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Author: Daniel Amiri

Daniel Amiri is a Catholic layman, finance professional, and armchair theologian. A graduate of theology and classics from the University of Notre Dame, his studies coincided with the papacy of Benedict XVI whose vision, particularly the framework of "encounter" with Christ Jesus, has heavily influenced his thoughts.  He is a husband and a father to three beautiful children. He serves on parish council and also enjoys playing soccer and coaching his daughter's soccer team.
Chaos and the Spirit

Chaos and the Spirit

Catholics who are alive in Christ know that “in hope we are saved.” We know and trust that God is working, even in what appears to be chaos, to bring salvation to the world.

The beginning of Lumen Gentium contains this beautiful passage:

When the work which the Father gave the Son to do on earth was accomplished, the Holy Spirit was sent on the day of Pentecost in order that He might continually sanctify the Church, and thus, all those who believe would have access through Christ in one Spirit to the Father. He is the Spirit of Life, a fountain of water springing up to life eternal. To men, dead in sin, the Father gives life through Him, until, in Christ, He brings to life their mortal bodies. The Spirit dwells in the Church and in the hearts of the faithful, as in a temple. In them He prays on their behalf and bears witness to the fact that they are adopted sons. The Church, which the Spirit guides in way of all truth and which He unified in communion and in works of ministry, He both equips and directs with hierarchical and charismatic gifts and adorns with His fruits. By the power of the Gospel He makes the Church keep the freshness of youth. Uninterruptedly He renews it and leads it to perfect union with its Spouse. The Spirit and the Bride both say to Jesus, the Lord, “Come!”

Between these truths, there is a lot of room for human beings to screw things up and to sin. But even worse are those who reject the Spirit’s work, who only see chaos and sin, and as a result, despair.

Chaos in the Beginning

The ancient understanding of “chaos” referred to a lifeless void, a primordial unity of nothingness. From this “chaos” came life. Strands of the Jewish faith, in fact, describe creation not as an act of sheer “something out of nothing” but rather a separating of this original chaos: light/dark, day/night, sun/moon, waters above/waters below, oceans/land. God then filled the world with life.

One way to describe this initial phase of human existence is that it was dynamic or energetic. Day and night cycled in and out. A variety of trees and plants grew and produced fruit. Adam named the multitude of animals previously unnamed. God put the world into motion.

But here, in the Garden, there is no chaos, by the modern understanding of the word. Chaos implies a world that is out of sorts, spiraling out of control, entropic. Chaos was only introduced when the order of this dynamism was upended, when a created being chose himself over God. Only then did chaos enter into the world.

Yet from that first sin, through the cross, and to today, the Spirit has been working in the world to restore that order, by calling humanity to love God above all things and to live in accordance with his holy will.

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Daniel Amiri is a Catholic layman, finance professional, and armchair theologian. A graduate of theology and classics from the University of Notre Dame, his studies coincided with the papacy of Benedict XVI whose vision, particularly the framework of “encounter” with Christ Jesus, has heavily influenced his thoughts.  He is a husband and a father to three beautiful children. He serves on parish council and also enjoys playing soccer and coaching his daughter’s soccer team.

Don’t Backstop the Pope

Don’t Backstop the Pope

Francis is the Pope of the Catholic Church, but at this unique point in our history, we have a Pope Emeritus too. Sure, the old Benedict cardboard cut-outs have been taken down, but they haven’t been thrown away. They’ve been hiding in a back closet for five years, ready to come out for big events.

Below, I recall the writings of Paul in 1 Corinthians 3: do not let your preferences, even for a holy man like Pope Benedict, undermine your adherence to the Spirit, who guides the Church today under the leadership and authority of Pope Francis.

Pope Emeritus Benedict has pledged to live a life of prayer and study, and in some instances, he has publicly offered encouragement to the Church by responding to letters, giving interviews, and attending notable events. With regards to his public statements, Pedro Gabriel outlines the bulk of these in a three-part series.

Here, Pedro describes the ways in which Benedict has given support to Francis’ papacy, above all by encouraging the habit of obedience and ensuring the faithful that his resignation was prompted by the Lord and not by curial pressure. From what he has said so far, Benedict has avoided particular comments or criticisms of Francis’ papacy, instead offering broad comments in support of his ministry.

But if he is no longer the Pope, why are we continually fascinated by what Pope Emeritus Benedict has to say anyway?

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Daniel Amiri is a Catholic layman, finance professional, and armchair theologian. A graduate of theology and classics from the University of Notre Dame, his studies coincided with the papacy of Benedict XVI whose vision, particularly the framework of “encounter” with Christ Jesus, has heavily influenced his thoughts.  He is a husband and a father to three beautiful children. He serves on parish council and also enjoys playing soccer and coaching his daughter’s soccer team.

Did Amoris Laetitia open the door to contraception coverage at Notre Dame?

Did Amoris Laetitia open the door to contraception coverage at Notre Dame?

In February of this year, Fr. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., President of the University of Notre Dame, wrote a letter explaining that after years of fighting in court, and even after being granted an exemption by the federal government under the Trump administration, Notre Dame would allow for their health insurance programs to directly cover “simple” and non-abortifacient contraceptives. In this statement, Fr. Jenkins referred to the “conscientious” decisions of Notre Dame’s employees and students who disagree with the Church’s teaching on this matter, explaining that not covering contraceptive would be an unacceptable burden on them.

Within the context of this letter, the “burden” Fr. Jenkins is referring to is primarily financial, as in, the cost of obtaining contraception outside of a health insurance program is financially burdensome, in the view of the University. Implied by Fr. Jenkins’ statement is the belief that the University is at least partly responsible for any financial or physical harm caused by revoking or denying contraceptive benefits. This provides the foundation for its justification.

To exculpate itself from any potential moral harm caused, the University makes two arguments: First, it will provide a statement of the Catholic view on contraceptives with the goal of educating all those receiving benefits under the University’s health plans. Secondly, Fr. Jenkins argues that it is a good to allow Notre Dame’s students and employees to discern in freedom, which in Fr. Jenkins’ view is “a process of weighing thoughtfully considerations for and against various courses of action. Yet it also demands prayerful attention to God’s guidance through the prompting of the Holy Spirit.”

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Daniel Amiri is a Catholic layman, finance professional, and armchair theologian. A graduate of theology and classics from the University of Notre Dame, his studies coincided with the papacy of Benedict XVI whose vision, particularly the framework of “encounter” with Christ Jesus, has heavily influenced his thoughts.  He is a husband and a father to three beautiful children. He serves on parish council and also enjoys playing soccer and coaching his daughter’s soccer team.

Understanding Francis: Our Personal Call to Holiness

Understanding Francis: Our Personal Call to Holiness

Gaudete et Exsultate (GE) is a very personal call of the Holy Father to each of the faithful to live holy lives. More specifically, it is a poignant invitation to put ourselves before the Lord, for it is the Lord who calls us and the Spirit who guides us to holiness, which is our happiness (GE 64). Francis addresses the exhortation in several places explicitly to “you” including a whole section entitled “Your Mission in Christ.”  Francis also includes several quotations from Scripture and elsewhere that, along with his own prose, include over 100 mentions of the word, “you.”

I point this out just to reiterate that this is a very personal exhortation, from one Christian to another, from our pastor to the whole Church composed of individuals. In reading it, one learns and is edified, certainly. But perhaps more directly than other writings of Francis or recent Popes, it is a personal challenge. In several places, Francis warns us of the danger of mediocrity and selfishness, and in other places in the exhortation, he urges us to break out of our sinful habits and to put ourselves before the Lord in prayer.

What I hope to achieve in this short essay is to introduce others to Francis’ invitation to holiness by re-presenting the words of Francis in a systematic way. In GE, Francis hints at a very robust vision of holiness, which he illustrates through many various passages. My goal here is to bring that vision of holiness to the fore and encourage also those who take a more intellectual approach to the world to a deeper appreciation of Francis’ writing.

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Daniel Amiri is a Catholic layman, finance professional, and armchair theologian. A graduate of theology and classics from the University of Notre Dame, his studies coincided with the papacy of Benedict XVI whose vision, particularly the framework of “encounter” with Christ Jesus, has heavily influenced his thoughts.  He is a husband and a father to three beautiful children. He serves on parish council and also enjoys playing soccer and coaching his daughter’s soccer team.