash flow issues, which is a polite way of saying that we were out of cash. We also have little kids, so we were probably sleep deprived. Obviously, we’d had a bad day. None of this justifies our behavior, it just gives it context. We’re sinners with an anger problem. And while I don’t remember what started our fight, I do remember what stopped it. We live next to an old apartment building, and …

Ambitious in Humility

Brothers and sisters, in relations with one another, clothe yourselves with humility, because God “is stern with the arrogant but to the humble he shows kindness.” Bow humbly before God’s mighty hand, so that in due time he may lift you high. Cast all your cares on him because he cares for you. Stay sober and alert. Your opponent the devil is prowling like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, solid in your faith, realizing that the brotherhood of believers is undergoing the same sufferings throughout the world. The God of grace, who called you to his everlasting glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish those who have suffered a little while. Dominion be his throughout the ages! Amen. (1 Pet 5:5b–11) Entering Notre Dame through the main entrance, one passes by Cedar Grove Cemetery. I sometimes think of the dead, welcoming us to this university, imploring us to use our time here wisely, reminding us that death comes for us all and urging us to think of …

Diagnosing violence: A response to Christine Horner

Dear Ms. Horner, Under normal circumstances, I would have found it easy to resist the impulse to comment on your recent brief and public letter to Pope Francis in The Huffington Post  in which you “implore” him “to call for an end to the religious ritual” that has been a part of the Catholic Mass for centuries—that of repeating the words of the Centurion to Christ “Lord I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof…”—an expression you declare to be “one of the most destructive phrases in human history.” I don’t usually take the time to comment on the conversation taking place in the blogosphere.  But I found I had to make an exception in this case. My hesitancy to enter the fray was overcome by the new escalation of violence that has taken our country—indeed the entire world—by surprise over the last several weeks. Even with the increasingly commonplace reality of terrorist attacks and rising homicide rates, the vicious attack abroad in Nice and the tragic events at home in Baton Rouge, …

The Silent Prayer of the Humble Heart

The Catechism begins its discussion of prayer with a flat assertion: “Humility is the foundation of prayer” (§2559). Many people resist the term “humility,” either because they mistake it for humiliation, or they consider humility a sign of weakness, or—to borrow a cliché much in use today—a symptom of low self-esteem. Humility, however, is that virtue by which, as St. Thomas Aquinas rightly says, we recognize the correct relationship between a person and God. Let us, for a moment, consider a person who has the explicit intention to pray. Think of that instant when, before even articulating words or thoughts, this person kneels down or sits in a church or stands quietly in a garden with the desire to communicate with God. What does that gesture mean? At a minimum it signifies that the person desires to address an Other. In that simple gesture, the person also indicates a longing to surrender his or her self-sufficiency to that Other. It is in that very act of self-surrender that humility is made manifest. Because by calling …

The Long Sunrise of Easter

Brothers and sisters, are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We indeed were buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life. For if we have grown into union with him through a death like his, we shall also be united with him in the resurrection. We know that our old self was crucified with him, so that our sinful body might be done away with, that we might no longer be in slavery to sin. For a dead person has been absolved from sin. If, then, we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more; death no longer has power over him. As to his death, he died to sin once and for all; as to his life, he lives for God. Consequently, you too must think …