Tag Archives: Catholic

Campus student ministry offers ‘silence’ and ‘incense’


On Wednesday, I was driving through the campus of the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va., when I saw a sign that provided additional evidence for what young people want in worship services.

I believe it was the Lutheran Student Center that had a sign out front with three big words on it. Passing by in a car, I was only able to catch the first two: “Silence” and “Incense.” These words were presented on the sign as offerings for hungry students.

As another writer has recent noted, college-age students already have access to popular music and entertainment, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. What’s drawing them to worship services is not more of the same, despite the complete inability of just about every minister to understand that.

What’s really awful about the “contemporary worship services” and the “outreach ministries” are their failure to know the people they’re trying to reach. I remember, while I was on my way out of evangelicalism and toward mainline Protestantism, noticing how evangelistic and apologetic efforts were always ginned-up from within the circled wagons of churches, believers, and seminaries. The people creating these moves seemed to be saying, “If I was a non-believer, I would probably think and believe something like . . . .”

However, they weren’t non-believers, and they had little understanding of people. The better folks doing the ginning-up had gained an understanding of cultural forces and the impact of ideas, but few knew and genuinely befriended people. When they did get to know people, it had all the genuine-ness of multi-level marketing sales. (Remember Amway salespeople of recent decades?) The individual was not an interesting person to the evangelist or apologist, but rather a prospect, a target, a challenge. Not primarily a friend or a person.

But to come back to my original point, I remember a story from a student at the campus where I teach, Coastal Carolina University. A young, zealous, Southern, evangelical student invited some Northeastern cradle-Catholics to a local rock-and-roll church — you know, one of the churches with “high-energy” worship, guaranteed never to be boring.

How did the Northeastern cradle-Catholics react to the rock-and-roll church? Were they surprised that church could be so cool? Were they delighted to hear a backbeat in the worship songs? Did they feel at ease around casual clothing?

No. They’re response was simple: “That’s not church,” they said.

I figure they had expected something a little less like the rest of their lives.

 
 
 

Jesus, Savior of Mary


Taylor Marshall, a Catholic convert, writing here:

Today (December Eighth) commemorates the Immaculate Conception – the Catholic teaching that Mary was conceived without original sin. This often begs the question: If Mary is without sin, is Christ the Savior of His Mother Mary? The Catholic Church answers, “Yes, Christ is the Savior of His Mother Mary.”

Later in the same post, Marshall writes,

Saint Augustine stands in this tradition, writing in the early 400s:
“Now with the exception of the holy Virgin Mary in regard to whom, out of respect for the Lord, I do not propose to have a single question raised on the subject of sin – after all, how do we know what greater degree of grace for a complete victory over sin was conferred on her who merited to conceive and bring forth Him who all admit was without sin — to repeat then: with the exception of this Virgin, if we could bring together into one place all those holy men and women, while they lived here, and ask them whether they were without sin, what are we to suppose that they would have replied?”
St. Augustine, De natura et gratia, Patrologia Latina 44:267

Catholic Cardinal helps plant trees in memory of the Reformation


From a Nov. 2 Ecumenical News International article:

A top Vatican official has joined other global Christian leaders in the eastern German town where Martin Luther broke with the papacy, at a tree-planting ceremony that looks to closer ties on the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017.

The ceremony took place in Wittenberg, the German town known as “Lutherstadt”, 492 years after Luther nailed his epoch-changing 95 theses to a church door there, leading to the breach with the 16th-century papacy

“It is possible for us today to together learn from Martin Luther,” said Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity as he planted the first of 500 trees on 1 November in a landscaped Luther Garden, forming part of the celebrations for 2017.

Churches worldwide are being encouraged to adopt one of the trees planned for the Luther Garden and also to plant a tree themselves, to denote a link with the birthplace of the Reformation. Kasper said a tree would be planted at the Vatican in Rome.

Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, Orthodox and Reformed leaders gathered alongside Kasper in the Luther Garden in sunny autumn weather.

“This newly planted tree reminds us that Martin Luther’s call for reform in the Church was a call of penitence that also affects us today,” said Kasper at the ceremony, which followed the anniversary of Luther’s action on 31 October 1517 that led to often bitter quarrels between Protestants and Catholics.

Read the rest here. I found it on Kendall Harmon’s blog.

An indie writer returns to church


Kaya Oakes describes herself as “a thirty-eight-year-old university lecturer, radical aging punk rocker with eight tattoos (and counting), author of a book about indie culture, married to an agnostic, pragmatic intellectual, and critic of all things group think….”

Yet she found God working in her in life as she brought her questions and doubts with her to the church of her childhood, the Roman Catholic Church. She wrote a very worthwhile article describing her journey back into faith. Read it here.

Aesthetics in Christian theology and worship


Kelly James Clark and James K.A. Smith of Calvin College, and Richard Lints of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (my uncle’s alma mater), offer a concise expression of the role of aesthetics in theology and worship:

“….While strands of Christian, especially Protestant, theology have adopted the more rationalistic stance of Plato, throughout history many theologians have affirmed the aesthetic as a central medium of both revelation and truth, particularly Neoplatonic theologians such as Bonaventure. This emphasis on the aesthetics has received renewed interest in contemporary theology due to the work of Hans urs von Balthasar, Jean-Luc Marion, and Jeremy Begbie. At the core of these theological aesthetics (or aesthetic theologies) is a rejection of the rationalistic axiom, which assumes that truth is communicated only in cognitive propositions. Rather, there is a mode of truth telling that is unique to the aesthetic or ‘affective,’ that cannot be reduced to cognitive propositions. Appeal is often made to the liturgy itself as an example of this, particularly the rich eucharistic liturgies of Orthodox and Catholic traditions, where all of the senses are engaged in order to communicate the truth of grace. Theological aesthetics has entailed a double development: both a renewed interest in arts and a retooling of theology in response to aesthetic reality.”

The excerpt comes from the definition of “Aesthetics” in the excellent (if rather utilitarian in title) 101 Key Terms in Philosophy and Their Importance for Theology (Westminster John Knox Press, 2004).

The above excerpt is what I wished I had said when I founded LiturgicalCredo.com, because it explains much of my editorial stance.

-Colin Foote Burch

Video: Father Robert Sirico on the Pope’s visit


Father Robert Sirico of The Acton Institute was interviewed twice by Fox News yesterday. He offers some perspective on the Pope’s visit.

Clip One

Clip Two

The Pope who might have been a professor


In advance of the Pope’s visit to the United States, and especially in anticipation of his speech at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, today’s Wall Street Journal has an interesting interview with University of Nortre Dame President John I. Jenkins. Read it here.

BustedHalo.com interviews Anne Rice about her Catholic faith; video of interview with Anne Rice


Bill McGarvey of BustedHalo.com conducted this interview with Anne Rice.

See more clips from the interview here.

Kidnappings, deaths in Iraq throughout Holy Week


There has been no rest for Iraqi Christians following last week’s burial of the kidnapped and murdered Chaldean Archbishop Paulus Faraj Rahho.

Kirkuk’s Chaldean Archbishop Luis Sako told Compass Direct News that he knows of “people threatened, people kidnapped, people killed, this Holy Week.”

“We could close our churches in Mosul to protect ourselves and say to everyone that we don’t accept the situation,” Dominican Father Najeeb Mikhail said to Compass Direct News. “Or we can hold all the celebrations, and maybe we will receive some bombs or attacks.”

During a Monday mass celebrated in the memory of Archbishop Rahho, Pope Benedict XVI said, “These are the days in which we re-live the last moments in Jesus’ earthly life: tragic hours, full of love and fear, especially in the disciples’ souls.”

Funeral mass for Iraqi Archbishop


As we reported yesterday with the help of our affiliate Compass Direct News, the Chaldean Catholic Archbishop of Mosul, Paulus Faraj Rahho, was found dead Thursday, two weeks after he was kidnapped.

Mourners attended a two-hour funeral mass today.

During the mass, “The patriarch of Iraq’s Chaldean Catholic church, Emmanuel III Delly, tearfully urged Christians on Friday not to seek revenge for the death of the archbishop of Mosul, whose body was found in a shallow grave two weeks after being kidnapped,” reported AFP in this article.

The BBC has a brief story here.

Reuters UK has more details here.

Chaldean Christians belong to a branch of the Roman Catholic Church. An estimated 800,000 Chaldean Christians live in Iraq.

CDC’s report on teen girls with STDs considered with No. 2 song on iTunes


Google News headline, March 11, 2008: ‘Quarter of U.S. teen girls have sex-related disease;’ main link goes to a Reuters article

No. 2 song on iTunes, March 11, 2008: “Love in this Club” by Usher, featuring Young Jeezy; excerpts from lyrics available on several Web sites

26 percent of U.S. girls, ages 14-19, are infected with at least one sexually related disease, the Centers for Disease Control reported today

I wanna make love in this club, in this club, in this club

20 percent of white teen girls have a sex-related disease

On the couch, on the table, on the bar, on the floor

48 percent of black teen girls have a sex-related disease

Let’s both get undressed right here

20 percent of Hispanic teen girls have a sex-related disease

Imma give it to ya non-stop

“This means far too many young women are at risk for the serious health effects of untreated STDs, including infertility and cervical cancer,” said the CDC’s Dr. Sara Forhan.

-Colin Foote Burch

(Read the CNN version of the story here.)

Recommended reading: Tending the Heart of Virtue: How Classic Stories Awaken a Child’s Moral Imagination

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GodSpy!


At LiturgicalCredo.com, we love to find Web sites that explore the intersections of faith and culture.

Toward that end, check out GodSpy.com. The editors pick topics inside current events and give them a thoroughly Catholic analysis. GodSpy offers a strong point of view within an accessible, friendly tone. Any spiritual seeker, journalist, believer, or academic will want to keep an eye on GodSpy.

Malaysian government threatens censorship


KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – A Catholic newspaper and an evangelical church have brought lawsuits against the government after authorities ruled against use of the word “Allah” in Christian publications. The government had threatened the Herald, a 13-year-old Catholic weekly, with closure. Following protests by the Christian community, the Herald’s printing permit was renewed just two days prior to expiration. At the same time, the Evangelical Church of Borneo (Sidang Injil Borneo, or SIB) has challenged a government decision to prohibit importation of Christian educational materials for children containing the word “Allah.” A court hearing on the case scheduled for December 27 was postponed until January 16 pending efforts by outside parties to resolve the matter. In its lawsuit, SIB argues that Christian use of “Allah” predates Islam, as the word is used for God in the old as well as modern Arabic Bibles.

-Compass Direct News

Hindu extremists attack Christians on Christmas Eve


NEW DELHIAt least four Christians are feared dead, many injured and more than 50 churches and 200 homes are either destroyed or damaged in Orissa state in anti-Christian violence that began Christmas Eve. Violence by Hindu extremists continues in some pockets despite the state imposing a curfew and deploying hundreds of police officers. Extremists have pursued Christian leaders into forests where they fled. The Delhi Catholic Archdiocese fears a repeat of 1998 attacks on Christians in Gujarat, followed the next year by the burning alive of Australian missionary Graham Staines and his sons in Orissa.

-Compass Direct News

How a politician can defend Mormon beliefs


This is an admittedly silly parody of Mitt Romney’s recent speech defending his Mormon faith, and probably not for anyone who demands his humor to be sophisticated. Read “What Mitt Romney Should have said.”

Muslim extremists force two Indonesian churches to close


JAKARTA — Attacking the house of a Baptist pastor and protesting the presence of a Catholic temple, radical Muslim groups got authorities to close down two churches in the past two weeks. In Banten province, extremists from the Islamic Defender Forces (Front Pembela Islam, or FPI) on November 21 attacked the Tangerang home of the Rev. Bedali Hulu, pastor at Jakarta Christian Baptist Church , kicking out doors and windows, breaking glass and throwing the pastor’s belongings from the house. The church had been meeting in the pastor’s home. As a result of the violent objections to the church, Rev. Hulu met with Pisangan Jaya village leaders on November 22 – with the result that officials asked him to leave the territory until tensions cooled. Activities at the church, which has a permit and is registered with Religious Affairs authorities, came to a halt. In West Jakarta , about 75 Muslim demonstrators on November 23 demanded a halt to worship at Damai Kristus ( Christ’s Peace), a Catholic church in Kampung Duri. The raging protestors were ostensibly upset that the church didn’t have a permit for expansion – local authorities had reportedly denied the parish priest’s application without explanation. After tense discussions, the area Muslims eventually produced a letter from the Tambora district head requiring the church to cease activities.

-Compass Direct News

Another Episcopal bishop heads for Rome


An open letter to the Diocese of Southwest Florida from Bishop John Lipscomb:

November 20, 2007,
Dear Friends in Christ,

I have communicated to the Presiding Bishop my request to be released from my ordination vows and the obligations and responsibilities of a member of the House of Bishops. I have taken this step in order to be received into the Catholic Church. Through a long season of prayer and reflection Marcie and I have come to believe this is the leading of the Holy Spirit and God’s call to us for the next chapter of our lives. We are grateful to our brother in Christ, the Most Rev. Robert N. Lynch, the Bishop of St. Petersburg, for his openness to our request and for his prayerful support.

I was blessed to grow up in a Christian home where I was given the gift of a deep love for the Lord Jesus Christ and a reverence for God’s revelation of his love and redemptive purpose in the Word written, as well as the Word made Flesh. I was blessed to be brought into the family of the Episcopal Church 40 years ago. I have a deep love for the sacramental life, most especially the Eucharistic sacrifice through which God continues to pour his grace into our lives in the Word that needs no words.
I will be forever grateful for the opportunities I had to serve this faith community as a deacon and priest. I am most grateful for the opportunity you, the people of the Diocese of Southwest Florida, gave me to serve as your bishop and to participate in the life of the Anglican Communion. You made it possible for me to share in the mission of God that can never be bound by geographical or political barriers.

I believe God is now calling us to continue our ministry to serve in the healing of the visible Body of Christ in the world. I am convinced our Lord’s deepest desire is for the unity of the Church.

Marcie and I will never have the words to express to you the depth of our gratitude for the support you gave us during my medical leave and for the joyous celebration of the ministry you allowed us to share with you that brings to a close my ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church. We will pray for the continued health and vitality of the Diocese of Southwest Florida.

The following prayer by Thomas Merton speaks more eloquently than we can find possible at this moment. Marcie and I have experienced an abundance of God’s grace throughout our lives, and we continue to trust God in the future, which continues to unfold for us:

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox begin mending historic rift


The Times of London reports today:

The Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches took tentative steps towards healing their 950-year rift yesterday by drafting a joint document that acknowledges the primacy of the Pope.

The 46-paragraph “Ravenna Document”, written by a special commission of Catholic and Orthodox officials, envisages a reunified church in which the Pope could be the most senior patriarch among the various Orthodox churches.

Just as Pope John Paul II was driven by the desire to bring down Communism, so Pope Benedict XVI hopes passionately to see the restoration of a unified Church. Although he is understood to favour closer relations with traditional Anglicans, the Anglican Communion is unlikely to be party to the discussions because of its ordination of women and other liberal practices.

Unification with the Orthodox churches could ultimately limit the authority of the Pope, lessening the absolute power that he currently enjoys within Catholicism. In contrast, a deal would greatly strengthen the Patriarch of Constantinople in his dealings with the Muslim world and the other Orthodox churches.

Wow. Read the full article here: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article2880038.ece