Habits of a Loving Heart

Back in the day when I was working in the world and spending way too much time on airplanes accumulating way too many frequent-flyer miles, it seemed to me business travelers did three things on longer flights: sleep, work, or read Stephen’ Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” The book argues that one should align universal and timeless principles with one’s values. Covey sees principles as external natural laws, while values remain internal and subjective. Covey asserts that values govern people’s behavior, but principles ultimately determine the consequences. If sales volume is measure of the usefulness of this self-help book, then 25 million copies sold says something. Maybe there are some possibilities for a parallel book about the best practices and habits for Catholics. Might be a Lenten best seller! Continue reading

Jonah: a story in art

From today’s readings: Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to him, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” He said to them in reply, “An evil and unfaithful generation seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah the prophet. Just as Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights. At the judgment, the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and there is something greater than Jonah here. (Mt 12:38-41) Continue reading

Ash Wednesday and Sundays in Lent

lent-2-heartlargeAsh Wednesday, the first day of the penitential season of Lent in the Catholic Church, is always 46 days before Easter Sunday. It is a “movable” feast that is assigned a date in the calendar only after the date of Easter Sunday is calculated. How is it calculated? I’m glad you asked.

According to the norms established by the Council of Nicaea (325 AD) and later adopted for Western Christianity at the Synod of Whitby, Easter Sunday falls each year on the first Sunday following the first full moon after the vernal equinox. This year the vernal equinox falls on Monday, March 20, 2017 and the first full moon after that occurs on Tuesday, April 11, 2017. Therefore, Easter Sunday is celebrated this year on April 16. If you want Ash Wednesday, just count backwards 46 days and you get March 1, 2017. Continue reading

Your Lenten Plan

giving_up_4_LentSo… “What are you giving up for Lent?” Isn’t that always the question?  As if that is the reason for the season.  Growing up, everything I remember about Lent circled around the acts of self-denial – what food, entertainment, or habit one would give up and how hard it was to deny oneself of that thing.  It was not always made clear that the denial was meant to help one think about God and Christ’s sacrifice. Continue reading

Sanctuary

emeralda_and_quasimodoIf you’ve read Victor Hugo’s novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame – or seen the classic 1939 film adaptation starring Charles Laughton, or the very faithful 1996 Disney animated musical version – you’ll recognize this dramatic cry. Quasimodo, the misshapen and monstrous bell-ringer of the Paris cathedral, has just swooped down from the belfry to seize the unjustly condemned Gypsy, Esmeralda, from the fiery stake. Quasimodo stands on the cathedral balcony, crying “Sanctuary! Sanctuary!” He is invoking an age-old protection offered by churches – refuge from the law for criminals. Continue reading

Timeless Advice

CONFESSIONOne of the all-time best sellers in the spiritual life is St. Francis de Sales’ “Introduction to the Devout Life.” Here are some of tips the Saint offers to help make a good confession:

The saint recommends regular and frequent confession. He encourages confession, “although your conscience is not burdened with mortal sin; for in confession you do not only receive absolution for your venial sins, but you also receive great strength to help you in avoiding them henceforth, clearer light to discover your failings, and abundant grace to make up whatever loss you have incurred through those faults.” Continue reading

How Will You Belong? The Stranger at Our Doors

Welcome-StrangersI have often mused about the connections of being a welcoming community and hospitality. As part of that musing, I wondered about the distinction between entertaining and hospitality, surmising that it perhaps depends on your role model and the source of your ideas about hospitality. If the model is from Martha Stewart, Rachael Ray, and Southern Living Magazine – then perhaps “entertaining” is a better description. As a church of believing Christians, it would be best to look to Jesus for models of hospitality. Continue reading

Franciscan Statement and Recent Executive Orders

syrian-refugees-us-borderIn flurry of activity, President Trump issued an executive order entitled “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States” (you can read the full text here). The key points of the Executive Order are:

  • 90-day ban on entry into the US from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Sudan
  • 120-day suspension of the refugee resettlement program
  • Indefinite suspension of the arrival of Syrian refugees
  • 64% decrease for refugees admitted into the US in 2017
  • Prioritization of refugees who are religious minorities suffering religious persecution
  • Mandated review of stricter vetting procedures for refugees and immigrants.

Continue reading

The Vatican Secret Archives

vatican-secret-archivesThe Vatican archives are far from being an amusement park for conspiracy theorists. In fact, they might be quite boring for the general audience: nothing too scandalous, noting too secret. Actually, the aura that covers the Archivum Secretum Apostolicum Vaticanum — that’s its official full name — might only be due to a mistranslation from the original Latin: “secretum,” far from being translated as “secret,” simply means “personal.” Whomever has ever had a secretaire (a secretary desk, an escritoire, hopefully a Chippendale) might probably get a hint of what’s at stake here: the Vatican “Secret Archive” is a collection of personal documents, mainly private letters, chronicles and historical records of past popes. Sorry to burst your bubble, Dan Brown & Co. Continue reading