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How many times do we hear that this period of pandemic brings us face to face with incomprehensible uncertainties? We yearn for a “normal,” yet our “new normal” continues to be imbedded in uncertainty. So Catholics might take comfort in that July 2020 marks 150 years since the promulgation of... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Go, Rebuild My House
It has been an iconoclastic summer in the U.S. and across the world, particularly societies such as Britain that once commanded racist empires and still benefit from that fact. Statues honoring historical figures – Confederate generals, U.S. presidents, Christopher Columbus, to name but a few – have been brought down... Continue reading
Posted Jul 30, 2020 at Go, Rebuild My House
Elisabeth Frink’s Walking Madonna outside Salisbury Cathedral is a statue of a life-sized woman with her back to the cathedral, dwarfed by the medieval edifice behind her but striding resolutely towards the open spaces ahead. At a time when we are acutely aware of the communicative power of statues, that... Continue reading
Posted Jul 23, 2020 at Go, Rebuild My House
It’s impossible to rebuild a house when it’s still on fire. The work of reconstruction cannot begin until the blaze is extinguished or the structure is completely reduced to ashes. Catholics in the United States are watching two of their dwellings burn right now – their spiritual home and their... Continue reading
Posted Jul 16, 2020 at Go, Rebuild My House
In these days of concern and protest over police violence against people of color, and with what is hopefully a burgeoning awareness on the part of the rest of us of the extent of our white privilege and the blindness that accompanies it, what does the gospel lead us to... Continue reading
Posted Jul 9, 2020 at Go, Rebuild My House
In the 10 years I spent as an RCIA director, one of the biggest challenges I faced was marshalling my diplomatic skills in response to magical thinking. Not from the catechumens, mind you, but from zealous sponsors like the one who stressed the heightened efficacy of engaging in a favorite... Continue reading
Posted Jul 2, 2020 at Go, Rebuild My House
It has been a hell of a year here in the U.S., a time of diminishment and decline and desperation. How can the Catholic Church respond to the moment in which we find ourselves, and might those responses, in turn, be a part of the ongoing effort to renew the... Continue reading
Posted Jun 26, 2020 at Go, Rebuild My House
This past winter, I was walking along a sidewalk with Martha Hennessy when the question of whether property destruction is nonviolent came up. It is an old question, one that has been a point of disagreement between the Catholic Worker movement and the Plowshares movement, both of which Martha is... Continue reading
Posted Jun 23, 2020 at Go, Rebuild My House
For many people, this time of the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to mind Albert Camus’s novel The Plague, the story of a North African port city quarantined during an outbreak of bubonic plague. Camus’s subject is not really the plague itself but the response it evokes, and what it reveals... Continue reading
Posted Jun 4, 2020 at Go, Rebuild My House
As I sit down to write this column, I confess to feeling unbearably sad. Today the official number of American dead from Covid-19 surpassed 100,000. Two days ago, the Sunday before Memorial Day, The New York Times printed the names of a thousand of the dead, a list that fills... Continue reading
Posted May 28, 2020 at Go, Rebuild My House
My interest of late has been the role of parishes in church reform. Two posts ago, I proposed that parish-renewal programs and active parish councils are vital for empowering lay Catholics to renew the Church. In my previous post, I discussed how Americans’ participation in their churches and other local... Continue reading
Posted May 21, 2020 at Go, Rebuild My House
… ma gia volgeva il mio disio e ‘l velle, Si come rota ch’igualmente e mossa, L’amor che move il sole e l’altre stelle.[1] (Paradiso. xxxiii. 143-145) Were he alive today, Dante Aligheri would rock social media, and not just because of his poetic brilliance. In truth, Dante was a... Continue reading
Posted May 14, 2020 at Go, Rebuild My House
One of the positive side effects of this sad time of coronavirus/COVID-19 is that those of us well enough to do so have time to take stock. Where, then, stands reform in the Catholic Church? I think Michael Sean Winters “nailed” it (03/05/2020). There had been an exaggerated reaction of... Continue reading
Posted May 7, 2020 at Go, Rebuild My House
Not a few prognosticators have mused that the global crisis provoked by the COVID-19 pandemic might be an opportunity for a much-needed “reset” of social, economic and political systems. Indeed, the experience of confinement and self-isolation has led many to become more deeply conscious of, and grateful for, community, family,... Continue reading
Posted Apr 30, 2020 at Go, Rebuild My House
After Cardinal George Pell’s acquittal on child sex abuse charges earlier this month, there was a momentary hope that this saga might end with the kind of humility that people of good will, not to mention a senior leader of the Catholic Church, ought to bring to such an agonizing... Continue reading
Posted Apr 23, 2020 at Go, Rebuild My House
Can you believe it? Resurrection? Pandemic? Did it actually happen? When will it end? Oh, we always want answers. I have become particularly frustrated by the repetitive questions the Canadian media is presenting our prime minister (apologies to American readers for a bit of local color). The questions: How long... Continue reading
Posted Apr 16, 2020 at Go, Rebuild My House
“Zion is wasted and made low; Jerusalem, desolate and void.” --From “Bow Thine Ear, O Lord,” translation of “Civitas Sancti Tui” by William Byrd When I was an undergraduate at the University of Notre Dame, one of the annual highlights was participating in the liturgies of Holy Week as a... Continue reading
Posted Apr 9, 2020 at Go, Rebuild My House
The Covid19 pandemic brings into sharp relief the interdependence of all humankind. We in the western capitalist democracies are being confronted with the illusory nature of our claims to autonomy, individualism and progress. Suddenly, everything is in flux, the habitual routines and rituals of everyday life have been suspended, and... Continue reading
Posted Apr 2, 2020 at Go, Rebuild My House
Like many Americans who live in Rome, my inbox has suddenly been overloaded with emails. New message alerts have been popping up more frequently on the various social media apps I use. And recently, people have been trying to reach me for a phone or video chat several times each... Continue reading
Posted Mar 26, 2020 at Go, Rebuild My House
“The Church is called to come out of herself and to go to the peripheries, not only geographically, but also the existential peripheries: the mystery of sin, of pain, of injustice, of ignorance and indifference to religion, of intellectual currents and of all misery.” (Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, 2013) I have... Continue reading
Posted Mar 19, 2020 at Go, Rebuild My House
When Brian Moore’s extraordinary novel Black Robe was published in 1985, I asked my mother whether she planned to read the book. In theory, she was a natural audience for the fictionalized account of the Jesuits’ foray into North America to minister to Indigenous communities. A teacher of Canadian history... Continue reading
Posted Mar 12, 2020 at Go, Rebuild My House
Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Querida Amazonia provoked plenty of agita on the Catholic Left. The pope’s failure to use the occasion of his exhortation to permit the ordination of older, married men for service in the Amazon as well as his discussion of women, which harkened back to language John... Continue reading
Posted Mar 5, 2020 at Go, Rebuild My House
Printed courtesy of the Globe and Mail In a time when the reputations of the great, the influential and our cultural shapers can deconstruct with surprising if distressing regularity, the shock factor is often minimized. Not so in the case of Jean Vanier. Following the disclosure of findings from an... Continue reading
Posted Feb 27, 2020 at Go, Rebuild My House
Is the house worth rebuilding? The question is not meant to be heretical or disrespectful. It is meant to challenge each of us to understand the crises that confronts us within the Church—the abuses, the immoral cover-ups, the diminishing membership, the aging and dwindling of women religious and the absence... Continue reading
Posted Feb 20, 2020 at Go, Rebuild My House
On a recent visit to Washington D.C., I decided to visit the Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. It was there, in the basement crypt, that Dorothy Day had gone on December 8, 1932, to pray for her vocation. In The Long Loneliness Dorothy writes about the circumstances... Continue reading
Posted Feb 12, 2020 at Go, Rebuild My House