Tuesday, December 11, 2018


Here is an insightful essay by Fr. Dwight Longnecker about the distinction between faith and ideology. "Faith Walks on the waves--Ideology stays in the boat."

I think his analogy about the relationship of sheet music to a musical perforance is very good. It makes me think of those composing software programs. If you enter a piece into one of them, it always plays it back exactly as written and very mechanically (although you can still appreciate the beauty). But there is a world of difference between a computer playback and a live performance of the same piece. Personal interpretation is the key--on the part of the composer and, to a certain extent, the players. Like when my son plays one of his compositions on the computer. You know that when you hear it life it will make all the difference. It is like one of my favorite analogies: the first few minutes of The Wizard of Oz vs the rest of the movie in color.

Monday, December 10, 2018

The name of demons

Since C.S. Lewis wrote The Screwtape letters, there are many writers who seek to imitate Lewis's insights using a similar conceit. One thing I've noticed about these efforts is that they most often use names for the demons that are two syllables long and end in a percussive consonant (voiced or unvoiced). I wonder why? It seems to make sensse, though.

Monday, December 03, 2018

When bad things happen to good people

This generation seeks a sign. The only sign it will receive is the sign of Jonah.

Faith in Christ is not a quid pro quo. God knows what we need to be holy. All that happens in our lives, in our families, in our country, in our Church, and in the world, no matter how seemingly bad, is an opportunity to cultivate and exercise virtue, natural and supernatural. This is why we need to pray perseveringly for the gifts of the Holy Spirit. As Archbishop Martinez says, we need the gifts in order to exercise the virtues, because we are too weak to do so without them.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Intellectual Humility according to St. Francis

Three attitudes towards the letter of the Law. One for lay people to avoid, one for religious to avoid, and one to be emulated.  Of course, all applies to all.
The Apostle says: "The letter kills, but the spirit gives life" (2 Cor 3:6). Those have died by the letter who desire to know only the words, so as to be esteemed as wiser among others and be able to acquire great riches to be given to relatives and friends. And those religious have died by the letter, who do not want to follow the spirit of Divine, but rather desire only to know the words and to explain them to others.  And those have been vivified by the Divine Letter, who do not attribute every letter, which they know and desire to know, to the body, but in word and example render them to the Most High Lord God, of whom every good belongs. Admonition of St. Francis VII

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Who can we trust?

I am thoroughly convinced that in these troubled times in the Church it is more important than ever for us to be fed by the Word of God and by the wisdom of the saints. Modern thinkers are fine, but the real depth is in the holy ones. I have in the past not often posted links to other sources, but I think I will begin to do that as I see sources that are helpful. Some, of course, are both--like St. John Paul II and soon-to-be Saint Paul VI.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018


Doctrine is not an obstacle to pastoral care.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Culture in the Church

Today at work we were asked to come up with an answer to the question, "What is culture in the Church?"

Here is my answer:
The social and communal effort, open to the influence of other cultures past and present, to symbolically express the Apostolic Faith in the intellectual and concrete material, life, activity and practice of the people of God. 
What do you think?

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Other people's devotions

The Imitation of Christ warns the monk not to let his personal devotions be kept to yourself. Of course, if you have a devotion that you engage in in chapel, how can others not see it? Are you supposed to hide your scapular?

In our day that has been taken to new heights. No personal acts of devotion should ever be seen by anyone ever, nor should you ever promote a devotion. Everyone has their own way of relating to the Lord.

What I've notice, though, is that some people who have one form of devotion that they consider "adult" (as in "We need to have an adult faith") look down on others who have a different form as childish, superstitions, or overly sentimental. It seems to me that this attitude has two sources: an over-spiritualization of the faith and spiritual pride. For some, a relationship with faith is purely interior. Those who engage their body during devotions are "carnal" (although they may not use that word). I think the theology of the body has addressed that.

As for pride, what if some people approach Our Lord and the saints like a child?  What if they are devoted to images that don't have the greatest artistic value and that seem to us to be overly sentimental. I'd rather think, "I'm glad they have a relationship with the Lord; it is undoubtedly deeper and richer than my own."

Monday, May 22, 2017

I heard an ad the other day about some kind of cancer medicine. The woman said something like, "You could be home the day after chemotherapy to be with your support systerm." I thought, "Why don't you say, 'with your family and friends'?"

We have a tendency to impersonalize our relationships. Another example is the phrase, "wisdom figure." We can't bring ourselves to say, "He is a wise man." We have to say, "He is a wisdom figure." I suppose this is the influence of Jungean psychology.

Jesus was not a "wisdom figure." He was a wise man--with the wisdom of God, which was a stumbling block for the Jews and folly to the Greeks.