All posts tagged: timothypomalley

Editorial Musings: Does Evangelization Require Cultural Catholics?

This week at Church Life, we’re happy to publish an essay by one of our 2016 Liturgy Symposium presenters, Dr. Michael McCallion. Using the discipline of sociology, Dr. McCallion assesses the evangelization efforts of two parishes in the Archdiocese of Detroit: one that uses a rational-intellectual approach to evangelization, while another focuses on an affective-volitional one. According to Dr. McCallion, the affective-volitional approach has generated more activities associated with the New Evangelization than the rational-intellectual one. Thus, the former approach seems better placed to renew ecclesial life in the present. Our editorial group spent some time discussing the findings of this article. While we were persuaded that an affective-volitional approach may be an essential catalyst in spurring activity within parish life, we also concluded that the article only measures the efficacy of evangelization at the level of the individual. That is, Dr. McCallion focuses primarily upon individual transformation that results in new forms of activity in parish life rather than the transformation of culture itself. The tendency to treat evangelization merely as an individual’s attraction to …

Editorial Musings: Does the Church Need the Arts?

Over the last week or so, Church Life has published a series of reviews on the Best Picture Nominees for the Oscars. You can read our reviewers’ takes on Lion,  La La Land, Arrival, Hidden Figures, Fences, and Manchester by the Sea with the rest to follow over the coming days (thanks to Carolyn Pirtle’s untiring work on these reviews). Our yearly reviews of the Oscars always makes us think about the role of the arts in Catholic life. And in our editorial meetings, we often come to the conclusion that there does seem to be a divorce between the arts and Catholic practice, which is deleterious to the life of the Church. New compositions in liturgical music tend to be more focused upon rallying the community around a specific series of beliefs of the composer (whose own musical training is lacking), often inattentive to artistic excellence. Churches and shopping malls continue to have more commonalities than differences, treated simply as gathering spaces in which beige walls and beige carpet cover over the sacred action of the Eucharist. The arts seem only …

Editorial Musings: Is Hypermasculinity a Problem?

This week, in honor of the Edith Stein Conference taking place at Notre Dame, Church Life is focusing on themes related to gender and human sexuality. A recent M.Div. graduate, China Weil, thinks about how to engage in pastoral ministry with those who use pornography. Drawing from the resources of the Christian iconographic tradition, she argues that we ought to form men and women to contemplate salutary images rather than those that lead us to exercise the pornographic gaze. In addition, we are featuring an interview with Kimberly Baker, Associate Professor of Church History at St. Meinrad School of Theology and Seminary, on a conference on Women in the Church held in the fall. And we have two articles dealing with parenting and fertility: one by Claire Fyrqvist on learning to practice (sometimes in difficult moments) the joy of parenting, another by Dr. Hanna Klaus on the problem of treating fertility as a disease rather than a gift and thus intrinsic to human sexuality. In our editorial meetings leading up to this issue, we determined that something that …

The Circumcision of Jesus and the Mother of God

A little over four years ago, I was in a hospital in Fort Wayne, Indiana, awaiting the discharge of my newborn son. At birth, he had trouble breathing (a skill he would learn with ease in a day or two), and thus spent nearly five days surrounded by the whirl of hospital machinery intended to monitor his every breath, a group of top-notch nurses embodying caritas, and the overwhelming love of his ‘newborn’ parents. My son had not yet known the possibility of pain. Until his circumcision. He was taken from his hospital room for the brief procedure. Upon his arrival back, he cried and cried and cried. We were instructed to put ointment on the place of his recently removed foreskin (otherwise, the skin would stick to the diaper and cause a fresh wound). For weeks, every time I changed his diaper, I encountered a color red as blood—a wound that did not quickly disappear. I think of this moment in encountering the Gospel for the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God. The Gospel speaks about …

The Feast of the Holy Family: Not Just a Model

Those of us suspicious of the pious platitudes that too often make their home in Catholic homiletic practice know that the feast of the Holy Family is a “code-red” day for such platitudes. We families assemble in our parishes and are exhorted that we should conform our domestic life according to the peaceful, loving relationships of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. The image of the Holy Family that we receive is one pictured on holy cards where perfect beauty and order and attention are mutually given by Mary, Joseph, and Jesus (I suppose there were no smartphones to distract attention . . . otherwise Christ would have been found wandering around Jerusalem playing Pokémon GO instead of in the Temple). Those of us with toddlers normally do not hear this point of homiletic insight (ironically) because our children want to take up their vocation as amateur arsonists by playing with the candles placed before the statue of the Blessed Mother or to take a swim in the baptismal font. But for those of us able to attend to the preaching this …

The God Who Had Strep Throat

This year, I spent Christmas Day caring for our son, who had come down with a dreadful case of strep throat on December 23rd. I watched as this rather minor affliction (at least in the grand scheme of human health) took away the energy of a child who normally has a single speed engine: lightning fast. Yet on Christmas night, he laid upon a couch, barely able to keep his eyes open. Although not the ideal Christmas for a family (we lacked the beautiful images of families bedecked in finery), our son’s sickness gave us an occasion to contemplate the strong God who revealed the depths of love by becoming one of the weak. When the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, he did not spurn the human condition. Instead, he took it up. He took upon himself the weakness of a world in which sickness and death are often an all-encompassing experience for us mere mortals. He shared in human suffering such that ever human sickness, every human death, now has its meaning …

Black Friday, Advent, and a Nativity Set

Over the last 48 hours, I have received countless emails from companies advertising the imminent advent of Black Friday sales (many beginning on Monday . . . but whatever). Quarter-zip sweatshirts from Dick’s for 30%–40% off. Deals from Macy’s that no human being could imagine (happily, the department store gave me a preview so I could at least muster the effort). Apple’s available products couldn’t be announced at all—I was simply promised that whatever the sale would be, they would be transformative of my existence. We must acknowledge that advertisers are better about making way for the coming of the great retail eschaton than our parishes are at preparing the hearts of the faithful for the coming of Jesus Christ, the Son of Man who will bring about the Father’s definitive reign of peace in our midst. Our parishes will echo with these words from our Lord and God this Sunday morning: They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away. So will it be also at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men …

The Politics of the Saints

Next week, the endless campaign will finally be over. At some point on Tuesday, November 8 (or early on November 9th), it’s likely that the United States will have a new President. While many will celebrate the election of whichever candidate becomes President, many Americans (especially during this polarizing election) will walk away dispirited. They will wonder to themselves: is this the best that our body politic can offer? Is this campaign the denouement of our Republic or at least of my particular political party? Will the unity that I desire, the domestic peace that I hope for, ever come? Such questions are not simply representative of the naive hopes of those who long for some political utopia. This desire for true peace, true righteousness, true justice, is written upon the human heart. Our disappointment in politics as normal is not evidence that we are inadequate realists; that we have fallen prey to Angelism, seeing the human being existing outside of the realm of sin and death. It’s that we are made for something more than …

The Mystery of Fatherhood

As an adopting father, I have a unique relationship with my child. While many babies bond with their mother through late night breastfeeding, as adopting parents, my wife and I split this nightly vigil. From his earliest days in the hospital where our son was in intensive care for a week or so, I would arrive at 2:00 AM to feed and care for our newborn. I will always remember the first moment that my son looked into my eyes. It was during one of these feedings. I was holding him while he slept, engaged in a rousing game of Solitaire on my phone. Our son’s penetrating eyes (at the time seemingly full of all colors and none at once) looked into my own face, calling me away from the screen. In this encounter, I did not see just a generic life. But, this very particular life. I saw, my Thomas. This life calling out to me for tenderness. This person, placing the fullness of his trust in me, that I would protect him as best as …

The Francis Effect Isn’t About Numbers

Yesterday in The New York Times, Matthew Schmitz of First Things contributed an op-ed debunking the supposed Francis effect. He noted that although the papacy is viewed in a more positive light than it was under Pope Benedict XVI, Catholics are not returning to the pews. In fact, there has been a slight or marginal decrease in the last eight years: New survey findings from Georgetown’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate suggest that there has been no Francis effect — at least, no positive one. In 2008, 23 percent of American Catholics attended Mass each week. Eight years later, weekly Mass attendance has held steady or marginally declined, at 22 percent. Commentators, both religious and secular, have noted this fact before. Pope Francis, no matter how attractive he is viewed, is not bringing people back to active Mass attendance at least within the United States. We should not be surprised that lapsed Catholics remain, well, lapsed–despite the the magnetic pull of a single Pontiff. The attraction to Pope Francis must be understood within a broader …