Thursday, October 25, 2018

NCRegister:A Priest is Just a Man, Imprinted with a Sacramental Character

I picked The Devil’s Advocate by Morris West off the shelf of Loome Theological Booksellers in Stillwater, Minnesota, flipping it over to look at the back. I was immediately intrigued by the fact that West was an Australian Catholic author. It took me another year to read the book, but I found that it was providential for me to have read during this time of scandal in the Church. It was helpful to read an account representing the state of the Church between World War II and pre-Vatican II where the hierarchy was detached from the day to day harsh realities of the People of God and priests had the same failings as other men. In fact it was quite familiar.

Morris West wrote the novel The Devil’s Advocate a couple of years after he spent time with a priest in the 1950s helping poor children in Sicily. He witnessed the state of the people there, and set his book in a similar setting among the poor, superstitious Italians in the hill country. He also was a witness to the politics of the Vatican under Pope Pius XII, and his novel provides for us the contrast between the bishops and cardinals striving for political power and the ill-educated clergy of the countryside. The stark, cool halls of the officials in the Vatican seem to have nothing in common with the barren, hot hills of the peasants, but somehow it is all the same Church.

It makes one think of St. Paul talking about the various parts of the Body of Christ, but it seems that in the Church the Head has lost touch with the Heart, and many of the seemingly insignificant parts are inflamed and infected.

Read the rest at the National Catholic Register...

Sunday, September 30, 2018

NCRegister:6 Prayers to Help Unite Your Suffering to Jesus Christ

After dealing with several chronic local infections this past summer, I was bit by a tick in late July and contracted Lyme disease. The Lyme targeted my right ankle and knee, making it impossible for me to walk without crutches and without extreme pain for nearly two weeks. The pain persisted even when I was lying down, and I insisted to my husband that this was more extreme pain than my four natural childbirths. It was the kind of pain where you would rather have the diseased limb cut off than wait for it to heal. I do not think I would have been able to bear the pain mentally, emotionally, or physically had I not taken my illnesses to prayer and offer them as sufferings united to Christ’s one sacrifice.

The initial shorter-term severe pains and the constant minor pains that have lingered on over many weeks have given me much opportunity to embrace redemptive suffering. I have heard much about “offering up” my sufferings throughout my life as a cradle Catholic, but it is something I did not really understand until I was given an opportunity to practice it.

This idea of our suffering being raised to the level of the Redemption is such a beautiful part of our Church’s tradition. I am focusing on physical suffering here, but it rings so true for other sufferings as well. There are several prayers and Scripture passages that I have found helpful to meditate with and rest in throughout my time of illness.

Read the rest at the National Catholic Register...

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

NCRegister: There is Always Something More to Give Up

I sat on a blanket beside my friend on a warm summer morning as we watched our children participate in a soccer camp. We were reflecting on motherhood and how it had changed us over the long, but short, years that we had been mothers. My tenure as a mother is just shy of a decade, so really, not that long.

I explained to her how I had been reading the Institutes of St. John Cassian as part of my research for a (very, very) long term project, and that I have found his instructions to monks about growth in virtue very applicable to my life as a laywoman. Not that I am called to the austerity that the desert fathers lived, but that the austerity that they are called to is parallel to that which a mother and wife is called.

I brought him up to my friend, because, Cassian, when talking about covetousness made a point that rang so true to my experience of seeking to grow in holiness in my vocation: “[T]here is no one who has not something to give up.” (Book VI, Ch. 27)...

Read the rest at the National Catholic Register...
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