For a while now, my three year old son has been telling us that when he grows up he wants to be a superhero. Recently, my five year old daughter asked me if superheroes are real. We spoke a little about how the Saints are the real superheroes. After that conversation it struck me how true that is: the Saints are the real superheroes.
Many of the superheroes we know and love from comic books, movies, and t.v., are people like Batman or Superman, who, most of the time, live ordinary lives without performing the superhero actions their hidden life selves are known for. They tend to dress, work, and speak as would anyone else in their specific state in life, in their line of work, in their economic status, etc. Unbeknownst to their neighbors and friends, they possess superhero abilities.
St. Padre Pio
Pope Francis hearing Confession
Lent is upon us…only a few more days…as this upcoming Wednesday is Ash Wednesday. With that in mind I thought I would post a few thoughts about Lenten resolutions, just in case anyone might find these thoughts beneficial, especially if Lent is taking you by surprise, or if you haven’t yet made any Lenten resolutions.
First, the three traditional Lenten practices are prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. In general, it is encouraged to work on all three areas during Lent. It’s a good thing to up our spiritual practices during Lent, doing a little more than we typically do throughout the year. In this post, however, I want to focus on a different way of making good Lenten resolutions. I don’t mean to detract from the traditional, “upping it,” as it were, during Lent. By all means, do a little more this Lent than you typically do throughout the year, and than you likely will when Lent is over and we enter the joyous Easter season. But here I want to focus on small resolutions that we can maintain throughout the year.
I have started a new blog devoted to the history of biblical interpretation, particularly in the modern period. The blog is called, “History of Interpretation,” and can be found by clicking that link, or at historyof interpretation.wordpress.com. I wanted to make our readers aware of the blog. It has been receiving quite a lot of web traffic, and my hope is to include guest posts from several scholars, a number of whom have already agreed to contribute posts. My hope is to start a conversation about the state of modern biblical studies, its history, and the relationship between theology and biblical interpretation. The intent is that posts will be scholarly, but accessible to non-specialists, so that interested parties might benefit from the conversation without having to be scholars themselves. So please check out the site if the topic interests you.
St. André of Montreal
Today is the Feast of St. André of Montreal, who is known more widely as Bro. André Bessette, C.S.C. St. André was a brother in the Congregation of the Holy Cross, the same religious order that runs the University of Notre Dame. As we approach the end of the Christmas season, I thought I would write a few reflections on this great Saint. First, a little biographical information. André Bessette was born Alfred Bessette in Quebec Canada in 1845, not far from Montreal. His father was a carpenter, like Jesus and Jesus’ father St. Joseph. He had 12 brothers and sisters. When he was nine, his father died in an accident, and he had already lost three siblings who died as infants (a fourth would also die as an infant). Bessette was twelve when his mother died of tuberculosis. These tragic and severe sufferings early in life are alluded to in Pope Benedict XVI’s homily at Bessette’s canonization in 2010.
Bessette joined the religious Congregation of the Holy Cross as a brother when he about
Bro. André Bessette, C.S.C.
Pope Benedict XVI
The day before Pope Benedict XVI resigned from his office, I was honored to participate in a colloquium on his legacy at Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology at Seton Hall University, where I teach. A portion of the colloquium was filmed and is available online here:
After some opening words by Msgr. Joseph Reilly and by Dr. Dianne Traflet, the first
Fr. Pablo Gadenz
presentation is by my dear friend and colleague, Fr. Pablo Gadenz. Fr. Pablo’s wonderful talk is entitled, “Pope Benedict: Leading Us to Jesus,” and deals with Benedict’s work on Scripture as it focuses on bringing us in contact with the living Jesus.
I give the second presentation, “Pope Benedict and the Interior Life,” where I discuss some
points concerning the importance of the Eucharist, frequent Confession, personal prayer, and devout reading of Scripture, in the thought of Benedict XVI.
St. Peter's Basilica
In light of all the media buzz about Pope Francis, I have encountered a surprising number of criticisms aimed both at Pope Francis and at the Catholic Church, specifically concerning the wealth of the Vatican and the lack of the Pope’s “real” concern for the poor. In response, I’ve hastily written this overly large post. Hopefully someone will find it beneficial.
John Allen explains, in his National Catholic Reporter article, “Challenges to vision of a ‘Poor Church for the Poor,’” available here, http://ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/challenges-vision-poor-church-poor, that “the legendary wealth of the Vatican is to some extent more myth than reality.” He then points out the often ignored fact that the yearly budget for operating the Vatican is less than $300 million. He contrasts this with Harvard University (which he labels as “the Vatican of elite secular opinion”) whose annual budget is $3.7 billion. Allen points out further that the patrimony (or endowment) of the Vatican is about $1 billion. Harvard, on the other hand, as a whopping $30.7 billion endowment. Allen concedes that the Vatican bank is in charge of the equivalent of over $6 billion, but then points out how the majority of that money is not actually the Vatican’s, and thus the Vatican would not be at liberty to use most of that amount for any purpose whatsoever.
In light of the hurricane that we just experienced, and the difficulties that came along with it, I thought I would post on one implication of considering our divine filiation (our becoming children of God) with which the first paragraph of the Catechism opened. First, as Fr. Federico Suarez explains, absolutely everything
“that happens to us is foreseen by God, and is ordained to his glory and to the salvation of man. If what happens to us is good, God wants it for us. If it is bad, He does not want it for us, but allows it to happen because He respects man’s freedom and the order of nature; in such unlikely circumstances it is nonetheless in God’s power to obtain good and advantage for the soul—even bringing it out of evil itself.”
This is not a simple “god-of-the-gaps,” but rather the providential workings of our loving Father in heaven acting on earth. As Fr. Francis Fernandez explains:
“Our sense of divine filiation should lead us to discover that we are in the hands of a Father who knows the past, the present and the future. He has ordered everything for our good, even though his plans may not coincide with our plans of the moment….No one could do a better job of watching out for us: God never makes mistakes.”
Have you ever asked the question, “What is the meaning of life?” The very first paragraph of the Catechism provides the Catholic answer to this question: the reason for human existence, the reason for your existence, and the reason for my existence:
“God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life. For this reason, at every time and in every place, God draws close to man. He calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength. He calls together all men, scattered and divided by sin, into the unity of his family, the Church. To accomplish this, when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son as Redeemer and Saviour. In his Son and through him, he invites men to become, in the Holy Spirit, his adopted children and thus heirs of his blessed life” (no. 1).