I started the year with a pseudo-noble promise to be more understanding and supportive of bishops, somewhat in the spirit of my father’s frequent advice about criticizing others: “Leave the poor fellows alone; they’re doing the best they can.” He, however, did not use the word “fellows.”
Bulletins from the Human Side
We can hear all creation groaning, Saint Paul tells us, but that plaintive signal of the spiritual longing of the cosmos -- and of us -- may be muffled by our own heavy breathing at having run the race and finished the course of the departing year. Don’t we get a medal or something for keeping the faith?
During this week of Christmas, we stand with the Wise Men under a sign in the night sky.
It celebrates an aspect of the feast that, much as for the Kings bearing their gifts, commits us to a journey to “the end of the way of the wandering star” -- as Chesterton sings of it -- “to the things that cannot be and that are, to the place where God was homeless and all men are at home.”
A preacher to the papal household will not get in trouble by telling its residents that the world needs “a renewed faith in eternity.”
Although this cannot be news to Vatican insiders, it is the answer, according to a report on the Catholic Culture Web site, to the questions that secularization has raised as it has metastasized across a Europe once confident of its Catholic identity.
Advent is a season made for imperfect people, all of us, in other words, trying to maintain our balance as we scramble up the final slope of the shadow seamed mountain of the year. Advent's climb leads us to a view of the far reaches of the heavenly but in a profoundly human way. We pass through its weeks as we stroll by a succession of Christmas windows, surprised by images of ourselves superimposed on the displays, behold, as the angel of Christmas might say, this is what you really look like in everyday life.
If you think it is hard to get on an airplane without being hassled and/or humiliated, try volunteering for parish work in the diocese of Venice, Florida.
After a decade of revelations about sexual and financial scandals among priests, you would think that there is nothing more to learn about these men who were once revered in the Catholic culture and respected in the culture at large.
The famous management consultant Peter Drucker once suggested that “You can go to meetings or you can work, but you can’t do both.”
Drucker is guilty of common sense -- against the use of which Vatican officials must swear an oath before taking up their duties -- and Pope Benedict XVI is out to disprove his theory by having two meetings and working magic, all at the same time.
I remember the trouble my father and I once had putting the screens up on our house. The last two, like wailing and willful children, fought us and required so much forcing that we splintered an edge off one of them. Only then did we discover that we had roughly manipulated number 10 into number 11's window and vice versa.
Perhaps the best news for American Catholics this past week is that of the publication of Fr. Andrew Greeley’s Chicago Catholics and the Struggles Within Their Church, an analysis that reaffirms the strength of the faith in the archdiocese of Chicago that Greeley has served as a priest and scholar for more than fifty years.
The book was completed by Greeley’s colleagues after he sustained serious head injuries two years ago when he was dragged along the ground after his coat got stuck in a taxi door.