All posts tagged: leonardjdelorenzo

It’s More Effective to Attract Than to Simply Chastise

My children recently watched a film with me on St. Philip Neri and they were practically spellbound. “He’s really funny,” one of them commented. “I like that guy,” said another. In a way that books about or even the sayings of Philip Neri can’t quite get, the film made an attempt at presenting the personality of the saint. Of course, watching him on screen is not at all the same as being in his presence, and I for one have come to wonder at what it would have been like to be near to him on the streets of Rome in the mid 16th century. From all accounts, Philip Neri’s personality was unrepeatable. There is something of the man himself that just seems to evade comprehension. Even a film as wonderful as the one we watched—Preferisco Il Paradiso (I Prefer Heaven)—relies on the history of Neri’s effects that only points to but does not fully deliver the personality of that singular man. That personality made crowds flock to him, young people entrust themselves to him, grown …

Skin in the Game

  I took my son and his friend to see Paul, Apostle of Christ in the theater during Holy Week. It seemed an appropriate thing to do. Besides, there is something potentially powerful in seeing a film about the origins of the Christian faith in the same theater where my son has watched the most recent Star Wars films and other things like that. Those stories that he has loved are stories of great heroism, adventure, and matters of life-or-death. Maybe by seeing this film in the same setting, the fact that this story is about all those things and more would be reinforced? I think my son liked it, and we talked about it in the days to follow. I liked the film, too, but I also found myself challenged and inspired. And it was actually several little things that did this to me. On Mentoring First, the mentoring that the film portrayed in the early Christian communities grabbed my attention. In this particular narrative, it began with Paul who mentored Luke, strengthening the …

Resetting the Synod

Antagonisms are what we most frequently and efficiently pass on to young people. We teach them to do what we do and to become what we model. Ideals and hopes are diverted this way or that, to this side or that side, so it seems as if the only imperative is to establish oneself, one’s faction, in opposition to others. We are so deft at these maneuvers that we almost cannot help ourselves; we do it instinctively, somewhat naturally. Surprisingly yet predictably, this same old formational screenplay is playing itself out during the preparation for the 2018 Synod of Bishops on “young people, the faith and vocational discernment.” Ironically, antagonism and its animating spirit, the hermeneutics of suspicion, are what young people tend to despise most of all. Yet, these things are precisely what we in the Church are preparing them to assume through what we do and what we model. When the final document from the Vatican’s pre-synod meeting of 300 young people was released at the end of March, the accusatory tweets and …

Why Would Young People Want to Remain Catholic?

“This was like the synod for the American Church.” This remark came from one of the more than 20 bishops[1] during a closing conversation for the Cultures of Formation conference hosted by the McGrath Institute for Church Life and cosponsored by the USCCB committee on doctrine. It was a breathtaking three days. Some 550 registered participants and a few hundred more unregistered attendees considered the profound issues, the pressing needs, and the most ambitious hopes for what Pope Francis has asked the whole Church to focus its attention: “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.” While those of us who were in attendance will be unpacking what we heard and discussed for months and years to come, those who were not able to attend can sign-up for free follow-up resources, including a forthcoming digital conference, on the conference webpage. Since a comprehensive rundown of the whole conference would likely require at least an entire book if not a multivolume series, I would like to offer six initial reflections both to remind those of us who …

Belief in the Communion of Saints Isn’t Optional

The “communion of saints” is a definitive mark of the Christian imagination conformed to the mystery of salvation: the communion of holy persons invites and demands an act of faith for Christian belief to build toward completion. In fact, it is the exercise of fidelity to the promises of Christ in the face of death that gave this expression its primary meaning for Western Christianity. This meaning was carried into and is now borne by the Apostles’ Creed, “the most universally accepted creed in Western Christendom.”[1] Every saint has a history and so does the article of faith that attests to the communion in which they share. The lives of saints arise from the work of God in the world while the article symbolizing their communion arises from the Church’s reflection on the life of faith in the Spirit. In fact, it was the intensity of faith of particular Christians, in a particular era, in a particular region, that helped the article of communio sanctorum to gain recognition as intrinsic to the faith: The fourth …

Announcing: Cultures of Formation, a Pre-Synod Conference

M cGrath Institute for Church Life presents a Pre-Synod Conference: Cultures of Formation: Young People, Faith, and Vocational Discernment March 5–7, 2018 The 2018 Vatican synod dedicated to “young people, faith, and vocational discernment” will address “the process by which a person makes fundamental choices in dialogue with the Lord and listening to the voice of the Spirit (Preparatory Document II.2).” As part of the ongoing preparation for the synod, the McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame is hosting an academic and pastoral conference with three interrelated goals: To assess the formative influences on young people today To articulate the end to which the Church’s evangelization and formation efforts are ordered To exercise missionary creativity in renewing the Church’s work to form young people for vocational discernment in the present age With these goals in mind, the guiding question for the entire conference is, How do we create cultures in which it is easier for young people to be Catholic? By focusing on “cultures of formation”, we actually intend to …

The Light By Which We See: The Problem of Promise and Identity

Editors’ Note: This post is an excerpt from the beginning of the first chapter of DeLorenzo’s new book Witness: Learning to Tell the Story of Grace That Illumine Our Lives, published by and reprinted with the permission of Ave Maria Press, and currently available on their website. If someone were to call you by name and ask, “Who are you?” how would you respond? It is an unsettling question because having to say one thing about the whole of your existence is daunting. Each of us knows a lot about ourselves while, at the same time, most of us also know that there is a lot about ourselves that we do not understand. To define yourself in one way comes at the expense of defining yourself in other ways, and no one likes to be limited. Even more disturbing is the occasional realization that “I may not really know myself at all.” This problem of identity exists for each of us, no less for those who claim to be disciples. And it was precisely this …

Mary wrapped in blue mantle and red cloak from Malta. Holding Jesus, her child.

Pilgrimage and the Urgent Question of Faith

“But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Lk 18:8). We were asked this question twice—once when the Gospel was proclaimed in Latin and once again when it was translated into English. The strange urgency of the question didn’t strike us the first time because the words were foreign, but the second time they were spoken in our native tongue even though we were in a foreign land. The setting was ornate and the occasion was peculiar: we were 19 Americans gathered at the 9:15am Mass in St. John’s Co-Cathedral in Valletta, the capital of the tiny rock country in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea known as Malta. We were not tourists but pilgrims and to hear this question on the first morning of our pilgrimage was quite an odd thing. No one would leave for a pilgrimage unless he already assumed there was faith to find “out there”, a faith that he hoped would grow in him. And yet from the lips of Jesus comes the question as …

The buildings of Malta at sunset

By Sea and By Air: The Journey of the Gospel

Traveling by sea as a prisoner en route to his martyrdom in Rome, St. Paul was brought to the rocky shores of a small Mediterranean island with the debris of the shipwrecked vessel that hurled him with his captors and fellow prisoners into uncertain squalls. One thousand, nine hundred, and fifty six (or so) years later, I hope to descend on the island much more softly alongside 18 other pilgrims from Notre Dame, hopefully with all luggage in tow and in tact. Then as now, the unpredictable sway of the Gospel draws wayfarers towards a small and seemingly obscure destination: Malta. The pilgrimage that we make to Malta today with the support of Notre Dame’s Campus Ministry, Nanovic Institute for European Studies, and the McGrath Institute for Church Life is undertaken for two complementary reasons. First, Malta is a land that boasts of a rich Catholic culture—preserved, at least for a time, from the same pervasive secularizing currents with which much of the rest of Europe has moved. It is a land dotted with sites …

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 …