Sometimes I think that the TV show "Blue Bloods" is the best PR the U.S. Catholic church could ask for. In the midst of crime and court drama we get the everyday life of the Reagan family, struggling to do what is right in a world that doesn't lean that way -- and they argue it all out at the dinner table after they say grace.
It is one thing to know something; it is entirely another thing to act on that knowledge. Indeed, it is a great feat of will to go from knowing to doing. Why?
When I attended high school in St. Agatha, Maine, I was privileged to be taught by Sr. Mary Antoinette, a Daughter of Wisdom who had been a dedicated missionary in Malawi. While she was an excellent teacher and very devoted to her students, it was clear that she felt a deep longing to return to Africa.
Just how free do you really want to be? The political world is talking plenty about our freedoms these days, but what is it that we so desire or fear losing?
In a sentence that no writing teacher should accept, Paul said, "For freedom, Christ set us free." We must forgive his lack of eloquence -- it results from his vehemence. Paul was adamant about freedom.
Sometimes I envy St. Thérèse of Lisieux, whose road to heaven came to a conclusion after only 24 years, nine of which she spent as a Carmelite nun. Others who shared that type of blessing include St. Agnes, who was martyred at the age of 13, and Aloysius Gonzaga, the Jesuit student who died at 23 on the very day he predicted he would.
Two sweethearts walked hand in hand on the riverwalk in downtown New Orleans. Both knew that their relationship was deepening and growing stronger day by day.
Considering the level of respect with which widows are customarily treated in most contemporary cultures, it might be difficult for us to appreciate the difficult lot of widows in the ancient world. Ordinarily, in today's world, a widow is a woman whose husband has died; not having remarried, she is in possession of her husband's estate and inheritance. Even though she may continue to mourn her life partner, she is not legally defenseless, nor has she lost any degree of her social status.
During the months of upheaval following the killing of Michael Brown by a policeman in Ferguson, Mo., in August 2014, protesters described their standoff with the authorities by chanting, "This is what democracy looks like!" Clergy and religious leaders added, "This is what theology looks like," as they marched or held street-side sit-downs.
"The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity" -- the very title sounds so heady that we might wonder if our feet are supposed to touch the ground this weekend. But today's opening prayer in the liturgy simplifies the point of the celebration. That prayer addresses and praises God as the Father who so wanted to be known that Jesus became human. It recognizes God who so desires that we share divine life that the Spirit continues to lure us into union with one another and with God. This process is called "sanctification."
We might think of Pentecost Sunday as something like the church's Fourth of July celebration. It's not just the attention-getting sound, the pyrotechnics and the excitement, but the here-comes-everybody reunion of a multinational crowd of folks who all heard a message and allowed themselves to get caught up in its power.