All posts tagged: reneedroden

Symposia Recap: Summer at the MICL

South Bend is not widely known for its beautiful weather. But summer in South Bend blesses the hardy natives, who patiently bear the brunt of the harsh winters, with a welcome respite, and impresses visitors with stunning skies straight out of a Thomas Cole painting. Pioneers who arrived in the summer, I imagine, were willing to slog through the permaclouded winter simply with the hope of seeing these oil-painted vistas come spring. Notre Dame’s campus hums awake with the sun each morning, as the gym fills up with professors on a swim, the lake-side trails are lousy with high school athletes on morning runs. Above the morning activity, the morning sky shines radiant blue, not a cloud—permanent or transitory—in sight, the sun radiating a cheery sparkle through the clean morning air. On Notre Dame’s campus, the beautiful summer weather provides a backdrop to one of the busiest times of the year. Over 20,000 guests—high school students, ministers, academics, and teachers—and undergraduate students reside in Notre Dame’s dorms throughout the summer sessions. Keeping pace with the …

Saying God Sacramentally

My God my bright abyss Into which all my longing will not go Once more I come to the edge of all I know And believing nothing believe in this: Christian Wiman begins his memoir of faith, My Bright Abyss, with the above poem. The short verse elegantly and poignantly captures the impossible project of trying to define the ineffable mystery of God whom Wiman, as a Christian, throws his entire life into believing. At the end of this past June, Notre Dame’s Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts hosted a literary gathering entitled “Trying to Say ‘God’: Re-enchanting the Catholic Literary Imagination.” This gathering commenced as the Notre Dame Center for Liturgy’s annual Liturgy Symposium, “Encountering Jesus Christ in the Bible and the Liturgy,” concluded. Both the literary gathering and the liturgy symposium meditated on words and the Word at the heart of the Christian life. As Bishop Daniel Flores remarked in his opening address at “Trying to Say ‘God’”: “The whole Christian life is a participation in the expressiveness of the WORD. …

A House Built on the Rock

Tucked into the eastern slope of Mount Zion is a beautiful church called St. Peter in Gallicantu (Peter at Cockcrow). It boasts beautiful, panoramic views of the city from its expansive grounds, which reveal the rolling contours of the Judean hills still undulating gracefully beneath the urban development which saddles them. The church’s location on the mountain’s shoulder does more than invite visitors to admire the view. Through its multiple levels, built one upon the other, St. Peter in Gallicantu invites pilgrims on a journey through its architectural explication of redemptive love. A visit to the church begins at its base, under the foundations. At this deepest level of the church, a visitor can access the archeological excavations which were traditionally believed to be the system of prisons underneath (or nearby) the first century house of the high priest Caiaphas, in which Jesus was kept the night of his arrest. The site was venerated by early Christians, as witnessed by the fourth century Pilgrim of Bordeaux, who, in 333, bears testimony to this site, remarking …

A Vision of Heaven: Dorm Community as Christian Community

How good it is and how pleasant when kindred dwell as one. —Psalm 133:1 A wise priest once held up for me, as an image of spiritual maturity, the Gospel story of the Visitation. Luke narrates the story of Mary running to Elizabeth immediately following Mary’s own visitation by an angel. Told by the angel that Elizabeth is with child, Mary goes to visit Elizabeth. Why? In the story of Mary’s annunciation, the angel announces to Mary her startling new vocation, and immediately follows that with the magnificent work that has been done in Elizabeth by God. Elizabeth’s bearing a child in her old age is given to Mary as a miraculous sign of grace. Rather than running to Elizabeth to announce her own monumental good news, as one might expect, Mary goes to Elizabeth to delight in Elizabeth’s good news. Mary, the model of all discipleship, models for us a radical call to rejoice in the other. But Elizabeth’s response to Mary elevates the scene to a still more excellent image. Elizabeth cries out: …

Virtue as Revolution: Reforming Emotional Chastity

Way back in the day, my mother taught my siblings and me Catholic doctrine through the mode most appealing to small Roden children: competition. Every morning, from a small Tupperware that lived by our prayer books, we would draw a number that corresponded to a question from a well-worn copy of the mid-century Baltimore Catechism. We would then have to recite the answer to said question from memory. If you were lucky (or a strategic number-picker), you would get Question 15: Where is God? Its answer? God is everywhere. If your luck had deserted you, you’d receive a stumper like Question 58: What are the effects of venial sin? And woe unto you if you omitted even one dependent clause of its answer: The effects of venial sin are the lessening of the love of God in our heart, the making us less worthy of His help, and the weakening of the power to resist mortal sin. One question and answer couplet that branded itself onto my brain was Question 53. Question: What other gifts …

Witness of the Holy Fool

Dostoevsky’s task as a novelist is to portray the self-sacrifice of the holy fool in such a way that readers will recognize its beauty and want to participate in it. —Harriet Murov The moment I knew that grad school was getting to me was the moment that I found myself deeply identifying with the manic-depressive protagonist of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, Raskolnikov. Throughout the novel, Raskolnikov’s troubled state of soul manifests itself in long, circular interior diatribes and labyrinthine monologues, clearly the entrails of a mind coming unhinged. Raskolnikov is no idiot. He is a sharp and intelligent young man. The modern intellectual milieu that he inhabits, however, is a world devoid of Christ, and accordingly, Raskolnikov’s ability to make sense of the world has begun to break down. In trying to make sense of the world on the terms of his reason and his self alone, Raskolnikov has lost his mind. His intelligence, without the guide of charity or faith, leads him to a hellish despair and emptiness. It has led him to a …

Five Jesus Movies that Don’t Stink

Editorial Note: This post is a companion to Jesus in the Movies: Challenges of Cinematizing the Gospels, which describes the films below in greater detail and provides a theological analysis of the difficulties surrounding depictions of the life of Jesus Christ and the Gospel on film. As Holy Week approaches, channels such as AMC and Turner Classic Movies regularly roll out classic Jesus epics just in time for Easter. Movies about Jesus or the Gospel have often been accused (in many cases rightly) of being saccharine or cheesy. In an attempt to treat their subject with reverence, film-makers sometimes sentimentalize the Gospel message and present a Jesus as a soft moral teacher with magic tricks up his sleeves. Sometimes, however, artists create films that depict the Christ figure and Christ event with the strangeness and immediacy approaching those of the Gospels, and interpret their source material with grace and imagination. Here are five. 1. Jésus of Montreal (1989) A surprising and thought-provoking film, Jésus of Montreal blends together representing the Gospels and presenting the Jesus story through a post-figuration of …

Jesus in the Movies: Challenges of Cinematizing the Gospels

If, therefore, the Son of God became man, taking the form of a servant, and appearing in man’s nature, a perfect man, why should His image not be made?[1] Gregory of Nyssa’s question has provoked myriad artists in the successive centuries since the advent of the God-man into answering. The Incarnation proffers an invitation to the artist; the invisible Godhead has deigned to become drawable: come and draw. With new advances in artistic technology, artists have sought to represent Jesus in each nascent medium. As photography developed, artists shot tableaux of actors in costume, recreating Gospel scenes with their static bodies.[2] When photographs began to move, religious movies were some of the first subjects: The Horitz Passion Play (1897) and Passion Play of Oberammergau (1898).[3] When talkies exploded onto the scene with The Jazz Singer in 1927, a whole new dimension of the movie-going element appeared. With all new technology comes new challenges, and the challenge presented to movies remained: how could an artist turn moving photographs of the natural world into images of incarnate …

5 Lenten Practices that Aren’t Giving Up Chocolate

With Ash Wednesday now come and gone, Catholics everywhere embark on their journey of Lenten disciplines. Lenten penitence can quickly begin to feel rote. While there is still great spiritual benefit in denying ourselves dessert or Netflix, sometimes we seek a more thoughtful or creative immersion into the three great practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Sometimes our imaginations need a jolt from the routine to help our bodies and soul enter into the Lenten spirit of preparation. Liturgically, baptized Christians undertake Lenten disciplines in preparation for the renewal of baptismal vows at the Easter Vigil. Christians enter Lent in order to re-enter our sacramental participation in the Paschal Mystery of salvation. Ideally, Lenten disciplines will baptize our imaginations, allowing us to approach the world with fresh eyes and refreshed charity. For anyone seeking different ways to practice Lent this year, here are five ideas that may provide a new approach to prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. 1. Forgo music. Several friends have practiced variations on this theme. If you have a morning commute (by car, …

And the Nominees Are . . . Hidden Figures

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. Oh, I’ll tell you where to begin: Three Negro women chasing a white police officer down a highway in Hampton, Virginia in 1961. Ladies, that there is a God-ordained miracle! —Mary Jackson, Hidden Figures And with Mary Jackson’s tongue-in-cheek prophetic diagnosis, Hidden Figures revs into full, Technicolor life. A sepia-tinged prologue has identified the central protagonist among our three musketeers—Katherine Johnson—whose patched-together wire-rimmed glasses are two windows into the kaleidoscopic world which she inhabits. For Katherine, the world is knit together in geometric forms; tetrahedrons, triangles, and rhombi camouflage themselves in windowpanes. For Katherine, numbers are the backbone of nature, and she spends each day counting the vertebrae. Her eyes light up when a teacher asks her to solve a problem and hands her the chalk. He doesn’t simply hand her a blunt stub of chalk, he hands her a sharp sword of possibility, with which …