Taste and See – a book review

As the breeze blew the scent enveloped me like a cloud, surrounding me with its sweetness – lilacs! It was a cool but clear early evening in May and I was out walking. The scent was intoxicating and for a moment I stopped and breathed it in deeply. I was deep in that moment and I was also full of the memory of the lilacs of my childhood. Ahhhhh… So beautiful. A short while later, traversing a path in the woods as I made my way home, the sun appeared – a golden orb like a ball stuck upon the upper branches of the trees. In reality, it was on its way down, soon to be followed by the shimmering white disc of the moon rising on the other side of the sky. As evening walks went, this one was pretty spectacular, and was truly a feast for the senses.

407173_LARGEIn her latest book, Taste and See, Experiencing the Goodness of God with Our Five Senses (Loyola Press), author Ginny Kubitz Moyer dives deeply into the sensual realm of Catholicisma as lived through our senses. Yes, some may think we are a pretty uptight crowd – and with good reason! But in our hearts, if we pay attention, the Catholic faith invites us to luxuriate in the world around us with each one of our senses.

As a writer with a deep Ignatian sensibility, Continue reading

Amusement park theology

51ErBZc24ML._SY355_This is a repost of something I wrote two years ago. Call me a lazy blogger, it is true. That said, I am always interested in what I had to say before, because sometimes it does not ring quite a true as it did in my past. At other times, it rings more truly. This is post that reflects the latter.

For a long time I understood the Trinity as God the Father as an old man with a white beard, God the Son as Jesus who was blonde and blue eyed, and the Holy Spirit as a Dove. That was easy! Maybe not so fast…

The Trinity often gets watered down, expressed poorly, or worse. True enough we can’t so easily express what the Trinity is, and it is a bit too facile to keep saying that the Trinity is simply some mystery of God. Of course the Trinity *is* the mystery of God, but are we invited by God to dive deeper rather than walk away with a pat answer?

Perhaps the trap is to either get too heady or theological. I may have done so with my throwing in of the term perichoresis in the original post, but I will leave it, but it is about dynamic being held in dynamic movement in the end, not big words. Ultimately the invitation of God – of the Trinity – is into deeper and dynamic relationship. It can be like falling in love and it can be like a ride at the amusement park. Whatever God or Trinity is, constant motion, dynamism, and movement seem to be required. Now that speaks to me, that’s why I keep saying yes. That’s why I keep going “wheeeeee!” What a ride!

PlaylandParkway 136x93When I was a little girl, my father, loved to take us to a local amusement park, Playland. This old fashioned park was shown to the world in the Tom Hanks movie, Big. I can easily recall the excitement of seeing the Playland Parkway sign, letting us know that we were almost there! Wheeee! Let the fun begin!

When I was about 11 years old we headed there one day, to meet up with another family who had a daughter about my age. She wanted to go on a ride that terrified me. And no – I had never been on it, but just the thought of it sent me reeling! It was called the Round Up at that time. It iis the one where you stand up and hold on, but when the ride gets going, centrifugal force holds you in place. My dad liked this ride, but I would never go on it with him. However, not wanting to act like a baby in front of another kid, I Continue reading

Stop, look, listen – Pentecost

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Villa Borghese, Rome

 

It was  a warm autumn Sunday in Rome, sometime during the month of October in 1990. The sun is out after days and days of rain, and people are everywhere. I’m walking through a park, heading down a hill towards a road where about a gagillion, well maybe not that many, but where many tourist coaches are parked. You can tell they come from different countries by the words emblazoned on the side of each giant bus.

In front of me, heading down the same hill is an older lady. Even just looking at her back I can see her nice trench coat, and she is wearing hose and low heeled shoes. In her right hand is a bouquet of colorful flowers with the stems wrapped in foil. This sight made me think of my mother who would cut often flowers and wrap them in foil, sending me off to deliver them to some neighbor in need. This thought made me smile to myself.

In an instant everything changed, my reverie broken as the woman took a tumble and rolled down the hill, getting muddy along the way. Then she rolled into the street, ending up behind a bus… which was just about to back up. Believe it or not, those flowers were still in her hand, although crumpled looking at that point. I did not know what to do, she was clearly stunned, I was not even sure she was conscious. It did not seem like anyone else noticed, so I had no choice, or she would die. I screamed. Loudly. Really loudly. No – REALLY LOUDLY.

You’ve never heard me scream. I Continue reading

Church as field hospital

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Yayo Grassi and his boyfriend meet Pope Francis in October 2015. Yayo was a student of the future pope in Argentina.

While we are all busy continuing to read and take in the words of Amoris Laetitia, which has unleashed many reactions, my mind drifts back to an earlier time. In September of 2013, Pope Francis was interviewed by fellow Jesuit Antonio Spadaro, SJ, who is the editor of the Italian Jesuit publication, La Civiltà Cattolica. You can find the interview at America Magazine. In that interview Pope Francis referred to the church as a field hospital. He said:

“I see clearly,” the pope continues, “that the thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds…. And you have to start from the ground up.”

These words matter – at least to me – as I read and study Amoris Laetitia. But more about what I think another day. When I saw the image below on Facebook, I laughed, but then stopped. It is what I call #FunnyNotFunny. Some in the field hospital are challenged by the doctor’s orders.

giphy-downsized-large.gifWhat about you? Are you happy with the document as you understand it? Disappointed? Outraged? What do you think?

 

UPDATED: Pope Francis said what?

Ce37JtsUIAAVT_DToday we have the release of Post-Synodal Aposotlic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia
of the Holy Father Francis to Bishops, Priests, and Deacons,Consecrated Persons,Christian Married Couples, and all the Lay Faithful on Love in the Family. That is quite a title! The document was released about half an hour ago. At 260 pages, it will take me awhile to go through it, but here are some places to begin.

First up – the link to the PDF of the exhortation in English from the Vatican website. As I said, it is long.

Our second link, from William T. Ditewig writing at Aleteia says tells us that Pope Francis says this early on in the document:

“Given the rich fruits of the two-year Synod process, this Exhortation will treat, in different ways, a wide variety of questions. This explains its inevitable length. Consequently, I do not recommend a rushed reading of the text” (AL 7).

Our third link comes from Fr James Martin SJ offers us his top 10 takeaways in a piece from America magazine.This particular sentence struck me: “We should no longer talk about people ‘living in sin.’” To which I add a very loud AMEN!

There are many more things to read (see updates below), but these are great starting points. Of all who react, many will be overjoyed, many will be angered, many will be disappointed, many will be outraged. This will be interesting to follow. So much for my hiatus!

UPDATE: Some additional links for you:
From Fr Thomas Reese SJ writing at the National Catholic Reporter who suggests that we “start with chapter 4“.

Also from NCR, Vatican correspondent Joshua McElwee begins with these words… “In a radical departure from recent pastoral practice, Pope Francis has asked the world’s Catholic clergy to let their lives become “wonderfully complicated” by embracing God’s grace at work in the difficult and sometimes unconventional situations families and marriages face — even at risk of obscuring doctrinal norms..” Read more here.

Lest one accuse me of presenting only “liberal” sources, here is a link from the National Catholic Register where Edward Pentin suggests that maybe chapter 8 has cause for concern, and the challenge of ambiguity. The link can be found here.

And it is no surprise that the highly traditional One Peter Five blog says outright that Pope Francis has departed from church teaching.

Last but not least, one of my own most valued, trusted, and insightful resources is  church historian and Vatican expert Massimo Faggioli weighs in at dotCommonweal with this post.

To all of this I will add – we all have to face God with our consciences. Do we expect and desire a God of exact certitude, one that directs all in a bittorent-like stream of teaching that is precise without interpretation and lived grace? Or do we expect and desire a God of transcendent mystery, joy, and hope who invites us into full relationship? There is doctrine, there is dogma, there are rules – but there is at the heart of all of this the inviting love of Christ. It all might be hard to pin down.

 

 

 

 

Giving in, getting to yes

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(Yes, I know – hiatus. Back briefly on this day.)

51dTCidubqL._SX307_BO1,204,203,200_Many years ago, when I was an toiling away in corporate America, I used to call myself an E.L.F. – or executroid life form. It was a joke meant to poke fun at a world around me. It seemed that we were less and less focused on people, and more focused on getting sales and good numbers, whatever that meant. Today as I reflected on this, I thought of a business book that was popular many years ago, “Getting to Yes, Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In” by Continue reading