All posts tagged: love

The Blessing of Marital Monotony

To be entirely romantic a thing must be irrevocable. —G.K. Chesterton When I am shopping for an anniversary card, I am almost always drawn to the cheesy ones that feature elderly couples on the front. You know the type: An aged man and woman seated on a park bench and leaning into one another, or maybe it is a B&W shot from behind as the pair stroll side by side down a country lane. I have been buying cards like that for Nancy since we were first married—maybe even before we were married if memory serves—because I have always believed they capture something essential about the Catholic nuptial vocation. Namely this: That the absolute core of sacramental marriage is the vow. “Growing old together” is not just a heartwarming Hallmark sentiment. It is the very foundation of a sanctifying, and thus successful, marriage commitment. Note that I did not say anything about “happy” marriage, although unqualified permanence certainly makes such happiness possible. If either party to a marital union reserves the right, either openly or …

And the Nominees Are . . . Manchester By the Sea

Editors’ Note: In anticipation of the 89th Academy Awards on February 26, we present a series exploring the philosophical and theological elements in each of the nine films nominated for Best Picture. Caveat: this review contains spoilers. When life is defined by the worst mistake you’ve ever made, how do you go on living? Writer-director Kenneth Lonergan poses this heart-wrenching question and several others like it in Manchester By the Sea, the story of Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck), an isolated janitor living in Boston who must return to his hometown after his beloved brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) passes away unexpectedly, and, even more unexpectedly, names Lee the legal guardian of sixteen-year-old Patrick (Lucas Hedges), Joe’s only son and Lee’s only nephew. When Lee learns that Joe has not only named him Patrick’s guardian but has also provided funds for him to return to Manchester permanently, he recoils, making every attempt to find another way to provide for his nephew’s care. At first, this seems like the reaction of a selfish, irresponsible man who doesn’t want to be saddled with the burden of an unexpected, …

And the Nominees Are . . . Lion

Editors’ Note: In anticipation of the 89th Academy Awards on February 26, we present a series exploring the philosophical and theological elements in each of the nine films nominated for Best Picture. This post contains no spoilers. So they were there even before I had learnt them, but were not in my memory. . . . They were already in the memory, but so remote and pushed into the background, as if in most secret caverns, that unless they were dug out by someone drawing attention to them, perhaps I could not have thought of them. (Confessions Book X, 17) In book ten of his Confessions, St. Augustine writes of memory as a re-learning, a re-discovering. Deep in our memory there are visions of truth that we re-learn as life prompts their recall. Garth Davis’ Lion dives into the intimate quest of a human severed from his origins. How do the memories of who he once was and those who loved him reach through the rupture between them? And how must he respond once those memories reach him? Based on a true story, …

Shakespeare’s Tempest and Love’s Conversion

Over the last several weeks, the Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival put on a visually stimulating and highly comedic production of The Tempest. While the acrobatic feats of Ariel (who was hanging from a trapeze the entire production) captured the eye, it was the relationship between Prospero and Ariel that deserves our attention. The Tempest takes up themes found throughout Shakespeare’s corpus. Prospero, the erstwhile Duke of Milan, has been shipwrecked upon an island with his daughter Miranda through the plotting of his brother Antonio and the king of Naples, Alonso. Prospero, a student of the liberal arts, is also a powerful user of magic. Yet, his power is dependent on Ariel, a spirit who is enslaved to Prospero (after he has rescued Ariel from the power of the witch Sycorax). The action of The Tempest pertains to Prospero’s opportunity to avenge himself against both Antonio and Alonso. Prospero causes a tempest that results in the shipwreck of Antonio and Alonso’s boat (with a number of other characters in the mix), separating the traveling party from one another. After stopping …

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 …

From Fear to Love: Preaching in these Troubling Times

“Are the shootings and the wars going to happen here, Mom?” The little girl asked her mother after hearing yet another violent news story. Nice, Paris, Turkey, Syria, Dallas, Minneapolis . . . and, unfortunately, the list goes on of places suffering the complexity and heartbreak of eruptions of often unpredictable violence. Where next? We may wonder, along with the little girl, when and how terror and violence will arrive even closer to where we live. Often, a first response to violence is fear. Sometimes fear leads to a desire for revenge, to building barriers, or even to a violent lashing out against the ones who have instilled the fear in the first place. Christian preaching has something different to say to the violence that exists near and far in the world. The Christian response to violence is rooted in the bedrock of our faith and the substance of all authentic Christian preaching—the Paschal Mystery. Jesus saw in his time at least as much violence and death as we see today, and we know that …

Love in the Peaks and the Valleys

And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all just as we about in love for you. And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints. (1 Thes 3:12-13) A friend of mine graduated from college and started a volunteer program in a city far from home where she would serve for two years. I remember speaking to her shortly before she left home to start orientation. I was struck by what it was she was most looking forward to for its simplicity and clarity. She said she was just so excited to love—that loving was what she’d be spending her time doing in a thoughtful, intentional way. She would love the people she’d live with in her household community, colleagues, and the children she served. She and I caught up a few times in the first few months of her service, and I listened as …

The Mass for Millennials: Prayers After Communion

“Stick-to-itiveness is one of the more inelegant words in the English language, but I have a special fondness for it. … I have also found that it is one of the marks of Christian discipleship and have learned to admire those who exemplify it.” Eugene H. Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society There are at least three streams of cultural influence working against young Christians who desire stick-to-itiveness—who want their faith to have true staying power. The first stream is the cultural influence of the status-quo, which insists that a life of faith is mostly confined to young students and parents of children. If you have spent any time leading or participating in youth ministry in the past few decades, you know the statistics. After high school, church attendance drops significantly. And it tends to stay there for a while, at least until you get married and have kids and want to raise them “properly.” The second stream is our general hurried pace, and our celebration of this …