Tag Archives: DThomas

Popes of Our Church

This recent time of resignation, conclave, and new pope is an intriguing and interesting time, which has about it excitement, challenges, questions, and reflections about the popes and papacy in the present, in history and certainly some thoughts for the future. The Pope I grew up with was Pope Pius XII, Eugene Pacelli, an austere-looking, distant figure whose picture was on the wall of St. Rita School in Dayton. We who lived then considered him a saint just because he was Pope. We were told about his concern for the Jews during World War II and …

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The Culture “Wars”

Recently, I came across a phrase that captures nearly perfectly for me where I am in the religious/political discussions of these days. Several years ago I was part of a planning committee for the Annual Meeting of NCCL, an organization of diocesan and parish catechetical leaders. One of the names suggested for possible speakers was Cathleen Kaveny, whom I knew at the time through her columns in Commonweal magazine. I contacted her at the University of Notre Dame; we had a conversation about possible topics; I agreed to get back with her soon. Much to …

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The Season of “Patience”

What is it about January that I find so difficult? I don’t like cold weather, the Christmas season has ended, and Easter seems so far off. It is just a matter of getting through this hard time, putting up with it. But I think that it prepares me for those times in life when all one can do is try to get through a difficulty. It is this experience that I take with me to the Sunday liturgy, asking myself what can help me get through. There is the gathered community, seeing the same faces …

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The Christmas Season

One of the many beauties of our Catholic liturgy is the “seasons” that we celebrate for the two great events of our saving history: Christmas and Easter.  First we spend a relatively long period of time preparing to celebrate them by getting ourselves and our parish community “in the mood” so these feasts impact our lives as individuals and parishes. Secondly, we celebrate the feasts not for just a single day but for many days. I recall a Christmas season that was full of some difficult experiences. My mother had died recently and if ever …

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Advent Thoughts

This is the time of year when many in the Catholic community rant and rave about the evils of the way our society celebrates Christmas. We complain about how early it starts and how commercial it is.  We berate others and ourselves about how busy we are and how many things we set up for ourselves to do. It seems that we want to make ourselves and others feel guilty. Another criticism made is how much our economy depends on Christmas sales. We are told that we need to go out and buy or the …

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Parish Life

Recently, I came across a video entitled Scenes from a Parish. It is a series of vignettes of St. Patrick Parish in Lawrence, MA, described as the poorest city in Massachusetts. It is done through interviews with parishioners, the pastor, and community people along with other parish life experiences over a five-year period. The viewer truly gets inside the lives of the parishioners, the parish staff, and the parish itself. The film helped me to reflect on the importance of the parish for our church and for myself. It shares the struggles of an urban …

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Post-Election Reflection

For me, and I suspect for many others, the just-past campaign has been a trying experience. Watching innumerable negative ads from both sides of the spectrum that were full of half-truths, untruths and downright lies most often with a vicious negative overtone was comparable to the worst kind of torture.  The phone ringing with three or four robo-calls a day was just a little bit too much. Needless to say I’m happy the election is over. But as I take time to think about it I am struck by several important thoughts. First, how wonderful …

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Vatican II: 50th Anniversary

There is much talk these days of the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council. This brings back a flood of memories for me because I was nineteen when the Council was announced and thus grew up in a very different church than the one in which I matured. Life in the pre-Vatican II church was one without change. Things were always done that way. It was a shock to learn that there was a time in history when the Mass was not always in Latin, priests were not always celibate, and the laity were …

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The Storytelling Animal

I just finished a book whose title gives a reasonably accurate definition of what it means to be a human being: The Storytelling Animal. Its subtitle also captures an important truth about stories: How Stories Make Us Human. This book explores the many different kinds of stories in our lives: dreams, daydreams, novels, films, games, and the sacred stories we tell to understand our faith. The really important stories are those we tell about our lives. These stories guide how we live and affect the way we see ourselves. A recent novel entitled Faithful Place …

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The Righteous Mind

Like Sean Ater, I strongly support Cardinal Dolan’s decision to invite President Obama to the Annual Al Smith dinner. It seems to me that one of the great tragedies of the present is the inability of “enemies” to talk to one another in a way that is respectful of differences and diversity. One of the great dangers of being human beings is a tendency to create “enemies” from differences and disagreements. Related to that is the feeling that we are right, good, and truthful and those who disagree with us are the opposite: wrong, bad …

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