Category: Holiness

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The Church of Discomfort

Those who grew up without access to the internet, cell phones, or a host of screens on demand are familiar with the experience of boredom in a way that many young people today are not. Long ago we would whine to our parents about how bored we were. Even if our parents wanted to ease our all of our burdens and concerns, however insignificant, they would have found it difficult to do so. There’s likely...

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Pope Francis: “I have never been asked this question before”

Pope Francis’s travels receive a great deal of media coverage. From his public celebrations of Holy Mass to his audiences with world leaders; to his visits with the local sick or imprisoned; to his comments aboard the airplane and his famous and free-wheeling in-flight press conferences, nearly every aspect of his voyage is covered and analyzed in great detail. One of the most interesting yet underappreciated parts of Pope Francis’s apostolic pilgrimages, however, are the...

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What did Pope Francis say about rigid priests?

In an address to bishops in Madagascar, Pope Francis warns his audience not to let the fear of not enough priests justify them being undiscerning in priestly formation and accept men into the priesthood who aren’t striving for holiness. He says, “I appreciate your efforts to ensure the formation of authentic and holy workers for the abundant harvest that awaits us in the field of the Lord.” Then the pope goes on to warn against...

Where Peter Is – LIVE (sort of, not really)

I was asked to give a talk about Pope Francis at the Catholic Information Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan. While I’m only one member of the WPI team and this isn’t an official WPI event, I wanted to let you all know about this event and extend an invitation to any faithful readers in the West Michigan area. The talk is on Sunday, July 21st (3:00pm- 5:15pm, Mass to follow) and the title is: Transformed...

Grace and Mercy Is Everything

What is grace, and how exactly does grace “work”? I don’t want to suggest to anyone that I have the full answer, but over the last few years, Pope Francis’ theology has reminded the Church, in important ways, about what grace actually is and what it is not. When I say, “Pope Francis’ theology,” I am primarily referring to the way Pope Francis prioritizes Mercy, the essential, most foundational proclamation of the Christian faith. Pope...

Are You Called to Social Media?

Bishop Robert Barron has a wonderfully fresh perspective on social media and its use. See here and here. He criticizes the technology sharply, but he also embraces its more positive characteristics, even to the point of celebrating it as a spiritual phenomenon. But is it really possible to use social media well? Can one be on social media without impacting one’s moral or spiritual life? There are a few challenges to the good use of...

Christ Is the Path to True Manliness

In recent years, there have been several movements and programs designed to appeal to men’s innate desire for authentic masculinity, but have they been truly successful? In their desire to lead men from their enslavement to sin to true freedom in Christ, are they focusing too much on the external manifestations of “manliness”? One of these new programs is Exodus 90. It was produced by Those Catholic Men, an organization “with a passion for men’s...

We Are Called to Be Perfect

There is a dangerous attitude prevalent in the world that suggests we are completely responsible for our own transformation. Whatever we become, whatever we achieve, it is because of our human efforts–exclusively. In a Christian context, we call this Pelagianism. Those who embrace this attitude might think that the primary difference between us and the Saints is that the Saints worked harder, studied harder, and made more intense sacrifices, for which God then blessed them....

The Joy of Holiness

Does God want us to be happy? Does God want us to feel happy? To answer the question, first let’s take a look at Scripture. Father Lawrence Boadt, in his book Reading the Old Testament, shows how the biblical texts, even from a historical critical perspective, reveal the deep insights of the human authors of Scripture. Surrounding the ancient Israelites and the Jewish people were in fact a number of pagan cultures who had their...

Holiness isn’t about trying harder

I’ve noticed that “growing in holiness” is usually presented by popular Catholic media as something like “We just gotta pray more and try harder, then the Lord will make us holier.” As if becoming holy will take a lot of work, but God makes it possible. Similarly, we often speak of grace as sort of a spiritual vitamin or, as one book I recently saw put it, “The Eucharist gives me the energy to pursue...

Take Time this Lent for Prayer and Reflection

Lent is upon us, and even though it started a little later than usual this year, WPI is a bit behind schedule in posting about it. Yesterday evening, Pope Francis and the officials of the curia began their annual Lenten retreat. Zenit reports: The meditations are presented by Abbot Bernardo Francesco Maria Gianni, O.S.B., Oliv., of the Abbey of San Miniato al Monte, and their theme will be: “The City of the Ardent Desires,” For...

The Perils of Theologizing Human Culture

What does a completely divinized culture look like? Will everyone pray the Divine Office? Will they go to Mass daily? What liturgy will be celebrated?  What clothes would be acceptable to wear in everyday life? The idea of a culture rooted in Christ who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, is inherently attractive. United together in faith, we can leave our human sinful ways behind along with all the trappings. We can shed...

Suffering is a Part of Holiness

Humility can only take root in the heart through humiliations. Without them, there is no humility or holiness. If you are unable to suffer and offer up a few humiliations, you are not humble and you are not on the path to holiness. The holiness that God bestows on his Church comes through the humiliation of his Son. He is the way. Humiliation makes you resemble Jesus; it is an unavoidable aspect of the imitation...

The Church: A History of Reform

I’m currently making my way through James Hitchcock’s History of the Catholic Church which succinctly summarizes the main developments of the Church over its 2000 year history. One thing this brief survey of the Church has taught me is that the Church is always in need of reform. Four Views of History In broad terms, I have learned that there are four main theories or ways to view history: two secular, two rooted in faith....

Pastors Must Listen

In my last two pieces, I discussed how pastors are called to preach the truth of the faith and the laity are called to listen to their teachings. This fundamental relationship between pastors and the laity is a bedrock of the lived Catholic faith. While individual pastors can be weak, sinful, poor speakers, or possess any number of other faults, the Church has not provided “exceptions” to the respective roles of pastors and laity in...

John Calvin and Communion in the Hand

John Calvin, the Reformation theologian in Geneva who lead the development of Protestant theology, was nothing if not a brilliant mind. Calvin’s contributions to the history of theology are almost always wrong, but they are so skillfully wrong that I cannot help but be impressed by their intricacy. One example of this is Calvin’s perception of the numinous, a concept not elucidated until 1917 by the Lutheran Rudolf Otto. In his most famous work, The...

Hedge Maze

A Moral Maze

Over the past couple of weeks, Where Peter Is has featured some articles presenting dueling metaphors about Christian freedom, conscience, and the place of other people in informing conscience. Paul Fahey first drew a picture of a garden, walled by God, in the middle of a wasteland. He suggested that there should be complete freedom of movement within this garden, and that though some people may find a need to limit themselves further to avoid...

Should we un-canonize John Paul II?

“For the honor of the Blessed Trinity, the exaltation of the Catholic faith and the increase of the Christian life, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and our own, after due deliberation and frequent prayer for divine assistance, and having sought the counsel of many of our brother bishops, we declare and define Blessed John XXIII, John Paul II, be saints, and we enroll them...

If Even the Pope is Corrupt…

If even the Pope is corrupt, it means that I was drastically wrong about him. I have been drastically wrong before: I was once a Protestant! If even the Pope is corrupt, it means that I thought someone an eminently holy man who was not. It means that I still have much to learn about the love of God– but when has that not been the case? It is a lesson in humility and humiliation,...

Thoughts from a former dissenter

“Many therefore of his disciples, hearing it, said: This saying is hard, and who can hear it? But Jesus, knowing in himself, that his disciples murmured at this, said to them: Doth this scandalize you? If then you shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth: the flesh profiteth nothing. The words that I have spoken to you, are spirit and life (…) And he...