I wrote this poem, which, in a way, is my own reflection on the central doctrine of the Christian faith. It is entitled, “Awaiting God”.
We need better images. It has become increasingly obvious that we are starved for trustworthy and reliable images of manhood in our present age. The unreliability of the current popular images of “man” are likely related to the deteriorating image of “fatherhood” in the modern world.
The men felled by sexual misconduct allegations over the last nine months have offered an image of manhood that consists of using others to satiate their own appetites. Perhaps these prominent men show the inevitable outcome of unchecked power, of misdirected authority, of self-indulgent customs that fuel the cults of personality. But this behavior exists in private places, too, and indeed a widespread remediation is necessary to cure our young men of the tendencies that might lead to such actions.
Using others makes everyone a slave of their own appetites. What is missing is the power to fulfill responsibilities, to create life and secure wellbeing for others, and to trade away selfish desires for another’s good.
Read more at Our Sunday Visitor.
As part of an article written for Our Sunday Visitor (to post soon), I interviewed current college students and recent college grads, as well as college-bound high school grads about faith in college. Some of their thoughts and reflections are included with the article, but there were too many to get everything in. Here are the full responses from each of the teens and young adults…
Last Friday, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg vetoed Bill 05-18, which would have amended a residential zoning ordinance for the construction of a new Women’s Care Center facility at 3527 Lincoln Way W. Known for his thoughtful and impartial consideration of local issues, Buttigieg had the opportunity to overcome the polarization that affects so much of our national, state, and now, we regret to say, local politics.
He had the opportunity to usher in the peaceful coexistence of two organizations that have fundamentally different views about the nature of women’s health care. He had the opportunity to give women in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the city a choice in approaches to care. He had the opportunity to serve our community rather than kowtowing to the national interests of his political party. He failed.
Read more at the South Bend Tribune.
(Co-authored with Jessica Keating)
This is the last fish Jesus saw before he ascended to heaven, and he ate it. I wonder how many fish he saw during his 33 years. A lot, for sure, but still there is some kind of definite number that we simply cannot know. What we do know, however, is that this was the last fish in that number, and it was broiled. Jesus eats a lot throughout Luke's Gospel, but this is the only time Luke tells us of him eating after the Resurrection. And this fish, which once swam around in a school and was caught and then broiled, was consumed by the glorified body of the Savior. No other fish in his school or in the all the seas of the world could claim that. Blessed are you among fish.
Antagonisms are what we most frequently and efficiently pass on to young people. We teach them to do what we do and to become what we model. Ideals and hopes are diverted this way or that, to this side or that side, so it seems as if the only imperative is to establish oneself, one’s faction, in opposition to others. We are so deft at these maneuvers that we almost cannot help ourselves; we do it instinctively, somewhat naturally. Surprisingly yet predictably, this same old formational screenplay is playing itself out during the preparation for the 2018 Synod of Bishops on “young people, the faith and vocational discernment.”
Ironically, antagonism and its animating spirit, the hermeneutics of suspicion, are what young people tend to despise most of all. Yet, these things are precisely what we in the Church are preparing them to assume through what we do and what we model. When the final document from the Vatican’s pre-synod meeting of 300 young people was released at the end of March, the accusatory tweets and disparaging commentaries followed in breathless pursuit.
Have you ever wondered what it was like for the first disciples to see Jesus in the light of the Resurrection?
Imagine being inside a dimly lit, windowless room and then suddenly walking outside into the brightest part of the day. The sunlight is all around you; everything is bright. By reflex, you close your eyes to protect them. You try squinting, maybe even using your hand as a visor to cast a little shadow on your now teary, hypersensitive eyes. You may see a blurry figure here and another there, but you can’t focus or gaze at anything. You alternate between blindness and misperception. Read more at OSV.
There are not a lot of reasons for optimism, but there is every reason for hope. Optimism is either the result of a calculation of the available evidence that warrants the assumption of a positive conclusion, or it is naïve wishing. Hope, though, is personal. More to the point, hope is founded on fidelity to the promises of Christ—we believe that he is who he has shown himself to be and we trust that what he says is true. The one who slayed death is more than capable of guiding us through the perils of the digital world, fatherless societies, biblical illiteracy, violence and abuse, and every kind of exploitation that our young people endure or perpetuate. Our part is to trust Christ and to give ourselves over to the mission of evangelization, sacrificing our comfort, shyness, anxiety, and concern for our own status along the way. That’s hope in action.
Moreover, the whole synodal process is entrusted to Mary, the Blessed Mother. She remains Our Lady of Hope because she gives everything to her Son, who redeems us. As the preparatory document for the synod offers in its closing section: “In her eyes every young person can rediscover the beauty of discernment; in her hear every young person can experience the tenderness of intimacy and the courage of witness and mission.”
When Jesus says that of this man he himself will "be ashamed when he comes glory," I take him to mean that filling your heart with lies and deception so as to trade yourself away for any profit whatsoever - whether Whales or all of England or the whole world - will reduce you to nothing in the end, and glory of the Lord will pass right through you. There will be nothing there for his glory to light up. But the one who in his heart of hearts "acknowledges the truth" (15:2), will be a person of flesh and blood whom Son of man makes to shine like the sun.
Jesus is obedience incarnate. He is nothing other and nothing less than everything the Father gives to him. To consume his words, to consume his works, to consume his example, and, in the end, to consume his very life--his body, his blood--is to receive nothing other than his uninterrupted obedience to the Father.
Perhaps there is no greater threat to our own security than the gods we create out of our own expectations. These gods constantly swirl in our hearts and masquerade in our imaginations. There is the god of my own convenience; the god of my condition; the god of my hidden agenda; the god of my private religious worldview. These gods get broadcast far and wide by the "crowds", who present an divine image that serves some end that they or we or I seek for their or our or my own purposes.