NCR Today

If We're So Smart


One of my father's at-the-ready quips to whipper snappers was "If you're so smart, why aren't you rich?"

It was pure Depression era rhetoric that embedded the common American axiom that brains were meant for making money that wasn't even there after the 1929 Crash (when the smart guys went bust). It was an ironic comment, of course.

Likewise, I wonder why the American higher education system, touted widely as the world's best, isn't solving our gravest national crises and quite possibly adding to them?

Take a gander at college and university websites and you'll witness a parallel universe where "excellence" is celebrated and everything's coming up roses. Prof. X is conquering the world of gooless glue, student Y has become one of the foremost experts in Peru and the math club has returned triumphant from a tournament in New Zealand.

This is all well and good for college publicity and for the well-being of the individuals serving up these accomplishments. But what are they doing to help us as a nation go down the tubes?

Two reasons come first to mind.

On this day: St. Sadalberga


On this day we remember St. Sadalberga (c. 605 - 670), founder of the Abbey of St. John at Laon.

The various accounts of her life, which are compared in Sainted Women of the Dark Ages, edited and translated by Jo Ann McNamara and John E. Halborg with Gordon Whatley, Duke University Press, 1992, tell us that she was the child of saints, the wife of a saint, the sister of a saint, the mother of saints, and the aunt of a saint. She was compared to Paula and Melania and to Augusta Helena, who, like Sadalberga, were married women and mothers before entering religious life.

Cardinal O'Malley asks lawyers to fight euthanasia measure


Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston is asking lawyers, judges and others in the legal profession to fight Death With Dignity, a ballot question that would legalize physician-assisted suicide in Massachusetts, according to this Associated Press story.

The ballot question is being proposed for consideration in 2012 in both Massachusetts and Vermont by groups working to make lethal drugs available to terminally ill people, as an end-of-life care option. Read more about the movement here.

But the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops says that physician-assisted suicide really does not “enhance choices or freedom for people with serious health conditions,” and lists the reasons in its statement released in June, “To Live Each Day With Dignity.”

Can we talk?


One of the things that makes the Catholic culture wars so frustrating is the intractable, black-and-white position that people take on the subject of dissent.

Great numbers of folks have jumped to one extreme or the other on dissent and are convinced that anyone who doesn't agree with their side is either dishonest or just stupid.

Benedictine monks to close down cattle business


NPR's All Things Considered presented an interesting interview with the monks about the closing of their cattle operation.

The Benedictine Monks of Assumption Abbey, Richardton, North Dakota, are reluctantly giving up a century-old tradition.

The monks started the monastery in 1899 and they have had a farm right from the beginning. It was a way of raising our own food. In the early days, everybody had beef cattle and dairy cattle, but now, in recent years, we are selling most of the cows. We still butcher our own, but we don't butcher very many, so it's the source of income for the abbey.

A source of income that's about to disappear as the monks prepare to sell their herd at auction, probably around Thanksgiving. Abbott Brian Wangler, who's in charge here, says it's strictly because there just aren't enough monk cowboys to manage the herd. Most monks here are older than 40 and fewer young men are entering religious orders these days.

Jason Berry profiled in Washington Post


The Post yesterday printed a revealing profile of freelance writer Jason Berry, whose reporting in the 1980s provided the first deep look at what would become the international clergy sex abuse scandal. Still a believer, still going to church and still reporting on the church's dark secrets, Berry explains to the interviewer why he stays. It was on Berry's initial reporting that NCR based its earliest coverage of the sex abuse scandal. The first story appeared in June, 1985. His latest book, Render Unto Rome: The Secret Life of Money in the Catholic Church, examines how money flows through church structures with little accountability for how it's collected and how it's used.

Class warfare or economic justice?


At last, the Obama of 2008 has returned! On Monday, he gave a rousing speech in which he presented a plan for long-term deficit reduction.

As part of that, he advocated higher taxes on the wealthy, and he said he would veto measures that essentially charged the deficit to lower- and middle-income people and did not raise taxes on millionaires, or get rid of some of the most egregious loopholes.

The Republicans immediately cried, "class warfare!"

This is a phrase that has peppered American political speech for several decades now. But, I wonder, whenever I hear it, who is supposedly waging "class warfare" on whom?

On this day: St. Matthew


On this day we celebrate the feast of St. Matthew, Apostle, Evangelist.

Click here for the Liturgy of the Hours and here for the Mass.

In Meeting St. Matthew Today: Understanding the Man, His Mission, and His Message, Loyola Press, 2010, Daniel J. Harrington, S.J., explains why the Gospel ascribed to Matthew is the most Jewish Gospel, and why "for some it is also the most anti-Jewish."


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In This Issue

May 19-June 1, 2017