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A Poor Church For the Poor

August 30, 2014

During his recent visit to South Korea, Pope Francis touched upon many familiar themes in his talks and homilies.  One in particular that he returned to was his desire that the Catholic Church be “a poor church for the poor,”  a vision he first expressed in the days immediately following his election.   It should not be surprising that he had strong words on this subject for the Korean bishops, and that what he had to say made them feel uncomfortable.  So uncomfortable, in fact, that when they posted a transcript of his address, they omitted part of his address.  As reported by NCR, they left out the following: Read more…

What Are You Going To Write Today?

August 28, 2014

Another quote from the folks at Daily Gospel OnlineJean-Pierre de Caussade, a 17th century Jesuit, wrote

So the rest of the story, which consists of the whole mystical life of Jesus in the souls of saints, remains a matter of our faith… The Holy Spirit no longer writes gospels, except in our hearts; saintly souls are the pages, suffering and action the ink. The Holy Spirit is writing a living gospel with the pen of action, which we will only be able to read on the day of glory when, fresh from the presses of life, it will be published.

In cooperation with the Holy Spirit today, what am I going to write?  What are you going to write?  I pray that each of us takes the pen of our lives firmly in hand adds a worthy page to the gospels.

A quick note to our readers

August 27, 2014

This is just a note to let you know that some changes have been made to the site. The page linked at the top entitled “Links” has been reorganized and renamed “Worthy Links” It has links to papal documents on social justice, the documents of Vatican II, and other teaching documents (such as the Catechism). It also has links to various church related organizations and social justice campaigns.

Our blogroll has been updated and moved to the sidebar. Should you find a dead link, please send us email.

In the near future, I hope to update our list of Current Contributors to find easy links to some of our past contributors whose posts are still available in the archives.

Please feel free to contact me with questions and comments.

Update (five hours later): I finally figured out, at least partly, how WordPress keeps track of authors, and I was able to create a list of former contributors. However, while I can add people to this list easily, first I have to find them. I have gone by memory, both of contributors during my time here and the names of folks I have run across reading older posts. If you notice that I have missed someone, please let me know. (However, I know that at least one former contributor deleted all of his posts when he left Vox Nova.)

Who Do You Say That I Am?

August 24, 2014

Resolved:  most Catholics can’t answer this question.  Worse, many of our problems come from people who think they can.

Today’s gospel:

Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi and he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”  They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”  He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”  Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.  For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.  And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.  I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.  Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”  Then he strictly ordered his disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ. (Mt 16:1-20)

This is one of my favorite gospel passages, capturing the tension and expectations of the Jewish community at the time, the hesitation and uncertainty of the disciples, and Peter’s impetuous faith.  Read more…

The Name of God

August 20, 2014

A lovely quote from Pope Benedict, from the folks at the Daily Gospel online.   They chose it to accompany the reading for the 7th Sunday of Easter, John 17:1-11a.    I have highlighted a couple sentences that really struck me because I had been recently reading about St. Bernadine of Siena and thinking about devotion to the Holy Name.

What, then, does “the name of God” mean?… The Revelation of John speaks of the adversary of God, the “beast”. This beast, the power opposed to God, has no name, but a number. The seer tells us: “Its number is six hundred and sixty-six” (Rv 13,18). It is a number, and it makes men numbers. We who lived through the world of the concentration camps know what that means. The terror of that world is rooted in the fact that it obliterates men’s faces… But God has a name, and God calls us by our name. He is a Person, and he seeks the person. He has a face, and he seeks our face. He has a heart, and he seeks our heart. For him, we are not some function in a “world machinery”. On the contrary, it is precisely those who have no function that are his own. A name allows me to be addressed. A name denotes community.

This is why Christ is the true Moses, the fulfillment of the revelation of God’s name. He does not bring some new word as God’s name; he does more than this, since he himself is the face of God. He himself is the name of God. In him, we can address God as “you”, as person, as heart. His own name, Jesus, brings the mysterious name at the burning bush to its fulfillment (Ex 3,14); now we can see that God had not said all that he had to say but had interrupted his discourse for a time. This is because the name “Jesus” in its Hebrew form includes the word “Yahweh” and adds a further element to it: God “saves”. “I am who I am”-thanks to Jesus, this now means: “I am the one who saves you.” His Being is salvation.

Der Gott Jesu Christi (trans. The God of Jesus Christ, Ignatius press 2008, p. 23)

Is Atheism a Religion? Part 1

August 16, 2014

It would seem something like Godwin’s law applies to the vexed question of whether or not atheism is a religion: “The longer an internet conversation about the subject goes, the probability of a “new atheist” claiming that “atheism is a religion like abstinence is a sex position” approaches 1.” Actually, the “longer” part is more or less irrelevant. It is very often the first thing said on the matter.

Indeed, one of the most salient features of the “new atheism” (I am going to consistently use this term in order not to paint all atheists with the same brush, but you know the person on your social media feeds that I’m talking about) is its constant resort to clichéd phrases: “We’re all atheists about 99% of the gods, atheists just go one step further;” “Science flies you to the moon, religion flies you into buildings;” “ . . . flying spaghetti monster . . . ;” etc. Indeed, one could articulate a general law that “the probability of a new atheist using slogan x in response to issue y approaches 1 as soon as the issue is broached.” There are certainly several reasons for this. Here are just two.

First, the “new atheism” is, to a significant degree, a product of the internet, where catch phrases and slogans are the norms of communication for almost everyone. There is probably is a bit of a chicken-egg dynamic here as with the broader cultural and political battles of our time. As we become more divided we rely more and more on sloganeering, but we are also in possession of (or perhaps dominated by) a medium simply made for sloganeering.

Second, many of the devotees of the new atheism were convinced of or confirmed in their atheism by such sloganeering, and so they repeat it, having little or no awareness that more nuanced conversations about such matters are even possible. This is, admittedly, at least partly the fault of the shallow or even fundamentalist nature of much of the Christian formation received by those “new atheists” who were raised Christians. New atheists don’t have a monopoly on lack of nuance.

But these slogans, as effective as they may be against unarmed opponents, fail in a variety of ways. They don’t define their terms (or worse, they rely on the hope that no one listening is thinking about defining terms), they make massive generalizations, and they present analogies that rarely stand up to scrutiny.

Read more…

Resolved:

August 11, 2014

The American Movement Conservative opposition to the ACA and other current and previous social-democratic initiatives has a racial dimension.

Discuss.

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