Thursday, March 28, 2013

Same-Sex Marriage, Traditional Sexual Morality, And What's Next

Signs of the times.  Excerpts:
...As the Washington Post scandal showed, through ignorance or inability to understand the arguments made by marriage traditionalists or some other problem, many in the media are convinced that they’re fighting the equivalent of racists and that, as such, horrific treatment of the people and their arguments is justified.

Here’s another example of that. Poynter discusses how some media figures took part in that most brave and meaningful public sacrament: changing one’s Facebook avatar to support changing marriage laws to include same-sex couples. You can read about it at “Journalists share arguments for, against using same-sex marriage symbols on social media profiles.”

My favorite part:
A human rights issue vs. a political issue: Journalists who changed their avatars and were willing to talk about it generally said they view same-sex marriage differently from a regular political issue in which both sides must be presented fairly and objectively.

Matt DeRienzo, an editor for the Journal Register Company in Connecticut, tweeted: “I don’t have a problem with journalists who work for me voicing support for basic civil rights for gay people. Or kids, sunshine, etc.”
And then we get various other quotes from people who are unable to view this issue beyond the “civil rights” paradigm they’ve adopted.

This breezes right past the central, fundamental question under debate and begs the question. If one adopts a certain view of marriage — then opposition to that view is akin to racism. If one retains the view that marriage is the institution that governs sexual complementarity and requires male and female then civil rights is the wrong framework and cries of bigotry are uninformed and scurrilous at best.

The problem I see with many of these media discussions is that reporters and editors aren’t thinking very much about it. There’s a lot of emotion, but not a lot of thinking. There’s close to no curiosity about intellectual arguments in play and the end result is some scary behavior on the part of the Piers Morgan types.

In the words of David S. Crawford, the tolerance that will be given to those who aren’t on board with changing the basis of marriage from sexual complementarity to sexual orientation will be:
…provisional and contingent, tailored to accommodate what is conceived as a significant but shrinking segment of society that holds a publically unacceptable private bigotry. Where over time it emerges that this bigotry has not in fact disappeared, more aggressive measures will be needed, which will include more explicit legal and educational components, as well as simple ostracism...
Some of the arguments for traditional marriage, in case anyone has never encountered one:

Thursday, March 21, 2013

60 Minutes, the LCWR, and Necessary Church Reform

So 60 Minutes ran a piece on the Vatican's doctrinal investigation of the LCWRGetReligion was not amused.  Excerpts:
CBS released this clip last week, previewing the Sunday 60 Minutes piece. Talk about hard-hitting! Talk about the opposite of obsequious!

Oh wait. It looked horrific.

Apparently it was.  After it ran on Sunday, one person tweeted:
“60 minutes” tonight marked the election of Pope Francis with an outrageously slanted Bob Simon piece hammering the Church
aaaand first up on 60 Minutes: Will Pope Francis continue using the same office as the Inquisition to persecute American nuns?

yeah, reporting is one thing. Glowing as you question the subject is quite another.
You can watch the whole thing and make your own judgment, but Godbeat veteran Jeffrey Weiss said the piece failed on a number of counts...
Why the investigation?  Here're some of the reasons I perceivedJohn Allen had some good points about the investigation.  There are reasons laid out in the Vatican's own document on the visitation.  Excerpts:
...The decision of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) to undertake a doctrinal Assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) was communicated to the LCWR Presidency during their meeting with Cardinal William Levada in Rome on April 8, 2008. At that meeting, three major areas of concern were given as motivating the CDF’s decision to initiate the Assessment:

Addresses at the LCWR Assemblies.
Addresses given during LCWR annual Assemblies manifest problematic statements and serious theological, even doctrinal errors. The Cardinal offered as an example specific passages of Sr. Laurie Brink’s address about some Religious “moving beyond the Church” or even beyond Jesus. This is a challenge not only to core Catholic beliefs; such a rejection of faith is also a serious source of scandal and is incompatible with religious life. Such unacceptable positions routinely go unchallenged by the LCWR, which should provide resources for member Congregations to foster an ecclesial vision of religious life, thus helping to correct an erroneous vision of the Catholic faith as an important exercise of charity. Some might see in Sr. Brink’s analysis a phenomenological snapshot of religious life today. But Pastors of the Church should also see in it a cry for help.

Policies of Corporate Dissent
The Cardinal spoke of this issue in reference to letters the CDF received from “Leadership Teams” of various Congregations, among them LCWR Officers, protesting the Holy See’s actions regarding the question of women’s ordination and of a correct pastoral approach to ministry to homosexual persons, e.g. letters about New Ways Ministry’s conferences. The terms of the letters suggest that these sisters collectively take a position not in agreement with the Church’s teaching on human sexuality. It is a serious matter when these Leadership Teams are not providing effective leadership and example to their communities, but place themselves outside the Church’s teaching.

Radical Feminism
The Cardinal noted a prevalence of certain radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith in some of the programs and presentations sponsored by the LCWR, including theological interpretations that risk distorting faith in Jesus and his loving Father who sent his Son for the salvation of the world. Moreover, some commentaries on “patriarchy” distort the way in which Jesus has structured sacramental life in the Church; others even undermine the revealed doctrines of the Holy Trinity, the divinity of Christ, and the inspiration of Sacred Scripture...
What does radical feminism in the Catholic Church and women's religious orders look like?  From the side of someone who may well be a supporter or at least sympathetic to this approach, there's a classic overview from Thomas Rausch, SJ's Catholicism in the Third Millennium:
...Feminist spirituality is a relatively new field that has grown out of the struggle of women for equality in both society and Church.  It is a particular expression of liberation theology.  Like feminist theology (for it is often difficult to separate theology and spirituality) feminist spirituality covers a broad spectrum of positions and persons in the contemporary Catholic Church.  Some feminist theologians have moved explicitly beyond the Christian tradition; their theological interests focus on the pre-Christian European worship of the Goddess, a nature religion also known as Wicca.  Mary Daly is among those feminists who identify themselves as post-Christian.  Others, such as Rosemary Radford Ruether and Elisabeth Schussler-Fiorenza, have challenged the tradition in a radical way from within.  What is common to most feminist theologians is a concern to bring the often neglected experience of women into the theological enterprise.

Feminist spirituality seeks to articulate a vision of the spiritual life that can embrace the experience of women, particularly their experience of oppression; it seeks to address their particular needs and help them reappropriate their own spiritual power. Consciousness raising is a first step toward a genuine feminist spiritual vision. Women who have so often been defined in terms of their sexual and reproductive functions insist that their value and personal possibilities cannot be deftermined by biology. This feminist spirituality offers women an alternative vision that includes a critique of those forces and movements that have oppressed women and alienated them from themselves. Patriarchy, the structuring of society and culture in terms of male interests and power, and hierarchy, organizing society and Church in terms of higher and lower status, are both rejected. Feminist spirituality emphasizes equality, inclusivity, and mutuality. It prefers the discussion to the lecture, the square to the circle.

Feminist spirituality differs from much of traditional spirituality in its nondualistic approach to all of reality; it seeks to overcome the split between body and spirit, between spirituality and sexuality, transcendence and immanence, reason and feeling, the sacred and the secular, between this world and the next. It seeks to read the Gospel in such a way that women will be empowered; thus it is uncomfortable with the emphasis in classical theology on losing the self by putting others first, seeing here a reinforcement of the passivity and submission to which so many women have been conditioned by a patriarchal culture and Church. Displacing one's own ego is fine if one's temptation is to pride, but for many women the real task of a genuine conversion is to be more assertive, to affirm their own value, and come to a genuine love of self.

Sandra M. Schneiders lists the following as major characteristics of feminist spirituality: First, it must be rooted in women's experience. Thus there is generally an emphasis on a personal sharing of stories as a way of recovering what has been repressed and of raising consciousness. Second, it celebrates those aspects of bodiliness, such as menstruation and childbirth, that religion has been silent about. They are life-giving, not shameful. Third, it is concerned with nonhuman nature, with its sense of our organic relationship with the universe; its vision is ecologically sensitive. Fourth, it emphasizes rituals that are inclusive rather than hierarchical, joyful and participative rather than unemotional and dominative. Feminist spirituality is concerned for the renewal of Church ministry, liturgy, organization, and community. Finally, feminist spirituality sees an intrinsic relationship between personal growth and social justice. From the perspective of feminist spirituality, the personal is always political...--Thomas Rausch, Catholicism in the Third Millenium, 2nd Edition, (Michael Glazier Books, 2003), pg. 184-186.
From critics of the approach, one can read Ungodly Rage: The Hidden Face of Catholic Feminism, The Feminist Question: Feminist Theology in the Light of Christian Tradition, Sisters in Crisis: The Tragic Unraveling of Women's Religious Communities, Sisters in Crisis Revisited: From Unraveling to Reform and Renewal, and Prodigal Daughters: Catholic Women Come Home to the Church.

Why is this vision of feminist spirituality described by Rausch a problem?  Well, if you're post-Christian and outside the Church, then you're certainly no longer Catholic or Christian.  And the LCWR, by a past president's own admission, contains some member congregations who have gone precisely that far.
...During this era of crisis and decline, some Catholic religious orders have chosen to enter a time of “sojourning” that involves “moving beyond the church, even beyond Jesus,” Sinsinawa Dominican Sister Laurie Brink told a 2007 national gathering of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.

“Religious titles, institutional limitations, ecclesiastical authorities no longer fit this congregation, which in most respects is Post-Christian,” added Brink, a former journalist who is a biblical studies professor at Chicago’s Catholic Theological Union. For these women, the “Jesus narrative is not the only or the most important narrative. … They still hold up and reverence the values of the Gospel, but they also recognize that these same values are not solely the property of Christianity. Buddhism, Native American spirituality, Judaism, Islam and others hold similar tenets for right behavior within the community, right relationship with the earth and right relationship with the Divine.”...
If you're practicing Wicca, you're violating the Church's ban on magic and the New Age.  If you reject all forms of hierarchy, then you will inevitably be at war with the Church from within, since it is inherently hierarchical according to the teaching of Vatican II.  If you're an offshoot of liberation theology, you need to take account of the Church's teaching on liberation theology.  If you differ from traditional Catholic spirituality, then you're rejecting the teaching of Doctor of the Church St. Teresa of Avila, Doctor of the Church St. Hildegard of Bingen, Doctor of the Church St. Catherine of Siena, Doctor of the Church St. Thérèse of Lisieux, and a whole host of other women mystics and saints.  If you choose to believe that all that is personal must be political, then you have accepted the via moderna in its entirety which will inevitably see all exercises of authority as unwonted impositions of power on the will of another, never as the right exercise of the functions of the members of the body of Christ.  If you truly believe that traditional spirituality is wrong when it supposedly, somehow rejects bodiliness and simultaneously hold that true liberation for women comes from refusing to be defined by biology in any way at all, you're not only incoherent, but also ignoring the true richness of the Church's teaching on the theology of the body.  If you refuse to be willing to lose your life in order to save it (Luke 9:24; Matthew 16:25; Luke 17:33; Mark 8:35; Matthew 10:39; John 12:25), then you're repudiating the eternal dynamic of gift at the heart of the Trinity into which we are all invited, choosing to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil rather than the tree of life, choosing power over paradise (as though choosing tradition and deification somehow meant women were disempowered!  Mary, she of the Magnificat, is Queen of heaven and earth.).  If you steadfastly believe that the Catholic Church can and should ordain women, then you're steadfastly in violation of the clear and irreformable teaching of the ordinary magisterium.

Does this mean there is no room in Catholicism for feminism?  Not at all.  See the following for a sampling of some celebrations of Catholic womanhood in the different walks of life:
There is plenty of room within the Church for a tremendous celebration of women.  There is room in the Church for women to take on many more roles, and to continue to work wonders in the roles they currently occupy.  But there is not room in the Church for a feminist theology/spirituality which privileges power over love.

To hold the form of feminist theology outlined by Rausch is to place oneself in the permanent role of dissatisfied Catholic, permanently seeking to alter the fundamental structure of the Church from within by force to conform it to the demands of your ideology.  The faith does not have primacy in your life, nor does Christ, but rather power, challenging the faith rather than receiving it as that which has been handed on, and asserting your own all rightness over against the standards of the Catholic Church and her faith.  This analysis is supported by Catholic women religious.  Excerpts:
Physicians who are also Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma are criticizing the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and its defenders for using an impoverished “language of politics” instead of “the language of faith” in the dialogue with the Catholic hierarchy.

“There is no basis for authentic dialogue between these two languages. The language of faith is rooted in Jesus Christ, His life and His mission, as well as the magisterial teaching of the Church,” said the physician-sisters’ statement, which was issued after a June 2 meeting on the contributions of religious women in the healing ministry of the Catholic Church.

“The language of politics arises from the social marketplace,” they said. “The Sisters who use political language in their responses to the magisterial Church reflect the poverty of their education and formation in the faith.”...

the Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma’s broader statement. It said that a religious community’s charism is given to “enrich the Church” and the Catholic hierarchy must determine its authenticity. A woman religious participates in this charism and “cannot separate her work from the Church.”

The sisters praised “the generosity and service” of the religious women who preceded them and foresaw “great hope” for the future of religious life in the Church.

They said that this hope rests in remaining within “the deposit of faith and the hierarchical structure of the Church.”

“We cannot separate ourselves from sacred tradition or claim to advance beyond the Church.”

The sisters’ June 2 meeting also addressed statements from the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, various news agencies and other organizations. The Sisters of Mercy said these have created “confusion, polarization, and false representations about the beliefs, activities, and priorities of a significant number of women religious in the United States...”
Bottom line: Archbishop Sartain has been given a necessary and important task for the renewal of religious orders for women within Catholicism.  There are a number of serious doctrinal problems extant within the LCWR's leadership and, by Sister Laurie Brink's own account, within the member congregations.  Pray for Abp. Sartain and a graced reform for the LCWR.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Rich Vatican, Poor Vatican, and a "Poor Church for the Poor"

John Allen shares some important information on the true state of the Vatican's finances.  Excerpts:
...the legendary wealth of the Vatican is to some extent more myth than reality. The Vatican has an annual operating budget of under $300 million, while Harvard University, arguably the Vatican of elite secular opinion, has a budget of $3.7 billion, meaning it's 10 times greater. The Vatican's "patrimony," what other institutions would call an endowment, is around $1 billion. In this case, Harvard's ahead by a robust factor of 30, with an endowment of $30.7 billion.

The Vatican bank controls assets estimated at more than $6 billion, which is nobody's idea of chump change, but most of that isn't the Vatican's money. It belongs to religious orders, dioceses, movements and other Catholic organizations, and is managed by the Institute for the Works of Religion to facilitate moving it around the world.

Of course, these figures don't include the value of masterpieces of Western art housed in the Vatican, such as Michelangelo's "Pietà." The Vatican considers itself custodians of these items, not their owners, and it's a matter of Vatican law that they can never be sold or borrowed against. As a result, they have no practical value and are listed on the Vatican books at a value of 1 euro each.

Aside from selling off the papal limo, which Pope Francis doesn't seem inclined to use, and baubles such as the crimson-lined mozetta, which he doesn't seem inclined to wear, it's hard to see immediately what he could jettison that would dramatically alter perceptions.

Moreover, Francis was elected in part on a platform of overhauling the Vatican's bureaucracy in the direction of greater transparency, accountability and efficiency. Assuming he assembles a team of reformers, he'll need to make sure they have the tools to do the job. At least initially, that might require more money for Vatican operations rather than less...

In any event, it might help matters if the outside world could see the relatively Spartan settings in which most Vatican officials actually live and work as opposed to the resplendent backdrops used to stage public rituals. Simply by lifting some of the veils of secrecy, Francis might move a long way toward recalibrating impressions...

Monday, March 18, 2013

Pope Francis, Pope Benedict, and the Papacy

Amy Welborn has some well-chosen comments on those who seem to think Francis is so remarkably better/different/whatever than his predecessor.  Excerpts:
I’m startled by the number of people who are under the impression that Pope Benedict neglected to mention Jesus Christ, mercy or the poor during his pontificate. Who don’t understand the substantial reforms Pope Benedict undertook over the past few years. So for example:   Pope Francis mentioned the danger of the Church becoming seen as just another NGO, to wide acclaim – from some of the same quarters who have looked askance at Pope Benedict making exactly the same points – and putting them into action (as in his actions, for example, regarding Caritas last year ). The post below this one tweaks that reflex –  and it’s a reflex to be aware of...

A few days ago, a church historian was quoted as saying, “You have to remember that Benedict was a clotheshorse.”    What that expert fails to recognize was that Benedict’s attention to papal garb was not about vanity – I mean – really.  It was about what he was always about: history  And not history as a museum, out of an antiquarian interest, but as a link from the present to the past.  The red shoes – so maligned even by Catholics who should know better – are a symbol of blood.  Blood , people.  The blood of the martyrs and the blood of Christ on which His vicar stands, and through him, all of us.  Popes – yes, even John XXIII and Paul VI – wore them until John Paul II stopped.  Then Benedict reinstated them. That is, he humbled himself before history and symbol and put the darn things on...

For me, it comes down to this. Both of these Popes were and are pastors. Both have given their lives for us, for Christ. We can – and should be open to being – taught by both. All I’m saying is that – as Pope Francis himself has acknowledged in his own words these past few days – Pope Benedict was all about Christ. He spent 8 years as your Pope, “proposing Jesus Christ” through his words and actions – even his red shoes. If Pope Francis’ actions so far preach Christ more clearly to you then so be it. Christ is who is important, and we are a Church of great diversity for a reason. But what has been so bizarre and even saddening over the past few days is a tone and implication that Benedict was somehow about something else besides Jesus Christ...

The “changes” that Benedict made to the liturgical direction of the Church are not expressions of his aesthetic or taste.  What Benedict did was to implement the Church’s liturgy in the Church’s  practice.   There are documents.  Decrees and such.  Books.  Rubrics.    Believe it or not, Benedict’s reset button was really nothing more than pointing us to what we are supposed to be doing anyway.   If you don’t believe me, read them yourself.  There is a deeper theological and spiritual reasoning and structure as well, but really, the basic goal was: fidelity to what the Church offers.  If you read Ratzinger on liturgy,  his thinking is quite pastoral.  It basically comes down to: Every Catholic has the right to the  Church’s liturgy. 
Along those lines, Father Z. explains what humble liturgy looks like. Excerpts:
...Some people are saying, “O how wonderful it is to get rid of all the symbols of office and power and be humble like the poor.”

When I first learned to say the older form of the Mass of the Roman Rite, that is to say, when I first learned how to say Mass, because there has never been a single of day of my priesthood when I couldn’t say it, I admit that I was deeply uncomfortable with some of the gestures prescribed by the rubrics. I even resisted them. For example, the kissing of the objects to be given to the priest, and the priest and the kissing of the priest’s hands… that gave me the willies.

I resisted those solita oscula because I had fallen into the trap of thinking that they made me look too important.

The fact is that none of those gestures were about me at all. They are about the priest insofar as he is alter Christus, not insofar as he is “John”. For “John” all of that would be ridiculous. For Father, alter Christus, saying Mass, it is barely enough.

When you see the deacon and subdeacon in the older form of Holy Mass holding, for example, the edges of the priest’s cope when they are in procession, or when you see them kissing the priest’s hand, or bowing to him, or waiting on him or deferring to him or – what in non-Catholic eyes appears to be something like adoration or emperor worship – you are actually seeing them preparing the priest for his sacrificial slaughter on the altar of Golgotha.

It is the most natural thing in the human experience to treat with loving reverence the sacrifice to be offered to God. The sacrificial lambs were pampered and given the very best care, right up to the moment when the knife sliced their necks.

The Catholic priest is simultaneously the victim offered on the altar. All the older, traditional ceremonies of the Roman Rite underscore this foundational dimension of the Mass. If we don’t see that relationship of priest, altar, and victim in every Holy Mass, then the way Mass has been celebrated has failed. If we don’t look for that relationship, then we are not really Catholic. Mass is Calvary...
Rocco Palmo has some interesting comments on the way in which Pope Francis is charting his own course with a distinctly steely determination. Excerpts:
...Extraordinary as the response to his sincerity and simplicity has been over these days – a feeling running far beyond Rome and Argentina – Jorge Bergoglio's success at defining himself as himself on the world stage has come thanks to a less visible, yet equally key trait of the 266th Pope: his steely sense of determination. If he lacked it, he never could've proceeded or been received as he has in such a short stretch of time... and to be sure, its early quiet flashes are merely shaping up as a sneak preview of the battle of wills which is almost certain to define his pontificate.

As things pick up steam, a lesson from the Pope's past bears recalling: on ending his term as provincial of Argentina, then-Fr Bergoglio's intensity of conviction and grit served to divide his confreres so severely that he was made to leave the country until things could simmer down.

Then again, perhaps even that bodes well. Given the thick sea he'd inherit, the times called for a strong figure to don the white – someone strong enough to keep his black pants and set the trappings at arm's length if he so chose. Yet most of all, in an office where practically every temptation and modern custom could quickly undermine the intent behind it, only a fool would ever have taken the name Francis...

...that is, unless he was driven to clear the high bar that comes with it.
Deacon Kandra amplifies much of that. Excerpts:
...Yes, as a few people have noted: there is much to be to be cherished in the ancient beauty and traditions of the liturgy we love, in the devotions we practice, in the languages we offer before God in prayer. This is our heritage and our legacy and all that, together, does draw is closer to a sense of the eternal.

But: just as Benedict began our Lent with a lesson in letting go, Francis is closing this penitential season with one about stripping bare—getting back to basics.

Maybe these two popes aren’t as different as some think – and will serve, together, as the two great teachers of the New Evangelization...

Beauty, Truth, and Education

The importance of an education into the true, the good and the beautiful. Excerpts:
..."Dale," I said, "My actress is driving me crazy.  No matter what we've seen on this trip, she can't appreciate it.  She's either itching for a smoke or on the phone with somebody.  She's not a bad person, and she has a sensitive soul, but she simply can't appreciate beauty - natural or man-made.  She can't see it.  She's blind to it.  She's constantly bored.

"It's a problem of education," I went on, "No one has ever bothered to instill in her anything that would allow her to receive and understand the things around her.  It's like a child that no one ever speaks to, and who never learns a language - like a kid who's been raised by wolves..."

Fromm, who apparently knew my actress and my tutoring student personally, though he died before they were born, continues ...
Many of the younger generation tend to have no character at all. By that I do not mean that they are dishonest; on the contrary, one of the few enjoyable things in the modern world is the honesty of a great part of the younger generation. What I mean is that they live, emotionally and intellectually speaking, from hand to mouth. They satisfy every need immediately, have little patience to learn, cannot easily endure frustration, and have no center within themselves, no sense of identity. They suffer from this and question themselves, their identity, and the meaning of life ...
And they can't tell a beautiful lighthouse from an ugly water tower.

It's a problem of education...

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Buried Treasure!

Somewhere in the US, it would seem.  Excerpts:
...In 1988, Fenn was at the top of his career as an art dealer, with clients including Ralph Lauren, Robert Redford and Suzanne Somers, when he received devastating news: He had advanced kidney cancer. His diagnosis showed he had only a 20 percent chance of surviving the next three years.

So Fenn started to consider his legacy.

He worked on his clue-poem for years, and took his time collecting items to put in the chest. When he felt the treasure was complete and he was strong enough to carry it, he buried it.

"After I hid the treasure I walked back to my car feeling very proud of myself and laughing out loud," he said. "I asked, 'Forrest, did you really do that?' There have never been any regrets. Now it is for the ages and a big part of me in that treasure chest. I felt it go in as I closed the lid for the last time..."

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Okay, Catholics, Settle Down

I'll grant that we all can celebrate the Papamoon until Divine Mercy Sunday, I suppose, but then we do need to let Pope Francis get on with his work and make sure we're doing our own--prayer, fasting, and almsgiving; evangelizing, catechizing, and sacramentalizing; walking the road to holiness and clinging to the Lord; spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Gospel of Life, and the civilization of love.

We've got a lot of work to do.  We had a lot of work to do when Benedict XVI was pope, and we have a lot of work to do now that Francis is Pope.  We need to kneel down and set to it.

I'm writing this for my own benefit as much as for anyone else.  I've been rather too distracted by the least little tidbit of papal trivia, the smallest newsflash, the latest excited or exultant Catholic predictions of happy days under Pope Francis.  I'm hopeful, too.  I'm joyful, too.  And yet I'm neglecting the things I need to be tending to, especially in this season of Lent.

I look forward to English translations of Francis's work soon to come.  Until that day arrives, I have a ton of Ratzinger I haven't read, and Pope John Paul II, and John Paul I, and Paul VI, and John XXIII, and on and on.  I mean to get my hands on a copy of George Weigel's Evangelical Catholicism: Deep Reform in the 21st-Century Church, and Sherry Weddell's Forming Intentional Disciples: The Path to Knowing and Following Jesus, and Ryan Topping's Rebuilding Catholic Culture.  I should encourage other people to delve deeply into great books on the Catholic faith in this year of faith like Fr. Michael Gaitley's The One Thing Is Three: How the Most Holy Trinity Explains Everything, or Pope Benedict's Jesus of Nazareth series, or Father Mitch Pacwa, SJ's The Year of Faith: A Bible Study Guide for Catholics, or any number of other awesome books on Jesus, Mary, the Trinity, the Church, etc., etc., ad eternam.

I love what I know of our new Holy Father, and I look forward to getting to know him even more in the days of head.  In the meantime, I need to turn my prayers to heaven, my attention to my work, and serve Jesus and his Vicar where I'm at.

But I may cheat every now and again.  As Simcha Fisher said, it is still Papamoon.


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