Reflection from this past Sunday

Here are some reflections I gave last Sunday, on the 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time:

I hope that you all have had a wonderful holiday weekend so far. I was at a parade on Friday down in Norwood, and then went to the fireworks on Friday night downtown, and spent of the rest of the weekend relaxing, seeing friends, and getting some downtime in with my dogs. And I hope that you, like me, are grateful for this holiday, grateful for the fact that our country takes this holiday so seriously, this 4th of July, this feast of St. Elizabeth of Portugal. Known as “the Peacemaker” for the many wars she ended, mostly started by her husband and son, it’s fitting that our nation take time off to celebrate her memory every year, with fireworks in her honor, barbecues that recall her service of the poor, and domestic disagreements that remind us why she is the patron saint of difficult marriages.

Now, of course, I doubt that many of us spent too much time honoring Elizabeth of Portugal on Friday, and those of you visiting from out of town didn’t come to Boston to celebrate St. Elizabeth’s Day. But that gives me the opportunity on this Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary time to reflect a little bit on the calendars in our lives, civic, social, liturgical, and on the importance of knowing what calendar you’re on. Because a calendar isn’t just a neutral reckoning of days. In our first reading, the prophet Zechariah proclaims that the Lord’s “dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.” I want to reflect tonight with you upon God’s dominion as not only a reality in space, “to the ends of the earth”, but also a reality in time, “forever and ever.” Calendars are about dominion. Whose calendar, or calendars, are you on? The academic year? The fiscal year? Your child’s first year, or X years until retirement? An election year?

The striking proclamation of today’s readings is a proclamation reflected in the church’s calendar, in the very existence of this day called “Sunday”, the “first day of the week”, which used to be just another ordinary workday in the ancient world and particularly in the Jewish world of Jesus and the early church. Sunday used to be the equivalent of Monday morning. But now the resurrection of Christ on this first day of the week upends all that. This first day of creation has become the first day of a re-creation, a new creation, and we can no longer live as though God’s calendar had not erupted into our own calendars. And that’s why the holiday we celebrate today, even here in the United States, even here in the “cradle of liberty,” is not primarily the Fourth of July, but more humbly, more profoundly, the 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time.

So how do we live as Catholic Christians and as Americans? How do we put together our civic calendars, as well as all our other calendars, together with God’s time?

The key to that, I think, is in our second reading from St. Paul, whose life and witness to Christ we celebrate in this year of St. Paul: the indwelling Spirit of Christ in our lives. Saint Paul provides our earliest model of negotiating following Christ in a culture full of different calendars. Isaac Hecker, the founder of the Paulists, predicted “in the union of Catholic Faith and American civilization...a future for the Church brighter than any past.” We, in this Paulist Center and chapel of the Holy Spirit, keep turning back to the same mystery, the mystery of the Spirit of God’s real, active presence in us and through us.

“The Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you” Paul writes and Isaac Hecker repeats. “Dwells – in – you.” If we don’t talk about that as much as we could, it’s because we might be a little bit frightened by how close God really is to us.

This Spirit teaches us a thing or two about our calendars.

This Spirit teaches us that all of our other calendars are grounded by God’s calendar, grounded by this first day of the week that was the first day of creation and is the first day of re-creation. Notice I didn’t say that our other calendars are “trumped” by this calendar – if we think that God’s calendar is in competition with our other calendars, if we think of the relation between our work calendar or our family calendar and God’s calendar as an “either/or” proposition, then what happens to our belief in the goodness of creation, the goodness of our lives, even the goodness of our country and its accomplishments? Paul tells us not to live according to the flesh, by which he means not to live as though this creation was the Creator. But he doesn’t say that the flesh is bad – he’d be a very poor Apostle and a very bad Jew if he didn’t believe in the ultimate goodness of creation.

But the Spirit does teach us that we need to center our lives and our calendars on God’s time, and not on our own times. Even this 4th of July weekend, we’re led by the Spirit to see that as wonderful as the gifts of our country are, it is fundamentally God’s dominion that is from sea to shining sea and also from day to day and year to year. Our celebration of Independence Day on Friday, as well as the celebration of all our other important days – our own birthdays and anniversaries, our academic successes and professional accomplishments – you can name your own – all of these are grounded in God’s time by our bringing them together in our celebration of Christ’s resurrection, the 14th Sunday in the church year, the 14th Sunday in ordinary time.

Now, this is freedom, and this is why Paul uses the language of freedom and of debt. Living in God’s dominion in time frees us from the pressure, the anxiety of trying to make our smaller calendars bear the weight of being the center of our lives. It’s like enjoying ourselves at a really good dinner – good food, good company, maybe some good wine – and looking up to realize that hours have gone by – living according to God’s time frees us from our nervous clockwatching, and puts our busy-ness into proper perspective. And so it’s not incidental that each week when we celebrate our ordinary, extraordinary salvation, we share a really good meal together.

As we continue our prayer today, let us pray to be more conscious of the Spirit of God dwelling within us. Let us pray that we may celebrate a weekend of rest and relaxation by celebrating the gift of our rest in Christ and his calendar. Let us pray for a Spirit of discernment in loving God’s creation well, and of loving it as grounded in the new time opened up for us in Christ.

And my prayer for all of you is a blessed and relaxing St. Elizabeth of Portugal weekend.

Gopnik on Chesterton, "Conversion Sickness"

There's a great essay (not available online, sadly) in the current issue of the New Yorker by Adam Gopnik on G.K. Chesterton entitled "The Back of the World: The troubling genius of G.K. Chesterton." It has a fabulous paragraph on conversion that I felt the need to reproduce in toto:

"In these books [his later Catholic non-fiction works] Chesterton becomes a Pangloss of the parish; anything Roman is right. It is hard to credit that even a convinced Catholic can feel equally strongly about St. Francis's intuitive mysticism and St. Thomas's pedantic religiosity, as Chesterton seems to. His writing suffers from conversion sickness. Converts tend to see the faith they were raised in as an exasperatingly makeshift and jury-rigged system: Anglican converts to Catholicism are relieved not to have to defend Henry VIII's divorces; Jewish converts to Christianity are relieved to get out from under the weight of all those strange Levitical laws on animal hooves. The newly adopted faith, they imagine, is a shining, perfectly balanced system, an intricately worked clock where the cosmos turns to tell the time and the cuckoo comes out singing every Sunday. An outsider sees the Church as a dreamy compound of incense and impossibility, and, overglamorizing its pretensions, underrates its adaptability. A Frenchman or an Italian, even a devout one, can see the Catholic Church as a normally bureaucratic human institution, the way patriotic Americans see the post office, recognizing the frailty and even the occasional psychosis of its employees without doubting its necessity or its ability to deliver the message. Chesterton writing about the Church is like someone who has just made his first trip to the post office. Look, it delivers letters for the tiny price of a stamp! You write an address on a label, and they will send it anywhere, literally anywhere you like, across a continent and an ocean, in any weather! The fact that the post office attracts timeservers, or has produced an occasional gun massacre, is only proof of the mystical enthusiasm that the post alone provides! Glorifying the postman beyond what the postman can bear is what you do only if you're new to mail."


Pentecost Reflections

I had the privilege of reflecting on the readings for the Pentecost Vigil last evening, and wanted to share some of the thoughts I had with you. Happy Feast! Alleluia, alleluia!
(The readings for the Vigil were
Genesis 11:1-9
Ezechiel 13: 1-14
Romans 8:22-27
John 7:37-39
Full text on the U.S. Bishops' website)

The writer and non-traditional theologian Anne Lamott has said that she has two basic forms of prayer – “Help me, help me, help me,” and “Thank you, thank you, thank you.” I’d add at least one more variation on the first – one of the ways Christians say “help me, help me, help me” is by praying, asking, begging God to come and be present with us.
Come and save us.
Lord Jesus, come – Maranatha!
And, come, Holy Spirit, which is our prayer tonight at this Vigil of Pentecost. I’d like to focus on our prayer, “come, Holy Spirit” this evening.

Sometimes it can appear that we neglect the Holy Spirit in our prayer, but have you noticed how often we pray “come, Holy Spirit”? In our liturgy, the technical name for this is an “epiclesis” – there’s your SAT word for the evening. An “epiclesis” is a prayer of invocation, asking the Holy Spirit to come and sanctify us.
Whenever we bless holy water for baptism, we invoke the Holy Spirit.
When we celebrate the Eucharist together in a few minutes, we will pray, as we do at each Eucharist, “may the Holy Spirit sanctify these offerings. Let them become the body and blood of Jesus Christ our Lord.”
And at every Eucharist, we also invoke the Holy Spirit upon us and upon our church – my Episcopalian friends take that so seriously that the routinely bless themselves when they pray, “by your Holy Spirit, gather all who share this one bread and one cup into the one body of Christ” or “Grant that we, who are nourished by his body and blood, may be filled with his Holy Spirit, and become one body, one spirit in Christ.” There are always at least two invocations specifically of the Holy Spirit in each eucharist, upon the bread and the wine, the body of Christ, and upon the gathered church, the body of Christ.

So we pray “come, Holy Spirit” a lot – but do we have any idea what we’re asking for on this night of Pentecost vigil when we can focus on the church’s “epicletic” existence?
I think we do know what we’re asking for – and that that is why we avoid thinking about it very often…
Let’s look at our scriptures tonight. Let’s look at these dry bones – “How dry they were!” How dry they are.
One way of hearing these texts is with deep joy, to receive the “springs of living water” Jesus promises in our Gospel tonight, to receive the “sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit.” Those of you a few years older than I probably could have rattled them off without having to look them up on wikipedia, like I did… wisdom, knowledge, judgment, courage, understanding, piety, and fear of the Lord. It can be a bit like the lion getting courage, the tin man getting a heart, and the scarecrow getting a brain – put yourself in whatever category you choose.
But while that joy at the Spirit’s gifts is crucial, I’m not sure rejoicing in the Spirit’s gifts is enough.

You see, here’s what I think.
Deep down, or if I’m honest with myself, some of the time, (most of the time?)
I kinda like being a dry bone.
I kinda like just lying there.
You see, dry bones don’t feel pain. They’re already dry – you need flesh for that.
And dry bones don’t have to get up in the morning – you need sinews and tendons for that.
And nobody expects anything of dry bones – how dry they are! – nobody expects dry bones to keep doing Christ’s ministry in the world, to “do Christ’s work and even greater things than he,” he tells us in John’s Gospel, to save and not simply to be saved – you need Spirit for that.
When we pray, “Come Holy Spirit”, do we really know what we’re asking?

There’s a communal dimension to this as well.
Deep down, if I’m honest with myself, some of the time, (most of the time?)
Do I really want to be united with those who are other than I?
You see, Pentecost is the opposite of Babel – the people that attempt to “make a name for themselves” are dispersed from Babel, while, at Pentecost, the people who glorify God’s name, ha-Shem – the Name – are re-united, speaking all tongues, gathering all people into one new family.

That sounds great – and at the Paulist Center, we do a pretty good job at praying, “Come, Holy Spirit, unite us all in Christ.”

But deep down, do I want the Holy Spirit to unite me with, say, our brother in Christ, Bernard Law?
As a gay man, do I want the Holy Spirit to unite me with my Christian sisters and brothers who think that my sexual orientation is a sin, a perversion? More frightening, do they really want to be united with me?
You can think of your own examples, not of the “easy other” who it’s socially acceptable to accept in your current location, but of the “hard other”, the one who speaks a totally different language than you do. I often want to be united to others with the clay and bricks of my own terms, that is, by proving them I’m right – not on God’s terms, which may or may not be the same. But it is on God’s terms that we who were no people are being made into God’s people.

There is good news in the church this night. It is a great and graced irony that Paul’s promise that “the Spirit will come to the aid of our weakness, because we do not know how to pray as we ought,” is fulfilled when we pray, “Come, Holy Spirit.” It is in asking for the Spirit that we most need the Spirit’s help in being courageous, wise, understanding, prudent… and it is in our confidence that “in hope we are saved” that we believe that our prayer will be answered, and that God will bring our dry bones to life again.

Come Holy Spirit, upon us and upon these gifts, upon these dry bones that are the body of Christ, that are waiting, hopefully, fearfully to walk again. As so often happens in the liturgical calendar, Pentecost ends one season not by coming full stop, but by beginning another – ordinary time, the “Sundays after Pentecost,” in the old language, the time to drink deeply of the Spirit’s living waters. These are the weeks to continue tonight’s celebration, to continue to ask for the grace to pray as we ought, for water to flow within us, for spirit to raise up these bones. Come, Holy Spirit. Amen.


Happy Patriots' Day

So, in honor of Patriots' Day, I found this Family Guy tribute to the Spirit of Massachusetts:

But in my searching, I also found this 1982 ABC news report about beautiful Rhode Island, "The Biggest Little State in the Union."


Alma Mater, Thee We Hail

One other nice thing about the papal visit for me is that when people see me wearing my "Catholic University of America" sweatshirt, for a little while at least people might know what the heck it is...
(Worst incident:
Harvard Student: "Oh my God, that's totally funny, like a generic Catholic university, haha."
Me: "Well, actually, I received my B.A. from it."
HS: "Oh. Um, sorry.")

Venue profile of CUA here.
CUA's main website for the visit here.

Distinguishing gay men from pedophiles

In almost a throwaway line from his remarks while on "Shepherd One" en route to the U.S. this afternoon, B16 distinguishes homosexuality from pedophilia. Not a big gay rights advance, but it will certainly (hopefully?) give pause to those who identified the presence of gay men in the clergy as the cause of the sexual abuse crisis.

“It is a great suffering for the church in the United States and for the church in general and for me personally that this could happen,” he said. “As I read the histories of those victims it is difficult for me to understand how it was possible that priests betrayed in this way. Their mission was to give healing, to give the love of God to these children. We are deeply ashamed and we will do what is possible that this cannot happen in the future.”

Apparently drawing a distinction between priests with homosexual tendencies and those inclined to molest children, the Pontiff said: “I would not speak at this moment about homosexuality, but pedophilia which is another thing. And we would absolutely exclude pedophiles from the sacred ministry.”

Papal Visit Round-Up

Just wanted to round-up a few of the best sources for reliable information as Benedict's visit to the U.S. begins today, and then add my own two cents...

Rocco at Whispers in the Loggia is obviously the norma non normata of Vaticana these days. Expect him to have the earliest scoops and the best inside information.

Another great source is David Gibson's blog on the papal visit entitled "Benedictions" and sponsored by Beliefnet. Where Rocco brings a heartwarming admiration to the table, Gibson also has the critical, sometimes cynical eye of a seasoned journalist, but with (shock) actual knowledge of the Catholic Church and an ability to distinguish big issues from side issues. And he's fun - check out his article in the Star-Ledger (yes, the New Jersey Star-Ledger) on papal fashion choices.

The New York Times has the fanciest pope visit page, combining some of this past weekend's journalism on the current state of the Catholic Church in the U.S. with live reports on everything that's happening. Expect them to have the best pictures. Crucially, they also have an updating schedule up, so if you've got a map of the eastern seaboard and a little yellow tack, you can follow the pope like a hurricane up the coast.

The Boston Globe also has a good page on the visit, and Michael Paulson is a long-standing, careful observer of things Catholic; though less flashy than the NY Times page, my money's on his analysis's being a bit more insightful.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has shown a good deal of media savvy for the trip, and has their own, high quality blog on the papal visit. It's almost entirely the official line-up of who's who and why they're important, but it will be a good source for photos as well.

If you're following the visit from home, most major television carriers will no doubt be carrying it. EWTN will be streaming it all (and smoke, drink, or donate some money to the Democratic Party at the same time, if you want to offset your possible support for their advertisers...). And you can follow along using the papal missal for the trip, released last week by the Vatican in pdf form.

So what am I thinking about all of this?

Well, I think it would be difficult to be a Roman Catholic Christian and not feel a great deal of excitement and pride about the visit of a pope. For someone raised within the church, the sheer visual and musical spectacle of it all hits all sorts of deep nerves within me. I'm particularly struck/excited by the proposal to ring bells in Catholic churches across the country at 4 pm today EDT, the time of Benedict's plane's arrival.

I respectfully disagree with some of what this particular pope has done, both as the prefect of the CDF where he hurt people who were close to me, and even now as pope. But on the other hand, this is one of those occasions, almost like a funeral or wedding, where one puts aside some of those differences. If he's truly functioning as a symbol not of his own sometimes poor, IMHO, choices, but as a symbol of the universal church and its presence with our own churches here in the United States, then a papal visit cannot but help remind us of that. Plus, B16 is simply a better theologian than JPII, so if John Paul's visits were focused on the question of what John Paul did, I'll be looking on this trip to see what Benedict says.

And yet I think that my experiences -- as a gay man, as a theologian, as a feminist, as an overly-educated academic -- will give me a sense of distance from some of the visit. I can't but approach this visit without some serious question, and while that might be dismissed as not "getting into the spirit of the thing," I think it's actually a saving grace in a quite literal sense. B16 knows (and, I think, knows better than his immediate predecessor) the danger of the pope-as-spectacle becoming a focus for a cult of personality, for an idolatry that places the pope in the place of Christ. After all, he was a child in Nazi Germany, he knows how easily this very human excitement at being fascinated by the spectacle, at being caught up in the moment and losing oneself in the crowd, can be turned, twisted, and misused for something grotesque. So, bottom line, I'll be watching for the next few days with real, unfeigned excitement, and yet with a bit of a critical eye. I think my own experiences, and my generational location, may have saved me from the untrammeled cynicism about all things papal that I find in some of my elders, as well as from some of the uncritical papolatry, in the strict sense, of some of my peers.

I'll be glued to the TV with the rest of America, and I'll be sincerely praying with and for the pope on this trip - but one of my students attending the Mass at Yankees Stadium has instructions to acquire a Benedict XVI popener for me (a papal-themed bottle opener....)

Viva il papa!


Gregory Douglass

Heard a pretty good singer-songwriter tonight that Harvard's BGLTSA brought on campus named Gregory Douglass. Nice sound, going back and forth between piano and guitar. He did mention that with the exception of Peter Gabriel (and one other guy I can't remember) that he tended to listen primarily to female singer-songwriters like Tori Amos, Ani DiFranco, Sarah McLachlan, etc...and it shows. In a good way. Especially at the piano, where he used a lot of upper key tinkling to balance off his voice, and a few good Tori-esque slur/scream/growls, and then on the guitar where his strumming added a neat, Ani-like percussive feel. Like I said, good stuff...although there was a small crowd, he was pretty appreciative. I'll go find him next time he's at Passim.


Pope Videos

Two fabulous videos:
1) The Holy Father's message about his visit to the United States next week:

2) And the D.C. Metro's ad (now yanked) for the day, featured B16 in bobblehead form (thanks to Whispers for the tip):


Opening Day, and a Chance to Pray

It's Opening Day at Fenway Park. Game time at 2 pm. Ring time at 2 pm.
I'll be correcting papers while watching the Olde Town Team.
This might also be a chance to check out two of the sassiest Red Sox blogs on the block, Basegirl and Respect the Tek. Go Sox!

And, if you happen to be in the Boston area, I'm helping to plan an ecumenical service this evening at 7 pm at the Paulist Center celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Paulist Fathers. Entitled "Hearing Paul Together," it features three great preachers reflecting on St. Paul's writings: Fr. Antony Hughes of St. Mary's Antiochian Orthodox Church in Cambridge; Rev. Jep Streit, the Dean of St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral in Boston; and Ms. Laura Everett, the Associate Director of the Massachusetts Council of Churches and all-around-kick-ass church chica. (She doesn't put that title on her C.V., but it ought to be there.) If you're in town, come on by. More information at the Paulist Center's newly re-designed website.


PawSox Season Opener

So I'm heading down to beautiful Pawtucket, Rhode Island, home to my paternal family, for the PawSox Season Opener tomorrow night. My wonderful friend Laura has organized quite the little road trip. Bartolo Colon will be on the mound. See you there! Go Sox!


Second Sunday of Easter

Do you believe in the Resurrection?
If so, why?

Those are our Gospel’s questions for Thomas, and those are the questions for us, as we conclude our celebration of Easter Day – that’s right – the past eight days are considered by the church to be one day, the liturgical equivalent of a summer night in the arctic, where the sun never sets.

But I’m not going to spend lots of time talking about Thomas this evening. Rather, I want to look rather closely at something interesting – interesting to me, at least – about the scriptures the church links together for us on this Second Sunday of Easter, and particularly at this reading from the Acts of the Apostles. But keep my questions – do you believe in the Resurrection? Why? – firmly in mind.

Let me refresh you, in case your mind was wandering off earlier. “They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common. […] And every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.”

The teaching of the apostles, the breaking of the bread, the prayers – those are relatively clear. “The communal life” – the Greek word that translates for us is the word “koinonia”, “communion”, the sharing of a common life of prayer, of service, of, as we see, material goods. It’s a typical way in the Scriptures and in theology of describing the difference that the Risen Christ makes in our lives together – we who were not a people, become a people; we who were as far apart as Jews and Greeks, as slaves and free persons, as women and men, as Yankees fans and Red Sox fans, are reconciled into one family. We are only Christians by being Christians together – the old Latin tag was “unus Christianus, nullus Christianus” – “a single Christian is not a Christian.”

And so, both for us and for these earliest Christians, the church is the proof of the resurrection, and that’s why we’re talking about it at the end of this Easter week. The church is the indication that the resurrection of Christ, God’s confirmation of Christ’s righteousness and the foretaste of what we can look forward to on the last day, is not a myth, not a pretty story, not a happy ending tacked on to the usual story of another Jewish rabbi killed by the Romans. It’s the existence of this community, devoted to the teaching of the apostles, to communion of minds and bodies, to the breaking of the bread, to the prayers, that confirms Mary Magadalene’s proclamation, “I have seen the Lord.”

Now, what you may be thinking, or perhaps, in my humble opinion, should be thinking is, that all sounds well and good, but hey, I live in Boston. After the events in the Roman Catholic church that have been revealed in the past seven years, how can the church help me to believe in the resurrection? Believing the truth of the resurrection – that’s easy-peasy, compared to believing in the “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.” Even here in this Paulist Center Community, we’ve had a rough couple of years, and we’ve had rough patches before, and we’ll have rough patches in the future. If you haven’t had the experience of having your faith shaken by the church that attempts to proclaim it, then, as the bumper sticker says, you haven’t been paying attention. It’s difficult to hear this story from Acts about the early Christian community and not think of it as a fantasy, as a story, or at least as a little bit naïve.

So why in the world would the church link this reading about the early church with the story of Thomas’ coming to faith? Because, I think, not despite the church’s failures, our failures, to be Christ-like, but in and through the church’s failures, our failures, to be Christ-like, we find our truest source for faith in Christ’s resurrection and hope for our own resurrections.

As some of you know, my partner and I live in an undergraduate dorm with about 400 students. Upon hearing how regularly I try to get to church, one of them once remarked to me, with wide-eyes, “You must be really holy.” I told him that calling someone who’s in church a lot holy is like calling someone who’s in the hospital a lot healthy. One of the indications we get that the church’s job is to carry on Christ’s ministry is in the passage of Acts immediately following this one, when Peter heals a man born disabled outside of the Temple. That’s right – Peter. You know, the not-so-bright fisherman with a tendency to exaggerate and/or deny Christ repeatedly. That is, the foundation of the church. We have met the healers, and they are us, the walking wounded, in an emergency room of a community where every doctor is hooked up to his or her own IV bag.

The description of the church as an ideal community in today’s reading from Acts isn’t, upon closer inspection, naïve; just a few chapters later, some of the first conflicts of the early church raise their heads. But in this community here, and in Christian churches across time and space, we find moments of communion, we find the prayers and the breaking of the bread, we find the teaching of the apostles, we find the resurrection of the Lord and the presence of his Spirit, breaking out in unforeseen, gracious ways. That is the difference between a pollyannish naiveté that pretends everything is perfect, and a Christian hope that knows that everything is not perfect – Christian hope holds together the crosses of our feeble, stumbly, dysfunctional community and the moments of grace, the moments of glory, moments made possible by the truth of Christ’s resurrection, that shine out in our world like supernovas. Like Thomas, the surest way for us to know, to believe in the resurrection, is by putting our hands in each other’s wounds, wounds caused by others and wounds we have caused ourselves in all variety of ways, and trying, however clumsily, to give each other comfort, to help each other walk again.

The craziest people I’ve met in my life have been in the church of God – some of you are here this evening. Some of the people who have most annoyed me and most hurt me have been in the church of God. Some of those I have most annoyed, that I have most hurt, have been here as well. But the surest experiences I’ve had that have convinced me of Christ’s resurrection from the dead and of his presence to the world through his Spirit, have been in this same church, not simply through words but through the reality of a new way of being human together that rings out, regularly if not constantly, in this body of Christ. In the stubborn persistence of this people who were once no people; who are now part of me, sometimes despite my preferences and theirs; who are, together, holding each other up as we pray to our father and walking together toward a communion that is real yet incomplete, I hear the reign of God echoing backwards into human history and I find my hope in God’s justice confirmed.

As we continue in this liturgy to devote ourselves to the teaching of the apostles and to koinonia, to the breaking of the bread and the prayers, look around you as we share the sacrament that we fittingly call “communion,” look around at the people who love you and the people who bug you.

Do you believe in the resurrection? Why?


Consistent Ethic of Life

The late Cardinal Bernardin's consistent ethic of life has been on my mind a lot lately, not entirely through my own volition - I proofread and index books on the side, and just finished an index of a volume of Bernardin's speeches on the consistent ethic that will be published later this year.

Rocco has a round-up of some of the reporting on this week's Catholic Social Ministry gathering in Washington, D.C., and the lobbying effort that accompanied it, much of it focused on the U.S. Catholic bishops' document "Faithful Citizenship."

In the last interview, John Carr, the justice-and-peace director for the U.S. bishops had this line which struck me to the quick in its power and its challenge:

“Catholic progressives ought to be measured by how they stand up for human life,” he said, “and Catholic conservatives by how they defend human dignity.” The “consistent ethic of life,” Carr said, “doesn’t give any of us a free pass.”

Something to ponder on a cloudy Wednesday...


Celebrity Face Recognition

Look who I look like...


Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas

Happy Feast of St. Thomas, patron of theologians and of the Paulist Fathers!

More on last week's ecumenical events and yesterday's opening of Isaac Hecker's cause in a little bit...

(Icon entitled "The Silence of St. Thomas" by Fr. William McNichols, S.J. More info and icons here.)


Which Church Father Are You?

You are St. Justin Martyr!

You have a positive and hopeful attitude toward the world. You think that nature, history, and even the pagan philosophers were often guided by God in preparation for the Advent of the Christ. You find “seeds of the Word” in unexpected places. You’re patient and willing to explain the faith to unbelievers.

Check out St. Justin Martyr: The First and Second Apologies for more information on St. Justin Martyr.

Find out yourself at the quiz.


Dr. King


So here's what we'll try for a bit...

A few weeks ago I set up a tumblelog on tumblr.com, following the example of my older brother, who's always been the pathmaker for my technological journeys (in other words, he early adopts, and my dad and I tend to follow him...).

So I've re-vamped the format of BaptizedPagan with an emphasis on simplicity, and in the upper right hand corner, you'll notice a newsfeed entitled "Meanwhile, in other news..." That's where I'll be posting random news stories, short statements of my current state of being, etc., while I'll continue to use this mainspace for more substantial posts, images, commentary, etc. We'll see how this all goes.

Now I Really Want a MacBookAir

The AirMail laptop sleeve.


Soon-to-be Blessed John Henry Newman

Saintly, but very human

Just Sex?

"Do my sexual choices demonstrate justice?"

Hitting the Reset Button

I almost closed BaptizedPagan on Dec. 31st, and still might do so, but I'm giving it one more shot.
I realized over the break that while I don't have the time in my life these days to sit down and write a well-crafted, well-thought-out multi-paragraph post on a regular basis, I was feeling guilty for not doing so...and that the idea of having to put something witty down on here was keeping me from even starting to write.

So I'm going to be making BP a lot more like a Tumblelog...more random linking, less my direct voice. I'll still comment at greater length once in a while, but I'm more likely to point you toward something else that I've been reading, hearing, or doing, than to provide you with lots of original content. There's this whole teaching/researching/jobhunting thing that has taken up just an eensy-beensy bit of my time...