Sunday, April 29, 2007

My Wacked-Out Week

Well, it's time for the beloved end-of-the-semester blues.

I've finished all my preaching for preaching class, but still have to write up my reports.

I have to write a 15-page paper on the forsakenness of Christ in Von Balthasar.

I've got a half take-home, half in-class final exam on Saint Athanasius.

And the craziest of all: A 3000-word statement of faith, covering all the major doctrines. Best of all, the assignment requires over 1000 words to explain. And still none of us are quite sure what we're meant to be doing. (And, no, turning in the Nicene creed is not an option. And not the Apostles' creed either)

The brain is already starting to sizzle.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Urgency of Sound

Your 1996 Theme Song Is: 1979 by The Smashing Pumpkins

Shakedown 1979
Cool kids never have the time
On a live wire right up off the street
You and I should meet

Monday, April 23, 2007

Welcome to Boston: Not Your Ordinary, Everyday Detour

n the latest Big Dig annoyance, Massachusetts Turnpike officials expect commuters to navigate a confusing, hazardous array of detour and directional signs placed beside bridges under construction at the border of the South End and Chinatown.
One intersection alone features 15 separate directional signs. Nearby, two pedestrian detour signs that sit side-by-side are pointing in opposite directions.
“It just seems hazardous,” said David Franklin Ross, 44, of Charlestown, biking through gridlock Friday. “It’s definitely confusing, and I’m afraid of getting hit by a car not seeing the right sign.”

You think?

Read the whole thing.

Hey, you think maybe somebody's just trying to convince people to go to Church?!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Fine Line Between Justice & Vengeance

In the latest Commonweal, Prof. Mark Sargent of Villanova University Law School courageously offers "Vengeance Time," sure to be one of the more controversial articles of the year. While the article is not perfect--going a little far afield in drawing analogies--it does speak some truths which need to be said, like this one:

"It is not enough to say, however, that bishops, priests, and the church are finally getting what they deserve. The vengeance game is a dangerous one. When the original offense is terrible, we feel empowered to do terrible things in response. Blinded by our righteous rage and convinced of our moral superiority, we may do things we later regret."

It's an article that I hope people will not dismiss too readily, but rather take the time to read and reflect upon. You can read the whole thing here.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Rest in Peace

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Paulists Pack a Punch

So, will the Catholic League be up in arms about this?

Last night on The Sopranos, Christopher used the pictured Humanitas award, given by the Paulists, to whack J.T., the writer of his film "Cleaver," on the head (but he stopped short of 'whacking' him completely).

An article about the Humanitas Prize explains:

Humanitas is the Latin word for “humanity.” The Prize seeks to promote the full realization of humanity—the best instincts and values of the human spirit. “The fundamental value is the sacredness of the human person,” affirms Father Kieser. “Each of us is a replica of God. Each of us is a dwelling place of God and that gives us tremendous dignity.

“The Prize also propels us on a search for meaning,” he adds, “for freedom, for love, for human dignity, for unity with all our fellow human beings.”

For 25 years, the Prize has encouraged authors to examine these kinds of values.

Interesting . . .

You Might Want To Think Twice Before Installing That Bidet

There were just too many creative possibilities for describing this article, and few appropriate to this Catholic blog. But it was also too funny not to mention. Read the article yourself, and use your imagination:

Here's a snippet:

'Fortunately, nobody was using the toilets when the fire broke out and there were no injuries,' Tanaka said. 'The fire would have been just under your buttocks.'

read the whole thing.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Can I Be Offended?

The other day in class we had a presentation about lay ecclesial ministry. The presenter, who was sharing the results of her dissertation research was asked she could share about the experience of lay ministers working in the Church after being trained at a school like Weston. One of the anecdotes she shared was that of a woman who was hired to work in a parish. Early in her tenure she felt compelled to point to the collar of the young priest she was working with and tell him something along the lines of "You know that doesn't mean anything to me. I'm not going to treat you any different." Later, she was puzzled why this priest had difficulty working with her.

You might remember my recent post about an article by Boston Globe writer Sam Allis. I did write him an e-mail about my reaction to his article. I told him that I was offended by the implication in his article that my life, and the lives of so many who have devoted their lives to the service of God and others, were abnormal because they included a celibate commitment. I also pointed out that making such an insinuation was not even material to his article, nor were the anti-Catholic slurs that followed. His response was telling. He never even acknowledged that there might have been any offense in what he said. For him, it all came down to simply a difference of opinion as to whether celibacy was normal or not.

This, and the other story above, got me thinking. Is it the perception in the eyes of many that clergy and religious are without feelings, or is there a presumption that we are not allowed to be offended? It seems at times that we, because of some past offense, real or imagined, on the part of some other member of the clergy or religious life, are not allowed our own personal feelings. We are thought wrong to be offended when someone directs their anger at us. Yet we, on the other hand, are expected to be ultrasensitive, not doing or saying anything that might hold the potential for offending someone else. Parish priests, especially, are sometimes subject to an expectation that they should be able to anticipate the possible reaction of every member of their parish to anything that they might say or do. Having worked on a parish staff in the days before I became a Jesuit, I can assure you this is impossible. Even if the priest were to do nothing, someone would manage to be offended by it. The atmosphere in the wake of the sexual abuse crisis only makes this dynamic even more poisonous--clergy and religious are consistently seen in the media as offenders, and well-meaning people like the spokespeople for SNAP and other organizations repeatedly seem to insist that clergy and religious have no right to be offended, even when responding to false accusations. I wonder if this is a heightening of the former (was this still very much the case before the crisis?), or is the former more the product of the latter? It may be that this is just a consequence of answering the call to priesthood or religious life. Maybe we should simply accept that this is the case, and not whine about it? Maybe so. But if clergy and religious are not allowed to be sensitive to their own feelings, how much can we expect them to be capable of being sensitive to the feelings of others?

I'd be interested in knowing what people think about this.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Life With Imus

Mike Hayes at Busted Halo had some experience of Imus while working at WFAN in the 90s. He offers his perspective on the Imus/Rutgers scandal:

I saw a bunch of sides of the man who everyone is accusing of racism when I worked at WFAN in the mid-90s. His charity work comes straight from the heart. I’ve seen him comfort children with cancer and parents who lost a child to SIDS. Even this alleged class bully has a soft spot. But I’ve also seen Imus lash into colleagues for being late, or for simply not being funny. I watched a female personal assistant be reduced to tears and another nearly had a nervous breakdown. Working with Imus is never for the timid–the demands are high. Simply being in Imus’ crosshairs is dangerous business on-air or off. Always a tough interviewer who never leaves challenging questions in his holster, Imus lambastes all comers with a mix of clever questioning and toilet humor.

read the whole thing.

This Time It's Not Our Fault

"Mission and Identity" is a big topic at Catholic Universities these days. In light of today's New York Times article about a tenure issue there, DePaul University seems to be having a problem with both--especially, if what their Arts & Sciences dean is reported to have said is true, with the latter:

Mr. Finkelstein said that the dean of DePaul’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Charles E. Suchar, explained his opposition by arguing that “DePaul was a Jesuit school,” and adhered to the values of St. Vincent. “He claims that my scholarship does not fulfill the Vincentian value of personalism,” or respect for dignity of the individual.

“That’s just inventing a new standard,” Mr. Finkelstein complained. “The whole purpose of annual reviews is to keep you abreast of whether or not you are fulfilling the requirements of tenure. If you look at my annual reviews, no one ever warned me that I wasn’t meeting the Vincentian standard of personalism.

“I would not have stayed at a university if it told me upfront that a condition for me getting tenure,” he said, was that “my views have to be filtered through Catholic values. I would consider it a betrayal of my parents’ legacy.”

DePaul is not a Jesuit University.

read the whole story here

hat tip to DotCommonweal.

Sunday, April 08, 2007


"Without a doubt, at the center of the New Testament there stands the Cross, which receives its interpretation from the Resurrection."

"If one does away with the fact of the Resurrection, one also does away with the Cross, for both stand and fall together, and one would then have to find a new center for the whole message of the gospel.

--Hans Urs Von Balthasar

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Holy Saturday

"He fully lived out this death; indeed, since he himself was the absolute Word, he plumbed the abyss of our death far more deeply than we could ever do. And that is the absolute center of the heart of the Christian faith. He is the only one who has come 'from above' to provide an answer to the questions of all of us who are 'from below' (Jn 3:13; 8:23), and as such he can endow the finite with full, eternal significance. And not only as afar as he himself is concerned: for his absolute life and death apply to and affect the entire human race; they are designed to give all a share in this preponderance of eternity, this value in God's sight. His own unique death was the most lonely anyone had ever undergone, yet, since he was the absolute answer, he could make it the most communicable death: all can share in it."

--Hans Urs Von Balthasar, Theo-Drama Vol. 4

Friday, April 06, 2007

Georgetown Needs to "Come Out"

. . . as a Catholic University, says the president of Georgetown's "Law Students for Choice" group, a group not officially recognized by the University.

(Seems she overlooked the words "Catholic" and "Jesuit" on the University's home page)

This in response to the university's refusal to fund internships at Planned Parenthood.

“If Georgetown wants to be a Catholic University it has the freedom to identify as such,” she said. “If the school wants to abide by Catholic doctrine it should do so consistently and prevent all activities the Church disagrees with. This includes prosecutors’ offices that impose the death penalty, gay rights organizations, political candidates and judges that hold positions that disagree with the Catholic church, military law organizations and human rights organizations (the majority of which support reproductive rights, as well).

“When we apply to Georgetown Law, the most you hear about the Jesuit tradition is that [the school] supports students doing work in the public interest,” she added. “If I ever knew that taking part in women’s rights issues would lead to a chilling effect, I don’t know if I would have ever considered coming here.”

Days after learning of the Law Center’s decision, Woodson approached the student group Law Students for Choice, which is not officially recognized by the university. Joy Welan, the group’s president, said she agrees with Woodson that Georgetown mishandled the situation.

“We think this is a major change from what [the school] has done in the past, and it interferes with students’ career development,” Welan said. “If [Georgetown] is saying it is instituting this policy because the church demands it, then why aren’t changes happening across the board?”

“The school has tried to be too covert about its affiliation with the Catholic church,” she added. “We want [it] to come out and be honest about what [it wants] to be.”

Read the whole story

from Georgetown's web page:

Founded in 1789, the same year the U.S. Constitution took effect, Georgetown University is the nation's oldest Catholic and Jesuit university. Today, Georgetown is a major international research university that embodies its founding principles in the diversity of our students, faculty, and staff, our commitment to justice and the common good, our intellectual openness, and our international character.

So, hey, maybe they could emphasize it a bit more, but it's hardly covert!

Good Friday

Hey love
Is that the name you're meant to have
For me to call

Look love
They've given up believing
They've turned aside our stories of the gentle fall

But don't you believe them
Don't you drink their poison too
These are the scars that words have carved
On me

Hey love
That's the name we've long held back
From the core of truth

So don't turn away now
I am turning in revolution
These are the scars that silence carved
On me

This the same place
No, not the same place
This is the same place, love
No, not the same place we've been before

Hey, love
I am a constant satellite
Of your blazing sun
My love
I obey your law of gravity
This is the fate you've carved on me
The law of gravity
This is the fate you've carved on me
On me

--"Gravity" by Vienna Teng

Monday, April 02, 2007

I Didn't Get A Cell Phone Until I Was 37: What is the world coming to?!

I hope this doesn't seem mean, but I have to admit I got a chuckle out of this Letter to the Editor from today's New York Times (Now I know why they never print my letters!):

Re “Child Wants Cellphone; Reception Is Mixed” (Thursday Styles, March 29):

I didn’t get a cellphone until I was well out of high school, and I understood that it wasn’t something that humans needed as an essence of their survival, but rather a luxury that was very convenient.

At this point, my cellphone is an 11th finger, and it is a personal travesty when I forget it at home for even a few hours.

To see these kids — barely out of diapers — romping around with cutesy cellphones makes me a little repulsed.

For one thing, no 7-year-old should be in a position not to have the supervision of an adult. And it makes me a little insecure to think that 7-year-olds have a social life similar to mine, in the way that they should need a cellphone, as I do.

At this rate, we’re going in the direction of giving our dogs cellphones.

Throat Singing

Read more about this really interesting Holy Week tradition at Intentional Disciples.

"In the sacred tradition of Castelsardo, a quartet of men from the Catholic brotherhood sing together during Holy Week in an inward-facing circle in four-part harmony, manipulating their vowels and timbre in a such a way as to create what’s called a quintina, or a virtual fifth voice soaring above, from their harmonics."

April Showers

You can handle the truth.

It's April 2, and it's raining.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Broken "Vows"

I'm really bummed about this:

Jesuits Break Ties With “Vows”

By Steven Assom

Jesuit seminarians at Fordham University have been asked by their superiors to cease from offering their support to the planned new television series “Vows” on cable channel AMCT. The seminarians reportedly had been meeting with one of the producers of the new series without having sought permission from their formation superior. “I think being involved in a such a project could really distract from their studies and threaten their vocation,” said Fr. Frank Sullivan, who directs the Bronx seminary program.

The U.S. Jesuit Convention, which directs the work of the religious order throughout the United States, also expressed concern in a press release issued on Friday. It reads: “The USJC is very concerned with the negative fallout that could result from such a show, especially if it were to be considered something of an ‘insider’s view’ into the workings of the Society, and its formation process.” The show was said to be modeled on the Fordham program.

In light of the recent PETA charges against the Trappist monastery in Monks Corner, SC, there was also some concerned expressed about an episode that was rumored to depict a Jesuit seminarian hunting squirrels. “We’ve already got a bad enough reputation when it comes to other things. Everyone has a conspiracy theory about us. We just don’t need the added publicity that being portrayed as ‘squirrel killers’ would bring,” said Jesuit Convention President Thomas Sorich.

Meanwhile, the Fordham seminarians are not sure what to make of all this. “I feel as if they’ve taken my Irish Tin Whistle away and broke it in two,” said seminarian Ron Done, “I really thought this show would bring us positive attention. I’m not sure what the powers-that-be are so worried about. We told Karen (the producer) no episodes about Crazy Cajuns, and to absolutely stay away from anything having to do with V-Day.” Yet, the Jesuits are wary of trusting Hollywood insiders. “We’ve been burnt before,” said Sorich.

Meanwhile, Done hopes to devote his extra time to some of his own projects. His Irish music tutorial is already a huge hit on YouTube. And now that ties have been broken with “Vows,” he hopes to devote more time to animated features. He has contracted with the creators of “Charlie the Unicorn” to develop two sequels, which will be produced simultaneously to reduce production costs, “I Second That Emo-Shun” and “Escape From Candy Mountain.” “It’s much easier working with unicorns,” says Done, “since they don’t really exist, they’re not so worried about their reputation.”

Producer Karen Hell, when finally reached for comment said, “I can’t believe this. It’s like one big April Fool’s Joke.” This reporter agrees.

The content of this site is the responsibility of its author and administrator, Mark Mossa, SJ, and does not necessarily represent the Society of Jesus