WASHINGTON -- Their pilgrimage destination was Mount St. Sepulchre Franciscan Monastery in Washington -- popularly known to Catholics as the Little Holy Land -- but along the way six Franciscan friars from Chicago found that every step they took from southern Virginia to Washington was holy ground.
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- Astronaut Buzz Aldrin was the first human to witness how liquid behaves in the weak gravitational field of the moon -- but this was no science experiment.
This was a believer giving thanks to God for an extraordinary adventure.
Forty years ago, in the first moments of July 20, 1969, after Aldrin had piloted the Eagle lunar module into the dust of the moon with only seconds of fuel to spare, he asked NASA for a radio blackout. He suggested that people around the world take the opportunity to "contemplate for a moment the events of the last few hours, and to give thanks in his own individual way."
VATICAN CITY -- The Vatican newspaper gave the new Harry Potter movie four stars for promoting "friendship, altruism, loyalty and self-giving."
As "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" was set to open worldwide July 15, L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, once again downplayed concerns that the film and book series by J.K. Rowling promote magic and witchcraft.
East & West
Limber bodies stretch, reach and fold in undulating waves of graceful yoga postures -- to a CD of Gregorian chant. While sitar, the ancient Persian instrument, is a more usual accompaniment, the harmony between the movement and the music got me thinking. Where else is there an easy accord between yoga and Christianity? What common ground do the two traditions share?
One of the perennial bestsellers in the field of Catholic spirituality is Jesuit Fr. John Kavanaugh’s Following Christ in a Consumer Society: The Spirituality of Cultural Resistance. Published in 1981, it’s been in print ever since, and has been revised and updated twice. Kavanaugh teaches at St. Louis University where he is director of the Ethics Across the Curriculum program. He is an award-winning columnist for America magazine.
In the taxi taking my wife and me to the airport in San José, Costa Rica, I noticed a magnetized icon on the dashboard. It turned out to be La Negrita, the local nickname for the beloved Virgin Mary. If it had been Argentina, she would have been named the Virgin of Lujan, that country’s patron saint; if Mexico, Our Lady of Guadalupe, “Patroness of the Americas.”
Shrines to Mary are found all over the globe.
There are no shrines to God the Father, unless you count churches as shrines. Why do Catholics love Mary so much more than they love God? They know they’re not supposed to. They just can’t help themselves.
Before the sun is up, a group of about 35 men and women start their day with rituals they have treasured for years. For some, their first cup of coffee is accompanied by meditating on the scripture readings assigned for the day in the Roman Lectionary. For others it is just quiet time or a set routine of prayers. But this is preliminary to the main event, coming together at the local parish church for morning Mass.
Most of them are at or beyond retirement age, so there is no need to watch the clock or worry about being somewhere else. Younger members of the group have come to accept this slower pace and say they find it restful, conducive to prayer. Joining them is Fr. Gerald Waris, their parish priest at St. Patrick Church in Kansas City, Mo. This group of people and this time of day are spiritual home base for him. His day also begins with personal prayer and reflection on the day’s readings he will share with his small prayer community at Mass.
When he was a seminarian at Missouri’s Conception Abbey, Waris said he grew to love the sung choral office of that Benedictine monastic community. “It gave focus and meaning to everything else that happened that day.”
Religion News Service
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Do you tweet during church? Isn’t it rude?
David Loveless doesn’t think so. Loveless is lead pastor of Discovery Church, a nondenominational congregation that draws some 4,000 on Sundays to three locations in Orlando. The congregation has always thrived on the cutting edge, becoming among the first to embrace contemporary music and remove its steeple from its building.
Now the congregation is tweeting -- using 21st-century technology to discuss the Gospel in 140-character cell-phone text updates sent via Twitter.
The technology emerged naturally here, as something parishioners brought with them to Sundays from the rest of their week. Loveless recognized it as a new way to communicate, and he began posing questions during his sermons and asking parishioners to “tweet” back by texting their responses. Those responses were then woven into his sermons, creating an instantaneous dialogue between pulpit and pew.
Science fiction is a proud genre of literature. From the quirky cautionary tales of Philip K. Dick to the sociological extrapolations of Ursula K. Le Guin to the grand entertainments of Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke or Isaac Asimov, it provokes wonder and mind- stretching with its frisky curiosity and its hints of fantastic secrets barely glimpsed.
Another caretaker of the sense of wonder has traditionally been religion. In bygone ages religion’s stock in trade was contact with the wholly other, the divine mystery, the miraculous.
For example, see the Old Testament, where Moses chats with a burning bush, a whirlwind stumps old man Job or playful, creative Wisdom frolics with God before time began. Our spiritual ancestors looked around, open-eyed, and wrestled with the big questions, speculating about the deepest unknowns -- kind of like good science fiction.
We have relegated such tales of genuine religious experience to the pedestal of holy writ, at the same time ignoring their counterparts today. Religion has neglected its age-old role as a caretaker of wonder, yielding it instead to scientists.
Practice makes perfect. I used to believe that, but many years ago when I took up golf, I discovered, as one of my friends told me, "Practice makes permanent." I spent untold numbers of hours trying to perfect my swing and achieve long, straight drives from the tee. To no avail. To my great embarrassment the ball would dribble off the tee or, if I did make good contact, it would sail far to the right or to the left. Rarely would it go far and straight. It was not too long before I gave up on golf and stayed with the sports I learned to play on my own.
There was a time when most Catholics would define themselves as "practicing Catholics." And I suppose that most of us thought that gradually by practicing our faith we would achieve, not quite perfection, but be good enough to qualify for a place in heaven where perfection would be our final outcome.
Today, however, a very large number of Catholics have given up.