All posts tagged: mission

Our Lady, Doer of Knots

At the beginning of our marriage, my husband and I spent six months living in Argentina as volunteers at a hospice house. The hospice was run by a religious community with whom we were connected, and welcomed terminally ill men and women, particularly from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Over the course of our time at the hospice we had the privilege of walking with more than 30 guests during their final weeks and days of life, caring for their bodily and spiritual needs, and on occasion accompanying them over the final threshold into eternal life. One guest in particular made a lasting impression on us. Elena was a real firecracker; like all the hospice guests her disease was terminal, but unlike many other guests she still had an intense zest for life and lived for a number of months in the house. My husband bonded with her over their shared appreciation of a meal that was brought to the table “bien calentito” (piping hot), and we spent many an afternoon swapping stories, telling jokes, and working …

Marriage as Mission: The Implications of the Charism of Marriage

The role of the Holy Spirit in the nuptial union of a couple can be understood in light of the charism given to the couple by the Spirit. It is this gift that the couple is called to give back to the Church through participation in her mission. Grounded in the baptismal identity of all Christians, the charism of marriage implies that the baptismal vocation will be taken up in the nuptial and familial life of the couple. Practicing this form of participation in the mission of the Church includes the call to evangelize in real ways, concretely through the social doctrines of the Church. Thus, the charism of marriage should be considered in marriage formation as couples learn to foster their charism and discern its implications in their own lives. We can then consider: If marriage formation was approached as a fostering of charism, how might the identity and role of married persons and their families in the Church evolve? As the charism of marriage implies a mission in marriage, how might this new …

“Laudato Si’,” Personal Conversion, and Missionary Joy

Faced with an increasingly dechristianized West in his own time, the famous German Jesuit theologian, Karl Rahner, frequently warned against a “missionary defeatism” in the Church.[1] Today, at least in the United States, political polarization has undermined any common arena of discourse that may have once existed. Loud rhetoric (not even eloquent sophistry!) has replaced reasoned argument. Washington remains gridlocked, if not perpetually, meaning that even common-sense, compromise legislation cannot be approved. Any new sense of global solidarity brought on by an age of social media is shadowed by a reminder of just how challenging a real, embodied solidarity actually is. At the same time, findings in the social sciences have bordered on determinism, showing more and more just how formative systems—like the one described—are for the human person, calling into question human responsibility and agency to actually transcend, let alone shape, these societies and cultures. The chorus of a 1971 hit by the English band Ten Years After captures the sentiment of many: “I’d love to change the world, but I don’t know what …

Trinitarian Matters

After the joy of the Easter season, it may feel like a letdown to celebrate the solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. The proclamation that Christ has risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, seems more important than announcing the consubstantiality of the Son with the Father. The descent of the Spirit upon the Apostles at Pentecost, who go forth to breathe Jesus’ own spirit over creation, seems more vivifying than letting the world know that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. Yet, as the Church teaches, “The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of the Christian faith and of Christian life” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, §261). How can something seemingly so abstract be so central to Christian faith? The readings for the solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity open us up to the centrality of the Trinity in Christian life. In Proverbs, Christians see reference to the Word’s participation in the very act of creation. The wisdom of the Word was “beside him as …

The Mass for Millennials: Recessional Hymn

The Mass is ended. Go in peace. Thanks be to God. Just kidding. We’re going to sing one more hymn, even though the presider just told y’all to leave. Oh wait. A lot of you have already left. And a lot of you are packing up to leave right now. Aaannd the rest of you are looking at me like you don’t like me because you heard the word “go” and you really want to go but your good ol’ Catholic guilt is compelling you to stay. So let’s make a joyful noise, now, shall we? If I had a dollar for every time I encountered the above reactions to the recessional hymn in my experience as a cantor, I would have many dollars. To be fair, not every Sunday played out in the way I’ve described above (only somewhat exaggeratedly). Some Sundays and major feast days I would see congregations pick up their hymnals excitedly after hearing the title of the hymn announced or seeing it in the worship aid. Celebrations of greater solemnity—Christmas …