The past and present thoughts of a Catholic husband, father, and fledgling faith formation director at St. Michael Catholic Church in St. Michael, Minnesota

Saturday, September 26, 2015

We’re Not Meant to Go It Alone

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
– John 20:19

Imagine yourself as a follower of Jesus before His crucifixion. Imagine the excitement of coming to know the Messiah intimately and waking up each morning in his company, anticipating the day and wondering what profound teaching or miraculous sign awaits.

Now imagine that this man, whom you loved and believed to be the savior of your people, ripped from your midst and publicly tried, punished, tortured, humiliated, and put to death like a common criminal. Imagine the fear: if the Roman authorities and Jewish religious leaders could do this to such a man as Jesus, what could they do to me, a poor sinner?

What would you do?

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Book Break: In the Beginning: A Catholic Understanding of the Story of Creation and the Fall

One of the many things I meant to do in the past year was to explore and review several books on the Catholic view of creation and evolution, in order to help parish parents and grandparents answer their questions on the topic and those of their children. My hope was to find a book or two that might be helpful to inquiring minds of all ages.

As usual, I bit off more than I could possibly chew and have completed only one such book. On a positive note, it was excellent.

'In the Beginning...' A Catholic Understanding of the Story of Creation and the Fall is an edited compilation of four Lenten homilies given by Pope Benedict XVI in 1981, when he was still Joseph Ratzinger, archbishop of Munich and Freising. His goal was to develop a catechesis of Creation for adults. The four homilies build, one upon the other, to present a clear case for what the Genesis accounts of Creation and the Fall mean and why they continue to matter:

Sunday, September 6, 2015

These Least Brothers of Mine...

My brothers and sisters, show no partiality as you adhere to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. For if a man with gold rings and fine clothes comes into your assembly, and a poor person in shabby clothes also comes in, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say, "Sit here, please," while you say to the poor one, "Stand there," or "Sit at my feet," have you not made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil designs? -- James 2:1-4 
Last night Jodi, Brendan, and I joined a friends of Brendan's and his parents at Fogo de Chão Brazilian Steakhouse in downtown Minneapolis to celebrate their senior year, their acceptance into the college(s) of their choice, and a backlog of birthdays. Fogo is a carnivore's paradise, with such an abundance and variety of fire-roasted meats that I kept thinking of Scripture's forgiving father ordering the slaughter of the fatted calf to celebrate the prodigal son's return. Server after server stopped by our table with skewer after skewer of beef, pork, chicken, and lamb, carving portions for us until we flipped our green coasters to red to signal, "No mas!" (or "não mais," I supposed, in Portuguese).

We had a great time with the boys, and ate a delicious meal the likes of which we are unlikely to enjoy again any time soon, given the price. All the way home, however, and all through last night and today, I've been haunted by a man I do not know. I saw him only in passing as we looked for a place to park, but the impression he made is indelible.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

The Family That Prays Together…

Education in the faith by the parents should begin in the child's earliest years. This already happens when family members help one another to grow in faith by the witness of a Christian life in keeping with the Gospel. Family catechesis precedes, accompanies, and enriches other forms of instruction in the faith. 
— Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 2226
Seven years ago our parish switched from weekly CCD to a monthly family faith formation model we called LIFT, or Learning In Faith Together. The reason was solid: children whose parents model Catholic living and make faith and the sacraments a priority are more likely to hold onto the faith themselves. Children first experience God’s love through their parents—and the best way to keep kids Catholic is for parents to teach them by their own words and example!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Outcasts Among Us

This parish has a wonderful reputation in the archdiocese. We have good and holy priests, deep roots, a beautiful church filled with Catholic families, and numerous vocations to the priesthood and religious life. When I tell practicing Catholics outside “the Bubble” of St. Michael where I work and worship, they know this place and tell me I am blessed.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Book Break: The Unmasking of Oscar Wilde

A little more than a year ago, I wrote a brief review of Oscar Wilde's play, The Importance of Being Earnest. I was quite disappointed in it, given how much I loved his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray when I read it in 2009, and I said so.

My bride's soon-to-be sister-in-law -- who is as smart and well-read as they come, and who loves Wilde -- suggested that there might be more to the play than I thought. A short while later, I ran across Joseph Pearce's book The Unmasking of Oscar Wilde. I knew only a hint about Wilde's life and thought perhaps the finding of the this biography was providential. When I saw that it was published by the Catholic publishing house Ignatius Press, I was still more intrigued and vowed to read it. I started it this summer, and finished it last week. It is a thought-provoking, page-turning biography of a fascinating and tragic man.