All posts by Jeffrey L. Morrow

Jeff Morrow is Associate Professor of Theology at Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology at Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey. He also serves as a Senior Fellow of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology. Jeff earned his Ph.D. (2007) in Theology at the University of Dayton, Dayton, Ohio, in the program on the U.S. Catholic Experience, where he focused on historical theology and the history of biblical exegesis. He earned his M.A. (2003) in Theological Studies, with a focus on Biblical Studies, also at the University of Dayton. He earned his B.A. (2001) at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, where he double majored in Comparative Religion and Classical Greek, and minored in Jewish Studies. Jeff originally comes from a Jewish background; he attended Hebrew school and had a bar mitzvah. In 1997 he became an evangelical Protestant and was heavily involved with para-church ministry as an undergraduate student. He entered the Catholic Church, Easter Vigil 1999. Jeff is a popular speaker who speaks regularly at parishes and schools, as well as at larger events. He has made popular presentations at the Applied Biblical Studies and the Defending the Faith Conferences at Franciscan University of Steubenville, as well as with the Coming Home Network International. He has also published in popular periodicals including This Rock, The Catholic Answer and New Oxford Review. Jeff's scholarly work is primarily in the history of biblical interpretation, but he has also presented academic papers, and published scholarly articles, on a variety of topics related to theology, religion and the Bible. He has published scholarly works in academic journals including International Journal of Systematic Theology, New Blackfriars, Pro Ecclesia, and Toronto Journal of Theology. He has also made scholarly presentations before a number of learned societies, including the American Academy of Religion, the Society of Biblical Literature, the American Catholic Historical Association, and the College Theology Society. He currently resides with his wife Maria (who has a Ph.D. doctoral in Theology, specializing in Moral Theology, also from the University of Dayton) their four children Maia, Eva, Patrick, and Robert, in New Jersey.

New Book on the Life of Alvaro del Portillo, to-be beatified September of 2014

Venerable Alvaro del Portillo
Venerable Alvaro del Portillo

A dear friend of mine, and colleague at Seton Hall University, John Coverdale, has just published a wonderful book on the life of Alvaro del Portillo, who will be beatified this September, 2014. Coverdale got to know del Portillo while they were both living in Rome just before, during, and just after, the Second Vatican Council, in the 1960s. A historian of Spain in the early part of the 20th century, and a biographer of St. Josemaria and also of Fr. Joseph Muzquiz (who was ordained a priest alongside del Portillo), Coverdale (now a law professor) is well placed to write this inspiring biography.

A consummate historian (Coverdale earned his Ph.D. in history from the U. of Wisconsin

Superheroes or Saints?

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.

Lenten Resolutions

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.

My New Blog: History of Interpretation

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 Bessette: Opening Doors for God

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

Saints' Favorite BooksVery recently I got my free electronic copy of Brandon Vogt’s newest book, The Saints’ Favorite Books, and I must say, this is a deal you don’t want to miss! It’s short, but well worth the read, and it’s available for a limited time free here.

Brandon walks through many significant Saints, and Popes, throughout Christian history, and he shares what their favorite book was (or, in some instances, where they don’t say what their favorite book was, he makes a good case for which was one of their top books). He also provides links where you can acquire the books yourselves. This is a great way to start a great reading list, following the lead of the Saints and Popes. I highly recommend getting your free copy now.

Pentecost, Pope Francis, and the New Evangelization

Pope Francis

On Pentecost, Pope Francis delivered a terrific message on the New Evangelization, answering a set of questions that were provided him in advance. In the talk, Francis shares some very moving moments from his own life. He tells the world about his own inklings of a calling, of his vocation; that God was calling him. He tells of a moving experience of confession, where he felt drawn by God to confess his sins to a priest he ran across on the street, only to encounter the God Who had been waiting for him. His words reminded me of Pope Benedict XVI’s comments about two years ago to the effect that, “the new evangelization will pass through the confessional.”

For me, one of the encouraging marks of Francis’ message was how he attempted to light a fire under our feet to go out and share Jesus, spreading the peace and joy of the Lord whereever the Lord has placed us. In his comments he displayed what I think is a sincere humility; Francis’ desire to hide and disappear and let Jesus alone shine through. At one point he asks the crowd to stop cheering, “Francis,” and instead cheer for “Jesus.” His core message is right—we need to use our words to help others encounter God. His story of his mother and grandmother should encourage us to speak and model a life of faith among our family and friends, colleagues and neighbors. We have to open our mouths and help others. This requires, often, that we first open our ears and eyes and hear and see what their needs are. And of course, we cannot share what we do not have. We must have a personal encounter with God, with Jesus, in order to be able to live the attractive life of faith Francis is calling us to—in order to help others encounter God the transformer of lives. To do this, we need to pray, we need the Sacraments (particularly frequent confession and Eucharist), and we need to seek God’s face in Scripture. Here’s a link to a video (about 38 minutes) of Francis’ message: http://player.vimeo.com/video/66625658?title=0

Colloquium on Benedict XVI’s Legacy

 

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:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=baZbrzLvzFA&feature=player_embedded

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

Jeff Morrow

points concerning the importance of the Eucharist, frequent Confession, personal prayer, and devout reading of Scripture, in the thought of Benedict XVI.

The Myth of Vatican Wealth–on Helping the Poor

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.